11: A Desire for More Heptapods

Hannah & the Heptapods are getting the band back together to revisit their 2016 smash hit, Arrival. Journey with us to mysterious Montana as we ask what makes great science fiction, what does it mean to choose something better than fear, and how many words can Dustin coin in one episode?

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you can listen up to the spoiler warning at the 57-minute mark. (We want to tell you why you should see Arrival.)

Arrival, the movie: iTunes | Amazon | Amazon Digital

Arrival, the score: iTunes | Amazon

Stories of Your Life and Others (featuring the original short story): Amazon (paperback) | Amazon (Kindle) | iBooks

Pre-Show

Destiny: assorted jests and complaints (00:00)

How FTL travel works in Star Trek (8:20)

Followup (11:04)

  • Captain’s hammer (11:57)
  • Our notes from FCBD (19:32)
  • A surprisingly tense digression on Pokémon (25:50)

Fun Finland Followup (30:56)

FCBD at libraries (35:57)

Wrong word round-up (36:30)

  • “Incontrovertible”
  • “Pocket universe”

The Dark Tower (38:15)

  • Trailer
  • What to read to get ready for the movie

Main Topic: Arrival

Non-spoiler discussion (44:41)

How Peanuts made Trevor watch Citizen Kane:

Spoiler City (57:00)

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (1:09:23)

The New Yorker: Has a remote Amazonian tribe upended our understanding of language? (1:12:21)

“Committed to an existence in which only observable experience is real, the Pirahã do not think, or speak, in abstractions…”

Bootstrap paradox (1:22:42)

Reconcilable Differences episode with Arrival discussion beginning at 1:13:13. (That’s the time stamp for their episode; not this one.) (1:32:21) ⬅️ That one is our time stamp.

A few words on the original short story, Story of Your Life (1:46:38)

Song Exploder episode about Heptapod B from the Arrival score (2:03:00)

Aftershow (2:06:34)

In which Matthew thinks we can hear him.

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10: Firsts and Lasts

The first teaser trailers are out for Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and by Odin’s beard, they shall be discussed. We also cover a host of other topics including coffee math, ancient math, movie math, starfighter/airplane age math, and Force-alignment math.

Pre-show

Bill Nye’s new show (03:28)

Global warming, alternative medicine, joke delivery, panspermia, and “God of the gaps” thinking.

Spinosaurus has fans. (13:48)

Fun Finland Followup (14:24)

(Yes, the audio cuts out briefly at 15:01. This is a courtesy to those with iPhones who don’t want Siri chiming in on their podcast listening.)

The show’s publishing schedule. (19:02)

Roman numerals, Muslim contributions to the world of science, and the upcoming solar eclipse. (19:31)

Main Topic (29:16)

SPOILERS for past Marvel and Star Wars movies beyond this point.

Thor: Ragnarok teaser trailer (30:10)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser trailer (58:13)

Someone’s crispy mask (1:15:59)

Vader’s crispy mask
Vader’s crispy mask
Kylo Ren gazing lovingly at Vader’s crispy mask
Kylo Ren gazing lovingly at Vader’s crispy mask

Wrap-up with discussion of both teasers (1:41:36)

Where to find Better Worlds online:

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9: Free Comic Book Day

Every spring, birds begin to sing of Free Comic Book Day, and flowers bloom in anticipation of the wonders in store. Here’s our guide to this year’s event.

Pre-show

Sisu

Tabletop Day (April 29, 2017)

Main topic (11:15)

Free Comic Book Day

First Saturday of May (May 6, 2017)

This year’s catalog of free comics.

Our picks:

Ideas for comics to buy:

Where to find Better Worlds online:

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Some links contain affiliate codes that will provide a small kickback to the show if you make a purchase. Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.

8: The Ghost of Ratings Future

In the next step towards the Singularity, Netflix is growing thumbs. Meanwhile, the humans can’t agree on what stars mean, and some of them really don’t like Rotten Tomatoes.

Stick around for our most educational aftershow yet, brought to you by Dustin and Matthew’s strange new fixation on Finland.

Pre-show

00:00 – Finland?

Opening (00:56)

01:24 – French press questions, Aeropress answers, and cultural differences in brewed drinks.

15:04 – Dinosaur Escape, a cooperative board game for kids. A little bit like Pandemic

17:54 – The next emoji update will finally add dinosaurs. These first dinosaurs will be a sauropod and a T-Rex.

