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

Some old favorites this week I haven't talked about in a bit.

And of course, happy Mother's Days to all the mothers of humans, doggies, and dragons.
Radiolab: Bit Flip. When it wants to, Radiolab is still the best at instilling wonder. This one left me with that good ol' Radiolab feeling. 
  • Did you know cosmic rays can literally disrupt any computer and that is not a rare occurrence at all? HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD THIS. I don't want to spoil too many details because this episode is as fun as it is terrifying.
  • One thing I will bring up though is the part about the Toyota stuck-accelerator lawsuits from years ago. I immediately thought of one of my favorite episodes of Revisionist History, The Blame Game, because it touches on those very lawsuits. I listened to it again after this Radiolab episode and I have to say that I am disappointed it wasn't brought up. In my opinion, The Blame Game is still utterly convincing in its argument that these runaway cars were from user errors, and that a brake pedal will always beat a fully floored gas pedal.
  • This all doesn't take away from the reality of cosmic rays doing actual damage all over the place in other instances, but having the Revisionist History episode as context certainly changes things for the car argument. 

Imaginary Worlds: The Hero’s Journey Endgame. Joseph Campbell was an obscure academic until George Lucas cited his Hero With a Thousand Faces as an inspiration for Star Wars. This caused the hero's journey storytelling archetype to rocket into mainstream usage, but are we now to the point where it has worn out its welcome? 
  • The classic hero’s journey pattern is a series of steps that involve a hero who is living a normal life, is thrust into adventure, and ultimately saves the day.
  • This can be found in all cultures from the time storytelling began, but classic modern examples are The Wizard of Oz, The Matrix, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and of course, Star Wars.
  • “I would say the harm is, the monomyth is a machine designed intentionally or not to make you a narcissist.”
  • “That’s a mindset that the older I get the more I think is the cause of a lot of problems in the world.”

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: The well known physicist (from popular science books like The Big Picture) brings smart people on his podcast to talk about fascinating topics. If you are looking for a smart interview show that has a heavy focus on science, this is a great place to start. Two episodes I've enjoyed:

Planet Money: How Uncle Jamie Broke Jeopardy Producer Kenny Malone is related to James Holzhauer, the Jeopardy prodigy who has won 22 episodes straight so far and amassed over one million dollars in earnings. This would be pretty cool, unless you love being the coolest uncle and have been suddenly demoted. 
  • A fun episode but also an interesting peak into how James Holzhaer has actually been dominating.
  • Besides being great at trivia, the trick comes down to being better at the buzzer, starting out with the hardest questions, and hunting for the daily doubles (which are not randomly placed) after getting a quick lead.

99 Percent Invisible: From Bombay with Love. I could recommend every episode of this show, but I usually wait for a special one.
  • During the cold war, the USSR didn't want to import western movies so they opted for India's Bollywood instead.
  • This works as a completely fascinating tale of two distinct cultures mixing together and as a mini-history episode.


You know how so much of the over-hyped science headlines are honestly just small studies in mice when you look into the details and they probably don't even correspond to humans? Well this twitter feed @justsaysinmice retweets these overhyped headlines and simply says "IN MICE". Wonderful.

This video of a starfish walking on land linked to by Elah Feder of Undiscovered is a reminder that we indeed live among aliens.

Roly Polies Came From the Sea to Conquer the Earth. We're building a little terrarium with bugs (honestly just using my kids as an excuse to do this kind of stuff) and came across this wonderful, short video in the research process.

Did people in the middle ages ever ACTUALLY plan battles using miniatures on top of a big table map? From the surprisingly academic and serious Ask Historians subreddit comes this question that I know every Game of Thrones fan didn't realized they wanted to know. The short answer is NO.

For fun [Ask Reddit Thread]. Lord of the rings is rated PG-13 and is allowed one f bomb. Where would you put it?

Another for fun [YouTube]. Gordon Ramsay Savagely Critiques Spicy Wings. If you like Gordon Ramsay and appreciate high volumes of creative swearing, you’ll love this Hot Ones interview where he eats increasingly hot wings as he answers questions.

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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