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Showing posts from April, 2020

A podcast on fear

The "Ologies" podcast with Alie Ward: Fearology Pt. 1 (FEAR) with Mary PoffenrothThis episode discusses the limbic system's fight-or-flight response, in which the amygdala sends chemical signals to the thalamus. We tend to relabel "fear" as "stress" because it's socially acceptable, even encouraged, to talk about how stressed we are about our lives. "We feel confident talking about stress because we can commiserate, but we don't feel confident talking about the f-word because there's so much shame associated with fear in our society." (13:28-41) Yet we can't eliminate fear, because it's one of four basic human emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised ("afrised"), and angry/disgusted ("angrusted"). "How much do you think of our anger in general is just fear that comes out the wrong pipe?" Ward asks. "So much," Poffenroth responds. (48:25)Poffenroth distinguishes "factual fear"…

How the have-it-both-ways "moderate" can begin to break out of the armchair

Writing in 1939, Max Lerner wrote this indictment of the typical "liberal." It would be a mistake to read this term using the 2020 American understanding of "liberal" vs. "conservative." It may refer to those who believe in liberal democracy (rather than any of its alternatives), but in context the best substitute term seems to be "moderate." The "liberal," here, is an armchair "moderate" who wants to have it both ways when it comes to judging others yet never taking firm action.For to the public the liberal has become the caricature of the way he has presented himself. He is Mr. Janus Facing-Both-Ways. He sees two sides to every question (why only two?). He is Hamlet-like in his indecisiveness at a time when victory comes to those who can make up their minds. He is generous in his judgment of others and tolerant of their way of life. His principle is one of inclusiveness – not in the democratic sense of including his fellow-…