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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.

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Mon. Mar 2nd, 6pm - 7pm: Mark H. with Co-Host Mary Wing

Options February 3, 2020: David Courtwright, author, "The Age of Addiction"

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Tonight: Prof. David Courtwright, author, "The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business"

David Courtwright, Professor, University of North Florida

The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business

Items for today:

Google’s tearjerker Super Bowl ad is sad and creepy (The Verge, Jan 29): "Given all the ways it collects data on us, it’s depressing to consider that Google apparently doesn’t see anything unsettling about an ad that highlights a grieving widower providing the search giant with even more personal details."

• via emptywheel (Feb 2): "Jeebus people! That ad was about Google seamlessly sucking up your most personal memories over a 50 year relationship. That's not sweet! That's horrible."

Google Maps Hacks by Simon Weckert, 2020. Simon writes (Feb 1): "99 smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps. Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route!" (And past Techtonic guest Roger McNamee writes: "Google Maps uses load balancing to keep traffic moving smoothly, which means you may be sent on an inferior route so it moves smoothly for most people. People are fighting back with hacks, creating virtual traffic jams.")

Here Are the Most Common Airbnb Scams Worldwide (Jan 31): "Nearly 1,000 people flooded our inbox with their stories. We found some patterns." Bait and switch, plumbing scams, money scams, fake damages, running out the clock until refund window expires, and on and on and on.

• via HighWireTalk (Jan 31): "'It’s evil. There’s really no other word for it.' RT Electronic patient records systems used by 1000s of doctors were programmed to automatically suggest opioids at treatment, thanks to a secret deal between the software maker & a drug company." Talking about this Bloomberg story (Jan 29): Health-Records Company Pushed Opioids to Doctors in Secret Deal With Drugmaker.

Founder of Opioid Maker Sentenced to 5½ Years in Prison (WSJ, Jan 23): "Prosecutors portrayed Dr. Kapoor as the leader of a mail- and wire-fraud conspiracy keeping a close watch over the company’s bribery of doctors, which it masked as speaking fees, and its efforts to win reimbursement for the drug by lying to insurers about patients’ diagnoses."

- - -

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Artist Track Album Label Images Approx. start time
  On addiction: Prof. David Courtwright talks about his book "The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business."
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options Machinarium Soundtrack  No label 
Options
 
  Mark's intro      
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  Interview with David Courtwright      
Options
0:15:33 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
  Your comments      
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0:44:39 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
Cult Fantastic  Screens   Options I Love My Selfie  No label 
Options
0:53:29 (MP3 | Pop‑up)

Listener comments!

Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:00pm ultradamno:

Hello Mark! Techtonopamine fasters!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:01pm Handy Haversack:

Greetings, seekers! Hi, Mark! Pour the tech gin!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm Megaroni:

Greetings Techtonic! Good to be with you
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm listener james from westwood:

Evening, Mark and all!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm chresti:

Hi Mark and Techtonic addicts!
  6:02pm John from Florham park:

Hello fellow technoids
  6:02pm Dave Miss:

Howdy from BK
  6:04pm Listener Robert:

Oh, David Courtwright! He's an old hand on the subject.
  6:04pm iiibeat:

Mark . . Sugar is THE gateway drug!!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Go, Kansas!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm chresti:

Being a lifetime addict of various substances, this is right up my alley!
  6:06pm melinda:

Hi all!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:08pm Folsom:

That Google ad was terrible, now all of his memories are digitized and used for data mining and AI training.
  6:09pm John from Florham park:

@Chestri can’t imagine what you have gone through
@Melinda howdy
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:09pm ultradamno:

...and all the old photos were altered to have the old man and his wife wearing google t-shirts.
  6:09pm John from Florham park:

@Folsom missed that commercial and glad I did
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:10pm Handy Haversack:

Not to mention the ethically untenable position of preying on fears of loss, death, and dementia. Though I guess we'd have to get all the ads removed ...
  6:10pm spodiodi:

it's well done... and completely messed up
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:10pm Carmichael:

