Thursday, July 19, 2018

An Illustrative Experience?

It’s a strange thing to hear words and know them to be Truth. To hear them echoing in your mind and heart at odd times for weeks and months after, and to feel yourself, your actions and emotions being molded around those words. It’s an equally strange blessing to realize, even later, that you are not so much being molded as discovering in those words, and the patterns of thought they are guiding, an expression of truths you’ve always known, polished and made clear.

It’s wonderful (literally) to hear a voice in Meeting speaking the message you were fumbling around. It is also, as one traveling Friend has reminded us, miraculous. Uncomfortable as I still am with that idea.

It is a delight to sing together. To hear another member of the community requesting and sharing their own love of a beloved song, and to feel that shared expression of faith, and Love. (Is there a difference?)

It is a delight to rejoice together at a shared joy, or to feel a shared Concern expressed.

It is a revelation to witness us building community together. To see us worship, care for grounds, and go through the messy and tedious process of Meeting for Business. To see Friends hurt others, or those who are hurt, and to hear them express, or acknowledge that, and to see the Community around them. In Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business (and other contexts), I have seen tension, and seen listening that can only be accomplished because of the tension. I have seen us outrun our guide, and be restrained. I have witnessed a community gathered together in what I can only describe as a shared faith, or love, because what else but the sense that we are gathered in the presence of something greater than all of us would keep us returning? I have, to put it more simply, witnessed our community living into a Beloved Community.

It is strange to describe these moments of individual and corporate miracles. I am still not comfortable with miracles. They are flashy and dramatic. Immediately recognizable. I have not experienced a dramatic miracle that I can point to with certainty to say “Yes, God is real and this Quaker faith is correct because of a single experience which, if you shared it, you too could not deny.” And yet I have experienced the presence of God amidst the community of Friends, and what else could I call that if not miraculous? I have experienced miracles that settle deeper into me the more I reflect on them, or live into them. I have learned spiritual truths about myself, about how that of God in each of us can be made manifest, or hidden, and about how to live in a holy community with others. Knowing what has already been revealed to me, and the time it took between hearing Truth for the first time and seeing it manifest, I eagerly await more opportunities for divine revelation, knowing that I will not recognize them all (and that some will not be Messages for me), but hoping that I can become more practiced in noticing the manifestation of God.

Posted without explanation or context, though of course there's a reason, which I might dive into more later. For now, I'll let this stand as it is, with just a quick link to this Message on another basically-defunct blog.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

45's 9th Circuit Reversal - taking stock.

A preface that I am dumb. I have no special wisdom, no legislative experience, am a privileged white guy learning from Twitter, and so my opinion isn't worth much.  But a few thoughts on the evening the Ninth Circuit ruled against Trump's travel ban.

First, by all reports, this EO was rushed out, poorly written, poorly implemented, met by massive public outcry, the resignation of one AG who found it indefensible, called a "ban" by the president & a Muslim ban by his surrogate Rudy Guilliani, and apparently the government court argument boiled down to "we can do whatever we want re: immigration, plus TERRORISM", so it was poorly argued in court.  I'm pleased, but not surprised that the 9th Circuit was unanimous. (I've seen some accounts that actual legal watchers may have expected a 2-1 split, so conventional experts are meeting their normal standards with this administration).  I'm actually a little curious what an 8-justice SCOTUS would rule on this - my personal feeling is that both Kennedy & Roberts are likely to care too much about the status of the court to want to side with 45, especially if they can't actually overrule the decision. And it'd be interesting to see what happens, but probably not all that relevant. I have to imagine that a competent attempt to screw over refugees and other (brown) visitors to the US is not beyond Jeff Sessions & other in the executive branch, would withstand legal scrutiny, and wouldn't be challenged by congress.  A defeat in court really only matters inasmuch as it clarifies whether Trump would go full "the Chief Justice has made his decisions now let him enforce it" a la Jackson, or may provide an indication of what Kennedy & Roberts will do when faced with blatantly terrible executive actions.

But let's go back to that "let him enforce it".  Reports are that in VA & Los Angeles, Department of Homeland Security folks on the ground didn't follow court orders. In LA, Marshals (the enforcement arm of the courts) didn't act to serve required  papers.  Multiple reports have come in of brown and visibly Muslim entrants to the country of many different legal statuses being harassed by DHS agents & receiving questions & demands that are illegal.  Among many other things, the president, and the American people have confirmation that when he oversteps, there are plenty of guys with guns on the ground who will take that as license to harass people they don't like without any repercussions.  And bringing those repercussions via individual lawsuits seems like it'll be really hard.

