Thursday, September 30, 2021

#International Podcast Day 2021

It is #InternationalPodcastDay and I would like to share my favorite podcasts (share yours with the hashtag). These are all easily searchable:

Breaking Points w/ Krystal & Sagar (my go-to political report)

Huberman Lab (essential & accessible neuroscience for a healthy brain & body - changed my life)

Weird Studies (high level discussion of the esoteric works/movements of art & culture - sends me chasing down all kinds of leads)

Creative Codex (a great exploration of artists & creativity)

Joe Rogan Experience (love him or hate him, he has an extraordinary range of people across the discursive spectrum engaging through in-depth conversations)

Your Undivided Attention (associated with the documentary Social Dilemma and The Center for Humane Technology - Tristan Harris examines contemporary concerns regarding social media and the breakdown of civil discourse)

The Evolution of Horror (providing a thematic series on horror in film)

Very Bad Wizards (wide ranging intellectual explorations)

The Magic Lantern (a great conversational exploration of films)

Love That Album (in depth exploration of great albums)

Philosophize This! (I wish Mr. West had been my philosophy professor)

Projections (Mary Wild's and Sarah Kathyrn Cleaver's psychoanalytical journey through film)

The Projection Booth (Mike White's long running and crazily productive, in-depth examination of the far reaches of the cinematic universe, with an incredible group of supporting thinkers and guests with connections to the particular film. I really can't summarize how amazing this podcast is ...)

See Hear (A journey through musical expression and exploration in film)

The Final Girls (British podcast producing multi-episode examinations of current films right when I get interested in them... it is uncanny. Latest examples Cam and Censor.)

Historiansplaining (Challenges the common assumptions of historical knowledge and provide a good corrective to misinformation - especially for those that think they know history)

On Being - (provides me with a wide range of thinkers & activists exploring the spiritual side of life)

On the Media - (essential breakdown of the issues and problems associated with the chattering class in mainstream media)

Film Comment Podcast - (high level discussions with a range of experts and interviews with the filmmakers)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Cloud Atlas (Germany/USA/Hong Kong/Singapore: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, 2012)




 Cloud Atlas (Germany/USA/Hong Kong/Singapore: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, 2012: 172 mins)


Cloud Atlas and Bound." Sound on Sight #337 (October 28, 2012)

Darghis, Manohla and A.O. Scott. "Film is Dead? Long Live Movies: How Digital is Changing the Nature of Movies." The New York Times (September 9, 2012)

Ebert, Roger. "Castles in the Sky." Chicago-Sun Times (October 24, 2012)

Guo, Ting. "Cloud Atlas." Journal of Religion & Film 17.2 (October 2013)

Hemon, Aluksander. "Beyond the Matrix: The Wachowskis travel to even more mind-bending realms." The New Yorker (September 10, 2012)

Kane, Brad. "Cloud Atlas One Year Later: Why 2012’s Biggest Flop is Also its Biggest Triumph." Tor (October 23, 2013) 

Kunkel, Benjamin. "Dystopia and the End of Politics." Dissent (Fall 2008)

Like Stories of Old. "The Philosophy of Cloud Atlas: How Beauty Will Save the World." (Posted on Youtube: February 14, 2018) ["The philosophy of Cloud Atlas through the lens of Fyodor DostoevskyJose Saramago, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn."]

McGrath, Charles. Bending Time, Bending Minds: Cloud Atlas, as Rendered by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis The New York Times (October 9, 2012)

Rosilio, Tommy. "Cloud Atlas: Cinematic Liberation from Conformity and Oppression." Film Cred (June 17, 2021) 

Scott, A.O. "Souls Tangled Up in Time." The New York Times (October 25, 2012)

Sheu, C.J. "Cloud Atlas: When the Film Is Better Than the Book." Critics at Large (July 10, 2018)

Sicinski, Michael. "Star Maps: Wachowski/Tykwer/Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas." Cinema-Scope (2012)













Monday, September 13, 2021

Michael Benton: Social media is superficial, only if we let it be

Social media is superficial, only if we let it be.

There was a small time when the ability to communicate with people across vast spaces was a revolutionary thing. We were excited by the ability to engage with others in a way we never dreamed was possible. It was a moment when it seemed the world was going to tip over, perhaps most vividly for me during the 1999 Seattle WTO Protests when we saw the power of the intersectional alliances that had never seemed possible happening in American streets and a burgeoning IndyMedia movement bringing people across the globe together in a way we have only recently begun to see happen again (the young people demanding change in the BLM, Sunrise, LGBTQ, etc... movements). Then 9/11 hit and suddenly our (privileged/limited) world order collapsed in reactionary fear. If only we had instead joined a sympathetic rest-of-the-world in solidarity instead of reactionary, warlike, ignorant fear toward 'others'. Afterward our culture, especially the mediasphere and our built environments, began to collapse into a state of corporate control and political paranoia. I think of that earlier time with nostalgia - both for the dream (it obviously was a fantasy if it collapsed so easily) of what could have been and the sense of immense loss. The world was literally lined up in support of America at that moment and we could have made it a moment of coming together to heal/commune/organize. Our worlds became privatized, locked down, and information began to be controlled again... literally became the "internet of things" instead of what we hoped would be a burgeoning forum of ideas and creativity. At the same time this dominant flow of controlled information became a part of our lives in a way that we never experienced before. When we woke up, for some never waking up, until we went to asleep, and for others never being able to sleep soundly - even if we are not active participants in that mediasphere (because those around us are and none of us are complete hermits).

I don't know what my point is...... just thinking because I am conscious.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

ENG 102: Science and Technology

"Access to healthcare is a spiritual issue, deeply rooted in a compassionate world view. Currently, in America, more than 40 million people are uninsured and millions more have insurance with such a high deductible that they cannot afford to use it. It is estimated that 22,000 Americans die prematurely every year because of a lack of access to healthcare. Why can't we cover everyone? Why do we spend twice as much as every other western democracy while getting less than France, Belgium, England, etc.? Why are politicians on both sides of the political spectrum seemingly in the pocket of healthcare insurance and pharmaceutical companies . . . and why are most churches silent about this travesty?" - source

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Abramson, John. "Big Pharma." Lex Fridman Podcast (February 10, 2022) ["John Abramson is faculty at Harvard Medical School and a family physician for over two decades. He’s the author of the new book Sickening about how big pharma broke American healthcare and how we can fix it."]

---. Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It. Mariner Books, 2022. ["The inside story of how Big Pharma’s relentless pursuit of ever-higher profits corrupts medical knowledge—misleading doctors, misdirecting American health care, and harming our health. The United States spends an excess $1.5 trillion annually on health care compared to other wealthy countries—yet the amount of time that Americans live in good health ranks a lowly 68th in the world. At the heart of the problem is Big Pharma, which funds most clinical trials and therefore controls the research agenda, withholds the real data from those trials as corporate secrets, and shapes most of the information relied upon by health care professionals. In this no-holds-barred exposé, Dr. John Abramson—one of the foremost experts on the drug industry’s deceptive tactics—combines patient stories with what he learned during many years of serving as an expert in national drug litigation to reveal the tangled web of financial interests at the heart of the dysfunction in our health-care system. For example, one of pharma’s best-kept secrets is that the peer reviewers charged with ensuring the accuracy and completeness of the clinical trial reports published in medical journals do not even have access to complete data and must rely on manufacturer-influenced summaries. Likewise for the experts who write the clinical practice guidelines that define our standards of care. The result of years of research and privileged access to the inner workings of the U.S. medical-industrial complex, Sickening shines a light on the dark underbelly of American health care—and presents a path toward genuine reform."]

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (BBC: Adam Curtis, 2011) ["A series of films about how humans have been colonized by the machines they have built. Although we don’t realize it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. It claims that computers have failed to liberate us and instead have distorted and simplified our view of the world around us."]

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Almaaita, Zaynah. "Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018 - #22 Big Pharma’s Biostitutes: Corporate Media Ignore Root Cause of Opioid Crisis." Project Censored (October 2, 2018) ["The beginning of the opioid crisis, Martin reported, goes back to drug manufacturing companies hiring “biostitutes,” a derogatory term for biological scientists hired to misrepresent research or commit fraud in order to protect their employers’ corporate interests. As Martin reported, research by biostitutes was used to make the (misleading) case that opioids could treat pain without the risk of addiction. Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, and McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen, which distribute that drug and other opioids, suppressed research that showed how addictive opioids are, and they began to push doctors to write more prescriptions on behalf of the “needs” of consumers.  In particular, Papantonio said, distributors targeted the nation’s poorer communities, including industrial cities with high unemployment rates, such as Detroit, and economically-stressed mining communities, as in West Virginia. Such mercenary practices not only impacted the individuals who became addicted, they also ravaged the finances of the targeted cities and counties. As Papantonio told The Empire Files, the opioid crisis has required local government expenditures for everything from new training for emergency medical responders, to the purchase of Naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) for treating opioid overdoses, to the expansion of dependency courts to handle the cases of neglected or abused children, and the retooling of jails as de facto rehabilitation centers—all of which have come out of city and county budgets. In his Empire Files interview, Papantonio estimated that the cost for a “typical community” fell between “ninety and two hundred million dollars—that’s just the beginning number.”]

