Podcasts of the Week Ending July 7


Podcast of the Week returns!  Here are five podcasts from the past week that I think are worth listening to.

The Memory Palace :: The Taking of Tom Sawyer Island

That time when the counterculture Yippies attempted a hostile takeover of the land.  Disneyland to be specific.  Except only about 200 of them showed and half of them were there for a goof. What a long strange monorail trip it’s been.

Smithsonian Sidedoor :: red, white, and brew

Home brewing is a big thing these days, among a stereotypical group of white men, but has a long history in the United States among women, enslaved people, and immigrants.

WBUR The Artery :: Stacks Of Books, But Short On Cash: New England’s Public Libraries Face Funding Troubles

Libraries are used to tightening the belt financially, but in these days of Federal and state cuts they are facing unprecedented struggles.

DecodeDC :: DC History 101, Swamps and Scandals Then and Now

The history of Washington, DC, built on an actual swamp, and how the development of the city reflects the views of the ruling parties over time.

ESPN 30 for 30Yankees Suck

Here’s a new podcast based on ESPN’s successful television sports documentaries.  This episode covers the history of the notorious Red Sox fan chant and how a bunch of hardcore punks made a profitable business out of selling t-shirts emblazoned “Yankees Suck!”  Brings back good memories of late 90s Red Sox games.

 

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#TryPod Day 3: Maeve in America


All this month, I’ve heard about the campaign to spread the news of podcasts called TryPod.  As I am a voracious listener of podcasts (you can see the complete list of my current subscriptions and other recommendations on my podcast page), I figured I ought to participate while I can.  So I will post about one of my favorite podcasts every day for the last 9 days of March.

Maeve in America stars Irish-born comedian Maeve Higgins who interviews a different immigrant to the United States learning their stories and struggles in the anti-immigrant mood of present-day America.

Some favorite episodes:

#TryPod Day 2: 99% Invisible


All this month, I’ve heard about the campaign to spread the news of podcasts called TryPod.  As I am a voracious listener of podcasts (you can see the complete list of my current subscriptions and other recommendations on my podcast page), I figured I ought to participate while I can.  So I will post about one of my favorite podcasts every day for the last 9 days of March.

99% Invisible is one of my absolute favorite podcasts.  It’s a podcast about design, which is kind of vague and misleading, because this podcast encompass a wide variety of topics.  Each episode, host Roman Mars leads the listener through the unoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

Some of my favorite episodes:

  • Frozen assets” – The story of Frederic Tudor, the Ice King.
  • Project Cybersyn” – Fascinating story of a futuristic room designed to be the place where the economy of Chile would be controlled under the Salvador Allende government.  It would be destroyed by the Pinochet dictatorship with only one photograph surviving.
  • On Average” – It’s a cliché to say that no one is average, but the science bears it out.  Not only that but it’s actually dangerous to assume that an average can define a human characteristic.  And who knew that the military was behind the sizing of everything?
  • Photo Credit” –  This episode is about the photographer Lucia Moholy who documented the architecture and designs of the Bauhaus movement basically keeping the style alive when World War II and the Eastern Bloc prevented access to the original works, but she received little credit for her art and contributions.
  • A Sea Worth It’s Salt” – The unlikely story of California’s largest body of water, created by accident in the early 1900s, turned into a tourist resort in the 50s and 60s, and today scorned for it’s unaturalness even within the environmental movement, despite being home to scores of unique species of birds.
  • Structural Integrity” – The story of how a New York City skyscraper almost fell over.
  • “The Shift” – dissecting baseball’s defensive strategy.

#TryPod Day 1: The Memory Palace


All this month, I’ve heard about the campaign to spread the news of podcasts called TryPod.  As I am a voracious listener of podcasts (you can see the complete list of my current subscriptions and other recommendations on my podcast page), I figured I ought to participate while I can.  So I will post about one of my favorite podcasts every day for the last 9 days of March.

The first podcast I think you should try is one I’ve been listening to for quite some time. Host Nate DiMeo tells stories of little known historical events in United State’s history in a soothing tone of voice.  DiMeo’s strength is providing vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of an event, allowing the listener to experience events as they unfold rather than from hindsight.

