Guest Blogger


Are Honor Codes Still Necessary?

Rampant cheating at my university was bad enough; more troubling was the culture of omertà among the professors.

Shame: An Argument for Preserving “Those” Monuments

In spite of myself, something in my gut told me that the statue of General Robert E. Lee should have stayed.

Missing Michael Cromartie

We need bridges between journalism and religion now more than ever.

Once and Always a Criminal?

Michelle Jones's statement that she killed her son partly because of her own trauma and psychological breakdown speaks to an unresolved tension in our thinking about crime.

Navalny’s Gamble

The lesson the young protesters received on the Day of Russia was clear: They cannot expect the current government to change.

In Defense of Dirty Meat: Ecology, Techno-Utopianism, and the Cultured Meat Movement

Should food have loftier aspirations than merely satisfying hunger?

Terror, Photographed

Terror trades in images—it needs spectators to feed itself.

We Need a (Historian) Hero

What we really need right now is a new kind of hero—calling all historians!

The Groot Gang: Superheroes, Politics, and Art

Just as the first detective was a thief, the first superheroes were supervillains.

The Crisis in the Climate Change Crisis

“Crisis” itself is in crisis, such that both the structure and urgency of the crisis of climate change could elude us.

The New Russian Revolution Will Not Be Televised

March 26 was the seventeenth anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s election to the Presidency of Russia. The day did not turn out as Putin had probably hoped.

Beyond the Legality of Executive Orders

On the seventy-fifth anniversary of Executive Order 9066, John Inazu warns us about acting through fear.

Illiberalism Rising

Both the left and the right warn of growing illiberalism.

Support Your Local Cat Café

The cat café, I suggest with tongue only slightly in cheek, is a spiritual oasis in the hypercompetitive urban landscape.

Pericles in Waveland

We need romantic amplitude of experience lest life become nothing more than King Lear and the Yankees winning all the time.

After the Know-Nothings

Hope for our troubled times.

An Academic Haven Under Fire

The Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins is under threat.

The Election Everyone Lost

We have to give ourselves—individually and collectively—to the work of re-imagining the meaning of our nation.

Where Now, America?

My family worked hard to join a nation that would respect us. We became Americans. We loved American traditions. But today, we feel lost.

A Political Revolution

What happened yesterday?

Putin’s Russia: Playing the Cultural Conservative Card

In the twentieth century, Russia presented itself to the world as a model of a different way of life. In this century, things haven’t changed.

Calibrating the Moral Compass

The necessary but unavoidable complexities of character education.

Why Not to Despair When the Barbarians Are at the Gate

The Creator is a comedian, and we’ve all become too pious, cynical, or despairing to laugh at our circumstances. In the end, shared success is contingent on the individual trusting the timeless human spirit.

A Philosopher Who Matters

While professional philosophers earn tenure parsing syllogisms, Charles Taylor is the embodiment of the Romantic, liberal arts, encyclopedic philosopher who wants to make sense of the whole.

Running the Country Like a Business

Is it enough for a business to turn a profit? Or should a business cultivate human flourishing and shared prosperity to be considered a success?

Desperately Seeking Relevance

Why has relevance become so prominent as a goal and a de facto accomplishment?

Lessons from the Ring—Then and Now

In the sweat-and-blood parlor of the boxing ring, young people deal with feelings they seldom get controlled practice with, such as anxiety and anger.

Which Religious-Liberty Protections Mean Something? A Question for Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is right to point out many “religious liberty” protections are driven by fear. Still, that’s not the only reason.

Why Trump?

Trump makes a lot Americans feel good about being our worst selves.

Public Displays: FBI, Apple, and Preserving Open Debate on Cybersecurity

Private sector involvement in cybersecurity is likely to produce better policy than the government could produce without public or corporate scrutiny.

Why It’s Good to Love Football (Or Any Sport)

Sports provide the rarest of experiences in modern society—an escape into clear-cut-ness.

Against Flat-Earthers (No, Really)

We’re bound to look up to the brave, skeptical iconoclast more than the unassuming puzzle-solver. But we should resist the temptation to valorize scientific iconoclasm.

Media are Elemental: The Life Aboard

Rather than thinking about the relationship between reality and representation, Peters’s theory asks us to see reality itself as mediated.

