Past Present Podcast: The AHCA, Children’s Sleep, and Planets


In this week’s episode of Past Present, Niki, Neil, and Natalia debate the fate of the American Health Care Act, the constructed nature of children’s sleep, and Pluto’s place among the planets.




We discussed why Donald Trump’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare failed and the longer history of health care reform in the U.S.

Children’s Sleep

A recent Los Angeles Times oped wondered why parents insist their children sleep alone. We discussed the history of sleep, including Natalia’s comments on how famous pediatricians like Dr. Spock and Dr. Ferber recommended children be trained to sleep. Neil mentioned the growing attention to adult sleeping, including the popularity of napping pods in Silicon Valley and the attention to sleep in Arianna Huffington’s recent books, Thrive and The Sleep Revolution. Natalia recommended Jonathan Clary’s book, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, and a Public Books review essay by David Henkin for critiques on how capitalism shapes American sleep habits.


Planets are in the news! We discussed the FiveThirtyEight piece, “Why We Love Stories About Mars,” and a recent proposal from some scientists about redefining what qualifies as a planet. Niki introduced the work of the anthropologist Lisa Messeri who writes about how humans talk about and imagine other planets. Neil and Niki discussed the popularity of science fiction, especially about Mars, including Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds.

What’s Making History

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