The legislative branch remains basically dysfunctional, with republicans supporting 45's Cabinet while realizing that there may actually be enough support for the ACA that they can't get rid of it (so they have no idea what to do, since that basically was/is their agenda).

Immigration policy is going to get bad, and lots of families are going to be ripped apart, and lots of places are going to try to be sanctuaries, and there will be legal battles, and direct actions by crowds, and probably brutal beatings and killings by ICE agents empowered to act & unafraid of consequences (see above).

"The Left" has shown that for all our vaunted interest in "facts" and "reasoned opinions", we'll basically swarm on anything that looks funny (and many moves by incoherent webmasters, or typical procedural legislative cases look pretty damn funny).  True story - I went to an organizing meeting and got a sincere and impassioned pitch for tax resistance as a totally not-bonkers idea for how we're going to topple Citizens United and/or reshape government policy.

Predicting the future is a pretty terrible idea in general, but I see a few general trends, sometimes compatible & sometimes at cross-purposes which are probably going to matter in the next while (months? years? I can't imagine this state of affairs holding until 2018).  They're listed below.  Take with big grains of salt.  What I'm *actually* trying to remind myself often is that I don't know what the future holds, and the future is full of change, even if my worst fears about a possible coup or other direct assault on our representative democracy do materialize.

1 - Bannon wants a White Supremacist police state.  Sessions almost certainly does as well, and in general there's probably consensus in the administration for businesses doing whatever they want, white men in charge, and cops maintaining that order.  This particular EO overreached, but as ducks fall in a row, they'll probably keep pushing that way.  The United States is already pretty far along this path, gutting the VRA definitely moved it further that way, and the biggest check against that development has been the Department of Justice and other aggressive federal agencies.  Those ... aren't going to be a check anymore.  Apparently Bannon thinks he has a narrow window to implement this (and he's probably thought about his agenda more than I have), but I'd bet on the country continuing to move in that direction unless something steps in.  Who knows.

2 - Dysfunctional legislature.  A huge reason we have such an imperial presidency now is that the legislature basically doesn't *do* anything.  Theoretically, between the power of the purse, and oversight roles (eventually reaching the possibility of impeachment), an active legislative branch could be an effective check on the presidency.  For the past many years, districts have been gerrymandered enough, and the GOP has had Barack Obama to demonize, so that it was in their interests to just yell and not do anything, either oversight or moving forward an actual agenda for the country, instead letting it slowly crumble (as our roads and bridges have been, visibly).  But now the GOP is in charge.  So far, they've been able to make noises about the ACA while confirming cabinet members, but eventually Ryan's going to want to advance his tax agenda and gut the social safety net.  At which point, at least a few other legislators will have to think about whether they can get re-elected on that agenda.  Meanwhile, the 2020 census looms (and with it, the redrawing of district boundaries), and court cases against gerrymandering are meandering their way up.  Plus there's this energized left trying to follow the Tea Party playbook, except there are clearly more of us, at least right now.  That's almost certainly a recipe for a legislature that's less dysfunctional than it has been (we can't keep holding Benghazi hearings, right?), but I'm not holding out how that the legislature will act in a bipartisan manner either on setting actual policy agendas or doing oversight.  (For the record, I'd be all for dems working with GOP legislators on any bipartisan agenda, if that opportunity presented itself.  I think 45 should be resisted at all costs, but that a functioning legislature that can compromise would be a very good thing).  Given that even the supposedly principled republicans like McCain who occasionally speak against 45 won't actually vote against him, I don't expect a functional legislature anytime soon, though.  (A House doing oversight would almost have to impeach, right? Reason to hope, and also not to expect much).  I dunno.  The state of the national legislature seems like it can't continue forever, but it probably can continue for long enough that Trump can dismantle the government, which is all Bannon needs.