Media Are Elemental: Protection from the Elements

Understanding the elemental nature of media forces us to consider not only the quality of the “water” that we swim in, but the resources available to deal with its negative consequences.

Being Right: The Legacy of Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau’s ethic of self-governance was a starting point for reconstituting a freshly awakened culture on a moral foundation that refused to accept the sort of compromises—including the Missouri Compromise—that confirmed the moral impotence he so loathed.

The Other Neoliberals

While today’s neoliberalism is excoriated for its contribution to inequality (particularly in economic terms), the other neoliberals demonstrated a fondness for compulsory national service and even a return to the military draft as a means to bridge divisions in our society.

Beyond the Reveal: Opacity in Personal Chrono-tech

In the quest to understand the influence of machinic processes on human agency, there is much to be learned without ever “unboxing” the technologies at hand. As we move forward with the vital work of monitoring and interpreting the multitude of new processes at work behind our technologies of attention, we should take great care not to stop our efforts at the algorithmic reveal.

Beyond the Reveal: Toward Other Hermeneutics

In some ways, our thinking about our technologies and algorithms stands to get stuck on the “reveal,” the first encounter with the existence of a black box. Such reveals are appealing for scholars, artists, and activists––we sometimes like nothing better than to pull back a curtain. But because of our collective habit of establishing new systems to extricate ourselves from old ones, that reveal can set us on a path away from deliberative and deliberate shared social spaces that support our fullest goals for human flourishing.

Beyond the Reveal: A Metaphor’s Effect

Maybe, by structuring our engagement with the experience of Facebook’s opaque processes through the black box metaphor, we’ve set ourselves up to construct a new black box, and ignored the ways in which our relations to others, within and without the present system, have been changed by our newfound awareness.

Beyond the Reveal: Living with Black Boxes

More than a mere Taylorist repeater of actions, the new ideal worker of post-war Human Factors research not only acts but perceives, acting according to learned evaluative routines that correlate sensation to action. The ideal post-War laborer is not a person of a particular physical build, conditioned to perform particular motions, but rather a universalized collection of possible movements, curated and selected according to mathematical principles.

Culture, Authority, and the University

Professors matter a lot, but a good university education requires more than a good professor.

79 Theses on Technology: Our Detachment From Technology

Many of the creators of these technologies want the user to attribute a certain power to these algorithms and have shielded them from the details. Ultimately, I think the most appropriate response is some sort of intellectual humility in the face of technology that we are detached from, without it veering into fear or veneration, or mockery. Only then can we engage with algorithms in the absence of undue emotion and try to see, even if only a bit, what they are actually doing.

79 Theses on Technology: The Spectrum of Attention

What is attention? We can think of attention as a dance whereby we both lead and are led. This image suggests that receptivity and directedness do indeed work together. The proficient dancer knows when to lead and when to be led, and she also knows that such knowledge emerges out of the dance itself. This analogy reminds us, as well, that attention is the unity of body and mind making its way in a world that can be solicitous of its attention.

79 Theses on Technology: The Hand That Holds the Smartphone

The image of hands grasping, texting, and swiping draws our attention to the people at other end of the technologies that shape our lives.

The Law That Changed Modern America

It was an event that transformed America and affected the lives of many around the world: the signing of the most significant immigration law in US history, the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965

In Little League, All Racial Politics Are Local

There is a great irony, even hypocrisy, in Little League International's coming down on Jackie Robinson West now—and only now—that they have won a national championship.

Algorithms Who Art in Apps, Hallowed Be Thy Code

How we talk about algorithms is impeding our ability to think clearly about them and their place in society.

Harnessing Big Data to Democratic Ends

Can we have the benefits of Big Data without the drawbacks? Is there a way to harness the democratic power of information while also promoting democratic open-mindedness and popular empowerment?

From the Archives: "Public Health, Public Enemy?"

If anything has reached epidemic proportions, it is the distrust of government vaccine programs.

An Abd al-Qadir Christmas

Let's recall Emir Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri: a peacemaker, a reconciler, a holy man, and a warrior.

What is Truth in Ferguson and New York City?

What do we know about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the larger issues to which they point?

Crime, Punishment, and Serial

I don’t care whether or not Adnan Syed is guilty anymore. For me, if he is guilty, the big question is how long he should be in jail.

