Link Soup: 11/30/2017

As it turns out, communism is objectively bad. Laura Nicolae writes, “After spending four years on a campus saturated with Marxist memes and jokes about communist revolutions, my classmates will graduate with the impression that communism represents a light-hearted critique of the status quo, rather than an empirically violent philosophy that destroyed millions of lives.”

Over at the overpriced economics blog, WSJ, we learn that moms buy trashy clothes for their daughters, apparently, because they feel less sexually attractive than they used to, “As for the girls themselves, if you ask them why they dress the way they do, they’ll say (roughly) the same things I said to my mother: “What’s the big deal?” “But it’s the style.” “Could you be any more out of it?” What teenage girl doesn’t want to be attractive, sought-after and popular? And what mom doesn’t want to help that cause? In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads.

Age isn’t just a number, but the more dissatisfied you are with aging, the more negatively you’re physically impacted by age. Self-Perceptions of Aging predict mortality.

The lectures of Musonius Rufus (30-100 ad) are online here. The site uses the Yale Translation of 1947 (you can find the pdf of that edition online with the Greek and English texts side by side, a real treat!). Recently, Cynthia King translated it and the kindle edition is fairly inexpensive. I highly recommend lectures 1-7. Here’s a great quote from lecture one:  “How true this is we may readily recognize if we chance to know two lads or young men, of whom one has been reared in luxury, his body effeminate, his spirit weakened by soft living, and having besides a dull and torpid disposition; the other reared somewhat in the Spartan manner, unaccustomed to luxury, practiced in self-restraint, and ready to listen to sound reasoning. If then we place these two young men in the position of pupils of a philosopher arguing that death, toil, poverty, and the like are not evils, or again that life, pleasure, wealth, and the like are not goods, do you imagine that both will give heed to the argument in the same fashion, and that one will be persuaded by it in the same degree as the other? Far from it.”

I love steak. Here are fifteen recipes for marinades.

What would happen if this article title were altered to say the same about Jews or Latinos? Can My Children Be Friends with White People

Facebook is a supercharged hedonic treadmill: “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.

Apparently, smart phone use decreases satisfaction with face to face interaction. “Phone use leads to distraction, which undermines benefits of social interaction.” And smart phone users may, over time, begin to devalue time spent with friends.

Your placement on the five factor inventory might predict/be predicted (of course, not everybody reads) by your reading habits: Predicting Personality with book preferences. Based on my placement, some of what I read fits nicely. But I’m apparently somewhat of an outlier. 

 

 

Interesting Reading

David Bentley Hart’s Reflections on the Early Christians
I don’t agree with everything he says here, but it does remind us of how powerful the rhetoric of the New Testament can be.

Amy Cuddy Reviews the Science of ‘Power Posing’ after unfair criticism
Cuddy’s research conclusions on endocrine and power posing seem like common sense to me. When I try to stand with better posture I feel more alert, less depressed, and more quick-witted.

Hypnosis and Health-Compromising Behaviours
This interesting review looks at the evidence for hypnosis techniques for weight-loss and overcoming nicotine addiction. If you’re interested in persuasion, weight loss, or clinical psychology I think you’ll appreciate it.

The Biblical Case for Limited Government
This is a cool little essay. The author, Yoram Hazony isn’t making the case that “on the authority of the Bible, we should adopt limited government.” Instead, he makes the case that the Bible is making a narrative philosophical case for the principles which lead to limited government. “The [Biblical] History wrestles with the question of whether there is a third option, which can secure a life of freedom for Israel, and for other nations as well. It teaches that there is such an option: A state that is not unlimited in principle, like the states of “all the nations” in the ancient Near East, but that seeks “the good and the right” by means of a system of dual legitimacy and a constitutional regime of restraint. This state must have rulers who understand that virtue emerges from limitation of the state’s borders, the size of its armies, its investment in foreign alliances, and its income. Only within these constraints will both the people and their king find a space in which the love of justice and of God that characterized the shepherds who were their forefathers can be rebuilt.”

Resistance Training is Medicine
This article by Wayne Westcott goes through the impressive evidence that strength training is, indeed, a panacea.

 

James Chastek nails it on Being as such

How can God not be a being among beings?

In one sense first member of a causal series is a part of the series, but in another sense it isn’t. If ABCD causes something, then A is obviously 1/4 of all the causes you have, but we don’t think about it that way. We don’t say that George Bush played a part in the Iraq War, or even a crucial part in it – it was just his war. Truman wasn’t a part of the system that dropped the bomb – the system was brought int existence by his choice. This is true in every genus of causes. Winning isn’t one part of an athlete’s goals, even if one can isolate other goals than this in the game or in training. A fire hydrant is red and a light wave in the right spectrum is red, but the “is” is not said in the same way. The two things “are red” but not in a way that the one is a part of the whole.

James’ blog on Thomism is one of the best philosophy blogs on the internet. I really appreciate his succinct explanations of complicated topics. In this case he hits the nail on the head. Many Christians accidentally see God as a figure within the cosmos. This is right and good as far as such images support Christian piety because the are the models utilized in Scripture. But insofar as they are mistaken for giving precise expression concerning God’s reality, such ideas (God is a part of the furniture of the universe) tend toward treating God as a creature. The Bible, in its more literal moments, treats God as the being in whom all things live and move and have their being. Similarly, God is the cause of all non-God reality in Genesis 1, John 1, and Hebrews 1. I’ve written elsewhere about how open theism and forms of Calvinism both take anthropomorphic language about God (preordaining and being surprised) too literally.