3 - The People.  "La Puebla, Unida, Jamas Sera Vencido".  There have been a bunch of protests.  A bunch of phone calls.  Mass outcries that apparently got temporary gag orders against agencies like the EPA lifted.  The travel ban became a flash point specifically because a bunch of organizers have been doing a lot of work for a while, and channeled a bunch of energy into specific demands and actions.  These are both good public displays that clearly have done *something*, and also actions that have delayed but not yet stopped anything. Also, turning crowds into actionable demands is hard (waves at Occupy Wall Street), keeping people motivated is hard (waves at me, feeling shell shocked & writing this in part to try to stay motivated), and a bunch of states are clearly working on legislation to allow police to use violence to disperse crowds (points back at part 1 about Bannon wanting a police state), which means that *this form* of political protest may not be viable in many parts of the country soon. 
There are clearly obstacles here - actionable demands are hard. Staying interested is hard.  Crowds are probably best directed at local politicians and agenda, but mobilization on national points is in many ways much easier (everyone can pay attention to Indivisible, harder to find that trusted voice in each city or state, and sometimes the people who want to stop global warming and agree that if you were so racist you couldn't get confirmed as a judge you shouldn't be AG aren't really willing to ask for local police accountability, and then you get into "identity politics oh noes!").  But public mobilization is good, keeps people energized, and has been demonstrably effective in many places & times in history.  Also organizers much smarter than me are doing it.  I'm going to listen and participate.

4 - Time.  We're two weeks in.  No legislative agenda has tried to advance yet.  No one has any idea how long these calls can keep coming in, or what SCOTUS will actually do.  There are a lot of decisions that haven't had to be made yet.  As time goes on, some questions (re: executive ethics violations, future of the ACA, SCOTUS rulings, and plenty of others I can't think of), won't be able to be held in abeyance, and their resolution will trigger other things.  This situation is obviously both rapidly changing and unstable.  That can't last forever. 

There's clearly a lot else at play.  We live in a world with other governments.  China & Russia, at least, have the ability to push at our unstable situation.  Clearly a terror attack would move things as well.  Maybe the press is right to flatter itself that "holding the administration accountable" will matter. I think talking about 45's mental health does more to stigmatize mental illness than anything else, but he's unstable/unpredictable and in over his head.  The vaunted "deep state" of intelligence agencies may have cards to play.  I dunno, there's a lot that *could* happen.

What I'd *like* to happen includes -
A legislative branch figuring out how to act in a bipartisan way, and checking imperial overreach. (See bills to stop unilaterally dropping Russian sanctions, maybe even cutting off the authorization to use military force and restrictions on domestic surveillance)
An actual progressive agenda that recognizes the diverse backgrounds of any successful liberal coalition.  I'm of the opinion that this needs to speak to workers, jettison banks and neoliberalism, attack the prison-industrial complex (indeed, attack the ways that the public and private sectors are so easily intertwined that an X-industrial complex can be easily developed), but I'm dumb.  I hope smart people figure something out. I think if we build that, and there are anything like representative elections, the US can be given the chance to become what I was told it was in school.
45 getting impeached, of course, mostly because he's enabling too much awfulness around him.
I'd like people who are learning how to move the levers of national government to stay empowered and keep talking to their representatives.
I'd also like for all of us to figure out a bit more about how to keep track of & move the levers of state government.
Oh, and White Supremacists and neo-Nazis no longer willing to show their faces in public.
And something about letting the EPA, Justice Department, Department of Labor, etc. publish actual facts ,and then people use those actual facts.

Personally, I'm going to try following the federal register, and showing up for some local school board & town council meetings.  Also, I will look back at this in 6 years and laugh, in 6 months and be surprised about the 4 obvious things I never saw coming, in 6 weeks and cry about how only my fears are being born out, and in 6 days mystified that something which seems important here no longer does, and how something that I disregarded ss an apparently huge mover of reality.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


I'm visiting my parents, and they have pictures up, so here are some pictures of pictures of me & my brother growing up (he is the handsome one)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Goodbye Twitter

I'll be pulling the plug on Twitter in 2017.  I'm probably going to leave the @kingcabbagecast account up so that I can post new episodes, but if it becomes a time sink, it's going down too.  I mentioned this a bit on Twitter (yes, I know), but want to expand & react to a few things people asked.

First, I should say that I've been an evangelist for Twitter for a while.  I'm on Facebook strictly to see pictures of my kids at school, but I really love Twitter.  There's a non-reciprocity to it that means I get to follow brilliant people like @eveewing and @tressiemcphd , I've formed genuine friendships with people who I've later met in real life (or not yet met), I'm a more critical consumer of news and fiction because of Twitter, and it's been a community for me while I was a stay-at-home-dad.  There's a lot I love about Twitter.

But ...

