Writing

I have been listening to an audiobook of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s: Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. It’s full of interesting concepts and engaging writing. In one passage, Taleb describes the anxiety of the investor who feels the need to constantly check on how well an investment […]

{ 0 comments }

The New York Times has published an exceptional long article by Scott Anderson about the history of the Middle East since 2003. It’s an ambitious text to have written, not a trivial task to read, and perhaps a suggestion that print journalism is enduring in its dedication to telling complicated stories, despite ongoing challenges to […]

{ 4 comments }

My PhD committee members probably feel like I have fallen off the face of the Earth. Seemingly decades ago, my hope was to have my thesis proposal submitted for approval by December 2015. Now, I am getting close to the point where I think the draft will be worth circulating to committee members and potential […]

{ 0 comments }

The main storytelling device in William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral is after-the-fact exposition (ATFE), which gives it the feeling of a mystery more than conventional science fiction. Rather than tell you in advance how a world or a technology works, Gibson shows you the results without context and provides the explanation later. This does well […]

{ 4 comments }

It’s strange that a stage show running in one city is affecting the whole continent, but New York isn’t a normal place and Lin-Manuel Miranda clearly isn’t a normal man. The killing in Orlando originally prompted my personal doctrine in response to political violence: refuse to be terrorized. One or a few people armed and […]

{ 5 comments }

I have written before about banned books. In this video, a contemporary author discusses the experience of having his novel banned for containing apparently mature content: His closer — about deferring to librarians to make such judgments – differs from the more common narrative that rejects such curation entirely.

{ 1 comment }

The Economist recently printed an article about free speech on university campuses in the U.S.. In particular, they contrast thedemands.org which they say “lists speech-curbing demands from students at 72 institutions” and the Chicago Statement which argues that “[c]oncerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as justification for closing off discussion of […]

{ 0 comments }

I have come across a lot of exciting material for my PhD project in the last few weeks. Documents like the papal encyclical Laudato Si raise interesting questions about the connections between the faith community’s involvement in the effort against climate change, anti-capitalism, and the moral contemplation of the environment. For instance, there are interesting […]

{ 2 comments }

The pope had been an actor before he became a priest, and his triumphant return to Poland in 1979 revealed that he had lost none of his theatrical skills. Few leaders of his era could match him in his ability to use words, gestures, exhortations, rebukes — even jokes — to move the hearts and […]

{ 0 comments }

I had my first meeting with U of T’s research ethics people, regarding my proposed PhD project. One thing they drew my attention to is some of the policy language in the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, which is like the north star for research ethics in Canada. One policy […]

{ 0 comments }