Alter, Adam. "The Rise of Addictive Technology." Radio West (March 5, 2018) ["Marketing professor Adam Alter begins his new book by noting that Steve Jobs didn’t let his own children use an iPad, a product he invented, because he was worried they’d get addicted to it. That’s what Alter’s book is about: our increasing addiction to technology. These days, we aren’t just hooked on substances, like drugs and alcohol. We’re addicted to video games, social media, porn, email, and lots more. Alter joins us to explore the business and psychology of irresistible technologies."]

Amer, Karim, Emma Briant and Brittany Kaiser. "The Weaponization of Data: Cambridge Analytica, Information Warfare & the 2016 Election of Trump." Democracy Now (January 10, 2020) ["We continue our conversation with the directors of The Great Hack, Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, as well as former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser and propaganda researcher Emma Briant, about Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL Group’s history as a defense contractor. “We’re in a state of global information warfare now,” Briant says. “How do we know if our militaries develop technologies and the data that it has gathered on people, for instance, across the Middle East … how do we know when that is turning up in Yemen or when that is being utilized by an authoritarian regime against the human rights of its people or against us? How do we know that it’s not being manipulated by Russia, by Iran, by anybody who’s an enemy, by Saudi Arabia, for example, who SCL were also working with? We have no way of knowing, unless we open up this industry and hold these people properly accountable for what they’re doing.”"]

Anderson, Justin. "Who Will Take on the 21st Century Tech and Media Monopolies?" FAIR (April 10, 2018) ["After decades of regulatory neglect, Big Tech is finally coming under the microscope."]

Arnoff, Kate. "Trump Curbs the Circulation of Science." On the Media (May 31, 2019) ["Last weekend, The New York Times reported on a host of aggressive new obstacles placed by Trump administration to stymie the dissemination of federal climate research. One new rule prevents certain agencies from publishing findings after 2040. A second will omit the National Climate Assessment's "worst case scenario" projection. And finally, a panel of climate deniers will oversee and regulate the release of all federally funded climate research. In this interview, Bob speaks with Kate Aronoff, who recently wrote about these regulations for The Guardian. She explains how these alarming new restrictions fit into the Trump administration's larger pattern of limiting public access to the truth about the climate."]

Ashcroft, Richard, David Healy and Emily Jackson. "Brave New World." The Philosophy Forum (March 2, 2019)  ["In this age of utopian technologies, we can design mechanical limbs for amputees and chemically engineer happiness for depressives. From the fluoride in our water to genetically modified babies, scientific advances pose complex new ethical questions. We explore the major bioethical issues of our time. Is philosophy braced for this brave new world? Are scientists and engineers morally obliged to design a utopia? Or are things best left to ‘nature’? Speakers: Richard Ashcroft, Professor of Bioethics, Queen Mary University of London; David Healy, Professor of Psychiatry, Bangor University; Emily Jackson, Professor of Law, LSE."]

Bailey, Buckey, Rob Bilot and Joe Kiger. "DuPont vs. the World: Chemical Giant Covered Up Health Risks of Teflon Contamination Across Globe." Democracy Now (January 23, 2018) ["“The Devil We Know,” that looks at how former DuPont employees, residents and lawyers took on the chemical giant to expose the danger of the chemical C8, found in Teflon and countless household products—from stain- and water-resistant apparel to microwave popcorn bags to dental floss. The chemical has now been linked to six diseases, including testicular and kidney cancers. We speak with Bucky Bailey, whose mother worked in the Teflon division of a DuPont plant in West Virginia while she was pregnant with him, and who was born with only one nostril and a deformed eye and has undergone more than 30 surgeries to fix the birth defects; Joe Kiger, lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against DuPont, and a school teacher in Parkersburg, West Virginia, who suffered from liver disease; and Rob Bilott, the attorney that brought DuPont to court."]

Baral, Stefan, Lucy McBride and Vinay Prasad. "Bringing Sanity to the Omicron Chaos: Three Doctors Weigh In." Honestly (January 14, 2022) ["Have you hit a wall with Covid? We have. The irrationality of the current policies and conversations surrounding Covid—guidelines that are coming from our public health authorities; rules coming from our schools and our workplaces; and information coming from our media—is making skeptics out of even the most compliant. What gives? Why do things seem so nonsensical? Who should we trust? How can we get back to normal—or at least some semblance of normal? And how can we do it responsibly and safely? To answer these questions, we brought together three doctors who have been islands of sanity in a sea of misinformation and confusion. Dr. Vinay Prasad is an associate professor of epidemiology at UCSF. Dr. Stefan Baral is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. And Dr. Lucy McBride is a practicing internist in Washington D.C., and author of a popular COVID-19 newsletter."]

Barry, Sarah, et al. "Enzymes." In Our Time (June 1, 2017)  ["Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss enzymes, the proteins that control the speed of chemical reactions in living organisms. Without enzymes, these reactions would take place too slowly to keep organisms alive: with their actions as catalysts, changes which might otherwise take millions of years can happen hundreds of times a second. Some enzymes break down large molecules into smaller ones, like the ones in human intestines, while others use small molecules to build up larger, complex ones, such as those that make DNA. Enzymes also help keep cell growth under control, by regulating the time for cells to live and their time to die, and provide a way for cells to communicate with each other."]

Beck, Ulrich and Bruno Latour. "How To Think About Science (Part 5)." Ideas (February 11, 2015) ["Few people ever apply a name that sticks to an entire social order, but sociologist Ulrich Beck is one of them. In 1986 in Germany he published Risk Society, and the name has become a touchstone in contemporary sociology. Among the attributes of Risk Society is the one he just mentioned: science has become so powerful that it can neither predict nor control its effects. It generates risks too vast to calculate. In the era of nuclear fission, genetic engineering and a changing climate, society itself has become a scientific laboratory. In this episode, Ulrich Beck talks about the place of science in a risk society. Later in the hour you'll hear from another equally influential European thinker, Bruno Latour, the author of We Have Never Been Modern. He will argue that our very future depends on overcoming a false dichotomy between nature and culture."]

Benjamin, Medea and Trevor Timm. "Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control." Law and Disorder (July 9, 2012) ["Earlier this year, human rights advocates, robotics technology experts, lawyers, journalists and activists gathered to bring detailed up to date information about the widespread and rapidly expanding deployment of both lethal and surveillance drones, including drone use in the United States. We hear excerpts of 2 presentations delivered at the drone conference in Washington DC titled Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control."]

Benjamin, Ruha. "The Social Dimensions of Science, Technology and Medicine." Northwestern Digital Learning Project #12 (June 5, 2019) [" Dr. Ruha Benjamin, a professor of African-American studies at Princeton University and the author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier and the forthcoming Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. She has studied the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine for just over 15 years and speaks widely on issues of innovation, equity, health, and justice."]

Berger, John J. Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science. Berkeley, CA: Northbrae Books, 2013. [Available in the BCTC Library]

Bigger Stronger Faster (USA: Christopher Bell, 2008: 105 mins) ["In America, we define ourselves in the superlative: we are the biggest, strongest, fastest country in the world. Is it any wonder that so many of our heroes are on performance enhancing drugs? Director Christopher Bell explores America’s win-at-all-cost culture by examining how his two brothers became members of the steroid-subculture in an effort to realize their American dream."

Binney, William. "Growing State Surveillance." Democracy Now (April 20, 2012) ["In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cellphone calls, Google searches and other personal data. Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance. This interview is part of a 5-part special on state surveillance."]


Blase, Martin. "Missing Microbes." Radio West (April 28, 2014) ["Your body is host to about 100 trillion bacterial cells that form your microbiome, the complex ecosystem of microorganisms on which your life depends. Today, our microbiomes are threatened by a loss of species diversity that could be our undoing. In a new book, Dr. Martin Blaser argues that our obsession with hygiene and overuse of antibiotics has bleached our microbiomes, making them weak and making us more susceptible to dangerous new diseases."]

Bonneval, Karine, Paco Calvo and Tom Greaves. "Plants." The Forum for Philosophy (April 2019) ["Philosophers have long assumed that plants are inferior to humans and animals: static, inert, and unreflective. But recent scientific advances suggest that we may have underestimated plants. They can process information, solve problems, and communicate. We explore what plants can teach us about intelligence and agency, and ask whether plants think."]