Did you see the Trump commercial where he was lauded for reuniting the Mexican families? I laughed out loud at the irony.
Avatar 6:11pm KennyV:

Yes, it was soo creepy.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm Handy Haversack:

I buried my face in a book during all the commercials. Learned about methods of cheating at cards!
  6:11pm John from Florham park:

@Carmichael missed that one too
@Handy howdy
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm Ken From Hyde Park:

The cringe-worthy Facebook commercials were pretty horrible, too.
Avatar 6:13pm KennyV:

I can’t allow that Dave
  6:13pm John from Florham park:

@KFHP so glad I miss those commercials
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:13pm Webhamster Henry:

Hi Friends! Big Google is Watching you!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:14pm Handy Haversack:

Hiya, @John from FP!

And many community organizations and protest groups -- and students -- use Google to organize and store documents and arrange their groups. The infrastructure is taken over for a lot of people and institutions.
  6:15pm Sam:

Preach it Mark! It IS disgusting!
Avatar 6:15pm Fredericks:

I wish Mark would quit holding back and let us know how he really feels.
  6:16pm John from Florham park:

@Fredricks me too:)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm ultradamno:

It used to be said that if it's free then you are the product, now that's not free.
Avatar 6:17pm geezerette:

Gil Scott Heron was wrong;I know it was televised. Watched it on televison,with an espresso.
Avatar 6:18pm geezerette:

Gorgeous rant,Mark.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:18pm Webhamster Henry:

The other opioid story was about how by changing the default amount of opiates on the prescription ordering page, indeed, the amounts prescribed went way down.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:18pm Folsom:

Micah - any news of getting Chertoff?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm Mark Hurst:

Hi all! @Fredericks, someday I'll say what I actually mean :) ... @geezerette, thanks! @Folsom, never got a response - oh well.
  6:22pm Sam:

Some people are addicted to complaining
  6:22pm spodiodi:

guilty
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm ultradamno:

I think we have a UV light addict at the wheel of the country
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Whew, I was afraid he'd deem wfmu.org to be addictive!
Avatar 6:23pm Fredericks:

Where's the skin cancer, Ultra? Must be spray on.
  6:23pm GListener MW:

“Big sugar” has a disgusting history and equally disgusting business/lobbying practices today
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:24pm Webhamster Henry:

Sugar, salt, fat + anything = snack food!
  6:24pm Listener Robert:

Why's he beating about the bush? Sugar was mostly for making rum!
  6:25pm Andy (DC):

Things are getting more like "Infinite Jest" every day.
  6:25pm Sam:

Just try quitting WFMU. You won’t last a day. Withdrawal is brutal. Extreme boredom, endless bad music, unironic mediocrity. Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:25pm Mark Hurst:

Yes - the parallels between sugar / casinos / cigarettes / Juul / etc. and Big Tech are pretty striking. They all seem to use the same playbook.
  6:25pm GListener MW:

I highly recommend the 2015 documentary “Sugar Coated”, which is online in full — https://www.tvo.org/video/documentaries/sugar-coated-feature-version
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:25pm ultradamno:

Well, that is a trigger for allergies (sniff, sniff) www.leaf.tv...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:25pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Terence McKenna suggested Slavery had been abolished until Sugar. No Drug comes close to it in effects & consequences - to our Health &tc. He regarded Television as an Intoxicant as well...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:25pm Mark Hurst:

@GlistenerMV, thanks!
  6:26pm GListener MW:

@Sam — No, no, I don’t have a WFMU problem. I can quit WFMU anytime, I swear.
Avatar 6:26pm geezerette:

Ken FHP: And of course we know it isn't. :)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Webhamster Henry:

My apps are helpful! Not addictive enough, though.
  6:26pm spodiodi:

damn cat videos
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:27pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Medium is Massage. FMU? ...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:27pm Handy Haversack:

"You can't talk about the history ... in isolation" -- because economically addictive technologies are weaponized and used to concentrate wealth and power into the hands of a small and obvious class. Clearly the same with phone tech.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:27pm Folsom:

