Here Be Monsters

A Society, Culture and Philosophy podcast
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Episodes of Here Be Monsters

A brief follow-up to last episode: you can now follow our AI-powered friend Theodora on Twitter! She tweets several times a day, giving bad advice, good advice, and some strange poetry. Her account’s called Hypothetical Inspiration. Give her
How does a computer learn to speak with emotion and conviction? Language is hard to express as a set of firm rules.  Every language rule seems to have exceptions and the exceptions have exceptions etcetera.  Typical, “if this then that” approac
Like so many others, Amanda Petrus got a bit lost after college. She had a chemistry degree and not a lot of direction.  But she was able to find work at a juice factory in the vineyards of western New York.  Her job was quality control, which
HBM Host Jeff Emtman has always been afraid of losing his memories. Places he cares about keep getting torn down.In this episode, Jeff bikes around Seattle recording the sounds of a popping balloon to capture the sound of places he likes: Padel
Animals sometimes make noises that would be impossible to place without context.  In this episode: three types of animal vocalizations—described by the people who recorded them. Ashley Ahearn: Journalist and producer of Grouse, from Birdnote an
1,420,405,751* hertz is a very important frequency.  It’s the frequency that hydrogen radiates at, creating radio waves that can be detected far away.  And astronomers can learn a lot about the history and shape of the universe by observing thi
When a group of broke college students start throwing lavish feasts, HBM host Jeff Emtman begins to wonder at the source of the food, initially assuming it was stolen.  But he’s soon corrected.  Confronted with the shocking amount of food waste
Season 9 will be here soon!  We’ll bring you ten new episodes about fear, beauty and the unknown.  We’ll see the fight for survival and beauty of the microscopic world.  We’ll learn how balloons can be used to capture the souls of doomed buildi
For the last five years, Here Be Monsters has been a part of KCRW.  And in those years, we’ve put out a 100+ episodes under KCRW’s imprint.  However, moving forward, HBM will no longer be associated with the station, instead continuing as an in
There used to be a neighborhood in Tulsa where Black people were wealthy. They owned businesses, built a giant church, a public library. Some Black Tulsans even owned airplanes. Booker T Washington called it “Black Wall Street.” Others called i
Hedonism seems pretty appealing right now—seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. On HBM137: Superhappiness, the hedonist philosopher, David Pearce imagined a future free of the systemic harms we currently experience: poverty, oppression, violence,
There’s a large cave in the foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan. It looks out over green and yellow fields and a river far below. Starting in the 1950’s, the American archaeologist Dr. Ralph Solecki led a team who excavated a trench in Shanidar Cave,
David Pearce thinks it's possible to end suffering. He’s a philosopher* who studies “hedonic zero”, the state of being which is completely neutral--neither good nor bad. He believes that, despite our momentary joys and sadnesses, most of us hav
In 2012, Jacob Lemanski started writing his autobiography a few words at a time when he signed his name on the digital card readers at the grocery store. He read somewhere that the credit card companies keep the signatures on file for seven yea
We live in a culture of “death denial”. That’s what Amanda Provenzano thinks. She sees it when medical professionals use euphemisms like ‘passing away’ instead of ‘dying’. She sees it when funeral parlors use makeup to make it look like a perso
Searching for something to do during government-mandated social distancing, Here Be Monsters host Jeff Emtman recently digitized his cassette collection, and re-edited them into blackout poems and proverbs. While in the process of doing this, J
Bodies are odd.  Anyone who can see their own nose will tell you the same.  So will anyone whose diet changed their body odor.  And so will anyone who’s ever felt their phone vibrate in their pocket only to later realize it was a phantom ring. 
Natalia Montes was a teenager living in Florida when Travyon Martin was killed.  She says his picture reminded her of her classmates, “It could have happened to any one of us.”The Trayvon Martin shooting, as well as subsequent high profile poli
Bethany Denton has a long history of carsickness. Ever since she was a little girl, long car rides made her nauseous and gave her stomachaches. Once, when she was four years old, her carsickness was so bad that she made her dad take a detour to
Mother Pigeon says the wild animals of New York City are hungry.  So she feeds them.Each morning, a flock of about 150 pigeons waits for her at her local park in Bushwick.  She feeds them twice a day if she can afford it, and once a day if she
Lars Christian Kofoed Rømer claims his red hat is mere coincidence. He wears it because his mother-in-law knit it for him 15 years ago and he quite likes it. However, it also makes him visually match the mythical underground people he spent thr
Colby Richardson’s mom got leukemia when he was young. He has trouble remembering her. Soon after her death, Colby and his siblings wound up at a house in Hope, BC where he met Santo, a childhood friend of his mom’s. Colby remembers that Santo’
Most of us want to help.  But it can be hard to know how to do it, and not all altruistic deeds are equal, and sometimes they can be harmful.  Sometimes glitzy charities satisfy the heart of a giver, but fail to deliver results.That’s the parad
How familiar are you with the shape of the continents?  What about the shape of the seafloor? If you’re unfamiliar with the contours of our planet’s underwater mountain ranges and plateaus and valleys, then you’re not alone.  No one really know
There’s a beautifully written speech that was never delivered. Written for President Richard Nixon by Bill Safire, the speech elegizes astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong of Apollo 11, who’d become stuck on the moon, and were left to die
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