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Chaos In The Church

Pope Francis has been continuing his campaign of liberalization within the Roman Catholic Church. At the recent synod on the family, reform-minded bishops within the Church, many installed by Francis, proposed language that, while not changing doctrine, would have liberalized the Church’s stance toward homosexuals and divorced people. The paragraphs that are getting all the…

POTW 6

If you’re in the mood, go have a look at the new Problem of the Week. It’s a Shakespeare-themed alphametic this week, with bonus sonnet! It’s a bit more challenging than last week’s problem (a solution to which has now been posted at the above link), but still doable if you look at it right.…

Sunday Chess Problem

The Spetember 2014 issue of The Problemist showed up in my mailbox this week. That’s the official magazine of the British Chess Problem Society, as I’m sure you’re aware. It included the problem below. It’s one of those delightful compositions that makes you wish you had thought it of it yourself. It was composed by…

Responses to Barash’s Talk

Recently I discussed an essay by David Barash that appeared in The New York Times. Barash discussed a talk he gives to his animal behavior class about evolution and religion. More specifically, he explains why, in his view, evolution and religion are just incompatible. I mostly agreed with the substantive points that he made, but…

I have written before about my admiration for Bill Maher. I think he is generally one of the funniest and most insightful commentators on American culture and politics, and I rarely miss his show on Friday night. Sometimes he goes south, as with his views on vaccination, and sometimes he goes for cheap jokes based…

More Progress For Gay Marriage

The Supreme Court has refused to hear appeals from five states on the subject of gay marriage. As a result, lower court rulings that struck down gay marriage bans have been allowed to stand, making gay marriage fully legal in those states. Among them is my current home in Virginia. The other four states were…

POTW 5

After taking last week off, Problem of the Week makes a triumphant return. Problem Five is now ready for your consideration. The main problem for this week, in keeping with the arithmetic theme for this semester, is an especially famous “alphametic” problem. If you like that sort of thing, then you might enjoy perusing this…

Jews Behaving Badly

My book Among the Creationists contains a chapter called “Why I Love Being Jewish.” Of course, as an atheist, I reject totally all of the underlying theology of Judaism. I have no use for the Torah, which I regard as a nasty and often vile piece of work. Most Jewish ceremonies leave me cold, though…

Barash’s Talk

University of Washington biology professor David Barash published this op-ed in The New York Times recently. The title: “God, Darwin and My College Biology Class.” Intriguing! Let’s have a look. EVERY year around this time, with the college year starting, I give my students The Talk. It isn’t, as you might expect, about sex, but…

My latest book project has been coediting the proceedings of the 2013 MOVES Conference held in New York City, which has turned out to be a lot harder than I anticipated. For the last few weeks it’s been all-consuming, and spending so many hours in front of the computer staring at other people’s writing has…

Sunday Chess Problem

This week I want to build on something I discussed near the end of last week’s problem. I mentioned that a problem’s genre should in some way complement its theme. So, if your problem is a selfmate, it is better if the theme employs logic that is specific to the selfmate genre. If your idea…

New POTW Posted

The title pretty much says it all. I have a new teaser for you, along with some discussion of palindromes that you might enjoy. The solution to last week’s problem has been posted as well. Let me know what you think!

Sunday Chess Problem

I’m feeling a bit bereft now that the Sinquefield Cup is over. Fabiano Caruana won his first seven games, and then drew his last three, to win the tournament by a ridiculous three points (ahead of World Champion Magnus Carlsen). This is certainly one of the great tournament performances in chess history, worthy of mention…

New POTW Posted

The second POTW has now been posted, along with one possible set of solutions for the first problem. This week’s problem has a similar flavor to last week’s, so if you liked that one you’ll like this one.

POTW Returns

If that last post did not satisfy your need for brain food, then let me mention that as of today the Problem of the Week returns. This semester’s theme: Fun With Arithmetic! What’s that? You don’t like arithmetic? Well, let’s see if you’re still saying that at the end of the term. In general I…