How was this even a question?

Podcast: Ancestry

By: Constitutional

Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/podcasts/constitutional/episode-02-ancestry/?utm_term=.0f4aaea67510

Notes:

In 1879 a court case involving Chief Standing Bull of the Ponca tribe came before a Federal court that demanded an answer to the question:  Are Native Americans considered people by the U.S. Constitution.

In 1878, despite having two separate treaties with the U.S. Senate, the Ponca tribe were forcibly removed off their land by the U.S. Government. As a result of the sickness and starvation conditions, Chief Standing Bull’s only son died that winter. Before he died, his father promised him he would bury him in their traditional ceremonial burial grounds.

Chief Standing Bull and about 30 other members of the Ponca Tribe went on a three month journey to bury his son. They were detained by the U.S. Army 2 days short of their goal.

General George Crook took the Native Americans under guard but doubted the morality of his orders and informed several news stations and lawyers of the situation.

Chief Standing Bull filed for a writ of habeas corpus.

This was the first civil trial for a Native American in U.S. History.

During the trial, Chief Standing Bull was quotes as saying, “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”

Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that “an Indian is a person” within the meaning of habeas corpus, recognizing that an Indian is a “person” under the law and entitled to its rights and protection. He concluded “The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the more fortunate white race.”

Not so fast

Podcast: Fasting Diets: What’s the Skinny?

By: Science Vs

Link: https://www.gimletmedia.com/science-vs/fasting-diets-whats-the-skinny#episode-player

Notes:

After not eating for a period of time your body runs out of sugars to burn and starts burning more fat for energy. An example in the episode was someone who was burning around 50% fat in normal circumstances went up to 70% after fasting.

To study how much fat is being burned they use a machine that analyzes your breath and the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide that you exhale. Fat that’s been burned exits the body through exhaling.

People on fasting diets tend to lose weight. A 5 week study that controlled for calories eaten seems to indicate this isn’t a result of fasting, but that people on these diets tend to eat less calories.

Studies of worms and mice indicate that fasting increases the rate at which cells consume and recycle themselves (called autophagy) and can increase longevity. Studies in humans are mixed and much less conclusive.

Studies in mice indicate that fasting can starve cancer cells (many types of cancer aggressively consume sugar for energy) and make them more susceptible to normal cancer treatments. Studies in humans for this are ongoing.

 

I may have made a mistake.

Book: Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

Author: Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

Notes:

Cognitive dissonance is a state of tension that occurs whenever a person holds two ideas that are psychologically inconsistent. It produces mental discomfort so our brain finds ways to reduce it.

The more we commit to something (especially things we deem important or irreversible), the more mental gymnastics we’ll do to avoid admitting we were wrong.

Once a decision has been made we’ll do what we need to bolster it, including evangelising it to others. Often, the best time to get good information on a topic is to ask someone researching a decision before they have committed to it.

Violent or aggressive acts aren’t a good form of venting, they set the stage for justifying more violence or aggression.

If we do a good deed for someone we don’t like, we can use our CD behavior to get into the mental state of “If they were such a jerk, I wouldn’t have done this for them, therefore they must be ok.”

You can use this in reverse to ask favors of people who don’t like you.

Experts in fields often have no better than a 50/50 chance of prediction, and CD can be extreme for them because of this.

People with low self esteem also suffer from CD interpreting actions of other people or results of their efforts to show why they don’t have value.

The Pyramid of Choice

Once we’ve made a choice we go down the path of justifying it, often ending up very far away mentally from someone who made the opposite choice.

We all have prejudice blind spots of which we’re not aware.

Often we start making small choices that lead to larger ones and get further away from our initial belief leading us to eventually do something we never would have done initially. Example: Lunch with lobbyist, local golf game with lobbyist, trip to St. Andrews for golf game with lobbyist.

Scientists used to be funded with public money and most research didn’t have patients associated with it (Polio vaccine) but little by little we’ve evolved into a world where most scientific research is privately funded. Results in very minor and questionable improvements.

Lots of privately funded research yields results that are not consistent with unbiased research in terms of safety or effectiveness of products.

Big Pharma spends lots of money on small gifts to doctors offices because it’s been shown to work. Even these small gifts cause doctors to recommend their medications more often.

We invoke stereotypes to justify behavior that would otherwise make us feel bad about the kind of person we are or the kind of country we live in.

Being stressed, frustrated, or tired makes people more likely to express their prejudices.

It’s important to have people in our lives that are willing to puncture our bubbles of self-justification and point out our blind spots.

We rewrite over our own memories to self justify actions or events that happened in the past to make ourselves more favorable

Memory is not like pulling files from a hard drive it is like reconstructing a movie from several still frames and your brain fills in the details at the time of reconstruction. Often it will fill in details that fit your current model of the world and who you are.

We hear stories of people saved by Dolphins nudging them to safety. But we never hear stories of Dolphins nudging people out to sea, because those people die and the story is never hear. So much data we use suffers from this problem.

The criminal justice system is full of CD and many aspects of it reinforce self justification. Cops plant evidence because they’re sure someone is guilty and don’t want them to get off because they couldn’t find evidence. Prosecutors spend an enormous amount of time and energy creating a case against someone and then can’t imagine a world where the person is innocent, even if DNA evidence proves otherwise.

Interrogations use techniques to extract guilt even from innocent people, relying on methods such as lying to innocent people to trigger their own CD.

Americans who live in the North learn about the Civil War as a matter of ancient history in which our brave Union troops forced the South to abandon the ugly institution of slavery and defeated the traitorous Confederates. But most white Southerners tell a different story where the brave Confederate troops were victims of greedy crude Northerners, destroyed our cities and traditions, and are still trying to destroy our state’s rights.

