31 Articles


3 weeks Ago

How dumb can you be?

Published by marco on

The article «Dummheit hat Hochkonjunktur»: Interview mit Psychiaterin Heidi Kastner by Nadja Pastega (Der Bund)[1] discusses the term “Dumm” (dumb, as in stupid). It’s always been a bit difficult to nail down what it means to be “dumb”, once you start to think about it. You can have smart people who act dumb. You can have smart people with no experience, so they’re intelligent, but not wise.

Then there’s the difference between “book smart” and “street smart”—they’re both useful in certain situations. If you don’t have... [More]

7 months Ago

John McWhorter interview

Published by marco on

This was a great interview with John McWhorter: ‘The Idea That America Is All About Despising Black People? That’s Fantasy.‘ by Nick Gillespie (Apple Podcasts) He recently wrote a book called Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever. I haven’t read it, but I’ve read several essays of his. In one of his essays, he named “The Elect” as the keepers of a new religion online.

The interview was illuminating, with a lot of it transcribed below. Gillespie is a good interviewer, preferring to get out of the way... [More]

9 months Ago

A couple of interviews with Adam Curtis

Published by marco on

The following video is an excellent interview by Chapo in which they just let him talk. The documentary they discuss is his most recent one, Can’t Get You Out of My Head (the link is to a YouTube playlist of all 4 hours in 4 videos. The videos were published by “Adam Curtis Documentary” and were aired on the BBC, so there’s a good change that they’ll survive.

502 − Units of One feat. Adam Curtis by Chapo Trap House on March 03, 2021 (YouTube)

Curtis did another interview in Can’t Get You Out of My Head w/ Adam Curtis by Red Scare that was just as good. The discussion were similar—they... [More]

11 months Ago

Jaocobin Interviews Slavoj Žižek

Published by marco on

Just one day later: another interview with Slavoj Žižek; another wonderful, intelligent, open, wide-ranging, and funny/friendly interview. It’s about 140 minutes long. Ariella Thornhill and Nando Vila did a great job, with Ariella in particular “translating” some of Slavoj’s more convoluted formulations with aplomb and accuracy.

Slavoj Zizek on Biden, Race, and What It Will Take to Stop the Pandemic by Jacobin: Ariella Thornhill & Nando Vila (YouTube)


Žižek: Did we notice how the fight against racism is usually in the liberal center, reformulated in the terms of tolerance, which I think is already an... [More]”

Red Scare Interviews Slavoj Žižek

Published by marco on

This is a wonderful, intelligent, open, wide-ranging, and funny/friendly interview. It’s about 100 minutes long.

The Pervert's Guide to Podcasting w/ Slavoj Zizek by Red Scare Podcast (YouTube)

Anyone who disparages Žižek doesn’t listen to him or doesn’t understand him or misunderstands him or deliberately misunderstands him or is incapable of understanding him. He has no pretense; he’s honest. He’s brilliant, he’s well-read, and he draws often-brilliant connections between philosophies, modern media, history, and current events. His insight is always interesting. You... [More]

Choosing Authors by Identity

Published by marco on

The article Shakespeare Matters (And Always Will) by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) discusses the idiotic-sounding question of whether it’s OK to read books written by people without considering their identities. That is, the books should stand on their own. We can, of course, consider whether we’ve historically ignored some good books because of racism—and dig these books back up. But there is no reason to discard existing books because they were written by white people (i.e. “switching the signs on the drinking fountains”).... [More]

1 year Ago

The Perils of Outrage Fatigue

Published by marco on

I’d never heard of Robert B. Talisse before. He expresses himself well in describing an imminent problem with American culture. People are so invested in their polarized roles that they no longer know how to interact with anyone who doesn’t already hold their worldview in nearly all things. If they disagree with someone on any of myriad issues, then they can’t even consider them human, to say nothing of bridging the gap to find common ground.

The problem he describes doesn’t apply just to... [More]

Consuming Media: Choosing and Cultivating Sources

Published by marco on

A good friend of mine is going to be teaching a course on “Media & Society”. We’ve had a few interesting discussions on how to be a discerning consumer of information and how to build a stable of reliable sources.

As an avid follower of myriad topics, I’ve spent decades doing just this. As an avid writer on this blog, I’ve spent decades[1] trying to create content that presents information in a way that doesn’t come to unwarranted or unreasonable conclusions.

YMMV, of course, but I’m assiduous... [More]

2 years Ago

Richard Wolff on Socialism, the Economy and Coronavirus

Published by marco on

Richard Wolff is the gift that keeps on giving. He’s just as brilliant talking into a laptop camera as he is giving lectures. I mentioned him recently as one of my favorite economist. The video is 75 minutes, but well-worth the time.

Richard D. Wolff − Is the Coronavirus the end of Capitalism & the Revival of Socialism? by AcTVism Munich (YouTube)

The following citation/transcript is from about 55 minutes, when the interviewer asked him what he thought of Biden vs. Trump..

“Biden is better than Trump, that seems clear to me. But, it’s almost meaningless because that’s such a low bar that the statement is,... [More]”

Bernie Blindness and the U.S. hatred of Socialism

Published by marco on

Bernie Sanders is doing extremely well in the campaign for presidential election in the U.S.