It’s a short podcast, so if you don’t want to commit much time to listening to podcasts it’s a good place to start.  Here are some of my favorite episodes:

 

Haunting” – The story of Washington Phillip’s mysterious gospel and blues music
Numbers” – This podcast dramatizes the first nationally televised Draft Lottery on December 1, 1969.
Oil, Water” – Whenever Cleveland is mentioned, one hears about the Cuyahoga River catching fire, but until listening to this podcast I was unaware that there were multiple fires over decades and the considerable damage that they caused.
“Dreamland” – Coney Island’s great early 20th-century amusement park.
“Victory” – The story of a an untalented baseball player taken on as a good luck charm by the 1911 New York Giants.
“Harriet Quimby” –  American aviator from the early days of flight.

What I’m Listening to Now – February 2017


Better late than never, here is the report of what I was listening to in February, a short month punctuated by a delightful vacation where I mostly listened to the laughter of my children.

Podcasts of the Month

Fresh AirThe History of US Intervention

A discussion of the United States involvement with the rest of the world from isolationism to the world’s police to the more sinister activities of imperialism and corporate hegemony.

Jacobin RadioWe Can Do Better

What is capitalism, what role does it play in our lives, and is it really the best we can do?

To The Best of Our KnowledgeA Borderless World

Borders and immigration are a key issue of our times.  These stories illustrate how the idea of borders is becoming an outdated one.

BackStoryWorld Apart

The divide between urban and rural populations is one of the major causes of political disagreement in the US today, and one that goes back throughout the history of the United States.

This American LifeIt’s Working Out Very Nicely

Stories of the confusion and struggle that arose in the wake of Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Twenty Thousand HertzAudio Descriptions

Movies have a track of audio description intended to help the visually impaired and this podcast describes the art of narration and how audio descriptions can benefit all viewers.

Decode DCHow cops can legally take your car, home, or cash

The chilling law of civil asset forfeiture that allows police to take property from suspects even if they’re not convicted or even charged with crimes.

Have You Heard?You’re Fired

All about why school turnarounds – a theory of fixing low-performing schools by firing the teachers and staff that has widespread, bipartisan support – is an idea that doesn’t work, and what actually does.

Song of the Month

Chicago singer-songwriter Zeshan Bagewadi (aka Zeshan B) provides a powerful interpretation of the 1970 protest anthem “Cryin’ in the Streets” by  George Perkins that ties together generations of protest for justice and equality in the United States.  Learn more about the song The World interview.

 

Albums of the Month

Artist: Tinariwen
Album: Elwan
Release Date: 10 February 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Sastanàqqàm,” Ténéré Tàqqàl,” “Assàwt,” and “Nànnuflày”
Thoughts: The Northern Africa Desert Blues band from Mali’s most recent release includes guest appearances by indie artists like Kurt Vile, but the band itself is the stand out performer of this collection of melodic, resonant, and politically-charged tunes.
Rating: ***1/2


 

Artist: Clap! Clap!
Album: A Thousand Skies
Release Date: 17 February 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Ar-Raqis” and “Elephant Seranade”
Thoughts: Clap! Clap! is a project of Italian producer Cristiano Crisci, who creates instrumental dance tracks relying heavily on indigenous percussion.  An earlier Clap! Clap! recording, Tayi Bebba,  made my 2014 favorite albums list.  While not as strong as its predecessor, A Thousand Skies is equally enjoyable as festive ambient music for a party or for getting through a gray day at work
Rating: ***1/2


Artist: Visible Cloaks
AlbumReassemblage
Release Date: 17 February 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Bloodstream”, “Place,” “Valve (Revisited)”
Thoughts: Somewhere between Phillip Glass, a church organist, and a lullaby lies this lovely collection of ambient tunes.
Rating: ***