*I* don't have a particularly healthy relationship with Twitter.  (I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I also want to talk about my experience specifically).  It's on my phone, and I check it A LOT throughout the day.  In fact, I can check my main account, switch over to the secondary account, switch to my email, then back to the main account which'll probably have one or two new Tweets, and keep that up for a while.  Not healthy.  To be avoided.

I've been pretty vocally supporting sci-fi/fantasy books/authors/discussions/etc, and trying to boost and make space for historically marginalized/historically oppressed voices, and the books and stories they're telling.  I think this is an entirely good thing, I have learned a lot, I am reading better books and expecting more of what I read because of all of this.  Twitter encouraged me to do this, and gave me a space to do my own boosting, and that's wonderful.  I *also* think that I've used this as an excuse in my head to not practice other forms of activism in the real-world, and (for me), it's important to get offline.

My concentration isn't what it was.  I have a hard time reading a book for as long as I used to without pulling out the phone & getting distracted for a while.

There's an art to the 140-character discussion, or put down, or share-a-link-with-comment.  And it's a really useful skill to learn, and I've hardly mastered it.  *But* I've forgotten how to write my own ideas at a sustained length.  I'd like to do that.

I've noticed that my mood is far more dependent on twitter than I'd like, which these days means I'm anxious and angry a lot, and I don't parent as well because of it.  In fact, I get anxious and slip into habits like "just checking Twitter" and then boom.

I'm still not entirely sure what I think about filter bubbles and the dangers of groupthink & being able to sit in your own community vs being able to find people with common interests and also gain the confidence and support to stand strong in your own truth.  But I know that I've had some interactions online & offline where it's clear I'm assuming the discourse of folks I follow so much that I'm having trouble talking and respecting other people who's ideas are worth respecting & talking about.  Again, this is a *me* thing, not a *twitter* thing.

At least one person suggesting paring back and filtering, and I'll say two things about that.  One - I'm bad at it.  I've deleted Twitter from my phone only to find within a couple days that I was regularly logging in via the web app.  Twitter makes engagement easy, and I've made it an easy habit.  Second, I do pare back a lot.  I unfollow many people (hi, hope I haven't offended you!), I mute people, terms, etc.  I *could* do more, but I already put a fair amount of overthinking into overthinking who I'm listening to & why.  For *me*, that road doesn't lead to more control.

We're moving to a new state in 2017.  I'm going to go from stay-at-home-dad to looking for a job.  One thing Twitter has provided is a sense of community, which I think I'm going to try to get in-person.  (I *like* being with people in the real world, but also it is a skill I have to practice because I'm pretty shy).  And I'm going to be leaving Twitter, like deleting the jsuttonmorse account leaving.  There are a lot of you I'd like to keep in touch with.  I'm going to practice email correspondence, and probably even snail mail.  What else do the kids these days use? Should I be on Slack (I think I am, but should I be in a group?)  If you'd like to keep in touch, I'm off Twitter & FB, but otherwise would love to be in touch.  Let me know your preferred method.  I'll still be publishing Cabbages & Kings.

I do have a few things I'm going to need help with.  If you've got suggestions for these, let me know
1 - I get most of my news from Twitter.  I used to listen to NPR, I still listen to many podcasts & NPR a bit.  I don't spend much time on actual computers, though that may change.  Blogs you'd recommend? Other ways you get news? People or institutions you like?

2 - I keep track of my reading here.  I don't like Goodreads' mobile experience.  Anything else I should log reactions and images of paragraphs & things on? I like that Twitter can be archived in stuff like Storify, and that it has threading.  What do you use?

3 - Again, I'd love to keep in touch with you.  If you'd like that, let me know what you'd prefer & I'll work to make it happen.

Feel free to chat in the comments, or on Twitter in the next couple weeks, or send me an email - jsuttonmorse at gmail, or whatever other way is best.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A few notes

This is mostly a story about a parenting moment, but first a few links.

I was on Marketplace's morning report being the voice of a trend (Stay at Home Dad's not in the workforce) on Monday.  If you want to hear my kids being cute, the story is here.

Speaking of Links, I put together a bunch of SFF links recently.

I also tweeted some thoughts about how my reaction to reading women in fiction has changed.  Embedded after the dad story.

So, this morning I took Tadpole & Sprout (5&2) to the grocery store, and for the first time in a while they didn't want to ride in the shopping cart but instead wanted to push kid carts ... the parents among you are cringing already.

Fortunately the store wasn't very crowded on a Friday morning, so I OKed, and we went through three basic phases that had as much to do with me as them.  First, they wandered after me, enjoying the carts, occasionally bumping things or people and behaving exactly as you'd expect while I got increasingly frustrated that they weren't following directions.

