All posts tagged: The Human Condition

Yuval Noah Harari: Brexit will not halt drive to ‘human unification’ 

I’m looking forward to Yuval Harari’s new book, set to be released this August. I’m a big fan of Sapiens, and I thought that this quote (from Harari’s forthcoming book) was worth passing along: “We have a global ecology, a global economy and a global science – but we are still stuck with only national politics,” he adds. “To have effective politics we must either deglobalise the ecology, the economy or the march of science – or we must globalise our politics.” In other words, the nation-state is out of date. Is nationalism one of the last (desperate) gasp of tribal politics in the modern era? Of capitalism? For me, Harari always raises very relevant and speculative questions. Source: Yuval Noah Harari: Brexit will not halt drive to ‘human unification’ | Culture | The Guardian

The Eichmann Show (2015)

The Eichmann Show is a BBC production currently airing on Netflix. It’s 1961 and Israeli agents have captured Adolf Eichmann, one of the organizers of the Holocaust, while in hiding in Argentina. Eichmann is brought back for trial in Jerusalem. The Eichmann Show, however, does not center on the trial or on Eichmann himself, rather the film dramatizes the action on the other side of the camera, the quest of the American director Leo Hurwitz to capture Eichmann’s humanity. Hurwitz believes that doing so will show the world that fascism and genocide are not a uniquely NAZI phenomenon, it’s part of the human condition. The great evil in the world, Hurwitz believes, is not the domain of monsters, of devils and of demons. Under the right circumstances, we are all capable of monstrosities, and Hurwitz can capture Eichmann’s humanity, even just one authentic moment of real human emotion, then Hurwitz believes that he will have done something profound.  

Spreading your memes: Cats and The Beatles

In my prior meme post, I purposefully littered my post (so to speak) with cat meme references, including a cat meme image and a cat meme video. I wanted to test a theory. I recently read a blog post by a blogger/writer who said that posting cat memes and videos was essential for pulling in blog traffic, regardless of the nature of your blog. She monitored her blog traffic closely and found a significant spike in hits for each blog post that included a cat-themed meme. Her advice: stick cat memes in your blog posts, regardless of whether it ties in with anything. The results for my blog post? No significant spike in traffic. Maybe the algorithms are already aware of the gimmick.

A few non-romantic thoughts on love

Being that it’s Valentine’s Day and all, I came across an article in the Guardian by five experts on the topic of love, well, on love and modern romance. By and large I found the takes to be a bit lame, which is to say that they more-or-less fall back on romantic cliches. The nature of romance and sexuality is changing so fast, culturally, that there’s no need to be trite or traditional. The reality, of course, is that around Valentine’s Day, it’s the articles that reinforce our feel-good biases about romance that get shared around and hence get the most hits and hence generate buzz — and hence generate revenue. Even so, as I scanned through the Guardian article, a few comments caught my eye, comments from a biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher, aka “the love doctor.”

Hacking the free throw

It was my senior year of high school. Our school was small, or perhaps dinky is a better word for it, but even so we managed to put together a formidable basketball team that year, and we were undefeated going into the Christian school state tournament. Even though we were a school of less than a hundred people (junior high through high school) we had a miracle year, even beating several public schools, in a state renowned for their obsession with hoops. It was the championship game of the state tourney, and it was everything you dream of as a kid: with seconds left on the clock, we were down by one point. Dan Miller, my bff and our point guard, received the inbound pass, put his head down, and dribbled the length of the court. I was open on the wing, but Dan had tunnel vision — he didn’t look up, he just charged in for the layup. Dan missed badly but was fouled, and so he stood at the line, in position to take …

The luxury trap and that random car in the Staples parking lot

Just yesterday I pulled into the parking lot of a Staples, running a quick errand, and I spotted this license plate: A post shared by Jonathan Erdman (@erdman31) on Nov 27, 2017 at 12:25pm PST   A big fan of the human race? I asked myself as I drove by the car, or is this person, like me, an enthusiastic reader of Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. I immediately assumed it was the latter, parked my car, jumped out and snapped a quick pic. It might perhaps seem odd, to you, that someone would advertise their favorite non-fiction book on their license plate, but don’t dismiss the possibility. Harari’s Spapiens really is one of those kinds of books, the kind of book that makes you think in new ways about human beings and about our place in the world, or as one reviewer said Harari’s Sapiens is making the world strange and new again.

Yuval Harari, author of “Sapiens,” on AI, religion, and 60-day meditation retreats

I thought I’d share an excellent interview by the author of my current favorite book, Sapiens: A brief history of humankind. As artificial intelligence becomes more normative, the elimination of low skill labor is in the near future, i.e., machines replacing humans is no longer a question of if but of when. There are many people discussing this and writing books, but few can provide the kind of historical perspective on our species in the way that Yuval Harari does. He also does Vipassana meditation retreats, like the one I just finished. (My retreat was only ten days, his retreats are two months.) If you want a sample of the kinds of things Harari talks about, here’s a great 60 minute interview he did with Ezra Klein: