Listened to Episode 4: Mistakenly Seeking Solitude from The Happiness Lab

Technology allows us to bank, shop and dine without talking to another human, but what toll is this taking on our happiness? The inventor of the ATM and the Talking Heads singer David Byrne join Dr Laurie Santos to explore the ways in which talking to strangers can bring us all genuine joy.

This episode makes me think a bit about Mike Monteiro’s book Ruined by Design. 

I’ll have to read the MIT Technology Review article by David Byrne. The idea of designing humanity out of things is such a sad one, but there’s definitely a lot of evidence for it.

There is a great example in here of people not knowing what they really want or need or what is healthy for themselves. In particular, the story of the psychologist that did research on trains and came across their survey that they were creating a “solitude car” because that’s what people said they wanted in surveys. Sadly the research shows people will be happier if they’re interacting. When he asked the train company why they didn’t make an “interaction car”, they said they used to have that, but they discontinued it because it was so crowded. Maybe they should have added an extra car instead?

Listened to Micro Monday 78: Amanda Rush, aka @arush by Jean MacDonald from monday.micro.blog

This week’s guest, Amanda Rush is a web developer and accessibility practitioner who loves to cook and read. She also loves the IndieWeb movement and Micro.blog. Of her own blog, she says:

I want to own all my content and have control over it, and to that end I am constantly updating this site so that it contains as much of my data as possible from any silo I may have an account on. I decided to start doing this when I finally got tired of all the curated timeline nonsense and the social media design element that encourages us to be horrible to each other online for clicks.

We talk about what drew her to IndieWeb practices (spoiler alert: webmentions), and what she recommends to folks without tech experience who want to try out the Indieweb (another spoiler alert: Micro.blog).

Transcript

Great to hear my friend Amanda representing!
Listened to The Latest: A Republican Strategy Revealed from New York Times

During testimony from the White House’s top Ukraine expert in the impeachment hearings today, Republican lawmakers displayed their plan of attack.

Listened to The Daily: A Broken Promise on Taxes from New York Times

FedEx pledged investment in exchange for a tax cut. We look at what the company has done with a tax bill of $0 — and billions back in the bank.

Listened to Family Feud from On the Media | WNYC Studios

Bernie-Warren coverage, political hobbyism, and the rise of two American oligarchs.

A pre-debate news drop from CNN threatened the relative peace between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. On this week’s On the Media, why the feud is more distracting than illuminating. Plus, why paying close attention to political news is no substitute for civic participation. And, the origins of two oligarchic dynasties: the Trumps and the Kushners.

1. Rebecca Traister [@rtraister], writer for New York Magazine, on the inevitability of the questions facing women in politics. Listen.

2. Eitan Hersh [@eitanhersh], political scientist at Tufts University, on the political hobbyism and news consumption. Listen.

3. Andrea Bernstein [@AndreaWNYC], co-host of WNYC's Trump, Inc. podcast, on the corruption, improbabilities, and ironies of the Trump and Kushner family histories. Listen.

The segment on political hobbyism is particularly interesting and apt. Definitely worth taking a closer look at and implementing.
Listened to Climate Change, News Corp, and the Australian Fires from On the Media | WNYC Studios

In Australia, the conservative press has been denying that climate change is fueling the bushfires.

For years, climate change experts have said that hotter and drier summers would exacerbate the threat of bushfires in Australia. Fires have been raging since September and a prolonged drought and record-breaking temperatures mean the blazes won't stop for weeks — if not months. 

But to read or watch or listen to the conservative press in Australia is to get an altogether different story: that it's arson, not climate change, that's mainly responsible for the deaths of nearly 30 humans and an estimated one billion animals. Damien Cave is the New York Times bureau chief in Sydney, and he recently wrote about "How Rupert Murdoch Is Influencing Australia's Bushfire Debate." He spoke to Bob about the media landscape of denial and deflection, and why critics say it's making it harder to hold the government accountable. 

Listened to 390: Eleventy with Zach Leatherman from ShopTalk

Zach Leatherman stops by the show to talk about his static site generator, Eleventy, as well as look back at his Front End Engineer Manifesto from 2012 and see how it holds up in 2019.

Listened to Hurtling Toward Catastrophe from On the Media | WNYC Studios

A vehicle burns at Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike in Baghdad on Friday. The Pentagon said the U.S. operation killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force.

After the US military assassinated an Iranian military general, war propaganda kicked into overdrive. On this week’s On the Media, how news consumers can cut through the misleading claims and dangerous frames. Plus, how Generation Z is interpreting the geopolitical crisis through memes. And, how apocalyptic thinking is a near-constant through history. 

