In the Moral Landscape, There Still Be Dragons

Transcranial magnetic stimulation isn't a hypothetical

Sam Harris has announced the winning entry in his contest for critiques of The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values.  The winner (from a philosophy M.A. and blogger at Point of Controversy) is the obvious complaint, which seems just.  Here's an excerpt: First, your analogy between epistemic axioms and moral axioms fails. The former merely motivate scientific inquiry and frame its development, whereas the latter predetermine your science of morality’s most basic findings. Epis … [Read more...]

“Love Unconcerned with Being Returned”


So far, when I've used Jen Fulwiler's Saint Generator to pick a saint to learn about and from for the month, I've mostly pulled saints I hadn't heard of before, from times and places that are very far from me.  Today, when I visited her randomizer, it spun up a saint I already love very much: Saint Maximilian Kolbe.I think the first time I heard of him was in RCIA (people in the class were supposed to pick out and present lives of various saints at each class), and I had the same kind of … [Read more...]

Fear of the Friendzone, Wire Monkeys, and Communion


Why do people have so much contempt for "the Friendzone"?  Part of the problem is that we've defined romantic love as the highest form of emotional and physical intimacy, so missing out on dating feels like missing out on communion.  At The American Conservative, I'm talking a little about this problem in "Our Starved for Touch Culture." In the wake of the Santa Barbara shootings, the unpleasant underbelly of the pickup artist community (PUA), involuntary celibates (incels), and other unhealthy … [Read more...]

Making a Home for the Homely in Romance

mary sherlock

I don't follow the opera world, but critics made enough of a stir about the attractiveness (insufficient, in their judgement) of a mezzo-soprano in an English production Der Rosenkavalier for the conversation to cross over to the mainstream media.  The NYT brought together two classical music reviewers to comment, and I was particularly struck by this analysis by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim:[O]pera has a complicated history of celebrating and exploiting women, and I can’t help feeling that th … [Read more...]

When Asking for Help is Generous


My piece in the most recent print edition of The American Conservative came out from behind the paywall today, and it's about friendships, shared needs, Nisbet.... and massively multiplayer online roleplaying games.  If you read it, like it, and share it, you'll have a ready made excuse to ask favors of other people and look askance at LMGTFY links.  (Oh, and if you haven't heard of LMGTFY, then, here, let me Google that for you). Even new, online forms of association and friendship can suffer f … [Read more...]

A Trans-Atlantic Dating Gap

some people juggle geese

By playing the clip below, you can get a sense of my level of bafflement when I read these remarks by French GQ sex columnist Maïa Mazaurette.In an interview with New York, Mazaurette summarized the difference between the American and French approaches to sex and dating.So tell me, how would you describe the French attitude toward sex? I can only compare it to the countries I’ve lived in — Germany, and now Denmark, and I’ve made some trips to the U.S. I’d say the main difference is t … [Read more...]

Practicing Custody of the Eyes Online

"You've gotta ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"

I'm covering the recent E.U. court decision that Google needed to remove "irrelevant" links from its search results over at The American Conservative today. While truth has usually been a defense to charges of libel, Google is running into a higher standard in Europe. The European Union Court of Justice, considering the threat that Google can pose to privacy, seems to be applying a standard closer to the “Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?” test.In the press release announcing their de … [Read more...]