Bould, Mark. "G: Unfit." Radiolab (July 17, 2019) ["When a law student named Mark Bold came across a Supreme Court decision from the 1920s that allowed for the forced sterilization of people deemed “unfit,” he was shocked to discover that it had never been overturned. His law professors told him the case, Buck v Bell, was nothing to worry about, that the ruling was in a kind of legal limbo and could never be used against people. But he didn’t buy it. In this episode we follow Mark on a journey to one of the darkest consequences of humanity’s attempts to measure the human mind and put people in boxes, following him through history, science fiction and a version of eugenics that’s still very much alive today, and watch as he crusades to restore a dash of moral order to the universe."]

Brea, Jennifer. "Unrest." Film School (October 7, 2017) ["Jennifer Brea is a Harvard PhD student soon to be engaged to the love of her life when she’s struck down by a mysterious fever that leaves her bedridden. She becomes progressively more ill, eventually losing the ability even to sit in a wheelchair, but doctors tell her it’s “all in her head.” Unable to convey the seriousness and depth of her symptoms to her doctor, Jennifer begins a video diary on her iPhone that eventually becomes the feature documentary film Unrest. Once Jennifer is diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome, she and her new husband, Omar, are left to grapple with how to live in the face of a lifelong illness. Refusing to accept the limitations of bedbound life, Jennifer goes on an inspiring virtual voyage around the world where she finds a hidden community of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms by ME. These patients use the internet, Skype and Facebook to connect to each other — and to offer support and understanding. Many ME patients have experienced uncertainty, confusion and even disbelief from the medical community and society as a whole. After all, it’s easy to ignore a disease when patients are too sick to leave their homes. In Unrest, Jennifer shares her pain and the most intimate moments of her life in order to offer hope and visibility to those who suffer alone in dark, silent rooms. Though Jennifer and Omar may have to accept that they will never live the life they originally dreamed about, together they find resilience, strength, and meaning in their community and each other. Director, subject and activist Jennifer Brea joins us to talk about her journey, illness and her determination to make things better for people living with ME."]


Browne, Simone.  Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. Duke University Press, 2015. ["In Dark Matters Simone Browne locates the conditions of blackness as a key site through which surveillance is practiced, narrated, and resisted. She shows how contemporary surveillance technologies and practices are informed by the long history of racial formation and by the methods of policing black life under slavery, such as branding, runaway slave notices, and lantern laws. Placing surveillance studies into conversation with the archive of transatlantic slavery and its afterlife, Browne draws from black feminist theory, sociology, and cultural studies to analyze texts as diverse as the methods of surveilling blackness she discusses: from the design of the eighteenth-century slave ship Brooks, Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, and The Book of Negroes, to contemporary art, literature, biometrics, and post-9/11 airport security practices. Surveillance, Browne asserts, is both a discursive and material practice that reifies boundaries, borders, and bodies around racial lines, so much so that the surveillance of blackness has long been, and continues to be, a social and political norm."]

Brynjolfsson, Erik, et al. "On the New Era of AI." Open Source (October 19, 2017) ["The “intelligence explosion” foretold 50 years ago, could be here any minute. Artificial intelligence has now survived the “AI winter” — and is back in public conversation. It’s not just a Silicon Valley buzzword or a subject for speculative fiction, but a real possibility on the tech horizon, with real money backing it. As the machines move beyond just beating their masters’s in games like Chess and Go and start honing in on deep learning, neural networking, and “Big Data” sorting, we’re asking the Big Question: where’s this whole thing going?"]

Buss, David. "How Humans Select & Keep Romantic Partners in Short & Long Term." The Huberman Lab (November 29, 2021) ["... Dr. David Buss, Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, and one of the founding members of the field of evolutionary psychology. Dr. Buss describes his work on how people select mates for short and long-term relationships, the dynamics of human courtship, and mate value assessment — meaning how people measure up as potential partners. Dr. Huberman and Dr. Buss also discuss the causes of infidelity and differences for infidelity in men and women. Dr. Buss explains how people evaluate and try to alter other people’s mate value as a means to secure and even poach mates. Dr. Huberman and Dr. Buss discuss monogamous and non-monogamous relationships in humans. And they discuss what Dr. Buss calls “the dark triad”— features common in stalkers and narcissists that relate to sexual and psychological violence in relationships. This episode is sure to be of interest to anyone single or in a relationship who seeks to know how people select mates and anyone who is interested in forming and maintaining healthy romantic partnerships." Discusses his two recent books: When Men Behave Badly: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment, and Assault and The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating]

Collins, Francis. "National Institutes of Health (NIH)." Lex Fridman #238 (November 5, 2021) [Francis Collins has been appointed/reappointed by the last three presidential administrations, is the direct boss of Anthony Fauci, and oversees medical research in the US.  Timestamps of topics discussed: (00:00) –Introduction; (07:44) – Lab-leak theory; (10:51) – Gain-of-function research of viruses; (23:00) – Bioterrorism; (27:30) – Tony Fauci; (37:41) – COVID Vaccines; (43:46) – Joe Rogan; (50:49) – Variants; (55:31) – Rapid at home testing; (59:44) – Animal testing; (1:05:09) – Stepping down as director of the NIH; (1:09:03) – Barack Obama; (1:11:06) – Accelerating Medicines Partnership; (1:21:44) – Faith; (1:27:12) – Fear of death; (1:30:15) – Meaning of life.]

The Consilience Project. "How Big Tech is Reshaping Governance." The Consilience Project (December 22, 2021) ["Technology companies such as Facebook and Google have become some of the most influential organizations in the modern world. These companies are not ordinary businesses that just happen to operate at massive scale; in fact, they are influencing society in new and profound ways. Large tech companies are taking on some of the powers and responsibilities of institutions such as news media and governments, replacing previous systems and norms with centralized control based on mass data collection and algorithmic curation. Social media companies in particular have privatized the public sphere. If it continues, this trend threatens to break the functioning of democratic self-government."]

---. "Social Media Enables Undue Influence."  The Consilience Project (December 5, 2021)  ["Historically, propaganda has often existed alongside a free-thinking population and robust educational institutions. A threshold has been crossed with the emergence of microtargeted computational propaganda delivered through social media. Social media contexts are fundamentally different from broadcast technologies because they function as a public space and therefore afford powerful psychological and social pressures. Coercive communication is not just part of the environment, as it was in the past. Coercive communication now constitutes the environment itself. Without intervention, these technologies will continue to destroy our minds and communities. Their power to sway our psychology is already undermining the legitimacy of voting as an aspect of government. Their algorithms capture economic choice dynamics, directing consumer behavior, as social media companies stand in as a new “invisible hand” shaping the market. These technologies present a clear and present danger. What can be done?"]

Goodall, Jane. "What It Means to Be Human." On Being (November 25, 2021) ["Jane Goodall’s early research studying chimpanzees helped shape the self-understanding of our species and recalled modern Western science to the fact that we are a part of nature, not separate from it. In honor of the publication of her 32nd book — The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times — we’re re-releasing her beautiful conversation with Krista over Zoom from pandemic lockdown. From her decades studying chimpanzees in the Gombe forest to her more recent years attending to human poverty and misunderstanding, the legendary primatologist reflects on the moral and spiritual convictions that have driven her, and what she is teaching and still learning about what it means to be human."]

Gillett, Kyle and Andrew Huberman. "Optimize Your Hormones." The Huberman Lab (April 13, 2022) ["My guest is Dr. Kyle Gillett, MD, a dual board-certified physician in family medicine and obesity medicine and an expert in optimizing hormone levels to improve overall health and well-being in both men and women. We discuss how to improve hormones using behavioral, nutritional, and exercise-based tools and safely and rationally approach supplementation and hormone therapies. We discuss testosterone and estrogen and how those hormones relate to fertility, mood, aging, relationships, disease pathologies, thyroid hormone, growth hormone, prolactin, dopamine and peptides that impact physical and mental health and vitality across the lifespan. The episode is rich with scientific mechanisms and tools for people to consider."]

Harris, Tristan and Aza Raskin. "Mr. Harris Zooms to Washington." Your Undivided Attention (May 10, 2021) ["Back in January 2020, Tristan Harris went to Washington, D.C. to testify before the U.S. Congress on the harms of social media. A few weeks ago, he returned — virtually — for another hearing, Algorithms and Amplification: How Social Media Platforms’ Design Choices Shape Our Discourse and Our Minds. He testified alongside Dr. Joan Donovan, Research Director at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media Politics and Public Policy and the heads of policy from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The senators’ animated questioning demonstrated a deeper understanding of how these companies’ fundamental business models and design properties fuel hate and misinformation, and many of the lawmakers expressed a desire and willingness to take regulatory action. But there’s still room for a more focused conversation. “It’s not about whether they filter out bad content,” says Tristan, “but really whether the entire business model of capturing human performance is a good way to organize society.” In this episode, a follow-up to last year’s “Mr. Harris Goes to Washington,” Tristan and Aza Raskin debrief about what was different this time, and what work lies ahead to pave the way for effective policy."]

Harris, Tristan and Daniel Schmachtenberger. "The Problem of Social Media."  The Joe Rogan Experience #1736 (November 18, 2021) ["Tristan Harris is a former Google design ethicist, co-founder and president of the Center for Humane Technology, and co-host of the Center for Humane Technology’s "Your Undivided Attention" podcast with Aza Raskin. Daniel Schmachtenberger is a founding member of The Consilience Project, aimed at improving public sensemaking and dialogue."]

Harris, Tristan, Frank Luntz and Daniel Schmachtenberger. "The Facebook Files." Your Undivided Attention (September 21, 2021) ["On September 13th, the Wall Street Journal released The Facebook Files, an ongoing investigation of the extent to which Facebook's problems are meticulously known inside the company — all the way up to Mark Zuckerberg. Pollster Frank Luntz invited Tristan Harris along with friend and mentor Daniel Schmachtenberger to discuss the implications in a live webinar. In this bonus episode of Your Undivided Attention, Tristan and Daniel amplify the scope of the public conversation about The Facebook Files beyond the platform, and into its business model, our regulatory structure, and human nature itself."]

Hattar, Samar and Andrew Huberman. "Timing Light, Food, & Exercise for Better Sleep, Energy & Mood." Huberman Lab (October 25, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman hosts Dr. Samer Hattar, Chief of the Section on Light and Circadian Rhythms at the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Hattar is a world-renowned expert on how viewing light at particular times adjusts our mood, ability to learn, stress and hormone levels, appetite, and mental health. They discuss how to determine and use your individual light sensitivity to determine the optimal sleep-wake cycle for you. They also discuss how to combine your light viewing and waking time with the timing of your food intake and exercise in order to maximize mental and physical functioning. Dr. Hattar is credited with co-discovering the neurons in the eye that set our circadian clocks and regulate mood and appetite. He explains why even a small shift in daylight savings leads to outsized effects on our biking because of the way that our cells and circadian clocks integrate across many days. And he offers precise tools to rapidly adjust to jetlag, shift work, and reset your clock after a late night of work or socializing. This episode is filled with cutting-edge data on the biological mechanisms of human physiology and practical tools for people of all ages."]

 Huberman, Andrew. "ADHD & How Anyone Can Improve Their Focus." Huberman Lab (September 13, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder): what it is, the common myths, and the biology and psychology of ADHD. He discusses both behavioral and pharmacologic treatments for ADHD and brain-machine interface tools. Dr. Huberman also discusses behavioral training protocols that can improve focus in people with ADHD and those without ADHD and for people of different ages. He discusses the role of dopamine in coordinating ‘default-mode’ and ‘task-related’ neural networks, attentional “blinks” (lapses of attention) and how to overcome them, and the role of actual blinks in time perception and attention. Finally, Dr. Huberman reviews some of the prescription and over-the-counter compounds for increasing focus, such as Adderall, Ritalin, Modafinil and Armodafinil, the racetams, Alpha-GPC and phosphatidylserine and the role of diet for managing ADHD (and the controversies of diet for ADHD).
The role of cell phones/technology in ADHD and ADHD-like challenges with focus are also discussed. Throughout, both basic science and clinical scenarios, as well as applicable tools and resources, are covered."]

---. "Controlling Your Dopamine for Motivation, Focus, and Satisfaction." Huberman Lab (September 27, 2021) ["This episode serves as a sort of “Dopamine Masterclass.” Dr. Huberman discusses the immensely powerful chemical that we all make in our brain and body: dopamine. He describes what it does and the neural circuits involved. He explains dopamine peaks and baselines and the cell biology of dopamine depletion. Dr. Huberman includes 14 tools for how to control your dopamine release for the sake of motivation, focus, avoiding and combating addiction and depression. He explains why dopamine stacking with chemicals and behaviors inevitably leads to states of underwhelm and poor performance. He explains how to achieve sustained increases in baseline dopamine, compounds that injure and protect dopamine neurons, including caffeine, from specific sources. Dr. Huberman describes non-prescription supplements for increasing dopamine—both their benefits and risks—and the synergy of pro-dopamine supplements with those that increase acetylcholine." Huberman recommends two books: Anna Lembke's Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence and Daniel Z. Lieberman's and Michael Long's The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and Will Determine the Fate of the Human.] Race]

---. "Effects of Fasting & Time-Restricted Eating on Fat Loss and Health." Huberman Lab (October 11, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses the science and practice of fasting, also called time-restricted feeding. He reviews the data on how limiting food intake to specific portions of every 24-hour cycle (or fasting longer) impacts weight loss, fat loss specifically, liver health, mental focus, muscle, longevity and more. Dr. Huberman explains how “fasted” is contextual and relates to blood glucose levels and their downstream effects, and how the depth of fasting can be adjusted with behaviors such as different types of exercise or with glucose disposal agents. He also discusses the optimal fasting protocol: and both the absolute (non-negotiable) and variable (contextual) features of a fasting/time-restricted-feeding protocol that will allow you to get the most benefits. He also discusses what does and does not break a fast, the effects of fasting on hormones like testosterone and cortisol, and fertility. Dr. Huberman also reviews how different feeding windows of 8 or 10 or 4 hours differentially impact the effects of fasting and why the classic 8 hour feeding window came to be but also might be ideal. He discusses mechanisms and offers tools to discern the optimal fasting duration and timing for you."]

---. "Erasing Fears & Trauma Based on the Modern Neuroscience of Fear." Huberman Lab (December 6, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses fear and trauma, including the neural circuits involved in the “threat reflex” and how specific experiences and memories activate that system. He also discusses how our body is involved in trauma and fear. First, Dr. Huberman describes the logic of fear mechanisms and how “top-down” processing–meaning connections from the parts of the brain that assign meaning to our feelings, are involved in fear and erasing fears and traumas. Then he discusses what successful fear and trauma treatment must include and considers various treatments for whether they meet that standard, such as EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Ketamine, other drug-assisted therapies, and more. Dr. Huberman also reviews new data on how 5 minutes per day of deliberate, self-imposed stress can erase fear and depression. And he reviews the role that social connection plays in erasing or maintaining fears by activating specific molecular pathways in the brain and body. Finally, he reviews supplementation with over-the-counter compounds for their effects on anxiety and fear and when to take them, if at all."]

---. "Healthy Eating & Eating Disorders – Anorexia, Bulimia, Binging." Huberman Lab (September 6, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses what drives hunger and satiety and the role our brain, stomach, fat and hormones play in regulating hunger and turning off the desire to eat more. He also addresses how protein is assimilated better early in the day than it is later in the day and why those using intermittent fasting might want to shift their feeding window to earlier in the day. Then he delves into the topic of disorders of eating: Anorexia Nervosa, where people starve themselves and Bulimia Nervosa, where people binge and purge their food. Dr. Huberman discusses some common myths about Anorexia, such as the role of media images increasing the rates of Anorexia and the myth of the “perfectionist” anorexic. He also reviews the symptoms and the brain and chemical systems disrupted in this condition. He explains how anorexics become hyperaware of the fat content of foods and develop reflexive habits of fat-hyperawareness. Then Dr. Huberman discusses the most effective treatments ranging from family-based models to those that target the habitual nature of low-fat/calorie food choices. He also discusses new, more experimental clinical trials on MDMA, Psilocybin and Ibogaine for Anorexia and both their promise and risks. Dr. Huberman reviews the latest work on binge eating disorder and brain stimulation, drug treatments and thyroid disruption in Bulimia and why the treatments for Bulimia are so similar to those for ADHD. Finally, he discusses “cheat days,” body dysmorphia and the growing list of novel forms of eating disorders from start to finish. As always, science and science-based tools are discussed."]

---. "How to Enhance Your Gut Microbiome for Brain & Overall Health." The Huberman Lab #61 (February 28, 2022) ["In this episode, I discuss the profound effect the gut has on the nervous system. I cover the structure and function of the gut-brain axis and the role of the gut microbiome in the brain and overall health. I describe how the gut controls hunger or satiety by affecting neurons in our brain. I also contrast the many pathways by which the gut influences the brain: direct vs. indirect pathways, chemical vs. mechanical, and fast vs. slow signaling. Additionally, I discuss what defines a healthy microbiome and how your lifestyle impacts the gut microbiome, including the effects of stress, fasting, antibiotics, pets, environment, prebiotics and probiotics. I address how different foods shape the gut microbiome, in particular, the emerging data that fermented foods can increase the diversity of healthy gut microbiota. Throughout the episode, I explain peer-reviewed and textbook findings that reveal the critical role of the gut microbiome in supporting mental and physical health and I outline simple tools that anyone can use in order to enhance their gut microbiome health."]

