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Julia Angwin (The Bat Segundo Show #537)

Why are we so consumed with providing every moment of our lives to a faceless corporation who will share this data with other companies without our consent? What makes the NSA worse than the Stasi? And to what extent are we determined to become enslaved by convenience? We talk with journalist Julia Angwin, author of DRAGNET NATION, about these dilemmas, the inevitability of mutually assured disinformation, and why the black helicopter lifestyle is becoming more legitimate.
[MP3, 43 minutes]

[Notes and partial transcript]

Lots of jellybeans

Samira Kawash (The Bat Segundo Show #522)

This is the second of two shows devoted to Halloween. Did you know that there was once a chocolate bar called the Chicken Dinner? That cigarette companies once considered candy to be a threat to discretionary spending? Or that candy was used by the military for safety purposes? We didn’t either, until we read Samira Kawash’s Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. We discuss the serpentine history of candy with the Candy Professor herself!
[MP3, 58 minutes]

[Notes and partial transcript]

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Nicholson Baker (The Bat Segundo Show #520)

Nicholson Baker returns to our program for a rip-roaring 78 minute conversation. We discuss TRAVELING SPRINKLER, the many parallels between Baker and Paul Chowder. There is quite a bit of music and audio talk, vivacious arguments for and against Robin Thicke, a lively dialectic on whether or not Algebra 2 should be an educational requirement, and a vital discussion on alternative names for sexual organs.
[MP3, 78 minutes]
[Notes and partial transcript]

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Stone Arabia Roundtable — Part Four

Our fourth roundtable installment features Susan Straight remarking upon the book after a death in the family, Porochista Khakpour coming to grips with her Los Angeles past and her academic present, Roxane Gay pursuing the issue of supporting women’s writers, and Judith Zissman investigating memory.

Films

The Tropical Movies (2012) In October 2012, I began making the Tropical Movies, a series of documentaries in which a singular idea fixed in our culture is investigated through a series of interviews, eccentric divagation, and other assorted contexts. The Tropical Movies are shot using a one person lo-fi rig in which the camera is […]

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Ellen Ruppel Shell’s CHEAP — Part Five

(This is the fifth of a five-part roundtable discussion of Ellen Ruppel Shell’s Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. Other installments: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four.) (A podcast interview with author Ellen Ruppel Shell will follow this afternoon. Thanks to all the roundtable participants for their input, Penguin Press for […]

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Ellen Ruppel Shell’s CHEAP — Part Two

(This is the second of a five-part roundtable discussion of Ellen Ruppel Shell’s Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. Other installments: Part One, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.) Kathleen Maher writes: I am not quite finished reading Cheap, but I have to admit that I’m finding it more interesting than I expected, […]

BEA 2009: The Truth About Book Piracy

At BookExpo America, Wet Asphalt’s Eric Rosenfield entered into a lengthy conversation with Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media. And it became necessary to capture their quasi-caffeinated colloquy for reasons that will soon become apparent. I had seen O’Leary earlier in the year at the “Challenging Notions of Free” panel at Tools of Change, along with […]

Tools of Change: Smart Women Read Ebooks

Panelists: Kassia Kroszer (moderator), Angela James, Malle Valik, Sarah Wendell (For related coverage, you can check out my video interview with Wendell shortly after the panel.) So if you’ve been following these lengthy reports, you’ve probably developed a sense that there is a profound disconnect between the geeks who develop the technology and the readers […]

Tools of Change: The Rise of Ebooks

Panelists: Mark Coker (moderator), Joe Wikert, April Hamilton, David Rothman, Russell Wilcox If I had to compare Tuesday’s panel with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, I would say this. Claire Danes was superior to April Hamilton. Russ Wilcox, a rather cocky gentleman who spoke like some snobby Yale know-it-all with his head held high […]

Tools of Change: Jon Orwant

Jon Orwant is a highly confident man. Some might say (and a few certainly did to me) that he is one of the great egotists of our epoch. By his own admission, he is certainly not an amateur. But then when you’re the Engineering Manager for the world’s biggest search engine, and you’re white, and […]

Tools of Change: Initial Report

During a morning in which news of layoffs at HarperCollins and the future of BookExpo America was severely reduced in time and topography, here at the Marriott Marquis, Tools of Change rolled on. I appear to be the only guy here wearing a T-shirt, but not the only one nursing a hangover. I’ll have some […]

Forthcoming Coverage

In addition to a rather enormous roundtable discussion that I have in the works here (author and book to be revealed soon), I should note that I’ll also be reporting on New York Comic Con and Tools of Change. There will be a considerable number of podcasts and written reports. Our Correspondent, who does not […]

Human Smoke — Part Five

(This concludes our roundtable discussion of Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke. For previous installments: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four. (Many thanks to Julia Prosser at Simon & Schuster, who was kind enough to go along with this crazy idea; Nicholson Baker, for taking the time out of his busy schedule to reply […]

Echo Maker Roundtable #3

(This is the third in a five-part roundtable discussion of Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker. Be sure to check out Part One, Part Two, Part Four, and Part Five.) Dan Wickett writes: Like Levi, and it seems Sarah, I’m indebted to Ed and his roundtable idea as I’d not read any Powers before, and now […]

Vollmann’s Favorite Books

Here is a list of the best books that Vollmann has ever read (as reported in “Something to Die For,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 1993, Vol 13, Issue 2, p. 25): Tadeusz Konwicki, A Dreambook for Our Time Lady Murasaki, The Tale of Genji Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses Lautreamont, Maldoror Vasily […]