It is that time again . . .

It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers!

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Podcasts of note, pt. III

Very Bad Wizards, episodes 122 and 123: What Chilling Effect? (Intelligence Pt. 2) and Nothing but a “G” Thing (Intelligence Pt. 1). Tamler and David explore the concept of general intelligence (g), how it is measured and used, as well as the concept and usefulness of heritability as it pertains to intelligence.

Japan from Inside. A French documentary, with English subtitles, explores foreigners’ experiences in Japanese prison — usually for drug offenses. Although quite different from the warehousing and neglect found in American prisons, the Japanese experience is surprisingly harsh in its strictness and isolation.

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.