The anti-polarizing effect of keeping one's identity small.

Keeping your identity small Several years ago, Paul Graham, of Y Combinator fame wrote an essay entitled “Keep your Identity Small." The premise is that discussions of religion and politics almost never result in anything resembling the give-and-take around other subjects. Two people can have an intelligent conversation about the pros and cons of certain brands of rice cookers^[We happen to use a Zojirushi and like it a lot; but I’d never introduce myself as a Zojirushian.

Properly understanding ISIS

Islamic weapons An interesting piece from The Atlantic on understanding ISIS on their own clearly-stated terms. “We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it…Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime.

Commerce and discrimination

Those darned Republicans just can’t catch a break these days. In the latest cultural eruption, the Indiana legislature passed a bill which its governor signed into law. The bill allows places of business to refuse to serve persons if doing would conflict with their sincerely-held religious beliefs. An avalanche of public outcry has Indiana’s governor making a hasty retreat. Charles Blow of the New York Times weighs in about how we should deal with the juxtaposition of free exercise of religious beliefs and discrimination: