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The magic of J.K. Rowling
Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain internet playlist from Aug 21, 2016. 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.
I wasn't a huge fan of the first episode of Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History and I can't really explain why. I think it might have been that my expectations based off of the title didn't match what it actually was. Now having listened to all of them (and now a fan), I think a better title would be, "Things Malcolm Gladwell is really passionate about". So for this week's podcast section, I wanted to focus on all the remaining episodes that I haven't featured yet now that the first season is over. There are some real interesting ideas and arguments throughout the entire season and it's definitely worth checking out, even if your were thrown off by the first episode like I was. The Satire Paradox, Aug 25, 39 min Learn: how the same bit of political satire can feel equally funny and "for you", regardless of what side of the spectrum you are on. This leads to the question of 'how effective is satire really?' Quote: “Satire is complicated. It’s not like straight forward speech that is easy to decode. It requires interpretation. That’s what draws you in. That’s where the humor lies. But that active interpretation has a cost.” Generous Orthodoxy, Aug 17, 36 min Learn: what it looks like to approach emotionally charged topics like race, sexuality, and religion in a way that is respectful but meaningful. Quote: “Chester Wenger is going to win. Maybe not right away. But he’ll win. Because he makes plain not just how beautiful generous orthodoxy is, but how powerful. Which is something that everyone who stands up in protest needs to remember. You must respect the body you are trying to heal.” Blame Game, Aug 3, 41 min Learn: why the huge Toyota recall of 10 million cars in 2009 for unintended acceleration was the result of mass hysteria and poor reporting. Quote: “But if your car is suddenly and mysteriously accelerating, all you have to do is step on the brakes. Because brakes beat engines. So why couldn’t Mark Saylor stop his Lexus that day, as he sped down highway 125? I know it sounds ridiculous and tragic, but it’s the only logical explanation--because he never put his foot on the brake.” Hallelujah, Jul 27, 39 min Learn: about two different types of artistic genius, as put forth in the book Old Masters and Young Geniuses by David Galenson. Type 1- Conceptual Innovator: "[...]there are those who do their best work very early in their life. They tend to work quickly, they have very specific ideas that they want to communicate, and they can articulate those ideas clearly. They plan precisely and meticulously, then they execute. Boom." (Picasso, Orson Welles, James Joyce) Type 2- Experimental Innovator: [...] are people who never have a clear, easily articulated idea. They don’t work quickly. When they start off, they don’t really know where they are going. They work by trial and error. They do endless drafts. They are perpetually unsatisfied. It can take them a lifetime for them to figure out what they want to say." (Cézanne, Robert Frost, Alfred Hitchcock) Saigon, 1965, Jun 22, 44 min Learn: how having perfect intelligence in war does not lead to perfect decisions. Quote: “One interview with a Vietcong officer, one fantastic bit of intelligence, an insight into the enemy’s mind, and yet everyone was in disagreement on what it meant. Because everyone was looking at it through a different set of eyes. That’s why intelligence failures happen. It’s not because someone screws up, or is stupid, or lazy. It’s because the people who make sense of intelligence are human beings, with their own histories and biases.” And to cap this off I wanted to put in a quote of Gladwell's summary of the entire series. “If there’s a lesson to ten episodes of this first season of Revisionist History, it’s this--that nothing of consequence gets accomplished without courage. You can’t educate the poor without making difficult choices, without giving up some portion of your own privilege. You can’t be a great basketball player without being willing to look stupid. You can’t heal your church without sacrificing your own career. You can’t even drive a car properly unless you are willing to acknowledge that you sometimes make mistakes--stupid, involuntary, dumb mistakes. The path to a better world is hard. Is that depressing? I don’t think so. I think what’s depressing is when we ignore everything history is trying to tell us.”
J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement (2008), 21 min Learn: how failure and imagination are the two most important frames of reference that J.K. Rowling sees the world with and how all of her struggles and experiences have shaped her. Quote: “You might never fail on the scale I did. But some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.” Extra: some quotes she used in her speech. The Greek author Plutarch- "What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality." The Roman philosopher and politician Seneca- “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” Vox Yes, race walking is an Olympic sport. Here's how it works. Aug 11, 5 min Learn: exactly as title promises! (with some humor to help the knowledge go down easily) Quote: “The best athletes look for an edge. Bicyclists drift to reduce wind resistance, wrestlers dehydrate to lower their weight class, and race walkers, they wiggle.” SciShow Space Cherenkov Radiation: Particles Faster Than the Speed of Light? Aug 3, 3 min Learn: the short and sweet version of what situations are required for something to actually go faster than light. Quote: “So next time someone tries telling you that nothing can travel faster than light, just remember that’s only true in a vacuum. Inside something like water, particles like electrons can beat light in a race and cause a blue glow to prove it.”
ARTICLES AND OTHER LINKS
The Conversation We've been wrong about the origins of life for 90 years Learn: why the "primordial soup" explanation for the start of life on Earth isn't as convincing as a newer theory involving hydrothermal vents in the ocean. Quote: "Deep-sea hydrothermal vents represent the only known environment that could have created complex organic molecules with the same kind of energy-harnessing machinery as modern cells. Seeking the origins of life in the primordial soup made sense when little was known about the universal principles of life’s energetics." engadget Wikiverse turns Wikipedia into visual universe of articles Learn: a new way to browse Wikipedia that is super interesting Quote: "You can zoom around to visit clusters of stars representing interconnected topics -- clicking on one will load the article itself right within the interface. Since each star is visually connected to related entries with colored loopy lines, you can hop around like you would on the actual Wikipedia website." 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!