Let's just unpack this for a moment: by not bringing my own cart, I didn't really leave myself much out.  I could (and eventually did) pick up Sprout & drag her cart along, but there wasn't a way to corral the girls.  The thing to do here is to engage with them, give them tasks, and focus on making them want to go where I want them to.  Praise the marching and pushing of carts, let Tadpole lead us on a circuitous route, have Sprout practice marching.  Accept that we're going slowly.

But I don't like grocery shopping.  I actively dislike it, always worried that there's going to be difficulty finding an unfamiliar ingredient, and so I tried instead to insist on obedience.  Follow me or else.

This brings us to stage 2.  I realized, later than I should have, that I was losing my temper in particular with Sprout, so I bent down, gave her a hug, had Tadpole join in, then picked Sprout up & carried her.  She didn't really like it, but I can manage a squirming 2-year-old one-handed.  Tadpole managed well enough.

So, now we're on Stage 2, the "let's get out of here as quickly as possible without more damage" phase that many parents will recognize.  The one piece of this that was absolutely good was that I've trained myself when tempted to yell to just kneel down, hug the girls, and absolutely put a stop to the thing within my control that is the most stressful.  I wish I'd done it sooner, but we all got a hug and Sprout stopped being silly with her cart.

Then a miracle occurred: walking down an aisle looking for something I wasn't quite sure was there, a dad in front of us knocked his shopping cart into a stack of soup cans knocking 10-12 over.  This was wonderful.  We stopped & I immediately sent Tadpole to help pick them up.  She's great at helping put stuff away.  (Thanks R for training her at home & her Montessori school!).  So she got to help.  I got to stop worrying about stupid groceries and instead be proud of myself for helping a stranger in need.  Sprout got to wave at the kid in the shopping cart.  Another family was walking by and praised our good deed, so two different people expressing gratitude!  More importantly, all of us got out of the semi-frustrated headspace we were in.  After that moment, Tadpole went from managing to keep up with me to actively being helpful.  The end of our shopping trip was genuinely fun for all of us.

So anyway, that's my story about frustrating shopping expeditions and the kind stranger who knocked over some soup cans and made my grocery run this morning much better.

And now on an entirely different note and prompted by reading a story where "living it up" meant two different women finding sex and a first chapter where a woman's friend was a young thing in a slinky dress is a Storify of a few tweets from this morning on casually objectifying women in fiction.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

New Pop Filter

Got a new pop filter for my microphone & asked the girls (Tadpole is 5, Sprout 2) to help me test it out.  Here's the first two songs of Hamilton, plus Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold, by my kiddos.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


I'm listening to a fair number of podcasts and talking about them on Twitter & so I not infrequently get questions about what I like/listen to/etc.  Here's the post as of June 2015 with some thoughts about the format & what I'm listening to.

Disclosure - I host a podcast (Cabbages & Kings) for sci-fi/fantasy readers, which I started recently in order to make the podcast I wanted to listen to.  I'll mention where it fits in at the bottom.  I consider myself more a consumer than a producer, however.  There are plenty of SFF podcasts I'd recommend before my own.

Just Give Me Your Favorite Podcasts -
  • NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • In Our Time
  • For Colored Nerds
  • Fangirl Happy Hour (if you like science fiction/fantasy)

  • General notes about podcasts
  • Highly Produced Narrative Podcasts
  • Semi-Focused Panels
  • Journalism
  • Interviews
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Tech/Apple Geekery
  • Odds & Ends