And he should be doing well. His basic message is:

Lets stop fighting over table scraps; instead, let’s get a real meal—take it, if we have to—stop being dicks to each other for four years, and see what happens.

There is still almost a year to go until the election in 2020. The campaign is already more than a year old. I can’t think of another country that starts campaigning more than a couple... [More]

3 years Ago

Rumination on culture and learning

Published by marco on

Americans are deliberately deluded. They are steeped in propaganda, but are also heavily complicit in their miseducation. They throw themselves into their miasma of disinformation with elan.

Regime Change in Venezuela

For example, the charge for regime change in Venezuela is not only in full swing, but has culminated in the replacement of the president by an unelected—and unknown—man.

~230~ Venezuela Fake Coup, Truth About Kamala Harris, & Yellow Vests by Redacted Tonight (YouTube)

Lee points out several salient characteristics of the target of a U.S. regime change:

  1. The country... [More]

Occupy vs. Burning Man

Published by marco on

Chuck Palahniuk on Joe Rogan says that there was only one Occupy because it wasn’t any fun. Burning Man, on the other hand, has been going on for 30 years and is bigger and better every year.

This is an insipid analysis of the two events. Occupy is about a revolution, against the corporate dominance. Burning Man is about subsuming revolutionary fervor in a corporate way. Tickets cost $200-$1200.

At least Joe Rogan pushed back against that.

Occupy never got a chance because it was squashed as... [More]

Explicit vs. Implicit Violence

Published by marco on

On a post on Reddit, someone cited Michael Moore as follows,

“In my first film, Roger & Me, a white woman on social security clubs a rabbit to death so that she can sell him as “meat” instead of as a pet. I wish I had a nickel for every time in the past 10 years that someone has come up to me and told me how “horrified” they were when they saw that “poor little cute bunny” bonked on the head. The scene, they say, made them physically sick. The Motion Picture Association of America gave Roger &... [More]”

On not seeing or understanding context

Published by marco on

Here are some features of modern discourse that I’ve noted.

  • It’s very easy to express an opinion publicly.
  • This is the default mode for many.
  • Entire conversations are carried out in public.
  • Speed is of the essence to get attention.
  • Distribution is the same for insipid thoughts as for pithy
  • There is no undo.
  • People writing or saying stupid things is funny
  • Market penetration and remuneration is overarchingly important
  • Learning is not rewarded
  • Neither is apology or correction

Taken together,... [More]

Dr. Ben Goertzel on consensus-based AIs

Published by marco on

Joe Rogan Experience #1211 − Dr. Ben Goertzel (YouTube)

This is wide-ranging discussion with Goertzel doing 95% of the heavy lifting. He and Rogan discuss uploading consciousness, a confluence of nanotech and AI Research to create the future and the inevitability of a technological singularity. He is interested, hopeful for and actively working toward,

“[…] biasing technology-development to control [the singularity] so that it creates a world of abundance and benefit for humans as well as AIs.”

They discuss the value system of an AI, with Joe... [More]

Schizophrenic Society

Published by marco on

 This photo was taken on an international flight from Switzerland to the U.S. I think it captures, in a nutshell, how insane, how schizophrenic, how hypocritical we are.

It is considered utterly non-noteworthy for a flight attendant to push a cart full of cancer sticks—clearly marked as such with a photo of an intubated man in the last throes of the crushing grip of what I assume was terminal lung cancer, for which one can hope that his orphaned family is seeing at least some... [More]

5 years Ago

The “great ideas” hype machine

Published by marco on

I recently read the following citation in the review Yuval Noah Harari: ‘Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so’ by Andrew Anthony (The Guardian):

“It’s one of those books that can’t help but make you feel smarter for having read it. Barack Obama and Bill Gates have undergone that experience, as have many others in the Davos crowd and Silicon Valley. The irony, perhaps, is that one of the book’s warnings is that we are in danger of becoming an elite-dominated global society.”

Ugh. This in no... [More]

Identity Politics: Is Jordan Peterson saying anything interesting?

Published by marco on

I read the article ‘We’re teaching university students lies’ – An interview with Dr Jordan Peterson by Jason Tucker & Jason VandenBeukel (C2C Journal) with interest. I’d never heard of Jordan Peterson. He was eminently quotable and I highlighted the following passages.

“Part of the reason I got embroiled in this [gender identity] controversy was because of what I know about how things went wrong in the Soviet Union. Many of the doctrines that underlie the legislation that I’ve been objecting to share structural similarities with the... [More]


Published by marco on

 Capitalism is the mechanism by which we attempt to regulate human interaction without ethics. We’ve discovered that, while many people will act ethically, there are those who do not. So we offer these monsters incentives. We try to build an economic system in which we harness their power for evil to our greater good.