---. "How Your Brain Works and Changes." The Huberman Lab #1 (January 4, 2021) ["... an introduction to how the nervous system works to create sensations, perceptions, emotions, thoughts and behaviors, as well as how we can change our nervous system— a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. The information sets the stage for all Huberman Lab Podcast episodes that follow by covering neurons, synapses, brain chemicals and the rhythms that control our ability to focus, learn and sleep… and more."]

---. "Master Your Sleep & Be More Alert When Awake." The Huberman Lab #2 (January 11, 2021) ["Today’s episode provides a host of information on what makes us sleepy, sleep soundly, and feel awake and alert. It covers a broad range of tools for anyone wishing to improve their sleep and wakeful state. The science and logic for each tool are described."]

---. "Nutrients For Brain Health & Performance." The Huberman Lab #42 (October 18, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman describes science-supported nutrients for brain and performance (cognition) and general nervous system health. He describes ten tools for this purpose, including specific amounts and sources for Omega-3 fatty acids, which make up the “structural fat” of neurons (nerve cells) and allow them to function across our lifespan. He also reviews data on creatine, phosphatidylserine, anthocyanins, choline, glutamine and how they each impact brain function in healthy people seeking to reinforce and improve their cognition and in those combatting cognitive decline. Dr. Huberman describes both food-based and supplement-based sources for these compounds and their effective dose ranges based on peer-reviewed literature. Then he reviews the three factors: gut-brain signaling, perceived taste, and learned associations that combine with the metabolic and blood-sugar-elevating effects of food to determine what foods we seek and prefer. Amazingly, it’s not just about what tastes good to us. Next, Dr. Huberman explores how we can leverage the neural circuits of learned food preference toward seeking and enjoying the right foods for brain health and performance. He also reviews new data on non-caloric sweeteners and why consuming them with glucose-elevating foods can be detrimental, in some cases rapidly leading to insulin dysregulation. This episode covers more than ten actionable tools for those seeking to improve and/or maintain brain function. It explains modern neuroscience underlying our sense of taste, our food-seeking preferences, and brain metabolism."]

---. "The Science of Love, Desire, and Attachment." The Huberman Lab (February 14, 2022) ["In this episode, I discuss the psychology and biology of desire, love and attachment. I explain how childhood attachment types are thought to inform adult attachment styles to romantic partners, and I describe some of the major theories of human mate selection, relationships and infidelity. Additionally, I explore the neurobiology and proposed subconscious processing underlying desire, love and attachment, including the roles of empathy and “positive delusion”. I outline how self-awareness can shift one’s relationship attachment style towards securely bonded partnerships. Finally, I describe specific tools and supplements that have been researched to increase libido and sex drive. Throughout the episode, I explain the science and key mechanisms underlying romantic love and outline tools for those seeking to find a strong, healthy relationship, or for those wanting to strengthen an existing relationship."]

---. "The Science & Health Benefits of Deliberate Heat Exposure." The Huberman Lab (April 25, 2022) ["I describe the mechanisms by which deliberate heat exposure impacts body temperature, metabolism, heart health, hormone production, exercise recovery, cognition, mood, and longevity. I detail specific protocols for deliberate heat exposure, including exposure times, temperature ranges to consider, time of day, and delivery mechanisms (sauna vs. hot bath vs. open air heat, etc.) in order to achieve different specific outcomes, including dramatic growth hormone releases, or reduction in cortisol levels. I also discuss the ability of locally applied heat to heal or otherwise improve various bodily tissues and new data on how local application of heat may induce the conversion of metabolically sluggish white fat to metabolically robust beige fat."]

---. "Science of Social Bonding in Family, Friendship & Romantic Love." The Huberman Lab (December 20, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses the science of social bonding- the process by which we form attachments. He explains the neural and hormonal basis for “social homeostasis” (our drive for a given amount of socializing), which reveals why we get lonely, why we seek out connection with others and how power dynamics (hierarchies) shape those connections. Dr. Huberman also discusses the neurochemical basis of introversion and extroversion, of trust and how shared experiences that promote similar physiological states in two or more individuals lead to more rapid bonding. He also discusses how food and oxytocin play key roles in social bonding. This episode covers quality peer-reviewed science and practical tools for anyone seeking to find, build or end relationships."]

---. "Toolkit for Sleep." The Huberman Lab Podcast Neural Network (September 2021)

---. "Understanding and Conquering Depression." The Huberman Lab #34 (August 23, 2021) ["This episode, I explain what major depression is at the biological and psychological level and the various treatments that peer-reviewed studies have revealed can help prevent and treat depression. I explain the three major chemical systems that are altered in depression: norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. I discuss genetic predispositions to depression and how stress, thyroid hormone and cortisol play a role in many forms of depression. I also discuss inflammation as a common feature of many depression symptoms. I review 8 specific science-supported protocols for treating and avoiding depression, including EPA fatty acids (which have been shown to rival certain prescription treatments), how exercise protects against depression, studies of creatine, adjusting dopamine balance and more. I also discuss the results of ongoing clinical trials for ketamine and psilocybin for depression, how these compounds work and finally, I review how ketogenic diets can help in certain cases of depression, especially treatment-resistant major depression."]

---. "Using Light (Sunlight, Blue Light & Red Light) to Optimize Health." The Huberman Lab (April 18, 2022) ["I describe the mechanisms by which different wavelengths of light impact the cells, tissues and organs of the human body, and how specifically timed light exposure of specific wavelengths can be used to improve sleep, enhance alertness, modulate hormone levels, and improve mood. I also explain the use of ultraviolet and infrared phototherapies to relieve pain increase testosterone and estrogen levels; improve skin health, appearance and wound healing; and how red light can be used to offset age-related vision loss and provide neuroprotection. Throughout the episode, I describe the mechanisms of light-based therapies and actionable tools that people can use positively impact mental and physical health."]

---. "Using Play to Rewire & Improve Your Brain." The Huberman Lab (March 20, 2022) ["In this episode, I discuss the transformative nature of play—how it changes our feelings, thoughts and actions and indeed, how it can rewire our brain to function better in all contexts. I explain the role of play in childhood, as well as adulthood in skill and social development and describe key characteristics of the mind and body during play. Additionally, I explore how play allows the brain to test contingencies in different roles/environments. Throughout, I discuss the underlying neurobiology of play. I also describe how low-stakes play, and tinkering can broaden and shape your future capabilities. Finally, I discuss how our childhood ‘personal play identity’ informs our adult personality. Throughout the episode, I use the science of play to outline recommendations for using play as a means to enhance neuroplasticity and explore novel situations, regardless of age."]

---. "Using Your Nervous System to Enhance Your Immune System." The Huberman Lab #44 (November 1, 2021) ["This episode teaches you a lot about the immune system, immune-brain interactions and offers 12 potential tools for enhancing immune system function. I discuss how our immune system works and science-supported tools we can use to enhance our immune system. I discuss the innate and adaptive immune systems and our various microbiomes-- not just in our gut but also in our nose, eyes and mouth and how to keep them healthy. And I review how specific patterns of breathing and foods maintain a healthy mucosal barrier that is crucial for fighting infections. I discuss how certain neurochemicals called catecholamines enhance our immune system function and how to use specific breathing protocols, types and timing of heat and cold exposure, and, if appropriate, supplementation to activate catecholamines. I also discuss the role and use of serotonin for the sake of accessing the specific types of sleep for recovering from illness, and I discuss how to increase glymphatic "washout" of brain debris during sleep. I also review fever, the vagus nerve and the use of atypical yet highly effective compounds for rhinitis (nasal inflammation)."]

Huberman, Andrew and David Spiegel. "Using Hypnosis to Enhance Mental & Physical Health & Performance." Huberman Lab (February 21, 2022) ["... Dr. David Spiegel MD, Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Director of the Center on Stress and Health and Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Spiegel has more than 40 years of clinical and research experience with hypnosis, stress physiology, and psychotherapy. In this episode, we examine the role of clinical hypnosis for the treatment of trauma, chronic pain, anxiety and more. Dr. Spiegel explains how to determine your level of ‘hypnotizability’ and provides case studies of incredible successes with hypnosis to treat a variety of ailments. We also discuss how breathing, vision and directed mental focus can modulate internal states and enhance performance. Additionally, we discuss how the adoption of self-hypnosis techniques can reduce stress and enhance sleep in anyone. Dr. Spiegel teaches us how hypnosis works at the neural circuit level to enhance cognitive flexibility. Throughout the episode, Dr. Spiegel summarizes key clinical trials and peer-reviewed findings and resources to work with a trained clinical professional or to do guided self-hypnosis."]

