Podcasts, videos, and links to make you think
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Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain newsletter, where we try to learn about how the world works one podcast at a time.

Two new articles, please check them out below. Happy holidays everyone!
China mini-playlist
Some of the most interesting episodes from the last few weeks all seemed to revolve around China, so I put them all together here:

The Daily: What the West Got Wrong About China, Part 1 (21 min). Part 2 (24 min). One of those evergreen Daily episodes that isn't breaking news, but a more thoughtful exploration. The West has assumed over the past few decades that China's growth would ultimately fail without an embrace of democracy. These are the four assumptions explored in the episodes that have so far proven to be wrong:
  1. Government controlled economies stifle growth.
  2. The Internet can’t be tamed.
  3. The West will influence China, not other way around.
  4. As Chinese people gain wealth, more freedom and democracy will follow.
Reply All: Negative Mount Pleasant (63 min). Reply All episodes reported by Sruthi Pinnamaneni tend to be some of my favorites, and this is no exception. Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturing powerhouse, has been shopping around the US to see who would offer the best tax incentives in return for building a huge new site. Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin won the contest, which after listening to this episode, seems like the furthest thing from a prize you could think of. 
  • When it comes to factories, the more advanced the technology (used and made), the shorter the factory life and the less likely it will be retrofitted for other purposes because of the expense.
  • The deal Mount Pleasant made was 10x the normal sweetheart giveaway to a corporation. For context, the Amazon deal in the news was about 2x. With the Foxconn deal, for each 50k salary job created there will be 200K+ in tax giveaways to Foxconn.
  • “You’re betting the future of the town with money they don’t have, assuming technology they don’t understand, and benefits that are going to be distributed widely but not necessarily in their community. That’s a fool’s bet.”
  • The town's plan to actually make money off this deal: pay off the borrowed debt to finance the deal over thirty years, and THEN start collecting property tax from Foxconn. Based off first bullet point, you think that they'll still be there?
  • Quote from someone being told their property was being taken over after being promised by the town council that it wouldn't be: “When this guy told me too, he had the emotion of a serial killer. Like, no empathy. I’m just like, is this Dexter I’m talking to? Like seriously.”

Planet Money: For Our 10th Anniversary, Episode #1 (29 min). An episode I had never heard, and it happens to be about China. 
  • Each day, over a billion dollars of Chinese goods are bought with US currency that companies in China and the Chinese government need to figure out what to do with.
  • They tend to buy US based safe investments with that money, like Treasury bonds or other investment products from Wall Street.
  • This is an extremely complicated monetary dance that intertwines the two economies inseparably.
Other recommendations:

An Arm and a Leg: Why you (and I) will likely pick the wrong health-insurance plan (18 min). I love nonfiction narrative shows that really dig into one topic. Journalist Dan Weissmann does that with the cost of healthcare.
  • “So if economists don’t get it, what’s the chance that your average health care insurance shopper is going to figure it out? Pretty much zero.”
  • The above quote is the opinion of an economist who studies the ability of consumers to actually choose the best plan when given many choices.

Witness: Apollo 8 (9 min). This Christmas will be 50 years since we first traveled around the moon. 
  • Apollo 11 would not have been possible without the success of Apollo 8.
  • Plans were changed on the mission of this mission, and they only had three months to plan for it.
  • The famous Earthrise photo was taken in a hurry during Apollo 8. 

18 Things I Learned from Podcasts in 2018 [article]
Highlights of some facts and tidbits and drawings from the past year.
Read the article
100 Outstanding Podcasts of 2018 [article]. I was lucky enough to contribute seven of my favorite podcast episodes from the past year to Bello Collective's gangbusters year-end list.

From Reddit: [r/podcasts] Which podcast took you on the journey of being mildly interested and almost completely ignorant of a subject to being well informed and passionate about it?

Psychology’s Replication Crisis Is Running Out of Excuses. [article] "Despite the large sample sizes and the blessings of the original teams, the team failed to replicate half of the studies it focused on. It couldn’t, for example, show that people subconsciously exposed to the concept of heat were more likely to believe in global warming, or that moral transgressions create a need for physical cleanliness in the style of Lady Macbeth, or that people who grow up with more siblings are more altruistic."......But also...."Sanjay Srivastava from the University of Oregon says the lack of variation in Many Labs 2 is actually a positive thing. Sure, it suggests that the large number of failed replications really might be due to sloppy science. But it also hints that the fundamental business of psychology—creating careful lab experiments to study the tricky, slippery, complicated world of the human mind—works pretty well."

For fun:
A Very Terry Christmas. [video] If there has been a Bob Ross sized hole in your life lately, Terry Crews has your back. And seriously, what a talented dude. Former NFL player, actor in TV and movies, illustrator. He even built a PC with his son

Adriano Celentano - Prisencolinensinainciusol [video]. I think everyone should watch this video. It's mesmerizing. Adriano Celentano is a well known Italian superstar. This song is what he felt English sounded like before he learned it (aka convincing gibberish to non-English speaker). This video looks like it's from the 70's and it's seriously bizarre and super catchy with weirdly amazing dancing and I'm actually obsessed to be honest. And the classroom setting? I have no idea.

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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