2018 Index

Conversation #57: On Nationalism (October 28, 2018)

We’ve missed two weeks. Things have been very challenging: Grace is exhausted in the home stretch of this pregnancy; we’ve been slammed with huge expenses; the kids need rides all over the county; we’re still looking for some kind of clarity on what to do with our old house in Saginaw; Paul is sick of cleaning the kitchen. Last week we celebrated seventeen wonderful years of marriage. This week the creeping crypto-fascism of the last forty years is no longer creeping, and it’s no longer cryptic. And voting has been an inadequate response for decades — of course you should vote, but it’s literally the least you can do.

Our topic, when we finally get around to it, is nationalism: what it is, what it isn’t, and why the love of a nation is not a sensible thing, and inevitably is perverted into the love of blood, or soil, both of which are distractions that hide the true fascist agenda, which is always empire. We contrast this with patriotism, which is a thing that a sensible person can feel — but true patriotism carries with it responsibility, and sometimes the love of the patria needs to be tough love. And finally — how will you know how and when to fight for the country you love?

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

This Week’s Music

The music is a guitar track Paul recorded in 2013, originally intended to be part of a cover of Jonathan Coulton’s song “Shop Vac.” You can find the original here, and a live version here. (And yes, I used this music clip before — in conversation 46).


No Podcast Tonight (October 14, 2018)

Today is our son Sam’s twelfth birthday and we got a very late start getting dinner and a birthday cake together. We’ll try to get a show out later this week if possible. We certainly have no shortage of things to talk about!


Conversation #56: Things Are Not Always As They Seem (October 7, 2018)

We have a late and disorganized show for you this week. First we ramble on a bit about the new season of Doctor Who, and our hopes and fears about a female Doctor. Next, we wander onto the minefield of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which has been sucking up all the media air in the room for some time. Finally Grace shares the remarks she gave at this year’s Front Porch Republic conference, about what has and hasn’t changed for black folks in America over the last fifty years.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

This Week’s Music

No music this week.


No Podcast This Week (September 30, 2018)

The events of the weekend sort of got away from us and we have run out of time. our apologies! We hope to get a show out next week.


Conversation #55: Millennial Economics with Anna (September 23, 2018)

Anna Markow is a millennial from Maine who lives in Brooklyn and works as a pastry chef in Manhattan’s theater district. She is one of the hosts of the Bread Line podcast, about the intersection of food and politics from a leftist perspective. We spoke to Anna about her podcast, her journey from hippie childhood to retail to pastry school to Michelin-starred restaurant kitchens, her politics, and her hopes for the future. Along the way we threw in a few quotations from Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, and talk about how the rent is still too damned high!

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

This Week’s Music

No music this week.


Conversation #54: The Elric Chronicles (September 16, 2018)

This week, we didn’t have a political topic prepared, so after grousing for a while about the week, we just spoke about some current events: Hurricane Florence and the news-making news coverage, the anonymous op-ed entitled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” that appeared in the New York Times, and Steve Bannon’s scheduled appearance at the New Yorker Festival. We didn’t really plan to talk about related topics, but all three of these things raise troubling questions about the media’s role in generating news, rather than reporting news. And in some cases, they are clearly organized and deliberate psy-ops.

Next, I’ve finished six volumes of Michael Moorcock’s Elric stories, and so I feel ready to recommend a reading order, which skips right over most of the material from the seventies and eighties, focusing instead on the exciting and inspired early novellas, and the much more recent novel Daughter of Dreams, from 2001. I also talk about different ways that good work can be written, and what it means when we say that an author has developed a “late style.”

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

This Week’s Music

No music this week.


No Podcast This Week (September 9, 2018)

Sorry folks. We’ve been trying our best to get a show out every Sunday evening, even if it is very late, and I’m very happy that we’ve managed to do it almost every week for the last year. But we’re just not going to manage it tonight. Please check back next week!


Conversation #53: Trump Distortion Syndrome and the Normalization of Fascism (September 2, 2018)

Elias Crim is our guest this week. Elias is the founder and publisher of Solidarity Hall, and has written for The American Scholar, The American Conservative, The Washington Times, and The Chicago Observer.

Does anyone need a house in Saginaw? And since Grace and I started this podcast last summer, we’ve completed fifty shows! So now what, dear listener?

Elias shares updates on his book project, the Socialism 2018 conference in Chicago, and Solidarity Hall.

Then, we dig into the normalization of fascism that was on display this week, and why the liberal rehabilitation of war criminals and their imperial wars of aggression is so disturbing to watch.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

This Week’s Music

No music this week.


Conversation #52: The Other Maverick (August 26, 2018)

This week we got a very late start on our show, so we tried to keep it short. First, we spoke about an article from The Intercept by Briahna Gray entitled “Beware The Race Reductionist.” In this article, Gray details the way in which supporters of liberal establishment politics are making bad faith arguments against universal programs, claiming that they will do nothing to solve racism, sexism, and other “isms,” on the grounds that they don’t privilege people based on their identities. These arguments embody the cynical weaponization of identity politics We’ve discussed this topic previously, for example in Conversation #48 when we dove into Asad Haider’s book Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump. These strange arguments are multiplying, and embody a concerted attack by Democratic centrists on very popular leftist policy prescriptions. And like many wrong arguments, they contain a seed of truth: previous universal programs have in fact been administered with damaging biases built-in. But that truth is hardly a good argument for the status quo in health care, education, and safety-net programs.

Then, Grace remembers a maverick politician – Lowell P. Weicker – who, in his long career, served as a representative, senator, and governor. Weicker was an early advocate of rights for the disabled, and took Connecticut’s budget from deficit to surplus by instituting a state income tax.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

Briahna Gray’s article “Beware the Race Reductionist” can be found here.

Here’s the profile of Weicker that Grace mentioned.

This Week’s Music

No music this week.


