HBM122: Should Cows Have Names?

Mike Paros lives in two worlds. In one world, he’s an animal welfare specialist and mixed animal vet, meaning he works with both “companion” animals like cats and dogs, and large animals like horses, cows, goats, and sheep. He spends much of his time as a veterinarian working with animals that eventually become meat, and most of his human clients are farmers that lean right politically.

Content Note:
This episode includes sounds of calves being
de-horned and castrated. Also strong language.

In the other world, Mike is a college professor at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. There he teaches anthrozoology and agriculture to a predominantly liberal student body -- lots of vegans and anarchists. Crossing back and forth between these two worlds invites Mike to have many discussions about how to ethically treat animals, within and outside of the meat industry.

Producer Bethany Denton spent a day shadowing Mike as he disbuds and castrates dairy calves, and she asks him whether he thinks meat can be eaten ethically. Bethany also interviewed Mike in 2018 about a class he was teaching called “Liberal Education in the College Bubble: Crossing the Political and Cultural Divide.”

Producer: Bethany Denton
Editor: Jeff Emtman
Music: The Black Spot, Circling Lights
Images: Bethany Denton

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HBM079: The Tingles

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Devaan describes it as a pulsing, tingling feeling on the back of his neck.   His preferred stimuli are whispers, shuffling cards, scissors, tapping noises, anything that makes a crisp enough sound to trigger his ASMR.  These sounds make him feel relaxed, euphoric and drowsy.  

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a physical reaction experienced by some unknown percentage of the population (to varying degrees).  Due to being only recently recognized and named, ASMR is still poorly understood scientifically.  Its evolutionary purpose (if any) is uncertain, though one popular theory suggests that it might serve a social bonding or grooming purpose.

Devaan’s ASMR awakening came one day at work when a co-worker whispered into his ear.  He googled “Why does my brain tingle when I hear whispering?”  He stumbled into the online community of “ASMR artists” (aka. “ASMRtists”) who stimulate huge audiences with their preferred triggers.

He used these videos daily to combat his mild insomnia.  Soon he became reliant on them for sleep, consuming ASMR videos endlessly.  He became desensitized, even to his favorite videos, and thinks that he was (and maybe still is) addicted to them.

Today, Devaan still uses ASMR videos to fall asleep, though he says he’s now more careful with his consumption.

Molly Segal produced this episode.

Music: The Black Spot | | | AHEE

Additional Sounds: Arnaud Coutancier | | | Richard Frohlich

Screaming: Benjamin Harper | | | John Hill

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HBM078: Sagittarius Has $45 [EXPLICIT]

Sagittarius has been good for the last year.  That’s what he told us.  He told us that the cage that Luna designed for him is working.  She controls his money, his businesses, can read his email, can see his bank accounts, and can track the location of his phone.

He says that the next time he messes up, Luna will leave him, and take the kids with her. Avoiding this scenario makes the cage worth it.  

Please Note: This episode contains frank discussions of sexual addiction and desire.  All names in this episode are pseudonyms.

Sagittarius is a sex addict.  His therapist told him that naming his addiction would be a good way to compartmentalize it. So he chose “Sagittarius”, a name he stole from the bow-wielding centaur of astrology known (in part) for emotional recklessness and who is represented by the planet Jupiter.

Sagittarius first emailed us back in 2016, after we published an episode called HBM060: The Predators of McNeil Island.  In that episode, we talked to Chris, a man once deemed by the state of Washington to be a Sexually Violent Predator. Chris told the courts that he’d changed, no longer felt desire to be devious. Sagittarius identified with Chris, saw himself as a version of Chris that had never been committed or sent to court.  But Sagittarius wrote to say that, personally, he’d never say “never” again.   He’d been wrong too many times.  

Despite receiving some treatment, and despite the cage, Sagittarius does not feel cured of his addiction. He is actively hoarding cash, $45 of bills he keeps in his backpack.  A secret kept from Luna. Another $100 and Sagittarius could break free from his cage, and pay someone to have sex with him.

In this episode, Sagittarius takes Bethany and Jeff on a walking tour of his New York City “hotspots” he used to frequent, and then takes Jeff on a late night bike ride to Battery Park, where his father once took him to see the Statue of Liberty.

Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman produced this episode.