People long to hear “I screwed up. I will do my best to ensure it will not happen again”

Try to look at your own actions critically and dispassionately as if you were observing someone else.

When a friend makes a mistake, the friend remains a friend and the mistake remains a mistake.

Americans tend to think that mistakes mean stupidity.But we need to treat them as a natural part of learning. The more we identify as having “natural ability” at something, the more we are terrified of making mistakes in it.

When I, a decent smart person, make a mistake, I remain a decent smart person and the mistake remains a mistake. I made a mistake, I need to understand what went wrong. I don’t want to make the same mistake again.

On the verge of a great Metroidvania

Game: Axiom Verge

Developer: Thomas Happ Games LLC

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my employer Blizzard Entertainment. These are my rambling notes to myself as I play the game. I respect and appreciate the hard work of all game developers.

Notes:

The guns feel very different from each other, but so far I haven’t found a good reason to use the new ones (purple six way explosion and short range green electricity) other than to get past gates. Most weapons I fire once or twice and then don’t use again. I used the blue one that splits off at perpendicular angles most of the game. The laser was pretty cool too.

When fighting bosses I really want a clear indication of how much life they have left. This would be nice for some normal enemies too.

The difficulty curve feels pretty good, and I’m appreciating how helpful the powerups are.

Not sure how I feel about this scorpion tail upgrade. Is it helpful?

The third(?) boss where you can damage the parts of it that fire at you is pretty cool.

The disruptor tool is interesting, I like how it can turn enemies into weaker or non hostile versions.

The various tools (laser drill, disruptor tool, walking through walls) feel like they have very specific uses just to get through gates. Maybe too much and not enough concentrated coolness?

I like the idea of the little drone, and being able to get through places the main guy can’t.

Something about the grappling hook doesn’t work the way I expect, having trouble using it and chaining together hooks.

The boss where you are the boss and fight yourself is great!

The part on Edin where you use the little steam powered lifts to get higher, and then have to grapple and teleport when at the max swing of your grapple – that was frustrating. It didn’t seem like something I could do, so after I failed at it multiple times, and wasted a bunch of time trying other things, I had to look it up online.

The extended drone and warp to drone are a pretty interesting way to get a lot of mobility. That really slight cooldown between being able to fire a drone again though really trips me up often though.

There’s a place where you have to fire the drone against a wall, teleport to it, and then double tap left to go through a wall. I can’t do it. It just requires too many unique button presses in too short a time. Somewhat frustrating.

Wasp boss was cool, but I didn’t use his adds against him. Just beat him normally.

The “metroid” type enemies feel like a pretty steep difficulty step from other normal enemies.

I’m constantly accidentally switching weapons.

Just in the Sputnik of time

Podcast: The Space Race | Starting Gun

By: American History Tellers

Link: https://art19.com/shows/american-history-tellers/episodes/52ad3aea-8c1b-4774-bd6d-17c5799f9441

Notes: 

Werner Von Braun was a key part of the Nazi V-2 Rocket Program. Near the end of WW2 he and his team were deliberately captured by the Americans and settled in Huntsville Alabama to prevent their knowledge from going to the Soviets.

The thought was that rockets combined with atomic weapons would give the host nation an insurmountable lead in the years to come.

Von Braun’s potential degree of involvement with pretty horrific war crimes under Nazi rule was ignored and deliberately glossed over. Supposedly he just wanted to build rockets to get to space.

Because of his German background he wasn’t fully trusted by American politicians and military figures.

This led to his projects not being allowed to put a satellite into orbit, and allowed the Soviets to take the lead with Sputnik. This created a huge fear in America about ceding space to the Soviets.

The 411 on 901

Podcast: The incredible shrinking city

By: Vox

Link: https://art19.com/shows/the-impact/episodes/99ffb9d5-58d6-4405-84e8-ee33a18db854

Notes:

For decades, Memphis annexed wealthy suburbs around the city as a way to increase their tax revenue.

After studying the effects of this, they found that these suburbs required more public money than they were generating, essentially being subsidized by the poorer neighborhoods in the center of the city.

Memphis is now undergoing an effort to de-annex some of these suburbs.

End of the Age of Jackson

Podcast: The Age of Jackson – Manifest Destiny

By: American History Tellers

Link: https://art19.com/shows/american-history-tellers/episodes/55d6faea-7fb9-4b64-beb8-726f437d21fe

Notes:

After the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the United States considered the territories of Texas and California up for grabs even though they were considered by the Mexican government as part of Mexico.

American settlers began settling both territories.

The Wilmot Proviso was an attempt to ban slavery in the newly acquired lands from the war with Mexico, although it’s intent wasn’t for moral reasons, but to ensure that poor whites wouldn’t compete with slavery for jobs and opportunities.

Part of the Compromise of 1850 was the Fugitive Slave Act which required Northerners to report and assist with the tracking down of escaped slaves, which further solidified anti slavery sentiment.

During the European revolutions of 1848 there were groups that supported the existing governments rather than side with the liberal revolutions.

The presidential election of 1848 is considered the first modern election where all states electors voted on the same day. It also saw three main political parties, including the Free Soil party which was founded on the eradication of slavery but also split the Democratic party vote.

Thoughts: 

There seem to be quite a bit of parallels between the arguments made for the wars and subsequent annexation of Texas/California by the United States and the arguments made for the wars and annexation of Crimea/Ukraine by the Russian Federation in 2014. Both seem to be making the statement of “Citizens of our country who live in the territory claimed by a different country want to be a part of our country, and we’re just honoring their wishes and protecting them from threats from the other country”