Huberman, Andrew and Matthew Johnson. "Psychedelic Medicine." Huberman Lab (September 20, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses medical research on psychedelic compounds with Dr. Matthew Johnson, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. They discuss the biology and medical clinical-trial uses of psilocybin, MDMA, ayahuasca, DMT, and LSD. Dr. Johnson teaches us what the clinical trials in his lab reveal about the potential these compounds hold for the treatment of depression, addiction, trauma, eating disorders, ADHD, and other disorders of the mind. Dr. Johnson describes a typical psychedelic experiment in his laboratory, start to finish, including the conditions for optimal clinical outcomes. And he explains some of the potential hazards and common misconceptions and pitfalls related to psychedelic medicine. Dr. Johnson explains flashbacks, the heightened risks of certain people and age groups using psychedelics, and the evolving legal and pharmaceutical industry landscape surrounding psychedelics. Dr. Johnson also describes how the scientific study of psychedelics is likely to set the trajectory of psychiatric medicine in the years to come. Dr. Johnson is among a small handful of researchers who have pioneered the clinical study of these powerful compounds. He has unprecedented insight into how they can be woven into other psychiatric treatments, changing one’s sense of self and reality."]

Ioannidis, John P.A. "How the Pandemic Is Changing the Norms of Science." Tablet (September 8, 2021) ["Imperatives like skepticism and disinterestedness are being junked to fuel political warfare that has nothing in common with scientific methodology."]

Karlawish, Jason and Aaron Kesselheim. "A Disease of Humanity: The Problem of Alzheimer's." Open Source (June 24, 2021) ["Alzheimer’s disease, the hushed nightmare version of old age, is on the wrong side of medical news again. The headline shocker this month was that the watchdog Food and Drug Administration had approved an anti-Alzheimer’s drug from the pharma giant Biogen. The treatment called aducanumab has no record of success and a first-round price-tag per patient of $55,000 per year. Our keynote guest Aaron Kesselheim has the inside story of the FDA’s retreat from regulation. Then Jason Karlawish will join us from the front line of Alzheimer’s treatment. The riddle this hour is what makes the last stage of human life so demanding and so difficult." Jason Karlawish's new book is The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It."]

Kolk, Bessel van der. "Trauma, the Body, and 2021." On Being (November 11, 2021) ["When Krista interviewed the psychiatrist and trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk for the first time, his book The Body Keeps the Score was about to be published. She described him then as “an innovator in treating the effects of overwhelming experiences on people and society.” She catches up with him in 2021 — as we are living through one vast overwhelming experience after the other. And The Body Keeps the Score is now one of the most widely read books in the pandemic world. His perspective is utterly unique and very practically helpful — on what’s been happening in our bodies and our brains, and how that relationship can become severed and restored." Bessel van der Kolk is the founder and medical director of the Trauma Research Foundation in Brookline, Massachusetts. He’s also a professor of psychiatry at Boston University Medical School. His books include Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on the Mind, Body, and Society and The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.]

Koonin, Steven E. "Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters." Joe Rogan Experience (February 11, 2022) ["Steven E. Koonin is a theoretical physicist, professor, former Chief Scientist for the BP petroleum company, and former Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy under the Obama administration. He's also the author of Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn't, and Why It Matters."]

Latour, Bruno. Facing Gaia: Eight Lecture on the New Climatic Regime. Polity Press, 2017. ["The emergence of modern sciences in the seventeenth century profoundly renewed our understanding of nature. For the last three centuries new ideas of nature have been continually developed by theology, politics, economics, and science, especially the sciences of the material world. The situation is even more unstable today, now that we have entered an ecological mutation of unprecedented scale. Some call it the Anthropocene, but it is best described as a new climatic regime. And a new regime it certainly is, since the many unexpected connections between human activity and the natural world oblige every one of us to reopen the earlier notions of nature and redistribute what had been packed inside. So the question now arises: what will replace the old ways of looking at nature? This book explores a potential candidate proposed by James Lovelock when he chose the name 'Gaia' for the fragile, complex system through which living phenomena modify the Earth. The fact that he was immediately misunderstood proves simply that his readers have tried to fit this new notion into an older frame, transforming Gaia into a single organism, a kind of giant thermostat, some sort of New Age goddess, or even divine Providence. In this series of lectures on 'natural religion,' Bruno Latour argues that the complex and ambiguous figure of Gaia offers, on the contrary, an ideal way to disentangle the ethical, political, theological, and scientific aspects of the now obsolete notion of nature. He lays the groundwork for a future collaboration among scientists, theologians, activists, and artists as they, and we, begin to adjust to the new climatic regime."]

Like Stories of Old. "The Problem of Other Minds – How Cinema Explores Consciousness." (Posted on Youtube: May 31, 2018) ["How have films engaged the problem of other minds? In this video essay, I discuss cinematic explorations into consciousness in the context of the cognitive revolution that has challenged many of the basic assumptions about what was for a long time believed to be a uniquely human trait." Uses Frans de Waal's book Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?: "Hailed as a classic, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? explores the oddities and complexities of animal cognition--in crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, chimpanzees, and bonobos--to reveal how smart animals really are, and how we've underestimated their abilities for too long. Did you know that octopuses use coconut shells as tools, that elephants classify humans by gender and language, and that there is a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame? Fascinating, entertaining, and deeply informed, de Waal's landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal--and human--intelligence."]

McNamee, Roger. "Roger McNamee on his quest to stop Facebook." Berkeley Talks (July 30, 2021) ["In episode 120 of Berkeley Talks, longtime venture capitalist Roger McNamee discusses how he, an early investor in Facebook and former adviser to Mark Zuckerberg, came to realize the damage caused by the social media giant and others like it, and how he’s committed to try to stop them. McNamee, author of the New York Times bestseller Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe (2019) spoke with Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, in February 2021."]


Osterholm, Michael. "Update: COVID-19." Joe Rogan Experience #1779 (February 13, 2022) ["Dr. Michael Osterholm is an expert in infectious disease epidemiology, professor, and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. He's also the host of "The Osterholm Update: COVID-19" podcast, and author of multiple books, including "Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs."]

Patrick, Rhonda. "Micronutrients for Health & Longevity." The Huberman Lab (May 2, 2022) ["My guest is Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. She earned her doctoral degree in biomedical science from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and has become one of the leading public health educators on the brain and general health, aging, cancer, and nutrition. We discuss the four major categories of micronutrients that regulate cellular and organ stress and antioxidants, inflammation, hormone regulation, immune system, and longevity. Dr. Patrick provides actionable protocols for obtaining key micronutrients from food and/or supplement-based sources. Additionally, Dr. Patrick outlines protocols for deliberate cold and deliberate heat exposure to benefit metabolism, cardiorespiratory fitness, mental health, and lifespan. "]

Perlroth, Nicole. "Cybersecurity and the Weapons of Cyberwar." Lex Fridman Podcast #266 (February 20, 2022) [Nicole Pelroth is the author of This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race: "Zero day: a software bug that allows a hacker to break into your devices and move around undetected. One of the most coveted tools in a spy's arsenal, a zero day has the power to silently spy on your iPhone, dismantle the safety controls at a chemical plant, alter an election, and shut down the electric grid (just ask Ukraine). For decades, under cover of classification levels and non-disclosure agreements, the United States government became the world's dominant hoarder of zero days. U.S. government agents paid top dollar-first thousands, and later millions of dollars- to hackers willing to sell their lock-picking code and their silence. Then the United States lost control of its hoard and the market. Now those zero days are in the hands of hostile nations and mercenaries who do not care if your vote goes missing, your clean water is contaminated, or our nuclear plants melt down. Filled with spies, hackers, arms dealers, and a few unsung heroes, written like a thriller and a reference, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends is an astonishing feat of journalism. Based on years of reporting and hundreds of interviews, The New York Times reporter Nicole Perlroth lifts the curtain on a market in shadow, revealing the urgent threat faced by us all if we cannot bring the global cyber arms race to heel."]

Prasad, Vinay. "The Cult of Masked Schoolchildren." Tablet (January 19, 2022) ["History will not look kindly on our evidence-free decision to make kids suffer most." Vinay Prasad is a hematologist-oncologist, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of Malignant: How Bad Policy and Bad Evidence Harm People with Cancer.]

