life, liberty, and bodily integrity: thoughts on routine infant circumcision

A while back, I shared this blog post on Twitter: the only necessary argument against routine infant circumcision Although I’ve lost track of the @replies, I recall that there was significant pushback from a couple of my followers, and so I wanted to say more about the issue. Basically the argument offered at L’Hôte is this: […]


on the non-unequivocal goodness of questioning authority

Look, friends. I’m far from a fan of authority, per se. On any given day there’s like a 30% chance that I will assent to full-on anarchism. But I need to discuss how annoying (and possibly pernicious) this “question authority” catchphrase truly is. The concept of authority is pretty closely tied up with that of […]


poverty, willpower, and virtue ethics

Recently, philosopher Michael Cholbi tweeted this story: “Why Can’ More Poor People Escape Poverty?“, along with the suggestion that the findings described therein could have implications for virtue theory. To make a long story short: “In the 1990s, social psychologists developed a theory of “depletable” self-control. The idea was that an individual’s capacity for exerting willpower […]


I don’t care about the original intent of value-added models

I’m taking a break from end-of-semester madness to offer this mini-rant, inspired by a passage in this WP article, “Leading mathematician debunks value-added“: When value-added models were first conceived, even their most ardent supporters cautioned about their use [Sanders 1995, abstract]. They were a new tool that allowed us to make sense of mountains of […]


have your college and eat it too: consuming education

Today, I want to make what, to my economics-ish friends, are probably some painfully obvious points. However, I had never explicitly considered this angle on college/education before taking economics of education last semester, and I suspect that it’s something many others of even my rather intelligent friends and colleagues have also failed to consider in […]


garbage can model of ed policy: random, unpredictable, or both?

Ok, so yesterday I tweeted this: Annoying: when people conflate the difference between random and merely unpredictable processes. It received a fair bit of attention. This is my attempt to explain the context. Please bear in mind that I am neither a statistician nor a scientist of any kind. These are just my reflections on […]


a state guaranteed education?

The first comments that struck me while reading Harry Brighouse‘s interesting article, “What’s Wrong With Privatising Education?,” were the following, made in response to some arguments made by James Tooley in favor of privatizing schools: “Tooley himself sometimes endorses a principle that we might call the ‘Adequacy Principle’, that everyone has a right to a sufficiently […]


what is the significance of the Independent Project?

This New York Times article has been getting quite a bit of attention this week: “Let Kids Rule the School.” It’s about The Independent Project, a undertaking of 8 high schoolers in Massachusetts, who spent a semester successfully planning and working through their own individual and group curricula. You can read a fuller summary of […]


tax credits for homeschooling: initial thoughts

As I wrote recently, I’m currently in an ed policy class and doing my first real series of policy docs. After much deliberation, I have decided to analyze the prospect of NYC providing tax credits (or some other form of compensation) to families who homeschool their children. Although, to my knowledge, there is no serious […]


being judgmental: imprudent and vicious

People seem to like to claim that they aren’t judgmental. Especially the hip, young, urban, liberal people who I encounter regularly. What’s wrong with being judgmental, anyway? There are at least two aspects to it, I think which maybe get conflated. On the one hand, sometimes the badness of being judgmental gets explained something like […]