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Thadurday Ramblings

Good "Unregistered" podcast last week. Russell interviewed Christopher Ryan, one of the oldest hippies. It's safe to say Ryan is a leftist, but one of the intellectually-honest kind of goodwill. That, quite frankly, is the genius of Russell's podcast: He finds guests who hold controversial views, often loathsome to me, but they're such decent guys, I want to hear them out. There have been one or two exceptions, but for the most part, it holds true.

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It's interesting: I think, without exceptions, all his guests have two things in common: they're erudite, and they hate the culture on college campuses. His guests on the right hate the campus culture for obvious reasons. His guests on the left hate the campus culture because they find it embarrassing. All acknowledge that it's all idiocy all the time.

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Chris Ryan is a critic of modern living (which makes sense: he's the last hippie). I'm not sure how many parallels I'd find between Ryan and Nassim Taleb, but they both harp on a specific point: Modern culture is filled with chronic stress, and it's terrible for us. Ryan and Taleb say our body is meant for stress: the tiger bouncing out of the woods, us reacting for an intense five minutes, then us relaxing for a long while until the next intense round of stress occurs. In modern

life, everyone is stressed all the time: what if I get sued, what if I lose my job, can I get my kids through college, do I have cancer, is my wife going to leave me, etc. The health effects are undeniably horrible. Ryan apparently has spent a lot of time thinking about how modern society has evolved to this point. I suspect he has remedies that I'd (strongly) disagree with, but I'm curious to hear what they are and I definitely want to know what his historical analysis is.

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Unfortunately, his book on the topic (see pic to the right) isn't coming out until 2020. I'm not sure I've ever seen that before (appears on Amazon two years ahead of time?). Oh well. It'll give me time to clear out my reading backlog. In the mean time, if I see any good articles by him that summarize his points, I'll pass them along . . . and would appreciate it if you'd pass them along to me via email or the comments box.

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Perhaps I'm a naive cheerleader, but when I listen to these podcasts, I intuitively find myself giving Catholic responses. Every malady or problem they talk about, I find myself saying, "Well, yes, but have you tried Catholic Thing X, Y, or Z?" To the problem of chronic stress, it seems to me the Catholic two-part remedy is pretty simple and effective: Stoic-like detachment (or, as they'd put it on the Unregistered podcast: "Not giving a s***"), combined with an effective prayer life to foster and reinforce not giving a s***. After all, you can't be responsible for a family and not give a s***, unless you do it properly . . . and the art of doing it properly requires a lot of reflection, precisely because modern living is so fraught.

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