Past Present: Brett Kavanaugh, Fraternity Hazing, and the Natural Beauty Industry


In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia discuss the drama surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s upcoming Supreme Court confirmation, fraternity hazing, and the booming natural beauty industry. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: Conservative Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s candidacy is being marred by sexual assault allegations. Natalia recommended Anita Hill’s New York Times’ op-ed about the historical echoes with her own experience. The hazards of fraternity hazing are back in the news after the death of a student at the Riverside campus of the University of California. Natalia recommended Nicholas Syrett’s book The Company He Keeps: […]

Past Present: Crafting, the 2008 Financial Crisis, and the Marshmallow Test


In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil discuss the new reality show Making It, the 2008 financial collapse ten years later, and the death of Walter Mischel, the social psychologist who created the “marshmallow test.” Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:   Making It, a crafting competition show hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, is widely considered a welcome break from the cutthroat culture of reality television and of politics. Natalia recommended this American Conservative article on the limits of television crafting. Ten years after the economic crash of 2008, its effects are still […]

Past Present: Nike’s Colin Kaepernick Ad, the Anonymous New York Times Op-Ed, and Robin Leach

New York Times

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki discuss Nike’s controversial signing of Colin Kaepernick as the face of their Just Do It campaign, the anonymous New York Times op-ed written by a senior Trump administration official, and the recent death of Robin Leach. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: Colin Kaepernick, best known for “taking a knee” to protest racism and police brutality in America, is the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. Natalia wrote about the announcement in the context of Nike’s history of adventurous branding at The Washington Post and […]

Past Present: John McCain, the Catholic Church Scandals, and Loneliness


In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the life and legacy of Senator John McCain, the recent scandals in the Catholic Church, and the latest panic over loneliness. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: Senator John McCain, a leading light of the Republican Party, died last month of brain cancer. Natalia referenced this critical assessment of McCain’s career and character in Rolling Stone. The Catholic Church in the United States is racked with scandal as revelations of decades of abuse – and of cover-ups – are coming to light. Niki cited the Boston Globe’s 2002 reporting of the “Spotlight” series that uncovered abuses at the […]

Past Present: Latinos in the Hamptons, Grift, and Rosé Wine

Wine Bottles

In this episode, Natalia, Niki, and Neil discuss the history of Latinos in the Hamptons, the problem of grift in Washington, and the sudden popularity of rosé wine. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: Latino immigration has transformed Eastern Long Island. Natalia referenced this New York Times article on the political tensions caused by this demographic shift. Trump administration Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is being sued for bilking millions from his business associates. Natalia recommended Emily Jane Fox’s book BORN TRUMP: Inside America’s First Family. Rosé wine has become the lifestyle drink of the moment. Neil referenced the rosé shortage in the Hamptons in 2014, which […]

Past Present: Institutionalizing Children, Referees, and Charlottesville

Referees discuss the flags thrown

In this episode, Neil, Niki, and Natalia debate the history of the institutionalization of children, the thankless job of refereeing youth sports, and the legacy of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, one year after the Unite the Right rally. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: Coverage of family separation is revealing many abuses visited upon children detained in state facilities. Natalia mentioned this WNYC history of immigration detainment and this PBS retrospective on deinstitutionalization. She also recommended journalist Alex Beam’s book Gracefully Insane and this ProPublica coverage of the organizations that operate shelters. Violence against youth sports referees has become disturbingly common. Natalia cited the work of sociologist Hilary […]

Past Present: Sacha Baron Cohen, the Yoga Vote, and Middle Children


In this episode, Niki, Natalia, and Neil debate Sacha Baron Cohen’s new show, the viability of a “yoga vote,” and the demographic shift bringing about the disappearance of the middle child. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: British prankster and social critic Sacha Baron Cohen has a new show, “Who Is America?” Niki recommended this New York Times article comparing the tactics of conservative James O’Keefe to those employed by Baron Cohen. She also referred to this Smithsonian magazine article about turn-of-the-century undercover women reporters. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio told The Intercept he would court “the yoga vote” should he run for president in […]

Featured Artist: Travis Somerville

Travis Somerville

Travis Somerville was born in 1963 in Atlanta, GA. Growing up in towns throughout the southern United States and along the eastern sea board, he briefly studied at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD, finally settling in San Francisco where he attended the San Francisco Art Institute, CA. His large scale oil paintings on paper mounted to canvas incorporate collage and present images of political and cultural icons associated with the history of the south. His work explores the complexities of racism and serves as a point of departure for discussion about US oppression and colonial attitudes abroad. It has […]

Past Present: Treason, Accents, and Outdoor Play

Children Playing outside

In this episode, Natalia, Neil, and Niki debate the definition of treason, the significance of linguistic accents, and a new practice of prescribing outdoor play. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: President Trump’s behavior at his joint press conference with Vladimir Putin has earned him the epithet of “traitor” by many critics. Niki referenced this article at the Washington Post’s “Made By History” by Gail Savage. Roberto Rey Agudo’s New York Times op-ed made the provocative case that “Everyone Has an Accent.” Natalia referred to this Bustle article about “the chameleon effect,” and Neil cited this Chicago Reader article about the Chicago accent. Natalia recommended this New York Times articleabout […]

Past Present: Thai Cave Rescue, Breastfeeding, and Fleece Vests

Man Cave Diving

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the children rescued from a Thai cave, the Trump administration’s approach to breastfeeding policy, and the fleece vests that have become a staple uniform of the finance industry. Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show: A Thai boys’ soccer team was rescued from a flooded cave as the world watched. Niki referred to comedian Stephen Colbert linking the rescue to the Trump administration’s family separation policy. She also commented on the longstanding media fascination with stories of being trapped underground; Natalia commented on how the trope shows up in literature, such as Edgar Allan […]