Purity, Anxiety, and Effective Altruism

mark for Vetta pse jane

During the past weekend, I got into a conversation with some folks about the knock-on effects of getting involved with effective altruism (and outlets like GiveWell).  Effective Altruism, at core, is the attempt to make sure your charity dollars are spent effectively.  For a long time, people tried to just use "overhead" as a proxy for effectiveness, since a group that mostly spends your money on its own salaries and office spaces isn't doing a very good job.GiveWell takes a much more d … [Read more...]

Unschooling Offers Lessons for Adults

kids playing

At the CFAR alumni reunion, a lot of the time was reserved for unconferences/lightning talks, where people could present short to medium talks on topics that interested them (or baffled them).  One pair of attendees talked about their project of unschooling their daughter, which resulted in a lot of thoughtful discussion and questions.Unschooling is an alternative to run of the mill schools that is very child-directed.  While other homeschoolers may work through the same curriculum and te … [Read more...]

Lukewarmness is for Zero Sum Games [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.Apropos of yesterday's post on friendship, this week's chapter from Pope Francis focuses on the "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth" passage from Revelation 3:16. When dealing … [Read more...]

Why is it So Hard to Find New Friends?


I wanted to like MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend better than I ultimately did, since Rachel Bertsche makes a persuasive case that we need more archetypes of adult friendships. Unfortunately, although I feel like Bertsche and I are working on the same project, generally, I never wound up caring very much about her specific project.Bertsche has the goal on going on 52 “girl dates” in a year, in the hopes of finding a new best friend in Chicago, her new home. The troubl … [Read more...]

Learning the Wrong Lessons from St. Maximilian Kolbe


When I was in church to celebrate the feast day of Saint Maximillian Kolbe (who has previously been one of my saints of the month), I tried to reflect on his life and his example during the moments of silent prayer in the liturgy. In those moments, I asked God to strengthen my will, and make it more like his.This is one of those prayers that I wind up frequently making whose fruit tends not to be in having my request granted, but in realizing it was a kind of stupid request in the first … [Read more...]

7QT: Answers to Questions I Didn’t Think to Ask

geneva drive

--- 1 --- When I was in school, it wasn't uncommon for my teachers to have access to smart whiteboards and computers, but it was seldom that there seemed to anything useful to do with them.  But dy/dan, a math teacher and blogger, has a great project for students, where they designed their own vases and then tried to plot the rate at which the water level would rise in their classmates' designs.  Reading his post makes me want to putter around with the problem. --- 2 --- Meanwhile, in other fa … [Read more...]

We Can’t Be ‘Sanctimonious’ About Torture


I'm at First Things today, discussing the unpleasant rhetoric that still surrounds the United States's torture program, and the way the President managed to acknowledge its existence while minimizing the gravity of the abuses:As the Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation program comes closer to publication, truths are finally being extracted – not from suspected terrorists, but from publishers and politicians. The New York Times announced last Thursday that the paper will finally drop th … [Read more...]