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Paradox Project Podcast

The official podcast for the Paradox Project

Tech reporter Sonya Mann joins us this week to talk about why "Smart Kids Should Skip High School" and what cryptocurrency and AI mean for society.

Who needs high school? No ... really. Is it necessary?

Do high school students learn anything that they end up using in a real-world job? Sonya makes the case for either ditching high school or seriously revamping the broken system, which is currently a "stultifying waste of time." Standardized testing isn't about learning for the future; it's about getting credentials in the short term. How do you teach high schoolers to have a vision for the future that doesn't keep them stuck in the standardized test mindset?

Cryptocurrency vs. artificial intelligence

Billionaire and controversial Silicon Valley figure Peter Thiel recently said, "Crypto is libertarian, AI is communist." Sonya explains what he meant by that and what we should look for as these two burgeoning technologies disrupt our lives.

Terrible Opinions

Sonya: I like Starbucks coffee.

Jordan: Authors should be banned from Twitter.

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Jordan and Matthias have a special Part I and Part II episode this week! In the first part of this recording, you'll hear our predictions for the Oscar nominations (recorded Monday), quickly followed by our reactions to the official noms (recorded today).

How close were our predictions? Listen to find out. We discuss the Best Picture category, then dive into our respective passions as Jordan dissects Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress and Matthias looks at the Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects races.

Also in this episode:

  • Why this wasn't Jessica Chastain's year
  • Can Meryl be nominated too many times?
  • The problematic Best Picture nomination in a year of sexual abuse allegations
  • Marketing vs. reality for "The Shape of Water"
  • Is Christopher Nolan our Stanley Kubrick?
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Note: This podcast has major spoilers for two episodes of "Black Mirror."  Futurist Jonathan Crabb joins us to talk about Netflix's "Black Mirror" and what it can teach us about the dangers of future technology.

Terrible Opinions

Jonathan: White chocolate is the best kind. Jordan: In the long term, it's mean to let your kids be super picky with food. Matthias: The app business model is broken.

"Could have been a 'Black Mirror' episode ..."

We kick off by covering the strange real-life episode that was the false ballistic missile alarm in Hawaii on Saturday morning. Hawaii residents received an alert on their phones letting them know that a missile attack was on its way. "Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill," the message read. Hawaii emergency officials revoked the warning 38 minutes later, but the damage was done.

To Delete or Not to Delete?

Matthias brings in a fireworks-inducing topic: Should Twitter delete President Donald Trump's account because of his threatening tweets toward other world leaders?

Simulating God's Image?

We look at two specific "Black Mirror" episodes: "Fifteen Million Merits" and "Hang the DJ." Jonathan admits that while he tends to be a positive person, he also takes the warnings in "Black Mirror" to heart. The show is basically telling people, "here's what will happen if X technology is used in a way that dials it up to 11." Somehow, we think it's OK to keep using that technology at a level 2 or 3 ... which is why we need to pay attention to "Black Mirror." "How would we treat the AI version of ourselves?" is a recurring question in "Black Mirror," and Jonathan characterizes this theme as an imitation of a common argument about God. We analyze the episode "Hang the DJ" and draw different lessons from the story about a futuristic dating app.

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Yes, the Gorilla Channel Is Satire

@PixelatedBoat kicked off 2018 memes with a joke about the new book "Fire and Fury," which purportedly details the disheveled early days of the Trump White House. The satirical tweet was just close enough to the truth for some people to believe it, and gorillas took over the timeline. 

Focus and Build

We talk about our New Year's resolutions for 2018 and how much we like making resolutions and embracing the rhythm of having a new year. After reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," which includes the "10,000 hours" theory, Matthias is resolved to focus on one area of expertise in his field and become better at building that instead of jumping around to different projects and new technologies.

Jordan wants to grow instead of "just surviving" and talks about using meditating to be calmer and able to focus better.

Terrible Opinions:

Matthias: We should leave up Christmas lights for as long as possible.

Jordan: You should stop watching TV shows that just make you sad.

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Katrina Jørgensen is back this week to talk about what a truly weird year 2017 was, starting with an embarrassing flub at the Oscars and ending with a new Star Wars movie for people to fight over (for the record, all three of us enjoyed it).

2017 Was Weird

We kick off with a speed-read review of foreign policy in 2017 through the lens of a simple, terrifying question: "Are we closer to nuclear war after this year?" We then cover some of the craziest things we remember from a bizarre year and wrap up with our latest Terrible Opinions. Here are some of the funniest/weirdest things that happened in 2017. Listen to the full episode to see what else made the list.

Terrible Opinions:

Katrina: I hate brisket.

Jordan: I liked "The Last Jedi," and I'm surprised it's suddenly a "Terrible Opinion" to enjoy the latest Star Wars movie.

Matthias: The updated Barbies with different body sizes are frustrating for kids.

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Eric Owens, a D.C.-based tax attorney, joins us to analyze the GOP's new bill for tax reform and what it means for millennials and the average American family.

This bill is definitely good news for ...

