Category Archives: Authors

Index Funds Explained. Drug God’s Ruse. 

               
Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever by Robin Wigglesworth

Fifty years ago, the Manhattan Project of money management was quietly assembled in the financial industry’s backwaters, unified by the heretical idea that even many of the world’s finest investors couldn’t beat the market in the long run. The motley crew of nerds—including economist wunderkind Gene Fama, humiliated industry executive Jack Bogle, bull-headed and computer-obsessive John McQuown, and avuncular former WWII submariner Nate Most—succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Passive investing now accounts for more than $20 trillion, equal to the entire gross domestic product of the US, and is today a force reshaping markets, finance, and even capitalism itself in myriad subtle but pivotal ways. Yet even some fans of index funds and ETFs are growing perturbed that their swelling heft is destabilizing markets, wrecking the investment industry, and leading to an unwelcome concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands. In Trillions, Financial Times journalist Robin Wigglesworth unveils the vivid secret history of an invention Wall Street wishes was never created, bringing to life the characters behind its birth, growth, and evolution into a world-conquering phenomenon. This engrossing narrative is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand modern finance—and one of the most pressing financial uncertainties of our time.

Roxy by Neal & Jarrod Shusterman

The freeway is coming. It will cut the neighborhood in two. Construction has already started, pushing toward this corridor of condemned houses and cracked concrete with the momentum of the inevitable. Yet there you are, in the fifth house on the left, fighting for your life. The victim of the bet between two manufactured gods: the seductive and lethal Roxy (Oxycontin), who is at the top of her game, and the smart, high-achieving Addison (Adderall), who is tired of being the helpful one and longs for a more dangerous, less wholesome image. The wager – a contest to see who can bring their mark to “the Party” first – is a race to the bottom of a rave that has raged since the beginning of time. And you are only human, dazzled by the lights and music. Drawn by what the drugs offer – tempted to take that step past helpful to harmful…and the troubled places that lie beyond. But there are two I Rameys – Isaac, a soccer player thrown into Roxy’s orbit by a bad fall and a bad doctor, and Ivy, his older sister, whose increasing frustration with her untreated ADHD leads her to renew her acquaintance with Addy. Which one are you? Roxy is authored by the best-selling father and son team, Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

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Conversations With Vegans

                

Imagine for a moment, the following scenario: You are a guest at an elegant diner party. You’re seated with the other guests at an ornately set table. The room is warm, candlelight flickers across crystal wine glasses, and the conversation is flowing freely. Mouthwatering smells of rich foods emanate from the kitchen. You haven’t eaten all day, and your stomach is growling. At last, after what feels like hours, your friend who is hosting the party emerges from the kitchen with a steaming pot of savory stew. The aromas of meat, seasonings, and vegetables fill the room. You serve yourself a generous portion, and after eating several mouthfuls of tender meat, you ask your friend for the recipe. “I’d be happy to tell you,” she replies. “You begin with five pounds of golden retriever, well marinated, and then…”

This is the opening paragraph of Dr. Melanie Joy’s, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, And Wear Cows – An Introduction To Carnism. The best-selling author does intend to shock the reader as she recounts facts and figures with true, yet albeit at times all-too-graphic anecdotes, Melanie isn’t evangelical as a vegan. Instead, she lays out the information and asks the reader to consider what we eat. She addresses readers with empathy. She reminds us of who we are. Melanie Joy is gently authoritative, and a wonderful, informative guest. 

“In the Vegan ManifestoSue Coe, human champion of rights for those whose voice most humans do not hear, has crafted a masterpiece: at once visually stunning and spiritually invigorating.” – Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die Sue Coe is the most important and prolific political artist of our time. Her work explores and exposes every form of injustice suffered by both humans and nonhumans. With respect to the latter, her incisive eye-both trenchant and gentle-lays bare the profound immorality of animal exploitation and constitutes a clarion call to us all to reject it. Coe understands that the moral status of animals requires that we go vegan and no one who looks at the stunning work in this book will be able to disagree.” – Gary L. Francione, Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy, Rutgers School of Law. Sue Coe also garners impressive accolades from distinguished figures in the world of graphic design, including famed art directors, Robert Priest and Robert Newman, and political caricaturist, Steve Brodner. Plus, Life Elsewhere creator and host, Norman B says, Sue Coe’s extraordinarily powerful work has intrigued me since my art school days! What a treat to be able to welcome her to the program.” 