Artist: Molly Burch
AlbumPlease Be Mine
Release Date: 17 February 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Fool”
Thoughts: A collection of retro, country-tinged tracks sung sweetly by a barroom singer.  It’s pretty and well-produced, and while there’s nothing wrong with Burch’s album it’s nothing we  haven’t heard before from Patsy Cline and singers produced by Phil Spector among others, so it’s just a tad bit dull.
Rating: **


 

Podcasts of the Week for the Week Ending November 27


Okay, it’s been several weeks since the last Podcast of the Week, and I’ve decided this will be the last installment of this feature.  In the future I may do a monthly roundup or an irregular schedule of posts.
To start of this final post, here are three new podcasts feeds I’m subscribing to:
  • Maeve in America – Irish comedian Maeve Higgins interviews a different immigrant to America in each episode
  • Hub History – a new podcast on one of my favorite topics, Boston history, which has already covered topics ranging from Cotton Mather’s smallpox innoculation and the Great Molasses Flood
  • Stranglers – a 12-part documentary focusing a particularly notorious time in Boston history, the strangler murders of 1962-64
And here are some good episodes from the past motnth or so:
  • Planet Money – Bad Form, Wells Fargo – Career destroying practices for employees involved in the Wells Fargo scandal
  • 99 Percent Invisible – The Shift – the history of baseball’s revolutionary defensive strategy
  • Politically Re-Active – W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu  with guest Roxane Gay  on Anger After the Election
  • Sounds in My Head – Special Post-Election Episode with a playlist of very sad songs

Podcasts of the Week for the Week of October 30


SidedoorTech Yourself 

I added another podcast subscription to my stable for this new production from The Smithsonian Institution. The debut episode explores various aspects of the human relationship with technology. 

Politically Re-ActiveDr. Jill Stein on Investing Your Vote

W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu interview Green Party Presidential candidate, Jill Stein. 

The Specialist – Blood Girls

Did you know that there’s a job for someone to make fake wounds on volunteers participating in first responder training? Learn all about them in this podcast.

BackStoryAmerican Horror Story

Just in time for Halloween, a cultural
history of horror in
the United States

Podcasts of the Week for the Week Ending October 24


An eerie story of a woman’s experience waking up in a hospital with a head injury and no memory of how she got there. It’s well-told with details revealed in the order she learned them.
Neil Degrasse Tyson interviews the ever charming and poetic French performance artists about his high-wire walks.
An exploration into the first type of residential architecture designed with the idea of immediately selling it to someone else and thus creating a style that no one likes.
Mike Pesca interviews the Green Party candidate for President.  While Pesca is critical of Stein, nevertheless it’s good to hear her get a chance to speak and bring up some issues not being addressed by the major party candidates.
Despite being a hot button issue, voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the United States today and especially difficult to carry out on a large scale to effect national elections.
An interview with Eric Liu who wants to bring back civic pride and celebration to elections.
A short history of how the District of Columbia has been denied Congressional representation and how non-voting Representative  Eleanor Holmes Norton is trying to change that.

Podcasts of the Week for the Week of September 18


Too tired to write up descriptions but here are the best podcasts I listened to last week. 

Podcasts of the Week for Labor Day


I neglected to submit a POTW post last week, so here are two weeks worth of podcasts worth listening to!

99% Invisible – On Average

I’m once again recommending 99PI, because while it’s a cliche to say that no one is average, the science bears it out.  Not only that but it’s actually dangerous to assume that an average can define a human characteristic.  And who knew that the military was behind the sizing of everything?

I always thought the frantic cross-country travel by Presidential candidates to appear in as many states as possible was a waste of time in the era of mass media, and science bears it out.
The story of the ethics of triage revisits Hurricane Katrina and the difficult choices faced in a hospital of who to save and who to let die.  It’s the most heart-wrenching podcast I’ve ever listened to.
This podcast dramatizes an incident I’d not been aware of, a nationally televised Draft Lottery on December 1, 1969.  Still not clear on how this was different from conscription that occured before that date.
The science, the ethics, and the culinary arts of disgust.  Also, a great piece about bat conservation.
All about defining Americans by our work ethic, or lack thereof.  The concept that colonial Americans defined liberty by being able to have other people do their work is a fascinating one.

