If You Could Do Anything?

Sometimes in your life, you reach a crossroads, go on a men’s weekend, spend too much time alone in the forest, have a mid-life crisis, and start thinking you can change the world with your podcast. This episode is about that happening to me. Part one of a three-part series.

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Startup

Music:

Opening Credits by johnny_ripper

Divider by Chris Zabriskie

Audrey by johnny_ripper

Mario Bava Sleeps in a Little Later Than He Expected To by Chris Zabriskie

Black Book by johnny_ripper

The Dark Glow of the Mountains by Chris Zabriskie

A Void by johnny_ripper

Program Reverie by Podington Bear

Massive by Podington Bear

Pay Attention All the Time (S3: E2)

Parents of young children have an especially fraught relationship with their smartphones. On the one hand, these devices are indispensable tools for getting things done and staying connected to the adult world while in the midst of childcare. On the other hand, the culture is constantly telling parents, and particularly mothers, that they're too distracted by these devices, that smartphones are stealing precious attention away from our kids.

Untitled by Sjoerd Lammers via Flickr

Untitled by Sjoerd Lammers via Flickr

But the idea that parents should be focusing so much attention on their kids is itself a modern invention. In fact, our current understanding of parenthood and childhood is, in a very real way, the product of technology.

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Moms, Let Go of Your Smartphone Guilt

Siobhan Adcock’s website

Amy Shearn’s website

Music:

Opening Credits by johnny_ripper

Spring Solstice by Podington Bear

Cylinder Three by Chris Zabriskie

The Dark Glow of the Mountain by Chris Zabriskie

Walkin Flags by Sealadder

Button Mushrooms by Podington Bear

Stuck Dream by Podington Bear

88 by Podington Bear

What True Self? Feels Bogus, Lets Watch Jason X by Chris Zabriskie

Do You Feel More Like Gods? (S3: E1)

This past week, my kids went back to school. Summer vacation has come and gone. And that’s gotten me thinking about the very idea of summer vacation, because every summer, for the past several years, my wife, her sisters and our families have had this tradition of going to a cabin for a few days to get out of the city. We don't own a cabin, so we have to rent one. And this year, the process of finding it, looking at pictures of all the possible cabins on all the possible lakes, made me wonder about this particular, middle-class American ritual of going into the wilderness for vacation, where that ritual came from, and what it says about our relationship to modern life.

Campfire Child by Rudi Schlatte via Flickr

Campfire Child by Rudi Schlatte via Flickr

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Patrons:

Special thanks this week to new Patreon supporters Matt Holliday and Jordan Callori

Where Was the Birthplace of the American Vacation?

Thoreau Leaves Walden Pond

Why Fire Makes Us Human

Working At Play: A History of Vacations in the United States

Music:

Gentle Chase by Podington Bear

Arrival by North Hive

Tam by LJ Kruzer

Electron by Podington Bear

Halflight by Podington Bear

Tamz by LJ Kruzer

88 by Podington Bear

A Horrible Experience (S2.5 - Remix)

My older brother Scott lives almost completely outside the network of modern life: he has no internet, no email address, no cable TV or satellite, not even an antenna for his television. Until recently, he didn't even have a bank account or a telephone. In this episode, I try to get to the bottom of why he hates computers, and especially the internet, even though the internet helped him solve a question he's had since the day he was born.

Smash by Kit via Flickr

Smash by Kit via Flickr

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Music:

Heavy Flutter by Podington Bear

I Am Running with Temporary Success from a Monstrous Vacuum in Pursuit by Chris Zabriskie

The Sun Is Scheduled to Come Out Tomorrow by Chris Zabriskie

The House Glows with Almost No Help by Chris Zabriskie

The Theatrical Poster for Potergeist III by Podington Bear

The Dark Glow of the Mountains by Podington Bear

88 by Podington Bear

Patrons:

Special thanks to Eric Keys, Cam Hudson, Bradley Dunham, and Gordon Delp for their support of this podcast.

Teleportation Device (S2:E6)

Humans have been reading for thousands of years, but ever since the invention of television, people have been worried that reading is in decline. The latest worry is that, even if the Internet has caused an uptick in the quantity of our reading, we're reading on screens instead of paper, and this seems to degrade the quality of our reading.

Cuniform Tablet via  gabriel.harp on Flickr 

Cuniform Tablet via  gabriel.harp on Flickr 

On this episode, technology writer Clive Thompson talks about the history of reading as a technology, why we’re worried about its future, and what happened when he tried to read War and Peace on his iPhone.

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Links:

Clive Thompson’s essay about reading War and Peace on his iPhone

Clive Thompson’s essay about the novelty effect

Clive Thompson’s book Smarter than You Think

Hanna Rosin’s article for The Atlantic about children and screens

Amaranth Borsuk & Brad Bouse: Between Page and Screen

Music:

Curious Process by Podington Bear

Oxygen Garden by Chris Zabriskie

Deeper by Phlox.s

Rythn by Podington Bear

Mensa by Podington Bear

Steppin Intro by Podington Bear

[Program Reverie](Program Reverie Podington Bear ) by Podington Bear

Euphoric by Podington Bear

Respiration by Podington Bear

88 by Podington Bear

Patrons:

Special thanks to Kathy Myers, Herrin Hopper, Mark Bramhill, and Margie for their generous support of this podcast.

