Q&A with Max Gladstone (Part 1)

On October 29th, Max Gladstone will release his second novel, Two Serpents Rise.  His first novel Three Parts Dead got him nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and also caused me to share a very enjoyable bookclub brunch with friends in DC.  Three Parts Dead, the first book in his Craft series, reframes some of the peculiarities of the modern, entangled economy in a fantastical and theologically rich world.    In his novels, the power of prayer is often regulated by cont … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes (10/26/13)

--- 1 --- Sorry for the one-day delay in Quick Takes.  Let me make it up to you with something very special: A layperson-ish primer on Elliptic Curves Cryptography!  I really enjoyed this guide by Ars Technica, but I'm a bit suspicious of its accessibility for a crypto novice.  So, let me temper my recommendation thus: give it a try if you think you may be interested, and if you feel baffled, be not ashamed and check Simon Singh's The Code Book out of your local library. --- 2 ---  And now … [Read more...]

What is your opponent trying to protect?

Brendan Hodge of Darwin Catholic has shared his approach to judging and competing in this year’s Ideological Turing Test. He had planned to write a secularized version of himself in the atheist round, but revised his plans when he discovered that polyamory was a good deal more popular among libertarian atheists than he expected. So now I had a problem: It seemed like if I wanted to write a fairly mainstream atheist piece for the Turing Test, I needed to argue in favor of polyamory. However, I m … [Read more...]

Getting a Sense of Sin

I've just finished Francis Spufford's Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense.  He's pretty good at solving yesterday's problem of explaining your faith without getting bogged down forever in background information or just staying bland.  In one section I particularly liked, he talked about the difficulty of explaining Christianity in a language that's littered with Christian ideas that have drifted from their technical meanings. Everyone kn … [Read more...]

Tell All the Truth, but Tell it Slant

Chris Hallquist, one of the contestants in this year’s Ideological Turing Test (entry A in the atheist round, and B in the Christian round) has also written up his strategy chez lui. He explains that, in his faux Christian entry, he tried to capture the tone of a liberal Christian instead of making steelman arguments for that position. That way he would avoid giving himself away by using an atheist epistemology to construct a ‘strong’ Christian position. Instead: Creating this fictitious perso … [Read more...]

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Sorry for the post pause, I've been teaching at an immersion workshop again, so I'll catch up on sleep today and have something to share tomorrow.  But, in the meantime, I want to point you to the blog post I did at work today.CFAR is celebrating Ada Lovelace Day, by having staff share their favorite women in science, math, and technology.  You can read our picks (mine included) chez nous. … [Read more...]

Christian H’s Turing Strategy

Christian H inspired the bonus question in this year's Ideological Turing Test, and took home a prize for Miss Intellectual Congeniality when his honest Christian round entry turned out to be the one that atheist judges were most likely to rate as written by someone interesting enough to have a coffee-argument with.  However, his fellow Christians didn't recognize him as one of our own.  He was the least likely real Christian to be recognized as such, and only 11% of Christian judges rated him as … [Read more...]