(Ra)tan Lines – Cortex

Last issue, I claimed that Cortex lacked some of the interesting personal chemistry in CGP Grey’s other podcast, Hello Internet. Feeling guilty from making an unjustified statement about Grey, I took the only reasonable course of action: binge-listening to Cortex. Turns out … I was entirely correct. Cortex is a podcast about Myke Hurley’s quest to understand CGP Grey’s working life. At least that is how it began, as current episodes are more Hurley-focused.

Myke Hurley is the founder of Relay FM, a major podcast network. He is not the “human” counterpart to the “robotic” Grey in the way Brady Haran is in Hello Internet. He does try to get Grey to understand the wider population, but never reprimands Grey for his mechanical, systematic approach to life. Quite the opposite: Hurley’s aim is to see the world through Grey’s eyes. “I’m becoming just like you, it’s horrific,” said Hurley in one episode. The joke is of course the idea that becoming Grey would be horrific. Grey himself views himself as absolutely mundane: to him, the whole concept of this podcast seemed ridiculous on its face.

What is CGP Grey’s working life like? Having a fleet of iPads, multiple bags with the exact same contents, tracking every second of the day to calculate the financial worth of each moment… these are all simply reasonable and normal behaviours, or Grey would have you believe. He places some extra cash in all his bags in case he gets locked out of the house without his wallet. He has a long checklist of tasks he follows to the letter whenever he uploads a YouTube video. He has opinions on the correct type of iPad background, and the correct way to arrange app icons. He needs Apple to add more granular notification settings, or at least allow the user to declare more than 99 “VIP”s whose phone calls can circumvent “Do Not Disturb” mode. Did I mention Grey uses Apple products?

Now and again there is a funny little anecdote, or information about one of CGP Grey’s videos. In particular, there is an episode about Grey’s “Rules for Rulers” video, with a discussion of some of Grey’s personal experiences with a power struggle his university days (Physics students seeking an Economics minor: better watch out!). However, you shouldn’t subscribe to Cortex in the hope of mining such gems. Unless you have the interest (or patience) required to navigate hours upon hours of iPad productivity tips, it may be better to cherry-pick cool episodes.

Cortex updates once or twice a month. That’s fine: while I am genuinely interested in the prospect of becoming more Grey-like, I am not exactly shaking with anticipation.

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