How I Think About Risk: Insurance

I recently decided to purchase more life insurance. We are a single-income household, and while my wife could go back to work in the event of something horrific happening to me, I wanted to make sure that she and our daughter would have ample time to grieve and decide what made sense for them. I…

The Path to Sainthood

There are three different ways to become a saint, each indicating something different about the individual involved. If the purpose of reading saints’ lives is to be inspired to live well and become a better person, some of these paths are more applicable to a modern context (at least in America) than others. First, there…

Perfection and Holiness

Asceticism and hermitism have fascinated me for a long time, (which might surprise those who know me as a convivial, gregarious person who loves an audience). Judaism’s focus on community are largely incompatible with such practices, so I’m not sure where the interest comes from, but I think it’s a combination of feeling daunted by…

Living with Frogs

We moved to our home in the country 5 years ago, and I was not expecting to see so many frogs, or to become so protective of them. They range from the fingernail-sized peepers that sometimes cling to our screen doors, to the fist-sized brown toads I sometimes find in the garden, but after a…

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…

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…

Power and Identity

Project status update: I realized I’ve been doing this reading project for over three years; I’ve read 60 books, done write-ups on 13, and am over halfway through one side of one floor of the library. At this rate it would take me another 40 years. Time to pick up the pace. Yvonne Chireau’s Black…

Individualism and Community

I really enjoy being a part of a University community. Even though I’m staff and not faculty, I like the sense of shared purpose, identity, and value of knowledge that it implies and conveys. At the same time, I often want to think/exist as an individual, and believe that mindlessly accepting communal ideals is an…

Exceptionalism and Principles

In my day job advising MBAs pursuing consulting careers, I give a lot of students practice interviews, especially case interviews. A typical case interview presents a hypothetical business/client problem and asks the student to lay out a structured approach to the problem. So far, so good. At some point in some cases, however, the student…