Ryan McCarl

Reading, writing, learning, languages, law, politics, etc.

Developing a language-learning program (high-frequency sentence identifier)

UPDATE: I devoted most of my nights and weekends this year to building the program described below with the help of Kostyantyn Grinchenko, an excellent Ukrainian freelance developer. Then, after realizing that we had stumbled upon a breakthrough idea that could revolutionize language learning and help many people become fluent readers of their target language, I assembled a remote team of freelance and volunteer developers, designers, native-speaker audio recorders, and translators to help me develop it into a webapp (and future mobile app): WordBrewery. Read more →

Use of Predators Sets Dangerous Precedent

My op-ed “Use of Predators Sets Dangerous Precedent” appeared today on Antiwar.com. In it, I criticize President Obama’s decision to authorize drone warfare in Libya. I write: “The expediency of drones makes it all-too-tempting for governments to use them frequently and carelessly, brushing aside the ethical questions they raise and ignoring the long-term security consequences their use could entail.” Click here to read the full article. Thanks, as always, for reading. Read more →

The case for Facebook and social networking

Even though Facebook currently has over 200 million active users, many people continue to doubt the value of social networking in general and Facebook in particular. Critics argue that Facebook and other social networking and Web 2.0 tools - including blogs and Twitter - are symptomatic of the “solipsism” (meaning, in this context, the self-absorption of users) of the contemporary Internet. Indeed, Facebook can be an enormous time-waster and procrastination tool, as can any medium or Internet resource. Read more →

Mark C. Taylor on ‘reforming higher education’

Mark C. Taylor, contrarian philosopher and chair of Columbia University’s Department of Religion, caused a firestorm in the academic community with his op-ed, “End the University as We Know It,” in yesterday’s New York Times. The op-ed remains at the top of the NYT’s most-emailed list. There are few better places to have a debate about the philosophy of education than the University of Chicago, where the Core Curriculum and the school’s historical emphasis on liberal education and distaste for vocational education permeates everything. Read more →

Readings from Camus and Melville

I once said that, after the experiences of the last two years, I could no longer hold to any truth which might oblige me, directly or indirectly, to demand a man’s life. Certain friends whom I respected retorted that I was living in Utopia, that there was no political truth which could not one day reduce us to such an extremity, and that we must therefore either run the risk of this extremity or else simply put up with the world as it is. Read more →