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.

Gameplay: Up, Down, Left, Right [99% Invisible of video games]
8-bit Mario jumping of a D-pad that looks like logo of 99% Invisible.
  • The genre of The 99% Invisible of X is podcast catnip I can’t resist.
  • Gameplay is a new narrative show that sets out to be the 99% Invisible of video games, which if true, would combine two of my favorite things.
  • It’s too early to tell if it fully lives up to that high bar, but I quite enjoyed the first episode about video game controllers.
  • The history of the D-pad and Nintendo’s influence on the trajectory of game controllers is well researched and more fascinating than you might assume.

Think Like An Economist [short economics lessons]
  • From the two economists who were featured in most of Planet Money’s Summer School series, Justin Wolfers and Betsy Stevenson.
  • These two are world-class economists. They are charming, funny, and great teachers, who are also happen to be married to each other.
  • If you like Planet Money, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t listen to this immediately.
  • I've listened to the first four episodes and plan on binging the rest soon.

Radiolab: Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer [Supreme Court origin story]
  • This is an updated episode from More Perfect’s first season.
  • I really like More Perfect (Radiolab’s spinoff about the Supreme Court), but for whatever reason just never was able to keep up with it.
  • Everything about this episode was surprising to me: Jefferson almost doing away with the Supreme Court, the very little power and very little guidance the Constitution gives for the judicial branch, and the manner in which Chief Justice John Marshall in the early 1800’s saved the court and grew its power with a move of pure political jujitsu. 
  • I haven't known what to make of the talk of potentially adding more Supreme Court Justices, but this episode serves as required listening around this topic.

Two interviews worth your time

Tim Ferriss: Janna Levin on Extra Dimensions, Time Travel, and How to Overcome Boots in the Face [wide ranging interesting interview]
  • Janna Levin is a physicist and the author of the book I’m currently reading, Black Hole Blues, the incredibly well-timed origin story and science of the now famous Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), which successfully detected gravitational waves a few years ago.
  • Levin is a fascinating person and scientist who found herself in an unexpected career path. 

Design Matters: Malcolm Gladwell [wide ranging interesting interview]
  • I’m about 15 years late to the party, but Debbie Millman is an excellent interviewer.
  • A great conversation about podcasting, Revisionist History, and Gladwell’s newest book, Talking to Strangers, which he tells compelling stories from.


This 3-minute world record speedrun of Super Mario 3 is fantastic but a little confusing at the end around what is actually happening. Apparently the record setter literally reprograms the game (while playing) by how Mario and the enemies are moved. This very detailed video explains what is going on. It gets way over my head but still fascinating.

Is Dust Mostly Dead Skin?. Person A: Did you know dust is mostly dead skin? Person B: Wrong! That is actually a myth! Person C: Well you should actually watch this video, because person A is more right than you think. 

AMA with Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt. Their new book 99% Invisible City is beautiful and can't wait to read.

Non-podcast newsletter recommendation of the week

Why Is This Interesting?: An email each weekday from a variety of contributors on a wide ranging array of topics, all interesting. The recent one about chicken sexing was wild. Subscribe here

For fun: Truce

For fun 2: Talkin’ Sports (or not)

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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