Podcasts, Obsessions & Faulty Memory

I write about podcasts I listen to on this blog quite a bit.  There was a phase I went through when I first started listening to podcasts and having a lot of free time due to disability, a phase of needing to document the various episodes that I had enjoyed.  If you do a label search for FFRF you can see that my obsession with recording my impressions of this particular podcast was quite intense (and yet another subject that I have a series of lengthy articles on that I haven't published.  I really need become obsessed with finishing my writing and publishing it) likely because I felt their online library lacked any real organization.

I've noticed this compulsion in other's behavior over the years, a need to retain copies of all the things they've watched, or all the things they've listened to.  I had never attributed it to myself until I had time to reflect and notice the stacks and stacks of books, music and movies that cover every shelf in every room of my house.  Since that time I have consciously tried to restrict the impulse to retain every smidgen of information that I run across, trust the internet not to loose the data that seems to sieve out of my mind, everyone's mind, unless we are reminded of it on occasion.

Besides, it has become clear over the past few years that there really isn't time enough to watch all the things I want to watch, or listen to all the things I want to hear; much less space in my, our, homes for all that content. Space in our minds for all that memory. Youtube's content alone expands so quickly that if you attempted to start watching it, you would never get to the end of it. My Tivo (thanks to Grande) is always full of things I want to watch, but almost never get time to watch sans distractions.   Gaming occurs while watching and listening to other content that I need to catch up on, and it all gets blended together in a sort of melange of information that I can't separate cleanly.

Try as I might to break obsessions when I find them (I used REBT methods to quit smoking and learn to hate the taste of french fries just because both were obsessions that were bad for me) I can't seem to shake a process once I get started on a project.  The process that I've gotten into with podcasts is I go back and listen to their back libraries once I've determined that the content is dense enough and worthy of further scrutiny.  So while I have followed Freetalk Live off and on for years, I have felt no need to go back and review the hundreds (thousands?) of hours of talk show inanity like I have for Dan Carlin's podcasts which are generally shorter and more informative than 3 hours of random callers.  Those are just examples.  If I listed all the podcasts that I dabble in we'd be here for days. Just listing the ones I love will take hours.

My most recent project is the Radiolab podcast. I rediscovered Radiolab recently; and I say rediscovered because I remember hearing it on NPR years ago.  Or perhaps that is a false memory.  I want to say I remember it, because I remember a lot of the voices I hear on it, but I have to say that I haven't run across an episode yet that I distinctly remember hearing on the radio. Which may be a way of saying that the internet is the modern example of public radio, television and the library all rolled up into one, because a good portion of PBS and NPR are available on the internet if you know where to look.




Apocalyptica (above) was the episode that decided me on going back and listening to the rest of the catalog for the podcast, and I had started into that list on the podcast feed when I discovered that the feed isn't all inclusive, that there are several years (years) of episodes on the website which are not on the feed.  So I had to backtrack (the obsession kicks in) and start from the beginning, from the shows on the website.

I like relying on the podcast feed to tell me what I've listened to.  None of the podcasting apps track your listening across platforms, so if you are like me and can't remember if you've listened to something just based on the title of the episode, it can become quite tedious downloading, listening and then discarding content because, meh, I've heard that before.

So this morning I roll out of bed and decide "enough" of the current book I'm struggling through (The Last Dark, book 10 of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) I think I'm in the mood for something lighter.  What did I listen to last from Radiolab...?   Memory and Forgetting is loaded on the phone. Did I listen to that one? I can't remember.  So I crank it up. Rats and Spotless Mind; false memories; the muse of a New York painter; the story of Clive Wearing. Listened to the whole thing again.  I have a hard time believing I forgot this episode; Clive Wearing's experience (like the movie Memento mentioned in this story) is a rather potent nightmare for me.  His repeated statements "It's like death" ring with a certain terror in my mind.

I have to admit that I was running on hour 20 something with no sleep, and had listened to two other episodes that same day.  I noted the other two episodes (Zoos are depressing, I agreed with Jad. I was struck with the statement "At the beginning of the morning, the things left standing are the things you need to know." 37 mins in to the episode Sleep) but somehow the last episode got lost in subsequent sleep.  I would go on to mention that the episode Stress reminded me so much of myself and might go a long way to explaining how and why I forgot Memory and Forgetting but I think the rabbit hole is deep enough now.

Welcome to my morning.



Just discovered that the Radiolab feed/website is as freeform as the show is.  There are two different archives for the show; the podcast archive and the radio show archive, some of which overlaps.  Not all of it does.  It's actually worth the time to go back to the early radio shows in the archive and listen.

Especially shows like Emergence, a subject I will be spending a lot of time talking about in the future.

