Running the numbers on smokers, migrants, cancer, and drones

This past week at FiveThirtyEight, I've been covering the grim calculus of migrant ships, the difficult data on drones, smoking laws, and cancer tests.  Read on below!  Migrants Trying To Cross The Mediterranean Are Leaving One Risk For Another When countries confront refugees that aren’t in mortal danger, they’ve found ways to avoid allowing migrants to land and file asylum pleas. In 2013, Australia set up new patrols to intercept boats of refugees arriving from Indonesia and to tow t … [Read more...]

I’ve taken a job at FiveThirtyEight!

I'm pleased to announce that I've started working this week at FiveThirtyEight.  I'm a news writer, so most of my pieces will be shorter, news cycle-driven pieces on data angles in the stories of the day.  I like to read "data" a little broadly, so I'm as excited to write about choices of methodology as I am to take a crack at a big dataset myself.My first piece as a staffer went up yesterday, and I've got a couple of links for you all to pieces I wrote earlier for the site.  I'll still be bl … [Read more...]

Plato Disappoints at the Googleplex

I'm over at First Things today, reviewing Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's Plato at the Googleplex, in which she writes new dialogues for Plato, in modern contests, answering modern questions.  Here's a teaser: When scientists like Laurence Krauss and Neil deGrasse Tyson call philosophers to answer for their crimes today, the lovers of wisdom aren’t accused of anything as exciting as corrupting the youth.In Rebecca Goldstein’s telling, Plato’s greatest danger is his elitism. She’s less worried … [Read more...]

Amazon Foreshadows Internet Fights to Come

Debates over net neutrality tend to be a bit abstract and hypothetical for consumers.  Net neutrality had been the status quo for the internet since we all started using it, so, thinking of the consequences of changing this standard requires making an imaginative leap.  That's why I did a walk through of the Amazon/Hachette fight for The American Conservative this week and traced out the way it foreshadows fights between ISPs and websites:Amazon’s War Is First in a Series The FCC is c … [Read more...]

When Asking for Help is Generous

My piece in the most recent print edition of The American Conservative came out from behind the paywall today, and it's about friendships, shared needs, Nisbet.... and massively multiplayer online roleplaying games.  If you read it, like it, and share it, you'll have a ready made excuse to ask favors of other people and look askance at LMGTFY links.  (Oh, and if you haven't heard of LMGTFY, then, here, let me Google that for you). Even new, online forms of association and friendship can suffer f … [Read more...]

In Which I Am Not Moved By Pandas

  Yesterday, at The American Conservative, I wrote a little about what the ends of conservation are, and what projects properly fall within that sphere.  That's perhaps a dry way of putting it; a more vivid way would be the subject line a friend sent the article out under "Leah at her most unsentimental."  But I don't know how someone could have possibly gotten that impression from a post titled: "Save Smallpox, Not Pandas." These new setbacks only represent a marginal increase in difficulty fo … [Read more...]

The Unexpected Consequences of Laws and Lies

Two of my recent posts at The American Conservative turned out to be about unintended consequences.  The first, "Drop Those Wedding Rings in the Name of the Law," covered the suit filed by the United Church of Christ in North Carolina to be allowed to perform private, unofficial, same-sex weddings.Currently, it is illegal for anyone who can conduct legal weddings to conduct extra-legal ones.  It's a bizarre constraint on religious practice, but the original purpose of the law has nothing to d … [Read more...]