Showing posts from 2018

Clash of the Titans

Sam Harris debated Ezra Klein.  I listen to both these guy’s podcasts.But I’m a much bigger fan of Sam Harris.His is the only podcast in my library that I truly savor.I’ve also read most of his books.I just like the way he thinks.I like his heart for communication and ethics, his willingness to engage with contrary opinions, and his ability to articulate his ideas well.But that last part really only applies to a certain demographic that I just happen to be a part of.Here are some of the quirks of me and that demographic.1. We care more about ideas and systems than we do about particular people and their stories.(This is NOT the same as not caring about people, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue)2. We have a LOT of patience for focusing on long form arguments.3. A boring monotone voice doesn’t put us off.
I enjoy Ezra’s work on a different level.I like hearing far Left arguments articulated well with a heart towards individuals and their specific stories.He ALSO speaks a lot about ideas…

Podcast List 2018

I spent some time transcribing my podcast list for someone. Might as well share it here.  Seems like a fun little snapshot of part of my intellectual life. 

We The People Live (Politics, hasn't updated in months, might be dead) 99% Invisible (A lot of philosophy of design and industrial design talk) Ask Science Mike (A Christian-turned-atheist-turned-mystic/christian-ish talks science and faith and sometimes how they mix) Audition: A Mars Hill Podcast (No, not THAT Mars Hill. An organization that's like PBS for Evangelical Christians. Very smart intellectual cultural analysis full of interviews with fascinating people. A big part of my education on how to interrogate culture and diagnose worldviews) The Glenn Show (A (politically middle-ish) African American Economist from Brown University talks politics, culture, economics. Usually guest hosted by my favorite linguist, John John McWhorter (A bit further left on the spectrum) Building A Story Brand With Donald Millar (Busines…

Altered Carbon and the Problem of Sci-fi density

I'm concerned about the science fiction genre.  I'm in the middle of Altered Carbon, which I think is
fantastic.  And it's the perfect example of my concern. First of all, a perennial problem with any sci-fi
that takes place with humans in the future is that it doesn't age well.  No author can account for the
black swan innovations and how emerging technologies will interact, so the result is a short shelf-life.
But Altered Carbon demonstrates an emerging problem I've been picking up on over the past couple
years.  Here's a partial list of the future technologies that play a significant role in the story. Clones,
Transhumans, Gene Editing, Consciousness Transfer, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, A.I., Alien
Technology, and maybe Robots? That's on top of the more surfacey stuff like exotic weapons,
flying cars and weird hair.

One thing I’ve learned from all my self-learning on writing is that for every new or strange concept that a
writer puts in a sto…

Vox Vs Ready Player One

This piece makes me sad. Not because anything about it particularly wrong. But because hearing how a cultural phenomenon can 'cause' a work to go from innocuous fun to being a sinister reinstantiation of toxic ideas is terrifying to me as a person who likes to make innocuous fun.
I do think Constance is mostly correct about the book having the woman-as-a-trophy trope, but I also think that's a problem with 90% of fiction in this niche. I don't think it's a matter of an author consciously promoting an ideology as much as an author not innovating on ALL fronts. Very few writers can do that. Those that do, alienate most readers because every subversion usually requires overhead; on the part of the writer's time/energy, the story's infrastructure, and the reader's ability to roll with thinking/processing the story differently than expectations.…

Science and Conspiracy

I never believed that vaccines cause autism or that fluoride in the water has a nefarious purpose.  But I was raised in a culture that lead me to believe that evolution is a lie used to convert Christians to atheists, and that the idea of anthropogenic climate change is merely a tool to bring about socialism.  

I think it’s natural to lump all theories about how science and/or government is misleading us to our doom (chemtrails, evolution, fluoride, flat-earth, vaccines, 9/11, etc.) into one conceptual category. My background of buying into some, but not all of them, makes me believe there’s a spectrum. The fact that I’ve turned my thinking around on these issues gives me some anecdotal experiential data that leads me to think that arguing over “the facts” is not a generally successful strategy for convincing someone who believes that some well-established scientific consensus is bunk.
The problem with deep conspiracy thinking is that there is no possibility for error-correction with…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I totally understand why a lot of people hated The Last Jedi. The original mythological foundations of Star Wars are being shattered with a post-script. The Happily Ever After implied by the fairytale framework of the original trilogy doesn't hold up when you've got a post-script that includes more realistic character arcs such as divorce, estranged kids, disenfranchised heroes, etc. The fact that they are bending the franchise in that direction DOES create an aesthetic and thematic disharmony. I feel like this is the awkward teen years for the franchise. It couldn't stay a fairytale forever since the fanbase has grown up, had kids, divorces, been disenfranchised, etc. Many of us want those kinds of gritty anti-fairytale themes. But right now you have those more realistic moments uncomfortably sitting next to the mythological and the whimsical in the same movies. And that's bad art. That doesn't mean people can't love it despite those flaws, but I stil…