Are You Judging Me

2015-11-19 Judging img01Go to and type in judgmental. Your list of synonyms will include arbitrary, personal, irresponsible/frivolous, unreasonable/irrational, and, my favorite of the bunch, injudicious.

Judicious and judgmental both come from the root jud-, which relates to making decisions and forming opinions. From a linguistic standpoint, it just doesn’t make sense for the word judgmental to be synonymous with injudicious, the negation of judicious.

Now, I understand that language evolves. Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands Continue reading

On the Art of Storytelling: the Merits and Pitfalls of Interactive Media as a Storytelling Medium, Part II

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Read the first post in this series here.

What’s in a game?  This is a question which has prompted a great deal of debate, particularly with the rise of video games, and it is difficult to say definitively what actually comprises a “game.”[1]  With regard to the new media, many will cite traits such as gameplay, graphics, sound, etc.—but perhaps the most important and fundamental characteristic which comes to mind, particularly in respect to storytelling, is player agency.

Continue reading

Reflections on the National Prayer Breakfast

One week ago President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. His speech has already occasioned many responses. Presuming to add to the heap, I hope that I can analyze his remarks in light of general principles, elucidating precisely what made his expressions so ill-advised.

Before anything else, we must establish how we are to evaluate his speech. Mere truth is not a sufficient a criterion, however necessary it is: His taking the stage and outlining geometric proofs, however timeless, certain, and precisely true, would have been a bad move. For considering his words, we need to consider the circumstances: Who our speaker was, the occasion of the speech, his audience, and anything else immediately relevant. For now, let us focus on the occasion. Continue reading

Two Languages, Two Conversations

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I recently began to pursue graduate education at a large and famous law school, an environment far removed from the close-knit community of my undergraduate college. Differences of all sorts abound between the two schools. Song, poetry, and competitive board games are far less common here, while the chance of meeting a classmate who speaks English as a second (or fourth) language has skyrocketed. In one interesting and important way, the schools are quite alike: The vast majority of students enjoy talking about ideas. Both schools purport to teach their students principles vital to the proper ordering of human lives, and such principles call for probing discussion. Despite this common desire to discuss ideas, the two schools foster dramatically different conversations amongst their students. As this semester passes, I have become increasingly convinced that this can be traced to the different vocabularies in common use at each school. The differences in word choice are so great as to constitute two different languages. Continue reading

Word Law

2014-8-14 Word Crimes img01A few weeks ago “Weird Al” Yankovic released a song titled “Word Crimes” in which he listed a series of pet peeves regarding the misuse of the English language. Shortly thereafter Kevin Gallagher wrote a response on the popular “First Things” website criticizing Weird Al’s criticisms.

The first half of the article decries the tone of “Word Crimes”, noting that “The joke, such as it is, consists in mockery of those stupider than we.” I have to acknowledge that Mr. Gallagher has a point there, and when I first read his article I felt duly chastised for having enjoyed the song so much. That was also the last point at which I agreed with him. Continue reading