What People Do

brendanhoward

A moment to savor intelligent conversation about ONE THING someone else is deeply invested in. read less
Society & CultureSociety & Culture

Episodes

83: Georgios has published a book on Aristotle's Categories
1w ago
83: Georgios has published a book on Aristotle's Categories
Georgios is a philosophy student and one who brings others along with him. Now, when I say he’s a philosophy student, you think, ahh, he’s taking a class.  No.  Georgios has a job. He lives in the real world with us outside academia. But he carves out time to study Aristotle and other writers and thinkers for fun and wisdom in the time he isn’t working.  That’s so amazing, this is my second time interviewing him. My first one looked at Socrates, Aristotle and what to do with this life.  This new one considers a new book from Georgios’ working group of thinkers wrestling with a more obscure work of Aristotle’s: The Categories.  It sounds like it’ll be boring, but if you’re into clumsily asked philosophical questions answered with passion by a Greek, well, here you are!    For further enjoyment:  Read Georgios’ Substack on his and other group members’ insights into the Aristotle readings. Here are collected summaries from Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. Join Tom and Georgios in Aristotle’s Organon Study Group Zoom Link every Tuesday 08:30pm CET/14:30pm EST. Check out Georgios’ Reddit post here for details on buying his book. Just 5EUR for the ebook to anyone who Paypals him at theduedissident@protonmail.com and mentions Brendan! Or you can buy it on Amazon, too. Dive into Georgios’ own subreddit, Philosophy of the Frontier. “Here, you will find philosophical content that I have written in the past two years,” he says.
82: Elliot Kanshin Kallen plays the shakuhachi
Mar 12 2024
82: Elliot Kanshin Kallen plays the shakuhachi
This episode gets into every angle of a musical instrument you’ve, for sure, heard yet may not know what it’s called.  Elliot Kanshin Kallen touches on the history of this Japanese flute, the emotions you can conjure from it, how it compares to other breath instruments, and, best of all, plays some notes for us a few times to make a point. We even talk a little Zen Buddhism (because it ties into the history and use of the instrument).  The angle of the mouth ... how many holes and why ... its complicated popularity and disappearance in Japanese music over the centuries ... and where it shows up now ... it's all here. This is a must-listen for fans of music and Japanese history.  For further enjoyment:  See Kallen play in this short video. Visit Kallen’s website here. Visit the International Shakuhachi Society, where Kallen is president and archive curator, here. If you’re in Sonoma County at the right, check out the Sonoma County Matsuri, a celebration of Japanese arts and culture in California. Kallen makes musical recommendations during this podcast, but here are a few in our conversation and some that didn’t make it in:  Shakuhachi Music: A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky from Yamaguchi Goro (Nonesuch)  The Japanese Flute by Miyata Kohachirō (Nonesuch) Anything from Kallen's friend, Riley Lee, who jokingly says, if you’re in a place and hear New Age-y music with a shakuhachi, well, it’s probably him (website)
79: M. D. Usher writes on ancient philosophy, animals and nature
Dec 12 2023
79: M. D. Usher writes on ancient philosophy, animals and nature
I met the Stoics a long time ago, as an adult, sitting in a field outside a local library and reading Epictetus’ Enchiridion (the Handbook). In fact, it was probably one of these copies.  Well, before Epictetus, there were the Cynics, and their philosophy was a little harder to follow. The famous Diogenes lived more like the animals than the Greeks around him, enjoying the sunshine, wearing whatever he could find, eating whatever he could find. A famous anecdote has him living in a large wine cask, and Alexander the Great asking him, with respect, what boon he could offer. To paraphrase, “If you could move a little to the left, you’re in my light.”  So, the Cynical philosophy makes for good anecdotes, inspiring countercultural ideas, and a way of life that is probably out of reach of the average person … who doesn’t want to be homeless, wear rags, and live modestly and easily on whatever can be scrounged up.  That’s a very rambling way of saying I saw a new translation of the Cynics at my local Barnes & Noble, and I jumped on it … then jumped on hunting an interview with the translator, M. D. Usher. And he’d written a marvelous assortment of other books—academic ones, popular and accessible ones, and even ones for kids.  