7QT: Breaking Bicycle, Weight, and Genre Rules

--- 1 --- I know, from personal experience, that the expression "It's like riding a bike, one never forgets" is false, but I still really enjoyed seeing the design for a bike designed to go fast, flouting all the rules for road races.--- 2 --- And speaking of changing standards, Nautilus has a nice piece on the efforts to replace the Platonic Kilogram (it exists! it's in Paris) with a benchmark for weight that doesn't require a physical object. Some basic units have already been … [Read more...]

Hamilton Is Blazingly Fast And I Can Prove It

I got to combine my love of musicals and math nerdery when I covered Hamilton's lyrical density for FiveThirtyEight this week. If “Hamilton” were sung at the pace of the other Broadway shows I looked at, it would take four to six hours (Miranda’s guestimate was off by half). At the slowest paces, “Hamilton” would only be an hour shorter than Elevator Repair Service’s seven-hour marathon play “Gatz” (in which the cast reads “The Great Gatsby” aloud in its entirety). That show is usually presented … [Read more...]

Pope Francis And Catholics Disagree Deeply On the Death Penalty

Over at FiveThirtyEight, I'm covering the split between Pope Francis's adamant opposition to the death penalty and American Catholics comfort with it:In a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Americans said they supported the death penalty for people convicted of murder. Catholics were a little less likely than other Americans to express support: 51 percent endorsed it, while 41 percent were opposed. Catholics varied considerably on this issue by race. White, non-Hispanic C … [Read more...]

Praying With Strangers, Now That The Pope’s Gone

The best part of the papal visit for me wasn't the pope himself, but all the people he drew together in his wake.  I'm at First Things today, talking about how to keep making connections to all the people who filled the streets, now that we can't rely on one big event to introduce us to each other. The papal visit drew people out, and made it easy to disclose our faith to each other. It felt like a much more joyful and communal version of the annual Catholic Census that happens on every Ash W … [Read more...]

Pope Francis Retold Our American History

Catherine Addington has a great piece up today at The American Conservative on the way Pope Francis spoke to American Catholics, and emphasized how our American identity can be a gift we bring to the church: In his remarks to Pope Francis at Independence Hall, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia name-dropped Alexander Hamilton in praising the contributions of immigrants to the nation’s civic fabric. It may have been a coincidence that Hamilton was mentioned just as so many people are dis … [Read more...]

How Do You Quantify the Francis Effect?

Over at FiveThirtyEight, I've rounded up Catholic nerds and data nerds to try to answer the question "How can you tell if Francis (or any other Pope) is a success?"  I actually made a bet with a friend on the success of Francis's papacy not long after he became pontiff (and the bet comes due in 2016); it was pretty hard to find something to measure.  I promise you that what we went with wasn't this, though:PEG: I think before you even think of metrics, you have to think about what criteria co … [Read more...]

A Sondheim Song for Your Papal Mixtape

My parish started its Adult Sunday School (taught by Dominican friars) this past weekend, and we kicked off the semester with a discussion of the Pope's encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.  I'm not about to summarize the whole encyclical or even the whole class, but I am pleased to tell you that, if you're building up a Laudato Si mixtape, I have a song to recommend.One of the themes of our discussion was what Pope Francis terms "the technocratic paradigm" where we increase our power t … [Read more...]


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