Proctor, Robert. "NAZI Science and Ideology."  Lex Fridman Podcast (March 6, 2022) [Michael Benton: This should actually be titled "Science and Ideology" as it is a wide-ranging discussion, and the NAZI application of science is only an initial jumping off point. Very important as we see mindless rejection "and" acceptance of science become the polarized standards of society going into and coming out of the COVID pandemic. I know a lot of people that will go nuts if I say we shouldn't just say "accept the science" (even knowing full well that I am pro-science), I believe we need to ask questions about practices & consequences and think like scientists realizing that science changes over time. "Robert Proctor is a historian of science at Stanford University"]

Rhodes, Richard and E.O. Wilson. "Darwin's Successor: E.O. Wilson, scientist and humanist." Open Source (November 18, 2021) ["The grand master of bug biology E.O. Wilson has always had a way of seeing the big picture in his microscopic science. Looking at a wall-size projection of the astronauts’ moon view of Earth rising, “the blue marble,” Ed Wilson wants us to see that the film of life wrapped around our globe, the biosphere, is as thin as a razor’s edge. But here’s the real point, he says: take the human beings out of that layer of life and it’s safe forever. Take the ants out, and it’s doomed. Ed Wilson, in his 90s, speaks with lively and rare authority about the predicament of life on earth – but he’s not in despair: the bad things humans do to their habitat, they could stop doing, if they realized how our species depends on a million other species now in mortal danger. The biologist and writer E. for Edward, O. for Osborne, Wilson is the giant in our midst this radio hour. He’s the man who learned to talk to ants in their own language of smells, or pheromones. We’re speaking with him, and about him with the decorated science historian Richard Rhodes, best known for his definitive account of The Making of The Atomic Bomb. Richard Rhodes has written a new biography and appreciation of E.O. Wilson and his life in nature." Rhode's biography is Scientist: E.O. Wilson - A Life in Nature.]

Sessa, Ben. The Psychedleic Renaissance: Reassessing the Role of Psychedelic Drugs in 21st Century Psychiatry and Society. Muswell Hill Press, 2012. ["Psychedelics were inextricably associated with the hippie counterculture of the 1960s and, more recently, with the rave music scene, and were once believed to hold great promise for treating a number of medical conditions as well as providing access to profound spiritual experiences. However, legal restrictions on the use of such drugs effectively forced them underground and brought clinical research to a halt--until recently. In this book, psychiatrist Dr. Ben Sessa makes a persuasive case for the reevaluation of psychedelics--LSD, MDMA ("ecstasy"), DMT, psilocybin, ayahuasca, peyote ibogaine, and more--as he explores their clinical potential for treating a range of conditions from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression to autism and cluster headaches. Based on a thorough review of the evidence, Sessa corrects some common misconceptions about psychedelics and makes a clarion call for their responsible therapeutic use, with appropriate set and setting, in psychotherapy, psychiatry, and personal growth."]

Sinclair, David. "The Science of Keeping the Brain Healthy." Lifespan (February 16, 2022) ["Dr. David Sinclair and co-host Matthew LaPlante dissect the topic of brain aging. They explore evidence suggesting that the brain ages more slowly than other parts of the body and highlight how cognitive function is impacted by aging. Different interventions aimed at preserving brain health are also discussed, including a plant-based diet, exercise, metformin, NAD boosters, and sufficient sleep."]

Taylor, Steven. "What Is a Pandemic?" The Psychology of Pandemics: Preparing for the Next Global Outbreak of Infectious Disease. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019: excerpt of pages 1 - 10. [Book description: "Pandemics are large-scale epidemics that spread throughout world. Virologists predict that the next pandemic could occur in the coming years, probably from some form of influenza, with potentially devastating consequences. Vaccinations, if available, and behavioral methods are vital for stemming the spread of infection. However, remarkably little attention has been devoted to the psychological factors that influence the spread of pandemic infection and the associated emotional distress and social disruption. Psychological factors are important for many reasons. They play a role in nonadherence to vaccination and hygiene programs, and play an important role in how people cope with the threat of infection and associated losses. Psychological factors are important for understanding and managing societal problems associated with pandemics, such as the spreading of excessive fear, stigmatization, and xenophobia that occur when people are threatened with infection. This book offers the first comprehensive analysis of the psychology of pandemics. It describes the psychological reactions to pandemics, including maladaptive behaviors, emotions, and defensive reactions, and reviews the psychological vulnerability factors that contribute to the spreading of disease and distress. It also considers empirically supported methods for addressing these problems, and outlines the implications for public health planning."]

West, Stephen. "The Frankfurt School - Walter Benjamin, Part 2 - Distraction." Philosophize This! (April 1, 2021) ["..one of the main things that concerned him was this relationship between technological innovations and the sensory experience and subjectivity of people. You change the technology that surrounds them you change the person. That’s what we’re going to talk about today...so when he’s giving examples he’s going to be referencing things like film and radio and TV, probably all three things that are on their way OUT in our modern world. But the way he thought these affected the individual subject and the political subject can be just as easily applied to different technologies things like the internet, smartphones or self driving cars. When you consider the fact that new technology is introduced faster than it ever has been...and how much influence this technology has in mediating our entire relationship with reality to the point you can almost think of us as cybernetic...maybe the work of Walter Benjamin has never been more relevant than right now. "]

Yulbarisov, Rustam. "LSD Capitalism Promises a Bad Trip for Us All." Jacobin (April 2, 2022) [Books discussed: Albert Hofmann's LSD: My Problem Child, Ben Sessa's The Psychedelic Renaissance, David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years, and David T. Courtwright's The Age of Addiction.]










Thursday, September 9, 2021

8 1/2 (Italy/France: Federico Fellini, 1963)

 8 1/2 (Italy/France: Federico Fellini, 1963: 138 mins)


“Even if I set out to make a film about a fillet of sole, it would be about me.”
--Federico Fellini




Criterion Collection: 8 1/2 [DVD page/resources]

Affron, Charles, ed. 8 1/2. Rutgers University, 1987.

Ballin, Dima, David Kleiler and J.P. Ouillette. "Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963)." The Rear Window (April 2018) 

Brubaker, Philip. "Death is a Beautiful Woman: All That Jazz, 8 1/2, and a Different Kind of Femme Fatale." Fandor (January 9, 2018)

Gilliam, Terry. "Dreams: 8 1/2." (Transcript from BBC2: November 27, 1995)

Hanson, Matt. "Federico Fellini's Phenomenal Films." The Smart Set (July 1, 2021)

Juliano, Sam. "That Painless Truth: Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2.″ Wonders in the Dark (November 20, 2010)

Kezich, Tullio. "8 1/2: When 'He' Became 'I'." Current (December 3, 2001)

Knapp, Chris. "Growing Up Together: Love Through the Eyes of Fellini." The Paris Review (March 11, 2014)

LoBrutto, Vincent. "The Personal Film: 8 1/2." Becoming Film Literate: The Art and Craft of Motion Pictures. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005: 129-135. [BCTC Library: PN1994 L595 2005]

Malcolm, Derek. "Federico Fellini: 8 1/2." The Guardian (April 22, 1999)

Manacas, George. "Federico Fellini: Images and Archetypes." Out of Balance (no date)

Maraini, Tony. "Chatting about Other Things: An Interview with Federico Fellini." Bright Lights Film Journal (November 11, 1999)

Sesonske, Alexander. "8 1/2: A Film with Itself as Its Subject." Current (December 3, 2001)

Shanahan, Antonio. "Great Directors: Fedeco Fellini." Senses of Cinema (July 19, 2002)

"Sight & Sound Poll 2012: ." Current (October 5, 2012)

Smalley, G. "8 1/2 (1963)." 366 Weird Movies (August 1, 2012)




"Everyone lives in his own fantasy world, but most people don't understand that. No one perceives the real world. Each person simply calls his private, personal fantasies the Truth. The difference is that I know I live in a fantasy world. I prefer it that way and resent anything that disturbs my vision." (Fellini in I, Fellini, ed. by Charlotte Chandler, 1995 source link)






Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Annihilation (UK/USA: Alex Garland, 2018)




Annihilation  (UK/USA: Alex Garland, 2018: 115 mins)

“We have many theories, few facts.” -Dr. Ventress (in the film Annihilation)

"[T]he longer I stared at it, the less comprehensible the creature became. The more it became something alien to me, and the more I had a sense that I knew nothing at all—about nature, about ecosystems." — The biologist in the novel Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, 175