How To Fix US Politics

First thing I see on Facebook this morning (still chewing my toothbrush) is this from Robert Reich;
The final tabulation of the percent of eligible voters who cast their ballots in the midterm elections is 36.3 percent. That’s the lowest turnout since 1942 (when the U.S. was in the middle of World War II and many couldn’t get to the polls).
To what do you attribute the record-low turnout? (a) Most Americans are so turned off by the negativism and mean-spiritedness of politics that we don’t want to participate. (b) We don’t think our vote makes any difference because big money has taken over. (c) We like the direction the country is moving in and therefore feel no reason to vote. (d) We’re working so hard these days that we just couldn’t take the time. (e) Other? (I'll give you my assessment tomorrow.)
The number one reason that I've heard cited for not going to the polls during my time canvassing over the years has been that the person did not think that their vote mattered. With Citizens United and other outcomes to point to, those people who didn't believe they should be voting now have something concrete to point at and say "see, my vote doesn't count".

It is true that voting is not enough participation to see that your views are expressed by your representatives; but then voting is just the last event in a long chain of actions that a responsible citizen should be taking in order to make sure our representative government works.

You cannot (like so many libertarian/anarchists/voluntaryists on the internet) simply say "I'm not part of this system, it is imposed on me" and thereby withhold your permission for government to operate at all, simply because you don't agree with what it's doing. The systems do not require your permission to continue operating.

In fact, the new leaders in our government prefer that you don't participate and simply accept their plans for you. They've got a pretty good money making scheme going here (have had it going for awhile now, since Eisenhower's time) and all this noise about participation sounds like interference.

We owe it to ourselves and our children not just to vote, but to take back our government from the corporations currently profiting from it, and eliminate those corporations from the process entirely because they are not only not people, but their participation allows certain moneyed people more access and influence than whole classes of real suffering people who actually do the work in this country.

So the short answer is (b) in my experience, but the solution is not just to vote, but to invade the Democratic and Republican Parties with our selves and our views and turn this country around. Prove that American's still have a will of their own.



Further, the following groups were specifically formed to eliminate the effects of Citizens United, to get money out of politics and hand the government back to the people, where the power belongs.

Wolf PAC's petition reads I support a Constitutional amendment saying that corporations are not people and they do not have the right to spend money to buy our politicians. Can't get more straightforward than that.  They have had some success getting states to back this.  Check their website for the latest info.

Rootstrikers is the group associated with Lawrence Lessig. His book Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It is free online now. The group is more generally aimed at ending the corruption, of which Citizens United is just a part, not just amending the Constitution.

Move to Amend is another petition group, this one without a specific petition it is promoting. It's list of goals currently reads as follows;
  • Accountability and responsibility, both personally and organizationally
  • Transparency
  • Community
  • Movement building
  • Dedication to Move to Amend mission, goals and tactics
  • Commitment to anti-oppression within ourselves, communities, work places, policies, and representation

Click the link and read up on the group if you want to know more.



The Right are not right but right.

Got it? Let me explain then.

On every issue there are people who want to move in a particular direction, and generally it is true that there is a majority that is happy with the way things are.

Back when we first started writing down ideas, codifying the world as we saw it, the world was ruled by divine right. Kings, Czars and Emperors abounded, all of them claiming to have their power because god granted it to them.  But the people at the bottom of the chain of power suffered horribly and died for want of even basic care; food, water and shelter could be and were denied to them by the more powerful amongst them.

Many excuses were made for why this was so, but in the end the people in the middle of the chain came to believe that the suffering of the bottom could be alleviated by sharing the wealth present at the top.  To this end, they began to cause trouble. They started providing care for the less-well-off (the dreaded poor these days) educating the lower classes about the wealth available to the upper classes because of the combined efforts of the group as a whole.

When enough of them understood their plight, and the artificial nature of it, they began to form together as groups, pressing their rulers to provide to them some of the benefits that the rulers enjoyed.  Through the ages, forums and then parliaments were formed, attempting to gather to themselves some of the power held by the rulers.  As this form became more common and more powerful, it just so happened that the supporters of the king happened to be sitting on the right side, whereas the people demanding change, more power (the liberalizing influence) were sitting on the left.

Left has always been the side of darkness.  Most people are right handed, while those who are left-handed are seen as peculiar (Sinister is another name for the left side) it is seen to be proper that the right hand be dominate.  At earlier times in history, left-handed children were forced to use their right hand until it became dominant to all external appearances. To this day left-handed people die younger, generally of injury inflicted by tools and machines created in a right-handed world.

So it was probably not by chance that the supporters of the king were seated on the right side, the correct side, of the aisle.  After all, supporting god and king was the way to be in those days.  However history has progressed, and kings are almost extinct.  Where they still exist in the civilized world they retain a figurehead status with no real authority beyond the title they hold.  Where they exist in the rest of the world, they are no better or worse than other people.  Tending toward dictatorship in the more perverse, and benevolent father in the more enlightened.

