Narcissism of Small Differences

This is a concept first postulated by Sigmund Freud in 1917 and popularized by Christopher Hitchens in his National Post article. 

The crux of the thesis states that communities and people who live close to one another are likely to engage in conflict over minor differences, rather than any large disagreements. In his 2010 article, Christopher Hitchens used the thesis as a framework to discuss ethno-national conflict, such as the conflict between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan.

The concept was talked about in episode 61 of the Making Sense podcast featuring Lawrence Wright.

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Tara Ross on the Dangers of Abolishing the Electoral College

Tara Ross is an expert on the electoral college and the author of several books on the subject such as The Indispensable Electoral College: How The Founders' Plan Saves Our Country from Mob RuleWe Elect Our President: The Story of Our Electoral College, and Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College. She sent out a tweet storm today in response to many Democrat presidential candidates calling for abolishing of the electoral college. The following is her tweet storm. I've made some minor edits to the syntax of the 18 tweets but the substance of it is remains intact.

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Fareed Zakaria Compares Current State Of American Politics To Sunnis and Shiites

In episode 83 of Sam Harris' Making Sense (formerly Waking Up) podcast, Fareed Zakaria makes a good analogy between today's polarizing politics of America to that of Sunnis and Shiites. Of course he did not mean it literally. He means to say that our politics today is based on which side we identify with, rather than deriving our stances on issues based on reason and debate. He made this point after he said how he thought Trump's plan to privatize the FAA might be a good idea, but it was dead on arrival with Democrats solely because it was Trump who proposed it. The timestamp I pulled this from is between the 20 to 23 minute mark of the episode.

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Google Employee That Helped Fire James Damore Posts On Reddit

​Yesterday, a Reddit user going by the burner handle of TiredOfLying4Google posted a pretty indepth thread about his role in  helping fire James Damore.

Authenticity has not been verified but per James Damore himself, the person that posted ​this thread knew things that only a Google employee would know and things that James has never mentioned in public.

Here is the post in its entirety:

I was involved in the internal decisions involving James Damore's memo, and it's terrible what we did to him.
First of all, we knew about the memo a month before it went viral. HR sent it up the reporting chain when he gave it as internal feedback, but we did nothing. There wasn't anything we could do, except admit to wrongdoing and lying to our employees. We just hoped that no one else would see his document.
Unfortunately, the memo started spreading within the company. The floodgates opened and previously silent employees started talking. To quell dissent, we: told executives to write to their employees condemning the memo; manipulated our internal Memegen to bias the ratings towards anti-Damore posts (the head of Memegen is an "ally" to the diversity cause); and gave every manager talking points on what to tell their reports about the memo. In all our communications, we concentrated on how hurt employees purportedly were and diverted attention from Google's discriminatory employment practices and political hegemony, never mind the science.
We needed to make an example of Damore. Looking for some excuse to fire him, we spied on his phone and computer. We didn't find anything, although our spying probably made his devices unusably slow, preventing him from organizing support within the company. When we did fire him, our reputation and integrity took a hit, but at least other employees were now afraid to speak up.
Firing him without an NDA was a huge risk though. He was a top performer and knew too many compromising secrets, like Dragonfly, the secret censored search project in China. He had also reported several legally dubious practices in Search that still exist. Only God knows why he never leaked Dragonfly or the other issues, but I think it's because he actually cared about Google.
Our response after we fired him was equally disgraceful. We were supposed to have a Town Hall TGIF to answer employees' questions about the controversy. However, after questions started coming in that we couldn't reasonably answer, we had to cancel it. We shifted the blame onto "alt-right trolls" and have avoided talking about it openly since then.
To control the narrative, we planted stories with journalists and flexed Google's muscles where necessary. In exchange for insider access and preferential treatment, all we ask for is their loyalty. For online media, Google's ads pay their paycheck and our search brings their customers, so our influence shouldn't be underestimated.
We dealt with his NLRB case in a similar way. People are ultimately lazy, so we found a sympathetic lawyer in the NLRB and wrote the internal NLRB memo for her. No one wanted to spend the effort to oppose it, despite it being laughably weak. Then, after Damore dropped his NLRB case and filed a class action lawsuit, we had the NLRB publicly release their memo. Our PR firms sent press releases saying "the NLRB ruled the firing legal", which was, of course, manufactured bullshit.
All of our scheming was over the phone, in deleted emails, or through an external PR firm, so we can deny all of it. Now that we've forced him into arbitration, we're close to screwing him over completely.

​You can read the whole thread here.

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Robert Nozick On The Relationship Between Parents and Children

The late and great philosopher Robert Nozick published The Examined Life: Philosophical Meditations in 1989.  The book is full great philosophical meditations and took four years to write. The chapter that resonated most with me is the chapter titled Parents and Children. In the chapter, Nozick lamented on the relationship between the two. The part that really hit home for me was when he wrote about the changing dynamic of the relationship when children grow older. I’ve always intuitively known what he wrote but was never able to put into words nearly as well as Nozick did. He wrote the following:

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Richard Dawkins Books: Summaries, Ratings, and Rankings

Richard Dawkins, one of the Four Horsemen of  New Atheism along with fellow members Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris. He is also a very popular science writer, having written over 10 books, starting with the seminal The Selfish Gene in 1976. Dawkins has a way of explaining the marvel of life to non-scientists, which is why his books are so well-received. The following is a summary of his books, as well as ratings from Amazon (am) and Goodreads (gr).

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