The Best Progressive (and Not So Progressive) Podcasts
October 18, 2006

In addition to the two excellent podcasts available here at – I'm paid to say that – there are some great podcasts that Progressive readers might want to check out. If you've looked at podcast offerings in the past and been unimpressed, it might be a good idea to look again. There have been some great additions.

Here's a roundup of my favorites:

Slate Explainer. These gems aren't necessarily political or progressive in nature. They run about 4-5 minutes each and basically explain a detail about a story that we were afraid to ask. Recent episodes include: How Accurate Is the New Iraqi Death Count?, Can the Amish Ride in Helicopters?, Can I Have a Satellite Radio Show?

Penn Radio Podcast. Here's one for the libertarians. Penn Jillette's podcast is basically a condensed version of his daily radio show, which he hosts from Las Vegas. Penn Jillette is the talking half of Penn & Teller, the magic duo and hosts of the Showtime show Bullshit, which has gone after everyone from PETA to Mother Teresa. Penn is sometimes a little too libertarian right for my personal tastes, but I find him to be personally engaging, witty, and self-effacing.

New York Times Columnists. Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Bob Herbert's columns make great podcasts. They are available separately but they are getting lumped together here to save space. The downside is that the authors themselves don't read them.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. It's a witty and fun news quiz show.

The President's Weekly Radio Addresss. No not the real one. The excellent parody.

This American Life. Simply the best radio program ever, and it's now available as a free podcast!

Stephanie Miller Show Bits. We love Stephanie Miller!

MSNBC Countdown with Keith Olbermann. This one usually contains one segment from Olbermann's excellent cable news show. It definitely leaves you wanting more. Olbermann is the best thing to happen to cable since Phoebe Cates.

Democracy Now! and BBC Radio NewsPod. News that you will simply not find anywhere else.

Science Talk. The official podcast of the Scientific American Magazine. This one isn't as medicinal as it may sound and it presents science news in a conversational and fun way. As a bonus, it is not afraid to stand up to the anti-global warming nitwits and creationists.

(Use the comments or email me if you want to share your favorites.)

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Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against "hostile environmental modification techniques...

The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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