Conversation #51: Cheapo Trope House (August 19, 2018)

Paul got his palsied, liver-spotted hands on an an advance copy of The Chapo Guide to Revolution: A Manifesto Against Logic, Facts, and Reason, the new book by the Chapo Trap House gang. The book’s official release date is Tuesday, August 21st. We have some excerpts from the introduction and two chapters, one on “libs” and the other on “cons.” Along the way we talk about who this book is for, the problems of sarcasm and irony in discourse, and ask whether it preaches only to the choir, or could expose a wider audience to unfamiliar ideology. And we try to survey the contours of the chasm that has opened up between “leftist” and “liberal,” words that once seemed nearly synonymous, but which now are at least as far apart in meaning as “conservative” and Republican.”

Then, we’ve got another excerpt from Mark Bray’s Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. This time the subject is “everyday anti-fascism.” We try to expand that conversation outwards, talking about the role of shame as ostracism in enforcing societal norms, and how one might serve anti-fascist aims by maintaining community with people with fascist tendences, while at the same time not promoting their ideas. We also discuss the idea that non-violence is a privileged position. And we briefly mention what happened when the Washington Post tried to cover disaffected white workers in a majority-Hispanic chicken processing plant in Pennsylvania.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

This Week’s Music

No music this week! But if you want to get into the Chapo mindset, here’s the song.


Conversation #50: Remembering Heather Heyer (August 12, 2018)

We’ve got a big show this week. Paul starts off talking about a book of Terry Pratchett’s earliest stories, Dragons at Crumbling Castle and Other Tales. Then he has some notes on the opera by John Adams, Nixon in China.

Then, we get into our big topics: one year ago, Heather Heyer was murdered in Charlottesville. And there was another outrage that didn’t get nearly as much media attention: DeAndre Harris, beaten by six men and seriously injured, was actually charged with a felony for allegedly attacking the men who attacked him.

Next up, we get into the no-platform strategy for dealing with fascists, and quote an interview with Mark Bray.

Speaking of platforms, we then review the cases of Sarah Jeong and Alex Jones, and then talk about how the whole notion of free speech on Twitter and other corporate platforms is a mess, and why true solidarity requires a public commons.

Next, we read and discuss two passages from Mark Bray’s book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook: first, a part of the introduction in which he introduces the concept of fascism and anti-fascism, and then a part from chapter 5, in which Bray takes on the topic of free speech for fascists.

Finally, we’ve got a quote from Karl Popper on the paradox of tolerance, and a clip from comedian Aamer Rahman.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

This review of Dragons at Crumbling Castle and Other Tales on The Guardian’s site here seems to have been written by an actual child, “cupcakekate.”

There’s a Wikipedia page about Nixon in China.

We mention several articles:

The publisher’s page for Mark Bray’s remarkable book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook can be found here

And finally, here’s Aamer Rahman on punching Nazis.

This Week’s Music

I’ve used some brief clips from two different recording of Nixon in China, the 1987 Elektra Nonsuch release and the 2009 Naxos Colorado Symphony release, as well as brief clips of works by Philip Glass, Glassworks and Einstein on the Beach.


Conversation #49: Nina, Abdul, and Bernie, Oh My! (August 5, 2018)

This week our show features Paul’s recording of today’s rally for Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, who is running for governor of Michigan. Other speakers today included former Senator Nina Turner, currently President of Our Revolution, Linda Sarsour, former director of the Arab American Association of New York, and Senator Bernie Sanders.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

This Week’s Music

No music this week.


No Podcast This Week (July 28, 2018)

We’re not going to manage to get a podcast up this weekend. We’ve been without electricity for 48 hours and have no real idea when it will be restored. We’ll get an episode up as soon as we can. Thanks for all your support.


Conversation #48: Matthew Haugen of HVDSA, Identity Politics, and More (July 22, 2018)

This week we have an interview with Matthew Haugen, co-chair of the Huron Valley chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (their slogan: “we fight for socialism over barbarism.”) We talk with Matthew about the chapter’s work, including their brake light clinics, but especially their new garden project. Gardens of any kind are near and dear to our hearts!

Then, we discuss several of the books that have been crammed into our mailbox recently, including a seven-volume set of Michael Moorcock’s Elric stories, and a cool omnibus of Arthur Machen’s weird fiction from Centipede Press.

Finally, we take a deep dive into the last chapter of Asad Haider’s book Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump. Even though it’s a pretty short chapter, it’s jam-packed with big ideas, so this takes us a while. And of course Paul can’t keep from going off on tangents. And no, you didn’t miss our discussion of previous chapters in previous shows. Just like the golden snitch in the Harry Potter universe, we open at the close!

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

The Huron Valley DSA’s web page is here. You can also find them on Twitter here.

Matthew’s essay entitled “Natural Gas: A Bridge To Nowhere” can be found here.

HVDSA is supporting the following candidates:

The web page for Asad Haider’s book can be found here.

The page for the Centipede Press volume of stories by Arthur Machen, part of their “Library of Weird Fiction” series, can be found here.

Paul mentioned the seven volumes of Elric stories from Gollancz/Orion, part of the recent definitive Michael Moorcock Collection. These books put the material in internal chronological order. The nine original stories are all there, but they are scattered between three different volumes. If you want to read the original stories in publication order, which Paul recommends, you might find it more fun to start with Elric: The Stealer of Souls, specifically the 2008 Del Rey omnibus edition with the lurid cover, ISBN 978-0-345-49862-5. It contains the original novelettes and novellas in publication order. And, honestly, you might consider just stopping there. For much more on this topic, see Paul’s recent blog post.

This Week’s Music

No music this week.


