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OURIQ

Um diário trasladado

OURIQ

Um diário trasladado

20
Jul19

Close Listening (6)


Eremita

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July 14- 19, 2019

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After a long and unannounced hiatus, I'm resuming this series with two recommendations. The first is the pair of episodes ((pub)1 and (pub)2) of the Very Bad Wizards podcast in which the hosts (Tamler Sommers and David Pizarro) riff on two of the most popular cult movies of the last 25 years: Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Big Lebowski (1998). If you are a fan of both movies, you won't learn much, but discussions about rewatchable movies don't have to bring any novelty. The second is the first episode of (pub)The Portal, the new podcast of one of the founders of the so-called intellectual dark web, Eric Weinstein [for the Portuguese crowd, it's pronounced "uainstáin" as opposed to the "uainstiin" in Harvey Weinstein]. He has a Ph.D. in physics but did not pursue a career in academia and likes to present himself as an outsider, in a growing tension with Sean Carroll, a man from the scientific establishment  and - apparently - Weinstein's nemesis. Oddly, the anti-establishment Eric infant terrible Weinstein decided to make the first episode with... his boss. However, who would miss the opportunity to interview (pub)Peter Thiel

 

 

April 29- May 5, 2019

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This week I bring two episodes relevant for the Portuguese readers, i.e, all the about 20 people that follow this series. The first is an interview with António Damásio, probably the most famous living Portuguese scientist. Damásio is a highly respected neuroscientist and a science popularizer. He has championed the idea that feelings are “mental experiences of body states”, these states being our emotions, which in turn arise from the body’s responses to external stimuli. You main want to listen to the difference between feelings and emotions  (pub) (6' 25''-10' 52'), but I believe the entire talk is adds-free. 

 

The second suggestion will probably irritate you. Ben Shapiro is an incredibly articulate and witty jew who hosts the "fastest growing conservative podcast". He is essentially a talking machine that trashes "socialism" (social-democracy, to the accurate) and progressist ideas for a (very good) living. He is also a zionist and a proponent of free speech that frequently criticizes the political correctness of the left, which makes particularly interesting his take on  the "anti-semitic" cartoon of the Portuguese Antonio recently published by the NYT. Ben's show is a landmine field of adds, but you can go straight to his rant: (pub)  35' 00'' - 38' 49''

 

 

April 22- April 28, 2019

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This week I recommend a discussion about our obsession with work. It's mostly a U.S. obsession, but in Europe there are also signs of the same trend. The moderator is Ezra Klein, who left an awful image when he discussed Charles Murray and I.Q. with Sam Harris and has the annoying habit of telling us his opinion all the time, but he's smart and an excellent source to understand U.S. politics from the left. 

 

I also recommend a great exchange between the economist Tyler Cowen and novelist Margaret Atwood. Cowen's style of short and precise questions combines marvelously with Atwood's wit. 

 

April 15- April 21, 2019

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These were such slow days for podcasts that the episode I recommend actually dropped the previous week, but it seems timely given yesterday's election of (pub) comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy as president of Ukraine. It's called (pub) Demons of Democracy. This is my first pick from the excellent Hi-Phi Nation

 

April 8 - April 14, 2019

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When the Canadian Malcolm Gladwell moved from The Washington Post to The New Yorker, he also transitioned from being a science writer to becoming a master popularizer of the social sciences. Much sooner than many of my ex-colleagues, who keep insisting on the difficult and niche-oriented task of explaining the hard sciences, Gladwell understood that the social sciences had a much wider and stronger appeal to the layperson. We are self-centered creatures that care much more about human behavior than quantum mechanics, chemistry or genetics, unless these disciplines inform us about... human behavior. Gladwell is a genius of storytelling, both as a writer, a public speaker and a (pub) podcaster. He has been called (pub) "a master of the counter-intuitive", and he is single-handily responsible for the promotion of concepts such as the "10,000-hour rule". But here's the problem: 10,000 hours of practice may not put you ahead of the crowd (pub) (1, 2),. Gladwell's obsession with simple explanations comes at a price, as his country-fellow Steven Pinker once explained in a decade-old review of a collection of Gladwell's essays that still haunts the journalist, proving that the fascination with counter-intuitive stories has indeed a few problems, although one of the appeals of reading the piece is realizing that Canadians, after all, can also be (pub) nasty — which in itself runs against common sense and intuition. 

 

Much of what can be said about Gladwell applies to Michael Lewis. They have a common M.O.:  a shared passion for the counter-intuitive, a naif reverence for the social sciences, a complete mastery of storytelling and a captivating narrative about them that leaves us believing we could also become successful one day. Just listen to his oustanding (pub) commencement speech in 2012 at Princeton. It is though no surprise that (pub) Against the Rules,  Lewis' podcast is produced by (pub) Pushkin Industries (great name), a company founded by Gladwell. In (pub) Ref, You Suck! , Lewis talks about a paradox: why do the crowds and players feel that referring is worse these days than in the past, when so much money has been invested in setting up a complex system of video basketball referees that actually works? Lewis frames the problem as a story of privilege and if you want to go to the crux of the matter, start listening at  23' 22''

 

This week I also discovered BBC's (pub) 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy, very neat short vignettes about inventions as diverse as the concrete, the iphone or Santa Klaus. The narrator, Tim Harford, has a soothing voice and each story tends to be based on a single book, which is strangely comforting. There's no reason to just pick fifty things, it feels that the series could go up to a thousand. 

 

I'll be back in a week. 

