Podcasts of note

Roderick on the Line: 255: “The Fancy-Enough Window”. The discussion about John Roderick’s 22 pairs of Levi’s at around 25 minutes is hilarious. “There’s so much ‘hige’ in that bathroom, you can barely get in there.”

Waking Up with Sam Harris: #92: The Limits of Persuasion. This episode of the Waking Up podcast brought guests David Pizarro and Tamler Sommers from the Very Bad Wizards podcast to discuss free speech, morality, and the illusion of self. All the good stuff.

Waking Up with Sam Harris: #94: The Future of Intelligence.  In this episode, Sam speaks with cosmologist Max Tegmark for a second time (previous talk here). Here, they continue their discussion about AI and Tegmark’s new book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, what the development of super-human intelligence could mean for society and humanity, as well as a rough outline of the many conversations that need to happen to avoid some of the most dangerous possible outcomes of the creation and proliferation of AI. One of the most interesting topics, for me, came towards the end of the episode, where Max and Sam chat briefly about making a future-proof career. I haven’t read Max Tegmark’s book, but his MIT website has a lot more information about the book.

The Ezra Klein Show: From 4Chan to Charlottesville: where the alt-right came from, and where it’s going. Guest Angela Nagle draws a very interesting political map showing the pathways that led from internet message boards and social networks to the various groups and interests that are often called the “alt-right.” Her book Kill All the Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right, is out for sale.

It was a pretty interesting listen, even though it brings up a lot of questions for me regarding the base of support for the current administration in Washington—which is often considered to be quite different, demographically, than what you see in the groups described here. That said, probably, the most interesting part of the discussion, for me, was about how the current highly polarized political environment provided a terrific opportunity for these groups to form and thrive.

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My summer reading activity

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. Although not as good as his previous Sapiens, in my opinion, this book still posits some interesting thoughts about where we might be going as a species.

“How to Deal With North Korea” by Mark Bowden. I thought this was a very well-thought-out article about all of the options currently on the table, with respect to North Korea. Also interesting was Mr. Bowden’s guest appearance on Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast, episode #88: Must We Accept a Nuclear North Korea?

Current reading:

Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment by Robert Wright. Although he has written several other highly recommended books (i.e., The Moral Animal, Nonzero, and The Evolution of God), this is my introduction to his writing. So far, I am very impressed with his understanding and explanation of the science of evolutionary psychology, and I find his arguments regarding the areas of agreement between Buddhism and our current understanding of the human condition very interesting. If you would like to get a taste of Robert Wright’s writing on this topic, please check out his recent article in Wired, “Is Mindfulness Meditation BS?”. Also, he recently joined Tamler Sommers and David Pizarro on the Very Bad Wizards podcast, episode 120: Clap Your Hand for Robert Wright, where they discussed Buddhism, the concept of the self, and all of the inherent contradictions involved in such topics. It was a lively and entertaining discussion, and I highly recommend it.

 

My summer hit list

Alto’s Adventure. Although this has been on the periphery of my radar for a couple years, I ran across this gaming post on Jason Kottke’s site, which finally piqued my interest. Anyway, it is a fun game — even my daughter loves to play it for a few minutes in the evening. The graphics are simple, but very nice — along the lines of Journey. Not sure it has the addictive power of Threes, but only time will be the judge of that.

Allied. It wasn’t a movie that I would normally go for, but it was exciting and entertaining all the way to the end.

Sometimes you come across these timeless articles

“Reality A and Reality B” by Haruki Murakami in the New York Times, from back in November 2010. Seems just as true today as it did back then — maybe more so. From the article:

Let’s call the world we actually have now Reality A and the world that we might have had if 9/11 had never happened Reality B. Then we can’t help but notice that the world of Reality B appears to be realer and more rational than the world of Reality A. To put it in different terms, we are living a world that has an even lower level of reality than the unreal world. What can we possibly call this if not “chaos”?”

Cold Brew Time 

The days are getting longer, and unfortunately, hotter. For me, one of the best things about summer is cold brew coffee. To that end, you can’t go wrong with this Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Iced Coffee Pot. One liter of delicious, cold coffee overnight. Also, please visit the Hario website to learn more about the various methods for making cold brew coffee. 

While I’m here, I’d also recommend Ammonite Coffee Market and Onibus Coffee in Tokyo. In my home state of Oklahoma, please try DoubleShot Coffee in Tulsa, or Elemental Coffee in Oklahoma City. Each of these places have some freshly roasted beans that would be perfect for cold brew. Personally, I prefer a chocolatey Colombian coffee, but you do you.