Conversation #47: Millennial Economics with Meredith (July 15, 2018)

Our friend Meredith, an older Millennial from early in that generation, joins us to talk about her winding and uncertain career path, which led her through dropping out of college, living with her parents, holding a variety of low-wage jobs, becoming a caregiver in a pinch, working at a number of side hustles, years of self-employment, minimalism, frugality, and now to something like the traditional definition of success. Along the way we talk about her projects as a podcaster, musician, and audio producer, the importance of being an auto-didact, the student loan fiasco, job prospects in the trades, and more.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

Meredith’s SoundCloud page is here.

She has turned one of her podcast audio files into a game: Phone Tree.

In our conversation she mentioned the Wall of Snow and Paul mentioned the Blizzard of ’77.

This Week’s Music

For intro and outro music this week, we’re using audio from my attempt to play Phone Tree, and Meredith’s song “Die in a Fire” (available on her SoundCloud page).


A Show of No Show: An Encore Presentation of GPP #1, “Learning to Listen,” from 2008 (July 8, 2018)

Grace and I will not be able to get a show up tonight. We just wound up taking on one too many projects at the Potts house this weekend. We will try to let this be a lesson to us about taking on too many things. But the lesson probably won’t stick all that well, as it never has before.

Since I don’t have anything new to share, it occurred to me that I could share something old. So here is an encore presentation of the very first episode of my old Potts House General Purpose Podcast, “Learning to Listen,” first unleashed upon the world almost ten years ago. This is a show consisting of of audio from my summer vacation in Michigan’s upper peninsula, and thoughts about sound and recording.

I recommend listening to it with a pair of quality headphones, if you have one available. I hope you find it soothing. I think most of us could use some soothing, these days.

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

This was not my very first podcast—I first started uploading recordings of public-domain material in 2006. The ones that I think are good enough to remain up are linked to posts in this blog, so poke around there, if you’re of a mind to.


Conversation #46: Catching Up with Elias Crim (July 1, 2018)

Elias Crim joins us for a conversation. Elias is the founder and publisher of Solidarity Hall, and has written for The American Scholar, The American Conservative, The Washington Times, and The Chicago Observer. We spoke about South Shore SOUP (modeled after Detroit SOUP), Municipalism, “alternative citizenship,” Murray Bookchin, the Favelas of Rio do Janeiro, Socialism 2018 in Chicago, and more.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

This Week’s Music

The music is a guitar track Paul recorded in 2013, originally intended to be part of a cover of Jonathan Coulton’s song “Shop Vac.” You can find the original here, and a live version here.


In the Wee Hours (June 25, 2018)

It’s about 1:45 a.m. on Sunday night/Monday morning. Grace and I recorded a podcast tonight, but it ran a bit long. In fact, we spoke for almost four hours. We had a lot to get off our chests. So I can’t stay up any later to finish it tonight. I’ll have to finish the production and upload work as soon as I can.

We spoke a bit about a few recent things we’ve been reading and watching, but the bulk of our conversation was about our attempt to start a new life in Saginaw, Michigan in 2010, and how we are still working through the consequences of our failure to make that plan work over the long term. We hope that our experiences may have given us some insight into the conditions, both economic and social, that face a lot of communities in America today.


Conversation #45: Saginaw, America (June 24, 2018)

This week Grace and I do a deep dive into our own recent history: our move to Saginaw in 2010, our attempt to build an urban homestead there and create a sustainable, secure life there with our family and the wider community, and our failures, and how we are still paying the price for them.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

Works Mentioned This Week

Books

Movies and TV Shows

We discussed the police killing of Milton Hall.

We discussed the murder of Sean Stennett.

This Week’s Music

The music is a vocal-free version of Paul’s cover of “America,” originally by Simon and Garfunkel. You can find a very nice live version here, and a wilder version by Yes here.


Conversation #44: Family Values Struggle Session (June 17, 2018)

This week, Chris Travers joins us to dive a little deeper into Melinda Cooper’s book, and America’s history of support for families, including the decades-long, ginned-up controversies around Aid to Families with Dependent Children. This is a challenging book, written in academic jargon, but still chock-full of interesting ideas. And we’ve only gotten through the interview, and the first two chapters of the book! So we may be mining this one for interesting ideas in weeks to come.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

From Viewpoint Magazine, Ben Mabie interviews Melinda Cooper, author of Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism.

The MIT Press page for Melinda Cooper’s book can be fund here.

This Week’s Music

The music is a vocal-free version of Paul’s cover of “Car Parts,” originally by the Long Winters. You can find the original album track here, and there’s a lovely live version here, and an early live recording of the “post-grunge” version here.


Show Note (June 10, 2018)

Grace and I have unfortunately been overwhelmed with paperwork and problems. We’ve been very stressed by the process of managing insurance claims and contractors, to get various repairs completed on our old house in Saginaw. I’ll spare you the details, but the process is making us both sick with stress.

So, unfortunately we will not be able to present a show this week. We will do our best to get back on a regular schedule in time for next week’s show, but things may well be chaotic through the end of June.

Anyone interested in watching the sausage being made, so to speak, can follow what’s happening on my blog. Although even in the blog, I’m leaving out most of the gory details, until it’s all done.

Thanks for all your support of us, and of the podcast.


Conversation #43: Nanny States and Loco Parents (June 3, 2018)

We’ve been gone for a while! We explain what’s been going on, and why we’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, and try to start working through a big backlog of articles and ideas. Then we take on related ideas raised in three recent articles on the economic challenges of raising a family in modern America, and some possible solutions. Finally, we look forward to a book by Melinda Cooper that looks like it might offer a red-hot take on the decline of support for the American family.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

From Vox, Alex Press writes about how “The record-low birthrate offers yet another sign that millennials are eoncomicallys screwed.”

From Slate, Henry Grabar writes about a startup with a disturbing solution to the poverty-in-retirement problem among American home-owning seniors in “Live Free and Die.”

From Current Affairs, Vanessa Bee writes about how “Every Parent Deserves a Nanny State,” and proposes an interesting old new thing as a solution: public boarding schools.

