Podcasts, videos, and links to make you think
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Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain newsletter, a collection of podcasts and links that make you think.

The Bello Collective published an article I wrote that aimed to clarify all the confusing differences between the premium services and walled gardens of podcasts. What do you really get with Slate Plus vs Stitcher Premium vs Luminary? If you listen to podcasts in Spotify, what do you get vs other platforms? Be sure to check out the included one-sentence reviews for all you skimmers out there.

Ok, here are some excellent things that will make your brain happy:
13 Minutes to the Moon: Ep. 01 'We choose to go'. The 50 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing is coming up July 20th, and this is a wonderful BBC audio documentary on the subject (judging by this first episode).
Drawing of the famous Earthrise from Apollo 8.
  • The name of the podcast refers to the harrowing 13 minutes it took the Eagle lander to go from orbit around the moon to the surface.
  • The average age of people in the mission control center was 27. *thinks about what I was doing at 27, suddenly wishes I hadn't*.
  • JFK's first reaction to Russia beating the US into space wasn't to race them to stepping on the moon, but to endeavor on a different sort of massive engineering feat: to desalinate ocean water for the world.
  • When JFK did announce on getting to the moon before the end of the decade in 1962, there was no clear path to do so and was an incredibly risky gamble.
  • Wernher von Braun designed the deadly V2 rocket systems for the Nazi's, and then after WW2 defected to the US and designed the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo program, the most powerful and complicated machine ever built. 

The Truth: The Body Genius. In this newsletter I mostly recommend non-fiction shows where you can learn interesting things, but I like to give myself the ability to recommend fiction shows every so often. It's a thriving genre that I admittedly am fairly ignorant of, but I just have to bring up The Body Genius from The Truth because it's pretty great. See this as an opportunity to learn about how fantastic fiction podcasts are if you don't listen to them typically.
  • The Truth "makes stories for your ears", and produces short self-contained or short run series of scripted audio stories.
  • The Body Genius is their recent 5-part series about a Hollywood personal trainer who finds himself caught in a murder mystery.
  • The writing, voice work, music, and sound design are all top notch. The writing in particular was sharp and often funny.
  • I had heard lots of positive things about this show, but I was sold on finally downloading it when I checked out the website and found the short illustrated gifs for each episode to be intriguing. Shout out to all the shows with custom illustrations for each of their episodes, it works!

Sum of All Parts: One, two, three, four! The simplest way to describe this show is the 99% Invisible for numbers. It's back for a new season and boy was I excited to learn the first episode involved Radiohead. It didn't disappoint.
  • Learn about the goldilocks zone of rhythm. Ingrained deep inside us is an appreciation of drum beats that aren't too simple and aren't too complex. The audio explanation used for this is extremely effective and something you just need to hear.
  • Learn why Radiohead's Pyramid Song blew the mind of a music theory professor and why it sparked lively arguments online.

Hi-Phi Nation: Demons of Democracy. Should you have to prove some level of knowledge to be able to vote? Should everyone be forced to vote? These are some of the interesting questions examined.
  • I did not know democratic schools were a thing, where K-12 students vote on almost everything that has to do with their education, including what classes are offered.
  • I will also freely admit that I didn't realize that voting in Australia is compulsory, which helps keep partisan extremes from driving the conversation.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, out of the myriad ways for modern governments to operate, people tend to think the way they grew up with in their home country works the best.


What You Get When You Sign up for Luminary (and 8 Other Paid Podcast Platforms to Try). "Nothing concentrates the mind quite like the prospect of your credit card being charged. So, as my Luminary free trial comes to a close, I have one question on my mind: Do I pay the $8/month to keep access to their premium shows or save that money for better values elsewhere?" 

Anyone else frustrated with the whole podcast discovery experience? This is a very common thread on the podcast subreddit, and out of this whole thread there was only one reference to a podcast newsletter! (shout out to the always excellent Inside Podcasting). If you love learning about shows from newsletters, please spread the word!

Your favorite "explainer" podcasts? Also from Reddit. Some good recommendations here. I really need to listen to Caliphate.

Why the Government Pays Billions to People Who Claim Injury by Vaccines. This article from The Atlantic provides some nice context and history for The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, something often attacked by anti-vaxxers or people skeptical of vaccines in general. 

A Playlist of Medical Podcasts Anyone Can Love. I published the medical podcast playlist from last newsletter into an article on Medium in case you missed it. 

Mini-Playlist: If you are into the BBC podcast recommended above about the Apollo program, here is a little playlist of things that I've recently watched/read that go nicely with it. 
  1. Just finished Carl Sagan's book The Pale Blue Dot. If you are interested in the solar system and how we know what we know and our future in space, I highly recommend.
  2. The Farthest is a documentary from PBS about the Voyager space probes and is really well done and fascinating (and is now on Netflix).
  3. The BBC has a video series coming out in July (for the US) called The Planets and looks quite good.

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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