If you’re interested in practical philosophy and its connection to animals, us, and the web of life we share … well, enjoy my discussion with Mark Usher, the Lyman-Roberts Professor of Classical Languages and Literature in the Department of Geography and Geosciences at the University of Vermont in Burlington …  For further reading:  How to Say No: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Cynicism (Princeton University Press, 2022) How to Be a Farmer: An Ancient Guide to Life on the Land (Princeton University Press, 2021), which covers some new, bad-ass translations of short pieces on interconnectedness, homesteading and agriculture from millennia ago. Plato’s Pigs and Other Ruminations: Ancient Guides to Living With Nature (Cambridge University Press, 2020) expounds and illustrates Usher’s ideas, drawn from ancient philosophy, about our place among the other animals. Diogenes (2009) and Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates (2005), available used here and here, kid-friendly picture books on the two great thinkers A 10-year-old article about Usher as an alumnus of University of Chicago
78: Adam Toon philosophizes about the mind
Nov 14 2023
78: Adam Toon philosophizes about the mind
There is a beautifully un-nail-down-able question-and-answer I have been rolling around, like a stone in a rock polisher, for many years now: What is consciousness?  It’s the big thing that seems to separate us from other animals: We are conscious or self-reflective or imaginative or reasoning in a way that other creatures, great and small, do not seem to be.  This quest, which has carried around in the world of neurologists, psychologists, philosophers, theologians, self-help gurus, physicists and more ...led me to Adam Toon, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Exeter.  His most recent book, Mind as Metaphor: A Defence of Mental Fictionalism (2023, Oxford University Press), discusses a related question he himself has been noodling on: What if our consciousness can make more sense if we admit that many of the truths of reality we hold are convenient fictions? We know some ideas we hold about ourselves and the world aren't true, or not totally true, but they’re useful or convenient or accessible or … well, lots of things.  What if we admit things that aren’t real are useful to believe? Is that the way we can better understand some part of this weird reason, consciousness, self-awareness we seem to have?  Let us find out, and along the way discover what brings a former math-and-theoretical-physics-obsessed guy to the world of thinking about science, not just doing science.    Further stuff you might like:  > Adam also wrote in 2012, as part of a "New Directions in the Philosophy of Science" series, Models as Make-Believe: Imagination, Fiction and Scientific Representation. > A favorite book of mine on mind is A Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter. If you were ever to read it, I would certainly re-read it and discuss it with you!  > A favorite podcast of mine on consciousness is Buddhist. The Amaravati Monastery, like Toon in the U.K., shares episodes online here.
77: David Doherty teaches sales
Oct 3 2023
77: David Doherty teaches sales
I enjoyed working for a few years with David Doherty with a multimedia publishing and events company in veterinary medicine. My favorite part was, every couple months, I'd go break into his office, sit down and ask him about sales. I thought his philosophy was fascinating. I don't like sales, but if I had to think about sales, heart about sales, wrap my head around sales ... I enjoyed doing it with Doherty. Today, Doherty is VP of Market Development with Coffman Group, a franchisee of the Sandler Training method. The Sandler book Doherty mentions is on my to-read list, because if he likes it, I want to read it. ANYway, whether you hate sales and selling, or you're super interested in it, I guarantee this interview will pay off. There's both high-level thinking and in-the-trenches advice (just a skosh). My favorite part is, David was a killer salesperson, then led salespeople ... but he had to both reinvent himself and get back to basics with a new, shared vocabulary for sales when he wound up in his latest gig with Coffman.  Everyone sells, even if you don't like to think about it (me). Why not come up with a better mindset around the work ... and consider small tactics that might tweak your selling for the better? Further research: David Sandler wrote a number of books, and Sandler Training has reworked them with new titles especially to take account of the changes in our life from the late 20th century (no internet) to now (internet everything). Because I like older books, I'll eventually read some version of Sandler's You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar. But if you're interested in more modern titles, there are a slew of "books and job-aids" offered here.You can reach Doherty from Coffman Group's website here.