But I think the leash is in the wrong hand. We’ve built a system that works fantastically for the small percentage of people who cannot be swayed by ethical arguments while at the... [More]

7 years Ago

How to think about thinking about theories of thought

Published by marco on

I read some interesting articles on theories of thought and information recently. The first was an interview/lecture, Formulating Science in Terms of Possible and Impossible Tasks by Chiara Marletto ( I can’t claim to understand even half of what she’s talking about, but understanding is tantalizing enough that I feel it might be worth something. I’ve included some citations from the transcript below.

“Yet it also has a radically different perspective on things because, as I said, in the prevailing conception, the... [More]”

8 years Ago

Deliberate vs. Accidental Terrorism

Published by marco on

It matters quite a lot whether an act of destruction was deliberate.

If someone takes credit for such an act, the act is denounced and it is immediately decided that we must do everything in our power to prevent its repetition.

When the perpetrators are known but deny responsibility, we enter a gray zone, which can be whitewashed by clout and connections and money.

When planes are flown into towers, killing about 3000 people, it is terrorism. When chemicals are spilled on Bhopal, killing... [More]

9 years Ago

We need philophers, thinkers

Published by marco on

A public service announcement, brought you by “The Big Think” through Slavoj Žižek. Transcript follows the video.

We Need Thinking by Slavoj Žižek (YouTube)

“More than ever, we need philosophy today. Even the most speculative—in the sense of reflecting on itself—science … has to rely on a set of automatic presuppositions. Like a scientist simply presupposes in his or her very approach to nature, a set of implications of how the nature functions, what’s the causality in nature, and so on and so on. And philosophy teaches us... [More]”

Drawbacks to Objectivism as public policy

Published by marco on

The interview Obama and the Road Ahead by Douglas Brinkley (Rolling Stone) is generally softball and sycophantic. It wouldn’t be worth of noting except that it included a supposed broadside by Barack Obama against Ayn Rand. As usual, those with their panties in a bunch cited it completely out of context. This is a shame, because the broader point is more interesting. It’s not like Obama just slammed Ayn Rand for the hell of it; he actual gave a relatively good justification for why it’s a bad idea to put pure objectivists in... [More]

10 years Ago

In Žižek’s Defense

Published by marco on

Lord knows that Slavoj Žižek doesn’t need me to come to his rescue, but I wanted to point out that the article Slavoj Zizek and Harum Scarum by Hamid Dabashi (Al Jazeera) uses comments that Žižek made about “capitalism with Asian values” as a springboard from which to launch an entirely-too-long and under-researched article against Orientalism. A noble cause, no doubt, but using Žižek’s name as a modern-day proponent of Orientalism is laughable. The man is many things, but an Orientalist he is not. He often goes on and... [More]

12 years Ago

Why do you think you’re getting smarter?

Published by marco on

Reading this article, This Is Your Brain. Aging. by Sharon Begley (Newsweek), reminded me of some notes I scribbled down and never posted, because I was actually doing something else at the time.

Does our capacity for learning grow or shrink as we age? Some things seem easier to grasp with distance: E.g. in school certain concepts just needed to be learned, but didn’t necessarily fit in with anything else—with age, these concepts are more evidently revolutionary. The light is a wave/particle experiment, for example.... [More]

Fry & Hitch vs. the Church

Published by marco on

The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world (Intelligence^2) is a debate between Archbishop Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe (for the Church) and Christoper Hitchens and Stephen Fry (against the Church). The link has all of the videos linked in from YouTube[1] and it’s worth watching all of it, especially since the audience gets to vote twice: once at the beginning and once at the end.[2]

It is interesting not because those supporting the Church actually argued well, but because those against the church did.... [More]

Identifying with the Inanimate

Published by marco on

 Spirit (XKCD) anthropomorphizes the Mars lander that was meant to operate for 90 days and has now been in operation instead for 2274 Mars days. Because it has been unable to unstick itself from an impediment since May of 2009, it has been deemed a “stationary research station”. The winds and sand will eventually corrode its solar panels to such a degree that it will lose contact with NASA.

The cartoon evokes a feeling of pity for the robot because we are convinced that it thinks and feels—like us.... [More]

Who to Believe?

Published by marco on

The first decade of the twenty-first century brought with it much that is bad—global economic crash, increased American colonialism, increasingly harsh climate—but what is less-often mentioned is a feature primarily of American society that was quite aggravated throughout: Anti-intellectualism. Anyone who knows anything or bothers to educate themselves before opening up their big yap is often dismissed as a tool, a nerd, a bore. Instead, ample room was made in many a debate for anyone who... [More]

A little bit of knowledge

Published by marco on

To egregiously paraphrase the Pascal quote cited later:

“A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

There is all too much substantiating evidence for this adage these days, especially if one spends too much time wallowing in what is often designated the MSM or [M]ain[S]tream [M]edia. Learning a little about something and beating everyone over the head with it is nothing new. Nor is the phenomenon wherein those who know the least make the most noise. It is very likely that things have... [More]

Objective Reality

Published by marco on

“Three baseball umpires are having lunch together. The first umpire says ‘Well, a lot of them are balls, and a lot of them are strikes, but I always calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.’

“The second umpire says ‘Hmph. I calls ‘em as they are.’

“The third umpire slowly looks at his two colleagues and declares ‘They ain’t nothin’ until I calls ‘em.’”