1. Nathan Robinson [@NathanJRobinson], editor of Current Affairs, on the most suspect tropes in war coverage. Listen.

2. Lee Fang [@lhfang], investigative journalist at The Intercept, on the pundits with unacknowledged conflicts of interest. Listen.

3. Ian Bogost [@ibogost], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on memes. Listen.

4. Dan Carlin [@HardcoreHistory], host of "Hardcore History," on apocalyptic moments throughout human history. Listen.

Brooke Gladstone speaking with Ian Bogost [@ibogost], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on #​WorldWar3 memes:

34:29 IB: That’s the pattern that we will see recur. Not necessarily with respect to warfare.  But whatever the next thing is. And there certainly will be a next thing.
34:37 BG: You wrote that the end of the world could be a “dark but deviously appealing fantasy”, and you were talking about your own experience as a GenX-er during the cold war. What seems soothing about the apocalypse back then?
34:54 IB: The idea that you live at the end of history is incredibly comforting. Even if you don’t know everything that happened in the past. There will be none who follow you. You’ve seen it all either personally or historically. You haven’t missed anything in the project that is human kind.
35:12 BG: That’s FOMO taken to the n-degree, isn’t it?
35:15 IB: Right, I mean the fear of annihilation is a particularly piquant version of the fear of death. It’s about not seeing what comes next for your progeny–for humanity at large. It makes sense to me that there would be some comfort even if it’s a perverse comfort in everyone being together at the end.

Sounds exactly like the same sort of historical apocalyptic “Repent now for the end is at hand” sort of philosophy that a 30 year old Jesus was espousing two millennia ago. And look what happened to that idea. 

Makes me wonder who the Paul of Tarses TikTok is going to be for the next two millennia?

Listened to The Weinstein Trial Begins from On the Media | WNYC Studios

As Harvey Weinstein faces trial, we discuss the essential role of gossip and whisper networks in protecting the vulnerable and spreading news that threaten the powerful.

In New York this week, jury selection began in the trial of former Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein. News of his alleged sexual predations launched the movement in October 2017, through investigative reporting from both The New York Times and The New Yorker. Even as he prepares to stand trial in New York, sexual assault charges were filed against him in Los Angeles. To date, over eighty women in the film industry have accused him of rape and sexual assault and abuse. Weinstein claims they were all consensual acts. 

The reporting has been groundbreaking in its detail, laying out the allegations for the public. But in Hollywood, Weinstein’s abuses already were an open secret. In 2017, Brooke spoke with Buzzfeed senior culture writer Anne Helen Petersen about the essential role of gossip and whisper networks in protecting the vulnerable and spreading news that threatens the powerful.

Listened to Holiday Message 2019: On Publishing Books by Sean Carroll from preposterousuniverse.com

Welcome to the second annual Mindscape Holiday Message! No substantive content or deep ideas, just me talking a bit about the state of the podcast and what’s on my mind. Since the big event for me in 2019 was the publication of Something Deeply Hidden, I thought it would be fun to talk about the process of writing and selling a popular book. Might be of interest to some of you out there!

Cover art for Sean Carroll's Mindscape

Sean, an intriguing episode. It’s great to hear the interesting directions you’d like to move and the sorts of non-physics topics you’re planning on covering. Given some of the areas relating to communication and democracy that you’d like to cover, I might recommend taking a look at a few of the following potential guests:

George Lakoff, a retired Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, has some solid ideas about how we communicate as well as how Donald J. Trump’s speech is  influencing our current politics and changing the way that journalism operates in our democracy.

Alan Alda, a science communicator and podcast host of Clear+Vivid and, yes, the well known actor from stage and screen (including M.A.S.H.), who has a long running podcast on the topic of communication and how we communicate. If you’re not listening to it already, it has many of the communication related ideas around who we are, how democracy works through communication, how our tribal tendencies effect the world, etc. (You’ll likely appreciate his podcast in general and may want to mine some of it for guests for your own show.) If you’re able, perhaps do it as a pair of crossover episodes in which you interview him and another in which he interviews you? I think both of your audiences will appreciate such a set of interviews, and you’ll have a chance to do a more extended exploration of both your separate as well as common areas of interests. (There’s also an odd similarity to the theme music for both of your shows…) 

Listened to Mindscape 74 | Stephen Greenblatt on Stories, History, and Cultural Poetics by Sean Carroll from preposterousuniverse.com

Stephen Greenblatt headshotAn infinite number of things happen; we bring structure and meaning to the world by making art and telling stories about it. Every work of literature created by human beings comes out of an historical and cultural context, and drawing connections between art and its context can be illuminating for both. Today’s guest, Stephen Greenblatt, is one of the world’s most celebrated literary scholars, famous for helping to establish the New Historicism school of criticism, which he also refers to as “cultural poetics.” We talk about how art becomes entangled with the politics of its day, and how we can learn about ourselves and other cultures by engaging with stories and their milieu.

