Determining the acceptable level of a false immigration narrative

A recent story by Mark Joseph Stern, titled, “ICE claimed a Dreamer was ‘gang-affiliated’ and tried to deport him. A federal judge ruled that ICE was lying”, was shocking and definitely worth the read. Perhaps the most depressing part, though, is not that law or immigration enforcement would lie with the aim to destroy a person, but that it is accepted and tolerated throughout our society without consequence.

Equally important, however, are John Gruber’s brief comments linking this incident with President Trump’s recent comments, and our current climate with regard to immigration policy.

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The Young Quakers’ ‘Silence Special’ and the Power of Minimalist Podcasting

One of the earliest promises I heard about the internet, growing up, was that it would make our world smaller. People all around the world would be able to create and share content that was relevant, new, or interesting to them. In that way, we could all become closer and more familiar with all the ways that lives could be lived.

So it was with the “Silence Special” of the Young Quaker Podcast. Their show is dedicated to sharing the various aspects of Quaker life and practice. The aim of this episode was to give listeners the experience of taking part in a Meeting for Worship—which typically take place in silence, unless someone feels led to ministry.

In order to get the most out of this recording, I recommend listening with a good set of headphones in an otherwise quiet environment. There is a profound, intimate feeling that comes with this, that would be totally lost or annoying in most other environments or situations.

Joe Rogan and others have said this before, but episodes like this serve only to highlight the sentiment that, even more than video, podcasting is probably the most intimate medium available today. Unlike reading or even video content, audio content puts the speaker’s voice directly in your head. In this case, the recording puts you in a specific space and time where you can observe, with your ears, what is taking place.

The “Silence Special” was included in the BBC’s season of ‘slow’ radio, which introduced a number of very interesting programs that provide more opportunities to take part in some other unique experiences. Please check out some of the above links to explore and have a listen.

Recent Objects of Auditory Consciousness — April 2018 Edition

After watching the documentary (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies by Dan Ariely, I have been listening to some of his other interviews and appearances. Earlier this week, I found episode #198 of the James Altucher Show — Dan Ariely: Where A True, Deep Sense of Accomplishment Comes From — from late 2016. (Overcast link here.) This was my favorite interview with Dr. Ariely so far, because they touch on all of the main topics that he has written about. That said, I really enjoyed the discussion on motivation and how it can be destroyed by bureaucracy, as well as Dr. Ariely’s thoughts on deeper feelings of happiness that comes with developing something. Indeed, this last point has stayed with me since I listened.

Check it out! After you are done with that, you can get more Dan Ariely in your life by watching his 6(!) TED Talks or reading his 6 books!
Books

My second big find this week was a fascinating episode of A Neuroscientist Explains podcast, where host Dr. Daniel Glaser interviewed Cognitive Science Professor Anil Seth about where perception ends and hallucination begins. (Overcast link here.) Not to be too click-baity, but the answer was quite surprising.

Here again, you can visit Dr. Seth’s website for links to his many writings, talks, and media appearances — including his 2017 TED Talk on the same topic and a much deeper 3-hour interview about consciousness with Sam Harris on the Waking Up podcast.

Top-notch podcast episode: An auditory object of consciousness addendum

I’m not even sure how I found this, but I stumbled across Seth Godin’s Akimbo podcast earlier this week. The episode on quality and wabi-sabi really blew my mind. (Overcast link here.) Mr. Godin can tell a good story, and this one has a very important message about how the way you define something, such as quality, can lead you to very different places when implemented. Whether we are creators working for ourselves or regular 9–5 employees, it is important to be clear to yourself about what kind of quality you are seeking to provide. Check it out!

Another sign of things to come in the Japanese population crisis

In the last few years, there has been an increasing din of alarm bells in the international press regarding the myriad ways in which Japan is coping (or failing) with their ever-increasingly graying population and low fertility rate. One growing trend has been the growth of kodokushi, or lonely deaths, where elderly people die alone and remain undiscovered for days, weeks, or months.