From Viewpoint Magazine, Ben Mabie interviews Melinda Cooper, author of Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism.

This Week’s Music

The music is is a little improvisation on 12-string guitar that Paul recorded a few years ago.


Hot Take: The Events in Gaza (May 20, 2018)

This week we have a raw and un-edited discussion on the recent horrifying events in Gaza. Grace is going to be away for a number of days, so we recorded this one early (the evening of Tuesday, May 15th). This means that we run a greater-than-usual risk of our comments being overtaken by events as they unfold, but so be it.

I will get this one up early (and there won’t be a separate episode released on Sunday the 20th).

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

Juan Cole’s brief essay “Can Palestinians Be Killed? Can Israelis Kill them? Or Do They Only ‘Die’?” can be found on Common Dreams here.

Paul quoted from Wikipedia’s article about The Gaza Strip.

David Shulman’s article in the New York Review of Books, “Israel’s Irrational Rationality,” can be found here.

Chris Hedges’ essay “Killing Gaza” can be found on Truthdig here.

Hedges references the new documentary, also titled Killing Gaza, available on Vimeo here.


Conversation #42: Reading and Watching (May 13, 2018)

This week we catch up on some books and movies that we’ve taken in recently:

Then we discuss the article “Escaping Poverty Requires Almost 20 Years with Nearly Nothing Going Wrong,” from The Atlantic magazine, by Gillian B. White. The article is a review of The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy by Peter Temin.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

The episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation we’re watching are taking from this guide, “Star Trek: The Next Generation in 40 Hours” by Max Temkin. (I’m not saying we will only ever watch those episodes, because the worst can be at least as entertaining as the best, but for now we are very slowly working our way through that list).

Paul mentioned “Heaven Sent,” one of the best modern episodes of Doctor Who, which has a time-loop plot with similarities to the plot of “Cause and Effect,” and James Tiptree Jr.’s novel Brightness Falls from the Air, which also contains a fascinating and strange time loop subplot. Tiptree published only two novels; the other was Up the Walls of the World.

The web site for the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President by Bandy X. Lee et al. can be found here.

The web site for Unspeakable by Chris Hedges with David Talbot can be found here.

Paul mentioned Hedges’ article on the importance of maintaining non-violence in protests. He also mentioned Heges’ commencement address at Rockford College, with the full text available here, and his speech at Moravian College, with the full text available here.

There are many editions of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, but the one Grace and I are reading is this one, and we want to give a particular shout-out to the wonderful cover art by Thomas Ott.

The Ant-Man movie web site is here.

Gillian B. White’s review of MIT economist Peter Temin’s book The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy can be found here.

The book’s web site can be found here.

This Week’s Music

The music is is a little clip Paul put together in Apple Logic using some of the included royalty-free samples.


Conversation #41: Millennial Economics with Angie (May 6, 2018)

This week we talk millennial economics with our guest, Angie. Angie is a wife, mother of four, stay-at-home mom, homeowner, and millennial. We discuss the economics of college education, the enduring value of work in the trades, the elite disdain for manual labor, and the things we no longer seem to teach in school. Also, the dog ate our homework, and Colorado is full!

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

This Week’s Music

The music is from Paul’s song, “Sherman’s Lament,” a song he wrote for the SpinTunes 2 songwriting contest in 2010. You can find the full track here.


Conversation #40: Status Report (April 29, 2018)

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and the dog ate our homework, so this week we are just bringing you a rambling status update. Paul throws in some comments about the E-Space trilogy, three classic Doctor Who serials from late in the Tom Baker era.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

This Week’s Music

The music is from Paul’s song, “Science (in the Service of Beauty),” another failed songwriting contest entry. You can find the complete song here although trust me, it’s better without the lead vocals.


The One that Got Away (April 22, 2018)

Paul is sick today and we just couldn’t manage a show. But here’s a little thing from the archives. A few years ago Paul read portions of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick to the kids. Not every chapter—just the ones he thought would be the most fun to read out loud. Here’s his recording of chapters 28 through 31, which feature the characters of Ahab, Stubb, Flask, and the mysterious dream-merman. He made a few introductory comments—if you find that part uninteresting and want to get straight to Melville, skip ahead to 7:30. The whole file is a bit over 31 minutes long.

What’s the point of this? Moby-Dick has a certain reputation, partially deserved, as a heavy and discursive book, hard to read—but it is also very beautifully written, and very funny in parts. Paul wanted to present some evidence of this, and capture why his kids found it entertaining.

Really, Moby-Dick is several books in one, in several different styles, all of them subtle, satirical, and self-referential, often breaking the fourth wall, and often revelatory of the quick mind and long experience of the narrator, Ishmael. Stubb is every bit as funny and touching a comic sidekick as Shakespeare’s famous sidekicks, like Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. Ahab even seems to speak in blank verse, or something close to it.

The regular Podcast feed is here if you want to subscribe in iTunes or another podcast client.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.


Conversation #39: Joy Pryor and the First Stop Shop (April 15, 2018)

This week, our friend Joy Pryor was in the house! So Paul handed over his microphone so that Grace could interview Joy about her project, the First Stop Shop, a reuse shop that is also a statement of, and act of, resistance.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

The First Stop Shop has a Facebook group page here.

This Week’s Music

The music is from Paul’s song, “Falling: a Nightmare in Three Acts,” a failed songwriting contest entry. You can find the complete song here.


Conversation #38: The Gun Show (April 8, 2018)

Our friend Chris Travers joins us for this week’s chat, from Germany. We talk about a few books including Tolkien’s classic The Fellowship of the Ring. Paul’s been reading Tolkien to the kids at bedtime, and tossing in his own leftist analysis, as well as literary analysis, along the way. We also watched the classic Doctor Who serial Earthshock. Then we get down to the meat of the discussion: the debate on guns in the United States. Grace links the mass shooting epidemic to the concept of stochastic terrorism, as a deliberate attempt to push people towards greater acceptance of totalitarianism. Chris talks about what a reasonable system of community firearms regulation might look like. Paul talks about why blaming mental health is a false flag operation.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

Paul mentioned Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump by Asad Haider. The book’s page is here. We will probably be ordering this book and discussing it on a future show.

