Living on a Prayer

I really want to reply to Alex Knapp, especially since he's already found the time to respond to Rust Belt Philosophy's critique of both me and Knapp, but I've been trying to prep for three exams, and two presentations all occurring in the space of two and a half day, so not so much on my end.I'm still not up to doing a big post on consequentialism, so I thought I'd share a little of my coursework to tide you over.  My epidemiology methods class read a well-known paper from 1999 called "A … [Read more...]

Bonus Reading!

My 7 Quick Takes today was all about football and concussions, but if you're not all tuckered out yet, there's another good article in the sports section of The New York Times.  Alan Schwartz looks at the different concussion policies implemented by the Packers and the Steelers, so that's a possible way to choose who to root for on Saturday, (that is, if you aren't using the also-popular guide of voting for the team with fewer incidents of sexual assault).In non-football news, Elisabeth … [Read more...]

This is NOT How Evolution Works

But it's a good primer in some of the most common mistakes from people who are semi-literate in the relevant sciences, so I'm going to go through the problems from a recent post ("Less Mature by Age") by Robin Hanson at Overcoming Bias.The Background Data:Hanson found an article from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that suggested that, although there is an overall positive correlation between age and psychosocial maturity, this trend reverses during the teenage years. … [Read more...]

Secret Santas on Christmas Day

I was going to post Tim Minchin's "White Wine in the Sun" for Christmas but I was a little abashed after reading No Forbidden Questions prediction that the song would show up on every atheist blog today.  It is a lovely song about a secular holiday, so feel free to click the link above or watch the video on any other atheist blog.But, as a bonus, I'll link you to a video at the New York Times that tells a heartwarming story of a couple that mysteriously recieved hundreds of letters addressed … [Read more...]

“They might stuff you in a sack and take you to Spain”

My family's other Christmas Eve tradition is a reading of David Sedaris's The Santaland Diaries.   Sedaris is now a well-known comic essayist, but before he was published, he supported himself through a variety of odd jobs, including working as an elf in Macy's Santaland.  The story is a series of funny vignettes from his term of employment.  Some of them made their debut in 1992 on NPR.  You can still listen to the  original broadcast.When we go through it as a family, we take turns reading … [Read more...]

“The Marleyes Were Dead, To Begin With”*

My family may be entirely composed of atheists, but we do have some important Christmas traditions (even beyond Chinese food on Christmas day).  On Christmas Eve, we watch The Muppet Christmas Carol.  It is the best Christmas Carol on film (it has Michael Caine as Scrooge) and I will fight anyone who says different. The movie is narrated by Gonzo, playing Charles Dickens.I've scheduled this to post in the morning, before I get up, so you'll have time to rent it before nightfall, as you will s … [Read more...]

A Very Quch Christmas*

From the Wall Street Journal comes the story of a Klingon reinterpretation of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. The arc of "A Klingon Christmas Carol" follows the familiar Dickens script: An old miser is visited on a hallowed night by three ghosts who shepherd him through a voyage of self-discovery. The narrative has been rejiggered to match the Klingon world view.For starters, since there is neither a messiah nor a celebration of his birth on the Klingon planet of Kronos, the action is … [Read more...]


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