Change, Growth, and Two Papacies

I am a lawyer by training. In the U.S., this implies a certain belief in (or at least acceptance of) the value of precedent: that evaluations of disputes (and even of the meaning of the text of laws) should take into consideration how previous courts have interpreted those same texts, or held in related disputes.…

The Oddity of Theodicy

For many years, Google’s unofficial mantra was, reportedly, “Don’t be evil.” This sounds simple, and is a great aspiration, but is a) too low a bar (note the double negative, it’s not “be good”), and b) presumes that a bunch of computer scientists and business leaders are also fairly sophisticated philosophers who have a robust…

Talking About Flawed Patrons

Who are our forefathers? Why do we care? At one level, all identity/lineage, whether family, religious, or national is in pursuit of the same validation, that we know/have a place in the world, that we are part of a bigger story that runs deeper than the shallow activities that fill much of our days. We…

Economics and Arguments

I started out thinking I’d be an econ major in undergrad. The positivity (v. normativity) of “rational actor” analysis appealed to me, and it felt like a way to employ my talents for quantitative thinking for something more than simple math problems. I took Microeconomics with Prof. Robert H. Frank at Cornell, and his “economic…

Accepting Ignorance

I’m coming to appreciate the importance of humility. I consider myself a pretty smart/knowledgeable guy about a lot of different topics; prioritizing breadth of education and learning has been a central element of my self-identity for a long time. As a new parent, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I don’t know…

Reading and Reputation

If you’re like me, there are books that you enjoy having on your shelf because other people may think you’re smart/deep for having read them, and others that you don’t read in public (or hide the titles if you do) because they don’t fit with the image you try to project. Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch…

Growth and Reconciliation

I’ve fallen behind on these posts (and on my reading) again. It’s hard to sustain setting aside time for such development when there are immediate demands (including a few stage combat gigs, thankfully!), but I believe it’s important. Important for me, personally, to keep growing through this particular challenge that I set out for myself…

Institutions and Evil

What do we do when we believe that people we disagree with are not only misguided, but evil, and a threat to our society, values, or even the world? If we believe that the depth of the threat excuses actions we would otherwise condemn (e.g., violence, humiliation, theft, separation of families), we are confronted with…

Interlude: In Defense of Books

Three years ago I set out to read one book from every aisle in the stacks of Cornell University’s Olin library. 60 books later (and nearly halfway through the third floor) I am certain that I would not have requested or sought out more than two of those books from other libraries, but I am…