19:17 – Matthew’s spoiler-free initial reaction to Mass Effect Andromeda.

Trevor’s alternate soundtrack for Mass Effect (especially the galaxy map): the ambient instrumental Ghosts I-IV by Nine Inch Nails.

Main topic (28:44)

28:55 – Netflix is ditching five-star ratings in favor of a thumbs-up

34:59 – TED Radio Hour on choices, decisions, and spaghetti sauce.

1:01:46 – Pain scales

1:12:41 – Rotten Tomatoes / review aggregators

Aftershow (1:38:46)

1:38:58 – Stephen King has revealed the poster for the upcoming movie adaptation of The Dark Tower

1:39:40 – Finland 🇫🇮

Where to find Better Worlds online:

Visit our website: betterworlds.net

Follow us on Twitter: @betterworldsnet

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Some links contain affiliate codes that will provide a small kickback to the show if you make a purchase. Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.

7: Superhero Showdown, Part 2

A champion is crowned.

Tournament bracket on Google Sheets (spoiler free; only shows Round 1 results and Round 2 matchups)

Follow up

Ungeniused #14: The Philadelphia Experiment

A 10-minute podcast primer on the event in question. Includes several relevant links for further reading. Here’s the Wikipedia link, as well. Other seminal conspiracy theory-related events mentioned in passing are the Roswell incident, the Montauk Project, and MKUltra (the one that Trevor blanked on).

Favorite X-Files episodes

Dustin: The Unnatural (Season 6, Episode 19). Available on Hulu (episode link), iTunes (season link), Amazon (season link), and Netflix (series link).

Trevor: Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster (Season 10, Episode 13). Only seems to be on Amazon at the moment (season link).

Main topic

Battle 9
Kitty Pryde vs. Captain America (Steve Rogers)

Battle 10
Batman vs. Scarlet Witch

Battle 11
Squirrel Girl vs. Nightcrawler

Battle 12
Iron Man (Victor Von Doom) vs. Martian Manhunter

The final three battles are not listed here to avoid spoilers.

ALL THE SPOILERS: Full tournament bracket with all results (Google Sheets)

Special Announcement: Join us on Slack

Better Worlds is now on Slack at betterworlds.slack.com. The only way to sign up is to shoot us an email at feedback@betterworlds.net asking for an invitation. After that you can talk with us all day without ever having to send an email. We know you don’t like sending emails.

Where to find Better Worlds online:

Visit our website: betterworlds.net

Follow us on Twitter: @betterworldsnet

Talk with us on Slack by emailing us and asking for an invitation.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Some links contain affiliate codes that will provide a small kickback to the show if you make a purchase. Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.

6: Superhero Showdown, Part 1

As the saying goes: “If you love something, send it into gladiatorial combat.” In Better Worlds’ first superhero tournament (our first anything tournament, for that matter), we have ten Marvel and six DC heroes facing off for the biggest birthday blast this side of Tunguska.

Sixteen heroes enter, only one… will… Belay that. This discussion got a little more heated than we expected, so this is going to be a two-parter. Fill out your bracket and follow along.

Tournament bracket on Google Sheets (spoiler free; no results shown)

Follow up

Main topic (20:18)

Battle 1 (36:04)
Kitty Pryde vs. Wonder Woman

Battle 2 (45:17)
Flash (Barry Allen) vs. Captain America (Steve Rogers)

Battle 3 (1:07:38)
Batman vs. Green Arrow

Battle 4 (1:14:18)
Black Panther vs. Scarlet Witch

Battle 5 (1:23:18)
Falcon vs. Squirrel Girl

Battle 6 (1:35:37)
Nightcrawler vs. Spider-Man

Battle 7 (1:43:38)
Thor Odinson vs. Iron Man (Victor Von Doom)

Battle 8 (1:56:22)
Martian Manhunter vs. The Atom

Wrap up (2:04:35)

Aftershow (2:07:25)

Where to find Better Worlds online:

Visit our website: betterworlds.net

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Some links contain affiliate codes that will provide a small kickback to the show if you make a purchase. Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.

5: Cultural Dinopology

If anthropology is the study of humans, and cultural anthropology is more specifically the study of human culture, then we’re guessing that cultural dinopology is the study of dinosaurs in human culture. We are not linguistic experts; we just play three on a podcast.

This episode covers The Big Five dinosaurs or dinosaur archetypes (depending on whether you’re asking Dustin or Trevor), the Jurassic Park franchise, Terra Nova, Primeval, and a grab bag of terrible movies at the end.