However the verbiage of Left and Right remain; the Left being those who generally wish to change the status quo, and the Right being the group which favors the way things are or even better were.

Except that memory is flawed.  The way things were never was; or only was because of elements or structures which no longer exist.  The way things were relied upon variables which ceased to be, and so the way things were cannot be re-established.

There are other words for those who want things to stay the same.  When they do so because they fear change, the word is coward.  When they do so because they cannot see that change has already occurred it is called delusional.  It is only when change will make things demonstrably worse is that word prudence, or caution. It is only then that the second definition of right (to be correct) applies here.

The changes which are forcing themselves upon us through technology and an imperfect understanding of the closed system which is our habitation known as the Earth are inevitable.  We cannot deny their occurrence because reality will assert itself until it kills us all if we do not admit that change has occurred.  The changes which we can afford but are being resisted (universal healthcare as one glaring example) will occur either now, or at greater cost in the future.

So today, now, the Right are not right they are simply right, as in seated in the section reserved for those who are in love with the past in an demonstrably unhealthy fashion.  Creepy.

We Get the Government we Deserve

A friend of mine from my libertarian days posted an article on Center for a Stateless Society today;
So here we go again. Another biennial US election season draws to a close and here come the solemn multi-partisan invocations of civic duty: Exercise that franchise. Pull that lever, push that button, mark that box. The future of western civilization depends on you. And if you don’t vote, don’t complain.
Politically, the last four years were a cooperative Republican/Democrat enterprise. And unless the Republicans win their way to 67 seats in the US Senate and 291 in the US House — neither of which will happen — so that they can override presidential vetoes, that’s the next two years as well.
So go vote. Or stay home and watch reruns of “How I Met Your Mother.” Either way, feel free to complain all you like. I know I will.
...and I felt compelled to comment as follows;

We get the government we deserve, when 3/4's of the population has no interest in even the most basic part of 'civic duty' which is voting. As a long time activist in various political circles, I am constantly met with blank stares from people who are told that voting is just the beginning, or the ending. It takes years of work, canvassing, motivating, attending meetings, crafting language, more canvassing, more motivating, more meetings, etc, just to get a single measure on the ballot. Voting is just the final act in seeing something you wanted come to fruition.

Ask the Tea Partiers (some of whom made the pretense of being libertarians for many years) how much work they've had to engage in to take over the Republican party. Do you honestly think that the government would have been shut down, that the congress would have sat on their collective hands for 6 years, that Ted Cruz would be a Senator from Texas without their support? Are you (and your commenters) going to seriously sit there and suggest that there is nothing we can do to change things by participating, while the right half of the (calcifying and failing) two-party system appears to be having a nervous breakdown? Engaging in denial of reality, much less science?

Cooperative? When all President has to do to ensure a measure is never adopted is for him to support it? When actions he takes are supported by the Republican leadership before he takes them, then opposed after he takes them?

If we allow the Tea Partiers with their radical religious right agenda to gain more power, because we can't be bothered to get out and resist them, because we are convinced that no changes will actually occur, then we will get the changes we don't want (according to polls) because they are moving on their agenda across the country in areas that they already control. We will indeed get the government we deserve.



The results are in, and the Republicans took the Senate as many pundits predicted over the last few months. Democrats beat themselves, they didn't set the conversation, they accepted the conversation from Republicans that Obama is a bad President. Consequently the argument is won by them. 

Credit Jim Wright & Girl Du Jour
Lesson to be learned here; do not let your opponent lay out the battleground you will fight over, to
paraphrase Sun Tzu.

I have been a staunch supporter of President Obama since he won the office, even though I didn't vote for him in 2008. After the horrible treatment he received for what I considered to be a better than average execution of his duties, I made a point of voting for him in 2012. 

I would like to say that I "don't understand" why he is treated the way he is, but I'm afraid I actually do.   The pattern is all too familiar to anyone raised in the South.

The Republicans set out to do nothing 6 years ago, and blame Obama for their inaction. The electorate has rewarded them for their hypocrisy by returning them to office again, and again. It is a sad, sad day in the US.

Every time Ted Cruz talks, and the news points a camera at him, I beg the talking head to explain a) why they bothered to give him attention or b) why they don't demand he produce a shred of proof for any of the insanity he spouts. "Excuse me Mr. Cruz, but you appear to have forgotten to get dressed today and you are standing there naked." 

...all of the Republican leaders are in this boat. None of them can enumerate real complaints, real objections. None of them are willing to lead.  Now that they control both houses of Congress, I can't wait to see what kind of draconian proposals they will advance as conservative policy.  Should be an entertaining next two years.