Cross Culture Episode I: Audiovision

J. B. Jezewski


If you have an internet connection, you lead a wealthy life. The proof is in the community – those contributing members of a complex field with just enough free time or advertising revenue to sit down and talk shop. These are among the more entertaining and brain-expanding conversations happening now that you can listen in on for free. Take a dip into the audio ocean, and you may find a delightful new neighborhood in your brain unlocked.

Why listen when there is talking to be done?

Firstly, because your kindergarten teacher told you to. If you’re still not convinced or were a particularly rebellious cub, the following are my top reasons for tuning in:

  •                   – you have a fire-brain whose thirst for knowledge cannot be quenched
  •                   – you want to stay challenged, dynamic, and lively
  •                   – you’re a citizen of the night battling insomnia
  •                   – you’re trying to distract yourself from the state of pop music today
  •                   – you want to know what those savvy (tech/math/film) folks are talking about these days
  •                   – you’re trying to convince the spies following you that you’re just another driver
  •                   – you want to activate your geek super ego

Whatever your reason for taking the leap, adventures of strategy and science lie ahead.

For the strategists

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

From Carlin, you’ll learn how Genghis Khan carved a name for himself; the difference between the Roman republic and the empire, which not only strikes back but goes down in a spectacular fiery crash between hedonism and complacence; the strategies frolicking around Europe during WWI, causing devastating arrogance wherever they went. Studying Carlin himself is a source of knowledge; the man is an expert at perspective-jumping, a required skill for any epic person.

Questions left unanswered: how to defeat a dictator with superior weaponry, every time. Case in point: the Boko Haram leader started out with a stick and the ability to yell, and he now has a good chunk of civilized society fearing his name. He should probably be assistant manager at my local Five Guys instead, because I would like to see his entrepreneurial spirit put to more delicious use than carnage and misery. I vote to rename this podcast Hardcore Hellions and start discussing some of the more recent avatars of the god of war.

Wallstreet Unplugged, with Frank Curzio

For those who wish to dabble in investing or are just curious, Curzio gives a newbie-friendly take on investing. Another good place to start is Ben Graham’s book The Intelligent Investor – though Curzio claims to derive his perspective partly from Graham’s writings, so you will acquire a filtered version of Graham’s opinions via the podcast. Curzio indirectly lends a broad perspective to universal questions like “how does a business succeed” and “what makes a design sell” through examining real business decisions.

Math Mutation

An extremely short and accessible glimpse into the colorful, analytical life of Erik Seligman as he covers math proofs both ancient and occurring today, as well as some mind-bending trivia and logic problems. What I enjoy about math is that, by the time you’ve attained understanding of a new problem type, your mind is bent, broken, beat-up, bemused, and better.

For the film-lovers

Rotten Tomatoes

If you’ve ever felt a desire for a look inside the mind of a film critic, this is a good place to start. You’ll be granted access to discussions of why a movie works or bombs, and will grow accustomed to the unique sound of an actor lying through their teeth.

How Did This Get Made

On the opposite end of the film spectrum is this celebration of truly awful movies, and the enchanting mental illness that funds their realization. If you love to gasp in horror at outdated special effects and actors so clearly out of their range, each episode will feel like a trip to the candy store.

For Biology Buffs

Found My Fitness

This is a video series by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, who talks about health issues in a relatable way for those interested in medicine and biology either conceptually or as a personal matter. If you or a loved one has had a health issue, Dr. Patrick may provide insights on it that will help you understand and possibly take control of your health like the beast it is.

Questions for Dr. Patrick: how to obtain more vitamin Hug in your diet. Also, when will she be designing a button interface to control my liver, cortexes, and heart, because I would appreciate more control over them and she seems knowledgable. Contemplate the possibilities we will have when you can control how drunk you get, how your memories are stored, and whether to destroy the fortress you’ve built around your heart. Here’s hoping Cupid will wise up and inspire love in Dr. Patrick’s heart for a Dr. Krieger-type individual, and we can enjoy organ switches in the imminent future.

For Interstellar Citizens

StarTalk Radio

For those of us who wish Carl Sagan was still alive, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is here to help – and he talks like a human. Tyson’s stellar guests and his quantum sense of humor will brighten any evening, especially when you’re in the mood to confront the intergalactic abyss. The likes of the SNL cast, the odd scientist, the Mythbusters, and a village’s worth of comedians regularly liven up the curiosities that Tyson summons into your universe. You’ll end the episode feeling educated and grateful for the strange circumstances that brought Tyson into our dimension.