The Big Five (No Particular Order):

  1. T-Rex
  2. Triceratops
  3. Stegosaurus
  4. Brontosaurus
  5. Pterodactyl (not really a dinosaur)

Weird stuff about this episode:

Some of the audio for this episode was corrupted during the recording process. This mainly impacted the discussion around Terra Nova and Primeval, but also caused the removal of Trevor’s best jokes. We’ve pieced together what we could, and we hope the seams aren’t too visible… although you probably will notice Matthew’s epic monologue on Primeval. Our apologies for the temporary lack of links in this episode’s show notes. We used up our time dealing with the corrupted audio, and we’ll add links as we’re able.

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Some links contain affiliate codes that will provide a small kickback to the show if you make a purchase. Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.

4: Old News

This week we discuss news stories about old things. That’s right: dinosaur news. They’re terrible lizards, Brent.

Pre-Show discussion:

Dinosaur science news:

First Dinosaur Tail Found Preserved in Amber

All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals // A paleoartist explores the unknown unknowns of how dinosaurs looked, including speculative paleoart renderings of modern animals. Scroll to the end for the paleoartist’s renderings of a baboon, a cow, and a house cat, or check out the book on Amazon.

Sea-monster or Shark?: An Analysis of a Supposed Plesiosaur Carcass Netted in 1977

Dinosaur ‘Baby Teeth’ Reveal That Dino Eggs Hatched Slowly

First Dinosaur Fossils Discovered in Alaska’s Denali National Park

Smithsonian’s dinosaur hall to close Monday for five-year, $48M renovation

T. rex dinosaur gets long-term lease at Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum

Jeffco commissioners put brakes on car lots at highly contested Dino Ridge site

Places to see:

The Field Museum in Chicago

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Wait until 2020 or so. We’ll do a podcast meet up.)

Museum of Natural History at the University of Michigan

Perry Mastadon of Wheaton College

We also encourage you to try out smaller museums that might surprise you. A lot of universities have surprisingly cool exhibits.

Mastadon State Historic Site

On our list, but we haven’t visited yet:

Things to watch:

  • Dinosaur 13 | Netflix | iTunes | Amazon
  • Walking With Dinosaurs | iTunes | Amazon
  • Dino Mummy | No link available. Let us know if you find it.
  • Allosaurus: A Walking with Dinosaurs Special | Amazon

One for the road:

U.S. State Dinosaurs

Why is this here:

99% Invisible – La Mascotte | We didn’t want to talk about the Philly Phanatic, so we’ll let Roman Mars handle it.

Where to find Better Worlds online:

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3: Some People Juggle Geese

This is about our very favorite show. We call her Firefly.

Tell you what; you watch this show, treat her proper, she’ll be with ya for the rest of your life.

  • 00:00 – Intro & follow up
  • 05:30 – Firefly, no spoilers
  • 48:52 – Spoilers
  • 90:01 – Aftershow

Follow up

Benjamin Bratton, Trevor’s brother-in-law, published some research and then did a Reddit AMA:

Vibrio cholerae: how it curves, and why you wish it didn’t.

Science AMA series: We’re Thomas Bartlett and Benjamin Bratton from Princeton University. The bacterium that causes cholera is curved. People have known this for 160 years, but never known how or why it’s curved. We figured it out… Ask us anything!

Main topic

Firefly: The Complete Series

iTunes | Amazon | Amazon Video | Netflix | Hulu

Serenity

iTunes | Amazon | Amazon Video | Not on Netflix or Hulu

The music is good, too; listen to the music

Comics

Where to find Better Worlds online:

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Some links contain affiliate codes that will provide a small kickback to the show if you make a purchase. Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.

If you’re still wondering what the title of this episode means, watch the gorram show.

2: The Game’s the Thing

Christmas provides perfect lab conditions for new board games. Here’s a rundown of the games we tested on our families over the holiday break:

Pass the Pigs

Bring Your Own Book

Cards Against Humanity played according to Metagame rules. (Page 39 of this PDF.)

Chrononauts

Colt Express

SUPERFIGHT

Pandemic

Funemployed: The Interview Game of Actual Jobs and Absurd Qualifications

7 Wonders

Also referenced:

Rogue One composer Michael Giacchino on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Between Two Cities

Where to find Better Worlds online:

Visit our website: betterworlds.net

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Some links contain affiliate codes that will provide a small kickback to the show if you make a purchase. Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.