January 2, 2017

This is the post excerpt


Happy New Year!!

“The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking”,  Maria Popova, Brainpickings

Brainpickings is an amazing blog in which Maria Popova shares selections, thoughts, and insights from the books that she’s reading and she never disappoints. I keep a bookmarks folder of my favorite brainpickings on my internet browser. Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Detection Kit” is a personal favorite.

Journalism in America today is in critical condition. On one end of the spectrum we have mainstream  media (MSM), which I believe is too heavily influenced by both ideology and the bottom line to be solely relied upon. The other end is fake news, which include various blogs, magazines, and websites with zero journalistic standards that have no checks to keep from lying outright.

Over the years I’ve tried different methods of countering the bullshit in modern journalism to varying degrees of success. What I’m on now is a sort of “trust, but verify” approach in which I try to choose my news sources carefully (mostly independent media with good journalistic standards) and I try to approach these trustworthy publications with epistemological tools in order to keep my head on straight. The first rule that I would add to Sagan’s kit is to double the scrutiny of anything that fits with what you believe, because confirmation bias is a persistent and devious foe.

The kit is brought out as a matter of course whenever new ideas are offered for consideration. If the new idea survives examination by the tools in our kit, we grant it warm, although tentative, acceptance. If you’re so inclined, if you don’t want to buy baloney even when it’s reassuring to do so, there are precautions that can be taken; there’s a tried-and-true, consumer-tested method.


“Germany moves to atone for ‘forgotten genocide’ in Namibia: Berlin discusses possible reparations payments over massacre of tens of thousands of people in the early years of 20th century”, Jason Burke and Philip Oltermann, The Guardian


Germany is pursuing policy to recognize and pay reparations for one of the first genocides of the 20th century. Descendants of the victims say it’s not enough, but it’s certainly a start. In honor of Germany trying to do the right thing, I’m adding three articles published last year that debate the concept for African Americans here in the United States. The first is Ta-Nehisi Coates case for reparations, the second is a refutation of Coates’s argument and is against reparations, and the third refutes both and makes its own case for reparations. Lengthy, but interesting.

“The Case for Reparations: Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic


“An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Liberals Who Love Him”, Cedric Johnson, Jacobin

The reparations demand survives as a parlor debate — it cannot address the real needs and interests of black workers


“The Socialist Case for Reparations”, Brian Jones, Jacobin

Class politics and reparations aren’t at odds — they’re part of the same struggle.


The following is the video of the week. It’s a man I’ve only recently come across, but he stands to be a personal favorite. Not only does he have a Scottish accent (awesome!) but he’s also a professor of Economics at Brown University. He predicted both Brexit and Trump’s election victory and has more than a penny’s worth of thoughts to share about what’s going on in the world today. This is Professor Mark Blyth on what he is calling “Global Trumpism”. Fascinating stuff imo (in my opinion).

Video of the Week:
“Global Trumpism And The Revolt Against the Creditor Class”, Mark Blyth

“What we have everywhere are creditor-debtor standoffs,” he said. “If you look at the states that really fell hard [for Trump] in the Rust Belt, it is economic. Now, if you recognize that simple fact, you can put Trump in there with Brexit.”

Nations of the Week! (New additions are in BOLD)
Rachael and I have embarked on a years-long ambition to memorize all the nations and capitals. I’m adding 10-15 each week and posting it here so you can join us and/or help us by throwing us a pop quiz from time to time!

South America
Argentina — Buenos Aires
Bolivia — La Paz
Brazil — Brasilia
Chile — Santiago
Colombia — Bogota
Ecuador — Quito
French Guiana — Cayenne
Guyana — Georgetown
Paraguay — Asuncion
Peru — Lima
Suriname — Paramaribo
Uruguay — Montevideo
Venezuela — Caracas

North America
Belize — Belmopan
Canada — Ottawa
Costa Rica — San Jose
Cuba — Havana
Dominican Republic — Santo Domingo
El Salvador — San Salvador
Guatemala — Guatemala City
Haiti — Port-au-Prince
Honduras — Tegucigalpa
Jamaica — Kingston
Mexico — Mexico DF
Nicaragua — Managua
Panama — Panama City
Puerto Rico — San Juan

Eastern Europe
Belarus — Minsk
Bulgaria — Sofia
Czech Republic — Prague
Hungary — Budapest
Moldova — Chisinau
Poland — Warsaw
Romania — Bucharest
Russia — Moscow
Slovakia — Bratislava
Ukraine — Kiev

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