Why Has the Internet Been So Disappointing for Discussing Individual Movies, Books, Etc.?

When I’m asked about things I like to do, reading was one of the things that I’d mention. In reality, that’s not really accurate, especially if we mean deriving pleasure simply from the act of reading. That’s not me (unfortunately). What would be more accurate is to say I like learning; and I like talking about what I learn and read. This also applies to movies as well (although watching movies is enjoyable and more effortless than reading). Generally speaking, talking about books and movies might be more enjoyable to me than experiencing either. Because of this, the internet has been a place that has, until recently, held a lot of promise for me. When I read a book or watch a film, especially more obscure ones, I assumed that the internet would be the solution to this, especially now with millions (billions) of people online. Given those numbers, finding others who have read or seen the same books and movies I have shouldn’t be hard, right? Now, not all of these people have an interest in discussion. Still, I thought the ones that would be would constitute a big enough number to have a discussion. I’ve now concluded this is not the case (but I would love to be wrong about this!). To be clear, I’m not really referring to the currently most popular books and films. I think you can find conversations on those, but if I want to find a conversation, right now, on Francis Ford Coppola’s One From the Heart, forget about it. Why is that? Off the top of my head, here’s my short explanation: Continue reading “Why Has the Internet Been So Disappointing for Discussing Individual Movies, Books, Etc.?”

Notes on The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss by David Bentley Hart

Hart is an Eastern Orthodox scholar of religion, philosopher and cultural commentator, and he has written a response to atheism, which seems in vogue now. He claims that his objective isn’t to prove God’s existence, but to clarify a false premise in the debate. Here’s how he puts it:

If one imagines that God is some discrete object visible to physics or some finite aspect of nature, rather than the transcendent actuality of all things and all knowing, the logical inevitable Absolute upon which the contingent depends, then one has simply misunderstood what the content of the concept of God truly is, and has nothing to contribute to the debate (p. 327)

Using this as a starting point, Hart discusses the way this conception of God relates to problems with a strictly materialistic view of the world (which he generalizes, rightly in my opinion, as the main world view of the New Atheists.), going into three aspects of the concept of God that highlight this problem—-being, consciousness, and bliss/

As in other “notes” threads, I’m going use this to jot random thoughts and notes as a way to help me process the book.

Congressional GOP and Fox News Are Worse Than Trump

As I mentioned in the other thread, in a way, I think the Congressional GOP and conservative media outlets (including radio pundits) that either actively enable Trump or largely stand by silently are actually worse than Trump. I actually believe that if they vigorously and vocally opposed Trump, it could actually be a kind of proud moment in our history (or at least mitigate the way Trump has embarrassed and disgraced us), and it could serve as a big blow to authoritarian regimes like Russia. But, alas, something close to the opposite has happened. Like the other thread, I’m going to use this thread as a collection of evidence for this claim. Here’s one I saw today from Fox News’s Sean Hannity:

Continue reading “Congressional GOP and Fox News Are Worse Than Trump”

A Scientific Approach to Journalism That Can Mitigate Partisanship

One of the things that stands out for me during the Trump presidency is the number of hypotheses or narratives relating to Trump and the news involving him, most notably the Trump-Russia story.  By narratives, I mean the construction of a story outline that will help explain events, and also place the key people in roles–all of which provide a context that provides meaning and explicates the people and events. For example, one narrative has Trump as someone the Russians manipulated via blackmail, using Trump to achieve their objectives, including weakening the U.S. Another narrative places Trump as a great business man and deal-maker, who has made enemies of the elite out of resentment that Trump has proven them wrong. The Russia story is merely sour grapes.

Now, my sense is that all of these narratives are driven by some combination of the individual’s political biases as well as their ability to objectively perceive and analyze the world. (By the way, the same applies to me and the running hypotheses I have formed.) Which individuals and narratives stem primarily from the latter? Which ones do facts and logic support the most? Which ones are baseless and unreasonable, so much so that we could dismiss them? The answers aren’t clear or easy to answer. Because of that, judging these narratives and assessing the credibility of the individuals that embrace them can be really difficult. The result can be confusion and a sense of being lost in a sea of information. This is especially true for those not tracking the various stories on a regular basis, seeking a variety of sources.

In this thread, I’d like to suggest a solution to this as well as present the benefits for doing so. Continue reading “A Scientific Approach to Journalism That Can Mitigate Partisanship”