DiscoverCrazy Town
Crazy Town

Crazy Town

Author: Post Carbon Institute: Sustainability, Climate, Collapse, and Dark Humor

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With equal parts humor and in-depth analysis, Asher, Rob, and Jason safeguard their sanity while probing crazy-making topics like climate change, overshoot, runaway capitalism, and why we’re all deluding ourselves.
94 Episodes
Meet Ray Kurzweil, who combines Moore’s Law with nanobots in a faux recipe to cheat death. Please share this episode with your friends and start a conversation.For an entertaining deep dive into the theme of season five (Phalse Prophets), read the definitive peer-reviewed taxonomic analysis from our very own Jason Bradford, PhD. Sources/Links/Notes:Ray Kurzweil's 2005 book checks in at 672 pages -- it's called The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.Kurzweil's sequel from 2022 is called The Singularity Is Nearer.Brian O'Keefe, "The smartest (or the nuttiest) futurist on Earth," Fortune, May 2, 2007.David Hochman, "Reinvent Yourself," Playboy, April 19, 2016.Episode of Doug Henning's World of Magic, 1980.Society for CryobiologySingularity UniversitySarah Begley, "The Future of Food: Experts Predict How Our Plates Will Change," Time, October 9, 2014.Alan Thompson, "Dr Ray Kurzweil: 2022-2023 Updates," LifeArchitect.aiEric Brende wrote a book that counteracts some of Kurzweil's absurdities. It's called Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology.The Simplicity Collective is a good organization for exploring voluntary simplicity.Support the show
Meet Steven Pinker whose denial of limits increases the likelihood of his worst fear: the end of the Enlightenment. Please share this episode with your friends and start a conversation.For an entertaining deep dive into the theme of season five (Phalse Prophets), read the definitive peer-reviewed taxonomic analysis from our very own Jason Bradford, PhD. Sources/Links/Notes:David Marchese, "Steven Pinker Thinks Your Sense of Imminent Doom Is Wrong" in The New York Times Magazine (2021).The Work that Reconnects NetworkGood Grief NetworkThree relevant past episodes of Crazy Town are episode 39 on the myth of progress, episode 35 on self-domestication, and episode 34 on terror management theory."Steven Pinker: The Mind Reader" in The Guardian (1999).Robert Wright, "The 2004 Time 100" in Time Magazine (2004).Nick Gillespie, "Steven Pinker Loves the Enlightenment" in Reason Magazine (2018).David A. Bell, "Waiting for Steven Pinker’s enlightenment" in The Nation (2018).Emile Torres, "Steven Pinker’s fake enlightenment" in Salon (2019).Robert Epstein, "Book Review: The Better Angels of Our Nature" in Scientific American (2011).Tyler Cowen, "Steven Pinker on Language, Reason, and the Future of Violence," Mercatus Center (2016).Mike Freiheit and Lyta Gold, "Comic: Steven Pinker--Certified Grief Counselor" in Current Affairs 2018). George Monbiot, "Contrary to Reason" in The Guardian (2018).Alex Blasdel, "Pinker's progress: the celebrity scientist at the centre of the culture wars" in The Guardian (2021).Support the show
Meet the unelected leaders of Crazy Town, who keep our collective heads in the sand while the planet burns. Please share this episode to your friends and start a conversation.For an entertaining deep dive into the theme of season five (Phalse Prophets), read the definitive peer-reviewed taxonomic analysis from our very own Jason Bradford, PhD. Sources/Links/Notes:"Bundyville: The Remnant" -- long-form article and podcast by Leah Sottile.Five topic categories of the Phalse Prophets season: progress myth, neoliberalism, ecomodernism, effective altruism, and doomerism.Story of Bruce's Beach.Yes! Magazine article on land justice.  Support the show
Stuart McMillen is a systems thinker disguised as a cartoonist. His long-form comics condense important academic topics into understandable and entertaining works of art. Stuart tackles topics in the fields of ecology, economics, psychology, and sociology. With original drawings, thought-provoking narration, and expertly paced storytelling, he introduces readers to critical ideas that are often under-reported and underappreciated, including energy slaves, property rights, peak oil, and the war on drugs. Go behind the scenes with Stuart to learn how he crafts his comics, from his philosophy to the nitty gritty of how he makes a living. And be sure to explore his work at Support the show
Bob Jensen has written a book with Wes Jackson titled An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity. With a title like that, Jason and Bob have lots of heavy ground to cover, including overshoot, the limits to growth, and the cascading environmental and social crises of our times. They conclude that there are no easy answers or silver-bullet solutions, but by focusing on sustainable size of the human population, appropriate scale of social organization, optimal scope of human competence for managing high-energy modernity, and required speed of taking action to avoid catastrophe, they home in on some strategic responses to the crises. Support the show
Asher is joined in Crazy Town by Danielle Celermajer, author and professor at University of Sydney, for a far-ranging conversation about human rights and the more-than-human world. Dany shares how her personal relationship with the Shoah (Holocaust) set her on a path of human rights work and impacted her experience of the devastating Black Summer Fires that swept through Australia in 2019-2020. They discuss her journey towards scholarship and activism for the more-than-human world, the intersection of human rights and multispecies justice, and the way that individuals and groups of people have stepped up to care for the billions of non-human lives impacted by the fires and floods that have ravaged Australia in recent years. Finally, Dany shares ideas for how listeners can (re)connect with the more-than-human world. For more information, please visit our website.Support the show
