Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer is an Internet enthusiast based in Troy, NY

Do not let the bastards grind you

Scott Carrier in

Here’s another podcast episode that’s helpful for countering the mindless demagoguery that seems to dominate American political discussions about the plight of refugees. Scott Carrier has continued his journey to the island of Lesbos to interview refugees. Give it a listen.

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Refugees as they arrive on the beach, having crossed the Aegean Sea in rubber rafts.
Refugees as they arrive on the beach, having crossed the Aegean Sea in rubber rafts.

See also: On the Border of Greece and Macedonia


New York After

The latest episode of Theory of Everything is a recut version of April’s New York After rent series. Listen to the whole thing in one 70 minute post prop f director’s cut episode.

In the future startups will enable us to rent out our memories, feelings, and dreams, the same way we now rent out our extra bedrooms and the stuff in our closets. In the future every flight of fancy eventually will be commodified.

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On the Border of Greece and

From Scott Carrier’s Home of the Brave podcast:

Four days ago, the European Union decided to allow only refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan into Northern Europe, stranding thousands of people at the Idomeni transit camp on the border of Greece and Macedonia. This report is from the Idomeni camp, where a variety of protests are ongoing by Iranians, Pakistanis, Moroccans, and Somalis who say they’d rather die than be sent home.

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See also: an earlier episode with interviews of Donald Trump supporters


The original NPR mission

The most recent episode of the Radio Diaries podcast has an interview with Bill Siemering, who wrote the original mission statement for NPR.

MP3 download

National Public Radio will serve the individual, it will promote personal growth, it will regard the individual differences with respect and joy, rather than derision and hate. It will celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied, rather than vacuous and banal. It will encourage a sense of active, constructive participation, rather than apathetic helplessness.

The total service should be trustworthy, enhance intellectual development, expand knowledge, deepen aural aesthetic enjoyment, increase the pleasure of living in a pluralistic society, and result in a service to listeners which makes them more responsive, informed human beings and intelligent, responsible citizens of their communities and the world.

It would speak with many voices and many dialects. The editorial attitude would be that of inquiry, curiosity, concern for the quality of life, critical problem solving, and life loving.

It’s interesting to know that the term broadcasting has its origins in agriculture, as in “scattering seeds.”


See also: Radiotopia’s Fall 2015 fund drive.


Enchanting by

Theory of Everything recently posted an addendum to last year’s Enchanting by Numbers. Both episodes are very worthwhile, and both include the same segment talking about how misunderstood Facebook algorithms are to most of its users.

Be sure to listen to the interview with Suw Charman-Anderson, founder of Ada Lovelace Day, which is today! That part starts at 14:30 in part 1.

Part 1

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Part 2

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Ada Lovelace created the first algorithm, and discovered the first computer bug.
Ada Lovelace created the first algorithm, and discovered the first computer bug. Source: Wikipedia

See also: Ada’s Algorithm, the author was also interviewed in the Ada Lovelace segment. And Betsy Morais’s New Yorker article.


On The Media: After

This week’s On The Media was a rerun, but they ran a podcast extra about the Umpqua Community College shooting that’s worth a listen.

MP3 link

Also, here is Michael Luo’s Medium post about his role in provoking Oregon’s state legislature to restrict public access to gun license records.

I had planned to cross-match the data of license holders with other records on criminal convictions. But Oregon officials repeatedly delayed turning over the records, and I wound up focusing instead on the licensing process in North Carolina, where officials released the gun permit data to me right away. I discovered that about 10 percent of permit holders in North Carolina over a five-year period had gone on to commit felonies or misdemeanors. Perhaps more disturbingly, I found that the authorities had failed to revoke the permits of many of those who had been convicted of felonies.

Stone-walling journalists from uncovering these kinds of legislative oversights is dangerous—not just in the rhetorical sense—it is literally endangering citizens.


Theory of

Despite his best efforts to avoid settling on a specific definition, Benjamen Walker has arrived at the raison d’être for his podcast Theory of Everything, paraphrasing Luc Sante:

My podcast is alive to the entire prospect. I focus on the ephemeral and the perishable, and the immemorial. I’m in the show-business of negative capability. I cover things that are about to occur without warning, as well as things that are subtly absent, and things that are silently waving goodbye.

Another episode has just gone up, Recent, Relevant, Random (r), which is—fittingly, given the discussion of recentness—a rerun. I was glad to return to it.


The Problem We All Live

T. C. Boyle’s

I’m just getting back into listening to podcasts again, and noticed that the New Yorker Fiction podcast hit episode number 100. Congratulations to Deborah Treisman! If you’re not a subscriber already, definitely listen to some of the old episodes, there’s a lot of great stuff in there. This T.C. Boyle story is up there with the best of them.


Two stories read by Colum McCann

I’d like to point out two New Yorker Fiction podcast episodes read by Colum McCann.

  1. “Transatlantic”, a story by McCann about the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland. It’s interesting how much less familiar I was with this earlier instance than Lindbergh’s first solo flight across the Atlantic.
  2. “Bluebell Meadow” by Benedict Kiely, about a romance between a Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland. There’s something very real about how this story conveys young love, remembered later.

Also, here’s a Q&A with McCann in text form instead of the usual interview before and after the reading.

All In The Mind on Dolphin

All In The Mind is a great Australian radio show on a variety of mind-related topics: “dreaming to depression, addiction to artificial intelligence, consciousness to coma, psychoanalysis to psychopathy, free will to forgetting.”

The most recent episode describes dolphin brain biology and explores the philosophical status of the animals, as well as the ethics of keeping seemingly intelligent animals captive in aquariums.

MP3 Link

The segment includes an interview with Thomas I. White (starting around 22:20) who wrote In Defense of Dolphins. He argues that dolphins have cognitive traits that qualify them as “non-human persons.”


TSOYA interviews Ira

For my Multimedia 1 class tomorrow we’ll be covering audio, looking at interviewing as a form. I’m going to play an excerpt of an interview with Ira Glass from one of my longtime favorite podcasts, The Sound of Young America. I’m most interested in the last part, which starts around 33:38.

MP3 link

As part of the weekly homework assignment we’ll listen to a Studs Terkel piece from Fresh Air.


Cass Sunstein on group decision

A little economics geekery on topics including the wisdom of crowds, futures markets and group deliberation. I was most interested in the deliberation part, which starts about 25 minutes in.

MP3 link

It’s even worse than garbage in, garbage out in deliberating groups. Typically some garbage in leads to more garbage out. So errors with respect to human cognition are frequently not just propagated in a deliberating group but actually amplified.

Often groups emphasize shared information at the expense of uniquely held information. So if you’re a deliberating group where a bunch of people actually know something, little bits of information that no one else has, those tend to play very little role in the deliberation. And the shared information, what everyone knows, that isn’t dispersed, that has the dominant role.

And this can get groups in big trouble where the uniquely held information, that is crucial, is downplayed or disregarded. And the deliberating group marches happily in the direction indicated by the shared information.

Link (See also)

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