Department Of Podcast Feeds I’m Deleting
I post frequently about the podcasts moiself listens to (and this entire post, unintentionally, is devoted to that). Recently I did a trial listen to a new (to moiself) pocast, titled, Tell Me.
TM is hosted by actor/producer Ellen Pompeo, best known for her seventeen year stint as Dr. Meredith Grey on the TV show, Grey’s Anatomy. I can’t remember how I heard of TM – most likely via an ad on a podcast moiself already listens to – so I checked out the show’s website:
” …Ellen Pompeo sits down with a wide range of guests and celebrity friends who inspire her and who do extraordinary things. Through in-depth, candid conversations, Ellen shines a light on people and issues that are important to her and the world at large….
Ellen is also an outspoken activist for issues including equal pay for women in Hollywood and beyond, social justice, voting rights, and women’s rights.”
Hmmm. I’ve had the ass-tearing-with-boredom experience of trying out podcasts, supposedly highly-rated, which feature “celebrities” (read: comedians and actors) who seem genial enough and are good at their profession, and then the podcast consists of them talking with their friends…and the conversations between them and their fellow, A- and B-list celebs don’t hold my attention for long. It’s like being on the bus listening to Joe Schmo and Kathy Whoa sharing their in-crowd jokes, etc., only these Joes and Kathys have famous names…but you still don’t know them personally. Despite how funny/talented they are on stage, they start with the seemingly obligatory Celebrity-Host-to-Celebrity-Guest podcast Intro ®, which is a session of mutual ass-kissing (“I love your work!” “And I love *your* work…!”)…and then…who really cares?
However, when I read about Pompeo’s activism I assumed that would be a prominent feature of her podcast, so I gave it a try.
In the past week I listened to three of her interviews…or tried to. I couldn’t make it all the way through: in at least two of them, Pompeo and/or her guests brought up their “signs,” as in astrology, and chatted about their respective and supposed zodiac attributes (along the lines of, “Ah yes, as a Scorpio…” ).
She’s off my feed now. I’m still a Grey’s Anatomy fan, but I simply cannot take Pompeo seriously as a podcast host of “… issues that are important to…the world at large.”
“It turns out that astrologers can’t even agree among themselves what a given horoscope means. In careful tests they’re unable to predict the character and future of people they know nothing about except the time and place of birth.
Also, how could it possibly work? How could the rising of Mars at the moment of my birth affect me then or now? I was born in a closed room. Light from Mars couldn’t get in. The only influence of Mars which could affect me was its gravity. But the gravitational influence of the obstetrician was much larger than the gravitational influence or Mars.
Mars is a lot more massive but the obstetrician was a lot closer.”
( Carl Sagan )
In the year 2022, the idea that some people would give even a modicum of legitimacy to the medieval hokum that is astrology….
And yes, I realize a lot of people throw around astrology references in a casual, “fun” way and probably don’t take it seriously (or even understand what they are alluding to). However, facts matters – or at least, they should. Look around the world, read y’alls selves some history, and see what happens when people do not understand and misrepresent reality.
Again, I know, some folks play with the astrology thing for fun, but in the name of all that is rational, please, when someone asks, “What’s your sign?” the only polite response you should give should be:
If the sign-seeker is balks, kindly yet firmly refer them to The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark .  This glorious book, described by the LA Times as “a manifesto for clear thinking,” is an entertaining, accessible, thought-provoking read, in which Carl Sagan and co-author/science communicator/producer Ann Druyan
* describe the scientific method to laypeople;
* illuminate critical and skeptical thinking;
* teach readers how to employ skeptical thinking and rigorous questioning, and other methods to equip ourselves with a “baloney taction kit” to help distinguish between valid science and pseudoscience.
* * *
Department Of Destiny, Schmestiny
And one more thing.
In two of the three podcast episodes I listened to, Pompeo’s guests were people she knew personally (former Grey’s actors), and she brought up with them a concept which was obviously authentic and important to her, but which (along with the astrology) also strayed into woo-woo/squishy territory: destiny.
It’s hard to describe what she was trying to describe – in part because she was more enthusiastic than articulate about it, and in part because the subject itself is so subjective. To do it justice would require me relistening to those interviews (and I have no desire to do so) . Pompeo is not the first person to hold and express such sentiments, which go, basically, like this:
* Certain people come into your life, and you into theirs, because the two of you separately yet somehow reciprocally give off this kind of aura which attracts them; thus, you were “destined” to meet because of these mutualities ….
Pompeo brought this up with her former co-star Patrick Dempsey, and as part of the proof that they were fated to meet and work together and be friends, she told him that they used to live down the street from each other, before they knew each other.
So, two actors, in an area (LA) where you can’t spit without hitting an actor or would-be actor – two people working in the same field, living near one another, ending up working together and ended up getting along with and liking each other, and therefore, it’s destiny?
Destiny; fate? How about good fortune, brought about by coincidence? Star-crossed lovers and even besties-for-life have a prominent place in literature and the arts, which loves the meet-cute and “meant-to-be” scenarios. But in our non-fictional lives, when we step back and look at the facts and statistics, what we might consider destiny is in fact more accurately framed as a result of proximity or geography.
The vast majority of people become friends with and partner up with people who live near them and are from the same or similar educational, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I have friends with whom I share deep intellectual and emotional connections and/or have profound commonalities of interests and perspectives, but we didn’t meet because we were destined to. We met because we were in proximity; because, due to school or work or socia/neighborhood and/or or other activities, we encountered each other, and our relationships gradually grew from there.