Chris mentioned the Marian reforms. These reforms allowed poor citizens who were not able to purchase their own weapons and armor to serve in the army as professional soldiers, formed a standing army (not just in wartime), offered retirement benefits for soldiers, and allowed some non-citizens who served in the Roman army full citizenship.

Paul mentioned District of Columbia v. Heller.

The original Daily Kos diary on “stochastic terrorism” can be found here. The author also has it up as a blog post here. The concept has appeared in the media on a few occasions since then; for example, it was discussed after Trump’s comments about Hillary Clinton when he referred to “second amendment people.”

A Yale study showed that changing a person’s level of fear can change that person’s political views. See the Washington Post article here.

Slate featured an article on why male rage—what Paul called “aggrieved violence”—and not mental illness, seems to be the driving force behind mass shootings, and how felony domestic violence is the best predictor of murder.

This Week’s Music

The music is from Paul’s song, “Today is Not That Day.” He wrote and recorded this song for the SpinTunes songwriting contest in 2011; it was not one of his better-received efforts, but he still thinks the backing music is kind of cool. You can find the complete song here.


Conversation #37: Easter Fool’s Day (April 1, 2018)

Worst. Easter. Ever! Everybody’s sick, and Grace and Paul missed Easter Mass for the first time since before they were married! But earlier in the week, Grace and Paul attended a lecture by Professor Elizabeth Anderson, on private governments in the workplace, and they have thoughts. Then, Paul has further thoughts on The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump and compares it to another collection of essays, False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

Professor Elizabeth Anderson’s home page is here

The web page for her recent book, Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It) is here.

Here is the page for the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President by Bandy X. Lee et al.

Here is the page for the book False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton, edited by Liza Featherstone.

This Week’s Music

The music is from Paul’s song, “A Brother’s Valentine.” There’s a video here and you can download the song here.


Conversation #36: Lightning Round and Remembering the Start of the Iraq War (March 25, 2018)

This week: we finished reading The Hobbit to the kids! And Paul started reading The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. We cooked an Indian feast! We have 4 short topics: the Uber self-driving car crash; Caitlin Johnstone on leaving social media; Slate on the rising cost of suburban housing; and the Stanford Graduate School of Business on how the workplace is killing people. Then, Paul reads excerpts from his blog from 15 years ago, when he was writing in protest of the start of the war in Iraq.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

Here is the page for Julie Sahni’s fantastic cookbook Classic Indian Cooking as well as her other books.

Here is the page for the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President by Bandy X. Lee et al.

Caitlin Johnstone’s article on leaving social media is here.

The Slate piece on suburban housing costs is here.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business book review is here.

The book reviewed is Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer. Here is the page for the book.

You can find Paul’s old blog posts on the Iraq war here. Specifically, he read excerpts from these posts from March 2003:

Those posts contain many broken links. Paul has started trying to update the old posts, fixing as many of the broken links as possible, using the Internet Archive, and other sources as he can find them. Here’s the first one.

Left and Right

People might notice that in this show, Grace and Paul’s voices are flipped (Grace is panned slightly to the left, and Paul panned slightly to the right). This was not an intentional change—Paul just accidentally put the audio files onto the wrong tracks in the Logic Pro project! Although had he thought of it, he would have flipped the tracks for the “Easter Fool’s Day” show.

This Week’s Music

The music is from Paul’s song “Leaving Ann Arbor.” There’s a video here and you can download the song here.


Conversation #35: Catholic Slacker and Alpha Male (March 20, 2018)

We’re late this week—but spring is here! We had a wonderful walk on Saturday. Grace is reading The PK Cookbook by Sarah Myhill and Craig Robinson.

Paul has a possible explanation for the cough he’s had for months. He wasn’t satisfied with his doctor’s lack of concern in helping him get rid of his chronic cough, so he took matters into his own hands and signed up for a study, and provided a blood sample for genetic testing. He’s learned that he has the PiMZ variation of the SERPINA1 gene. This gene is responsible for the production of the alpha-1 antitrypsin protein. The more severe PiZZ variation results in levels less than 15% of normal and produces severe disease of the lungs and liver. Paul’s PiMZ variation means he doesn’t isn’t considered to have the full-blown alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency disease, but instead is a “carrier.” This isn’t all that rare: individuals with the MZ gene make up about 2-5% of the population.

With some genetic disorders, being a “carrier” means you can pass on a disease to your offspring, but you don’t “have” the disease. In the case of the SERPINA1 gene, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The PiMZ variation usually results in alpha-1 antitrypsin protein levels of about 60% of normal. That’s not nearly as dangerous as the PiZZ variation, but it is associated with increased risk of some lung and liver diseases, including chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis. It also seems to be associated with elevated risk of COPD, when the “carrier” has relatives with COPD, which suggests there are may be as-yet-undiscovered comorbid genetic conditions. And it seems that people with the PiMZ variation suffer more lung damage from infections and pollution exposure than people with the normal gene (probably not coincidentally, after we moved from Saginaw to Pittsfield Township, and Paul started commuting daily on I-94, his exposure to air pollution, especially soot from heavy truck traffic, increased dramatically).

Grace should be tested, too, and our children should be tested. If Grace has the normal PiMM variant of SERPINA1, our children can’t have the severe PiZZ variation, although they have a 50% chance of inheriting Paul’s PiMZ variation. If Grace has PiMZ (which seems unlikely, since the disease is mostly found in people of Northern European and Iberian ancestry), then there is a 25% chance that our children could have the much more dangerous PiZZ variation.

