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.
I have a conversation with Brittney Ritter aka B Sharp, a familiar face in the Ventura Karaoke scene and organizer of the Sans Souci Book Club. Brittney is a double English and History major at California State University Channel Islands, a person after my own heart, and she shares how her introverted childhood and obsession with reading literature lead her to Hip Hop and writing poetry. Locals might be familiar with B as the unassuming girl who explodes with passion and rapid fire lyrics when she gets behind the microphone and her favorite track is playing. We talk about bearing the burden of caring for her family at a young age and how that shaped her relationship to nightlife and (not) drinking. We talk about how people abuse the person who answers the phone for pizza delivery and where to find secret access to the rooftops of Downtown Ventura. We cover B's results on the Briggs-Myers Personality Test (and mine too) and discuss how being an introvert affects art and creativity. We wonder aloud if literature and the study of English has any use anymore and mention the dire situation of one of Ventura's long standing book sellers. B Sharp sings Handlebars by the FloBots. I rant about the new Harriet Tubman $20 bill, the lower life expectancy of white women and the higher life expectancy of black men in America and the War on Christmas and suggest White Privilege is the common thread between all those stories.
My wife and I have been eating a ketogenic diet for the last few months. It's been really accessible and pretty easy to follow once you get the hang of it. The food is delicious and it has stopped my craving for sugar and sweets. I've lost about 30 pounds in about 3 months and have felt satisfied with the food I've been eating.
The one thing that I crave constantly is pizza. A low-carb diet and pizza simply don't mix and it's one of those things that is hard to forgo. The first place most people go when looking to replace delicious bread-iness in a low-carb diet is caulifower. The crust produced can hold toppings but tastes nothing like pizza crust and is soft and doughy. After a few minutes out of the oven, it can get soggy and fall apart quickly. It totally fails in the eat-cold-out-of-the-fridge-the-next-day department.
I have a conversation with songwriter Zeke Berkley, who just released his second solo album, Berkley II, which I had the honor to review ahead of its release earlier this year. We talk about his craft writing songs, how he puts together albums, and deals with criticism. We discuss the lost of his best friend and musical collaborator, drummer Hunter Cook, and how his passing shaped Zeke's solo efforts. Zeke performs two songs in my studio and I pester him with questions about the definition of the word, "dignity" which involves, somehow, the plot of the Vince Vaughn screwball comedy The Watch. Zeke uses my podcast as a platform to rave about the Tom Cruise flick The Firm and then we delve into the cultural worth of The Star Wars prequels, Episodes I-III, which Zeke loves so much he should probably marry them. We then write a song together about the Phantom Menace, in which I try and fail to harmonize and play the tambourine. We call out people on the internet with similar names as us, including the other Brian Parra, the owner of the unhyphenated brianparra.com. I rant about the concept of cultural appropriation in light of the recent viral video concerning dreadlocks and confess to being a teenage cultural appropriator.
Acoustic performances from this episode
Sink (Acoustic) by Zeke Berkley [File Download]
Dignity (Acoustic) by Zeke Berkley [File Download]
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