Unanswered questions: Will Roko’s Basilisk allow Elon Musk to live another day, and is mentioning Roko’s Basilisk nourishing it? Is my soul just a bit on a disk playing the 9th symphony while the Basilisk cackles to the sound of chaos? Was the Big Bang just the universe getting a conscience, outgrowing its pot in the universal garden, ready for the responsibility of greater limitations? Is a moustache necessary for every bumbling yet successful private investigator to become a master at his or her craft? Are questions a good segue?

For Techies

This Developer’s Life, PHP Town Hall, the JavaScript Show, Programming Throwdown and JavaScript Jabber

These are personal favorites among the dozens of decent tech podcasts available for free – and my favorite way to get a heads-up on tech trends. Even if you don’t participate in any discussions about technology, listening to other people do so is a valuable source of methods for articulating your own tech challenge or vision.

If you’ve ever had a question specific to your field and a Google search didn’t provide a satisfactory answer (or just made you more curious), podcasts are a great way to define a framework for learning a new field – or, for the veterans, getting enchantingly pissed off when someone makes a point you don’t agree with. That, and listening to experts argue, are a few of my favorite extracurricular activities.

Maybe you’re interested in tech just for the thrill of learning – you certainly won’t get shade for that at NJI. There are too many corollaries between technology and the brain for learning about tech to be anything other than illuminating.

For the tech podcasts, I’d listen to them on a device on which you can skip ahead easily, for when they’re talking about one of your existing knowledge bases. Having to listen to someone explain something you already understand is the worst and should be punishable by two dozen lashes with hipster leashes, aka earphones. If you see a hipster without their leash, please notify HCS so they can be collected.

This list willfully skims over the powerhouse communities in the podcast world that most people have heard about – TED, the Economist, and NPR. What follows is a subset of my ever-growing wish-list of topics for future episodes, in hopes that the podcast railroad will chime in.


Podcast Wish-List

  •                   – Ideas that can remix your brain: an encyclopedia
  •                   – The hierarchy of concepts, and its family feuds
  •                   – How to stay challenged with a brain built for adaptation
  •                   – The keywords that will gain you access to every subculture
  •                   – The traveling questioner – Socrates’ journeys into and out of our brains
  •                   – Political strategies that have caused the rise of empires
  •                   – Choosing heroes: pitfalls, tips, and tricks
  •                   – How to implement a constitutional framework in a new political environment
  •                   – Conditions for success: the core components necessary for maximizing your potential
  •                   – The discovery of music: when words weren’t enough
  •                   – The formula determining the exchange between macro and micro market decisions
  •                   – Do limitations imprison or empower us, and how can we consistently access the latter?
  •                   – The great debate: argument techniques that work in edge situations
  •                   – Defeating the last great enemy: a study of time
  •                   – The building blocks of a great game
  •                   – My search for conscience, the elusive muse that can restore humanity
  •                   – Basic rights: examining those who have forged happiness from thin air
  •                   – How to create a system in which everyone can win, but effort and ethics are rewarded
  •                   – The power of gratitude; how appreciating what you have is a shortcut to awesome
  •                   – The impact your brain hardware has on your personality
  •                   – The science of bias, and how to rebel when your brain is in charge
  •                   – The stock formula: how Ben Bernanke’s facial hair journey can help you invest smart
  •                   – How to activate your outlier/legend chromosome
  •                   – The intersection of everyone’s utopia; how diverse paths to happiness build democracy
  •                   – The latest bioweapon threatening civilization; how to immunize yourself against apathy
  •                   – Curing addiction: how to replace components of an addiction with harmless substitutes
  •                   – The mechanics of funny: how expectations and comfort intersect with comedy
  •                   – Spoken currencies: how jokes, apologies, & compliments fluctuate in the verbal market
  •                   – Cures for the traveler’s curse: is drinking a glass of Bud Lite every time there’s a catfight
  •                   while watching Showgirls really the best way to rid yourself of Vegas Fever? Experts
  •                   explore the various symptoms of the fever, like reckless behavior, wearing sequins,
  •                   extra risk-taking, and imbibing fruity, fluorescent cocktails. Future episodes will
  •                   cover New York fever, accompanied by dreams gone wild and an intimate knowledge of
  •                   espresso standards; Paris fever, diagnosed by flights of romantic gestures, staring
  •                   out of windows and storming out of rooms, a taste for experimental delicacies, and
  •                   relationship drama; and Valley Fever, the strange condition characterized by breath-
  •                   less relation of an unexploited tech idea, only to Google and find it exists, Netflix-
  •                   binging, late-night brain-hurricanes, and commiseration at professional meetups.

The next Cross Culture episode may focus on brain-enhancing comics, blogs, news sites, or TV shows – stay tuned for more from the NJI team.

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