This is complicated—just for starters, there are more than 120 known mutations of the SERPINA1 gene. But it’s a relief to have at least some possible explanation of why Paul’s been sick. And it suggests a course of action—finding a doctor who specializes in these issues and who can help treat the symptoms. Paul only received his results a few days ago, so we don’t know all that much about it yet.

Then, Grace responds at length to a prompt from a friend, who asked to hear more about her process of formation in both politics and spiritual life. Grace talks in some detail about her early influences. One was her father, a civil-rights attorney, who turned family dinners into seminar classes in politics and criminal justice. She participated in protests at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, and was a veteran volunteer for several political campaigns by the time she was 18. She also talks about her journey from pro-choice to pro-life, and to the Roman Catholic Church, and how she felt that she discovered a spiritual home with Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement.

A minor correction to Paul’s comment: Bill Clinton’s speech on the steps of Rackham Auditorium in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan was not on election day 1992 (November 3rd), but on October 19th. That was almost 28 years ago—yikes!

Paul also mentioned the strange Michigan Democratic Primary of 2008. In that primary, Obama, Richardson, Biden, and Edwards withdrew their name from the primary ballot, which meant that it was not possible for Michigan voters to vote for Obama in the Democratic primary. Write-in votes for Obama were not counted. The candidates were protesting Michigan’s decision to move their their state primaries to January 15th, in an attempt to increase the state’s influence in the nominating process, in violation of the national Democratic Party rules. The date change was pushed through by a Republican senate with all Democrats opposed. Clinton left her name on the ballot, breaking her promise not to campaign or participate in Michigan.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

You can order Saray Myhill’s book, The PK Cookbook, here. The author’s own page is here.

Paul is still chewing over his complicated thoughts and feelings about Ava DuVernay’s movie adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. You can find his extremely long and detailed review notes in his blog, here. (It may have grown even longer by the time you read it).

Paul’s been reading a number of different sources about alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, the PiMZ genotype, and related topics. Here are a few:

Grace has some recommended links this week:

This Week’s Music

The music is from Paul’s song “War Criminal.” There’s a video here and you can download the song here.


We’re Late - No Show Tonight (March 18, 2018)

It’s almost 10:00 p.m. on Sunday and Grace and I haven’t even managed to record the show for today yet, much less edit and upload it. We tried to get one too many things done this weekend, and we’ve been running on fumes for a few days. We’ll do our best to get a show finished in a day or two, and we should be back on schedule next Sunday. Thanks!


Conversation #34: A Wrinkle in Daylight Saving Time (March 11, 2018)

Welcome back to Daylight Saving Time! This weekend at the Potts House we lost three hours. One of them we’ll get back in the fall, but the two hours Paul and the kids spent watching A Wrinkle in Time are gone forever!

In this week’s conversation, we talk about many things. Paul attended the Socialism 101 program organized by the Huron Valley Democratic Socialists of America. Paul’s got a rant about how DTE Energy tried to issue us a payday loan because of our participation in the energy bill “budget plan,” and a brief review of a classic Doctor Who serial from 1968, The Web of Fear. Then Grace takes on a big topic: how social media enabled a vast left-wing awakening, and how the centrist establishment is spreading panic and will try to shut this down, even by embracing the new McCarthyism. And lastly, Paul takes apart A Wrinkle in Time, and talks about what makes this movie an interesting failure, why it seems so disrespectful of the source material, and what the filmmakers’ choices say about neoliberal ideology today.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

Paul wrote a long review of The Web of Fear in his weekly blog post here.

Grace and Paul discussed two articles, “Social Media and the Rise of the ‘Consistent Liberal’” by Jim Naureckis, from FAIR, found here, and “Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood,” by Jo Freeman, writing as Noreen, from Ms. Magazine in 1976, here.

The official web site for A Wrinkle in Time, the 2018 movie, can be found here.

This Week’s Music

This week’s music is one of the short improvisations on electric guitar that Paul recorded in 2013, for his friend Sean Hurley. If memory serves, Sean used this bit, or a similar one, on his short-lived live streaming show “Sitting in the Woods with Sean.”


Conversation #33: In Solidarity with West Virginia Teachers (March 4, 2018)

This week’s episode is chock-full of goodies. We have a book report from Joshua Potts, age 9. We have a conversation with our friend Julie about classic Doctor Who. And we have two topics to consider. First, we discuss Ivanka Trump’s comments in defense of her father, how they were strategically targeted at Trump’s base, and how they don’t actually demonstrate her incompetence as senior white house adviser, despite how they appear to her political opponents. And second, we discuss the ongoing teacher’s strike in West Virginia: what’s going on, the roots of the problem, and why we hope this strike actually spreads nationwide.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

Here’s a link to a page about the book Joshua reviewed, Case File 13: Zombie Kid by J. Scott Savage.

Here’s a link to a page about the book Grace mentioned, The Minimalist Gardener: Low Impact, No Dig Growing by Patrick Whitefield.

Here is a Mother Jones article about Ivanka Trump’s comments.

Here is a Vox article about the strike, although since this is an ongoing event, coverage is likely to be out of date by the time you read it.

The “Whoflix” Doctor Who fan edits site is here

Here is the fan edit of The Enemy of the World. This is the serial that was turned into a James Bond-style film.

Here is the fan edit of The Moonbase, which was done up like an episode of Space: 1999.

This Week’s Music

The music is from a rough draft of a song that Paul started writing for the Song Fu songwriting contest in 2013, and abandoned to work on “Polly Loves the Rain.”


