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...]

Keeping the Past a Foreign Country

Sculpture at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Israel

At The American Conservative today, I'm discussing a new method of recording oral histories that would let museum curators tweak the words and even the facial expressions of the interviewee long after they have died.  For now, the goal is to make oral histories responsive and interactive--giving viewers the chance to ask the hologram questions and have a computer pick the right clip on the fly, so it feels like a conversation.  The pilot test is being done with Pinchas Gutter, a Holocaust su … [Read more...]

Making and Breaking Deals… in SPACE

SpaceX Dragon

My most recent pieces for The American Conservative are about bargains that are questionably made and broken, and one of them is out of this world.  First up, a kind of rigged deal that has probably affected every reader of this blog, followed by boycotts you may have participated in, and, finally, a disputed deal that justified the photo from space above.  General Mills and Consumers’ Contracting Access to Courts In films, signing a contract is a considered, deliberate affair. Pens ar … [Read more...]