On Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise

Cover of the book 'The Signal and the Noise' by Nate Silver. Published by The Penguin Press
Cover of the book ‘The Signal and the Noise’ by Nate Silver. Published by The Penguin Press

Overall, I put this book up there with John Allen Paulos’ Innumeracy as required reading for anyone interested in thinking clearly. It is a fantastic demonstration of how mathematical thinking can be fruitfully (and practically) applied by anyone to anything.

There are a few moments I do want to comment on, though; the book is so thoroughly thoughtful that its lapses in thoughtfulness really stood out to me.

Continue reading “On Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise

On Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise

What’s the best shelf-stable, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie?

Just because you aren’t eating gluten (for whatever reason – I’m not here to judge), doesn’t mean you don’t still occasionally crave a store-bought chocolate chip cookie, a la Keebler’s Soft Batch or Pepperidge Farm’s Soft Baked.

I was in just such a position recently [ed. note: “recently” here means “almost one year ago”], but did not have access to the far-and-away, hands-down best imitation of the genre, Udi’s Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Udi's Soft & Chewy

So I did what any self-respecting, non-gluten-eating blogger would do: I bought one of every single other brand of chocolate chip cookie I could find and did a taste test! I was aided in this endeavor by my husband Joel, who is a good control because he CAN eat gluten, but still find’s Udi’s Soft & Chewy cookies pretty delish.

Continue reading “What’s the best shelf-stable, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie?”

What’s the best shelf-stable, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie?

Liz Prince’s “Tomboy” Is an Invitation to a Better World

Tomboy, a graphic memoir by Liz Prince

My friend Liz’s new graphic memoir, Tomboy, was released on Tuesday. Reading all of the interviews and press she’s been getting this week has been a true joy for me. It’s also made me want to write publicly about why I find her book so meaningful (beyond it being an awesome work of art by a very close friend).

Continue reading “Liz Prince’s “Tomboy” Is an Invitation to a Better World”

Liz Prince’s “Tomboy” Is an Invitation to a Better World

Mr. President, Mr. Inskeep: Climate Change Is Both a Foreign Policy Challenge and an Existential Threat

In the wake of the President’s commencement address at West Point, NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed Barack Obama on Wednesday about foreign policy. Here’s how the interview began:

STEVE INSKEEP: I want to begin this way. You’re here at this historic place, trying to speak with a sense of history. And I was thinking of past presidents that I know you have studied and commented on. And a couple came to mind who were able to express what they were trying to do in the world in about a sentence. Reagan wanted to roll back communism by whatever means. Lincoln has a famous letter in which he says, I would save the union by the shortest means under the Constitution. As you look at the moment of history that you occupy, do you think you can put into a sentence what you are trying to accomplish in the world?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m not sure I can do it in a sentence because we’re fortunate in many ways. We don’t face an existential crisis. We don’t face a civil war. We don’t face a Soviet Union that is trying to rally a bloc of countries and that could threaten our way of life. Instead, what we have is, as I say in the speech, this moment in which we are incredibly fortunate to have a strong economy that is getting stronger, no military peer that threatens us, no nation-state that anytime soon intends to go to war with us. But we have a world order that is changing very rapidly and that can generate diffuse threats, all of which we have to deal with.

And I think that the most important point of the speech today for me is how we define American leadership in part is through our military might, but only in part, that American leadership in the 21st century is going to involve our capacity to build international institutions, coalitions that can act effectively, and the promotion of norms, rules, laws, ideals and values that create greater prosperity and peace, not just in our own borders, but outside as well.

A senior reporter at NPR gets the opportunity to interview the President about foreign policy and never once asks him about climate change.

To his credit, the President does mention it. Once. In a single sentence. About China.

This is what journalism and leadership look like in America in 2014.

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Mr. President, Mr. Inskeep: Climate Change Is Both a Foreign Policy Challenge and an Existential Threat