Author Archive: Erich Vieth
Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.
There are many illegitimate reasons for the U.S. to have begun killing people in the Middle East. They include bigotry, control of oil and a Middle East country’s resistance to U.S. imperialism. Lee Camp offers another reason, the dominance of the U.S. dollar. He argues that this factor has been behind the U.S. attacks of Libya and Iraq, and it is the reason the U.S. is now posturing to attack Iran. See the first 11 minutes of a recent episode of Lee Camp’s Redacted Tonight.
One might wonder how difficult it would be to drum up a fake excuse to start a war in the U.S. It’s not difficult, once the President decides to go to war behind closed doors. This is a time-tested prescription, addressed in the video “War Made Easy.” Chris Hedges discusses the intoxicating attraction of war:
The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our airwaves. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble.
Therefore, it’s not going to be difficult for the U.S. to publicly justify a war with Iran, especially given the detached electorate, given the U.S. public’s distaste for all things Muslim and the warmongers President Trump has gathered as his primary advisors.
So much hypocrisy in the air, as Bill Maher points out:
Are there emotions other than the commonly discussed ones? This article by BBC presents many others. Most of them have names in other languages, and I did not recognize any of these names. I did, however, recognize many of the feelings described in the article. Hence, the title of the article, “The Untranslatable Emotions,” doesn’t quite work for me, because I do recognize many of these emotions. Here are a few examples presented, and there are many others I enjoyed reading about in the article:
Natsukashii (Japanese) – a nostalgic longing for the past, with happiness for the fond memory, yet sadness that it is no longer
Wabi-sabi (Japanese) – a “dark, desolate sublimity” centred on transience and imperfection in beauty
Saudade (Portuguese) – a melancholic longing or nostalgia for a person, place or thing that is far away either spatially or in time – a vague, dreaming wistfulness for phenomena that may not even exist
Sehnsucht (German) – “life-longings”, an intense desire for alternative states and realisations of life, even if they are unattainable
Psychologist Michal Kosinski developed a method to size up who a person based on their FB activity.
If you would like to get a small taste for what companies can do with Big Data, follow this link to Kosinski’s own website (found in the above article). I did this, and I was impressed. Based on 60 of your FB “likes,” a company can get a impressive read on who you are.
This is not just a parlor trick. This type of analytics can swing a tight presidential election.
This article in the Atlantic, “The Simple Psychological Trick to Political Persuasion,” urges us to consider the values of those to whom we direct our arguments in order to be effective.
Feinberg and his co-author, Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer, have extensively studied how it is that liberals and conservatives—two groups that now seem further apart than ever on their policy preferences—can convert people from the other side to their way of seeing things. One reason this is so hard to do, they explain, is that people tend to present their arguments in a way that appeals to the ethical code of their own side, rather than that of their opponents.
Donald Trump has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has made a career of attacking the EPA on behalf of his fossil fuel contributors, to be head of the EPA. Based on his past conduct, including his denial of climate change, Pruitt’s mission will be to destroy the EPA, thereby putting the American public at great risk of living in a toxic cesspool, the conditions leading Richard Nixon to create the EPA in the ’70’s.
After Sam Harris wrote The Moral Landscape, he encountered both accolades and criticisms. In response to the criticisms, he held a contest, offering $2,000 to the best short essay to challenge his own work. He published both the winning essay and his own response to it. I find it to be a good read that cross-cuts some traditional concepts of moral philosophy (e.g., that there is no intersection between descriptive versus prescriptive statements) and points the idea that we can dispense with (or at least translate into factual observations) the notions of “good” and “bad.”
Here is an excerpt from Harris’ essay commenting on the winning essay:
Part of the resistance I’ve encountered to the views presented in The Moral Landscape comes from readers who appear to want an ethical standard that gives clear guidance in every situation and doesn’t require too much of them. People want it to be easy to be good—and they don’t want to think that they are not living as good a life as they could be. This is especially true when balancing one’s personal well-being vs. the well-being of society. Most of us are profoundly selfish, and we don’t want to be told that being selfish is wrong. As I tried to make clear in the book, I don’t think it is wrong, up to a point. I suspect that an exclusive focus on the welfare of the group is not the best way to build a civilization that could secure it. Some form of enlightened selfishness seems the most reasonable approach—in which we are more concerned about ourselves and our children than about other people and their children, but not callously so. However, the well-being of the whole group is the only global standard by which we can judge specific outcomes to be good.