Climate scientist and activist Peter Kalmus returns to Crazy Town, but this time with a green badge of courage. Earlier this year, he locked himself to the entrance of the JP Morgan Chase building in downtown Los Angeles to protest their ongoing investment in the fossil fuel industry. As you would expect, he was arrested for his troubles. It was an experience he describes (paradoxically) as "scary as f**k," but also opening and wonderful. In this wide-ranging interview, Rob and Peter cover civil disobedience, climate denial, activism, ego management, and coping strategies for anxiety about climate disaster and collapse. It makes you wonder why we can't arrest the executives at JP Morgan Chase, ExxonMobil, and all the other truly radical corporations that appear to be on an ecocidal mission from hell! For more information, please visit our website.Support the show
Douglas Rushkoff revisits Crazy Town, where he and Asher discuss why so many billionaires, academic institutions, and "serious" people are drawn to longtermism - the view that our top priority should be ensuring that humanity can spread its wings throughout the physical and virtual universe. What's the suffering of a few billion people in the here and now, when there's quadrillions, no quintillions, of potential future people to worry about? Sure, the climate crisis is bad. But is it really an existential threat? Douglas explains why, when you take a tech bro to drink Ayahuasca in the Amazon, he still comes back a tech bro. And why, when you hear buzzwords like longtermism, effective altruism, and transhumanism, all you need to ask is: Does it perpetuate capitalism? Asher and Douglas riff on why longtermism is denialism – denial of death, denial of the body, and denial of responsibility – and why the antithesis is living in the here and now, with our neighbors. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
In her latest book "Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law," Mary Roach approaches the topic of human-wildlife conflict with entertaining stories, scientific insight, and a healthy dose of wit and humor. There are plenty of animal stories in this episode, from marauding mountain lions to bothersome bears, from macaques who are jerks to gulls who are dicks, and of course that most meddlesome of all species – the human being. The phrase "going out clubbing" takes on a decidedly macabre meaning when the context is U.S. military attempts to control albatrosses living their lives near an air base. And find out if a scenario seemingly cribbed from an unaired "Breaking Bad" script portends the collapse of civilization. Hiding amidst all the stories and fun are big implications for ecosystems, biodiversity conservation, and human society. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
Please check out our newest podcast, Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival featuring Richard Heinberg. How have humans become powerful enough to disrupt the world's climate, trigger the sixth mass extinction, and cause serious harm to the biosphere? And with all the abilities and technologies we've accrued, why do we so often oppress instead of uplift one another? Join us as we explore the hidden driver behind the converging crises of the 21st century. It all comes down to power - our pursuit of it, overuse of it, and abuse of it. Learn how different forms of power arose, what they mean for us today, and why giving up power just might save us.Support the show
Taylor Brorby has written one hell of a memoir. It covers many critical topics that come up in Crazy Town, from fracking to civil disobedience to that most inept of policies: aiming for infinite economic growth on a finite planet. Taylor shares both thought-provoking ideas (e.g., the intimidating width of prairies versus the intimidating height of mountains) and lessons learned from growing up gay within the construct of an extractive economy. Two "bonus" topics in this episode: writing and wrestling! But don't worry, the "Macho Man" Randy Savage impersonations remain mercifully brief. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
As a follow-up to Episode 61 of the Crazy Town podcast, Noam Chomsky, the well-known linguist, author, and social critic, joins Asher Miller in Crazy Town to discuss the failures and dominance of neoliberalism -- which Chomsky describes as "class war" -- since delivery of the Powell Memo 50 years ago. Chomsky responds to George Monbiot's critique of the political center and left for not, in Monbiot's view, developing viable alternatives to neoliberalism. Disagreeing with Monbiot's (and admittedly Post Carbon Institute's own) views about the limits of Keynesian "green growth" economic policies, Chomsky discusses proposals developed by places like the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) that he believes would meet the needs of the poor and working classes while tackling the climate crisis. Noam's emphasis on community power, going back to his childhood experiences, strongly resonates with "Do the Opposite" themes explored in Season 4 of Crazy Town.Support the show
The astute listener will recognize the trends in population and greenhouse gas emissions over the course of our chronologically arranged episodes on watershed moments in history. Describing these trends in one word: growth. In two words: massive growth! And in three words: What the WTF? In recapping the season and considering what we learned, we hit on some common themes in Crazy Town: cognitive bias, energy literacy (really, illiteracy), human supremacy, disconnection from nature, and misplaced faith in technology. But we also share some uncommon themes: a prom night that should be featured in a Stephen King novel, a tale of boy meets spider monkey, and finding history in one’s own backyard. Plus we’ve got some takeaway lessons, like this gem: the more money you lose and the more exhausted you are at the end of the day, the more you know you’re winning. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