General notes about how I think about podcasts:
Podcast is a stupid term, or at least tries to capture far too big a phenomenon.  Highly produced public radio programs built first for radio sit cheek-by-jowl with three guys in a basement babbling on for as long as they want about whatever they want.  Sponsored shows seeking to maximize listeners and market share are listed next to hobbyists.  Listeners may be cleaning, commuting, working, or doing a host of other activities.  In general, I try to think about a few axes:
  • Release Schedule
    • Weekly? Daily? Bi-Weekly?  Mostly this just has to do with how much you want to listen to.
  • Duration
    • Some podcasts are easily over an hour, occasionally 2+, a few come in quick 5 minute bursts.  I tend to group things into: micro-bursts (<10 minutes), the 15-30 minute chunks, "around an hour" and "long".
  • Format - There are plenty of podcasts and formats I've never tried (comedy for one), but what I'm familiar with usually falls into some combination of 4 categories
    • Interview - one or more hosts interviewing guests & trying to put the focus there.  Obviously a strong interviewer helps, as done a show with enough editorial voice to let you know what to expect.
    • Panel- a fairly consistent group of hosts who get together for about the same amount of time and talk.  You're inviting these people into your life for a while.
    • Narrative - Think "This American Life" or "Snap Judgement" (or "Serial").  Storytelling, usually with a host, but with the focus on the narrative, and different voices each time.  The compelling aspect seems to be how the story is told (and to a lesser extent what the story is)
    • Journalism - I separate this from "Narrative" because while there's probably a host bringing you stories, the emphasis is more on the story being told than how the story is told.  
  • Focus
    • How clear is the editorial voice, and what is the podcast about? I tend to listen to American journalism, some tech stuff, and sci-fi/fantasy related podcasts
    • Also, how much does the podcast stay on topic? Panels are often people hanging out with a few talking points, but who wildly digress.
    • Cultural background and voice sometimes fits in here as well.  I listen to BBC Radio programs, Black friends hanging out, NPR programs from deliberately unspecific "America", and with hosts who are predominantly men, women, or a mix.  That always matters, and is sometimes more noticeable (to someone raised on NPR) than others
  • Production Value
    • Is this an amateur with a microphone and some free audio editing software, someone with audio experience and a bit of mixing, or full-on studio-produced with plenty of post-production editing? Narrative and Journalism podcasts tend (in my experience) to have a higher production value.  There are plenty of interviews and people hanging out who run the gamut
So, to mention a few of my favorite podcasts:
  • NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour (hosted by Linda Holmes) is a weekly podcast about 45 minutes long where a fairly consistent panel of three chairs joined by a rotating fourth stay tightly focused  on a pair of pop culture topics (movies, books, music, TV shows, themes in culture) and close with a "what's making us happy" segment.  They've also been experimenting with shorter (~10 minute) "small batch editions" where a pair of people talk about a particular topic.  That's the description.  The pitch is that this is a smart, thoughtful group with a wide array of interests who get along well, are comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity, and manage to make even the most inane topic relevant and fascinating.  I have learned to trust their judgement about the topics they pick, even though they're usually not my interests, and always find the conversations enlightening.  (I'm bad at pitches.  Go listen to PCHH.  If you don't enjoy it, I begin to wonder whether you have a soul)
  • In Our Time (hosted by Melvyn Bragg) is a weekly podcast about an hour long where host Melvyn Bragg Interviews 3 guests with a tight focus (and stern eye on the clock) about a topic drawn from history, literature, or physical sciences.  The pitch is that (again) this is really smart people talking about a topic they know very well.
Lest you think I only like tightly produced and focused podcasts:
  • For Colored Nerds is a weekly podcast a bit over an hour (and I think getting longer) where a panel of two friends (sometimes joined by a guest) have a somewhat wide-ranging discussion about a couple of topics.  Hosts Eric & Brittany are black and their voices and cultural background come through strongly.  The pitch (and here you will start to see a pattern in my listening) is that these two are very thoughtful and opinionated.  They're also good at listening to each other, happy to explore the nuances of their opinions, and comfortable disagreeing.

Below is a list of podcasts, loosely grouped.  I’m bolding those that I always try to fit into my schedule, a highly subjective metric.  

Highly Produced Narrative Podcasts
  • I don't actually listen to many of these.  I find that my reaction to narrative podcasts is to feel manipulated rather than enjoying the experience.  I try to keep aware of This American Life because they do produce some stunning journalism.  However these are often very popular, and I've got enough of a passing familiarity to recommend a few.  All of these are highly produced weekly podcasts, most come out of public radio (or Gimlet Media, a for-profit company founded by an ex-public radio producer) and tend to have a strong editorial voice more in the way stories are told than in the kinds of stories you'll hear.  (If there's a Snap Judgement story, I'm not sure I could describe it.  But if you heard a Snap story, you could probably tell pretty quickly)
    • This American Life (it's spinoff Serial was the breakout of last year, and is getting a second season) - 3-4 stories focused around a loose theme.  One of the most famous public radio shows and podcasts
    • The Moth Radio Hour - people get up and tell stories.  The few episodes I’ve heard are generally really compelling
    • Snap Judgement - “Storytelling with a Beat” as host Glynn Washington puts it
    • The Mystery Show - Starlee Kine is charming and solves relatively mundane mysteries (the true origins of an ornate belt buckle).  The show seems to be doing really interesting things with the ways that they’re trying to build community and a consistent listening experience
    • Startup - Also from Gimlet Media, Startup follows a startup.  Season 1 was Gimlet media itself.  Season 2 is a dating site (I think)
    • NPR’s Planet Money also probably fits in this category.  Follow a crazy vaguely money related story
    • I’ve only listened to one episode, but I think Anxious Machine fits in here.  As far as I can tell, it’s unique in not being from a major distributor like a public radio institution or Gimlet.

