podcasts

Global fire, fear and the good fire

I’ve blogged before about the emerging fire crisis, which has only become even more worrying over the last years. Recent fires swept through the entire West Coast, where many of my students, colleagues and family were affected. Given the multiple crises in the United States at the moment, I’m not sure how timely it is to address this topic now. But the fires aren’t going away in coming years.

Wildfire smoke in Healdsburg, California in September 2020. Photo by Chiara Nicastro.

To understand these fires better, there are two amazing podcasts that are worth listening too, even during the pandemic. The first is called Good Fire by Amy Cardinal Christianson and Matthew Kristoff. It looks at how Indigenous peoples have used their knowledge around the world to create better and safer environments. While much of that knowledge was lost or suppressed, it’s not all gone, and can still be revived. For me, this podcast emphasized that there is not only one science, and that Indigenous sciences and knowledge are critical to our efforts to address global crises. Grace Dillon recently talked about Indigenous knowledge in her podcast interview with me on Indigenous Futurism, in case anyone wants to dive more deeply into this topic. Good Fire provides a truly global introduction to Indigenous fire knowledge, that reaches from Brazil and Venezuela to Australia.

The second podcast that I want to recommend is CBC’s World on Fire, which itself references Good Fire. The hosts carefully discuss the history, science and global trends that define fire. It’s an engrossing podcast, filled with interviews and first person accounts. I know that during the pandemic people are doom-scrolling on Twitter, but many others are seeking to retreat from the world. But these two podcasts are worth investing some attention when you’re ready. Both podcasts are available on Apple podcasts, Spotify and all other major podcast platforms.

Photo of the California wildfire’s smoke by Chiara Nicastro.

If anyone wishes to read further, I also recommend Edward Struzik’s Firestorm: how wildfire will shape our future. Although book was written from a Canadian perspective -it begins with detailed coverage of the immense 2016 wild fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta- he spends a great deal of time examining why wildfires have become so much more deadly in North America’s recent past. Struzik also covers how Indigenous peoples managed the land, and lessened the risks of wildfires. The book provides a good complement to these two podcasts.

Shawn Smallman

Indigenous burial ground near Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The white haze is smoke from the September 2020 fires in California, Oregon and Washington. Photo by Elle Wild.

The Fulbright Program, a podcast interview with Chiara Nicastro

Chiara Nicastro is an International Studies graduate from Portland State University, an Oregon Consular Corps Scholarship winner, and a Fulbright scholar. She was a fantastic guest on the latest episode of my podcast, Dispatch 7, in which she talked about the Fulbright program. If you’ve ever thought about doing this program after you graduate, or know someone who might be interested, this is worth a listen. Plus, Chiara is just a high energy and positive person, so she’s always fun to talk with. You can find the podcast episode here.

Shawn Smallman, 2020

Dispatch 7, Anemia in Peru

Image of globe on light, McGill University. Photo by Smallman

In episode three of my podcast, “Dispatch 7: Global Trends on all seven continents” I interviewed my honors thesis student Samantha G.  Alarcon Basurto about anemia in Peru. You can find the podcast on different platforms (including Apple podcasts), as well as on Anchor here:

Shawn Smallman

The Joy of Tea with Kim Brown: a podcast

This is the only tea plantation in Europe, on São Miguel Island in the Azores. Photo by Shawn Smallman, 2019.

This week I’ve posted a new episode of my podcast, Dispatch 7, global trends on all seven continents, in which I interviewed Kim Brown about tea. You can hear the episode here. I hope to have Kim back at some point to do an encore episode on chocolate (perhaps this fall) so stay tuned. Upcoming episodes will look at anemia in Peru, labor migrants in India, and the murder of musicians in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Shawn Smallman

New Podcast: Dispatch 7, global trends on all seven continents

Image of globe on light, McGill University. Photo by Smallman

I have a new podcast!: “Dispatch 7: global trends on all seven continents.” The first episode is out: “Applying to Graduate School.” I interviewed Rosa “Rosie” David, who did her undergraduate and graduate studies at Portland State University. Since then Rosie has worked in both Mexico and Colombia. I’ve known Rosie for a long time, and was delighted when she was accepted into multiple graduate programs. The graduate school application process is sometimes a mysterious one, so I thought that people might want to hear about the experience of someone who had just successfully navigated it. It was really fun being able to have Rosie as my first guest, especially as I was anxious about doing the recording remotely. I’m working to establish a regular schedule, which will likely be every two weeks. Some upcoming topics? Tea, labor migration in India, and COVID-19.

I particularly want to thank Kirsten Fox, my former student, who came up with the podcast title. I shared a google form with a list of possible titles with my students last quarter, and her suggestion was by far the most popular. Thanks Kirsten!