April 8 - April 14, 2019

This week there was a great exchange between Emily Bazolon and David Plotz (Political Gabfest) on whether (pub) Joe "tactile" Biden should be added to the growing list of villans that have been denounced by the #Mee Too movement. This honest and heartfelt dialogue between a woman and  a man ilustrastes how difficult it is to reach a consensus even when people are decent and empathetic. The key dialogue goes from 5'35'' to 16'17'' but you may want to listen to the beginning of the episode for context and then keep going to get Dickerson's wise comment. The Political Gabfest is by far the best podcast to follow US politics.  The only downside is that Bazolon, Plotz and Dickerson are such an appealing group of close friends that you get frustrated for not belonging to their inner circle. 

This week's silver medal goes to Mike Pesca's interview with Nicholas Christakis. Christakis is one of the handful group of optimistic intellectual superstars. Unlike the psycologist neurosciences- and language-versed Steven Pinker, our current prominent optimist, Christakis is a sociologist and physician that runs the "Human Nature Lab" at Yale, focusing on social networks and biosocial science. He talked to Pesca to promote his latest book, (pub) Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society.  I haven't read the book and I remain skeptic about any project that tries to extract moral guidelines from Biology and conflates explanation with justification. Nature is sufficiently complex to be used as an explanation for both altruism and selfish behvior, which leads us nowhere. I love a nurture versus nature debate just like anyone else, but it's about time we emancipate our moral reasoning from our biological constraints. That said, Pesca is a smart and energetic interviewer and Christakis told a number of engaging stories about our capacity as social beings, covering shipwreck stories, leadership, tribalism and Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese aesthetics of imperfectionism. The interview runs from  4' 07'' to 19'30''.

  

The bronze medals go to two episodes on the future of Europe. Something any European listening to US podcasts or reading the news realizes is that the journalism about Europe is bad. These two episodes are not in English, but I know that people reading the first Close Listening posts will be Portuguese and many of them, particularly if over 50, understand French. The first is a debate between two "soberanist socialists", (pub) Rui Tavares, an euro-enthusiast, and Jorge Bateira, an euroceptic. The first wants to reform the EU and the latter claims that the EU killed the left, Germany rules, no reform is possible and the only solution for a small country is to leave the Euro. They talked to Daniel Oliveira, who hosts Perguntar não Ofende, the best Portuguese political podcast. The highlights of the debate are: 15' 45''-18' 26'' (Tavares),18' 56''- 29'6'' (Bateira-Tavares-Bateira), 35'6''-39'21'' (Bateira) 1 h 8' 58''-1 h 13' 4'' (Bateira)- this podcast has no adds, btw. To complement this debate, which was esclusively centered on economic issues, I recommend a great high-brow conversation between French intellectuals in Régis Debray, Jean-Louis Bourlanges and Alain Finkielkraut (host of Répliques). 

 

Chris Thile's mini Youtube collection

 

 

I'm currently under the spell of this outstanding musician. This list of videos will grow in the future. For now, in the spirit of Close Listening,  I'll just highlight the effortless virtuosity of the solo in the song Another New World that runs from 3' 25'' to 4' 36'', but it's silly to go straight to the solo, just listen to the entire song. This man plays bluegrass, blues, britpop and Bach. He does seem to be obsessed with the letter "b" but his music never gets boring. This is the current collection: Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer - Big TopJessamyn's Reel on Mandolin, Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau - The Old Shade Tree (Live), Bach's E Major PreludeOde To A Butterfly and Bach: 'Sonata No. 1 in G minor - IV. Presto.

* Occasionally, I may also cover articles.

 

Close Listening 

From now on, during the weekend Ouriq will be written in English. It would be unrealistic to expect tons of new readers, but I'm convinced that the majority of Ouriq's current followers will not feel left out because they are also proficient in English. I'll mainly comment on the best podcast episodes and Youtube music videos I came across during the week. The offer of cultural products is so overwhelming these days that I hope you find these suggestions useful. I'll only cover podcasts on books, humor, science and politics. If you're into fashion, TV, movies, religion, self-help, gossip or celebrities, this is not for you, although I may occasionally write about some Netflix or HBO product.

 

For me, this exercise comes with two bonus: 1) I'll be force to relisten the podcasts I mention; 2) I'll be keeping a record of my favorite podcast episodes, Youtube videos and articles*, an outcome that is definitely aligned with one of the original goals of this blog: to swin against the current flow of trends after trends that quickly erodes even the most recent past, much like someone walking backwards and erasing his footsteps with a broom. "Close listening" is no gratuitous wordplay on "close reading", as I'll actually be highlighting specific segments within the podcast episodes and Youtube videos and giving you the precise times. The links I'll use will have adds, unless the end destintion is  page without publicity. You just have to do the math: are the extra 5 seconds of publicity a fair price for the information on how to go directly to the best part of the podcast or video? From my experience and some reading, these links are safe to use in computers, but in cell phones you may run into problems. I'll leave a "(pub)" next to the links with adds and if you move the mouse over the pictures you'll know if the kink opens to an add.

 

If my three-year-old twin daughters allow me to accomplish the plan for the day, every Sunday at noon (Portugal's time) I should post my suggestions.

 

 

 

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  • Sarin

    E Cristina Miranda caberia?

  • Anónimo

    Ainda está online, Eremita, e bem que poderias abr...

  • Anónimo

    Eremita: pensava eu que o link era para as cenas d...

  • Anónimo

    chapada neles

  • Anónimo

    José Sócrates Gonçalves Carvalho Pinto de Sousa, v...

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