786: No Contest Shows


February 8th, 2014 – The Superbowl of other sports is happening this weekend, and in the spirit of competition, prosecutors throw everything then can at the NATO 3, home fields turn disadvantageous, and brain injuries turn up way later. An anthropologist explains to Chuck Mertz why it’s all so much fun..






David Graeber: “They claim to be able to explain why sex is fun, but  they can’t explain why fun is fun.”

David Graeber’s weird, baffling, enlightening essay What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun? in the newest Baffler starts with an inchworm on a blade of grass and ends inside a Taoist riddle, so you should read it first probably. Then jump into his conversation with Chuck, which itself jumps on the subjects of crows on YouTube, anarchists, Freud, Chuck’s dad, working for a living, survival of the fittest, academics as fun and gay sex.

David Graeber is an anthropologist, writer and activist. His most recent book is The Democracy Project: A History, A Crisis, A Movement. David’s Twitter.

Interview Transcript via AntiDote


Kevin Gosztola: “These men were victims of prosecutors who suffer from fantasies of radical terrorism that were wholly non-existent.”

“How would you like a molotov cocktail thrown at you?” That’s the question posed by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez after the NATO 3 were found not guilty on terrorism charges. Obviously we wouldn’t want a Molotov cocktail thrown at anyone, would you like a government exaggerating evidence and trumping up charges against people who don’t really pose a threat to anyone? That’s what Kevin Gosztola has been writing about in his coverage the trial for Firedoglake. His newest piece there is Prosecutors Crank Up the Fear, Call ‘NATO 3′ Terrorists in Feverish Closing Arguments for Jury. He calls in to the show the morning after the verdict.

Kevin Gosztola is a journalist at Firedoglake and co-author of Truth and Consequences: The U.S. vs. Bradley Manning. Kevin’s Twitter / Website.



Alec Luhn: “Sochi will benefit from the infrastructure. Whether it can ever buy back the cost in any reasonable time-frame, that’s more of a tricky question.”

If a journalist’s big problems with the Sochi  are a toilet handle or flowers not turning into rings, then either they don’t have enough problems, or they’re at a different Olympics from Alec Luhn, who just wrote The Hidden Environmental and Human Costs of the Sochi Olympics for The Nation. He calls in live from Sochi to discuss the price of the Olympic games, the cost of the Olympic games, and the political posturing everyone is doing on every side of every issue around them.

Alec Luhn is an American journalist working in Russia. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, The Nation, Foreign Policy, GlobalPost and The Moscow Times. Alec’s Twitter / Website.



Lois Beckett: “The research has grown stronger and stronger demonstrating this is a real and significant problem, and what’s standing in the way of fixing it is just the money.”

America doesn’t just import PTSD from exotic locations such as Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever else we’re inflicting violence, we grow it at home, in our inner-cities. In her Propublica report The PTSD Crisis That’s Being Ignored: Americans Wounded in Their Own Neighborhoods, Lois Beckett finds a problem affecting more people than anyone thought, and a challenge hospitals are struggling to pay for. Lois talks about her report, how neighborhood violence causes PTSD and how, in turn, PTSD causes neighborhood violence.

Lois Beckett is a reporter for ProPublica. Along with Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson, she won the 2011 Livingston Award for National Reporting for a series on special interests in the 2010 redistricting process. Lois’s Twitter / Website.



Producers Alexander Jerri and Richard Norwood research how to artificially inflate iTunes podcast ratings numbers.