Why is friendship so hard?

Women and friendship

I’ve been “ghosted.” And, truth be told, I’ve “ghosted” a few people, too. It’s one of the many things women sometimes do to each other in the course of friendship. Friendships are often complicated and I’ve sometimes wondered why. In this podcast from 1A, host Indira Lakshmanan talks to Deborah Tannen about her new book on the language of women’s friendships. Tannen has long helped unpack conversation, language, voice and what our ways of talking mean. This is an insightful interview. Listen here: A Little More Conversation: How Women Talk To Each Other.

Men and friendship

Why do so many men lack male friends, especially when they hit middle age? “By now, our kids have left, our marriage may have left, and all the friends we used to have are on their own little islands, suffering just like us,” writes Sam Lawrence, host of the Grow Big Always podcast. The topic of men and friendship isn’t one I’ve heard discussed much, so I found Sam’s conversation with Jacqueline Olds, co-author of “The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century” very interesting. Listen here: Why American men have no friends with Harvard’s Jacqueline Olds.

Fake news, the horror master and an inland port

Long before alternative facts

Fake news isn’t new. Fake news has been a thread in the American fabric since the beginning. But are we as savvy as consumers? This BackStory episode from Nathan Connolly, Joanne Freeman and Ed Ayers takes a look at several famous made-up stories from the past — man-bats on the moon! — and the role they played in giving rise to a new style of media. Are we on the cusp of a new media transition? One guest thinks so. Another featured guest is Bruce Dain, an associate professor of history at the University of Utah, who shares the story of Henry Moss in “The Tale of the White Negro.” The episode ends with a discussion about the future of media, particularly print news, that is both frightening and hopeful. Listen here: A History of Fake News

On H.P. Lovecraft: Live from Salt Lake Comic Con

Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey, hosts of Stuff You Missed in History Class, visited Salt Lake Comic Con in March and presented a session on the “odd, sad, problematic and utterly fascinating” life of H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was a poet, ghostwriter, amateur journalist and writer, now famous for his horror stories. Wilson and Frey don’t gloss over the unsavory aspects of Lovecraft’s personality while highlighting his quirkiness and contribution to the writer’s craft. And there is this: A lot of nice shout outs for Salt Lake City and its Comic Con! Listen here: H.P. Lovecraft

Full speed ahead!

I had no idea what an “inland port” was or why Utah would want to be one. I am on board after listening to this episode from the Eccles School Podcast. Natalie Gochnour, associate dean at the David Eccles School of Business and executive director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, explains why Salt Lake City is well-positioned to be an inland port, what needs to happen to be designated a port and what it would mean to the state. High-paying jobs are at the top of the benefits list. It’s worth listening to if you are interested in Utah’s economic future. Listen here: Why Salt Lake City should become an inland port

Listening, immigration and a baby!

By Gage Skidmore
Photo of Donald J. Trump, Oct. 29, 2016, By Gage Skidmore

Learning to listen

Many podcasters have attempted to shed light on the Trump voter since the election. But I found Andrea Smardon’s interview with this Provo mom and University of Utah social work student particularly interesting — and somewhat painful since I work on the U campus. Tolerance is a difficult concept and one we need more than ever right now. Smardon is a former KUER reporter who is carving a freelance path for herself. I’ve always found her work insightful and this episode from her new podcast, Changing Our Stories, shows why. Listen here: Outside the Bubble.

A look at immigration in the U.S.

The Trump administration is apparently at work on a revised immigration ban to replace the one found unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In this episode of BackStory, historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh and Joanne Freeman look at immigration restrictions of the past. It’s excellent context for current efforts to limit who enters America. Listen here: Restricting American Immigration.

And baby makes three

This is how Leah Thau describes what her Strangers podcast is all about: Each episode is an empathy shot in your arm, featuring true stories about the people we meet, the connections we make, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that WE aren’t even who we thought we were. This is the final of three episodes about Patrick and Steve’s quest to adopt their foster daughter. I don’t think you need to listen to the earlier episodes to get the most out of this heart-felt story. Listen here: Two Men and a Baby.

No. 45, Lawrence v. Texas and freezing fat


Construction of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, 1933. Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol.

NO. 45

I am trying to find a good source of information about the pressing issues facing Donald J. Trump as he takes office. This podcast from the Council on Foreign Relations—The President’s Inbox—was a good start. In this episode Richard N. Haas, the council’s president, breaks it down with James M. Lindsay, studies director, and Robert McMahon, managing editor. Haas served in the administration of No. 43 (George W. Bush) and what he has to say about showing up on Day 1 fascinated me. It’s an informed, insightful conversation about what really matters as No. 45 assumes power. Listen here: Inauguration Day.

Lawrence v.  Texas

I thought I knew quite a bit about the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Lawrence v. Texas, which made same-sex sexual relations legal in all states. Turns out I didn’t know the half of it—and you probably don’t either. I’ve loved every episode of More Perfect, the podcast from Radiolab examining how the court came to be configured as it is and the backstory on key decisions. This one is focused on the imperfect plaintiffs behind some of the court’s major decisions, including Tyron Garner and John Lawrence. Listen here: The Imperfect Plaintiffs.

Freezing fat

Yep, just like you I’ve vowed to up my exercise plan in 2017. I need to lose a few pounds. But I have a feeling—no, more than that, I know!—some of these fat deposits just won’t go away no matter what I do. So I’ve been checking into options, including CoolSculpting, and came across this episode from The Scope, a podcast from the University of Utah Health Sciences. The overview from Dr. David Smart was just the expert advice I needed. Listen here: Two Medical Treatments for Reducing Fat in Problem Areas



Women who do math and bad badminton

• I love it when a podcast episode exposes me to something I had never heard of before. Here is a Short Take from BackStory with the American History Guys about the African American women who worked as “human computers” at NASA in the early days of space exploration. These “hidden figures” are the subject of a book by Margot Lee Shetterly and a newly released movieListen here.

• This episode from Radiolab about the badminton scandal during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London made me laugh out loud. I knew the story … but not like this. This episode got me thinking about whether losing is an acceptable tactical strategy in sports, especially when done with so much athleticism. The thing is, losing can be hard to do—especially when your opponent is trying just as hard to lose. Listen here.

Race, Income Inequality and a Mystery

• In this selection from Voices of Reason, reporters Jason Lee and Amy Donaldson Brass talk with University of Utah Professor William A. Smith about racial battle fatigue and micro aggression. Worth a listen for those interested in fine-tuning their understanding of race relations at this tumultuous time in our country. Listen here.

• Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute was the inaugural guest at the Newsmakers Breakfast hosted by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. In this podcast from the David Eccles School of Business, Strain shares his views on inequality, technology, productivity and where the economy is headed. Ignore the pre-election comment! Listen here.

• Who doesn’t love a great mystery? In this offering from the Mystery Show, intrepid reporter Starlee Kine helps a man track down the owner of a belt buckle found on an Arizona street decades earlier. Sadly, the Mystery Show ceased operating in April 2016, but Kine continues to produce remarkable stories as a reporter for American Public Radio and other outlets. Listen here.