I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 1-8 April 2021

Rear Vision (ABC) There has been a great deal of attention on the Australian Parliament recently. In The Political Swamp: Poisonous for Women, the history of female representation in Parliament is addressed. Women may have achieved the vote and the right to stand for Parliament but it took 40 years until someone actually did. The program looks at New Zealand and Scandinavian countries to show that it can be done much, much better.

Heather Cox Richardson. Well, she really did finish her series on Reconstruction on 26 February when she said she would. So what now? Well, on 5 March, she discussed the concept of ‘the shining city on the hill’. The origin of the term was actually back in Puritan days, when the Puritan leaders were worried that if the new community failed, then the rest of the world would mock their endeavour. What John Winthrop meant was that “we’re sticking out like a sore thumb, so we’d better behave”. A bit different to the triumphalist use of the term ‘shining city on the hill’ by Robert Reagan and most recently by Mike Pompeo to mean “we are perfect, so other countries had better behave”. She goes on to talk at the end about Trump’s 1776 Commission, which aimed to teach a ‘patriotic’ American history, and the countering 1619 project.

History Workshop Even though it won the An Post Irish National Book of the Year and the Foyle’s Non-Fiction Book of the Year, perhaps I should NOT read Doireann ní Ghríofa’s book A Ghost in the Throat. She is an Irish poet, and her book is a mixture of biography and autofiction as she interweaves her own relationship with pregnancy and motherhood, and the life of eighteenth-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill. The author is not a historian, and not part of academia and she in effect found her own way through this biography, albeit drawing on the work of many other scholars. This interview Writing Women’s Lives & Histories is with an academic historian Christopher Kissane, who points out that as an amateur historian, she faced the same dilemmas and roadblocks as academic historians do. He is obviously more comfortable with the insertion of autofiction than I am. On the other hand, it is very cheap as an ebook ($8.46).

The Law Report (ABC). Thomas Embling Hospital is relatively close to my house, on the site of the old Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital. Inside Thomas Embling Hospital, a Forensic health facility is the first radio broadcast from inside this health facility for patients who have committed a serious crime, but were either found not-guilty or judged unable to stand trial because of mental illness.

Then this omnibus episode looks at Christian Porter and has an advertisement for a new ABC Listen Podcast on ‘good’ divorces, but more interesting to me was a discussion of the Kathleen Folbigg case. Just as the legal system via the NSW Court of Appeal ruled that she stay behind bars, the Australian Academy of Science, along with 90 eminent scientists argued that medical discoveries over inherited conditions had moved on since her sentencing, and that she should be pardoned.

Big Ideas (ABC) Historian Leigh Straw, whose books on WWI soldiers and Dulcie Markham I have reviewed previously, gives the Geoffrey Bolton 2020 lecture History of Women and Crime. In this lecture, she talks about women she has discovered in the archives who fell foul of the ‘disorderly conduct’ provisions of the law during the early 20th century, from crime madams like Kate Leigh through to sex workers with traumatic histories. Following Leigh’s talk, there is a 20 minute interview with the journalist and writer Juliet Wills who has been working for years on the still unsolved case of Shirley Finn 45 years ago – it would seem that there are powerful people who do not want this case solved.

Let’s Talk about Sects The Zion Full Salvation Ministry was based in Sydney from the 1970s to the 1990s. Violet Pryor, aged in her 50s and very charismatic, claimed that she had the best stigmata ever, and recovered the most quickly ever from a car accident – are you hearing shades of Donald Trump? The person interviewed in this podcast is David Ayliffe, who was her right-hand man for over 20 years. He sounds such a grounded, sensible person that you realize just how powerful cult figures must be.

Outlook (BBC) Before the big ship got stuck in the Suez, the Outlook program broadcast Abandoned at sea for three years about Indian marine engineer Vikash Mishra who, along with the rest of the crew on the Tamin Aldar were left abandoned 20 kms from Dubai, with dwindling supplies, when the ship owners went broke. The company bought off the other workers by offering a small percentage of the wages they owed them, but Vikash knew that as long as he held off, he was in the more powerful situation. This is his story.

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