Podcast in the time of Coronavirus

I’m of two minds with respect to the social distancing:

  1. It’s a joy to see the budding creativity in times of boredom.
  2. A sense of anger over the delayed and general mismanaged response to the pandemic.  Perhaps the most upsetting for me is learning that because of the contagiousness of the virus people admitted to hospital with it cannot have visitors. Ultimately people are dying alone.

How is it possible to hold both 1 & 2 in my mind and heart?  Maybe it’s the unfolding of tragedy and comedy?  We are all feeling terribly human at the moment, aren’t we? Stay safe, wash your hands, and check in on your friends and family.


Suggestions for your Quarantine

Introverts are pros at the quarantine and social distancing.  It’s our thing.  Here’s a bit of advice to help you through:

  1. The “Do not panic” approach seems rather unhelpful.  Instead, try taking stock of what you can control and work from there.  Make a list.  For instance, you can control how much media you are consuming.
  2. That junk drawer (or closet) you’ve half-heartedly been meaning to clear out can finally get a nice dose of attention.
  3. Call your friends and family.
  4. Social Distancing doesn’t necessarily mean being cooped up inside.  Go for a walk or try a new area to explore on foot.
  5. Delve into that one book you’ve been meaning to read.   IMG_2486
  6. Try out a new recipe.
  7. Journal.
  8. Netflix binge guilt free.
  9. Remember that economic downturns do eventually slow down and reverse.
  10. Enjoy a podcast.

An FBI agent, a Lawyer, and a Philosopher Walk into a Podcast

What does a former FBI agent turned law enforcement analyst have to say about Justice, Confirmation bias, and Conspiracy Theories? Check out this 2 part interview with Jeff Cortese and my guest co-host, Rudy Salo.

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Love on the Mind

Welcome to 2020!  How are you beginning the New Year?

Currently reading…

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Latest podcasting…Episode “This is your Brain on Love,” an interview with neuropsychologist Dr. Jena Margalit Kravitz.

 

Getting ready to welcome a baby girl 🙂

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Improbable logic

I have no idea how this impeachment will unfold, but I have noticed conservative pundits and politicians banking on a few things that, regardless of the problematic logic, just might work in their favor.

  1. Most Americans don’t know where Ukraine is on a map. This was spouted by Fox Five host Jesse Waters. While it is an irrelevant claim, it might resonate with viewers and voters.
  2. Quid Pro Quo is done all the time. This is true; however, context matters. If I were to say: “I was driving and people do that all the time! Can you believe I was stopped?” And if one were to ask why I was stopped and I responded that I ran a red light, well, that information alters the banality of the notion that driving is done all the time. Moreover, to refer to point number 1, if I were to say it happened in Sierra Madre and no one knows where that is on a map, it would be irrelevant.
  3. The Democrats have wanted Trump out of office since the beginning. This is true. Again, it does not follow that because it is true the president did nothing wrong. They are two different claims.
  4. This is Russia hoax all over again. They (Right) are counting on people not having read or being familiar with the Mueller Report. And it might work to create this narrative. Anyone who had read the report (which is available for all and free of charge) would know that there were about 10 examples of obstruction and that Mueller said the president was not exonerated. In addition, the Department of Justice rules state that a sitting president cannot be indicted. There were over 30 indictments as a result of the investigation. Hardly a “hoax.”
  5. The Ukraine president did not know of a problem. This assumes that the president of Ukraine is on equal footing with the president of the United States. They (Right) expect viewers/voters to not know the history of Ukraine or this vulnerable and new presidency. On another note, being unaware of being a victim of a crime does not mean a crime did not happen. This is how pickpockets function.
  6. The notion of expertise is reduced to “someone’s opinion.” (Note Senator Kennedy of Fox News Sunday.) I suggest you read the book “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters,” by Tom Nichols. The weight of opinion hinges on one’s background and experience. They (Right) are hoping people assume all opinions are equal.
  7. This is a coup! They (Right) expect this language to not be checked. There is a difference between a violent overthrow (coup) and an impeachment (democratic process).
  8. The Whistleblower and people who have testified are “Never-Trumpers.” Even if that were true, and it could be, it does not follow the president did nothing wrong. Back to my running a red light example: if I were to say the officer writing my ticket hated his philosophy class, would that mean I shouldn’t get the ticket?
  9. Trump has allowed for more aid to Ukraine than Obama. Irrelevant to the crime.
  10. Trump was after corruption! To begin, Trump’s history in no way reflects an interest in corruption. Trump University, Foundation, lawyer and campaign manager in prison, his current lawyer might be in serious criminal trouble…the list goes on. Back to my red light example: “But officer, I was chasing the car in front of me and I think the person is someone who should be investigated…I heard.” Still irrelevant. If asked why I didn’t notify law enforcement of my suspicion (because, after all isn’t that who should be doing the chasing?) and I responded, “They’re all corrupt!” it would not mean I had not run the red light. This is essentially Trump’s view of Hunter Biden (the car in front of me) and the FBI (the people who should be doing the chasing). They (Right) are hoping no one notices the recycled campaign tactic of calling the political opponent corrupt, crooked, and someone who should be in jail.

