7 Quick Takes (9/24/10)

7 Quick Takes (9/24/10) September 24, 2010


This week feels like last week all over again.  Once again, I’m due for another response to Justin Martyr on gay adoption.  That post will run next week.  I’m also still not quite done with my sequence of posts on the theology of Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series.  The last post in that sequence will go up some time this weekend.

That means that a new featured sequence will start next week…


And speaking of which: this week I ran into some representatives from Yale Students for Christ.  The organization gives away free copies of apologetic works (I’m still grateful to them for my copy of Mere Christianity) and is glad to have conversations with non-Christians about their faith.  I appreciated the patience of the boy I spoke to, but I was unsatisfied with some of his answers to my questions.

Therefore, this coming week, I’m going to be posting about my three most basic questions and doubts about any religion.  I really look forward to your comments on these questions.


Earlier this week, I took issue with a post by Bryan Caplan, but he had an excellent post this week that I’d like to highlight.  Caplan takes aim at the utilitarian ethics that too often guide our policy by standing the conventional wisdom on its head:

We almost never have ethical arguments about when it’s morally permissible for them to do terrible things to us.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a debate about:

  1. When is it morally permissible for them to deliberately drop a nuclear bomb on our civilians?
  2. When is it morally permissible for them to launch an attack that they expect will lead to ten civilian deaths for every target killed?
  3. When is it morally permissible for them to torture one of us?

I’d love to hear Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, et al explain what American actions would justify the Taliban in torturing teenagers.

Obama has plenty to answer for, too.


And speaking of Obama’s missteps, I have a column up at The Huffington Post about the Democratic Party’s utter failure to take action on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Here’s a quote:

When progressives see ourselves as on the cutting edge of a new order, although change may be urgent, it feels inevitable. When conservatives define themselves as the “man standing athwart history yelling stop,” their every chance is a last chance and impossibly important. No wonder there’s an enthusiasm gap.


There’s an excellent post on counterproductive math education at dy/dan that ought to be required reading for all math teachers (and for all parents so they can call this kind of behavior out).  Here’s the money quote:

Instead of giving students realistic situations that they could analyze, textbook authors began to fill books with make-believe contexts — contexts that students were meant to believe but for which they should not use any of their real-world knowledge. Students are frequently asked to work on questions involving, for example, the price of food and clothes, the distribution of pizza, the numbers of people who can fit into an elevator, and the speeds of trains as they rush toward each other, but they are not meant to use any of their actual knowledge of clothing prices, people, or trains. Indeed, if they do engage in the questions and use their real-world knowledge, they will fail. Students come to know this about math class. They know that they are entering a realm in which common sense and real-world knowledge are not needed.

He’s running a contest for most egregious example of this technique, if you have old worksheets or textbooks handy.


Science is the process of discovering new questions we don’t know the answer to.  The most pressing of these is, of course, What would happen if you stuck your hand in the Large Hadron Collider?  

Inquiring minds want to know!

Scientists take a crack at it below (h/t Gizmodo):



In case you’ve forgotten how the LHC works, brush up by viewing this highly informative, highly delightful rap video.

Oh man, now that song will be stuck in my head all day.


[Seven Quick Things is a blog carnival run by Jen of Conversion Diary]

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