6/12 episode: Mark Bowden “Guests of the Ayatollah”
I loved, loved (LOVED) Bowden’s earlier book “Black Hawk Down.” So I knew it could be dangerous listening to this podcast. Indeed it was as I felt the need to swing by the bookstore on the way home and buy the new book despite its hefty size and cost (hardback). Don’t know when I’ll read it because it’s certainly too heavy to carry on the El! Anyway, it’s a flash back to the Iran hostage situation of the….70s? Lots of neat information about Carter and the realities of the situation that obviously people couldn’t see at the time.
Funny quote from the stand-in interviewer: at one point he was saying how it’s always been a Republican criticism of Carter (and the Democrats in general) that they didn’t know how to lead these wars and were just going out into the desert and bungling things. And he followed that with “Increasingly going out to the desert and bungling things is looking more like a bipartisan effort…” INDEED.
6/13 episode: Andy Revkin “The North Pole Was Here”
This guy must be a Republican. A few of the things he had to say made sense. A few were outright wrong. And he made a big point of positioning himself as an alternative to Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” film. The thing Revkin doesn’t seem to understand is even IF the effects of climate change are further off than ALL scientists think (again he pretends there are more scientists in disagreement than is reality), NOW is NOT too early to start fixing them. Yes, this is the world we are leaving our children and grandchildren, as he points out, so WHY would we want to WAIT and force them to fix it starting from a worse place than we already are? How is that a feasible answer? Obviously I disagree.
6/15 episode: A Public Defender in the South Bronx:
David Feige “Indefensible”
This was a very interesting interview. But Feige was sometimes too glib for me. Any REASONABLE (non Republican) person can understand the fact that even if someone is a rapist, murderer, etc., does not necessarily stop them from being an interesting, intelligent person that if you were, say, their public defender, you wouldn’t need to HATE and DETEST them despite their crimes. But he constantly answered the question very glibly with “I know this will sound weird to listeners, but…” and never taking a second to actually explain it. His book sounds good, but I couldn’t read it if it was full of that same tone. He has been involved in some interesting alternative approaches to defense/crime intervention and those all sound like quite laudable efforts.
6/21 episode: Anthony Bourdain “The Nasty Bits”
I haven’t tried any of Bourdain’s fiction, it just doesn’t attract me, but I loved both “Kitchen Confidental” and “A Cook’s Tour”. This book sounds just as good. Bourdain is unremittingly unapologetic and is obviously having a great time touring the world and eating all kinds of crazy stuff I would never be able to digest!
6/23 episode: The Future of Human Cloning:
Ian Wilmut “After Dolly”
I don’t have much interest in the topic but Wilmut was pretty intriguing to listen to and not just because of his soft Scottish accent. And isn’t it always humorous to listen to people speak from a scientific view about things which other people can only talk about from a very moralistic and completely nonscientific place?
6/26 episode: Japanese American Soldiers in WWII:
Robert Asahina “Just Americans”
This was an amazing interview, and I’m certainly interested in reading Asahina’s book. I was interested not only because of my inherited obsession with military history (thanks, Dad) and the disenfranchised, but also because Mariko’s dad was put in an interment camp himself! They talk not just about the Japanese Americans in the camp but those who were forcibly (and voluntarily) drafted and their efforts as a unit (they and the African-American unit did some amazing things, particularly on rescue missions, and were two of the most (if not the two most, I forget) decorated units after the war and NOT because of their race, I can guarantee you that).
6/27 episode: From Blockbusters to Bombs: Peter Bart “Boffo!”
You’d think I’d have enjoyed this a bit more, given the movie obsession. It was OK. I did enjoy some of the stuff about things that were supposed to be bombs becoming cult hits and stuff about the money aspect. Studios and their creative accounting will never cease to amaze me. Did you know Tom Cruise will likely make $60 million-$80 million for MI3 and the studio will likely make…NOTHING. He’s got them all fooled clearly as that was not a $60 million performance. Why would they even agree to make his movies, given his back-end deals plus the upfront cost of making them? Idiots. (Not that I didn’t enjoy it, which I did, but great ($60 million-worth) art it was not.)