Semi-Focused Panels
  • Where the first set of podcasts is about enjoying whatever story is being told, this set is all about enjoying the voices you’re subscribing to.  There’s probably a loose topic list and potential timeframe, but really these friends are hanging out, having fun, and you’re along for the ride.  All of these reward listening long enough to get comfortable with the hosts.
    • Another Round - a Buzzfeed podcast hosted by Heben and Tracy that’s usually around a half hour (I think).  These two engaging hosts & a guest talk about black life, pop culture, and lot more. (I’m underselling because I haven’t listened to enough to really have a sense of the voice, but this is a great example of the format.  Episode 12 is a good place to start.
    • Accidental Tech Podcast - 3 Apple tech nerds talk about Apple tech stuff.  I listened to previous podcasts from two of the hosts and got used to their styles, so I listen regularly and rely on this to keep me in touch with what’s happening in the technology I use.  Smart & semi-focused, I’m not sure I’d recommend this unless you’re really into Apple products or know of Marco Arment or John Siracusa, in which case you’ve probably decided whether to listen
    • The Incomparable - Jason Snell and a rotating set of panelists talk about geeky stuff.
    • PostBourgie - A “semi-orderly blog about race and gender and class and politics”
    • Fan Bros Show - “The voice of the urban geek”.  Discussion of Comics, Movies, Shows, and plenty of other geeky topics.
    • The Two Brandons is a comics-focused discussion between two black comics geeks.
  • Reporting.  Public Radio programs and others
    • Marketplace - A public media institution focused on the economy.  I clean to this every night.  I also enjoy Marketplace Weekend hosted by Lizzie O’Leary
    • Reveal - Hosted by Al Letson, a series of reports based on in-depth investigations.  
    • Pro Publica - a weekly podcast that expands on reporting done by the folks at Pro Publica.
    • Actuality - a new podcast from Marketplace and Quartz.  This is all I know, but that’s enough for me to try it out.
    • (Of course you can always stream NPR or listen to the NPR One App)
  • A few outliers that may fit in here:
    • Planet Money (discussed above)
    • Slate Money - Panelists led by Felix Salmon of Fusion (and his amazing English accent) discuss 3 financial stories each week
    • Current’s The Pub - Host Adam Ragusea is a public radio enthusiast making a podcast for public radio staff. This is the wonkiest podcast I listen to, even though I am only an enthusiastic listener.

  • Interviews tend to stand and fall on the strength of the host. There are a few I listen to at least occasionally:
  • In Our Time (mentioned above) - Mevyn Bragg gets great guests (with a good gender balance each week) to go deep on a specific topic (utilitarianism, water, Prester John, and others).
  • Fresh Air - Terri Gross is the voice of public radio for many people, including me. I don't listen every week, but whenever I do, I’m reminded how good Terri is at getting interest and engagement out of her guest
  • Minorities in Publishing - Host Jenn Baker talks to minorities in publishing.  As you might imagine, she brings in a wealth of extraordinary guests having fantastic conversations
  • WTF with Marc Maron - I’ve only listened to Marc interviewing Terri Gross and the president, but he seems like a good interviewer comfortable in his craft.  My sense is that Marc interviewers creators about who they are, rather than what they do.
  • MF Galaxy - Host Minister Faust interviews writers on writing, pop culture, progressive politics, and africentric change-makers.  A great interviewer.
  • Reading Lives - from BookRiot, an hour-long interview with guests from around the publishing industry talking about their early history with books.

