Food for Thought

Food for thought, thought for food...
Some makes you think, and some makes you puke.
(Glenn Beck)  

Whatever its quality, all of this gut bacteria has shaped my thought. What shapes yours? 


The Ben Shapiro Show 

I am deeply concerned with the growing divide in our country. We rarely have conversations across divides, and when we do, we sometimes don't have ears to hear. Too often, political affiliations immediately brand us with moral character: nazis, racists, fascists, islamaphobes, murderous health care repealing bastards, etc.
Since Trump's election, I have made it a large part of my mission to better understand the intellectual conservatives out there. To this date, Shapiro's the best in this class that I've found. Though he does often attack liberal straw men, he is principled, less hypocritical than most, and erudite-worth a listen. 

Perhaps listening to him as unhinged my bearings. Perhaps this blog is an attempted solution.
To start: check out the first 10 minutes of some of his podcasts to get a sense of his worldview and his coverage, or check out two questions I wrote for him entitled "Atheism and Universal Basic Income."

CONFORM: Exposing the Truth about Common Core and Public Education

Glenn Beck 

If you need a reminder that all conservatives are not the same, simply read 5 pages of this book (the length of roughly 2 complete chapters) and contrast it to Ben Shapiro. I started reading this book to better understand the debate around public education. I left no more informed, but utterly convinced that public education had failed at least one person: Glenn Beck.

Fraught with unsubstantiated claims, cherry picked examples that have no context and are falsely generalized to the whole nation, and poor comedic jabs at all employees in education, reading this book is an attempt to understand stupid people, not an attempt to understand education. 

If you are looking for education related news, I try to check NPR's page about education regularly and google studies in issues I'm concerned with. For a smarter conservative view, I found the accompanying novel to Waiting for Superman helpful. It's a collection of essays from many vantage points, but mostly the very pro-charter, anti-union one. Of course, I'm not at all on the conservative side of things with education. #KnowYourEnemy

i've tried to figure out the editing of this photo about 15 times. click it if you want it full screen. 

The Brilliant Idiots

Hosted by two loud mouth, politically incorrect comedians, Brilliant Idiots is another podcast that I have tuned into. 
First, I find them funny. Humor is in the eye of the beholder, and I can understand some people being offended, but I think they do it well.

Second, I find them honest intellectuals.* Whatever topics they are handling, I find they show a willingness to engage new viewpoints, a readiness to admit they are wrong or ignorant, and an eagerness for new knowledge. I find that more refreshing than ever these days. There closing tag line gets it right 'If you think you are brilliant, you are right. If you think we are idiots, you are right. We're the brilliant idiots.' Recommended.

I hope if you find me idiotic and offensive, you still engage with the ideas. There are a lot of idiots in America. You better engage with us.

To start: try the episode with Mark Manson about Not Giving a F*ck, or the one titled "Rat Pussy" If you want to get more ratchet.

*I like Joe Rogan's Podcast for largely the same reasons.

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Steven Pinker

Before praising the project: I once was a progressive with little time for evolutionary biology. I remember asking Pinker a question at Northwestern critical of his claim that modern society is significantly less violent than prior ones, probably intimating micro-aggressions and identity violence.

Anyways, times change. The book is a thorough investigation into the concept of the blank slate and its rival, a human nature that we got through evolution that reflects itself in the physical structure and characteristics of the brain. It is in part historical, tracing the concept through many centuries and thinkers. It also has a serious argument to make: Accepting and scientifically understanding human nature is essential to improving most of society, including child rearing, gender, tendencies towards violence, and more. He says that our fears of human nature are ill placed, and explains why it won't result in eugenics, meaninglessness, or inequality. 

And he worries that we have a rampant anti-scientific contingent that is shutting down debate because they think understanding human nature is antithetical to progress. Though the book is 15 years old, that claim should remind us of Social Justice Warriors. Here's another one I find prescient. See if you can guess why:

"[Of the three consequences of anti-science and the denial of human nature...] The third is the inevitable reaction: a culture of 'politically incorrect' shock jocks who revel in anti-intellectualism and bigotry, emboldened by the knowledge that the intellectual establishment has forfeited claims to credibility in the eyes of the public." 
(my italics, pg. x)

Politically incorrect shock jocks, capitalizing on public distrust... Sound like anyone you know? 

Honorable Mentions

Intercepted Podcast: The intercept is some of the best in depth reporting out there. They can get a little over the top, but... leaks are good.

The Sam Harris Podcast: More thoughtful podcast, but definitely not a bucket of laughs. Link is a recommended podcast about North Korea, if you're worried about it.

Albums from 2017: Flower Boy, Damn., All-Amerikkkan Bada$$., Ctrl, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, Saturation.

Everyday Struggle: Hip hop talk show. Link is a a nice clip discussing the prospects of a Kendrick vs. Drake beef in the near future.

Real Time with Bill Maher and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.