Podcast Notes: Jason Zweig on The Knowledge Project

I enjoyed Shane Snow’s conversation with financial journalist Jason Zweig on his Knowledge Project Podcast. Here were a couple of his statements that I wanted to write down for my own edification:

“If you know that you have self-control problems you have to structure your life so that the things that tempt you into bad behavior don’t get surfaced in your stimuli.”

“Improve your mental hygiene. You can’t turn yourself into someone who’s unemotional but you can turn down the amplitude of your own emotions if you change what your exposures are.”

Just some words to live by, and I find that too many fascinating things go in one ear and out the other far too often when I’m listening to podcasts so I plan to start posting some of my favorite tidbits on here more often.

Rasputin And The Demons of Russia’s Silver Age

“During what became know as Russia’s Silver Age, from roughly 1890 to 1914, a period that overlaps almost exactly with the rise and fall of Rasputin, the country’s educated classes exhibited a fascination for mysticism and the occult in all manner of the supernatural.”

Of all the charlatans of the time, it is Rasputin we will never forget, for “it cannot be stressed enough that the image of Rasputin that developed in the years before the Great War, an image which remains to this day, was created less by Rasputin the man—by the true nature of his character and the actual record of his actions—than by Russia’s diseased zeitgeist of the early 1900s.” Unceasing political turmoil, rapid modernization, and defeat on the battlefield had caused his nation to lose its collective mind.

Every troubled age needs a scapegoat.

from “Rasputin: Faith, Power, and The Twilight of The Romanovs” by Douglas Smith

Article Share: ‘Syria News is Everywhere, Except on People’s Minds’ by Frida Ghitis


Frida Ghitis’ op-ed for CNN on the indifferent reaction to yesterday’s escalation in the Syrian War is thoughtful and rings true. This war is changing the world but in the rich Western world we have grown numb to its significance.

“The West’s largely hands-off approach created a vacuum that Russia eagerly filled, adding to Iran’s strength and alarming Tehran’s Arab foes, stoking regional rivalries, and wars.

In the West, the images of fleeing Syrian refugees helped empower nationalist politicians from Hungary to the United States, propelling a global trend toward authoritarianism. The multiple conflicts — diplomatic, political, military — have contributed to a growing turmoil in global politics, even as the incorrect impression that Syria doesn’t matter prevails. Even in Europe, that sentiment seems powerful enough to have so far smothered the instinctive reaction of popular fury that seems to spring to life whenever the United States flexes its military muscle.”

It’s hard to comprehend what got us here, as bloody and incoherent as civil wars are. But this is where we are at, and God forbid we have a dummy at the helm.
Read ‘Syria News is Everywhere, Except on People’s Minds’ by Frida Ghitis

Alsoof interest on the topic: For a harrowing recap of the complex tensions at play in the Syrian Civil War, see Tyler Cowen’s Bloomberg article ‘Syria War’s Game Theory is too Complex to Predict. That’s Frightening.’ He sees the situation’s multifaceted tensions as an eerie parallel to the inciting events of World War I:

“If you don’t quite follow how a single assassination, which was not even seen as so important the day it occurred, triggered the death of so many millions, and the destruction of so much of Europe, that is exactly the point. When there is no clear way for observers to model the situation, a single bad event can take on a very large significance and for reasons that are not entirely explicable.

In today’s Middle East, we also have a broadly festering situation across multiple fronts, with many smaller players, lots of internal political struggles and unstable political units, and commitments from some major external powers, including the U.S., Russia, Iran and Turkey. I find that an uncomfortably close analogy with 1914.”

In other news, I hope you’re having a wonderful day today 🙃