Hot Take: Defining Death (February 18, 2018)

We were pressed for time this week, so we were not able to spend much time preparing or recording. Therefore, we have a shorter-than-usual, but somewhat disorganized, conversation about the strange case of Jahi McMath, a young woman who suffered terrible complications after a routine tonsilectomy. Jahi has existed for years now in a liminal state somewhere between technologically-supported bodily life, and legal brain death. Her case is controversial, and hotly disputed by hospital administrators and medical ethicists, and casts doubt on the contemporary definition of death that enables organ transplantation. Her story, and her family’s story, also seems to us to be illustrative of the ways that black patients and their families are mistreated and disrespected by the medical establishment.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

The New Yorker article that we cite, “What Does It Mean to Die?” by Rachel Aviv, can be found in the February 5, 2018 issue and online here.


Conversation #32: Exploding the Logic of the Market (February 18, 2018)

Grace and I are celebrating a special anniversary: one year ago, we moved into our new house in Ypsilanti, with no furniture, and ate dinner sitting on the dining room floor. We ate a meal sitting on the floor to commemmorate that day. Our taxes are done! But not paid for yet. Paul’s not opposed to paying taxes, but he’s not happy about a system that forces us to get professional assistance to file the paperwork, and results in unexpectedly high bills. As Grace puts it, every citizen has to take some of the bureaucracy home!

We have listener feedback! We talk about comments from our friends Ken and Leela. Ken suggests some science fiction, which leads Paul into a long, rambling chat about military science fiction and genre fiction in general. Leela has some comments on Josh and Lolly Weed and that leads us to talk about how the process of having a family leads people to grow up, not the other way around, and how it’s never too late to fill in some of the parts of your childhood that may have been missing. We also talk about how the romance of a true long-term relationship is not all about the drama.

There was no walk this week. In this week’s reading and watching, we read part of the original Peter Pan, which is far darker, stranger, and more adult than we expected. (Note: you should never, ever say that you don’t believe in fairies). We watched two more fan edits of old Doctor Who serials: The Ice Warriors and The Mind Robber. Will the toy TARDIS survive its encounter with terrifying waves of soap suds? Will Jamie get his face back? Will there ever be a superhero movie about Karkus?

We have two articles to discuss this week. The first is a piece from Politico, about a modest proposal to allow ordinary citizens to sponsor immigrants, and pay them less than minimum wage. Then we turn to an article from Slate, a rebuttal of sorts, that explains how there already is a program like this, the au pair program, and it doesn’t really work as advertised.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

Here is Wikipedia’s article about Peter Pan (the 1911 novel we’re reading was adapted from the 1904 play, and originally published under the title Peter and Wendy).

The “Whoflix” Doctor Who fan edits site is here

Here is the fan edit of The Ice Warriors.

Here is the fan edit of The Mind Robber.

Paul mentions K. W. Jeter’s 1998 novel Noir and the Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 novel Altered Carbon, which has been adapted into a new Netflix show.

The Politico piece we discuss can be found here.

The Slate piece on the au pair program, “Actually, Owning and Immigrant is Bad,” can be found here.

Here is the clip of comedian Aamer Rahman talking about the “amazing moment in comedy history,” in which Richard Spencer was “trying to explain a meme, and then out of nowhere, a hero came along, and punched him in the face, instantly turning him into a meme—it was like casting a spell.”

This Week’s Music

Paul recorded these guitar tracks a few years ago using a Godin nylon-string guitar. The guitar parts are for an unfinished cover of Jonathon Coulton’s original a capella song “When You Go.” Coulton’s original song is available on his online store either as part of the album, Thing a Week Three, or as an individual track.


Conversation #31: The Kandy Man Kan’t (February 11, 2018)

This week: we were buried in snow! Paul couldn’t make it to work, so he stayed home. We made Indian food and watched some old-school Doctor Who serials including a surprisingly good one from 1966, which exists now as an animated reconstruction of the lost film. We talk about why the fan edits can really improve the viewing experience. Then we discuss two articles: an essay about how collapse is not coming to America, but it’s already here, and a personal rememberance about actor John Mahoney that raises some questions about whether it is ever all right to lie, and leads us to discuss how being a committed Christian does not always mean everyone will like you.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

The article from The Guardian on how to make chana masala is here.

The “Whoflix” Doctor Who fan edits site is here

Here is the fan edit of The Power of the Daleks.

Here is the fan edit of The Happiness Patrol.

Umair Haque’s article, “Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse,” can be found here.

Cathleen Falsani Possley’s piece on actor John Mahoney, an excerpt from her 2006 book The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People, is here.

Elizabeth Scalia’s book Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bad Habits Before They Kick Us can be found here.

This Week’s Music

This week’s music clips are from Paul’s original song, Polly Loves the Rain (featuring Joe “Covenant” Lamb). There’s also a video.


Conversation #30: Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel (February 4, 2018)

This week: we didn’t get a walk in, unfortunately. Paul is struggling to finish a fat science fiction novel by David Brin, and he hurt his leg in a dumb mail-retrieval accident. We revisit a topic from last week, the marriage of Josh and Lolly Weed, and talk a bit about the six kinds of love in classic Greek terminology. Then we talk about a classic episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Darmok,” that is all about the stories we tell each other and how we use these stories to communicate. We take this idea and use it to consider what the news media is doing when it shares, without critical context or push-back, the anti-immigrant language of Trump supporters.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

The Sojourners article called “Have You Tried the Six Varieties of Love?” is here.

You can find a very detailed article from The Atlantic about the “Darmok,” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation here.

This Week’s Music

This week’s music clips are from Paul’s original song, I.O.U.. There’s also a video.


Conversation #29: Gorillas, Unicorns, and Bats (January 28, 2018)

This week: we took a walk at Rolling Hills Park, and watched a movie about a gorilla named Sylvio. No, he’s not that kind of gorilla. We discuss three articles. First, a piece from Slate by Darby Saxbe about a woman who tried to get help for postpartum depression, and what happened next. Then, a fascinating piece from Ars Technica about archaeobotanist Natalie Mueller at Cornell University and her work studying the plants that indigenous people cultivated in North America thousands of years ago. And finally, we take a look at a long blog post from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Josh and Lolly Weed. In 2012 Josh and Lolly explained to the world that they had chosen to stay married despite the revelation that Josh is gay. They just told the world that they are divorcing. We do our best to take on this tricky subject and some of the political and cultural context, and why despite the circumstances we feel saddened to hear about the end of a marriage.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

Our walk of the week was at Rolling Hills Park

The web site for Sylvio the movie can be found here.

