Podcasts Inform, Entertain, Appall

February 1, 2009

Shuttling between the country (Illinois farmland/swampland) where a satellite TV is required if you ever hope to get a signal and my siblings’ home in St. Louis where the TV is non-cable and not ready for digital, I rely on my iTunes podcasts to keep me entertained and informed while “in the city.”

Rachel Maddowpict-rmaddow-2 is one of my favorites – even before she got her own TV show on MSNBC – and I download her podcasts from Air America every day. If you have not listened to her (or seen her on the TV machine) you would do well to check her out. Oh yes; she was featured in a recent issue of The Advocate as well.

While catching up on the week’s news after being snowbound I learned of many alarming things you don’t always hear about on the regular happy talk “news” programs.

Such as the eighteen American soldiers who died in Iraq.

They were electrocuted.

By the bad wiring in US bases by GOP military contractors.

One soldier went to Iraq to serve his country and faulty wiring killed him while he was taking a shower. Why is this not on the front page of every newspaper? I wonder.

Rachel also talks to experts about the appalling condition of our national infrastructure. You probably heard that word bandied about on the news occasionally. It’s the basic structure we all rely on, underlaying the entire country. Such things as waste disposal, drinking water, airports, roads, bridges, power grids, etc.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has published the report card on the condition of the United States infrastructure and it’s not good. While the Bush Cheney crowd were busy keeping us safe from fourteen year old terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, a much more real threat to our daily lives was the lack of maintenance and upkeep of our basic structures. I mean, the chances of us being killed by a foreign terrorist seems to be much more remote than the chance of being killed by contaminated water, a collapsing bridge or a malfunctioning nuclear power plant.

Apparently infrastructure upkeep was an ongoing part of our government spending until the Great Reagan Tax Cuts (pause for genuflecting and hosannas) caused such unnecessary items to be dropped so that IBM didn’t have to pay any corporate taxes that year.

Where was the bridge that collapsed a year or so ago? The one that killed all those people? Oh, yeah.

Rachel’s program includes plenty of fun and lighter fare as well. Such as her recent interview with Polosi – not the Senator, the documentary producer – who did the program about Ted Haggard. And her Ask Doctor Maddow feature every broadcast.

Another must-listen podcast is Countdown with Keith Olbermann. I can’t always catch it on cable, but fortunately he’s on podcast as well. n_countdown_specialcomment_090119300w1

While his diversions into sports trivia (he’s a former sportscaster) are distracting, he is entertaining, informative and always good for a blast at Faux News and Republican stupidity. His Worst Persons In The World (daily) are worth tuning in alone.

I have family who regularly tune in to that Spin Zone program on Faux – much to my amazement but hey, everyone can’t be as enlightened or superior as myself – and it’s fun to hear about the right-wing abuses of the public airwaves.

Olbermann’s special commentaries are available all over YouTube. His impassioned diatribes are often ridiculed but he does seem sincere. Perhaps that’s why people find him so refreshing. He’s among the small crowd credited with bringing a rarely heard  liberal/progressive viewpoint back to so-called mainstream media.

Other podcasts:

Other ‘casts that keep me going:

Dan Savage Savage Love – the live version of his internationally syndicated advice column, but with all different content than the print. And you get to hear him in his own voice.

Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me – cause I’m not always able to be in my car when the NPR game show is broadcast. Always entertaining.

For Parody Purposes Only – Mark Day, often entertaining and funny, but worth listening to for his incredible accent alone.

Scott Bateman – I’ve talked on here before about this genius. His animated cartoons are offered on podcast.

Real Time With Bill Maher – for those like me who don’t get the cable channel to watch him, you can get his programs – when they are on – downloaded.

TED – the presentations of the Technology, Education and Design lectures. I don’t subscribe – the files are too much for my limited memory (I have a ton of large graphic files on my computer already) but go browsing in iTunes regularly. Amazing stuff.

That’s what I rely on to keep me in touch with the universe when I’m in St. Louis. Anyone have any suggestions of their favorites – the one or two who may happen to read these ramblings?

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