Categories
Economics Education

On Eric Weinstein and The Portal

Ideas and concepts that he and his guests have brought up

  • Higher education in the US is basically a pyramid scheme for wealth transfer from the Gen-Xers, Millenials, and younger generations, to the Boomers and Builders: the economic model of our higher education system is based on growth – eg, PhD candidates are training to become professors, but obviously there can never be enough professorships unless the education system is growing; true growth in the education system ended a long time ago, and so in order to preserve the system, institutions have grown in administrative positions, leading to cost inflation that exceeds even that of healthcare, and along with it, massive debt.
  • Real economic growth has ended for the US and perhaps much of the rest of the world, but institutions that depend on the growth paradigm are obscuring this reality.

Categories
Art Christianity Humor

Really funny really bad Christian art

Lots here …

https://www.cracked.com/article_19947_the-11-most-unintentionally-hilarious-religious-paintings.html

Anything by Jon McNaughton.

https://jonmcnaughton.com/

And this …

https://miropoetry.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/muscular-jesus-breaking-cross.jpg
Categories
Current events US Politics

Dissent within the Right-wing

Conservatives questioning/leaving the Republican Party, the “Right Wing”, or Conservativism. Or Fox News.

Max Boot, formerly of WSJ, author of The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right

Charlie Sykes, of The Weekly Standard, author of How the Right Lost Its Mind

(Podcast episode where Sykes interviews Boot)

https://www.weeklystandard.com/tws-podcast/max-boot-on-the-corrosion-of-conservatism

George Will, of Newsweek, The Washington Post

Steve Schmidt

Tom Nichols

Bill Kristol, of The Weekly Standard, of Fox News

Categories
Current events US Politics

Criticism of Trump

Architect of Bin Laden Raid Adm McRaven supports Brennan, calls Trump McCarthy-esque

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/revoke-my-security-clearance-too-mr-president/2018/08/16/8b149b02-a178-11e8-93e3-24d1703d2a7a_story.html?utm_term=.49e8605dc768

George Will – Trump put Russia before US

http://fortune.com/2018/06/22/george-will-leaves-republican-party-donald-trump/

http://thehill.com/policy/international/397596-george-will-calls-trump-sad-embarrassing-wreck-of-a-man

David Frum – Worst Security Risk in U.S.

History

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/07/putin-trump/565604/

Ralph Peters (ret. LtCln), former Fox News analyst, former Intel analyst on Russia

_ Trump is thrall to Putin

_ Fox is destructive

https://amp.thedailybeast.com/ex-fox-news-analyst-ralph-peters-calls-former-colleagues-sean-hannity-tucker-carlson-prostitutes

Categories
Current events Tech The Media US Politics

On the Clinton Email investigation

A thought: a lot of people talk about the Clinton email scandal and the Trump-Russia scandal as though they are alternatives, which is probably due both to the human tendencies toward both tribalism and binary thinking fallacy. 

Report alleges that Washington FBI office gave only a cursory look at Clinton emails on Weiner laptop in rush to end that investigation. 

https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2018/08/22/despite_comey_assurance_vast_bulk_of_weiner_laptop_emails_never_examined.html

Opinion piece argues that HRC was never going to be charged and that blame for that doesn’t lie with the FBI. 

http://thehill.com/opinion/criminal-justice/406500-dont-blame-the-fbi-hillary-clinton-was-never-going-to-be-charged

Categories
Current events The Media US Politics

On the Russia Investigation

Former Republican Senate leader Bill Frist on Robert Mueller and his investigation:

https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5b412d43e4b05127ccf2cb65/amp

Former FBI and CIA director in support of Mueller:

Comparison of Mueller’s staffing to that of Ken Starr, who investigated Clinton:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-witch-hunt-special-counsel-mueller-clinton-lewinsky-starr-20180718-story.html

A summary of the investigation so far:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mueller-investigation-trump-russia-probe_us_5b4cdda5e4b0e7c958fe3141

The memos Comey released after leaving FBI did not contain classified information:

The investigation began because a Trump campaign staffer blabbed about hearing from the Russians that they had possession of HRC’s emails.

On the makeup of Mueller’s team

  • Lawyers tend to be dems, agents tend to be republicans, and we only know about some of the lawyers
  • Law/policy prevented Mueller from considering political leanings

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/mar/21/donald-trump/fact-checking-donald-trumps-claims-about-Mueller/

Alberto Gonzales (attorney general under GW Bush) in support of Mueller and the investigation

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/402619-alberto-gonzales-defends-mueller-after-trump-attacks-he-is-a-man-of

Politifact article debunking key Garrett assertions

https://www.politifact.com/punditfact/article/2018/aug/02/fact-checking-fox-news-analysts-pro-trump-book-rus/

Snopes articles on Steele Dossier:

https://www.snopes.com/tag/steele-dossier/

National Review / Andrew McCarthy on the FISA application and the Steele Dossier

– Steele dossier not verified before use in FISA app

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/07/carter-page-fisa-applications-fbi-steele-dossier/

Brennan Center against McCarthy opinion, above

– Steele dossier met probable cause standard for FISA app

– Steele did not know he was working for DNC/Clinton

– Russia investigation already underway and Carter Page no longer with Trump campaign when FISA application first submitted

https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/fbi-wouldve-been-derelict-not-use-steele-dossier-carter-page-fisa-warrant

Vanity Fair article from early 2017 with the backstory of the Steele dossier.

