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.

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On Reverse-Engineering a Soldier’s Death to Justify More of the Same

March 3, 2017 | By | Reply More

From Glenn Greenwald, of The Intercept:

While there is certainly truth in the claim that Trump’s use of the suffering of soldiers and their families is politically opportunistic, even exploitative, this tactic is hardly one Trump pioneered. In fact, it is completely standard for U.S. presidents. Though Trump’s attackers did not mention it, Obama often included tales of the sacrifice, death, and suffering of soliders in his political speeches — including when he devoted four highly emotional minutes in his 2014 State of the Union address to narrating the story of, and paying emotional tribute to, Sgt. Cory Remsburg, who was severely wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

George W. Bush also hauled soldiers wounded in his wars before cameras during his speeches, such as his 2007 State of the Union address, where he paid tribute to Sgt. Tommy Rieman, wounded in Iraq.

There are reasons presidents routinely use the suffering and deaths of U.S soldiers and their families as political props. The way in which these emotions are exploited powerfully highlights important aspects of war propaganda generally, and specifically how the endless, 15-year-old war on terror is sustained.

. . .

By dramatizing the deaths of Americans while disappearing the country’s victims, this technique ensures that Americans perpetually regard themselves as victims of horrific, savage, tragic violence but never the perpetrators of it. That, in turn, is what keeps Americans supporting endless war: These savages keep killing us, so we have no choice but to fight them.

Greenwald points out that our natural sympathy for family members of brave dead soldiers is consciously reverse engineered at events such as President Trump’s recent speech, such that the heroism of the soldier appears to make the war a worthy war and the President a worthy President.

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“Mercy,” short violin-piano piece by Max Richter

March 1, 2017 | By | Reply More

I’m loving this musical offering by Max Richter (performed by Hilary Hahn and C. Smythe). So short, sweet and deep.

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Craig Newmark’s Truth-Seeking Philanthropy

February 27, 2017 | By | Reply More

Craig Newmark is the introvert who founded Craig’s List. Now he is turning his attention to the needs of organizations seeking to do excellent news reporting and fact checking. The story appeared in NiemanLab:

In recent weeks, Newmark’s foundation has given $1 million gift to the Poynter Institute for a chair in ethics and a $500,000 donation to Wikipedia for its anti-harassment Community Health Initiative, after giving Wikipedia $1 million last June. Those gifts look like they be might be just a start of his news/information-centric philanthropy; Newmark now tells me he is committing to give away, at this phase of his philanthropy, another $3.5 million. Those further gifts — to companies in the news and information sphere — will be announced over the next weeks and months. Taken together, we’ve got to be impressed with this renewed spurt of news-oriented philanthropy and the big subscription upticks we’ve seen post-election.

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David Frum discusses the era of Trump

February 26, 2017 | By | Reply More

Fascinating conversation: I just listened to a discussion on Donald Trump involving long time conservative David Frum and Sam Harris. What did Trump do that resonated deeply, according to Frum? A) The pain felt by rural America, B) That America’s trade policy is not working well for most Americans, and C) Immigration does impose often invisible economic and cultural costs on many Americans in the bottom 30-40% of Americans.

None of this suggests that Trump should be President. He is massively incompetent and disorganized, and has failed to make appointments. The U.S. has great power to end human life through it’s nuclear arsenal. Trump is erratic and therefore dangerous. It’s like being in a car with a hopelessly drunk driver. Trump is not a strategic visionary. He makes impulsive bad decisions, and digging out of his messes by blaming others. Trump is not Hitler. He is filled with bitterness and rage. His advisors are filled with rage–none of them are fully functioning people. Millions of people filled with rage are delighted to see Trump be rude to the snobs out there. His followers don’t care about detrimental effects to themselves.

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More about Narcissists in the Age of Trump

February 25, 2017 | By | Reply More

I stumbled across this detailed article on twenty techniques used by Narcissists (and other malfunctioning types of people) in personal relationships — or is it an article about Donald Trump? The full title: “20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You.”

The bottom line caveat: “If you think you’re going to have a thoughtful discussion with someone who is toxic, be prepared for epic mindfuckery rather than conversational mindfulness.” In short, conversations are often attacks that only look like conversations.

In the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath, your differing opinions, legitimate emotions and lived experiences get translated into character flaws and evidence of your irrationality.

Narcissism is the main focus of the article, however, and Narcissists tend to be . . . well … narcissistic:

Narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths and otherwise toxic people do this because they wish to divert attention back to themselves and how you’re going to please them. If there is anything outside of them that may threaten their control over your life, they seek to destroy it. They need to be the center of attention at all times. In the idealization phase, you were once the center of a narcissist’s world – now the narcissist becomes the center of yours.

Narcissists are also naturally pathologically envious and don’t want anything to come in between them and their influence over you. Your happiness represents everything they feel they cannot have in their emotionally shallow lives. After all, if you learn that you can get validation, respect and love from other sources besides the toxic person, what’s to keep you from leaving them?

Chapters include Gaslighting, Projection, “Moving the goalposts,” “Changing the Subject,” Threats (including covert threats), Aggressive Jabs Disguised as Jokes and Shaming.

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Lee Camp: U.S. Prepares to Attack Iran to Assure Dominance of the U.S. Dollar

February 19, 2017 | By | Reply More

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.

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Bill Maher: Republicans Are Merely Posing as the “America First” Party

February 18, 2017 | By | Reply More

So much hypocrisy in the air, as Bill Maher points out:

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Wabi-Sabi and many other emotions not well known by name

February 17, 2017 | By | Reply More

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

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Who are you? Strangers can get a good idea based on a few dozen of your Facebook “likes.”

February 6, 2017 | By | Reply More

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.

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