7QT: Beautifully Built Things

heart rate proposal

--- 1 --- I always take pleasure in thinking about made things, so I especially enjoyed this article from the Kickstarter team on why so many Kickstarter projects have been focused on making a better wallet.  Apparently, they're a common starter project -- if you can manage to produce and ship wallets, you probably have the skills to Kickstart and deliver on the complicated project you really want to do: Using the wallet as a conceptual starting point isn’t just a Kickstarter thing, either. At … [Read more...]

“I like to ask: What is my opponent in love with?”

Ireland interview

Back when I was in Ireland, giving a talk on ways to have better fights about religion, I did a short interview with a local news outlet, and I've just found the video.  In our conversation, I talk a little about my own conversion, and why my approach to argument resembles Ender's empathetic approach to a fight: "In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand … [Read more...]

Trapped by Torture in Enmity with the World

hand door

Reading over more details about the Torture Report, I was reminded of a passage I'd just read in Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, in which Jonathan Shay tries to put his finger on just what it is that makes torture an abomination, rather than ordinary roughness or ill use: American soldiers literally felt tortured by their Vietnamese enemy. Prolonged patrolling in Vietnam led to a decomposition of the normal, the familiar, the safe.  Every familiar item of the p … [Read more...]

Torture Report Details Wounds to Prisoners and Guards


The torture report (well, the unclassified executive summary) came out today, and the news is grim and gruesome.  The Daily Beast has aggregated some initial lowlights: In Nov. 2002, a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to the floor died, apparently from hypothermia. This case appears similar to the that of Gul Rahman, who died of similarly explained causes at a Afghan site known as the "Salt Pit," also in Nov. 2002. The site was also called ‘The Dark Prison’ by former captive … [Read more...]

The Last 5 Years is totally our next Symposium topic


Eeeeee!  EEEEEEEE! Eeeeee!For folks who aren't familiar with Jason Robert Brown's The Last 5 Years, it's a musical that covers the five year relationship between Cathy and Jamie, from the moment they meet, through their engagement and marriage, till the morning after Jamie leaves.The two leads alternate numbers, which respectively tell the story of their relationship in opposite directions.  That means Cathy's first song (also the first song of the trailer) is the one she sings when s … [Read more...]

Is Your Christianity Ever Mistaken for Criminality? [Pope Francis Bookclub]


In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.In this week's reading, Pope Francis points out that Christ was stripped of more than his clothes when he was executed on the cross: Jesus does not die in Jerusalem, nor is he stoned to death.  He dies as one accursed, "hung on a tr … [Read more...]

My 10 Best Books of 2014

books, many

Every year, I like to make a list of my favorite books I read for the first time in that year.  Thus, my ten best books of the year aren't limited to those that came out in this year.  In chronological order of when I read them, these are my favorites.Oh, and if you'd like to get once-a-month, behind the scene updates about my book, Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayer that Even I Can Offer, you can sign up here -- my first email goes out on Monday, and includes the copyediting note that a … [Read more...]