Episode :01 Where’s the Water & Human Cyborgs

This episode is brought to you by El Yucateco

This is our official Sofa King Podcast blog. Welcome aboard.

California Water Crisis and Bio Hackers. This week on Sofa King Podcast, we first explore the California Drought. We have a heated discussion about what citizens can do to conserve and whether or not they should since the corporations (such as Nestle and Big Ag) use most of the state’s water without being fined or pressured. Later, we look at Biohackers, a group of DIY cyborgs enhancing themselves from home. You’ll be surprised at how and why they do it! Finally, we talk favorite phone Apps. Adult content.

So, our first podcast is officially in the books! I plan to keep an ongoing blog about our weekly shindig, and I hope you enjoy my account of the show. My goal here is twofold. First, I want to give a behind- the-scenes look at what it is we do and what goes into the production of the podcast. That may be helpful for some of you who want to start a podcast yourself or are just curious about what it takes and what we did. Second, I want to sum up the major ideas we float around in each show. This is primarily an entertainment show, a place for debate and lively conversation, but we like to bring real facts to the table. So, I’ll spend some time talking about those facts and how the different hosts responded. We also have a few deaf and hard of hearing friends who can’t listen to the cast, so this is a cheap replacement (literally cheap since we can’t afford any sort of caption/transcript service until we get some sponsors…).

Sofa King Haunted

First, let me talk location. We record the show in the basement of a building that was constructed at the turn of the century in downtown Bakersfield, Ca. The basement is thought by many to be creepy, and it is a whole lotta Fight Club. In fact, one of the reasons it was so clean when we started recording down there was due to my efforts last summer shoveling out trash cans worth of dust and concrete debris (and yes, probably asbestos), so we could have a place to spar and not talk about Fight Club.

It is dingy and dark (but has these really cool vintage light bulbs now thanks to Brad). It is full of musical instruments where bands come to practice and at least one heavy bag and a speed bag for our random martial artistry. It has robot parts, dozens of dead computers that are salvaged for their components, and a strange manufacturing booth for, I dunno, nanobots or some other crazy shit Brent is into. Upstairs is S.W.A.T. PC, Brent’s fully functioning computer shop. The basement is, though I hate the term, the ultimate man cave.

I joked as we wrapped up our recording that in six months, we’d start to discover EVP in the recordings (it’s a thing, look it up…) and see photos of ghosts. By the end of the day today, we already had strange ghosting on our photograph. As I’m merely a reporter of facts here, dear reader, I must tell you there was a strange distortion in front of Brent’s face. And, I must report that Brad thought it was a ghost penis). So that’s a good sign.

Oddly, even though it is an open, concrete bunker, there are no echoes. A friend worried on Facebook that it would sound like were recording in a public restroom, but the basement sounds legit for some reason. I think ghost penises and ancient coal dust must absorb ambient sound waves. Great location and a great vibe—dingy, multi-purpose, old school, full of bits and pieces—just like the Sofa Kings themselves.

Sofa King Technical:

Brad runs our whole rig and is the designer, producer, and mixer of the show. The splitter and amps and rigs and cameras and mics are all run through his central hub. I expected to be there for an hour and a half just getting wires uncrossed before we could even get a chance to say “test, test” a couple times, but it took like five minutes. Brad was on point. Me? Not so much. My headphones had the wrong jack, so Brent kindly drove home and found the right one for me. Also, my mic popped too much (I guess the black guy gets the shitty mic?), so I had to talk with a ski mask (I guess the black guy gets the ski mask?) over it to reduce the plosive sounds. We’re buying a bit more gear this week and hope to have an even better sounding show next week. I’ll also report in a later blog what hardware and software we’re using if any of you are into that.

Sofa King Thirsty

Our first subject this week was the great California drought that many of you have been hearing about or living in. It’s been going on for a few years, and recently our governor (not Arnold anymore) passed some nebulous measure designed to reduce water consumption by 25%. Sounds great! When has the government ever messed anything like that up?!?

