After a Year with Pope Francis

Time, The Advocate, and The New Yorker are just the latest publications to find Pope Francis front-page worthy news and the symbol of a spiritual year in review.  Meanwhile, I’ve gotten an email from a friend who wants a recommendation for a Pope Francis book for a relative who is unexpectedly excited about Catholicism again, and I see non-Catholic friends sharing interview excerpts and photos, talking about the first pope they’ve liked.And, the whole time, I’ve felt a little odd about not be … [Read more...]

It is not good that man should be alone

As some of you have gleaned from off-hand comments, I've returned to Washington, D.C.  I really liked my job as a curriculum developer at CFAR, but I turned out to be terribly homesick for D.C.  In January, I'll be starting a new job as an Editoral Assistant at a magazine.Meanwhile, in the two weeks or so that I've been back home, I've felt great about my decision.  I was welcomed back with snow, emails scheduling a Tempest reading, the opportunity to play with my college friend's one year ol … [Read more...]

Pope Francis and the Mendicant Christ

Pope Francis gave an interview to La Stampa, and, all caveats about translation aside, these two questions and responses caught my eye: What does Christmas say to people today?“It speaks of tenderness and hope. When God meets us he tells us two things. The first thing he says is: have hope. God always opens doors, he never closes them. He is the father who opens doors for us. The second thing he says is: don’t be afraid of tenderness. When Christians forget about hope and tenderness they bec … [Read more...]

Christmas Poems for Gaudete Sunday

Happy Gaudete Sunday!Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday in Advent, and although Advent is a season of preparation and penitence, this Sunday is a foretaste of the joy of Christmas, and the liturgical colors for Mass change from violet to rose.  In celebration, I'd like to share a few poems that I got to enjoy this past week at the Catholic Information Center's Christmas Poetry party.A nun recited Richard Crashaw's "A Hymn of the Nativity," and I particularly liked the middle lines of the … [Read more...]

Hold Your Slippery Slope Toboggans!

Last night, I kept seeing a news story pop up in my social media feeds: "Federal Court Strikes Down Criminalization of Polygamy In Utah."The family that brought the suit is the Brown family, of the reality tv show Sister Wives.  Kody Brown, his four wives, and their seventeen children had moved away from Utah after they went public, to avoid prosecution.  I assumed, naturally enough, that this might mean that plural marriage was now legal in Utah (or at least legal pending appeal).  But the a … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (12/13/13)

--- 1 --- The first time I ran into Google Hangout's facial recognition feature, I had a lot of fun trying to find the limits of what it would recognize as a face.  I grabbed photos, drawings, etc and held them up while ducking below my webcam's sightline and then trying to compete with the faux-face to try to suss out how the algorithm decided.  But Neil Yager has coded up a prototype that wouldn't be fooled.He built a camera/infrared sensor that recognizes faces and then double checks w … [Read more...]

Design a new Ideological Turing Test for a much improved instrument

Every summer, when I run the Ideological Turing Test, I end up making very grumpy faces at Google Forms.  If I want to free people from the obligation to answer every single entry, I can't link up responses across entries to see how people scored on the whole.  But when I make a separate form for each essay, I have to re-ask the demographic question each time, which is tedious for you and limits how many I can ask.  And there's always a big drop in sample size from the first entry to the last en … [Read more...]