– The FBI got the dossier from Steele, not DNC/Clinton

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/03/how-the-explosive-russian-dossier-was-compiled-christopher-steele

Wikipedia entry on the Steele dossier; seems to be thorough and well-sourced.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump%E2%80%93Russia_dossier

Categories
Current events Health Psychology Self improvement spiritual

On Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist (no longer practicing), professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, author, and speaker. He has gained popularity and notoriety for criticizing the leftist/progressive ideology pervasive in education as well as political correctness, and for proposing views of meaning, identity, human development, among other things, that have resonated with many people on the right of the political spectrum and angered many on the left. He presents his views as being grounded in both evolutionary and Jungian theory, along with research findings from psychology, neurology, and anthropology. He is currently on a speaking tour based on his popular book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

My personal take:

  • Activists and journalists operating from left of center, politically, have tended to portray him as a misogynist, racist, and anti-LGBTQ by taking his questions and statements out of context.
  • The political swirl around Jordan Peterson has lifted him to prominence but also obscured what he has to say about living well.
  • One of JP’s frequent assertions is that the the current leftist ideology is repackaged Marxism, where race has replaced class as the basis for group identity; he then goes on to say that Marxism ultimately led to the deaths of millions. He seems to be implying that the current leftist ideology will eventually lead to millions of deaths, and to my mind, that sounds like a slippery slope argument. These arguments are pretty lazy, and based on fear. They tend to skip a lot of the explaining that is needed between the connections they are making.
  • People on the right have tended to idealize him, perhaps to an extent that is unwise. “Ah, look, JP said something that I agree with. I was right all along.” Rather than interacting critically with his ideas. Not a complete sentence.
  • When I read / listen to his actual words, in context, I find his ideas subtle, difficult, and thought-provoking, though I’m not sure whether I’ll ultimately agree with him.
  • Fav quote so far from 12 Rules: “You can only find out what you actually believe (rather than what you think you believe) by watching how you act.” p.103

Jordan Peterson’s Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordan_Peterson

Jordan Peterson’s personal website: https://jordanbpeterson.com/

Categories
Current events Motivated reasoning Self improvement US Politics

Motivated Reasoning

Article: “How politics makes us stupid,” By Ezra Klein, for Vox

Article: https://www.vox.com/2014/4/6/5556462/brain-dead-how-politics-makes-us-stupid

  • About the research of Dan Kahan, a professor of law and psychology at Yale, and the Cultural Cognition Project.
  • Kahan’s theory is called Identity-Protective Cognition: our brains subconsciously work to justify and protect the beliefs that matter to our relationships, group membership, and identity.

Podcast episode: “How our unchecked tribal psychology pollutes politics, science, and just about everything else”, By David McRaney

Summary: https://youarenotsosmart.com/2018/02/26/yanss-122-how-our-unchecked-tribal-psychology-pollutes-politics-science-and-just-about-everything-else/

Transcript: https://youarenotsosmart.com/transcripts/transcript-tribal-psychology/

  • A podcast episode in which McRaney interviews Lilliana Mason and Dan Kahan about motivated reasoning.
  • Basic point: Once an issue becomes politicized, our brains work subconsciously to maintain the beliefs that will preserve our relationships, group belonging, and identity.
  • Related: McRaney’s series on “The Backfire Effect”, episodes 93, 94, 95, and 120.

My personal take: 

  • As noted by both Kahan and Klein, because motivated reasoning occurs outside of our conscious awareness and control, it is difficult to know when one is impacted by it. There is a natural tendency to try to make a special case for the objectivity of oneself or one’s own domain. McRaney, even as he’s describing the phenomenon, demonstrates this behavior when he writes, “In a professional domain like medicine, science, academia, or journalism, people are trained to pursue accuracy, to operate within a framework that helps them overcome other motivations.” He’s right that these domains include a framework that helps achieve greater objectivity, but I don’t believe he adequately acknowledges the degree to which even these “professional” domains can be impacted by motivated reasoning. (At least, not in that specific spot; he may, elsewhere.)
  • McRaney’s “You Are Not So Smart” podcast provides a great education the many ways our brains work against objectivity and reason.

Dan Kahan’s website: http://www.culturalcognition.net/kahan

McRaney’s website: https://youarenotsosmart.com

Categories
Health Nutrition

Book: The Secret Life of Fat

The Secret Life of Fat

  • Body fat is an organ that has an essential role in our health
  • There are different kinds of body fats, and they function differently in the body.
  • Too little body fat increases risk of disease, lowers life expectancy, as does obesity.
  • Body fat fights hormonally against efforts to get rid of it.
  • Once overweight or obese, it is permanently more difficult to return to and maintain a healthy amount of body fat.
  • Viruses can lead to changes in body fat production.
Categories
spiritual supernatural

Exorcists say exorcisms rising

Catholic Exorcists report an increasing interest in exorcism

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/12/catholic-exorcisms-on-the-rise/573943/

  • Catholic exorcism protocol attempts to rule out possibility of psychiatric disorders as well as the less-serious condition of “demonic oppression” before diagnosing “demonic possession” and performing exorcisms.
  • Most cases turn out to be something other than demonic possession (but a handful do not).
  • Even some in the psychiatric community acknowledge cases that seem to have no “natural” explanation.