A Man Down By the River

I said there would be a podcast coming, right? I think I meant that about 60 percent seriously. Well guess what! A podcast I declared, and a podcast I have made. After a few frustrating stabs at a more “professional” sounding audio product, I opted to go for something more personal and informal. So the new Near-Earth Object podcast was recorded, audio and video, from a bench beside a river. I kind of like how it turned out, and who knows where I might record the next one. 

The video version is easy to get. It’s just right there on YouTube.

The audio podcast is making its way through the various tubes of several podcast apps and services, (here it is at Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Podbean, to start) but I presume it will be widely available by the time you read this. I hope you like it. 

I’m thinking about normalcy. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the abnormality of the crisis-buffet from which we are being force-fed, the so-called “new normal,” does not seem to be causing some kind of great awakening, but rather the “old normal” is clawing its way back

But then the president got the coronavirus. And it dawned on me, well, of course he did. And the fact that he got it (along with all the other folks who got it with or from him) just meant that things operating, well, normally. The times aren’t normal, but the way humans react to the abnormal times, and the way natural phenomenon like viruses behave, are normal. 

And even though none of this means that things are just fine, or that things will get meaningfully better, it is, weirdly, comforting. Read the whole thing

In other news, I’ve rewatched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the first time in many, many years in preparation for checking out the new Netflix show Ratched. Some quick thoughts:

  • Go watch Cuckoo’s Nest, whether you’ve seen it before or not, and just revel in the masterful acting work being done by this ensemble without parallel.
  • Watching Cuckoo’s Nest will in no way prepare you for the show Ratched. Four episodes in, the only connection between the movie and the TV show is the fact that it’s about a stern psychiatric nurse with the same name in the time just before the events of the movie. The Nurse Ratched as excellently performed by Sarah Paulson in the TV show seems, at this stage, to have nothing to do with the character as so exquisitely performed by Louise Fletcher in 1975. Don’t try to square that circle. It’s just something else.
  • All that said, I still can’t tell if Ratched is brilliant, ridiculous, overindulgent, insipid, visionary, a curious novelty, or some mixture of all of that. But the fact that I still don’t know must say something good about it.

I have a Patreon if that’s a thing you’d like to help out with.

Andy Ihnatko and Swoopy Were On Our Little Podcast!

On Thinkery, the podcast I do with Brian Hogg (that’s what he tells me his name is, anyway), we’ve been trying out having the occasional guest on the show to join the conversation. They’re not interviews per se, more of a chance to add a third voice to the usual two-way chat that the show normally is.

To kick it off, we were really, really lucky to get two excellent guests who are frankly out of our league, and yet somehow decided to lower themselves to join us for an evening.

First is the pioneer of skeptical podcasting, Robynn McCarthy, better known as Swoopy, erstwhile of Skepticality. It was like she had been doing shows with us for years already, and it was a lot of fun. Listen here.

The second was the one and only Andy Ihnatko, an honest-to-god Montaigne of tech and pop culture, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, and on shows like MacBreak Weekly and The Ihnatko Almanac. Brian and I were, I think, audibly a little too excited at the get-go, but it turned out to be a really substantive, funny, and at times even poignant conversation. Dig it here.

The next couple shows will be back to me and Brian (and they’ve already been recorded so I know they’re good), and then more guests are coming.

Neat, yeah?

Have You Been Thinkery-ing???

I assume you’ve been keeping up with Thinkery, my new-ish podcast with Brian Hogg. In fact, I’m so confident that you have that I don’t even really need to do the thing I’m going to do, which is link to the most recent three episodes, which are…
Episode 5: Just Abduct Elon Musk

    • Brian contemplates doing more Mosspuppet and also feels terrible about how his crowdfunding campaign went!
    • Christians should have no problem with abortion!
    • Darth Vader’s ‘redemption’ is morally simplistic!
    • Is there a god or afterlife in Star Wars?
    • Neither Paul nor Brian can read fiction anymore!
    • Will Voyager outlast us all?

Episode 6: Competitive Pedantry

…with 100% new content and 60% new jokes! And Brian is literally sitting in a closet for optimal sound quality!

Plus, we talk about these specific topics:

    • More listeners — and attention — makes us deeply uncomfortable, but we want them!
    • Creativity is mechanical, and the muse is mythical!
    • How Brian and Paul met!
    • Richard Dawkins is the stripper you take home with you!
    • Why people disappoint you!
    • The Berenstain Bears are fracturing reality!
    • Was Brian wrong when he made fun of alien blood?
    • Mind control fungus!

and Episode 7: It’s Free Once You’ve Paid For It

It’s a new episode, and it’s bigger and shorter than ever!

What do Paul and Brian talk about this time? Lots of things, like:

    • Kids, and taking care of them!
    • Paul wants to save his precious, delicate phone!
    • Is the universe real? Who cares!
    • Amazon Prime, and the lunacy of saying you get ‘free 2-day shipping!’
    • How can an established company still be a startup?
    • And more, possibly!

Go get some, subscribe in iTunes or from your favorite podcatcher.


Thinkery Episode 4: Murdered By Pretty Much Everything

the-day-the-earth-stood-stillEpisode 4 of my ridiculous podcast with Brian Hogg, Thinkery, is up! Here’s Brian’s writeup:

In this episode, Paul’s computer broke, forcing him to use something non-magical! Brian had an actual reasonable conversation in YouTube comments! CS Lewis is an unconvincing hack and Christian Apologetics are embarrassingly bad! We’re somewhere on the atheist scale! What IS knowledge, anyway? When we meet aliens for the first time, will they want to murder us, or sell us Amway? What’s the culture of heaven, and will you eventually be able to have sex with everyone?