I knew a guy that worked at Ballys, making slot machines, back when gave out tokens/quarters they tuned the tray to make the most noise so you could hear someone else get the jackpot to try to make you keep playing
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:27pm Mark Hurst:

@RevRabbit63 - hadn't seen the McKenna reference, thanks. But sounds right, from Courtwright's telling - sugar was a major driver of the transatlantic slave trade. (@Listener Robert, Courtwright makes the point that *chocolate* and sugar was an economically important combination. Because chocolate on its own is bitter...)
  6:28pm Colleen:

you have my full attention.... Sugar, food, fat, alchohol, weed... these are a few of my favorite things....
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:28pm Mark Hurst:

@Handy - yes - by studying the history we can see what the playbook is... it's been in use for a long time (though never at the scale of today's digital operations)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:29pm Webhamster Henry:

"He gives the kids free samples
Because he knows full well
That today's young innocent faces
Will be tomorrow's clientele"
-- Prof. Tom Lehrer "The Old Dope Peddlar"
  6:29pm Listener Robert:

Yes, chocolate, and tea, and coffee -- the methylxanthine beverages, bitter on their own. But sugar and its role in the slave trade was widely attacked then because, rum. Whatever opprobrium Courtwright may be bringing to sugar is as nothing compared to how rum was criticized.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:30pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

1st one's always free kid.
Avatar 6:30pm dale:

colleen - HA! so true...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:31pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

' Limbic Capitalism ' ?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:33pm Mark Hurst:

@RevRabbit - yes - Courtwright makes a persuasive case that a large percentage of global commercial activity is devoted to creating and maintaining destructive addictive behavior. Resulting societal costs are externalized to the communities & countries where the commerce takes place..
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:33pm Webhamster Henry:

Kids will also copy other kids because: kids.
  6:34pm Listener Robert:

But if they DID inhale nicotine for decades, so what? It's harmless. It's about on the order of those methylxanthines I mentione upthread.
  6:34pm Colleen:

Haha....Glad your on board with that Dale!
  6:34pm Dave Miss:

I have an addictive product. Butter, salt & sugar. A pistachio toffee w sea salt. This is interesting
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:36pm Handy Haversack:

@Mark, true! Though sugar sure did reach a lot of people.

I'm decadent and awful, but still: quitting smoking was the hardest thing I ever accomplished, and I didn't even do it until U.S. society had really started supporting that choice by curtailing the weaponization of addiction, especially through taxes. Quitting smartphones when there are no obvious social or economic curbs on them? That sounds ... really hard. I don't envy people who have to do it.

But as you say, the economic and social costs are displaced, hidden, and aimed at sectors that aren't worth preserving, capitalisitically speaking.
  6:37pm John from Florham park:

Nice to see a couple of gllistenersx make an appearance
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Mark Hurst:

One toffee sounds delicious! That's hormesis, no problem... but 10 million toffees aggressively marketed and sold (let's say) to kids who don't have sufficient nutritional sources - that's a problem.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...never mind Limbic Politicians...Orwell for that one...Huxley for Feelies & Soma...
Avatar 6:37pm Fredericks:

Et Tu FMU?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Webhamster Henry:

You want the addictive product to be consumable, and if not, at least plannedobsolete.
  6:38pm GListener MW:

Incredible guest/convo. Thanks, Mark & David!
Avatar 6:38pm Fredericks:

Slaves picked sugar then we all became slaves to it.
  6:39pm Colleen:

hey John!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:39pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

The Tobacco Industry is the classic example : lied like crazy about addiction & cancer - had to be Legislated into Accountability...
Avatar 6:39pm Davee:

Hello
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm Mark Hurst:

@Fredericks that's Courtwright's argument, yes - and now consider what happens as people participate in building a social-media-driven society...
  6:40pm John from Florham park:

Hey Colleen
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm Mark Hurst:

@GlistenerMW thanks! Yes, great to see Wake & Bake friends here on the Techtonic Accu!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm chris:

agreed, Listener Robert, there is a bit of puritanism at foot in this conversation. thanks for using the correct term, cannabis, professor. but lets use that plant as an example, for a sec. it has been shown that it is neuro-regenerative and can help the brain rewire neurons away from damaging patterns, like addiction and ptsd. it can also be used as a very low risk pleasurable release. why is that bad? unregulated markets for vaping products lead to much more harm than regulated markets. it is important to consider this, or more harm will come from vilification than acceptance.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm Webhamster Henry:

A 1959 satire on Ad men dealing with reports of Cigarette Tobacco Cancer reports (all dialog in ad-speak, written by BIll Dana)
www.echonyc.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm Mark Hurst:

@Webham thanks for that pointer
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm chris:

though most kids should still shy away from any of these chemicals until their brains have fully formed.

oh, and, hello Mark and folks! i do enjoy thinking about this topic!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:43pm Mark Hurst:

@chris hi! thanks for joining in the conversation this evening
  6:44pm Colleen:

I'm finding I have to scold my "Boomer" mother more than my teenager for using the phone at the dining room table
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:45pm Mark Hurst:

@Colleen - true, screen addiction is affecting ALL ages these days
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:47pm Webhamster Henry:

I did a satire animated "ad" for "Puffy Cigarettes for Children!" "Kids! ask you parents for permission first!"
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:47pm Handy Haversack:

After saying "there is no cause to despair," he's listed a lot of causes to despair ...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:47pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Corporations are people and are addicted to surveilling our data. (Some courtroom deposition, probably.)
  6:47pm P-90:

EXCELLENT interview.
  6:48pm Colleen:

Great show....Thank you!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:48pm Handy Haversack:

That was a really fantastic interview, Mark. Thanks so much for that! I'm clearly the choir, but that was a good and necessary thing you did!
  6:48pm Sam:

Ridicule only works when people have the concept of dignity. That’s no longer a given.
  6:49pm Colleen:

I really am in a dark place with sugar.....
  6:51pm Earth Walker:

No drugs and alcohol 32 years and counting No cigarettes 30 years
Sugars next !
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:52pm Webhamster Henry:

Are there also subsidies on sugar and tobacco?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:52pm Handy Haversack:

There sure are on corn, @Henry, which is the sugar most processed foods use.
  6:53pm spodiodi:

great interview and show, Mark. thank you
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm Webhamster Henry:

Provide engaging conversations or at least printed matter to supplant phone entertainment See live bands - like me over at Duo (Uptown Kingston NY) after this show!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm chresti:

The smartphone replaces TV in a lot of ways
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm melinda:

I think you are right Mark.
  6:53pm Earth Walker:

Try fermented to replace suger
  6:54pm Listener Robert:

In the USA there's a tariff on imported sugar, as a price support for domestic cane, beet, and corn sugar production.
  6:54pm spodiodi:

i want to replace my tv and my nuissancephone
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:55pm Handy Haversack:

And when one opts out of phones and social media, organizing resistance becomes that much harder. Sigh. Insidious and a half!
  6:55pm Ed:

100% in agreement with you Mark.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:55pm listener 126464:

sportsy talk
  6:55pm Earth Walker:

Thanks great program
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:55pm chris:

agreed. today's capitalism (affix any additional descriptors you like) is a problem for global societies. thanks, Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:55pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Farm subsidy database: farm.ewg.org...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm Webhamster Henry:

WFMU is four times addictive with all its streams going full blast!
  6:56pm GListener MW:

Ha, that was my first takeaway from KC’s Super Bowl victory! — the hope that some SanFran techbros may have lost some money on the game
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm listener 126464:

we have homework? Thanks Mark!
  6:56pm P-90:

Thanks, Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm Handy Haversack:

Booyah, @Sam! You said it!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone! Great conversation tonight. Appreciate you joining in.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Webhamster Henry:

Around here, they like to proclaim casinos == jobs.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm chresti:

Cannabis helped me quit smoking.
Thanks Mark!
  6:59pm Earth Walker:

Screens scream
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm Handy Haversack:

Never cross the screens!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm chresti:

A lot of people smoke to loose weight.
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