Smokes your problems, coughs fresh air.

Tag: Rowan Rodrik

Exhaling on YouTube

I’ve created a YouTube channel separate from my private account and branded it “BigSmoke”. The channel’s purpose is to breathe some fresh air into some online discussions that I follow(ed). Actually, the content is the sort of content that I used to want to put more of on BigSmoke, but which I now found to be better suited for long-form discussions than for laying down my views from some ivory tower.

The first three puffs of fresh air feature my brother Jorrit:

  1. In the first puff, recorded shortly after he (and me too for the nth time) quit caffeine. The cue for me to want to do that podcast (and stop putting off this creative endeavor indefinitely) was when he told me that quitting caffeine took a heavier toll on his body and mind than did quitting smoking and drinking at the same time a few months earlier. I though that that was a great story to put into perspective that yes, caffeine really is a serious, addictive drug that can interfere not just with your dreams but actually with your dreaming!

    Production-wise, the worst part of this first podcast is that my face is tiny, because I used Google Meet and neglected to install a browser extension to undo its limited layout support or to even just click my own face when I was talking.

  2. The 2nd puff of fresh air centered around meaning. Without the caffeine in my system, I was having more trouble than usual to find the meaning in my “mostly for money” job that’s really doing nothing to make the world a better, more beautiful place. Also, my self-discipline had declined to a long-time, leaving too little time and energy around work-work for more creative meaningful endeavors (such as doing podcasts).

    There was a bit of a production problem with my 2nd puff of fresh air. The one published is a re-iteration of the same discussion we had some days before that but for which I recorded an empty audio stream of my docking station’s unconnected microphone input instead of the audio stream of the laptop port in which my microphone was actually plugged in. At least I did find Jitsi, which allowed easier side-to-side video frames.

  3. In the 3rd puff of fresh air, we zoom in on some topics that we brushed past in the 2nd without really touching. I talk about my pain and shame of being mostly just another cooperating cog in the machine that is wreaking planetary-scale havoc and that is grinding ecosystems all over the world out of existence. Jorrit’s focus is on the harm that’s done to human happiness by our culture (and also the “away with us” culture of which I’m sometimes a part). We try to make our visions on self-discipline collide, but we end up finding more agreement than we expect. Most of our disagreement turns out to be superficially bound to societal structures which we both would rather see transformed than preserved in their current sickly form.

    We switched back to Google Meet for this 3rd recorded conversation, because the free Jitsi server we used was performing shakily that day.

Rowan Rodrik van der Molen


Norg, on an April the 8th in 1982: It was around 18:45 when my mother’s physician arrived, leaving his dessert untouched at home, just in time to witness my birth. (I was my mother’s fourth already and she never took much time between anouncing a birth and giving birth.) Without much further ado, I was delivered into this world as a sacky, slow, little fellow. So slow, in fact, that it was wondered by some (not my mom) if I wasn’t suffering Down Sydrome or something similar.


My father’s family name was van der Molen. This is what I inherited. To make me uniquely identifyable within our family, I was given a first name, Rowan. To also make things a little symmetrical, a middle name, Rodrik, was added some years later.

This is me, in 2004, copy-pasted between some rowan berries.

This is me, in 2004, copy-pasted between some rowan berries.

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