76: Mike Keller collects movies
Sep 26 2023
76: Mike Keller collects movies
I used to work at a magazine for video store owners. By the time I’d gotten there, it was a vanity publication for the gigantic red-headed stepchildren of Hollywood: home entertainment companies. You know, the big money and focus went into the movies heading to cinema, and direct-to-video/DVD/Blu-ray and the home release of those movies was … not as cool, not as big, etc. My interviewee, Mike Keller, has been collecting videos, DVDs and Blu-rays for a long time now. We discuss the transition we’ve all lived through: It seemed like everyone was buying video in various formats for their home collections … and then … they weren’t. I mean, everything’s streaming, right? But Keller keeps on keepin’ on. After all, you never know when that streaming service is going to get rid of that TV show or movie … and then … no more watching for you! If you like movies, movie collecting, collecting, or walks down Memory Lane … you’ll love this chat. And, yes, that's Keller's wall of awesome home entertainment in his own home ... bask in its glory ... :) Last bonus! Because Keller’s favorite genre of movie is horror, he ponied up a couple lists for you to peruse. Thanks, Mike! You can find out where to watch these streaming on JustWatch.com or go buy new or used copies on your favorite e-commerce website ... or, y'know, check your local library!    15 Horror Essentials (that probably everybody has heard of, but they're still essential!) (loosely ranked) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Shining Carrie Night of the Living Dead Psycho The Exorcist Dracula (1931) Halloween Black Christmas Alien Poltergeist Suspiria Friday the 13th A Nightmare on Elm Street The Ring   15 Lesser-Known High-Recommendations Carnival of Souls (1962) The Midnight Hour (1985) Slumber Party Massacre (1982) Spider Baby (1967) Prison (1987) The Gate (1987) Manhunter (1986) The Vanishing (1988) Prince of Darkness (1987) Phantasm (1979) Psycho II (1983) Slugs (1988) (completely hilarious) Superstition (1982) The Brain (1988) Pin (1988)
74: Sam Chupp writes and creates role-playing games
Sep 12 2023
74: Sam Chupp writes and creates role-playing games
One role-playing game changed the way I think, or confirmed the way I think—now I don’t know which.  It was Mage: The Ascension. The tabletop role-playing game had players take on the roles of modern mages. The difference was, in previous RPGs, mages are usually spell-casting wizards. In Mage, magic works by imposing will upon the world: A mage wants something to happen. They try to learn how to do things like that (use fire, use time, use space between things, use death), and then they try to force their will on the world. If they succeed without irritating the world (which is a function of other human beings’ belief about how things work), they succeed in their magic. If they don’t, or they’re too obnoxiously obvious about their magic, they fail or succeed … and strange supernatural consequences may happen to them.  Anyway, one of my best friends, James, used to spend hours with me chatting about this world and its ideas.  Well, I saw this book sitting on my bookshelf, and I thought: Who made this thing?  Sam Chupp’s name was associated with the game. He wasn’t the mastermind behind it all, but he was a key writer for a few years with the game’s publisher, White Wolf, and he takes us through a journey in this podcast that covers RPGs, White Wolf, writing, the business of writing, and the pain of workplace burnout, then healing, imagination, and art. We also find out about a game he’s close to releasing himself …   What does that all mean? That means Chupp’s story turned out to be even more interesting to me than anything I could have learned about the Mage game from him.  For those not well-versed in tabletop role-playing games, especially White Wolf, there may be some “What the hell are you saying?” moments. But don’t give up. Let those weird moments of jargon float by and go deep again. Chupp and I will always dance to another topic, and you’ll catch the train of thought again.  Further research:  The deepest dive into Chupp’s past and current work is his Linktree here. Buy Sam Chupp Media role-playing game offerings on DriveThruRPG.com at this link. Listen to regular episodes of Chupp’s podcast on his website here.  An old-fashioned website of Chupp’s from years ago appears here. It’s flavorful, fanciful, vulnerable and sweet.
