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Aaron Harburg Posts

YouTube Censorship

In February 2005 YouTube launched as a video sharing service that completely changed the game. Google noticed and bought them less than two years later. YouTube filled a void. First, free video streaming service. Videos require a ton of bandwidth and if you try to pay for that on your own it gets very very expensive. Second, it became a single site to discover new videos. Turns out that two decades after the proliferation of the internet, we like our web browsing to mimic our retail shopping behavior: a one-stop shop rather than a bunch of small stores. Third, much later into it’s post-Google acquisition, it gave small video producers the capacity to make money through advertising. It seemed like a win-win-win! The advertising revenue turns out to be fairly small and not always the most effective for advertisers. But Adwords does provide…

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Blessed are those who mourn

It had always puzzled me why most pre-modern Christian art depicted their subjects with such somber expressions (or weird babies). It is now fashionable for Catholics to quote St. Teresa of Avila when she said: “God spares us from sour-faced saints and silly devotions.” This is often utilized as ammunition against the big bad traditionalists and their morbid dispositions. Like many things there is a balance to be struck. St. Teresa’s own conversion was wrought by means of a grotesque statue of Christ being whipped. A surprisingly graphic statue that was common to Spanish devotional life of that period. I can’t claim to know if there was a cohesive philosophy dictating the choices of artists in their multiform depictions. At that point they didn’t even really have a philosophy of aesthetics. However, I can offer a few reflections as to why it…

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Michael Voris Are You Gay?

Who is Michael Voris? Michael Voris can best be described as the Rush Limbaugh of the conservative Catholic world. A caustic self-righteous self-appointed “orthodoxy” police who comments on Church and American politics. He spends most of his time in my professional opinion, making poorly produced videos. Videos that decry the hierarchy and biased character assassinations. Additionally, he does commentaries on hot-button political issues. The archdiocese of Detroit, where he is based, refused to allow his organization to be called Catholic because of how much of a royal pain he has been. His videos frequently talk about how gays are ruining everything in the Church. He is polarizing to say the least. When I first discovered him I just kept praying he’d go away, but like Donald Drumpf, doesn’t seem to be anytime soon. Gay Identity When I’m in a more forgiving mood…

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Ghost in Shell – Movie Review

On Friday night I watched this (in) famous anime film with a friend. I knew not to expect Princess Mononoke, but I definitely didn’t expect what it was. I had been warned that it contained quite a bit of nudity, but oh boy there were a LOT of boobies. Which doesn’t really bother me, yet even I found it too much. The dubbed version, which is the only one I’ve seen, had really poor acting. The plot wasn’t all that clear or coherent. The characters were really flat. Mouthpieces for the themes and plot devices. The pacing was post-modern, almost Terrance Malek like, but without the good music. The music was grating. What really got under my skin was the lame philosophical discussions the characters had. Normally I’d be all about that type of thing. However these discussions were really…

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Pseudoscientific Organizations

Gender Ideology is Harmful? Whilst perusing Facebook this afternoon I came across a rather fascinating declaration: Gender Ideology Harms Children. Being a gay man and having some transgender friends I took an active interest in this article. Regardless of whether the contents of this declaration are true, I discovered by the mode of discourse that this organization, and virtually all of their published materials, lack credibility. Warning Signs of Pseudoscience The first thing I noticed was the language. A lot of scientific literature that I’ve read (you know, the stuff that is peer-reviewed in journals and such) uses a very humble tone. Even if the data points strongly towards confirming a theory that explains some phenomena, it will still allow for some level of error. This declaration on the other hand uses phrases such as:  “This principle is self-evident.” It is littered with…

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Primarily for Bernie

TL;DR: Most people seem to support Drumpf because he talks about ending harmful trade and not because they’re racist. His abrasiveness is seen as an indication of trustability. I think the best course of action is to vote for Bernie in the primary.  For everyone as baffled by the Drumpf phenomena as I am I *highly* recommend reading this article. It has provided me with data that is critical in making up my mind for what I did today. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/donald-trump-why-americans-support It’s the economy stupid. The aformentioned article is the first one I’ve read that confirms what I suspected to be the case. Bigotry, ignorance, and racism are not really the driving force. For relatively liberal persons as myself it’s easy to commit the fundamental attribution error and not enter empathetically into the world of those who support Drumpf.  This article…

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Philosophy And Depression

Philosophy And Depression There are a lot of presuppositions that go into a psychological diagnosis of a mental illness. The whole branch of study called “psychiatry” is often based on a reductionistic model of the human psyche. On the one hand our experiences are illusory because they are simply the products of chemical interactions while on the other hand there is an assertion as to what the “normative” interior life should be like or at least not be. An ideal subjective state, even if it’s impossible to map out the precise neuro-chemical configurations amenable to this. This has resulted in the self-contradictory absurdity of a cheerful nihilism. There is no meaning, but you can still be happy. It seems pretty evident as a universal to what it means to be human is the desire to have meaning or significance. Evolutionary psychologists…

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Saints as Models

A problem many modern Catholics face with spiritualities focusing on saints is that these figures are the moral equivalent of a fashion supermodel. The attempt to emulate them can be far more self-destructive than the attempts to physically follow supermodels. Largely because the stakes are higher and more essential to what we are.  Neo-platonism has a lot to offer, but these supposedly concrete exemplars, decontextualized with sanitized narratives intended to be inspiring often become depressing or causes of social and psychological anorexia. Semipelagianism abounds in the individualistic consumeristic and capitalistic climate such as our own. I believe we can learn more from how saints have sinned than from how they have succeeded. You’ll find it wasn’t by the bootstrapping found in American mythology. For in the cause of their redemption we discover the aim of their existence, namely divine unmerited…

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