The problem, of course, is that depending on the sources you read, you will find that the actual citizens of California use as little as 10% of the water supply, yet we are expected to bear the burden of the water cuts and face $500 fines for wasting water. However, Big Ag uses roughly 50-80% of the state’s water (most sources point closer to 80), and they don’t really face any fines. Is this because of lobbyists and the power of the wealthy putting pressure on political puppets and stooges? When is it not…

Oh, and Brad drank a sparkling Arrowhead water, which he thought tasted like “balls.” I wish you could have seen him grimace with every sip in the dingy basement lights, like we could. I pointed out that Arrowhead is owned by Nestle, who is being allowed to bleed 10 lakes and reservoirs dry in California on leases that have mostly expired. So again, the question of corporate power comes up. Why is Nestle allowed to tap water in a dry state and sell it around the world? There is water in New England and Michigan and everywhere else in the nation. I hear it magically falls from the sky in some states. Not here, though. California is dry as a desert (and in fact mostly is desert), so back the fuck off, Nestle!

Sofa King Cybernetic

Mid podcast, we transitioned to topic number two and explored people known as Biohackers. Biohackers are do-it-yourself cyborgs who insert technologies into their bodies to add functionality or sometimes replace a missing sense or ability. A common biohack is to put an RFD chip under your fingernails, so that it will enter passwords into your computer and unlock your car door when you reach for it. Brent argued we could do the same thing with a bracelet, but pointed out that Biohacking is a culture like tattooing, and for the hackers, it transcends mere functionality.

I then played a thought-game with my fellow hosts. I asked about individual Biohackers and what hack he/she performed because I wanted to see if my co-hosts thought it was a good idea or bad. (You should of course download the episode to hear it, but below is a summary.) I start with the hacker’s name, then the hack, then the responses from the hosts.

Rob Spenser: Camera in his eye. Brad and Brent: If there is a substantial upgrade and/or you are blind, then possibly.

Brian McEvoy: Sub-dermal compass to feel true north. Brad: this is fucking stupid (though Brad does have an innate sense of direction). Brent: good idea, but he’d rather build an anklet that did it instead of a insert in his skin. In fact, Brent plans to build one (and yes, reader, he can do it).

Kevin Warwick: The grandfather of Biohackers, he put a chip in his hand to control an arm with pure neural functions, over the internet, from New York to the UK. He also inserted a similar chip in his wife’s arm, and could send signals via the net to move her hand as well. Brad: Pointless. Brent: This was a proof of concept and important work that helped move cybernetics forward.

Neal Harbison: camera mounted to a chip embedded in his skull. He is colorblind, and the camera converts images to sound waves, and his skull vibrates at certain frequencies when he sees different colors. Brent: The brain’s ability to adopt and adapt to sensory info is impressive. He related this biohack to his wife’s experience with brain surgery and overcoming partial paralysis. Brad: the camera looks like a penis.

Rich Lee: Is losing his sight, so he hard-wired a pair of glasses to tech installed in his head. It restores his sight, and it allows him see the regular human vision spectrum again, plus he can see Wi-Fi signals and electromagnetic waves. Trippy. He is working on a module that lets him echolocate like a bat. Trippier. Brad and Brent were both pretty down for this, since it enhanced the human condition and were mostly in a pair of glasses. However, they weren’t down with his other invention, a cyber-enhanced penis that vibrates. Yes. It’s real.

Gabriel Licina: his team (from their garage in Tehachapi, CA) used a chlorophyll analog called Chlorin e6 to infuse the human eye with temporary night vision. It worked. From their garage. Night vision. We all pretty much agreed that this was worth checking out to give a temporary night boost, as long as the liquid was safe and tested. I suggested it would be especially useful for toilet papering houses, which I’m sure the lab had in mind while they dripped dangerous chemicals into a human being’s eye with a turkey baster. Since it comes from a fish, however, I would never use it since I’m not down with use or consumption of animal products.

Goat-Ranchula: finally, I pointed to an experiment done by a DARPA-funded lab which genetically hacked a goat to make spider silk proteins instead of milk. The milk was then merged with human skin cells to make human skin that was resistant to a .22 caliber bullet. We expect this to lead to a Goat-Ranchula apocalypse more than anything helpful.

Sofa King Connected

And finally, here are list of links to various articles and cites where we got our information. They aren’t as fun as listening to us pick on each other, but they just might help you understand your fucked up world a little bit better. We didn’t discuss the content of every article here, but we used them to inform our discussions.


















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