Tax professionals. A tax code overhaul is first and foremost a boon to tax attorneys because it will make filing your taxes more complicated and will likely put people a bit on edge. Plus, some ambiguity in the bill itself makes it a "wait and see" game.

The Rubio effect

We debate whether or not the stand Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) took for expanding the child tax credit in the bill was a passion project or merely a political move. Matthias has a conspiracy theory about Rubio's stance that involves a plot with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

How does tax reform affect millennials?

Fortunately for anyone pursuing a Ph.D. or still paying off student loans, the latest version of the bill shouldn't affect you. In earlier versions of tax reform, Republicans considered taxing graduate students on tuition waivers and ending deductions for student loan interest.

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: I was disappointed by "Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri."

Eric: People got upset over taxpayer funding going toward preparation for aliens, but I thought it was cool.

Matthias: I'm going to be so mad when the baby boomers all of a sudden care about the elderly because they reach old age.

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Katrina Jørgensen joined us again this week to share her foreign policy expertise and millennial perspective. You can follow her on Twitter @Veribatim.

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: I've been enjoying "bad" made-for-TV Christmas movies this year.

Matthias: I'm not OK with how Twitter turned the man who committed suicide at the Hague into a meme.

Katrina: White chocolate is not a chocolate, and it is bad.

"You'd think it'd be really simple, but it's not."

Katrina covers some of why the question of Israel's capital is so complex and details the fallout from the administration's decision to officially acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Riots, increased hatred for America, and injury and death show why the decision was so controversial.

The myth of "work-life balance."

Using this article as a jumping-off point, we talk about how work-life balance simply isn't possible unless you work less and about bad workplace culture in general. Jordan explains the typical millennial workplace experience: leaving a job once you're exhausted and knowing that another millennial is waiting to take your place. Matthias proposes a new regulation for businesses that would ensure they either cover their employees' education so they can still be competitive in the job market or pay a fine that would go into a government fund to protect people who get fired and can't get a new job without more education.

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Terrible Opinions

Jordan: Fans are actually the best music critics.

Matthias: Christians who are living out their faith and lean toward socialism in politics are far more winning and influential than conservative Christians preaching to the choir.

Perception is truth now

Jordan talks about the introduction to "Reputation" that Taylor Swift included in the album's liner notes and details her theory that Swift secretly slipped in some references to today's toxic political climate without being explicitly political. Matthias ties the idea of "reputation" being seen as fact to the way people get trapped only seeing the worst of the "team" they disagree with: "People end up in their bubbles."

Can comedy save us?

We talk about the "Saturday Night Live" parody ad for the Democratic National Committee and Sarah Silverman's new Hulu show, "I Love You, America." Are liberals showing more self-awareness as a group, or is there just too much noise for these two examples to break through? We also discuss the inevitable future: a reckoning for the Democratic establishment when millennials and on-the-ground activists stop putting up with untrustworthy "establishment" figures like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

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Kate Bryan returned to the show this week to talk about Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, the avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations that are disrupting the entertainment industry and the world of politics – and for some pop culture, the new Taylor Swift album.

Will the stores about Moore affect his Senate campaign in Alabama? And what made the Weinstein story different when people haven’t cared before about sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood?

Terrible Opinions

Kate: I hated Taylor Swift’s new album and here’s why.

Jordan: Taylor Swift’s initial singles for her albums aren’t great – I didn’t love “Look What You Made Me Do” but I loved “Reputation.”

Matthias: I relate more to progressive Christians who have socialist views and strive to be faithful believers than to conservative Christians who embrace the Trump crowd.

Weinstein and Hollywood history

We discuss the allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein that sparked a revolution in Hollywood, the music industry and politics to expose serial predators. Decades of abuse in the entertainment industry are finally coming to light – but what made this story about Weinstein different? We analyze the political moment, the timing and the research that went into exposing Weinstein’s years of allegedly exploiting and assaulting young actresses.

Matthias asks an important question: How can these abusers in entertainment, politics and all of society go about making restitution?

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Katrina Jørgensen returned for another fun discussion about culture and how media-saturated millennials see the world.

Terrible Opinions

Katrina: I hate Thanksgiving food.

Jordan: I can’t help judging adults who spend a ton of money on Halloween costumes.

Matthias: The internet did not give us the permenance or expansion we hoped for, but an increasingly ephemeral "dust in the wind" existence and we should avoid that. 

Writing as fast as you can

Katrina is participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, so she shares some insights on how the annual challenge to write a novel in one month brings writers together. The goal in theory is to write 50,000 words in a month, but the main point of NaNoWriMo is simply getting people to write.

“Binge-worthy”

Netflix recently released some rare numbers showing which shows are being binge-watched the fastest: a top 20 list with shows that are watched within the first 24 hours of release. We analyze what insights we can glean from the list, which includes everything from “The Ranch” to “Santa Clarita Diet” to “Grace and Frankie.”

Jordan explains why it’s awesome that “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” is No. 1, but the other titles on the list are more relevant. We talk about why comedies are so much better for binge-watching than dramas – especially when the world is already hard enough – and debate whether or not the instant gratification of streaming changes how we watch TV.

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