Science Fiction / Fantasy
  • I’m an enthusiastic reader of science fiction and fantasy, and listen to a number of podcasts.  These include discussions of the craft, interviews with authors, and readers and critics discussing their books.  A few that I’d highlight
  • Fangirl Happy Hour - Every other week, hosts Renay of LadyBusiness and Ana of The Book Smugglers bring a feminist and fannish reading to books, comics, movies and shows.  These two are incredibly enthusiastic about what they love while also bringing a very sophisticated critical lens to their reading.
  • Tea and Jeopardy - Host Emma Newman invites authors to her virtual tea lair where “there’s always time for a cup of tea and a spot of mild peril”.  A charming interview wrapped up in a bit of a story.
  • Writing Excuses - 15 minutes of writing advice from 4 pro authors/webcartoonists.  A long-running podcast with a strong voice that is structuring this year as a “learn to write a novel” year
  • There are two podcasts produced by TorDotCom, one of the larger SFF community sites:
    • Midnight in Karachi - Host Mahvesh Murad interviews authors, generally those going a virtual book tour, though not always.  Mahvesh is a good interviewer, and the podcast is generally only around a half-hour long, usually making it the best of this class of podcasts.
    • Rocket Talk - Host Justin Landon has people involved in the SFF field on to talk about books and the industry.  (Disclosure, I was on recently doing a reader-reaction episode).  Frustratingly, I still don’t feel that there’s a consistent voice to the choice of guests - sometimes Justin’s shooting the breeze with a few friends, other times it’s a more serious discussion of a hot topic.  The standout episode is an interview with authors Kate Elliott and N. K. Jemisin about reader and publisher bias.
  • After this the list that I’ve at least sampled is long
    • Meanwhile in the Future is a new podcast from Gizmodo.  Host Rose Eveleth postulates a possible future (a second moon, the end of the internet), and then has on a few experts to discuss it.  Short and an original combination of speculative fiction and reporting.
    • The Three Hoarsemen are three fans grounded in older SFF who debate and argue over the new, the old, and what’s in between.  They’re a part of SF Signal, a group blog and group podcast that includes lots of others which seem mostly focused on interviewing authors and/or broadcasting panel discussions.
    • The Coode Street Podcast is also a pair of critics with decades of reading experience (and occasionally the associated blinders) who seem to vary between talking amongst themselves and bringing in a guest.  I tend to think that the guestless episodes are stronger.
    • Sword and Laser is an SFF reading/discussion group on Goodreads and podcast (and maybe other forms?)
    • Skiffy and Fanty, a bit of a variety of SF-related discussions and interviews
    • Galactic Suburbia - a panel of three australian authors talk about SFF stuff, usually through a feminist lens.
    • Geeks Guide to the Galaxy from Wired has author interviews and other things I think? I’ve only listened to a couple episodes with authors I’m interested in. When they were also on Midnight in Karachi it was better.
    • The Adventures of the Yellow Peril and Magical Negro is a panel of two readers who love SFF books, comics, and shows, but also talk about the bias and bigotry within the genre (past and present)
    • There are also a number of podcasts that bring short stories to your ears: Podcastle seems to be the big one.  Most of the semi-pro magazines have them (Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Uncanny, I’m sure of).  I’m missing a few, including Glittership.  If you like audio short fiction, you can probably keep yourself busy for as long as you’d like.
    • My own podcast is called Cabbages and Kings.  The plan is to interview readers of science fiction and fantasy, keeping the focus on texts and away from the drama in fandom, always under 30 minutes.  I’m still very much finding my voice, but I’m proud of the two-part discussion of Ancillary Justice (part 1 & 2) as well as my interview with Troy Wiggins.  
    • I mentioned The Incomparable above, but it often fits in here as well.

Tech / Apple Geekery
  • I’ve been listening less because I’m currently “off” in my on-again/off-again plan to teach myself to code, but I still enjoy Developing Perspective, a podcast from an apple developer talking about the app ecosystem and his development process.  Debug and Core Intuition seem oriented at independent developers.  Accidental Tech Podcast (mentioned above) would fit here

Odds & Ends
That’s almost everything I listen to.  I think I missed Intelligence Squared, where panels of 2 vs 2 square off against each other in a debate over some hot topic.  As long as there’s not a clear partisan breakdown or discussion of millennials, it’s usually semi-interesting.

I mostly dodged many of the major genres (sports & comedy are both huge I think, and there’s a genre of 5 minute tips & tricks as well), and networks (Gimlet, Slate’s Panoply and 5by5 are the ones that I know of) in this roundup.  It’s not exhaustive.  I should mention 5by5’s Back to Work with Merlin Mann which I listened to religiously for a long time before it finally became somewhat repetitive.  It’s loosely oriented around productivity and your outlook on life, and quite good.

This is what I’ll point people to from now on.  Good luck.