Podcasts of the Week for the week ending August 21


Fresh Air – “Creamed, Canned and Frozen

The interview with Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe, authors of A Square Meal, discusses culinary history of the Great Depression when food choices were informed by the science of nutrition and new food production technologies, but not by taste or cooking traditions.  A fascinating topic.

Science Talk – “Grand Canyon Rapids Ride for Evolution Education

Robin Lloyd and Steve Mirsky discuss their boat trip on the Colorado rapids through the Grand Canyon, and now I want to pack up and go to Arizona right now!

99% Invisible – “Photo Credit

So, 99% Invisible is basically a POTW recommendation every week.  This episode is about the photographer Lucia Moholy who documented the architecture and designs of the Bauhaus movement basically keeping the style alive when World War II and the Eastern Bloc prevented access to the original works, but she received little credit for her art and contributions.

Code Switch – “Struggling School, Or Sanctuary?

School closings disproportionately affect black children. This podcast documents the final year at a middle and high school in Wilkinsburg, PA.

Podcasts of the Week – Week Ending August 14


BackStory – “Another Man’s Treasure

Several fascinating stories of the history of trash in America.

Have You Heard? –  “The Middle Class Myth: Why College Doesn’t Solve Poverty“>

Another myth of the meritoricracy busted.  Attending college actually creates debt rather than raising people out of poverty, especially if they’re unable to graduate

Sound Opinions – “Ska

I’ve always been a fan of ska music, especially the first and second waves, the third wave less so. Here’s a great historical background of this music, great for parties and political messaging alike.

Re:Sound – “The Whatever Suits You Show

Really liked the story of the business making custom-made suits for women and transmen. Also, a good 99% Invisible episode about police uniforms.

99% InvisibleA Sea Worth It’s Salt

The unlikeley story of California’s largest body of water, created by accident in the early 1900s, turned into a tourist resort in the 50s and 60s, and today scorned for it’s unaturalness even within the environmental movement, despite being home to scores of unique species of birds.

Podcasts of the Week – Week Ending August 7th


Since I have some very basic instruction in being a mobility guide for a visually-impaired friend, I was interested in this story about a person who helps visually-impaired people to live independently by learning to use a cane.
There’s a fungus among us and it supports the Wood Wide Web.  Some startling discoveries of the interconnectedness of species believed to be non-sapient in a forest.
Another new podcast, this one focused on urbanism.  Appropriately the first episode discusses the legacy of Jane Jacobs.
Completely fascinated by the story of Rwanda where gender equality in the public sphere has been forced into being by a political strongmen as  a result of the loss of men in the 1990s genocide.  Also the sad truth that women’s subservience to men is still the expectation in the private sphere.
This American Life – “Are We There Yet?”
A snapshot of the lives of refugees in Greece – from the frightening to the frustrating to the completely boring.
Some historical perspective on one of the United States’ most contentious political debates.

Podcasts of the Week


A short list for the last week of July:

Planet Money – “When Women Stopped Coding

An illuminating but sad history of when computer science moved from being woman-dominated to a “men’s only club.”

Politically Re-Active – “Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman Gives Us the Election Unfiltered”

A podcast I just started listening to that is hosted by W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu features an interview with the noted alternative media host who manages to keep a straight face amidst their goofiness.

The Gist –  “Celebrating the Nerd Mentatality

This podcast is worth listening primarily for Mike Pesca ordering a salad as if he were delivering a convention speech, but the stuff on nerds is good too.

 

Podcasts of the Week


Whenever Cleveland is mentioned, one hears about the Cuyahoga River catching fire, but until listening to this podcast I was unaware that there were multiple fires over decades and the considerable damage that they caused.
The much-maligned shark gets a fair shake.  And I still love Jaws even if it’s wrong.
Insight into what may make a person commit horrible atrocities, and what we can do to counter that.
A subject near and dear to my heart, riding on public transit with children.  Features Lee Biernbaum, author of the Kids in the Stairwell blog
Not a typical Planet Money episode as it focuses on people tortured and forced to confess by the Chicago police, and the thorny issue of deciding on how much to pay in reparations.
Interviews with people affected by violence, both people harmed by police and officers harmed by suspects.  Particularly interesting is the black man who served as a police officer and participated in protests to reform the police, sometimes on both sides on the same day.
Wind down with another collection of great music featuring DIRTYGIRL (including my song of the week), Eerie Wanda, Flowers, Failed Flowers, and The Avalanches!

