Monthly Archives: September 2016

What I Learned on 9/11

On September 11, 2001, I caught the last train into Manhattan (from Hoboken) and tried to go to work. This was a huge mistake, but I didn’t realize it until the police frantically cleared the PATH station when the train hit 33rd Street. I sat on the stoop of the comic store, waiting in vain for a […]


This is a line from Catch-22, from Yossarian’s critique of God: “What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements?” Certainly incontinence is objectively bad, insofar as any loss of ability is bad, but Yossarian is persuasive […]

Problems for Any Future Progress: The Crutch Problem

Anything you rely on too much gets called a crutch. Do you use subsidies as a crutch? Do you use drugs as a crutch? Do you use mental illness as a crutch? (These lazily-googled links are not interesting, they’re just there to establish usage in the corpus.) Always the implication is that crutches are bad. […]

Problems for Any Future Progress: The Escalator Problem

Escalators are great and efficient, and they can help you get up stairs almost twice as fast! Unless, like almost everyone, you stand on them, in which case they are slightly slower than climbing the stairs, and also they are more expensive to install and maintain than stairs, and also you got no exercise today. […]

Problems for Any Future Progress: The Toothbrush Problem

On any given night, if you don’t brush your teeth before bedtime, nothing bad will happen to you. In fact,  you’ll get a few extra minutes to read in bed. Yet if you never brush your teeth, all your teeth will fall out. At any moment, it is rational not to brush your teeth — […]

Problematizing Dissent

I’m not here to pick on someone whose family has suffered so much (ha ha), but I think Williams’s statement above, while tempting, is dangerous. Tumblr (where you may have seen this very meme) spends a lot of time talking about how white male is a “default setting” in our culture, and they’re not wrong. […]

The Inconvenient Truth about Al Gore

The only time in my life I seriously doubted anthropogenic climate change was immediately after watching Al Gore’s mockumentary An Inconvenient Truth. “If he really has so much evidence that humans cause global warming,” I thought as I watched, “why did he make a documentary so devoid of it? Why the obvious fraud and fakery? […]