BONUS! Dr. Jennifer Sperry writes on the high costs of veterinary care
Sep 6 2023
BONUS! Dr. Jennifer Sperry writes on the high costs of veterinary care
Pet owners complain about the rising cost of veterinary prices. What’s to blame? This is a special bonus episode of What People Do that I've produced as a part of sponsored content for Animal Health Digest, a premier content curation service collecting and commenting on actionable information for people working in animal health.   I talk with Dr. Jennifer Sperry about the rising cost of veterinary care. Pet owners often say they’re shocked and unprepared for the bill when they visit their local veterinary hospital. How can they cope? And what should they know about why costs are rising? Dr. Sperry is a veterinarian and a veterinary advisor at Independence Pet Group. IPG has several pet insurance brands specifically designed to help manage the risk of costs for services at veterinary practices. We discuss an opinion piece she has drafted with her perspective on five reasons for these increasing costs other than inflation. Agree? Disagree? Let's get into it ...  Further reading: Dr. Sperry's short opinion piece is available to read in the Digital Resources section at vet.aspcapetinsurance.com.Read more from the Animal Health Digest and subscribe here (it's free!). Final notes: ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance is a sponsor of Animal Health Digest, and we (and they) wanted to make sure the legal details made it in. So, please note ...  Dr. Sperry’s policy covers eligible treatments for new and unexpected accidents and illnesses, including exam fees, prescriptions, hospitalization, surgery, referrals, alternative medicine*, prescription food*, and medical devices* (*are sublimited). Her policy limit is $5,000 annually with a $100 deductible and 10% coinsurance. Dr. Sperry had already met her deductible and had not yet exceeded her $5,000 annual limit in the example mentioned during this podcast.Plan premiums may vary based on location, your pet's breed and age, and the plan type, plan variables including annual deductible, annual limit, and reimbursement rate. The premium and reimbursement example from the podcast was based on the annual deductible being met in full.Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For all terms and conditions, visit https://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/more-info/sample-plans-for-dogs-cats/. Preventive Care coverage reimbursements are based on a schedule. Complete Coverage reimbursements are based on the invoice. Products, schedules, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Discounts may vary and are subject to change. More information available at checkout.Insurance products are underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), and produced and administered by PTZ Insurance Agency, Ltd. (NPN: 5328528. Domiciled in Illinois with offices at 1208 Massillon Road, Suite G200, Akron, Ohio 44306). (California residents only: PTZ Insurance Agency, Ltd., d.b.a PIA Insurance Agency, Ltd. CA license #0E36937).The ASPCA is not an insurer and is not engaged in the business of insurance. Through a licensing agreement, the ASPCA receives a royalty fee that is in exchange for use of the ASPCA's marks and is not a charitable contribution.
BONUS! Joe Roetheli, PhD, talks about a honeycombed dental treat
Aug 15 2023
BONUS! Joe Roetheli, PhD, talks about a honeycombed dental treat
The Greenies inventor is at it again … a new dental treat on the market.   This special podcast is a collaboration with Animal Health Digest, a premier content curation service collecting and commenting on actionable information for people working in animal health. I talk with Joe Roetheli, PhD, about something almost all dog owners buy: treats. Roetheli and his wife, Judy, were the masterminds behind the Greenies dental treat before selling it to a big dog in animal health, Mars, way back in 2006. Now, the serial entrepreneur has designed a new treat, also for dogs, and also for dental health: Yummy Combs.   After selling Greenies most might sail off into the sunset. Nope. Roetheli had more ideas for palatability as well as a honey-comb shape that he says helps scrub the tooth while dogs chew without harming their gums.   Let’s find out how healthy the new treat is, why the world needed another one, and how hard it is to get the Veterinary Oral Health Council stamp of approval for a gingivitis-fighting treat.     But, first, I how the iconic treat Greenies first came about. It's inspiration from an inspirational inventor.     Further reading: Tired of hearing about the treat and want to see a dog going hard on a Yummy Combs treat? Here's a video. Roetheli mentions the Lil' Red Foundation. Find out more about his and his wife's philanthropic work here. Read more from the Animal Health Digest and subscribe here (it's free!).
68: New to Neoclassical music? Dive in with Hipster Pug
Jul 4 2023
68: New to Neoclassical music? Dive in with Hipster Pug
In recent years, I have fallen back in love with New Age, space music, and the droning, atmospheric, accessible Neoclassical genre. Imagine music to TV shows, movies and moods that don’t exist … or only exist in the composers’ and performers’ own heads.  Works like Max Richter’s Sleep and Johann Johannson’s Virðulegu Forsetar have played and replayed in my head as I lie on my bed dozens of times now. Their droning but moving parts, atmospheric sound and noise, and accessible melody and harmony, slow and calming and transporting … I can’t get enough.   That’s why a chance to interview Hipster Pug, a maker of Neoclassical, ambient and experimental music, was exciting.   Forgive some of my excited, stumbling questions. Settle in and discover why we both love these genres and how this new musician fell in love with, not just listening, but making the work himself …   Want a flavor before we start? I mention his “journey of dreams.” Listen right here on Bandcamp. If you like it, throw him a few bucks and buy the whole thing!  Want to dive into Neoclassical, to see what’s what? Here are some artists and selections discussed during (or after we finished recording) this episode:  “Infra 5” from Max Richter’s Infra (one of our guest’s favorites), here on YouTube Orphée from Johann Johannson “Particles” from Ólafur Arnauld’s Island Songs, here on YouTube nouveau chapitre EP and Neon Noir album from Hipster Pug himself artists from the label that carries Hipster Pug, Monochrome Motif, focusing on “Post Classical,” “Cinematic” and “Electronica” music  Want my favorite work these days? This is it: spoken word, machine noise, manipulated vocals, beautiful drones and music.