Podcast Proliferation

VoxPodNearly one month ago, Vox launched a new way for us to source stories. We have sourced from their website when the story fits our mission. For us to scan the news daily and link to at least one article or book review or other media that seems consistent with our mission, we increasingly bump up against the fact that producers of and channels for accessing relevant information seem to be increasing faster than we can possibly keep up.

Today we sampled from their sonic venture, a story about changes way up north, wrought by climate change, geopolitical ambitions, head in the sand-ism and other intrigue. Finding an episode like this one stretches our horizons in a healthy, productive manner:

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There’s a new Cold War being fought in the North Pole between the United States and Russia (but also China, Finland, Norway, Canada, Greenland and more). Fueling the battle is the melting Arctic, which just had its warmest winter in recorded history. Vox’s Brian Resnick gives us the science before Yochi Dreazen takes us to the war.

It must also be mentioned that having outlets we trust recommend other outlets is a must. And here is an example of one we appreciate:

“Today, Explained”: An Edgy New Vox Podcast to Compete with “The Daily”

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Hosted by Sean Rameswaram, the Vox podcast “Today, Explained” feels funny, knowing, and energetic—which, in this news climate, isn’t easy. Photograph by James Bareham / Vox Media

Podcast-wise, 2017 was arguably the year of “The Daily,” the beautifully produced, gently voiced narrative-news offering from the Times, hosted by Michael Barbaro, which started last January and quickly became indispensable. The show, which parses a different news story in each episode, through a conversation with a reporter or other guest, then delivers a brief news roundup, has sufficient perspective and empathy that it produces in its listeners an intoxicating, if temporary, feeling of sanity; by now, its theme song alone cues in me a Pavlovian calm. The show garners 4.5 million unique listeners each month; in April, it will expand to public-radio syndication. Continue reading

Free Will, An Idea We Normally Do Not Question

Sapolsky.jpgThanks to WNYC, a radio station that has innovated the proliferation of the podcast with shows like Radiolab, for all that it brings to our attention on a regular basis. Seems strange to say it, but one reason we listen, related to the reasons why share on this platform and more broadly explaining (we think) why we do what we do: we choose to do all this because we care and our free will allows us the choice to do this rather than other things.

I cannot remember the last time I thought about free will, it is so obvious and taken for granted. So thanks also to WNYC for old school interviewers like Leonard Lopate, who also shine in the podcast ecosystem. His show is how I came to know of this new book, which led to my (surprised) thinking now about free will. Click the image above to go to the half-hour conversation. It motivated me to find out more. In addition to this 2009 TED Talk this brief interview in the newsfeed of his university is a compelling soundbite on a very  after listening to the broad-ranging topics of the WNYC conversation:

Stanford biologist Robert Sapolsky ponders the best and worst of us, plus free will

With the publication of his latest book, Robert Sapolsky tackles the best and worst of human behavior and the nature of justice in the absence of free will. Continue reading

Wood Wide Web

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Forests and fungi–words that make me think of Milo circa 2010-2012 in the south of India, especially in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (but also later, writing about fungi in relation to food waste). When I first heard this a week ago, it seemed typical of Radiolab’s attention to quirky outlier science stories:

From Tree to Shining Tree

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A forest can feel like a place of great stillness and quiet. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and complicated as a city at rush hour.

In this story, a dog introduces us to a strange creature that burrows beneath forests, building an underground network where deals are made and lives are saved (and lost) in a complex web of friendships, rivalries, and business relations. It’s a network that scientists are only just beginning to untangle and map, and it’s not only turning our understanding of forests upside down, it’s leading some researchers to rethink what it means to be intelligent.

And it was typical, in that sense. But Milo’s attention to the underworld of fungi, which at the time seemed to me as quirky as this Radiolab story does today, got me to start paying attention to anything in our news network with certain keywords (mushroom, fungi, etc.) and just now I came across a short journalistic account that taps into the same science as the Radiolab piece above, and I am realizing it may not be merely quirky: Continue reading

Lost & Found, Geological Trickery, Conservation

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I had the opportunity to visit a site in Belize that had been on my radar for most of the last two decades. On my radar, but chance had conspired to keep me away, until last week. I will write more about that visit soon, but for now I want to share a thought on the photo above, and the one below (since I neglected to snap photos while standing in exactly the same location as the photographer who took these two, my thanks to him for his website’s provision of these two images).

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These are commonly referred to as looter’s trenches, on opposite sides of a Mayan burial site. They are relatively fresh. The family that owns the property on which these trenches were dug, by tomb raiders looking for valuables, decided that the best way to protect the patrimony of this site was to ensure that there were always people nearby to keep looters away. A lodge was built, and it became a pioneering success story in protecting both archeological and natural patrimony. In other words, what we call entrepreneurial conservation. Continue reading