Yes, my comments policy is inspired by MegaUpload

Given the influx of new readers and some questions , I'd like to add a Comments Policy tab to the top of the blog.  Here's my first draft, so let me know if anything needs clarification, if you know how to make a warning sound less hectoring, or if you have other suggestions.I only delete comments that are obviously spam.(Fun fact: the easiest way real comments get mistaken for spam is when they pay me an unspecific compliment).I may make an exception in the future if a commenter … [Read more...]

What Can You Do in the War?

this republic of suffering

Given the way our discussion of pacifism has meandered over to a debate about martyrdom, what you want to "accomplish" with your death (and whether that's a coherent question), I'd like to recommend something for your summer reading list: Drew Gilpin Faust's This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.  It's a fabulous book.  It doesn't presuppose that you're a Civil War buff, so casual readers have no barrier to entry, and it delves into a strange, tightly-circumscribed  topic, … [Read more...]

And what did you win with your death?


 There's a lot of interesting discussion happening in the comments of my post on More and martyrdom.  Yesterday, I highlighted a question Kewois asked about the moral choices that we don't notice,  and today I found another interesting question about More's act from Jubal DiGriz: Martyrdom in of itself is not a virtue. Moore’s unwillingness to bend and inability to transgress his own principles shouldn’t be what makes him a good man. What matters is what principles one is sacrificing fo … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (7/13/12)

--- 1 --- Any given week, there are usually enough interesting science stories in my Quick Takes folder to do an all-geek Takes, but usually I like to cover a range of topics.  But this was an especially awesome week, apparently, and the science backlog is getting big, so let's have the "I Love Charts" song lead us into a data-rich link roundup:But I'm compelled to point out that, if you want to raise your kids right, you'll steer them away from 3D pie charts. --- 2 --- While drafting … [Read more...]

Morality isn’t only hard on special occasions

In the discussion of St. Thomas More's martydom, and how it helps me understand moral obligation, Kewois had a question about something I said, and I quite appreciate the chance to clarify and expand.  I'm double blockquoted, and Kewois's reply follows in normal blockquoting below:Morality might be natural, but most of us don’t think of it as easy. You said “morality” but you are talking about “moral dilemmas”. I mean, I think that for most of us is easy not to steal or to kill at random.   … [Read more...]

A Martyr for All Seasons

Two weeks ago, I had an absolutely lovely time reading A Man for All Seasons out loud in a coffee shop with a new group of friends.  In what I hope was not type-casting, I read the part of Cromwell. (ok, it was probably type-casting).  I greatly enjoyed the play (though I'm now going to have to put aside all the very nice spiritual reading people have recommended or lent me, so I can reread Wolf Hall), and there was one exchange that particularly struck me, just after More resigns his position a … [Read more...]

“That his heels may kick at heaven”

now might I do it pat

Some time ago, Hemant Mehta asked "Where are the atheist fiction books?" and I was kind of baffled by the question.  There may not be many books where the atheism of the characters is a major plot point, but when I was growing up, most books I read had no reference to religion at all, so I tended to assume the characters were all atheists like me.  Even in books where characters go to church, there were seldom theological influences on the plot -- the church was just a public square where c … [Read more...]