I also want to thank my daughter Paige Smallman, who was the producer and sound editor. Without her, this podcast wouldn’t have happened.

Are you interested in applying to graduate school, and want to know some tested tips and tricks? Listen to Rosie’s advice.

You can find the podcast at the following links:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6rpLOdK2V7qfuWt3j2YQH3

Google Podcasts: https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8xYjM5ODczOC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==

Overcast: https://overcast.fm/itunes1506724360/dispatch-7-global-trends-on-all-seven-continents

Radio Public: https://radiopublic.com/dispatch-7-global-trends-on-all-s-8X3Vl5

Pocket casts: https://pca.st/8ijvae4e

Shawn Smallman

Death in Ice Valley

Two of the viking stone ships (burial grounds) at Badelunda, near Västerås, Sweden.
By User:Berig (User:Berig. Transferred from en.wp) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Every year on Halloween I cover a suitable topic, such as a haunted house in Hong Kong, or a mystery ship in Canada. This year I want to briefly mention “Death in Ice Valley” which is a joint production between the BBC World Service and NRK. This particular podcast examines the mystery that surrounds the Isdal woman, an unidentified person who was found murdered in strange circumstances in a Norwegian valley in 1970. While there was considerable evidence that the woman was a spy, her identity has remained a mystery for all these years.

The mood of the podcast is set at the start of each episode by the sound of the drizzling rain and a haunting vocal. The degree of research that went into this production is simply staggering. The two reporters -one British, one Norwegian- travel from the remote fjords of northern Norway to the home of an aging crime reporter in Spain. They find the woman’s jaw, do DNA testing, and locate a secret file. And with every discovery a new door opens, and more questions surface. As the story progresses, we become swept into the Cold World era. The tale is worth of one of my favorite fictional characters, George Smiley. While there are no supernatural elements to this podcast, it is a haunting, atmospheric puzzling production. The podcast is available everywhere from iTunes to Overcast.  Highly recommended.

If you are interested in a tale of the Northern supernatural, you may also want to put on the kettle, and read my book Dangerous Spirits. But it’s best not to do it in the midst of a Canadian or New England winter, especially if there is a blizzard, and the raccoon is making those sounds in the attic again.

Shawn Smallman, 2019

Fault Lines

A photograph of the 2004 tsunami in Ao Nang, Krabi Province, Thailand. By David Rydevik (email: david.rydevikgmail.com), Stockholm, Sweden. (Originally at Bild:Davidsvågfoto.JPG.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Living in the Pacific Northwest, we all know that a major quake is imminent. Oregon Public Broadcasting has had a great series, Unprepared, about the pending quake in Oregon. There are also a wealth of books on the topic. I particularly recommend John Clague, Chris Yorath, Richard Franklin and Bob Turner’s, At Risk: Earthquakes and Tsunamis on the West Coast. This well written book is filled with images and maps, to detail the potential risks of an earthquakes in different sections of the Northwest. If you live in Western Washington you’ll want to check out the map on page 117; Portland or Vancouver? See the map on page 118. And if you live on Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands, you’ll want to look at the map of tsunami run-up potential on page 138. Then you’ll want to check out the photo of what a piece of 2 by 4 lumber did to a tire during a tsunami during the 1964 Alaska earthquake. The book conveys complex scientific information in clear and readable prose. The chapters on diverse topics also have a clear flow. If only all science writing was as approachable as in this book.

Still, I love podcasts, so my favorite resource is probably the five part CBC series Fault Lines. The series is organized by time, so that the first episode discusses different forms of quake that may strike Vancouver, while the second episode describes the quake itself. What makes the podcast particularly insightful, however, is that the majority of the episodes focus on the period of time after the quake. This compels the listener to imagine what that experience will be like for survivors, and how well prepared they themselves may be. Surviving the earthquake is only the first step on a long journey. The podcast is an unsettling and insightful exploration of the topic, which will leave you musing about the danger for days. Curious? You can hear the teaser here.

Shawn Smallman, 2018

ISIS and encryption

One of my favorite podcasts is Reply All, which covers cyber issues in a creative and clever manner. The hosts recently had an interview (“Decoders,” episode #62) with New York Times’ journalist Rukmini Callimachi, as well as Runa Sandvik, the director of bureau security at this newspaper. In essence, Callimachi discovered a new means that ISIS had adopted to communicate, called Truecrypt. Messages are written in this code, then uploaded to files on a website. For all their sophistication and technical knowledge, however, ISIS also proved to be vulnerable to basic errors, such as failing to check the location of the server by examining its web address. …

Privacy & Cookies: This site uses cookies. See our Privacy Policy for details. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. If you do not consent, click here to opt out of Google Analytics.