Podcasts, videos, and links to make you think
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Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain newsletter, the place to get podcasts and links that will make you think.

As Roman Mars might say, happy holidays you beautiful nerds.

Some great thoughtful new shows below, as well as some put-your-mind-at-ease holiday magic. 

Plus, some things I've learned this year. 

Ok, see everyone in 2021, a year I will make absolutely no predictions about.

Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions: Why Do We Believe Lies?
  • Do you know who I wouldn’t have guessed would be hosting a show with Bill Gates? Rashida Jones. Do you know who is surprisingly great at interviews and leading conversations? Rashida Jones. 
  • This third episode features a conversation with Yuval Hurari, author of Sapiens. I quite liked Sapiens when I read it, and found his argument about the stories we tell ourselves to be compelling, which he expounds upon here. 
  • Some quotes from Hurari: “People think about Frankenstein, the idea of creating something and then being overtaken by it, is a modern phenomena. It’s not. Technologically maybe it’s new. But humans have been enslaved by their creations for tens of thousands of years, by these stories that they create about gods, about nations, about money. They forget that we created them and then we are trapped inside the dreams of dead people.”
  • About predicting if things will be better 20 years from now: “Data, and science, and all that is great, but you should never underestimate human stupidity.” 

Bio Eats World: The Machine That Made the Vaccine
  • This is an interview with Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, about the long path they have been on developing mRNA technology that has set them up for this moment.
  • This is the company that just received emergency approval from the FDA for another covid-19 vaccine, just behind Pfizer/BioNTech’s. 
  • It is actually fascinating hearing Bancel, who is a scientist, walk us through how all this works behind the scenes. He also offers excellent metaphors explaining the science.
  • The story on how the actual vaccine was created over one weekend in January is pretty wild.
  • We’ve been “growing” vaccines for decades, but we are now in the age of “printing” them. Crazy.

Baggage Claim: Treading Water
  • A new travel show of sorts with a very intriguing opening episode.
  • This episode is a first-hand account about a kayak trip gone wrong (very wrong), with just the right touch of production and poetic construction.
  • As traveling continues to be a distant reality (and NY winter blues), I'm finally here for the travel podcasts.

Outsiders: Episode 1 - The Rain
  • For anyone who has been into According to Need, this is also a must listen.
  • This show is about homelessness in Olympia, the state capital of Washington.
  • Reported by Seattle public radio station KNKX.
  • Recommended by my brother Dan, who lives in Olympia (and who has all-around impeccable taste in shows).
  • Not knowing about this show makes me wonder how many other countless local shows I'm missing out on?


Holiday listening to ease your brain instead of hurting it

The Allusionist: A Festive Hit for 2020
  • Helen Zaltzman has a funny and smart discussion around Christmas songs with Jenny Owen Youngs, who has written boatloads of them herself.
  • The best part though is an on-the-fly creation of a perfect 2020 Christmas song.

Home Cooking: Fronds with Benefits (with Jason Mantzoukas)
  • This show has been recommended in basically every year end list.
  • That handedly puts it past the threshold of what gets something to the top of my queue. As usual, I'm late to the party, but I'll be the millionth person to say this is a great show that is just about perfect in being an antidote to 2020. 
  • It was created during quarantine by Samin Nosrat (professional cook/writer, all around champion of home cooking, and author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat), and Hrishikesh Hirway (host of Song Exploder and cooking enthusiast.) Their chemistry is what makes the show. 
  • Nosrat gets it: “A big part of my mission to explain to people is, you don’t have to be a restaurant chef at home. Chickpeas on toast and broccoli could be dinner. Like something super simple can be dinner. A bowl of pasta with just a little bit of parmesan and spinach can totally be a super satisfying meal. You’re not trying to impress anyone, it’s not about Instagram, it's about nourishment and joy."
  • Jason Mantzoukas is hilarious as usual. Mantzoukas as guest is perhaps the surest path to a fun listen for any show. 

Home Cooking: Bittersweet (with Helen Zaltzman)
  • Now combining the above two episodes, Home Cooking with a guest appearance from Helen Zaltman! We get to hear Zaltzman's love of gingerbread cookies and an explanation of her Twitter picture. And lots of delicious, mouth watering talk about cookies in general.
  • The 14th (and perhaps final?) episode of this delightful “4-part” series that sprung into existence during quarantine.
  • These happened to be the first episodes I checked out, but I think it's safe to say the whole thing is binge worthy.
14 Facts I Learned From Podcasts in 2020. These are really just the things I plan to unleash onto a unsuspecting person once social gatherings are a thing again.
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We Had the Vaccine the Whole Time. More interesting background and context on the Moderna vaccine. 

How Do Construction Cranes Work? A pretty cool set of infographics that are all too relevant to me as Amazon is currently building one of the largest distribution centers in the world about a minute from my home. I guess all will be forgiven if I can get 30 minute drone delivery?

25 Things I’ve Learned From a Decade of Podcasts. From author Ryan Holiday. 

I'm looking for educational podcasts like Vsauce and Veritasium, but just as audio. Many of the educational podcasts are kinda boring. Do you guys have any suggestions? Thread on podcasts subreddit. 

Top podcasts you discovered this year. Another thread on the podcasts subreddit. 

Podcast Brunch Club December listening list: Generations. I plan on listening to these this week and jumping on the virtual meet-up on the 28th. Check them out and anyone is welcome. 

The Second "Year of The MOOC": A Review of MOOC Stats and Trends in 2020. A pretty fascinating overview, particularly the topic shifts of what people were interested in during 2020. 

For fun: "I know this is a morning show, you can't bring up all those crimes"

For fun 2: talking in sleep turned into poems 

post-note: Maybe big announcement next newsletter around new project? We'll see.

That's all for this week!

Connect with me @erikthejones on twitter and if you've learned anything interesting, please forward this link to any curious natured friends or family so they can subscribe. Many thanks!

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