From the year 2011

a letter to the demonized poor
in Culture

When I was going to school in Ann Arbor, there was a corner that I would always walk past on the journey from my apartment to the campus gym and back again. One day, there was a woman standing there, who politely and in a meek and humble way asked, “Can you spare some change […]

what is a theory?
in Politics, Science

Recently, Michelle Bachman said: “Why would we forestall any particular theory? Because I don’t think that even evolutionists, by and large, would say that this is proven fact. They say that this is a theory…” This is really just an echo of the continuous drone of the “evolution is just a theory” mantra that has been […]

when a promise isn’t a promise
in Politics

When I am elected president, I will eliminate speeding tickets and instead impose heavy fines on people who do not use their turn signals. I will build a collection of pyramids in Nevada desert in order to demonstrate American Exceptionalism.  All cars will be able to run on expired grocery products within a year of […]

have a stochastic Christmas
in Science
Christmas Tree Decorations

The decorating of the Christmas tree, for me, is always a time to reflect on family, love, charity, and of course probability theory. Each year, we choose a different selection of ornament “styles” from the huge collection of ornaments that we have in storage. Last year, it was doves and metal and glass ornaments. This […]

violence in the media
in History

I was laying in bed reading my book, and came across this picture. And I just busted out laughing.  I don’t know which is more funny, the completely serene expressions on the faces of the inquisitors on either side, or the really really pissed look on the face of the dude with the axe.   […]

college bodybuilder cooking tips
in Fitness

Dear K***, Based on your last letter, I think we should start ramping up your calories faster than we originally planned. We still have to do this gradually, and intelligently. But with you being 22 years old, 6’2″ and 158 with not an ounce of bodyfat on you, we can’t afford for you to have […]

the Republican legislative process
in Politics
Republican legislative process


more racist than you think
in Politics

Today on the radio I heard a conservative commentator repeat something that I hear a lot: “In America today, racism is not as big a factor as people think.” This is just a slightly less abrasive way of saying what I heard Sean Hannity say several weeks ago, that “Blacks will start voting for the […]

what’s your number?
in Culture

People have a ridiculous obsession with being measured. You want to make an online app that is an immediate success? Create a website that tells people their score for how beautiful their face is, their level of influence on the internet, or even the number of people who were born before them in all of […]

bread and water and the voting process
in History, Politics

In our currently paralyzed political condition in the United States, we could learn a little from some of the ancient political systems in history. Take the Holy Roman Empire, for example. Now there were some people who knew how to get stuff done. The Holy Roman Empire was an elective monarchy since the 10th century. […]

influential people
in Culture

Recently someone microblogged: “Who are the most influential people on Google+? I’m compiling a list.” All wise-cracks about the idea of “the most influential people on Google+” aside, this question got me thinking: what does it mean for someone to be “influential”, and why do people spend so much time obsessing about it? The popular […]

can’t I just please objectify SOMEONE?
in Culture

Andy Towle’s fantastic blog brought to my attention a scuffle between GQ Australia and Dustin Lance Black. Maybe I am too forgiving, but I don’t think the GQ writer was being homophobic or malicious. I think he’s just a typical straight guy. Poor dear. First, let me sum up what the scuffle was about (although […]

interviewing Occupy Wall Street
in Politics

Sean Hannity is a genius. No matter what you think of his opinions (and many different people think many different things), you have to admit: he is very good at his job. Today I listened with fascination to his “on the street” interviews with people from the Occupy Wall Street crowd. His tactics were simple […]

Thomas Jefferson was an anarchist
in History, Politics

Everything today is “there are two sides to every story.” Yet we look at our “established” beliefs and can barely imagine believing anything else. It’s easy to forget that, historically, everything has always had a “second side” to it. The “inalienable rights” of the Declaration of Independence, for example. As recently as 200 years ago, […]

Republicans are sad highschool girls
in Politics

You all know the stereotype. She’s been a character in sitcoms for over half a century, and has often had entire episode plots based on her dysfunction. And you all know the standard scenes and scenarios that she appears in… Scene 1: She asks the hunky guy [read: Chris Christie] to go to a movie […]

AOL and the nature of religious belief
in Religion

My mom has finally decided to give up AOL, after 10 years, and helping her through this transition has been a profoundly educational experience for me. For one thing, it has given me some insights about conservative evangelical Christianity. AOL is a service that provides end-to-end access to internet content. This means that AOL acts […]

taxes and fairness, Facebook-style!
in Politics

Someone on my friends list posted one of the copy-and-paste political posts, and I just couldn’t help myself. After all, it was about one of my favorite topics: taxes! Other Person: To all those who don’t think their taxes are high enough and would be willing to pay more. Here is the address you can […]

the government is your right foot
in Politics

Q:You are in a car traveling at 100 MPH heading directly to a wall that is 40 feet in front of you. Should you bother braking? A:Of course, you moron! That’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard. Even if you know that the car won’t be able to stop completely before you hit the wall, […]

eating kittens cures cancer
in Politics

Imagine you hear this: “I know that you think that eating kittens is wrong, but I know for a fact that it cures cancer, so we need to allow people to do it.” What do you think of that argument? Just to be clear, let’s allow the conversation to go further: Person A: “Some people […]

the naysayers vs the apologists
in Politics

Consistent with the current climate of extreme division, Democrats frequently seem to fall into two distinct (and extreme) groups: those for whom the President Can Do No Wrong, and those for whom the President Can Do No Right. In reality, I don’t think Democrats believe either. I think these groups reflect different ways of dealing […]