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My family revere literature and the written word, so I began trying to write at an early age. It is fair to say I was no prodigy. However, writing has the virtue that if you just do it—do it a lot—and seek and accept sound criticism, then you can develop a knack. There are few activities that give such lasting satisfaction.

Among the joys of writing is that there are so many different kinds, and each has its appeal to both writer and reader. I probably now have written more non-fiction than fiction, most of it expository. I wrote virtually all of the content on Platonic Realms, to begin with, plus reams of stuff for courses I have taught over the last couple of decades. Nevertheless, fiction and the personal essay remain my favorite pursuits.


It is in writing directly to a specific person on a specific topic that I am often best able to express myself with focus and precision; also it is sometimes the only occasion likely to arise for exploring a given subject.

Catholic? Really?, A

How does an educated, thoughtful, and scientifically-literate person remain (or become) a Catholic?

Facebook Exchange about the Threat from Our Supposed “Enemy”

A Wall Street Journal Op-ed illustrates how our thinking gets distorted when we divide the world into friends and enemies.

Letter to a Parent

It is not easy to flunk a student, but sometimes it is necessary. Here is what the grades we assign really mean.

Letter to Senators Webb and Warner Regarding Pfc Manning

A constituent letter to Senators James Webb and John Warner regarding the maltreatment of soldier Bradley Manning.

Regarding the 911 Truth Movement

Many 9-11 Truthers are thoughtful and well-intended, but the movement exhibits a disturbing degree of intellectual dishonesty.


One thing I have never understood is reluctance to engage with seriousness the chief controversies of our age. What's the point of being a free citizen in a democratic republic if you shy from debate?

Antifa and the Green Party

What ought to be the position of the Green Party of the United States with respect to the anti-fascist movement known as Antifa?

Dark Side of Moral Clarity, The

Appeals to moral clarity by proponents of the war on terror betray their superficiality and lack of empathy.

Good American: A Situation Report for Citizens, The

What are the most serious challenges facing America? Especially during election season, it seems to me that the really serious issues are little discussed, and even deliberately obscured. And they are really serious.

My Philosophy of Teaching

A philosophy of teaching in higher education that rejects the business model of education in favor of the traditional academic model.

On Homosexual Marriage

Homosexual Marriage must be evaluated in light of the relevant biological and legal facts and in the context of a secular democracy.

Poor and Stupid Tax, The

Government lotteries victimize the disadvantaged while promoting ignorance and self-interest.

Voting Green in a Swing State

If I sodomized the Easter Bunny in front of their children the look on my Obama-voter friends’ faces could scarcely be much different than the look they get when I say I am voting for Jill Stein. You see, I live in Virginia….


Sid's Paradox

Is the distinction between matters of fact and matters of opinion a matter of fact or a matter of opinion?

Textured Time

Modern mathematics and ancient paradoxes suggest new possibilities for a metaphysics of time that leaves the standard real-number model behind.

Unity of Math and Science, The

Mathematicians and natural scientists think their disciplines are fundamentally different. Turns out they are fundamentally wrong about that.


Composing fiction is to the other forms of writing as dance is to mere exercise.

Case of the Hanging Paradox, The

A Chief Tobias short mystery

Officer's Wife, The

A Chief Tobias mystery

Jots & Doodles

Conflicts of Interest

In a political and business culture as corrupt as ours, people don't remember that conflicts of interest are even wrong, much less why.

Egg Equations, The

The thing about a mathematical training is, you can start off thinking about watering the garden and end by asking, "what is the equation of an egg?"

Love and the Cemetery

Romantic love doesn't fear the Reaper.

Public Education

How the effort to get government out of education is really an effort to destroy our democracy.

Sentence of Death, The

I was a staunch opponent of the death penalty, but I've had a change of mind. Here's why.

Teachers, a definition.

It turns out there are two definitions of the word "teacher."

Truth is Made Up, The

The truth is never found; it is always invented.

Voting Green Because…

When people ask, “why are you voting Green?” it's jolly to have lots of answers.

Why I Don't Watch TV

Of the many reasons for renouncing commercial television, one trumps all the others.


Brief Autobiographical Sketch, A

Warts and all.

Canoeing the Okefenokee

A photographic account of a singular wildlife experience.