Revisiting the “political restaurants”

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Markov Defections

A recent state legislature election in Virginia piqued my interest because it featured a candidate rematch of a contest that I featured in the first post of this blog almost two years ago because of its interesting mathematical implications. That 2017 House of Delegates vote ended in a tie, and it was resolved months later literally by drawing lots. The… Read more »

Book Review: “A Decent Life” by Todd May

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Ever since Aristotle tried to simplify the complexity of ethical reasoning down to his one-word concept of virtue, successive theologians and philosophers have been throwing out words or short phrases for labeling their life’s work formulations. Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) came up with his duty-based categorical imperative. My own study of this field in the 1990s was heavily influenced… Read more »

The probability of “Deep State” and other conspiracies

The recent $450,000 defamation judgement against a conspiracy theorist who targeted the parent of a Sandy Hook massacre victim reminded me that crazy conspiratorial thinking is often not a harmless exercise. Instead, the social media memes that spread unfounded rumors and plots can cause real damage. The grieving Sandy Hook parents, for instance, have received a steady flood of hate… Read more »

Donald Trump and the moral conversation – part 2

The moral conversation

In Part One of this post I looked at the first two “vectors” of the moral conversation that “walks our brain” through its different moral and ethical decision-making sub-parts as we contemplate the moral state of the Trump Presidency. In this last part I will “complete the circle” by looking at two more ethical vectors, empathy and meta-ethics.

Donald Trump and the moral conversation – part 1

The moral conversation

In a post last year I proposed a method with some decent theological, philosophical and scientific bases for conducting moral conversations about those difficult issues on which “good people disagree.” It is time to attempt to have that conversation about the state of the U.S. Presidency.

Bending the odds with social policy

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Anisela-and-Roberto

I became familiar with the work of two of the most recent winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics about seven years ago when I started volunteering with Outreach International, a non-profit organization that works in ten countries around the world to help communities find sustainable solutions to end extreme poverty. Nobel awardees Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo wrote an… Read more »

Schlemiels, schlimazels, probability and free will

Laverne & Shirley

“The brain is a machine that remembers the past in order to predict the future.” — Dean Buonomano [1] Schlemiel and schlimazel are two Yiddish words known to many only by their mention in the theme song to the old television show Laverne and Shirley. In the classic definition, the schlemiel is the bungler who is always spilling soup on… Read more »

The bottom-up capitalism of Elizabeth Warren

I have lived and worked in Europe in past years, and we still visit regularly. Contrary to the views of Americans who never have traveled there, “classic capitalism” is alive and well in small communities across supposedly “socialist” northern Europe, and they are often far healthier than many U.S. communities of similar size. Small-business entrepreneurship is commonly evident and the… Read more »

The “giant cash suck” of healthcare – part 2

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In a prior post I introduced my view that we are not paying enough attention in the healthcare discussion to the top-line “giant cash suck” that causes U.S. healthcare costs to be over twice the per-capita level of many countries that achieve true universal coverage while delivering equal or better outcomes. In this second part, I will explore where much… Read more »