#72 Curiouser and curiouser
Try to keep an open mind. It's the only way to get new stuff in there.
This week in the Audit: learn by listening.
We're travelling in the coming month, so our next letter will be sent in four weeks. Till then, comrades - be good and be well.
It's Not a Race
We've mentioned this before, but Australians do not find it easy to talk about race (case in point: a recent, crushingly awkward Sydney Writers Festival conversation between Books & Arts presenter Michael Cathcart and author Paul Beatty). On the one hand, we imagine ourselves to be a chilled-out melting-pot, a place where even the most white-bread Aussie loves a hot bowl of pho and thinks Cathy Freeman is a legend. On the other hand: our media, our politics and our cultural institutions are blindingly whitewashed, the violence of our colonial past is elided, and the voices of Indigenous people are sidelined or erased. But this new podcast from the ABC tackles questions of race in Australia with refreshing and urgent directness (ironically, it's hosted by a Canadian, Beverley Wang). Two episodes into this series, we have covered the phenomenon of people actually, for some reason, doing blackface in the 21st century, and learned about a problematic Australian film, the first to star Indigenous actors in leading roles. In sum: thoughtfully constructed and very important stuff. Get on it.
Gateway episode: Hey hey it's time to talk about blackface! (30 May 2017)
Out in the Open, #41 Sexual Consent
If things that are hard to talk about are the things you most like to hear about, then this consistently excellent program from the Canadian national broadcaster - which aims to drill wormholes through our filter bubbles and drag uncomfortable subjects into the light - is made for you. This episode navigates questions about sexual consent and begins with host Piya Chattopadhyay interviewing Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger. When the two were teenagers, Tom raped Thordis, and they did not speak for years before eventually reconnecting and writing a book together. The conversation between Chattopadhyay and her two subjects is tense and difficult, but it's only the tip of the iceberg in this fascinating episode: we also meet a high school consent educator, hear down-to-earth advice from a sex worker, and stop by a Toronto bar to survey its patrons.
Released: 20 May 2017
Sunday School Dropouts
Have you heard the one about a former Presbyterian and a non-believing Jew who are reading their way through every book in the Bible? We hasten to clarify that this show is not a Biblical study aid, but a light-hearted romp through a collection of ancient and contradictory texts representing millennia of glommed-on history, and quite a lot of dubious medical advice. Our hosts do respect the document, even as they roll their eyes at its inconsistencies and revel in its nuttier moments, and there is some wisdom amid the weirdness. Occasional, well-informed guests round out the offering, including Mallory Ortberg of The Toast/Dear Prudence fame - the daughter, it turns out, of two pastors. Tonnes of hour-long episodes available now.
Gateway episodes: Leviticus (3 Apr 2016) / Ecclesiastes (14 Aug 2016) / Song of Songs (21 Aug 2016)
The Bestseller Experiment
Two friends (indeed, two Marks) have declared a wildly ambitious aim - to co-write and publish a bestselling novel in the space of a year. They have a few advantages. One has worked in book publishing for 20 years and has written a screenplay that actually got made. The other is a professional musician, tech dude, and do-gooder, so he knows, in theory, how to make things happen. This podcast documents their weekly progress towards completion and launch of their book, but is smart to avoid navel-gazing: instead, they bring in industry experts to talk about the nitty-gritty of what truly makes a bestseller. Whether it's A-list authors (Michael Connelly, Ben Aaronovitch), publishing company CEOs, or the number-nerds at Nielsen Bookscan, this is as good as gold dust for aspiring writers.
Gateway episodes: Ep 1: Who Buys Bestsellers? (15 Oct 2016) / Ep 16: How Do I Get An Agent? (9 Jan 2017) / Ep 22: Ben Aaronovitch and the Great Bollocking (20 Feb 2017)
With the UK's snap general election mere days away, we commend to you this useful daily show, in which a rotating cast of the BBC's best political brains debrief us on the latest election news. As the pace of the campaign picks up, the show is often recorded with journalists in or just out of the thick of the action, or even on the run (in a recent episode, a harried Emma Barnett of Woman's Hour signed off from a train platform: "I'll speak to you from Skegness!!"). In the process, it communicates the atmosphere of breathless anticipation and pure exhaustion that precedes a national election day, and at 10 to 15 minutes duration, each episode is the perfect length for covering headlines without wandering into the weeds.
Gateway episodes: 9 Days to Go: Bloody difficult Woman's Hour (30 May 2017) / 14 Days to Go: Politics is back and it's noisy (25 May 2017) / 23 Days to Go: Labour's manifesto ... unleaked (16 May 2017)
Rose Buddies / Rachel and the Real Boy
My Dad Wrote a Porno / S3E1 'London; Thursday 15.55 Local Time'
Slate Culture Gabfest / Live from Sydney Edition
Trumpcast / The Blabbing President
War on Waste / Quick pickles & pineapple skin mocktails
Ponzi Supernova / #4 Hide the Screw
The Grift / Crooked Carnival