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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

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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

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https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/3/26/17148350/ready-player-one-book-backlash-controversy-gamergate-explained
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

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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…

My Spiritual State in 2017

I don’t think I’ve accumulated and articulated where I’m at spiritually in the past several years, and this facebook post from Mike Duran seemed like a good springboard for doing so.  

Mike Duran: Why is it that SO MANY Christian creatives -- musicians, novelists, filmmakers, artists -- drift from orthodoxy to religious progressivism? Nowadays, it's becoming a rarity to find a Christian creative who believes that Adam and Eve were not a myth, that the Bible is God's Word and speaks authoritatively to all aspects of our lives (for example, they don't argue that Paul was a misogynist and his commands about women were culturally conditioned, etc.), that personal feelings and social mores should not take precedence over Scriptural Truth, that Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven, that Christ was actually God and was born of a virgin, that He actually walked on water (and an assortment of miracles typically disavowed by secularists), that marriage between a man and woman is God's i…

Chance Disguised as Skill

I just finished the book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  Being in the general cultural bubble (of tech culture, skeptical, philosophical, ethical podcasts, blogs, etc.) that reference the material in this book constantly, I figured I better go back and read it even though I feel like I've absorbed most of the ideas by osmosis already.  Kinda like the way I made myself watch Blade Runner for the first time a couple years ago; and yeah, it's impact on me was almost negligible because its ideas have be retread, expanded upon, and improved over the years.  I was afraid that would be the case with this book, and most of it was indeed kind of a slog over the various cognitive biases I've heard about a hundred times now.  (Kahneman and his research partner were the ones who discovered and named many of them.)  Also, I should note, this is an extra hard book to read when you’re aware of the replication crisis that is apparently extra bad in the social sciences, and how…