Essays

Politics and Exhibition Games
August 19, 20194 min read

Politics and Exhibition Games

One of the reasons politics is often so bad in practice is because what people care about within the political arena isn’t what a rational outside observer would say they ought to care about. For example, very few Americans have strong policy preferences, or at least strong policy preferences outside of the context of political […]
A Social Media Conundrum
August 5, 20198 min read

A Social Media Conundrum

Back in March, I think it was, I quit social media for a while. It wasn’t planned, but instead the result of getting pulled away from Twitter for a week, and then realizing I didn’t much miss it and seemed to be a good deal happier besides. But eventually my resolve slipped and I got […]
If Buddhism Requires Anarchism, Why Didn’t the Buddha Say So?
July 22, 20196 min read

If Buddhism Requires Anarchism, Why Didn’t the Buddha Say So?

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about how Buddhist ethical first principles commit Buddhists to probably political anarchism. The basic argument was simple: According to Buddhism, to even begin to practice, one must accept the Five Precepts. The first two are “to abstain from taking life” and “to abstain from taking what […]
Detective Pikachu, Avengers, and the Appeal of Esoteric Entertainment
May 4, 20192 min read

Detective Pikachu, Avengers, and the Appeal of Esoteric Entertainment

I don’t know anything about Pokémon, but my kids are into it, and so I’ve been checking our reviews of the new Detective Pikachu movie. The reviews from Pokémon fans are quite good. The negative reviews largely complain that it’s inaccessible to people unfamiliar with the source material. Along similar lines, one of the few […]
April 9, 20196 min read

On Quitting Social Media

A few weeks ago I got sick with a stomach bug. It was bad, the sickest I’ve been in a long time. Bad enough, in fact, that I ended up in the ER suffering from severe dehydration. So not a terribly great time. But there was a silver lining. I was miserable enough for long […]
The Sadness of a Border “Emergency”
February 15, 20192 min read

The Sadness of a Border “Emergency”

I got stuck watching a bit of Fox News a month or so ago. One of the things that really struck me was how quickly it became clear that its target audience is terrified, and of very nearly everything. In the world of Fox News, blacks are protesting not to prevent police violence, but to […]
On racists in government and sunlight as a disinfectant
January 19, 20194 min read

On racists in government and sunlight as a disinfectant

Rep. Steve King of Iowa said some pretty racist things. Again. This time, though, they were both shockingly unambiguous and came after a midterm election where the GOP got shellacked, and where its only hope to regain ground is in appealing to the kinds of people who don’t find racism all that appealing. So his […]
My Year in Books Part 2: Grim Darkness
January 9, 20196 min read

My Year in Books Part 2: Grim Darkness

Last week I talked about the books on Buddhism I read in 2018, which made up the bulk of my nonfiction reading for the year. Today I turn to fiction and, continuing the pattern, most of it stuck to a single topic, namely science fiction in the universe of Warhammer 40,000. But this isn’t just […]
My Year in Books Part 1: Buddhism
January 3, 20196 min read

My Year in Books Part 1: Buddhism

I read 43 books in 2018. That doesn’t include all the ones I needed only to look at part of, or skimmed, or gave up on. It was a weird reading year. Usually I’m more well-rounded in my reading, but 2018 saw me laser focused on two topics that don’t seem to have much to […]
The Hole: A Novel of Supernatural Apocalypse
October 15, 20183 min read

The Hole: A Novel of Supernatural Apocalypse

The world as Elliot Bishop and Evajean Rhodes know it is gone. Destroyed. In just two weeks, a horrific plague raged across the planet – driving its victims insane before killing them.  The two survivors set out on an unimaginable journey, driven by a cryptic message from Evajean’s husband: If anything terrible happens, you must […]