These Things Is Miracles (S2:E5)

When she was growing up, Adrienne didn’t want to believe she was losing her hearing. And she didn’t want to wear the ugly, painful hearing aids her school got her. This is the story of how she finally decided to embrace the technology that restored her ability to hear, and what happened when she did.

Hearing Aid via Kateweb on Flickr

Hearing Aid via Kateweb on Flickr

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Music:

Cylinder Five by Chris Zabriskie

There Are Many Different Kinds of Love by Chris Zabriskie

Cylinder Six by Chris Zabriskie

The Sun Is Scheduled to Come out Tomorrow by Chris Zabriskie

I Am running with Temporary Success from a Monstrous Vacuum in Pursuit by Chris Zabriskie

Heavy Flutter by Podington Bear

Brethren Arise by Chris Zabriskie

I Need to Start Writing Things Down by Chris Zabriskie

Androids Always Escape by Chris Zabriskie

88 by Podington Bear

What True Self? Feels Bogus, Let’s Watch Jason X by Chris Zabriskie

Patrons:

This episode was supported in part by Mark Bramhill, through Patreon.

A Piece of Paper (S2:E4)

When I heard the news of the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, I wanted to go back to an interview I did in 2009 with two women who decided to get married before it was legal in their state. It’s easy to forget what couples like them had to go through back then — traveling outside of their state to get a document that would have no legal standing at all where they lived. I wanted to know why that piece of paper mattered to them. This is their story.

Sign: Our Love Cannot be Invalidated via Flicker

Sign: Our Love Cannot be Invalidated via Flicker

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Links:

Supreme Court ruling on marriage

Clip of All Things Considered on the ruling

Clip of Proposition 8 passing on KRON TV newscast

Music:

CGI Snake by Chris Zabriskie

Cylinder Four by Chris Zabriskie

Filaments by Podington Bear

Happy Ending by Podington Bear

The Sun Is Scheduled to Come Out Tomorrow by Chris Zabriskie

Corridor by Podington Bear

88 by Podington Bear

What True Self? Feels Bogus, Let’s Watch Jason X by Chris Zabriskie

Patrons:

This episode was supported in part by Mark Bramhill, through Patreon.

Looking at the Wall (S2:E3)

Amelia's childhood was largely devoid of technology. But when she got a computer and the internet in her own bedroom, she found the new mode of communication through chatrooms and email utterly addictive. She's struggled ever since with how much technology she wants in her life, especially now that she's a mother.

Modified image from original photo by David, Bergin, Emmet and Elliott via Flickr

Modified image from original photo by David, Bergin, Emmet and Elliott via Flickr

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Support Anxious Machine on Patreon

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Sponsor: Due

My video review of Due

The Knowledge, London’s Legendary Taxi-Driver Test, Puts Up a Fight in the Age of GPS

How to Be a Girl

Music:

Respiration by Podington Bear

Heavy Flutter by Podington Bear

Data by Podington Bear

Epiphany by Podington Bear

Electron by Podington Bear

Jack by Podington Bear

Bugs Don't Buzz by johnny_ripper

Vector Melody by Podington Bear

88 by Podington Bear

What True Self? Feels Bogus, Lets Watch Jaxon X by Chris Zabriskie

All My Days Have Been Guns (S2:E2)

Bernard did not get along with his father, who expected him to work as a full-time employee in the family gas station starting when Bernard was just eight years old. But then Bernard went off to the army, and when he came home, an incident with a gun changed his relationship to his father, to society, and to himself.

Gun Show by M&R Glasgow via Flickr

Gun Show by M&R Glasgow via Flickr

Didn’t Want to Be Conscious (S2:E1)

Humans have been getting intoxicated, and finding new ways to get intoxicated, for thousands of years. On this episode, I explore the history of intoxication, and how that history played out in the life of one young woman.

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Links:

In researching this topic, I relied on the following sources (in addition to Wikipedia):

The Beer Archaeologist

‘Apparently Useless’: The Accidental Discovery of LSD

The Trip Treatment

The Cocoa Crux

Heroin: A Hundred-Year Habit

Music:

"The Dark Glow of the Mountains" by Chris Zabriskie

"But Enough About Me, Bill Paxton" by Chris Zabriskie

"Take off and Shoot a Zero" by Chris Zabriskie

"Dance" by American Residue Records, from Last Foxtrot in Burbank

"Black Book" by Ori, remixed by johnny_ripper

"Time Stop" by American Residue Records, from Last Foxtrot in Burbank

"Hikikomori" by John R. Barner from Hikikomori

"Cylinder Seven" by Chris Zabriskie

"Cylinder Three" by Chris Zabriskie

"Cylinder Nine" by Chris Zabriskie

Standby Episode 4: The Question Is Ridiculous

I recently decided to ask a big question at a cocktail party. This episode is about asking the question, some of the answers I got, and how that question is shaping the stories I’m trying to tell in the second season of this show.

