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Anxious Machine

True stories about modern humans

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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A Horrible Experience

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. Support Anxious Machine on Patreon Subscribe (or write a review) in iTunes 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.


17 Aug 2015

Rank #1

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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. Subscribe (or write a review) in iTunesLinks: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 HabitMusic:"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


1 Jun 2015

Rank #2

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Do You Feel More Like Gods?

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. 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. Support Anxious Machine on Patreon Subscribe (or write a review) in iTunes Patrons: Special thanks this week to new Patreon supporter Matt Holliday. Links: 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


14 Sep 2015

Rank #3

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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. 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


16 Feb 2015

Rank #4

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Teleportation Device

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. 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. Support Anxious Machine on Patreon Subscribe (or write a review) in iTunes 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 by Podington Bear Euphoric by Podington Bear Respiration by Podington Bear 88 by Podington Bear


3 Aug 2015

Rank #5

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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. 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


2 Mar 2015

Rank #6

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Bringing Wes Home

Since the wide-spread adoption of embalming in the United States, most Americans have turned the process of handling the deceased over to experts in the undertaking business. On this episode, the story of one family who decided that they wanted to be the ones to wash and prepare the body of the son and brother they’d lost. This episode was previously aired on the podcast Neighbors, one of the podcasts in The Heard. Support Anxious Machine on Patreon Subscribe (or write a review) in iTunes   Music: Cylinder Five by Chris Zabrinskie 88 by Podington Bear


31 Aug 2015

Rank #7

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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. Download mp3(Mohamed) Subscribe in iTunes 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


16 Mar 2015

Rank #8

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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 their lives, Sarah finally had a mode of communication with their father that felt private. This is the story of how email affected their relationship, what kinds of communication it enabled, and what kinds of communication it shut down. Anxious Machine on iTunes Music: All music for this episode by Chris Zabriskie Cylinder Two Divider Cylinder Five The House Glows (with Almost No Help) I Am a Man who Will fight for Your Honor The Theatrical Poster for Poltergeist III What True Self? Feels Bogus, Let’s Watch Jason X Androids Always Escape


30 Mar 2015

Rank #9

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All My Days Have Been Guns (S2: E2)

Bernard did not get along with his father, who expected him to work like 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. Subscribe (or write a review) in iTunesLinks:The Heard ARRVLS Samuel Colt A Tradition of Arms The Price of ValorMusic:LAX from American Residue Records Presents - Last Foxtrot in Burbank: The Mixtape Mario Bava Sleeps In a Little Later Than He Expected To by Chris Zabriskie Take off and Shoot a Zero by Chris Zabriskie I Am a Man Who Will Fight for Your Honor by Chris Zabriskie Dead Inside by dustmotes 1 by John R. Barner from Funayurei


15 Jun 2015

Rank #10