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.

I don't want to be a person consumed by the news, but like everyone else I have been very much consumed by the news. I didn't plan on recommending coronavirus content, but it just kind of happened. We all have our favorite sources for up-to-the-second coverage, but I wanted to focus on things that will be just as helpful now as it will be two weeks from today.

-If you think the below playlist is helpful in any way, here is a shareable link in article form.

-And if you would like to view all the links as a list in Listory, check that here.

If you are maxed out on coronavirus, skip to the bottom for non-virus recommendations.

Ok, I hope everyone is safe out there and please send me your best distractions.
Short Wave: Coronavirus Latest: Testing Challenges And Protecting At-Risk Elderly [podcast].
  • NPR's daily science podcast with best explanation to send your family and friends for why this isn't just like the flu.
  • We all have the friends and family all over social media and IRL who love saying how much more deadly the flu is and why this is an overreaction. Host Emily Kwong asks NPR correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce what to say to those who question why this is such a big deal when the flu is so bad. This money quote starts at 13:06:
  • The coronavirus is getting more attention because it’s new and it’s worse than the flu. We don’t know the exact case fatality rate yet, but it’s clearly multiple times greater than that of the flu. With the flu we have antivirals, like you can go to your doctor and get a drug that is targeted to the flu. Its even got flu in the name, Tamiflu. We don’t have anything like that for this coronavirus. We don’t have rapid tests like we do for flu. We don’t have a vaccine like we do for flu. Healthcare systems are familiar with the flu, they understand its seasonality, they know it’s coming, they plan for it. The coronavirus just came out of nowhere, so it’s coming on top of everything else the hospitals are dealing with and that is the real reason why people want social distancing to slow the spread of this virus. It’s because we’re trying to keep the number of cases that require hospitalization low over a greater period of time to keep hospitals from getting slammed.”

The Daily: Why the U.S. Wasn't Ready for the Coronavirus [podcast].
  • A history of how our epidemic preparedness infrastructure has been systematically dismantled because of predictable dips in political will.
  • This is a frustrating but inevitable side effect of only allocating resources to things that are immediately pressing. We pour resources in times of crises, and then slowly forget the lessons. 

The Daily: Confronting a Pandemic [podcast].
  • What China and South Korea did that worked, and why many other countries are failing to replicate.
  • The measures China took were severe, but they seem to have worked. Will other countries be able to replicate the same outcomes?

Planet Money: Where's the Vaccine? [podcast].
  • The weird market for emergency vaccines and why new vaccines take so long.
  • The U.S. government has a process if we ever need to rapidly ramp up production of past coronavirus outbreaks. It involves secretly owning the production lines of egg factories that have an output in the millions. 

  • Three economists from different political persuasions all agree that the best things for the economy has nothing to do with the economy: to stop the virus.
  • There are different stimulus efforts that can be argued about, but none of them matter until we turn the corner around the spread of the coronavirus.


Last Week Tonight: Coronavirus [YouTube].
  • Overview of how we got here and differences in responses.
  • From all the way in the ancient times of March 2, but still extremely relevant. John Oliver delivers some truly devastating highlights of the harmful mixed messages Trump was giving at exactly the wrong time (and immediately after experts said the opposite). 

3Blue1Brown: Exponential growth and epidemics [YouTube].
  • Best explanation of exponential growth and what rate of change to look for.
  • This YouTube channel is a full of excellent math explanations with entertaining visuals. I also now understand what the logarithmic scale is for the first time.

Joe Rogan Experience: How Serious is the Coronavirus? Infectious Disease Expert Michael Osterholm Explains [YouTube].
  • Sobering analysis from world renowned epidemiologist. 
  • Even if you don't like Joe Rogan, you should absolutely check this out. This is only a 15 minute clip from a much longer interview that can be watched here or listened to as a podcast here. Rogan asks some good questions and lets Osterholm do 95% of the talking. This is the single piece of media that made me fully realize what is about to happen in the US.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [YouTube page].
  • The official CDC YouTube account where daily brief updates can be found.
  • Short and no-nonsense, all delivered in a few minutes.

Peter Attia MD: Q & A videos. [YouTube].
  • Short explanations from a doctor on all aspects of the disease and its spread.
  • Dr Attia is not an epidemiologists or an infectious disease doctor, but he is one of the best MD science communicators and does a fantastic job synthesizing what the experts are saying.
  • Dr Attia has a great podcast called The Drive for anyone interested in going all in around science based health, nutrition, and longevity. His most recent episodes are with infectious disease experts about Covid-19. 

Next Draft [email newsletter].
  • My favorite news curation source.
  • I have been following Dave Pell’s newsletter for years and I find it to be the most helpful synopsis and curation of news vs anything similar. He is going to start doing seven days a week instead of five, and will continue having excellent collections of coronavirus updates and analysis.

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now [Medium article].
  • You want charts?!
  • An extremely in-depth analysis of all things coronavirus, particularly the lag between real cases and reported cases and what to expect.

The story behind 'flatten the curve,' the defining chart of the coronavirus. [Fast Company article].

Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to "flatten the curve" [Washington Post article].
  • Best data visualizations around flattening the curve and dynamics of social distancing.
  • Journalists who work with data visualizations are really shining this past few weeks, and this graphics heavy article tells the whole story even if you look only at the visualizations. 

Why you are harming others by not "overreacting". [Tweet].
  • This tweet from Nassim Taleb is a one-page argument on why the only answer is to overreact (different than panic).
  • Taleb has a tone that is not always my taste, but in this case he is 100% spot on. "Under such conditions it becomes selfish, even psychopathic, to act according to what is called 'rational' behavior – to make one's own immediate rankings of risk conflict with those of society, even generate risks for society. This is similar to other tragedies of the common, except that there is life and death.

  • As good a time as any to revisit this outstanding article from Bello Collective on some outstanding audio from the past year.

Drilled: Season 3 [climate change podcast].
  • This podcast is all about the propaganda of climate denial. Season three is about the "madmen" of climate change and is a lesson around how intimately entwined the rise of public relations was to the rise of the oil (and cigarette) industry.

Filter Stories: Stateless [podcast about coffee stories].
  • The 99% Invisible of coffee could be the tagline of this show. It's stories that revolve around the production of coffee we never think about while pouring our morning cups. This episode is the amazing story of Mikhail, a coffee barista who finds himself without a country and stranded. 

Weird Internet Careers [blog series].
  • A series of posts from Gretchen McCulloch, cohost of Lingthusiasm and author of Because Internet
  • My goal is definitely to have a weird internet career, and this is a nice history and guide for those in the same boat. 

How to Make a Kurzgesagt Video in 1200 Hours [YouTube].
  • I recommend this channel often, and this video is a behind the scenes look that will make you appreciate the amount of time any creator puts into their work, particularly scripted YouTube videos and podcasts.

For funWhen a Costumed Person Destroys The Drums At Children’s Music Concert

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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