I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 16-23 May 2020

Heather Cox Richardson  The Politics and History podcast on 12 May spent quite a bit of time on the Supreme Court, and Attorney General Barr’s actions over Flynn and the increasing talk of ‘Obamagate’. She starts off addressing her question of liberal bias by reinforcing that she is a historian, who works from sources rather than Fox News commentators, and  notes that in the past she was accused of being conservative (that is, before the conservatives became so radical). She finishes off by discussing what a new ‘New Deal’ might look like, should the world turn that way. Meanwhile, her History Podcast on 15 May looked at the Movement Conservative takeover of the Republican party since Ronald Reagan, and its efforts to ensure that there can never be a Democrat government again by challenging voter registration under the guise of ‘voter fraud’ and by appointment of Supreme and other level court judges.

Judith Lucy Overwhelmed and Dying is more of Judith Lucy’s dry shtick, this time looking at wellness and aging. A lesson my arse taught me (after enduring four warm oil enemas) is that we should embrace what our body can do rather than what it can’t, an observation helped along by wheelchair rugby star Shae Graham.

Making History (BBC) London and the Rest from Feb 2020 comes from post-Brexit Britain: how long ago all that feels! The sense that there is a difference between London and the rest of England has a long history. The program describes the Whig/Tory distinction, the literary character of John Bull, the early development of London, and in light of the suggested shift of the House of Lords to the city of York, the alternative city centres to London

Start the Week This podcast fits in rather well with the consideration of ‘London and the Rest’ above. In Richard Ford Writing from the Edges, the program explores the idea of provincialism in American and English writing. I haven’t read any Richard Ford (I must) but his books are set in Mississippi or Montana rather than in New York. The other guest, Ruth Livesy has written a lot about George Eliot, who consciously set her novels in the ‘provinces’. She identifies the 1860s – the time of the passing of the Second Reform Bill- as the turning point when London began to dominate the other large cities in England which had previously had their own newspapers, scientific and literary ‘heroes’ etc.

The Eleventh. The final episode Episode 7 State Secrets looks at the two main theories behind what actually happened on November 11 1975. The first one looks at the American/CIA theory. I’d forgotten that the dismissal took place in the same political environment as the overthrow of Allende in Chile, and there’s certainly enough things that Whitlam did to upset the CIA. The second theory, and the one that still has legs because of the dogged persistence of historian Jenny Hocking (my review of her book here) is that Kerr and the Palace have unanswered questions. The intransigence of Sir Anthony Mason and the Palace make me all angry again. And look at the papers: Jenny Hocking has had a High Court win from the Australian side at least. We all owe this historian a debt of gratitude.

New Books in History. I didn’t realize when I downloaded it that Max Edelson’s The New Map of Empire would be about mapping in North America.  He argues that especially after the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the British Board of Trade put real effort into mapping the American and West Indian territories, using scientific wartime mapping techniques. With the French and Spanish empires as a competing pressure and with war likely to break out at any time, and with the lofty aim of peace treaties with Native Americans, they needed military-grade maps. On the part of the British government, this was an attempt to exert continent-wide (or as much of the continent as they had) influence over what had until then been different settlements. I found myself thinking about the differences with Australia, which was charted by Captain Cook at much the same time. So much of our ‘mapping’ was naval mapping, noting bays etc. suitable for naval activities during war. When surveyors in Australia did set out, it was to find navigable routes across, rather than the detail of every mountain, creek etc. and was often in the vanguard of land occupation. There were no competing European powers, and no attempt (beyond Batmans’ farce) to have treaties based on maps.  Interesting.

Rough Translation As part of the coronavirus shutdown, the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv was turned over for recovering coronavirus patients who had been released from hospital, but still considered contagious. There were Orthodox and Secular Jews, and Muslim guests, who were all thrown together. In Hotel Corona we learn what happened.

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