Podcasts of the Week Ending January 19th


The New Yorker Radio Hour :: How “The Apprentice” Made Donald Trump, and a Boondoggle in Wisconsin

“Liberal” Hollywood, and now the “liberal” media, help shape the image of the current occupant of the White House.  This is something that’s pretty obvious to many of us, but it’s interesting to hear how it was done.

What’s Next :: The Gymnast Who Went Megaviral

You may have seen video of UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s floor routine the past week.  Beyond just being a great routine, Ohashi’s performance is notable for her clear expression of joy and her teammates cheering and dancing on the sideline.  Rebecca Schuman explains why the attitude of collegiate gymnastics is so different from elite gymnasts in the Olympics.

The War on Cars :: Cars Versus Guns

People were shocked to see in a recent report that gun violence is the second largest killer of children in the United States.  What was overlooked is that the #1 killer of children in the United States is – and has been for a long time – car crashes.  The War on Cars panelists discuss American gun culture and car culture, their many similarities, and how they both allow so many preventable deaths to occur.

Planet Money :: The First Shutdown

The United States federal government is shutdown again.  Planet Money looks back in history to find the first government shutdown in 1879 as Congress fought with President Rutherford B. Hayes.  The reason is shocking.  Not only were former Confederates allowed to return to serving in the federal government, but enough of them were elected that they were able to take control of Congress (they were Democrats back then).  And to prevent the Hayes administration from enforcing African American voting rights, they shut down the government.  Just in case you ever wondered who really won the Civil War.


Running tally of Podcast of the Week appearances:

Podcasts of the Week Ending March 3


WBUR News :: Rarely Heard Worcester Speech Shows Another Side Of MLK

Hear Martin Luther King speak in a more relaxed setting than most previously released King recordings, while talking about some familiar themes.

Have You Heard? :: Am I Next? School Shootings and Student Protests

Best of the Left :: The kids are alright and they are leading the way again (Parkland Shooting)

Two podcasts about school shootings and the brave teenage activists leading the way in opposition to gun violence.

Podcasts of the Week Ending October 21st


WBUR News :: 2 Fathers Who Lost Their Sons In School Shootings Transform Their Grief Into Action

Inspiration from two father who lost children in school shootings 20 years apart.

StoryCorps :: Temple of Knowledge

The story of a caretaker and his family who got to live in a New York public library.  My dream.

WBUR Radio Boston :: City Councilor Tito Jackson

Interview with the future mayor of Boston.

Decode DC :: A Coal Community Divided

I’m descended from coal miners so the stories of communities torn apart by sickness and exploitation are particularly poignant.

Podcast of the Week: This American Life – “579: My Damn Mind”


My Damn Mind” is an episode of This American Life that tells the story that ties together several topical issues: Alan Pean, an African-American man living in Houston suffers from a delusional episode but in his lucid moments has the presence of mind to go to the hospital for help.  Except, while at the hospital he doesn’t get a psychiatric evaluation and ends up being shot by the police!

The story is also covered by The New York Times.

Book Review: “Guns” by Stephen King


Author: Stephen King
Title: “Guns”
Publication Info: Philtrum Press (2013)
Summary/Review:

I downloaded this long essay for the Kindle app on my phone.  Author Stephen King ruminates about the gun debate in the United States from the predictable media response to a mass shooting, violence in American culture, and explaining his reasons for pulling his book Rage from publication.  While admitting to being a gun owner himself, King proposes that further regulation of firearms is necessary in the United States.  And he believes that the NRA, conservatives, and others opposed to gun control need to be involved in creating these restrictions.  King’s arguments for firearms regulation are sound, but there’s nothing that hasn’t already been put forward.  Similarly, while he addresses the necessity of pro- and anti-gun control factions working together, I doubt that his words will convince anyone to change their views.

Favorite Passages:

My book did not break Cox, Pierce, Carneal, or Loukaitis, or turn them into killers; they found something in my book that spoke to them because they were already broken. Yet I did see Rage as a possible accelerant, which is why I pulled it from sale. You don’t leave a can of gasoline where a boy with firebug tendencies can lay hands on it.

Superhero movies and comic books teach a lesson that runs directly counter to the culture-of-violence idea: guns are for bad guys too cowardly to fight like men.

The assertion that Americans love violence and bathe in it daily is a self-serving lie promulgated by fundamentalist religious types and America’s propaganda-savvy gun-pimps. It’s believed by people who don’t read novels, play video games, or go to many movies. People actually in touch with the culture understand that what Americans really want (besides knowing all about Princess Kate’s pregnancy) is The Lion King on Broadway, a foul-talking stuffed toy named Ted at the movies, Two and a Half Men on TV, Words with Friends on their iPads, and Fifty Shades of Grey on their Kindles. To claim that America’s “culture of violence” is responsible for school shootings is tantamount to cigarette company executives declaring that environmental pollution is the chief cause of lung cancer.

Ididn’t pull Rage from publication because the law demanded it; I was protected under the First Amendment, and the law couldn’t demand it. I pulled it because in my judgment it might be hurting people, and that made it the responsible thing to do. Assault weapons will remain readily available to crazy people until the powerful pro-gun forces in this country decide to do a similar turnaround. They must accept responsibility, recognizing that responsibility is not the same as culpability. They need to say, “We support these measures not because the law demands we support them, but because it’s the sensible thing.”

Recommended books: Hell’s Abyss, Heaven’s Grace: War and Christian Spirituality by Lawrence Hart
Rating: **1/2

Movie Review: Bowling for Columbine (2002)


In 2019 I found some old Word documents with movie reviews I wrote back before I had a blog. I’m posting each review backdated to the day I wrote it.

Title: Bowling for Columbine
Release Date: October 11, 2002
Director: Michael Moore
Production Company: Alliance Atlantis | Dog Eat Dog Films | Salter Street Films | United Artists
Summary/Review:

A powerful, sometimes funny, sometimes frightening, sometimes manipulative film from Michael Moore.  In this picture he takes on the question of gun violence in the United States, and goes beyond the idea of gun control and the usual scapegoats to question the underlying reason why Americans are more likely to murder one another.  He doesn’t find an answer, but uncovers a lot in the attempt.  Any movie that makes Marilyn Manson look reasonable, and Charlton Heston frightening must be doing something to shake the foundations of conventional wisdom.

Rating: ***