The New Class and The New Republic

The New Republic helped us to see through technological determinism’s crippling fatalism and techno-utopianism’s sonorous pretensions.

The Chokehold That Is Prosecutorial Discretion

Every victim stands at the whim of the prosecutor to determine whether or not a case even starts down the path of seeking justice from a criminal court.

Reflections on Sexual Assault and Its Contemporary Cultural Context

Like everyone in this community, I read the Rolling Stone story about the violent gang rape at the University of Virginia’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity with profound sadness and indignation.

Law and Violence

Missouri’s flawed use-of-force law was in place long before the day Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown.

The Spectacle of Waste

For the second time in as many months the University of Virginia is being asked to reckon with the fact that predatory sexual violence—so prevalent in many parts of the world—is also present in its midst.

Urban Policy: Part 3—Lessons From History

Tracing the development of urban policy in the United States is an often-vexing affair in historical wayfinding. Urban policy in the United States has been, like our metropolitan areas themselves, something of a sprawling mess.

Catholic Responses to Poverty

Shuttling between economics and political philosophy, public policy and theology, literature and ethics—the conference paraded the unique strength of the intellectual Catholicism today—no discipline out of bounds, no perspective non grata.

Urban Policy: Part 2—Lessons for Small Towns

The Feds to small city officials: Have you tried working with your neighbors?

Urban Policy: Part 1—Lessons From the District

Analysts who head straight for urban policy jobs in Washington without first working within their own local communities are probably not going to be able to understand the perspective on the ground, or what real communities need.

Faith in the City: Part IV—American Muslims and the Civic Good

The historic growth of urban American Islam has led some Muslims to respond in innovative ways to the issues and challenges of urban life.

Schools and Local Government: The Best and Worst of Us

From economic protectionism to police brutality to plain old corruption, small governments get into a lot of big brotherish kind of trouble. But if local government is sometimes bad, the alternative is not always better.

Richmond and the Future of Local Food

More than ever we need locally based solutions to transform our communities, and nowhere is this more clear or powerful than with our food.

Do We Really Take Science Too Seriously?

A better understanding of the meaning and limits science will surely help correct the distorted and reductionist views that many today seem to believe scientific knowledge supports.

The Right of Assembly Violently Wrested

The right of peaceable assembly has been at the heart of the struggle of African American equality throughout our nation’s history. When honored, it has yielded important protections. When breached, it has facilitated widespread and systematic oppression.

A New Approach to Poverty

As the poet Philip Larkin said, "sun destroys the interest of what’s going on in the shade." And what’s going on in the shade is that Paul Ryan has proposed a plan to tackle poverty that isn’t just about cutting the welfare bill.

And Who Is a Person? The Problem with Hobby Lobby (Part I)

It is this extension of protections to for-profit corporations (closely held), that has moved early commentary from the legal academy to conclude that the most enduring legacy of Hobby Lobby may not be in the area of religious liberty but, rather, in an expanded (and expanding) notion of corporate personhood

Minimalist Food For a Streamlined Life

In our digitally instantaneous times, the desire for speed and efficiency is nothing new, including in our eating habits. Rob Rhinehart’s Soylent project is simply an accelerated response to popular demand for the cheap, convenient, and fast.

What Public Universities Owe the Public

Ask a graduate, a faculty member, an administrator, or a board member of a prestigious public university what a public university is for in a modern liberal democracy and you will too often get little more than a string of clichés. Public universities lack any substantial sense of what their functions are as democratic institutions.

There is Hope in Africa

A recent global survey shows that high numbers of Africans believe that brighter days are ahead. One potential explanation: the influence of Prosperity Gospel Pentecostalism.

Human Freedom and the Art of Nudging

Richard Williams, director of policy research at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, recently argued that the Obama administration's growing interest in using behavioral economics signifies a renewed and creeping enthusiasm for massive government oversight and coercion of its citizens. Like many libertarians before him, he traces this critique back to an overall anxiety that a "nanny state" will interfere with our lives, and take away our natural freedom.

Individualism’s Not Dead Yet

Have we begun to move on from individualism? Not quite.

DO NOT PUBLISH Power and Positivity: The Magical Thinking of Neoliberalism

Perhaps we could use a bit more negativity in our lives.

Plutocracy and Pitchforks

Nick Hanauer: There is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out.