Audio version of this article is available on the There's No Time to Explain Podcast #17 at 02:40
This week I registered my daughter for kindergarten. I hope they are ready for her. I expect within a month she will either be the queen of her class or have a seat separated from the rest of the kids. Those are not mutually exclusive. While filling out the registration paperwork, I was confronted by my old buddy, the race and ethnicity questionnaire. I’ve always taken more than a passing interest in this ritual because 1) I used to work in Human Resources; 2) I like knowing how data is used and abused in our lives; and 3) I stand astride two seemingly contradictory opinions about race, the first, echoed by many a fair-minded friend, that race shouldn't matter and the second, also echoed by another set of fair-minded friends, that inequities among the races are an institutional problem that demands an institutional solution.
I have a conversation with Robert Lindsay, a competitor on the SYFY Network’s movie FX and makeup reality competition show, Face Off. My family is a huge fan of this show; we'd watch it together, and Robert was our favorite contestant this past season. He was such an entertaining contestant and his work on the show was always zany and out of the box. We talk about how he was raised on Disney films and why he had to seek out original versions of horror films due to German censorship. We chat about the quirks of American’s contradictory attitudes about sex and how it compares with German attitudes toward violence. We get behind the scenes of reality television and discuss how the show distorts the real nature of the FX makeup profession. Robert admits to a “Fuck it” moment that led to his elimination as one of the final six competitors. I call out Glenn Hetrick on his clothing choices. We discuss what has happens after the show ends and how he is parlaying his appearance into success. Robert raves about the Turkish remake of Star Wars and the fan trailer he’s making for it and speaks his mind about the scourge of bad CGI in movies and whatever is up with der Weinerschnitzel. I take something back I said in the last episode and rant about how we learn gender roles and why I’m confused about how the rest of the world sees them. I reduce humanity to meat bags stretched across calcium scaffolding.
I have a conversation with Greg Daniels, owner of OneWebsitePlease.com, a full-service website development company, and host of the Untitled Personal Podcast Project. Greg and I share some conversational proclivities, mainly, never missing an opportunity to go off on a tangent and jumping off the deep end, reading the infinite in the mundane. Needless to say, it's a long episode. We talk about how his podcast and the mix of personalities featured led to some pretty testy moments between people with differing opinions. We talk about the nature of belief and what it takes for religious believers to reconsider their world view. Greg makes the case that Teddy, my son, is a minor web celebrity. My daughter punches Greg in the nuts. We discuss the oddly compelling world of the live-streaming app, Periscope. I ask Greg to weigh in on the political lip service heaped on small business owners as the economic engine of this country and we end up discussing the seemingly intentional and focused disenfranchisement of voters as a way to control elections and maintain power. We talk about what liberty, freedom, and happiness meant to the founding fathers. Greg and I agree 100% on the important issue of NOT wearing socks with sandals. We review Captain America:Civil War and unpack all the political allegory offered up in the movie. This discussion contains SPOILERS for Civil War. During my rant, I make the case that Republican primary voters who are unhappy with Trump as the nominee should change the race now by switching party affiliation and voting for Bernie Sanders in the remaining Democratic primaries and caucuses.
Audio version of this article at 02:16 of There's No Time To Explain Podcast #15.
With Ted Cruz and John Kasich out of the race, Donald Trump becomes the presumptive nominee in the 2016 Republican Primary. The New York real estate mogul's populist message and unnerving tone have ignited the passions of a very specific set of Republican primary voters. His demeanor on the campaign trail, historic unpopularity with any demographic outside of white males, and utter void of any clearly articulated policy position or traditional conservative values have mainstream Republicans and the GOP establishment resigned to a historic loss to an archrival of Republicans for decades, Hillary Clinton, or, worse, a disastrous Trump presidency that could dismantle the Republican party as we know it.
This week, I have a conversation with an advocate for Universal Basic Income (UBI), Saul Of-Hearts, author of Back to Basics: Why A Universal Basic Income Is The Ultimate Safety Net. We discuss UBI, a very progressive social program that provides an unconditional stipend given directly to each citizen, providing a baseline income. Over the last few years I've heard UBI championed as a potential solution for many social problems like disproportionate income distribution, poverty, hunger, the automation of the workforce, and as economic stimulus. I explain how I came to understand UBI and give Saul an opportunity to defend it while playing Devil's Advocate. We get into the particulars of how a social program like this might work and how it might get paid for. I mention two examples of UBI ideals on display in the middle of American's ultra-conservative bastion, Thomas Paine's Agrarian Justice and Alaska's oil dividends, the Alaska Permanent Fund. I suggest a realignment of our priorities and how we value life and labor in the emerging global tech economy. At the start of interview Saul mentions he lives in an ecovillage, an intentional community based on resource sharing and cooperation. He writes for the Fellowship of Intentional Community, a resource for those living in cooperative communities and discusses a bit about his day-to-day routine and how he be became interested in this way of life. Saul gives a review of science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin's book, The Dispossessed. I rant about third party candidates and how they can split constituencies, giving the wins to less-preferred candidates. Looking into the idea of getting to choose a "second choice" vote to address this issue, I stumble across the Marquis de Condorcet, a French mathematician and Enlightenment Age thinker who is the namesake of the Condorcet Method, a way to vote by ordering candidates by preference, so the win given to the person with the most support of the voters, not a simple plurality. During the recording, I incorrectly refer to it as "second choice" voting, which is a term I must have invented myself in a fever dream. I see this as a way to allow third party candidates to participate without splitting majority constituencies and as a way to loosen the grip of the American two-party system.
I have a conversation with Lavada Luening, co-founder of the Southeast Wisconsin Secular She-Thinkers and host of the the Secular TV web series, The Secular She-Thinker. She's speaking at the Shift to Reason Conference in Saskatchewan, Canada on April 30th. She's a popular secular, atheist, feminist, and liberal activist and writer whose work was, before last week, featured on a popular "freethought" website, but removed by the publisher after a dispute about what other sorts of nonsense gets published under the banner of freethought went public. I reached out to Lavada and asked her for the inside scoop and we pontificate on the meaning of freethought and how it's stretched to include all sorts of nonsense. We talk about the Wisconsin and California Primary and do some strategy planning for Bernie Sanders in case he doesn't get the Democratic nomination. I ask Lavada to defend her use of racy photos of herself on social media to advance her feminist agenda, and she coins the term, "Honeypot Activism." I do as one does when you interview a feminist: tell sexist jokes. I rant about the the hornet's nest of anger and vitriol I stumbled into when I tried to troll a few of my friends with a fake Pussycat Dolls meme that went viral after being shared by notable drag queens Guillotina Munter and Yara Sophia, amassing 26k+ shares in four days. I use the opportunity to ponder our own advancing mortality when we realize that our musical idols are dying at a seemingly faster rate than normal.
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