Category: The Real World

Pulling as hard as you can

Listening to a Rationally Speaking episode from last year (ostensibly about the debate over sex differences in the human brain), I ran across this gem of a quote from Julia Galef: …maybe when people are giving their arguments or stating their position, what they’re… Continue Reading “Pulling as hard as you can”

COVID: Some Ways Out

(4000 words, ~12 minutes to read) It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day mire of COVID-19 statistics, analyses, and hot-takes. But what I really want to know is: What might a post-COVID world look like? And what are some ways to get there?… Continue Reading “COVID: Some Ways Out”

Slogans: What We Say and What We Mean

(1600 words, 5-6 minutes to read. Sorry in advance for the many, many quotation marks.) Growing up, my dad used to play this game where he’d dissect a word and interpret each piece literally. “Do you want to know where the word ‘politics’ comes… Continue Reading “Slogans: What We Say and What We Mean”

Against the Police-Free World That Nobody is Asking For

(1100 words, ~4 minutes to read) I’ve mostly stayed away from the most extreme discussions going on right now regarding police reform, but it’s becoming difficult to dodge. The slogans “Defund the Police” or “Abolish the Police” are tossed around frequently, with different people… Continue Reading “Against the Police-Free World That Nobody is Asking For”

Regulation as Friction

Recently spotted on Twitter: “Regulation” makes it sound abstract and far away, like someone setting the dial on their thermostat; “Impediment” is much better. To me, impediment connotes a roadblock, barrier, or even solid wall blocking the path of one or another organization, which… Continue Reading “Regulation as Friction”

Zoom: The Other Exponential Growth Story of 2020

First, my own anecdotal point of view: Sometime last year I recall seeing a group on my campus handing out flyers for some (new?) video conferencing app called Zoom. I’d never heard of it! I looked at the brochure, decided that the features sure… Continue Reading “Zoom: The Other Exponential Growth Story of 2020”

The Long Haul

(1700 words, ~6 minutes to read) You’ve been sent to prison, but you haven’t committed a crime. You’re stuck in your cell, day after day, briefly let out for food and medicine. Of course, this means your plans are cancelled for a while; you… Continue Reading “The Long Haul”

Dark Side of Sharing

(700 words, 2-3 minutes to read) We live in a confusing time. 1) I often see “news articles” that contain blatant lies, or at least heavily doctored facts, making incendiary claims about this or that political/religious/ethnic group. There’s a temptation to share such articles,… Continue Reading “Dark Side of Sharing”

Should We Reward “Bad People” Who Unexpectedly Do Good Things?

(1100 words, 3 minutes to read) Big news this week: in Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, Mitt Romney voted to remove him from office. This is big news precisely because we live in such a tribal world, where everyone’s well-justified expectation is for… Continue Reading “Should We Reward “Bad People” Who Unexpectedly Do Good Things?”

Derivatives of Progress

(2,200 words, 7-9 minutes to read) I am a human, born in what is not yet known as the year 10,000 BC in what is not yet known as the Fertile Crescent. My tribe survives by finding and eating food that is naturally occurring… Continue Reading “Derivatives of Progress”