Politics and Values

Freddie DeBoer seems to partly have people like me in mind when he complains, as he often does, that people don’t take his profession of left-wing faith at face value. He’s more concerned about these recriminations from the Actual Left, of course. Lots of people, from all over the political spectrum – obviously including the…

Booked to Die (Review)

After reading John Dunning’s Booked to Die, I spent some time trying to find out who else had been nominated for a 1992 Edgar, only to find out I was wrong about the "else." It wasn’t even nominated in the "best first novel" category. This just seems like the sort of book that should have…

Duped by the Birthday Paradox

A well-known counterintuitive fact about probability is the birthday problem – the idea that the odds of two people in a group sharing a birthday increases much more rapidly with the size of the group than most people expect. Most people’s intuition seems to be roughly linear: odds increase more or less uniformly with each…

Ken White on GamerGate: a graze, maybe

Ken White has posted a pretty cogent series of ten rants about GamerGate over at Popehat, partly in response to excesses in the comments section of Clark’s epic GamerGate post a few days earlier. On the whole, it’s all right on point. Unfortunately, as per usual with Ken, it’s marred by a bit of underhandedness…

World Cup Predictions

For what it’s worth (and admittedly very late), here are my predications for the remainder of the tournament. It’s one of those things where the final looks wrong, and yet given all the match-ups, I wouldn’t change any of my choices. For all the hype about Colombia, I’m pretty certain that Brazil will beat them.…

Fact Checking is not a High Priority at the Guardian

Speaking of the German election, would it kill The Guardian to fact-check its articles before they go online? In this writeup they seem to have skipped reading the SPD’s actual election results – which is OK and all, because it’s like, you know, only the second-largest party participating in the election. All other parties [besides…

STTNG – Who Watches the Watchers

One of Next Generation‘s more famous episodes – this is “the one about those people who have no gods.” The Enterprise receives a distress signal from an anthropological observation post on a planet whose cover is about to be blown by yet another one of those technical snafus that even a modicum of careful planning…

STTNG – Q Who

Stellar. But … how the hell did they sneak this one past Roddenberry? I mean, it’s an open secret that Roddenberry was largely out of the loop by the end of the second season, but this one is so thorough and explicit about upending every classic Star Trek vanity that you’d think he’d have had…

Dear Libertarians: Stop Apologizing for Ron Paul

Glenn Greenwald has made the case that Ron Paul’s candidacy should be welcomed by progressives in the current political climate even if you don’t support him (which I gather Greenwald does not). Let me now make the same case for Libertarians. If it seems strange to you that a Libertarian would need to make the…

Very Bad Deaths: A review

Is it bad for the author to preach in novels? Conventional wisdom tells us it is. And certainly the novels I hate the worst are the ones that tried to shove some half-thought point of view down my throat through plot contrivance, cartoonish characters, or outright exposition. But a lot of my favorite novels are…