When is Humor Abusive?

In the wake of the violent attack on Charlie Hebdo, millions of people have been cheering for the magazine as a bastion of free-speech in the face of intolerance and violent censorship. But many moderate French muslims have pointed out that while they disagree with the violent attack, they still find the satirical depiction of Muhammad to be offensive. […]

End of the World

In my last post I briefly mocked Harold Bloom for predicting the end of good literature. To some extent I just wanted to make a pun on his name (“Harold of the Apocalypse”), but I also think that doomsaying is fascinating phenomenon while simultaneously a sort of cognitive fallacy. Whether people predict the whole kit […]

The Quality of Writing

In 2003, a surprisingly short decade ago, the National Book Foundation gave the award for “distinguished contribution” to Stephen King. Harold Bloom, the well-known literary critic and professor, was so infuriated that he wrote a the column in the Boston Globe decrying the “Dumbing Down of American Readers.” Now its easy for me to call […]

Issues of Copyright

Copyright law is frustrating because it is both a space where government policy and current discourse fail to understand the realities of modern technology and also a space that is actively manipulated by large corporations. It’s ethically problematic, because its not clearly benign the way gay marriage is, but its also not harmful the way […]

Homemade Guns: Printed and Improvised

As our government debates gun control I thought I’d consider some of the curious questions that arise. One of the most pressing issues is the possibility of 3D printed guns. Which is to say, the issue of 3D printed guns because they already exist. Cody R. Wilson and his compatriots have designed such a gun […]

The Big Five

I’m told that all the tourists who come to Kenya are filled with the desire to see five particular animals, called The Big Five. Included are Lions, elephants, rhinos, water buffalo and leopards. I’m reminded of the Mongolian Five Snouts (sheep, camels, goats, horses, and cattle) but I digress. I was extremely fortunate in that, while at the […]