Talk about cascading consequences: when a few nerds wanted to get high and orchestrated a small exchange of cannabis, they kicked off the age of ecommerce. Now that online shopping and the technology supporting it have ramped up commercialization and supercharged consumerism, we're facing existential crises. Exactly what nefarious internet innovation might lead Jason to unbox a trebuchet? Why would Asher consider having an Amazon truck deliver his kid to school? What's the most efficient way for Rob to get his plastic packaging to the ocean so it can choke the most marine mammals? Get online, order a must-have product (perhaps that pair of fentanyl-laced blue jeans you've been eyeing), and take part in the end times of capitalism. Or consider canceling that Amazon Prime account, shutting off the computer for a spell, and getting busy prioritizing community over consumption. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
Free trade, private property, and limited government – these policies might seem well-intentioned and even benign. But when a couple of colluding, power-tripping, wealthy blockheads packaged them into a political system that would become known as neoliberalism, it was like putting capitalist exploitation on steroids. Pollution and other environmental problems? Just a minor cost of doing business. Inequality and lack of opportunities for workers? Just wait for all the surplus to trickle down from the upper crust. Concerned about government overreach? Just hand over operations to Halliburton, Philip Morris, and all the other "trustworthy" corporations. Sheesh! It's time for something entirely different to replace neoliberalism – maybe "paleoprogressivism?" Calling all wordsmiths! For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
For such tame technology, air conditioning really packs a punch when it comes to enabling environmental obscenities, indefensible infrastructure, and shortsighted settlement patterns. In the story of how A/C came to underpin human overshoot, you couldn't make up a better bad guy. Perhaps the most Batmanesque villain we've encountered would make a good candidate for mayor of Crazy Town (teaser: he's been called "the scientist who almost destroyed the planet"). Join Asher, Rob, and Jason as they turn up the heat on air conditioning and contemplate how to stay cool in the days of heat waves, heat domes, and global heating. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
Are shameless product placements keeping you from enjoying your movie-viewing experience? Have you ever felt assaulted by pop-up ads and sidebars while trying to read something on the internet? These are some of the less insidious advertising techniques deployed to manipulate you into buying stuff you never knew you needed. Take a tour through the history of advertising, and explore the escalation of mind games and marketing mania that has fueled consumerism and the capitalist conflagration, leaving us on the brink of a climate meltdown. But not to worry, we’ve seen plenty of ads for products to ease your anxiety about the environment or any existential threat you might encounter. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
Don't you wish we could power daily life on road rage, frustration, and righteous indignation? If that were possible, the U.S. highway system would be the best investment of all time. As it stands, the unintended consequences (e.g., pollution, habitat fragmentation, discrimination, town wrecking, dependency on unsustainable infrastructure, and the uglification of America) reveal how badly highways miss the mark. What a stupendous misallocation of resources! Fortunately we have some ideas about how to get from point A to point B and provision ourselves without relying on 18-wheelers and endless miles of asphalt. So get your motor runnin' and head out on the highway for an adventure in transforming the transportation system. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
What kind of thinking leads to the unleashing of exotic species on unsuspecting ecosystems? Hint: it's certainly not systems thinking or critical thinking – in fact, thinking may not be involved at all! Learn about three charter members of the Weirdo Hall of Fame who wanted you to eat tasty McHippo bacon burgers for breakfast. Influenced by the illusion of control and brainwashed by the industrial mindset, people have recklessly released plants and animals into environments where they cause colossal carnage. Perhaps you should think twice (first time in systems, second time critically) before accepting membership into the Society for the Acclimatization of Animals, Birds, Fishes, Insects and Vegetables.Support the show
Welcome to the dehumanizing world of scientific management, where business gurus and middle managers view workers as resources, and where a cult-like devotion to productivity has invaded almost all facets of daily life. From fairy tales about strapping steel workers who put CrossFit champions to shame, to the plight of Amazon warehouse workers who can't even get a bathroom break, we've got stories that expose the dark side of the efficiency fetish. Grab your stopwatch and a pee bottle so you can listen to this episode as efficiently as possible! For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show
Comments (1)

Nino Cocchiarella

more, more more!!!

Mar 6th
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