I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 9-16 June 2021

Booktopia I’ve just finished re-reading Helen Garner’s The First Stone and while looking for current reviews of the 25th Anniversary edition, I see that Virginia Trioli has also had her riposte, Generation F republished. In We Forget More Than We Remember, Trioli talks about why she wrote the book originally, and how it has been vindicated by recent events with the MeToo movement.

Dan Snow’s History Hit. Wooahh! This is weird! The History of Head Transplants tells the story of a series of successful head transplants on monkeys during the 1970s conducted by Dr Robert J. White. Brandy Schillace, the author of Mr Humble and Dr Butcher tells of how these experiments, which were prompted by Soviet advances during the Cold War, resulted in head transplants in monkeys where the monkey’s brain survived for 9 days with signs of brain activity (but not sensory activity). Interestingly, when White and other scientists spoke of transplanting heads on monkeys, they talked about it as a ‘head transplant’; if they were talking about a tetraplegic human, they would call it a ‘body transplant’. Really weird.

The Thread. We’ve heard quite a bit about the Tulsa Race Massacre, which happened 100 years ago last month. But I haven’t heard anything about the Election Day Massacre on Election Day 1920 in Ocoee, Florida, just a few kilometres from Disneyland. They are running a three-part series on the Thread, and Episode 1 sets the scene for the election. The 14th amendment had just been passed, and women were voting for the first time. Black servicemen were returning from WWI, and there had been a concerted voter registration drive, led by wealth African-American businessmen Mose Norman and July Perry. Before the vote, the Klan had paraded through the streets, and direct threats were made against the Republican (white) candidate, who was encouraging blacks to vote. When Mose Norman turned up to vote, he was accused of not paying his poll tax (as if!- he’d been paying the poll tax for many black people who couldn’t afford it). Norman returned to the polling booth with a shot gun, but was driven away again. After the polls closed, a white mob formed and went looking for Mose Norman at July Perry’s house. And that’s where Episode 1 leaves us.

The Documentary (BBC) Continuing on with the series Syria’s decade of conflict: Islamic State’s most wanted this episode tells of four young Syrian men, fond of drinking, music and chasing girls, who began writing and filming the reality of daily life in Raqqa, Syria to counter the propaganda that ISIS was putting online. ISIS put a bounty on their heads, and when they couldn’t get them, ISIS went for their families. This was produced some years ago: the men are still in hiding in Europe and America.

China If You’re Listening (ABC) I think that I have a Nana-crush on Matt Bevan (eeeyyyyeeewww! he would surely say!) I make sure that I’m awake by 6.40 every morning so that I can hear his analysis on some piece of the news, and I have followed his earlier podcasts Russia If You’re Listening and then America If You’re Listening. Now he turns his attention to China, and it’s fascinating. Episode 1 Xi Jinping: the ‘Man of Destiny’ looks at the lifestory of Xi Jinping and how it interweaves with 20th century Chinese history. Episode 2: How Tiananmen is being repeated in Xinjiang goes over the Australian response to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and the Australian response. Who can forget Bob Hawke’s response? – well, perhaps it wasn’t all that it seemed in the bonus episode The story behind Bob Hawke’s mysterious Tiananmen Cable. Episode 3 The iron chain between Australia and China he explores the Great Leap Forward – I had no idea that the famine it prompted was so brutal – and how it prompted Australia’s iron ore boom. I must confess to being not particularly attracted to Asian history, but this is fascinating.

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