Good Is In The Details

I have started up a new podcast! Conversations with experts!

Episode 1 is an interview with Stephen Elliott on the art of writing.

Episode 2 explores the significance and intricacies of infrastructure.

Episode 3 was a lovely conversation with Beauvoirian scholar, Professor Margaret Simons.

IG: Goodisinthedetailspod


Bad Blood

While visiting a friend she fished a hefty book out of her living room, handed it to me, and said she hadn’t seen her wife for two days so engrossing had the book been.  That sort of endorsement is, for me, as seductive as a dirty martini at Friday Happy Hour. 

I settled into the book right away: Bad Blood Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. It details the foundation, building, and ultimate downfall of the company Theranos.  A medical device was promised to revolutionize blood-testing.  People bought in.  There were millions invested.  Publicity ensued.

The engineers of the company told the founder, Elizabeth Holmes, the promise of this technology could not be kept.  Her solution was to hide the malfunctions and continue to promise the technology.  Eventually, the truth surfaced.  The blood-testing device produced false results and the consequences, if left unchecked, could have been dire.  Medications, diagnosis, and procedures hinge on the veracity of a blood test result. 

Three things come to mind as I reflect on this book. 

  1. There was a genuine desire to report on and see the success of a young woman in the tech industry.  But because the media interest focused on Elizabeth Holmes the actual integrity of the blood-testing device was either overshadowed or nonexistent.  The very notion of ambition must be revisited here and I yield to the writings of Aristotle for clarity.  Ambition as such should be in conjunction with excellence.  It is the practice of contemplation and a steady work of character.  It cannot be obfuscated with notions of power and domination.  Holmes’s handling of investments and empty guarantees were spawned not by ambition but by greed.  In Aristotle’s terms this constitutes an excess of character or a vice.  Financial gain and power are not in and of themselves problematic, but they can be when in lieu of excellence rather than the result of excellence.  
  2. The unraveling and deceit of Theranos is an important story to tell.  It also highlights the gravity of journalism in a day when the field finds itself under attack and called “fake” or “enemy of the people.”  In truth, many people could have suffered from this poorly designed tool; yet, quality journalism unearthed the magnitude of the company’s flaws and outright false claims.  Indeed, one woman spent a Thanksgiving evening in the ER due to a false blood test result from this Theranos device.  After undergoing a deluge of further testing that ultimately cost her $3,000 out of pocket, she learned there was nothing wrong with her.  What if she had been ill and the blood test came back clean?  That was just one of the many incidents reported.
  3. I cannot help but draw parallels between Theranos and the Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster (1986). In both cases the engineers informed management of serious difficulties.  With the case of the Challenger the O-ring was a vulnerable part of the shuttle and in cold temperatures would fail.  This was explained to the business side of the launch and ignored. Seven astronauts lost their lives.  Why would the Challenger launch when on the eve before the engineers told management it was doomed to fail?  Why would Holmes ignore her own engineers?  Scheduling.  Business.  Because management told too many people it was ready.  The essence of the failures underscoring both cases looks eerily similar, namely, the image of the company and possible profits drowned out the very purpose of these endeavors: human excellence, knowledge, and innovation.

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