I classify "weird fiction" as not necessarily a genre-in-itself, instead it operates in the interstices of mainstream genres, creating through poetic prose, vivid imagery, hallucinatory experiences, existential angst, dream logic and shocking stories, a powerful effect upon the reader, provoking them to start to see the mundane world with a slant. If you look at the etymology of 'wyrd' it originates as the "power to control destiny" (no doubt in a magical or ritual sense) and morphs to the latter "weird" meaning of "unearthly" or strange. These stories stay with you, taking root deep inside your consciousness, reverberating like the ripples of a deep pond disturbed by a thrown rock and provoke you to rethink what you have always taken for granted. There is a commercial genre called "the new weird" (also an older pulp magazine "weird" usually involving cosmic horror) and some of these books/authors would be slotted into my broad genre classification here (many are not), but in the spirit of actual weirdness I include other books/films that operate under the aesthetic classification described above without being marketed as "new weird." The disturbance to perceived reality also may take place through a decoding/encoding process that challenges and restructures (exposing the myths and inconsistencies) of dominant narratives (also see situationist détournement). The purpose is to expose the cracks in the foundations of controlling narratives, destabilizing them through weird narratives that shake the assured assumptions of its adherents. The concepts of carnivalesque revelry and the dialogic nature of consciousness as developed by Mikhail Bakhtin are equally important, in that they involve the reversal of a dominant order and/or an exposure of the fantasy of the controlling order, in the process revealing the many perspectives/voices that are silenced/masked. As disturbing as these can be for many, perhaps the most problematic aspect of many weird narratives would be the decentering of humans (as the center of the universe) and explorations/recognitions of non-human perspectives. Importantly, in the context of my own American culture, this also involves narrative & theoretical displacement of our hegemonic way of seeing & being as the baseline for thinking about and understanding the world. In film studies there has also been a classification of Mind Fuck films which would be included here. All of these can provide a cathartic release from the anxiety/terror of the really fucked-up, weird situation we are living through and the twisted creatures that our at the helm of planet earth. [Editorial note: my definition was written during the COVID-19 Pandemic]. Under no circumstance is weird meant in a derogatory way.  Anyone who does a deep dive into science, especially theories of consciousness and reality, knows that science is seriously weird. I appreciate works that challenge our constructed reality, pushing us to see that there is not just one way. Also it should be understood that what seems weird to some may seem obvious and normal to others. One of the great benefits of learning across time and space/places is that it can, following Bertolt Brecht, "make the familiar strange." -- Michael Dean Benton (May 2020; revised September 2021)

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Carter, David. "Annihilation: Depression, Destruction and Transformation." A Place for Film (March 19, 2018) ["It’s one of those rare semiotic films where multiple readings have been applied by viewers and all of those readings are supported by what the film brings to the table. It’s a story about dealing with the psychological and physiological trauma and stress of cancer within yourself or a loved one. It’s about how our relationships with our loved ones change as we all change as people. However as I sat there in the theater on my second viewing of the film there was a theme and reading that rung out to me like my head was caught in a bell: depression and how it causes you to self-destruct and how you can become something new amidst the rubble of who you once were."]

Christion, Valley. "Annihilation: The Alienation of Desire."  The Artifice (October 10, 2018)  ["In Annihilation, novel author Jeff VanderMeer and film director Alex Garland both took special pains to avoid falling into this trope. Both the Crawler and the mimic are utterly and truly alien in the respect that they lack a projection of human desire; as the viewer, we don’t know what they want. This is a major plot point in both the movie and the film, as the ambiguity of the alien is a major piece of the immersive whole."]

Eggert, Brian. "Annihilation." Deep Focus Review (February 23, 2018) ["Fission occurs when cells replicate and then divide. The process involves a single cell that splits itself in two, thereby negating its original form in service of two distinct cells. Growth and healing rely on this otherwise violent act, which signals Nature’s impulse to self-destruct in order to create. It’s a theme that prevails throughout Annihilation, writer-director Alex Garland’s film of Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 novel. A microscopic view of cell division recurs as the film’s central motif, lovingly integrated into Garland’s visual and narrative choices. But the horrible beauty of the Kantian sublime dominates this intelligent, aesthetically wondrous production, leaving the viewer with much to contemplate about our human biases toward the essence of creation. (After all, while the rapid growth of, say, bacteria in the human body has been described as a disease, it’s a time of prosperity in the microcosm of the bacterial world.) Conceptual as such ideas may be, Garland never forgets to mirror them with human drama. Indeed, within Annihilation‘s visceral yet thoughtful science-fiction context, his characters undergo fission to either self-destruct or become something new."]

Hicks, Luke. "Making Something New: Tracing the Complex Brilliance of Annihilation." Film School Rejects (February 27, 2020)  ["Do I begin down the snaking path of humanity’s obsession with the unknown and turn left at the disquieting display of self-destruction? Or should I fork right at philosophical reflections on biology? Do I start towards its status as one of the few intelligent, dignifying female-driven films to come out of Hollywood in the past decade (four of the five most significant roles held by women, known and unknown, queer and straight, and of different ethnicities, varied worldviews)? And if so, which track do I take when the trail divides into dismantling patriarchal gender norms and theories of forthcoming human evolution? I could exhaust one hundred different ways out with similar thoughts before touching on themes of ecological ethics or technological development. And if I was hospitalized in the process due to exhaustion, I’d be upset that we never breached the intersecting conversations between suicide, mimesis, interanimation, marriage, filtered vision, the metaphysical, and annihilation."]

Like Stories of Old. "The Problem of Other Minds – How Cinema Explores Consciousness." (Posted on Youtube: May 31, 2018) ["How have films engaged the problem of other minds? In this video essay, I discuss cinematic explorations into consciousness in the context of the cognitive revolution that has challenged many of the basic assumptions about what was for a long time believed to be a uniquely human trait." Uses Frans de Waal's book Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?: "Hailed as a classic, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? explores the oddities and complexities of animal cognition--in crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, chimpanzees, and bonobos--to reveal how smart animals really are, and how we've underestimated their abilities for too long. Did you know that octopuses use coconut shells as tools, that elephants classify humans by gender and language, and that there is a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame? Fascinating, entertaining, and deeply informed, de Waal's landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal--and human--intelligence."]

Nicolini, Kim. "Annihilation: Alex Garland’s Bad Trip Through Dis-ease and Over-Reproduction." Counterpunch (March 2, 2018) ["There are a lot of reasons to join Garland’s journey into a shaky world where reproduction leads to destruction and where the further you go into the film the further you will find yourself separated from any known reality (just as the further the main characters delve into the ominous and alien Shimmer, the further they come unglued). At one point in the film, female scientist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) questions whether all the women who reside at the film’s center have lost their minds. After watching the film, you may very well ask yourself the same thing. But that is the power of the film. By provoking the audience to lose their minds, toss all rational thought to the wind, and deconstruct the most primal notions of stability, this sci-fi horror film unveils the fears that seep through collective humanity like a terminal illness and show the unnatural and terrifying impact of human intervention with the natural world."]

Raup, Jordan. "‘Annihilation’ is Beautiful, Horrifying Sci-Fi with a Bold Imagination." The Film Stage (February 21, 2018) ["More terrifying than any creature Hollywood could dream up is the unraveling of one’s mind—the steady loss of a consciousness as defined by the memories, motivations, and knowledge built up from decades of experience and reflection. With Annihilation, Alex Garland’s beautiful, frightening follow-up to Ex Machina, he portrays this paralyzing sensation with a sense of vivid imagination, and also delivers a cadre of horrifying creatures to boot."]

Robinson, Tasha. "Annihilation is the most thoughtful science fiction movie since Arrival."  The Verge (February 23, 2018) ["But it’s a mark of success for the film that even knowing the outcome doesn’t disperse the tension. Annihilation is a portentous movie, and a cerebral one. It’s gorgeous and immersive, but distancing. It’s exciting more in its sheer ambition and its distinctiveness than in its actual action. And by giving away so many details about the ending up front, writer-director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) seems to be emphasizing that Annihilation isn’t about who-will-live dynamics, or the fast mechanics of action scenes. It’s about the slow, subdued journey Lena and the others take into the unknown, and how it affects them emotionally."]

Statt, Nick. "How Annihilation changed Jeff VanderMeer’s weird novel into a new life-form." The Verge (February 28, 2018)  ["Alex Garland’s Annihilation, the mind-bending science fiction journey into the world of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach books, is an astounding film. It’s smart and daring and almost as satisfying to talk about as it is to experience firsthand. It’s even more astonishing considering its source, a seemingly unadaptable, utterly bizarre novel. But Garland found a way to make the film into its own creature. His version is simultaneously faithful in spirit and shockingly bold in its departures in plot and theme."]

"Weird Fiction." Horror Pod Class #2 (January 31, 2018) [Michael Benton -- What is very interesting to me is the idea that the "new weird" genre is speaking to a 21st Century dis-ease with the impossibility of truly knowing reality. Propaganda, disinformation & official lies instantaneously and repeatedly disseminated through ubiquitous screen technologies, radically transforming science/technology/theories that even leave those that devote their lives to a particular discipline overwhelmed, and a general distrust from the general population in their traditional experts/leaders. This is played out vividly in Vandermeer's trilogy and Garland's film as the main characters struggling to understand/survive the transmutating Area X/The Shimmer are scientists/soldiers.  ]


















VIDEO ESSAY | Annihilation / Solaris: Refractions of the Self from Mike Odmark on Vimeo.




The Unloved - Annihilation from Scout Tafoya on Vimeo.