Past Present Podcast: Truckers, NATO, and Spelling Bees

Spelling Bee

In this week’s episode of Past Present, Natalia, Neil, and Niki debate the decline of the long-haul trucker, the future of NATO, and the national spelling bee. Truckers A New York Times article on long-haul truckers by Trip Gabriel detailed the declining status of truckers in American life. Niki commented the highpoint of truckers’ cultural cache in the 1970s, including popular cultural depictions like the movie Smokey and the Bandit. Neil cited Bruce Schulman’s argument in his book The Seventies about the “reddening” of America as another way of understanding truckers’ popularity in that decade. Natalia shared an essay in […]

Past Present Podcast: HBCUs, Rebecca Tuvel, and Commencement Speeches

University Commencement

In this week’s episode of Past Present, Neil, Natalia, and Niki debate historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the Rebecca Tuvel controversy, and commencement speeches. HBCUs Donald Trump recently suggested that a federal program that finances construction projects on historically black college and university campuses may be unconstitutional. But a few days later, he expressed “unwavering support” for HBCUs. Natalia observed Trump’s various moves to reach out to African Americans followed an Obama presidency that was often criticized for not reaching out to African Americans enough, something that the former president acknowledged in David Remnick’s New Yorker profile of him. […]

May 2017: Advice to My Younger Self

Ciara Pressler with Ben Pressler

It’s college decision day for high school seniors, and graduation month for both high school and college students. Early milestones that seem like a really big deal… because they are. Decisions made now about the next step in life will shape everything else to come. Being ten years older than my youngest brother, at his graduation milestones, I took the opportunity to share my best advice with a decade of hindsight. I like to think he saved these cards and that maybe there was some sentiment that saved him a hard lesson. I can’t go back in time and tell […]

Green Week: Rick Turoczy and Stephen Green on Growing Silicon Forest

Stephen Green interviews Rick Turoczy

Kicking off Green Week at Pregame HQ, Stephen Green interviewed Rick Turoczy, a founder of PIE PDX, the tech accelerator embedded at the headquarters of global creative agency Wieden+Kennedy. Rick’s recent work has moved away from physical educational space and into its own incubation. Currently acting as advisors to other accelerators, those in the idea stage can delve into the PIE Cookbook, an open source guide designed to help anyone, anywhere build the startup accelerator of their dreams. Right out of the gate, Rick addressed the elephant in the room: in the whitest city in America and in an industry known for being a bastion of young […]

Past Present Podcast: The LSAT, George W. Bush, and Corporal Punishment

George W. Bush

In this week’s episode of Past Present, Natalia, Niki, and Neil debate Harvard’s decision to drop the LSAT, George W. Bush’s newfound popularity, and corporal punishment. The LSAT Harvard Law School will no longer require the LSAT for admission. Natalia placed the LSAT in the history of standardized testing and recommended Harold Wechsler’s The Qualified Student and Jerome Karabel’s The Chosen for the history of selective college admissions. Neil noted recent racial tensions at Harvard Law School. George W. Bush George W. Bush’s approval ratings continue to climb since leaving office, although Natalia noted the folks at Jacobin remain critical […]

When Wellness is a Dirty Word

Watermelon Patch

First came the anthropologist of Arctic poverty who found me on Instagram and confided that she was a Jazzercise fanatic. Then the intellectual historian who eloquently introduced herself as an expert on a similarly Serious Topic but rapidly and with sparkling eyes, before any of our fellow conferees entered the elevator, effused that it was really her Ashtanga yoga practice that sustained her. And the implacable administrator who waited for the meeting room to clear before explaining to me, her gaze softening, the admirable commitment of her Wednesday-night “Zumba ladies,” who traveled from three boroughs to their class in the […]

Past Present Podcast: Milo & CPAC, Professor Politics, and Momastery


In this week’s episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil debate CPAC’s decision to disinvite Milo Yiannopoulos, legislation to require political balance in university faculties, and Christian blogger Momastery’s announcement of her lesbian engagement. Milo & CPAC The conservative organization CPAC disinvited Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at its annual conference after tapes surfaced showing him celebrating sex with underage teens. Niki situated the controversy in a longer history of CPAC, an organization that she has written about for Politico and the Los Angeles Times. Professor Politics An Iowa legislator has proposed a bill that would require faculty in the state’s university system to reflect a partisan balance. Neil […]

Past Present Podcast: Betsy DeVos, Executive Orders, and Playgrounds


In this week’s episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia debate Betsy DeVos and school privatization, the uses of executive orders, and the growing call for more dangerous playgrounds. Betsy DeVos Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education has prompted strong opposition in large part because of her advocacy of privatizing public education. Natalia and Jonathan Kozol spoke about the privatization push and other trends in education at the Tucson Festival of Books last year. You can watch their talk here. Natalia has written about education controversies in her book Classroom Wars. Neil recommended Seth Dowland’s Family Values for understanding how conservative parents embraces […]

Past Present Podcast: Trump University, Pence and Hamilton, and Turkeys Gone Wild

Cast of Hamilton on Broadway Speech Mike Pence

In this week’s episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki debate the Trump University fraud settlement, Mike Pence’s reception at Hamilton, and the wild turkey’s distaste for the wild.    Trump University Donald Trump’s lawyers reached a $25 million settlement in the lawsuits over Trump University. Natalia situated Trump U in the long history of for-profit colleges but also the history of self-help. Neil commented on the interviews with Trump University students who felt they had been defrauded. Niki noted the founder of the University of Phoenix, John Sperling, had created his for-profit college with democratizing aims, but it seemed to be another example of things that are more […]

Past Present Podcast: Presidential Health, Free Pre-K, and Star Trek

Star Trek

In this week’s episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki debate secrecy and presidential health, New York City’s universal pre-kindergarten, and the legacy of Star Trek. Presidential Health Hillary Clinton’s team announced she has pneumonia after she fell ill at the 9/11 commemoration. Neil argued anxiety over Clinton’s health was really partisan politics, fueled by internet conspiracies like the “Hillary Clinton Parkinson’s” videos. Natalia responded the Hillary health stories didn’t operate only on the fringe, noting Sean Hannity has been pushing the rumors for weeks on his Fox News program. Niki contended that the long history of cover-ups regarding presidential health issues and illnesses meant that stories about Clinton’s health were really […]