Standby Episode 3: Every Other Fight

I’ve always loved telling the story of the first (and only) time I got punched in the face, and not because I won the fight. I lost, by a long shot. But it’s a story about standing up to one of the toughest scariest guys in my high school, and it made me feel like a hero.

But the stories we tell about ourselves are rarely the whole story. This story changed for me when I decided to pick up a microphone and interview the guy I fought that day. The story I’d been sharing at parties for years was the story of a moment he has long wished he could forget.

Portrait of the fist fighters as children.

Portrait of the fist fighters as children.

Standby Episode 2: Completely Clueless and Completely Paranoid

Sara thought she knew her son, but then a medical diagnosis left her questioning everything. This is the story of how she coped when the medical treatment turned him into a completely different child.

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Music:

Mario Bava Sleeps in a Little Later Than He Expected by Chris Zabriskie
Enough of Our Machines by Son Lux, remixed by jonny_ripper
Summa by Tape.

Inbox Time Machine (S1:E6)

Sarah’s parents got divorced when she was little. She and her siblings stayed with their mom, even though Sarah preferred her father’s company. She only saw her father for dinner once a week and stayed with him every other weekend. When she got to talk to him on the phone, her mother often stood nearby and listened.

So when email entered her life, Sarah finally had a mode of communication with her father that felt private. This is the story of how email affected their relationship, the kinds of communication it enabled, and the kinds of communication it shut down.

The Window Seat (S1:E5)

Mohamed fell in love with air travel at a young age. He lived in Kuwait, but he would fly with his family back to Egypt at the end of every school year, so air travel was imbued with the pleasure of summer, vacation, family, and fun.

Then he grew up and moved to the United States, and suddenly air travel was much more expensive, much more difficult. This is the story of how his relationship to flying changed.

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Links:

Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show

Music:

Halflight by Podington Bear

Mensa by Podington Bear

Constellation by Podington Bear

Filaments by Podington Bear

I Had No Instinct (S1:E4)

Kate Hopper had dreamed of a totally natural birth, with no drugs and no medical interventions. But when her baby was born two months early, Kate had to enter the unnatural world of the neonatal intensive care unit, where incubators, tubes, and monitors kept her daughter at a distance, and where Kate had to struggle to find her own identity as a mother.

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Anxious Machine on iTunes

Links:

Kate Hopper's book about her experience: Ready for Air

Kate Hopper's website: Motherhood and Words

Music:

Imaginary Friend by johnny_ripper

Tea Tea Tea by Chapelier Fou, remixed by johnny_ripper

In a Dream by johnny_ripper

Staircase with Felix Green by johnny_ripper

Une Belle Fin by johnny_ripper

A Song for Charlie Kaufman by johnny_ripper

I Was Deprived (S1:E3)

Tanya grew up in a home with only one approved hour of television a week. She had no music in her bedroom, no cellphone, and no computer access, unless her mother was watching over her shoulder.

In Krystyna’s house, on the other hand, the TV was always on, and she could watch whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. She now worries, as a single mother, that her children have too much access to screens, since she has very little time or energy to monitor their usage.

The two women take turns telling their stories about fighting for technological freedom, or technological control, and trying to find some kind of balance.

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Music:

Back to the Start by johnny_ripper from soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist
“Lille” by johnny_ripper from soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist
“Gaël” by johnny_ripper from l’esprit d’escalier
A johnny_ripper remix of “Black Book” by Ori from Deximer
A johnny_ripper remix of “Enough of Our Machines” by Son Lux from Deximer
“A Void” by johnny_ripper from Epilogue

Not a Phone Person (S1:E2)

Andria Williams met her husband Dave when they were in their first year of high school. They’ve been together now for almost two decades, but they’ve spent a significant portion of that time living apart, conducting their relationship over a long distance.

Over the course of those two decades, the technology of communication has changed in a number of ways. Andria describes the many modes of communication she's used to keep in touch with her husband, and how difficult it has been at times, especially because she doesn't even like talking on the phone.

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Andria runs the Military Spouse Book Review, and she has a novel forthcoming from Random House.

Scoring music in this episode came from Glass Boy.

Protect My Family (S1:E1)

On this episode, my guest is Stephen Hackett, who publishes the website 512 Pixels and co-hosts the podcast Connected. We talk about what it’s like to put the life of someone you love, someone for whom you would sacrifice your own life, in the hands of medical experts.

Stephen has written a number of pieces on this topic over the years. These are my favorites:

Two Years

The Fifth Floor

Three

Six

Stephen also runs a fundraiser for St. Jude Research Hospital every year. The hospital not only treats children like Josiah, it also shares all the research it does with doctors around the world, and it has a policy never to deny treatment to any child on the basis of race, religion, or an inability to pay. You can donate to the hospital here.