My friend CC is a wonderful person and playmate and confidante, and I’m grateful for and have been enriched by her friendship. But I do not think in the slightest that these things mean that we were destined to become friends. If I were living in Hillsboro and she in Hanoi, or somewhere else across the globe, it is highly unlikely that the tides of fate/destiny would have brought us together.
* * *
Department Of Advice Of The Week
“I do suspect that many, many people would be much happier
if they did less, better.”
This provocative quote is from a podcast I’m *not* deleting – a podcast where I doubt I’ll ever hear anyone cite astrology. I’m referring to PIMA (People I Mostly Admire), and the advice comes from PIMA‘s recent episode, “Turning Work Into Play,” which features psychologist, author, and academic, Dan Gilbert.
Gilbert (described on the podcast as someone who went “…from high school dropout to Harvard professor”) brings an intriguing perspective to concepts of being “lazy,” and how to bring about joy, as illustrated by this excerpt from the podcast, where Gilbert is being interviewed by PIMA host Steve Levitt. Levitt, like many academics, has had to teach as part of his university contract. Levitt also, like many academics, prefers research to teaching.  Thus, Levitt has been intimidated by and/or found teaching to be a chore, and so he asked Gilbert how he seemingly excels at it (my emphases):
“I would say that the reason I put so much time and effort into my teaching is because I’m lazy. And lazy people don’t like to work. Somewhere very early on in life, right around the time I dropped out of high school, I think, I decided I never want to work again. All I want to do is play. And what I discovered is that to the extent that you put your whole self into almost any task — even if it’s washing the dishes — it stops being work and it starts becoming play.
I wonder if I can wash the dishes by holding them in my right hand and scrubbing with my left hand. Is it faster if I do it that way? Is there an interesting way to stack them so that they dry faster rather than slower? Anything that you are creative and playful with is a joy…..putting your entire self into things turns it into joy.”
“So, you were the first person I’ve ever heard say so succinctly this idea that a 100% focus is associated with joy, no matter what the task. It’s implicit in a lot of, like, Eastern philosophies of enlightenment…. I think you’re probably right. And yet in my own life, I don’t do very much of that…. How did you figure this out?”
“I probably have a talent you don’t. Which is, I can say ‘No.’ I can say, ‘No’ very easily. I say, ‘No,’ to almost everything. My guess is you say, ‘No,’ a lot, but you say, ‘Yes,’ too much. And as a result, you have seven different things you’d like to put yourself fully into, but you can only put one-seventh of yourself in, because you said, ‘Yes,’ to all of them.
So, early on, when I decided I want everything I do to be a joy, I realized I would only be able to do very few things. So, I just say, ‘No,’ to just about everything. And ‘Yes,’ to just enough that I can constantly be putting my whole self into the teaching or into an article. I mean, I’ve published a quarter of the articles most of my colleagues at my stage of career have published. Because I write very few articles. Because I’m not going to write one that isn’t just as beautifully written and as smart as I can possibly be at that moment. Because that brings me joy. And I’m lazy. I like joy.”
“I always ask my guests when they come on to give advice. I think I just heard you give advice — which is maybe the single most important thing anyone can do is to learn how to say, ‘No,’ and to say, ‘No,’ much more often.”
“ ….I do suspect that many, many people would be much happier if they did less, better. Publish fewer papers and make them better papers. For God’s sake, publish one paper and make it a great paper. Not only will you be happier, but the world will be happier without all the crappy papers you didn’t publish. Reading this one that you put your heart and soul into, and everybody can tell you did because it’s just such a pleasure. Don’t you think the world would be better with fewer books that were better books? Fewer X that are better X? I’m not sure what you could substitute for X that wouldn’t be true.”
“I think that’s right. And I have gotten better at saying, ‘No,’ but as you described my life — seven things that I do, each of them pretty poorly…. And it’s probably four too many. And I’ve yet to figure out how to get from seven down to three.”
“…I know you can go from seven to three very easily. My guess is that when somebody says, ‘Steve, I’ve got this idea for a project.’ You go, ‘Wow, that would be really fun.’ And this is what we call ‘affective forecasting.’ You’re imagining how great it will be to do the project. And we know from a lifetime of research that there’s a whole bunch of things you’re not imagining. Particularly how it will impinge on all the other things you already said, ‘Yes,’ to.”
* * *
Department Of My To-Do List: One More Item To Check Off
Dateline: Sunday am, listening to No Stupid Questions podcast, episode 97: Are Women Really Less Happy Than Men?, which is about the supposed gender gap in happiness.
Another entry on moiself’s To-do list: Give up on being good.
* * *
Punz For The Day
Why are horses so happy?
Because they live in a stable environment.
Why can’t tennis players ever find happiness?
Because love means nothing to them.
I’m so happy with my financial savvy – my credit card company calls me every day to tell me that my balance is outstanding!
What is the best blood type for happiness?
* * *
May you make the world happier “…without all the crappy papers you didn’t publish;”
May you say “no” more often so that you can joyfully say, “yes;”
May you equip yourself with a baloney detection kit;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 And read it yourself, even if you consider yourself a good hokum detector and/or already know why astrology is bunk.
 And enjoy, as well as the facts Sagan presents, his distinctive speech patterns and intonations.
 Damn right, that’s a word. Now…here…at least.
 Some of us may remember how disappointed we were in college, when we had such professors.
 This calls for another footnote.