19-08 Segment 1: Pregnant and Incarcerated: Childbirth behind bars

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After working for years as an OB/GYN for inmates at San Francisco Jail, author Carolyn Sufrin wanted to tell the story of the women she helped. She talks about what health care for pregnant women in jails and prisons looks like, and the changes she hopes to see in the system.

Guest:

  • Carolyn Sufrin, medical anthropologist, former OB/GYN at San Francisco Jail, and author of Jailcare: Finding the safety net for women behind bars

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19-08 Segment 2: Education for Students with Autism

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The right to an education is guaranteed to all students, regardless of disability, by federal law. But experts and parents are now wondering if we are doing enough to help autistic students maximize their abilities to live their best possible lives. We discuss the current status of public schooling for students with autism and how the systems in place can be optimized to help students grow even more.

Guest:

  • Mark Claypool, CEO of ChanceLight Behavioral Health, Therapy & Education and co-author of How Autism is Reshaping Special Education 

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Culture Crash 19-08: Television Shows Creating “Expanded Universes” of Their Own

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

We live in an era of expanded universes. We have Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe, and so, so many others. Multiple shows and movies all connecting into one timeline has been an incredibly successful business model, especially for blockbuster movies.

But now TV shows are starting to spin their own sort of inter-connected universes, as well. One such show is the cult favorite Veronica Mars. Originally a UPN show, Veronica Mars ran two seasons before UPN and WB joined together to form The CW, where the show aired its third and seemingly final season. Season 3 ended in 2007 and the series went dormant until a 2013 Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to convince Warner Brothers to fund a movie version. In 2014, Veronica Mars the movie was released and then, emboldened by the show’s cult following, creator Rob Thomas and writer Jennifer Graham wrote two novels continuing Veronica’s story. Since then, there has been a meta-web spinoff and now, Hulu is producing another season of the show. From there, who knows? Maybe Hulu will be the end, and maybe Veronica will live to see another day. At a minimum, Veronica Mars will be a series that spanned four seasons of TV across three networks, plus a feature film and two novels. That’s not too shabby.

The other show creating a universe for itself is Breaking Bad. The show famously picked up fans over its initial run on AMC by streaming on Netflix. Breaking Bad’s first season never broke 1.5 million viewers, but by the time the show ended its run, it was regularly drawing about 5 million viewers, with the finale attracting 10 million. After its finale, Vince Gilligan expanded the story of Breaking Bad into a spin-off prequel series about the origins of everyone’s favorite shady lawyer, Saul Goodman. Now, Gilligan and co. are creating a Breaking Bad sequel movie, which will reportedly follow the story of Jessie Pinkman for debut on Netflix.

We live in an age of streaming TV and on-demand movies. It has never been more lucrative to continue an existing franchise, and I don’t expect Veronica Mars or Breaking Bad to be the last shows to try to keep spinning new yarns across various formats and media. Expanded universes aren’t just for comic books anymore.

I’m Evan Rook. 

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19-07 Segment 1: Facing Our Own Mortality: How to plan for a more peaceful death for yourself and loved ones

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Facing the prospect of death isn’t pleasant, but it is the reality of being human. We talk to two experts about how people can get their affairs in order both personally and medically to ensure their wishes are respected and their loved ones can properly grieve if the unthinkable happens.

Guests:

  • Katy Butler, journalist and author, The Art of Dying Well: A practical guide to a good end of life
  • Dr. Sunita Puri, Medical Director of Palliative Medicine, University of Southern California, author, That Good Night: Life and medicine in the eleventh hour

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19-07 Segment 2: Considering the Precarious Future of AI

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Between Alexa, Google and Siri, artificial intelligence is here. But looking forward, AI will only get more and more intelligent. Author and researcher James Rollins discusses why AI has long scared scientists and storytellers, and what the future of our technology could look like if we aren’t careful.

Guest:

  • James Rollins, researcher and author, Crucible 

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Culture Crash 19-07: The Academy’s Unforced Errors

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

As you may have heard, this year’s Oscars have been a disaster since the word “go.” Over the past few months, the Academy has announced a Best Popular Film award, that Kevin Hart would be the host, and that only two of the nominees for Best Song would be performing. All three of those ideas stirred up controversy and all three have been reversed. Best Popular Film has been shelved for discussion another year, this year’s awards show will not have a host, and all the Best Song nominees will perform.

So, problems fixed, right? Well, not so fast, because the Academy is committing another unforced error. Higher-ups at the Oscars have begun insisting certain awards will be announced during commercial breaks and occur off-air to trim the show’s runtime, and I guess to skip on giving hard-working craftspeople their shining moments.

Awards are, of course, arbitrary. Ranking art is a personal endeavor, so calling someone the Best Actress or Best Director of a certain year is relatively insignificant. What many of us who love awards shows like the Oscars are attached to is the celebration of an art form we cherish. I disagree with the winners more often than not, but I like seeing the craft celebrated; I like having a list of things worth checking out, and I like getting a glimpse behind the scenes at the editors, screenwriters, and costume artists who make the movies we all go see. To steal these moments from those artists is to ignore the greater purpose of the show in the first place.

It’s not supposed to be about stargazing celebrity obsession. I mean, okay, of course, it is. But it isn’t just that, or at least it shouldn’t be. It should also be a celebration of filmmaking. To eliminate so-called “lesser” awards so Lady Gaga or Christian Bale can have more time to shine is a shame. The Oscars air once a year. I wish the Academy would let that show serve to honor as many people as possible and not just the famous ones in the fancy tuxes.

I’m Evan Rook. 

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19-06 Segment 1: The History of Pirates

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From Pirates of the Caribbean and Captain Hook to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pirates have a real foothold in our culture. But their history is anything but a fairy tale. Historian Eric Jay Dolin joins the show to discuss some of the most notorious real-life pirates to ever live.

Guest:

  • Eric Jay Dolin, historian and author, Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates

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