As this problem continues to grow, real answers are few, but people are starting to come up with some half-measures to avoid a similar situation for themselves. Anecdotes that I have heard include elderly people signing up for programs that periodically deliver free samples or routine sales calls to the residence. (Indeed, many salespeople are trained to notify police after several consecutive unsuccessful attempts to get someone to answer the door.) Others are making arrangements with another member of the community to monitor the residence for signs of activity.

Although there are several articles that discuss this trend, the one that really hit home for me was “A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death” by Norimitsu Onishi in the NY Times. Another article, “Cleaning Up After the Dead” by Anna Fifield showcases the aftermath of such hidden deaths, including the efforts of those who are tasked with cleaning up after such unfortunately common incidents.

However, beyond even this grim trend, the effects of the Japanese population crisis are showing in other ways, too. According to this article by Shiho Fukuda, some elderly people are choosing to engage in shoplifting and other small crimes in order to go to prison, and some even choose to go back to prison to avoid dealing with life on the outside. This article provides some portraits of several women who contributed their stories to the article, including information about their background and why they chose a late life of crime over the lives they led on the outside.

It should go without saying that the optics of sending elderly people to prison for minor crimes are pretty bad. That said, the tendency of society is to lay the blame on these isolated people within their community instead of looking for ways to address their needs in a more constructive and useful way. I can only hope that such solutions are forthcoming.

Recent objects of auditory consciousness — March 2018 edition

A quick update about what I have been listening to.

Music

Kerrang! published their list of 16 great post-rock albums, and it is worth a listen. As you could probably predict, this best albums list includes my favorite band, Mono, as well as some other well-known favorites like This Will Destroy You, Russian Circles, Do Make Say Think, and Explosions In The Sky. Lots of others that I have never heard of, but I will slowly make my way through.

In other news, Mono are also set to play Robert Smith’s Meltdown in June. Other headliners include: Nine Inch Nails,  Mogwai, Placebo, Deftones, and Alcest. This year’s Meltdown will take place at London’s Southbank Centre venues from June 15-24. This looks like it will be a ridiculous show!

Podcasts

The first item on my list of recent podcast recommendations is a new one to me, too. I haven’t listened to every episode of The After On Podcast, as I already have way too much stuff to consume as it is. Also, I won’t say that every episode I have consumed is equally interesting, though YMMV. What host Rob Reid does very well, however, is getting some very interesting guests to interview. Indeed, his last few episodes have been very impressive, particularly episode 21 with the fascinating Mary Lou Jepsen (Neural Imaging and … TELEPATHY?!), and episode 22 with guest David Eagleman (Creating the 6th, 7th & 8th Sense?).

As with most of Mr. Reid’s podcasts, the subject matter here is the power of technology, with an eye towards the possibilities that could open up to us in the very near future. I highly recommend checking both of these episodes out — and be sure to stay tuned to listen to the final thoughts and wrap up at the end, where Mr. Reid shares some really insightful discussion. Also, check out Mary Lou Jepsen’s TED Talk on the capabilities of devices in the future.

One of the shows that is in regular rotation (and often moved up to the front of the queue) is The Talk Show with John Gruber. His recent episode #217: ‘Our Name Is Our Address’, with special guest Jason Kottke was really good. If you don’t know Jason Kottke, he runs one of the oldest and most interesting blogs on the internet—one of the few that I regularly visit directly for all of the interesting stuff that he is serving up hot every day. In this episode of The Talk Show, they talk about a lot of behind-the-scenes work and stories that they have experienced throughout their respective blogging careers. Definite recommend if you are a fan of their work, or if you were one of the lucky people who enjoyed the blogosphere back in the day.

Roderick on the Line, ep. 278: Felix. The quote from John Roderick on this episode that stuck with me for days: “Panicking feels like action. You know, it feels like you’re engaged. It feels like you’re doing something to be in a state of anxious stress all the time.”

So true.