Podcasts of the Week Ending October 7th


What I’m listening to and what you should be listening to.

Have You Heard? :: Divided by Design: Race, Neighborhoods, Wealth and Schools

A history of racial segregation in neighborhoods and schools that is still feeding inequality to this very day.

To the Best of Our Knowledge :: What is School For?

I was worried that this would be peppered with corporate reform ideology and myths, but actually has some interesting stories on teacher burnout, multicultural studies, and the importance of the humanities.

The Truth :: Brain Chemistry

A funny/poignant audio drama about the life of a brain in a jar in the future, starring Scott Adsit of 30 Rock.

Hit Parade :: The Great War Against the Single Edition

It’s a good thing that Hit Parade is published infrequently, because I think I’m going to post every episode here.  This is the story of how record companies from the 1960s to the 2000s tried to make people by the more expensive full albums in order to get a copy of a popular song.  Deeply fascinating, with lots of Casey Kassem cameos.

99% Invisible :: The Athletic Brassiere

The hidden story of the sports bra (nee, the “Jock Bra”) and how it helped transform women in sports.

Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked :: A Friend in the Forest 

The Snap Judgment spinoff podcasts tells creepy stories for the month of October, and this contemporary ghost story from Ireland is particularly eerie.

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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 Ending October 2


This is another Podcasts of Two Weeks since I failed to get up a post last week, but these podcasts are all still timely enough to be worth listening to:
The Memory Palace – “Haunting
  • The story of Washington Phillip’s mysterious gospel and blues music

The Gist – “How Do We Fix Down-Ballot Elections?

  • Reid Wilson and Mike Pesca discuss the importance of congressional, state, and local elections and how they can be overlooked due to the hype of the Presidential election, an issue I’ve focused on here before.
  • My grandparents lived their final years in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, a city that was already suffering economically and growing derelict when I visited in the 1980s.  This podcast shows that Mahanoy City has taken an even more turn to the worst.
To the Best of Our Knowledge – Locked Up
  • Mass incarceration has caused the United States to lead the world in the number of citizens in prisons.  Here are some stories of people behind bars and some alternatives to locking people up.
  • The title says it all in this analysis of how immigration restrictions have hurts agriculture in the United States by depriving farms of seasonal migrant workers while at the same time making it more likely undocumented people will stay in the country permanently rather than returning home.
Have You Heard? – Peanut Butter and Persistence
  • The latest episode of this public education podcast focuses on a San Francisco school carrying out the types of reforms necessary in education but rarely endorsed by the so-called reformers.

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!

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: “Mosquitoes Must Die” from To The Best of Our Knowledge


First, the To the Best of Our Knowledge podcast “Mosquitoes Must Die” makes me think of Caephus from Jesus Christ Superstar.  “Must die, must die, mosquitoes must die!”

Second, to hear this series of experts seriously consider completely eradicating an entire species is astonishing.  There’s just so much hubris to consider that it would not have negative effects on ecosystems.  And I don’t even like mosquitoes.

Still, food for thought.

The Podcast Revolution?


I’ve been surprised about the recent declarations that podcasts are the next big thing ever since the success of “Serial” (discussed at length in the latest podcast episode of To The Best of Our Knowledge).  Mainly this is because I’ve been listening to podcasts obsessively for the past ten years.  And I don’t mean this in a hipster “I did it before it was cool” way, I just assumed that lots of people were already listening to podcasts, even before I discovered them.

Anyhow, if you happen to be new to podcasts, here is my updated list of favorite podcasts.  (Ironically, I listened to the first episode of “Serial” and wasn’t interested in the rest of the series.  Maybe I’ll check out the next series).

Feel free to share your favorite podcasts in the comments.

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