The School Where Bullies Ask for Help


The American Prospect has a beautiful feature on a high school that started trying out restorative justice, instead of defaulting to suspensions.  Here's the basic approach: The cornerstone of KCAPA’s program is the “restorative circle.” Drawing inspiration from the American Indian practice of the talking circle, in which a totem is passed around to signal the opportunity to speak, these meetings are convened for all kinds of reasons, from gauging students’ moods to addressing acts of serious mi … [Read more...]

The Loneliness of Lying


The Toast is in the middle of an ongoing, very funny series of reimagining the Harry Potter books as written by Ayn Rand.  I chortled my way through their take on Sorcerer's Stone (I think this was my favorite line): “Malfoy bought the whole team brand-new Nimbus Cleansweeps!” Ron said, like a poor person. “That’s not fair!”“Everything that is possible is fair,” Harry reminded him gently. “If he is able to purchase better equipment, that is his right as an individual. How is Draco’s superior … [Read more...]

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...]