Sound descriptions, Science Vs is back, and hackademics

Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain internet playlist from March 12, 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.


Fact of the week: There has been a lot of talk on the ability of the CIA to hack our phones thanks to a Wikileaks release (which NYT has said is overblown) and so called “zero-day” hacks. All this ominous term means is that there has been zero days since security experts have been alerted of a software flaw and therefore have not been able to patch the bug. From Planet Money’s Hacking The iPhone For Fun, Profit, And Maybe Espionage.


20k Hertz: Audio Description
This show ran on 99 Percent Invisible’s feed a few month’s ago, and I continue to view it as the 99pi of sound, which is high praise. This episode is about the increasingly popular use of audio descriptions on TV shows and movies for the visually impaired. Think of it like an extra layer of narration. There is much more creative license for what and how something gets described vs something like subtitles, which is what makes this so interesting to me. The host mentions that as this gets more popular, it could even be a way for anyone to catch up on their favorite show as they drive. I would absolutely be for that. I could even write for The Walking Dead. “Camera pans to Rick, who is sweating and looks stressed…”.

Hi-Phi Nation: Hackademics
An exploration of the philosophy of science. If there are studies published on parapsychology that are statistically significant, does that make it science? How easy is it to separate good science from bad science? This new, one person podcast continues to surprise me in how much better it explores big questions than other shows with a much larger staff and budget.

Science Vs- the conclusions
The second season just started, and since I’ll definitely be listening to each episode and I tend to recommend this frequently, I figured why not just list the conclusions that each episode this season comes to.

Immigration: Do immigrants take our jobs? No, more people = economy expands. Do immigrants lower wages? Overall no effect, but for high school drop outs specifically, yes a little bit. Do immigrants take more from government than they give? Immigrants cost more than U.S. born, but their children give more than the average U.S. born. Crime? For immigrants that arrive without the right to work, some evidence points to small increase in property crime. For immigrants with the right to work, no negative effect at all, with some evidence pointing to lowering crime rate.

Acne: Does diet affect acne? No good evidence that it does. Stress? Theoretical links, but no good evidence. Genetics? Yes, acne in the family increases your risk. Treatment? Lots of marketing bullshit out there. Benzoyl Peroxide has some evidence it works (Clearasil, Proactiv), Salicylic Acid not well researched (Noxzema), and extremely effective treatment for severe acne is Isotretinoin (Accutane).


Crazy Russian Hacker: What Happens if you put Giant Koosh into Liquid Nitrogen?
If you had a cool science teacher who did things with liquid hydrogen, then you must have wanted to try freezing all sorts of things to see what happens. Well that’s exactly the sort of thing this YouTube channel does. It’s basically a Russian guy doing idiot things with idiot friends, all in the name of science.

Big Think: Earwolf- The Making of a Podcast Network | Scott Aukerman
I never connected the name of comedian and podcaster Scott Aukerman to the face of the person I recognized in this video. This is a short clip on his thoughts on podcast networks and what led him to start Earwolf.

News: The Green Brother Empire has added a new YouTube channel, Sci Show Psychology.


Google’s “One True Answer” problem — when featured snippets go bad

Upgrade your jail cell – for a price (an acquaintance from college wrote this, excellent reporting and infuriating situation)

Daylight Saving Time Is America’s Greatest Shame

From Reddit:

Explain it like I’m 5: How is tap water not full of mold and algae when nobody cleans the inside of the pipes that carry it?

Ask Science: when I shine a flashlight at Mars, does a small amount of the light actually reach it?

Things to check out:
Zen Pencils: Illustrated versions of long quotes from famous people in web comic form. Excellent and inspirational stuff and I linked to one from Carl Sagan (and stole the ending quote for below).

Quote: “A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic” – Carl Sagan

That’s all for this week!

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