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The Pope On Evolution

It is not just his controversial stance that the Church should dial back its dickishness towards homosexuals that has brought attention to Pope Francis. He has also weighed in on evolution: Pope Francis on Monday (Oct. 27) waded into the controversial debate over the origins of human life, saying the big bang theory did not…

Assisted Suicide, Again

Brittany Maynard died this weekend. If you are not familiar with her story, she tells it here, in her own words. On New Year’s Day, after months of suffering from debilitating headaches, I learned that I had brain cancer. I was 29 years old. I’d been married for just over a year. My husband and…

A New Locked-Room Anthology!

I’m sure you remember my epic, two-part series, from 2008, about my love for locked-room mysteries: Part One, Part Two. Well then, I’m sure you can imagine my delight at learning of the publication of Otto Penlzer’s new anthology The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries. Penzler has a short essay up over at…

Sunday Chess Problem

Our diagram position today was composed by Joseph Babson in 1927. The stipulation is selfmate in three: Recall that in a selfmate, white plays first and forces black to give checkmate. That’s right! White is trying to get checkmated, while black is doing everything in his power to avoid giving checkmate (or at least to…

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…