Come get it at the website or on iTunes, or your podcatcher of choice.

Thinkery Episode 3: Sad Superman is Awesome

The latest episode of my podcast with Brian Hogg, Thinkery, is out! (Here’s my introductory post explaining, sort of, the show.) Here’s Brian’s writeup:

It’s another episode of the show THEY don’t want you to hear! In this episode we talk about Rick Perry’s electoral desperation, our grand plans to monetize the empire that this show obviously already is, how the idea that everyone should be inclusive is actually exclusionary, why if you don’t do your job you should be fired, and how most of the people who watched Man of Steel must have done so with their eyes closed and their ears plugged.


Introducing Thinkery, My New Podcast with Brian Hogg

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 4.25.54 PM
Oh, the teeth-gnashing I have indulged in over not being able to come up with The Perfect Podcast Project™ for myself! Then, out of the blue, a very silly person who I have long respected emerges and ropes me into his own podcast jiggery-pokery.

That man is Brian Hogg, of whom I’ve been a great fan since discovering the painfully hilarious Walt Mosspuppet. One day, Brian’s all, hey, let’s do a podcast together, talking about stuff. And I was like, okay!

And thus, more or less, was born Thinkery, where Brian and I think out loud to each other, and put those thoughts into your ear holes. We do religion, culture, politics, and almost never talk about what one of us is eating at any given time. Almost!

We’ve got two episodes up now, a website, a Twitter handle, a Facebook page, and a long Google doc (which I’m not showing you) full of topics we may or may not cover. Two more episodes have been recorded, and I’m in the process of editing them. We’re still figuring things out, from format, topic balance, to which of us does what back-end work. But I’m feeling very good about it, if for no other reason than I’m not doing all the work, as was the case with the iMortal Show and the Obcast.

So check it out at the website, on iTunes, or your podcatcher of choice.

Episode 1: “Nearer My Bugs to Thee”

Episode 2: “Sociopaths Get Things Done”

Considering Podcast Version 3

I’m thinking about podcasting once again, after abandoning two previous attempts. First was the Obcast, a longform interview show with me and a guest, and the iMortal Show, a panel discussion show with a roster of rotating guests.
I enjoyed both shows very much, but I think in each case I became overwhelmed by work surrounding each episode. Beyond the editing and posting which would be necessary for any format, both Obcast and iMortal demanded the recruiting and coordinating of guests, and the preparatory work of educating myself on the given topic (even if that topic is the guest) well enough in advance. Added to my full-time, intellectually and creatively exhausting job, and being a dad and husband, the unpleasant and stressful aspects of getting each show off the ground outweighed the fun parts. And in each case, I just let the show peter out.

But I know I still want to podcast in some form or other. I just need to find the right format. One idea I’ve toyed with is to make it more narcissistic, more of a solo monologue of my thoughts rather than a discussion. Frankly, that appeals to me less, and I don’t think anyone else would care too much for that either. But if I did go in that direction, it could be as formal as me reading some of essays and posts, or perhaps having a “co-host” who I extemporize at, someone to play the Dan Benjamin to my John Siracusa. But I am no John Siracusa.

Who is, really?

I suspect that whatever format I choose, I likely need to have permanent co-hosts or panelists so that I can remove the stress of wrangling folks for each episode. I have a set cast, and we all do the show at the same time every week (or fortnight or whatever).

And as for topics, the primary subject matter of iMortal the blog is the intersection of tech and human life, but finding a tech angle for every conversation is, frankly, not always fun. I think I’d need to remove tha restriction and broaden possible topics.

So then all the other questions, the usual questions, follow: What’s the format? How long will each episode be? What topics will we cover? How often will we record? Will it be mostly extemporaneous or will there be a great deal of preparation beforehand? Should the episodes be timeless or respond more to current events? I just don’t know yet.

But I’m thinking about it again.

The iMortal Show, Episode 5: Where the Puck Really Should Be


Apple gives me feelings. You know this, surely. And after its October 16 event, in which the Infinite Loopers unveiled new iPads, showed off a Retina iMac, and tried their hand at “skits,” those feelings swung a little bit into negative territory. In this special, needlessly-long edition of the iMortal Show, I express some of those feelings.

Chris Sawyer and Ken Kennedy join me to dissect the event, overthink the new products, and ponder the entire consumer tech industry. We pretty much solve everything.

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Subscribe in iTunes or by RSS. You can download this episode here.

The iMortal Show, Episode 5: “Where the Puck Really Should Be”

Originally recorded October 20, 2014.

Produced and hosted by Paul Fidalgo.

Theme music by Smooth McGroove, used with permission.

Running time: 80 minutes

Links from the show:

The iMortal Show, Episode 4: Unprecedented Parenting

Image by Shutterstock.

Kids these days, with their pixels and their googles and their tweeters.

But seriously, folks. Parents around my own age are among those straddling the line between the pre- and post-Internet world, the last generation of moms and dads who grew up without ubiquitous connectivity. With no preexisting template for how to raise a kid in a world of smartphones and social media, we’re left to make it up as we go along, to try and make wise choices for our kids while still figuring out how all of this new technology fits into our own lives. It’s a lot to juggle!

To talk about kids, parenting, and tech, I’ve got two great guests, Catherine Dunphy and Chris Sawyer.

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Subscribe in iTunes or by RSS. You can download this episode here.

The iMortal Show, Episode 4: “Unprecedented Parenting”

Originally recorded October 16, 2014.

Produced and hosted by Paul Fidalgo.

Theme music by Smooth McGroove, used with permission.

Running time: 56 minutes

Links from the show: