Is Every Speed Limit Too Low?

Photo Credit: NDF
When Lieutenant Gary Megge of the Michigan State Police attends a meeting, he sometimes asks, “How many of you broke the speed limit on your…

how to think about religious freedom

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No Death, No Taxes - The New Yorker

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The Doctor Is In - The New Yorker

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A Sermon Given by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Tweet Wednesday 7th February 2007 A sermon given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, at a service in Christ Church Cathedral in Zanzibar. The…

The Home Run Derby is for casual fans -- and that's OK.

Home Run Derby made me “want to crawl under a table and silently wait for death.” Luckily, they don’t make it for me.

Break the Immigration Impasse -

"It’s time for 535 of America’s citizens to remember what they owe to the 318 million who employ them."

SI exclusive: LeBron James explains his return to Cleveland Cavaliers

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A Company Liberals Could Love

My Sunday column: A Company Liberals Could Love:

Peter Thiel And The Cathedral

"The great achievements of the High Medieval Church, not only the cathedrals, but the university (a Catholic invention!) and the great monastic orders, took it for granted that to be the Church was to be at the vanguard of Progress, or at least at the vanguard of intellectual inquiry and innovation. Christians tend to look askance at “Progress”, but that is only because we no longer guide it."


It took 11 years to finish the world’s largest tree house.

In rural Tennessee, built without a blueprint, the structure is eight stories high and spans seven trees. There are over 40 rooms and a chapel that also serves as basketball court. 

KCRW tells the story of Horace Burgess, the man who built the tree house, and what it cost him. 

"I don’t know if I’ll ever be known for anything else. This kind of overshadowed everything else I did in my life," Burgess tells KCRW

— Lauren 

Photos via KCRW

Of course this happened in Tennessee. 

Spotify vs. Rdio vs. Beats Music

I signed up for Spotify on day one — streaming music is a godsend for me. Having had the chance to peruse three of the services, I thought I would list some of the highs and lows of each. 


high points:

  • huge catalog (though this is increasingly commoditized)
  • most widespread adoption (for sharing links)
  • fastest playback (in my experience)
  • pretty simple interface
  • sync your own music via wifi — this experience is vastly underrated. As a lot of albums aren’t cleared for streaming yet, I like to take the ones I have with me. 
  • Added a new releases section, even if it leaves something to be desired. 

low points

  • somewhat ugly
  • great content (celebrity playlists, etc) is buried in their email newsletters
  • no family plan
  • "friends" seem to be limited to Facebook integration. I’m not on Facebook. 
  • laughable suggestion algorithm (If you like Patty Griffin, you’ll love Burl Ives). 


high points

  • by far, the best mobile UI
  • love the “collection” feature — lets me build my own library of music, a la iTunes, for when I want something comfortable
  • very easy to follow people, good user base of tastemakers
  • family plan

low points

  • low adoption (sort of a big deal to me, I share music all the time). 
  • for a while, had the smallest library. This has changed some.
  • web UI is okay. 

Beats Music

high points

  • best suggestions, by a long shot. Consistently finding good playlists and stuff I want to listen to. 
  • you can like and dislike music, ostensibly to hone in on your suggestions
  • have “my library” which is similar to Rdio’s “collection”. 
  • seem to have some music licenses that other services don’t have. 
  • family plan
  • bundled with At&t. One less bill is a good thing, even if the price is the same.

low points

  • pretty rough UI. Very difficult to get back to artist page or album page without searching again. 
  • can’t save an album as a playlist without manually naming it. Seems basic. 
  • web UI is worthless, though they just launched two weeks ago. I’m on a computer all day — most of my playlist making and saving happens on the computer. At a base level, remember that I am logged in. 
  • playback has been spotty — at times, I get no reception even on wifi. 

Again, just my notes. I like streaming music too much to really dislike any of these. I think Spotify is my mainstay for now, though I’d like to see Beats evolve a bit. It will also be a deal-killer if I can’t transport playlists when switching services. Currently, only Spotify lets you import playlists. 

Records I Listened to Most in 2013

As always, not necessarily new (in fact, fewer and fewer new records each year), but the ones I listened to most in the past year. Click titles for Spotify links. In no order:

Junip - Junip

Love the slight krautrock touches on this record, and Jose Gonzalez’ voice. A rare record that can serve as background music or focused listening. Enjoyed it more after watching the KEXP live session

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Just outstanding from front to back — every note is perfectly recorded and perfectly placed. I found this very difficult to just cherry pick songs — I usually listened to the album straight through, front to back. “Instant Crush” is probably my favorite, just for the chorus melody and Julian Casablancas’ lazy vocoded croon. 

Jason Isbell - Southeastern

Powerful writing. Isbell takes the leap that I always wanted him to take, though every record before this came up slightly short for me. I think it is a good sign when Spotify shows the play counts — the first track is the highest and it descends from there. 

Ashley Monroe - Like A Rose

Pure country gold. 

Haim - Days Are Gone

Been a fan for a while as they have unleashed a torrent of singles, which are collected nicely with some new tracks on this record. More hooks than a tackle box on this one, which made it very repeatable. 

Josh Ritter - The Beast In Its Tracks

Josh’s divorce record somehow remains hopeful, optimistic, magical, and brings his literary sense that makes it all so rich. 

Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park

Got intrigued by “Merry Go Round”, hooked by “Follow Your Arrow”, and sold by “Keep It To Yourself”. 

Dawes - Stories Don’t End

More nuanced than their earlier records. It took a lot longer for this to grab me, but I listened to it a lot more in terms of total minutes. Love the Blake Mills cover. 

Katy Perry - “Wide Awake”

I went through periods where I listened to this on repeat for a week or so. Near-perfect melodies and production.