Podcasts of the Week


Here are the podcasts I recommend listening to from the past week.

Code Switch – “No Words

This extra podcast reflects on the horrible week of atrocity and death in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas.

ProPublica – “How New Jersey Has Embraced ‘State-Sanctioned Loan Sharking’ to Students

The title really says it all, but it’s really shocking to hear how one state’s student loan program is so exploitative.

Life of the Law – “Bail or Bust

“There really are two systems of justice. There’s one for people who can make bail, and one for people who can’t.” So begins another story of how the incarceral state is rigged against the least privileged in America.

Ben Franklin’s World – “Age of American Revolutions

Revolutions broke out across North and South America in the late 1700s and early 1800s.  These are their stories, and how the United States – itself a revolutionary republic – responded or didn’t to their fellow seekers of independence.

Song Exploder – “Kill V. Maim by Grimes

The amazingly talented Claire Boucher, who records as Grimes, breaks down the creation of one of her latest songs. 

Podcast of the Week: “Do Protests Still Matter?” from To The Best of Our Knowledge


This week’s To the Best of Our Knowledge asks Do Protests Still Matter.  I grew up inspired by the history of mass movements to use protest for Civil Rights, women’s equality, labor rights, and anti-war to  bring about great change.  In the 80s and 90s, I visited Washington, DC often and every time would see a protest of dozens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of people marching from some cause.  It seemed that protests were so routine that they no longer received media coverage and certainly did not seem to be influencing elected representatives in the government.  In 2007, as part of the ALA Conference in Washington, I went to the US Capitol and visited the offices of my representative and senators to advocate for libraries.  I noticed that there were other groups working for other causes wearing matching t-shirts and carrying their own petitions.  I never met any elected representatives, just their administrative assistants who politely asked me to drop my petition in an inbox.  Again, I really wondered if protest was so commonplace as to have any affect at all.

In recent years, first with Occupy Wall Street and then Black Lives Matters, I’ve been inspired by mass movements innovating to get attention to their causes through long-term encampments, blocking streets, and other more “in-your-face” tactics.  They seem to have helped stir conversation about inequality in our nation, but they’ve also met with police repression and a widespread commendation of “extremism” in tactics that ignores the severity of the problems they’re trying to address.  It makes me worry about how in the future the people’s voices if protest is no longer an effective means of expression and resistance.  I remain optimistic though, and if you read this blog you know I’ve participated in demonstrations and rallies for Boston Public Schools and plan to remain active in the future.

What do you think?  Do protests still matter?  In what ways can people express their voices and opinions to make change for the better?

Podcast of the Week: Mike Matheny’s Manifesto on Fresh Air


I was impressed listening to former big league catcher and current MLB manager Mike Matheny discuss the culture of youth sports, the subject of his new book The Matheny Manifesto.  He also had some fascinating stories of his major league experience and concussions.  It actually made me like a St. Louis Cardinal!

http://freshairnpr.npr.libsynfusion.com/-silence-on-the-sidelines-an-mlb-insiders-manifesto-on-youth-sports

 

Podcast of the Week: The Sounds in My Head


This weeks podcast of the week is the music program The Sounds in My Head which offers up a special all-women episode.

 

There’s a lot of good music here, I am especially fond of Childbirth, Prince Rama, Colleen Green, Plush, and Habibi.

Podcast of the Week: Code Switch from NPR


I just started following a new podcast bringing my total number of subscription up to 60!  (Yes, I know I have a problem, but I don’t listen to every single episode).

Code Switch is an NPR project featuring discussions about race and identity, an interesting and important, albeit challenging topic.

So far there are two episodes: #1 discusses whiteness and #2 is about black and brown people being outdoorsy.

Check it out!