The article about Jessica Porten’s ordeal when she asked for help with postpartum depression can be found here.

The article about archaeobotanist Natalie Mueller’s work can be found here

Josh and Lolly Weed’s long article on the end of the marriage can be found here

Their original 2012 blog post can be found here

This Week’s Music

This week’s music clips are from Paul’s cover of Jules Shear’s song “Leave Town.” You can find the original here. There’s a video of Paul’s cover here.

Paul’s Blog Notes on Sylvio

We watched Sylvio. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – the film is unrated, so it could have had some kid-unfriendly elements. But in fact it is a very sweet, low-key story under the basic surrealist elements, with a side of kitsch. The kids laughed uproariously, and so did I. Two of the kids did not laugh quite so much. Same, I think, thought parts of it were too silly to bear. I could not get a really coherent critique out of him. He may have just been objecting to the premise itself. If you can accept the premise, which proposes that there’s a mild-mannered gorilla living and working alongside humans in Baltimore, then it all sort of flows from there. There is no CGI or motion capture. The film is beautifully low-budget throughout. Sylvio is played by a guy in a gorilla suit, Albert Birney (one of the writer/directors), wearing sunglasses. The credits list Sylvio Bernardi as playing himself. Birney took no pains whatsoever were taken to make Sylvio look like a realistic gorilla. He can’t speak. He gives out occasional grunts and sighs. But mostly he participates in conversations using meaningful nods and head tilts. There is a gag where he can type (very quickly) on a computer keyboard and it will read aloud what he typed, but the film uses this only a couple of times.

Veronica picked up on something that I picked up on, too, which is that the film is “perfect,” in a sense. It follows through on its own internal logic with perfect whimsicality. Oh, some scenes drag just a bit, and I think the filmmakers, paradoxically, could have gotten a more perfect low-budget look with a higher budget. There are scenes that don’t quite work, like a confusing bit where Sylvio walks through an urban woods and meets some horses. Sylvio doesn’t really convince us that he has some kind of a deep spiritual connection to the natural world, given that the Baltimore environs feel entirely like a decaying urban setting and the natural settings don’t look very healthy. The filmmakers were working with what they had. But mostly, the film is very funny and even touching.

What does it mean? Oh, I think you could try to make the case that it is an allegory about race relations, about black folks trying to tolerate the well-meaning but fumbling acts of solidarity by white allies, about social media, about attitudes towards hip-hop culture – all kinds of things. However, I think to do very much of this is really to stretch it beyond the intentions of the filmmakers. I think they really just wanted to make a funny, weird, touching film with the resources they could easily obtain, and they did. So the allegory is paper-thin; it’s about the struggle of an artist to earn a living making the art he loves. In the closing credits, the filmmakers list their Kickstarter contributors. It’s an amazingly long list. Apparently Sylvio began life as a series of six-second videos on Vine – eight hundred of them. That fact seems somehow more absurdist than anything the filmmakers could put into a film.

The Vines survive on YouTube. I don’t know if there is an official source with better video quality, but I found a compilation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SxYNm9GvwE

You might be able to get a sense of the finished film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVgnWiA7tKM

Sylvio the gorilla loves to make video puppet shows. He has a little hand puppet of a balding white man, called Herbert Herpels, and he loves to make tiny props and create very slow-moving little clips in which there is no dialogue and almost no action; we might wait a minute for a tiny piece of toast to pop up, or a tiny plant to sprout. To me there’s something immensely appealing about the idea that one can make “quiet” art—stories in which almost nothing happens, slow readings, ambient music, audio recordings in which someone takes a walk in the woods, long conversations about scholarly topics, essays that go into depth about a book. These are the kind of thing I always feel compelled to make. When I try to make things using the conventions of popular media—aggressive storytelling, fast-moving plots, narrow escapes, vulgarity, loudness—I always feel slightly fraudulent, unless I’m simultaneously undermining those tropes. I don’t think Sylvio, the gorilla, is at all interested in cultural criticism or undermining tropes, or anything. He just wants to make his art. May we all get to do the same.


Conversation #28: Introducing Millennial Economics (January 21, 2018)

Welcome back! This week: Grace and I talk about our holidays, our family walk yesterday, and our recent get-togethers with local activist groups. Then we launch into a big topic that we hope to develop in more detail in 2018: millennial economics. We start with an essay by Umar Haque about how America has exploited instead of supported the millennial generation in ways that will have life-long impacts on their lives – and those lives will in fact be shorter than they should be, because of it. Then, a brief piece by Hamilton Nolan about how the 401(k) system has not and will not solve our retirement problems (this is of course not just an issue for millennials), and how auto-enrolling can actually result in worsening the long-term financial situation of participants. And finally, a long-form piece by Michael Hobbes that explains why millennials face financial conditions not seen since the Great Depression. If you are allergic to online animations, note that a printable version is available, but it’s still a big article (45 printed pages), so consider printing it two pages to the printed page, or read it online.

How to Listen

You can find the MP3 file here.

The Podcast feed is here.

The Podcast channel on YouTube is here.

More Information

The e-book Grace mentioned, Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified by Cal Patch is available here.

Umair Haque’s article “(How) America Ate Its Young: Or, How a Society Destroys its Own Future” can be found here.

Hamilton Nolan’s article “Oh Damn, 401(k)s Aren’t Magic” can be found here

Michael Hobbes’ long-form article “FML” is available in two forms. The one with all the graphics and animations can be found here. A print-friendly version can be found here.