Cover art for Sean Carroll's Mindscape

How could you not love this?
Listened to The Hidden Truths of Hanukkah from On the Media | WNYC Studios

A special history lesson in time for the holidays.

Today is Christmas, but it's also Hanukkah — the Jewish festival of lights. With its emphasis on present-giving, dreidel games and sweet treats, the holiday seems to be oriented towards kids. Even the story of Hanukkah has had its edges shaved down over time. Ostensibly, the holiday is a celebration of a victory against an oppressive Greek regime in Palestine over two thousand years ago, the miracle of oil that lit Jerusalem's holy temple for 8 days and nights, and the perseverance of the Jewish faith against all odds.

According to Rabbi James Ponet, Emeritus Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale University, the kid-friendly Hanukkah mythology has obscured the thorny historical details that offer deeper truths about what it means to be a Jew. In his 2005 Slate piece, "Hanukkah as Jewish Civil War," Ponet looked at the often-overlooked Jew-on-Jew violence that under-girds the Hanukkah story. In 2018, he and Brooke discussed how this civil war lives on in Jewish views on Israel, and how the tension between assimilation and tradition came to define the Jewish people. We're re-releasing it today in time for the holidays.

Listened to Can Restorative Justice Save The Internet? from On the Media | WNYC Studios

How theories of criminal justice reform can help us detoxify the web.

As prison populations soar, advocates on both side of the spectrum agree that the law-and-order approach to criminal justice is not making us safer. On this week's On the Media, we look at restorative justice, an alternative to prison that can provide meaningful resolution and rehabilitation. Meanwhile, harassment and bullying are plaguing our online lives, but social media companies seem fresh out of solutions. OTM brings you the story of a reporter and a researcher who teamed up to test whether restorative justice can be used to help detoxify the web.

1. Danielle Sered [@daniellesered], author of Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair, on her promising foray into restorative justice. Listen.

2. Lindsay Blackwell [@linguangst], UX researcher at Facebook, and OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@micahloewinger] share the story of their online restorative justice experiment. Plus, Jack Dorsey [@jack], CEO of Twitter, and Ashley Feinberg [@ashleyfeinberg], a senior writer at Slate, on the toxic state of Twitter. Listen.

Listened to Ken Kesey's Acid Quest from On the Media | WNYC Studios

We have never-before-heard tapes from Ken Kesey, the man who taught the hippies how to be hippies and inspired the psychedelic 60's.

Happy New Year! In this pod extra, we're celebrating what might be your first hangover of 2020 — whether it's fueled by alcohol or just the thought of the year ahead. So, we thought we'd bring you the story of an odd holiday known as Bicycle Day, April 19: the day in 1943, when Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann rode his bike home from work after dosing himself with his lab concoction, lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. The first acid trip.

Hofmann’s wobbly ride is what launches us into an exploration of a moment, when Ken Kesey, an evangelist of acid would emerge from a Menlo Park hospital lab, and plow through the nation’s gray flannel culture in a candy colored bus. Some know Kesey as the enigmatic author behind One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — others, as the driving force in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid TestTom Wolfe’s seminal work in New Journalism. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of Acid Test, Brooke spoke in 2018 with Wolfe (since deceased) and writer River Donaghey about how acid shaped Kesey, spawned the book and de-normalized American conformity.

This segment is from our April 20, 2018 show, Moving Beyond the Norm.

Listened to Hindsight Is 2019 from On the Media | WNYC Studios
We take a walk down memory lane, and ask ourselves some existential questions.

2019 started on a note of fakery, as we made sense of the conspiracies and simulacra that distort our information field. It's ending with a similar air of surreality, with impeachment proceedings bringing the dynamics of the Trump presidency into stark relief. Along the way, we've examined forces, deconstructed narratives, and found the racist core at the heart of so much of the American project. And as we've come to look differently at the world, we've come to look differently at ourselves.

With excerpts from:

  1. When The Internet is Mostly Fake, January 11th, 2019
  2. United States of Conspiracy, May 17th, 2019
  3. Trump Sees Conspiracies Everywhere, October 4th, 2019
  4. Understanding the White Power Movement, March 22nd, 2019
  5. Why "Send Her Back" Reverberated So Loudly, July 19th, 2019
  6. The Scarlet E, Part II: 40 Acres, June 14th, 2019
  7. Part 1: The Myth Of The Frontier, March 29th, 2019
  8. Empire State of Mind, April 5th, 2019
  9. The Perils of Laundering Hot Takes Through History, March 1st, 2019