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Music: The Black Spot | | | Phantom Fauna.

After releasing this episode, we got a number of requests from folk who wanted the music we made.   Here it is: 

HBM071: The Evangelists of Nudism

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Growing up Mormon in Montana, Bethany Denton had a phrase drilled into her mind from an early age: “modest is hottest.”  To her, it became a mantra even while many of her friends, especially other girls, struggled with Mormonism’s strict modesty standards. But never Bethany–she was fat enough to know that no one wanted to see that anyway.

By the time Bethany moved to Washington State for college, she had rejected the church and was looking for new, broader experiences.  She got a job as a campus security officer, started drinking, and began wading into feminism.  She looked for new, non-Mormon role models to help her find adventure. That’s when she met Helen, a punk rock pirate who invited Bethany to join her for an all-expenses paid nude vacation, courtesy of an eccentric tech millionaire who evangelized the merits of nudism.

Bethany said yes, and went with Helen to California to bake in the sun for a week, and to learn about the body she’d been hiding for the past 20 years, learn to decouple nakedness from sexuality.

And when she returned, she felt utterly changed.  But she’d soon tearfully discover she was not entirely untangled from childhood guilt.

Names in this story have been changed.

"Artist's" Renderings of what Bethany Saw
Photos by Jeff Emtman

This episode was written and produced by Bethany Denton, and was edited by Jeff Emtman. Nick White is HBM’s editor at KCRW.

Music:  Nym | | | Half Ghost  | | |  Lucky Dragons 

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HBM062: The Near Death of Sir Deja Doog

Before Doog could walk, his family gave him a guitar to hold and encouraged him to play music. By the time he was twelve, he'd started writing songs as a way to make sense of the confusing world around him. Back then he was just Eric Alexander, the friendly weird kid who dressed like a punky cowboy.  In college a fellow musician asked Eric what his middle name was. "Douglas," Eric replied. "Douglas? Doug, Doug... Doog... I'm going to call you Doog." The name stuck, and eventually Eric created his raspy, crass musical persona: Sir Deja Doog.

Content Note: Explicit Content

In his early twenties, Doog started hearing voices, seeing and feeling things that weren't there. He worried that he was losing his mind and avoided telling his friends what was happening. For years he was in and out of the emergency room and psych ward. He sought treatment and was medicated on and off for depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

But his problems persisted. In 2012, Doog became homeless and started hitchhiking up and down the West Coast. All the while he experienced terrifying hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. Throughout this period he continued to make music. With little more than a broken iPhone and an old guitar, Doog recorded hours of harsh, distorted music. Later he edited these recordings into a video he called Bad Dharma. (below).

Doog's symptoms worsened. By 2013 he started having partial seizures. One night he had a vision that he was being abducted by ancient aliens, so old he could see through their papery skin. One of the aliens poked Doog behind his left ear.

A few weeks later Doog was in the hospital again, feeling suicidal. This time the doctors gave Doog an MRI. When they scanned his brain, they found a small, calcified tumor called a glioma. The tumor was in the left hemisphere of his brain -- just inches from where the alien poked him in his vision. Doctors told Doog that he needed brain surgery immediately or he would soon die.

Faced with the prospect of an early death, he ignored the doctors’ orders fearing the surgery would affect his musical creativity. Instead, Doog decided to focus his energy on creating his masterpiece: Sir Deja Doog's Love Coffin.

For months, Doog obsessed over Love Coffin. He wrote and recorded day and night through partial and full seizures and debilitating headaches. It was only once his album was finished and his symptoms became unbearable that he agreed to surgery. Doctors removed the tumor and some surrounding parts of his brain.

Today, Doog continues to recover, and he's slowly re-learning how to be independent as his brain heals. Seventeen months after surgery Doog was in remission, but soon after that doctors found gliosis in his brain—scar tissue that forms after severe brain trauma. Doctors continue to monitor him for additional cancers. It is possible that Doog will need chemotherapy.

Doog performed for the first time after his cancer diagnosis on Halloween of 2015 (picture above). Since then, he's released an EP called The Return of Sir Deja Doog.


This episode was produced by Colleen Leahy and Christopher Mosson, and was edited by Bethany Denton. Additional editing help from Jeff Emtman and Nick White.

Music: Sir Deja Doog