Friday, January 19, 2018

Podcast Roundup Week #3

This week, the last week of holiday break, I listened to 62 episodes. This number will come to a screaming halt once classes begin again. The theme of the week seemed to be unchecked institutions.

I listened to the entirety of the five-part series The Pope's Long Con, the story of Kentucky state Representative Danny Ray Johnson, a hustler and liar who managed to claw his way up to the state house in Kentucky with a side of sexually molesting a minor along the way. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting released this in December of 2017 and within two days of its premiere, Johnson had committed suicide. It was horrifying to listen to it while knowing the outcome, but it does raise all kinds of questions about checks and balances and how this man got to this incredibly powerful position without anyone ever doing a simple background check.

Each episode is roughly 20 minutes long, so if you're at all interested, it's not a huge time commitment.
Reveal, the podcast from The Center for Investigative Reporting, is absolutely one of my favorites.It covers in-depth stories about things I never even knew were stories. The episode "Fire and Justice" examines the case of five people who were convicted of a 1988 explosion at a construction site in Kansas City, Missouri that led to the death of six firefighters.  The story tackles the entire criminal justice system from shoddy police work to unfair plea systems to sentencing irregularities. I never leave a Reveal episode without wondering how human beings have managed to cope with the evilness that power always manages to bring out.
If you're looking for even ONE more example of bureaucracy gone terribly awry, listen to the Radio Diaries episode "The Dropped Wrench." In 1980, an overworked mechanic in Arkansas almost managed to blow up Arkansas (and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, adn maybe Alabama) while working a nuclear missile silo when he dropped a wrench and it poked a hole in the missile's fuel tank.  The response of the mechanic, as well as the responses of the bureaucratic chain of command, is almost unbearably cringe-y to listen to.  There are roughly 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world and roughly 15,000 more reasons to have trouble sleeping at night.

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