Free will, free speech, and the metal box that runs the world

Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain internet playlist from March 5, 2017. It’s a collection of podcasts, videos, and other links for people who love to learn online and are fascinated by the world. Click here to get playlists emailed to you as they come out.


Best fact: The idea of protecting hate speech (like anything the Westboro Baptist Church says) is a relatively new addition to the ever evolving concept of free speech in the US and can surprisingly be directly tied back to the civil rights efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. This is because racist groups were effectively shutting down MLK’s momentum by claiming what he was doing involved hate speech (using the fact that this was illegal to censor him). So laws were changed to protect hate speech in order to allow progress. From Stuff You Should Know’s How Free Speech Works.


Containers: Welcome to Global Capitalism
Planet Money and 50 things that made the global economy both did short episodes on the crazy importance the shipping container has had in shaping the modern world. Apparently people can’t get enough about these metal boxes, because Containers is a new 8 episode podcast documentary all about their history and their stories. The whole series is sponsored by Flexport, which after doing some googling seems like a tech based logistics/supply chain/global shipping type company. It’s just a weird industry for a sponsored podcast, but I really enjoyed the first episode as it looked into the role the Vietnam War had in catapulting the shipping container industry into the behemoth it is today.

The Philosopher’s Zone: Fueling Free Will
If you rewound the universe to the exact state it was in yesterday, would you have made all the same decisions and ended up in the precise spot you’re in this very instant? Basically, are you a puppet of physics or are you a free agent? It’s easy to have a quick gut answer and dismiss the question but I swear the more I learn on this the more uneasy I get. This is a short interview with someone who knows the whole terrain and lays out the varying arguments in a compelling way.

99 Percent Invisible: Church (Sanctuary, Part 1)
An eye opening look at the history that Church’s of all denominations have had in providing sanctuary to refugees, even in the face of opposition from government.


Reactions: What is Catnip, Really?
Catnip is a plant and it really does make chemicals that are similar to cannabis. The specific chemical that makes cats go nuts is actually created by the plant in order to keep aphids away. It mimics aphid sex pheromones which seems counter productive but this also lures aphid predators. The whole the enemy of my enemy is my friend strategy.

Exurb1a: Making Stuff
If you have ever gone through the self-doubt and terrifying experience of doing a big creative project, this video will speak to you.

Veritasium: The Science of Thinking
I found this to be a fantastic explanation and synthesis of things like chunking, deliberate practice, and several concepts from the book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Creator Derek Muller has actually referenced this book several times lately, so if you want great, simple explanations of some of the ideas, check out this YouTube playlist I made.


Do Scientists Lose Credibility When They Become Political?

10 MOOCs That Support Lifelong Learning

9 Books to Boost Your Understanding of Technology & Systems

Interesting from Reddit:
I’m Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ask Me Anything.

TIL Water is used in rice fields to prevent weeds. Rice doesn’t actually need that much water, but since it can thrive in such conditions, whereas weeds cannot, it’s a natural protection against them.

Apps to download:
Listen Notes: A podcast search engine and podcast app. Not many bells and whistles as a podcast player, but seriously has the best search ability of any podcast app I’ve seen. Even better than Apple’s podcast app. Sometimes you just want to search for a topic or a person and see what specific episodes of various shows come up, and this app nails this function.

QUOTE: “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” – Bertrand Russel

That’s all for this week!

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