To hear the original unedited version of this conversation with Sue Coe, go here

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A Shocking Experiment, Examined

Stephen G. Bloom – Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes: A Cautionary Tale of Race and Brutality

The day after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, Jane Elliott, a schoolteacher in rural Iowa, introduced to her all-white third-grade class a shocking experiment to demonstrate the scorching impact of racism. Elliott separated students into two groups. She instructed the brown-eyed children to heckle and berate the blue-eyed students, even to start fights with them. Without telling the children the experiment’s purpose, Elliott demonstrated how easy it was to create abhorrent racist behavior based on students’ eye color, not skin color. As a result, Elliott would go on to appear on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, followed by a stormy White House conference, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and thousands of media events and diversity-training sessions worldwide, during which she employed the provocative experiment to induce racism. Was the experiment benign? Or was it a cruel, self-serving exercise in sadism? Did it work? Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes is a meticulously researched book that details for the first time Jane Elliott’s jagged rise to stardom. It is an unflinching assessment of the incendiary experiment forever associated with Elliott, even though she was not the first to try it out. Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes offers an intimate portrait of the insular community where Elliott grew up and conducted the experiment on the town’s children for more than a decade. The searing story is a cautionary tale that examines power and privilege in and out of the classroom. It also documents small-town White America’s reflex reaction to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the subsequent meteoric rise of diversity training that flourishes today. All the while, Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes reveals the struggles that tormented a determined and righteous woman, today referred to as the “Mother of Diversity Training,” who was driven against all odds to succeed.

Stephen G. Bloom is an award-winning journalist and author of five nonfiction books: The Audacity of Inez Burns, Tears of Mermaids, The Oxford Project, Inside the Writer’s Mind, and Postville. He is Professor of Journalism at the University of Iowa.

To close this edition of Life Elsewhere, we have selected a cut from a compilation album on 1631 Recordings out of Sweden. Piano Cloud Series – Vol Six is a beautiful selection of piano works, by a wide range of artists. Bruno Bavota’s  What’s Left is a charming short piece, we hope will encourage you to search out more intimate piano music.

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Behind The Glitz, The Glamour, & The Factory

             
Laurence Leamer – Capote’s Women – A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for An Era 

“There are certain women,” Truman Capote wrote, “who, though perhaps not born rich, are born to be rich.” Barbara “Babe” Paley, Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli, Slim Hayward, Pamela Churchill, C. Z. Guest, Lee Radziwill (Jackie Kennedy’s sister)—they were the toast of midcentury New York, each beautiful and distinguished in her own way. Capote befriended them, received their deepest confidences, and ingratiated himself into their lives. Then, in one fell swoop, he betrayed them in the most surprising and startling way possible. Following the acclaimed publication of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1958 and In Cold Blood in 1966, when Capote struggled with a crippling case of writer’s block. While en­joying all the fruits of his success, he was struck with an idea for what he was sure would be his most celebrated novel…one based on the re­markable, racy lives of his very, very rich friends. For years, Capote attempted to write An­swered Prayers, what he believed would have been his magnum opus. But when he eventually published a few chapters in Esquire, the thinly fictionalized lives (and scandals) of his closest fe­male confidantes were laid bare for all to see, and he was banished from their high-society world forever. Laurence Leamer joins Norman B to talk about, Capote’s Women.

Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni – After Andy – Adventures In Warhol Land  

She was the last person to be hired at Andy Warhol’s Factory and she has written a book about her experiences. Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni doesn’t mind divulging she had an affair with Mick Jagger when she was a seventeen-year-old school girl. Ms. Fraser-Cavassoni isn’t one to hold back, in her new book, After Andy – Adventures In Warhol Land, she tells all. It’s a glitzy, fast-paced, juicy, gossipy, name-dropping chronicle. She saw firsthand the end of an era and the establishment of a global phenomenon. From behind the scenes disagreements and the assessment of his estate, which included Interview magazine and his art inventory, to the record-breaking auction of his belongings and the publication of his diaries. Natasha examines the immediate aftermath of Warhol’s death and his ever-growing impact. Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni chats with Norman B about her riveting eyewitness memoir.

Robin Guthrie – Mockingbird Love EP

It is 39 years on from Cocteau Twins‘ revered debut release, Garlands, now Robin Guthrie gives us, Mockingbird Love EP. This is the first new music from Guthrie since the Another Flower album with the late Harold Budd, released just days before Budd’s passing in December 2020. About his new work, Robin Guthrie says, “Of late I’ve been very focused on my instrumental music, which is increasingly an intense endeavor, all the more so as I don’t really share it with anyone. So here I am, finally, with some words about my next releases. ‘Mockingbird Love’, a four-track EP, is the first small collection of music that I have felt comfortable to release for a while. This is my October.” 

(Eli)Zabeth Owens – Knock, Knock LP

The always astute Nancy Kells of Grimalkin Records alerted us to the music of (Eli)Zabeth Owens. Originally from the UK, the Richmond, Virginia-based artist says “They are a poet & producer constantly coming of age”. Owens not only makes extraordinary music (or sound-scapes), they also create exquisite videos to accompany each track on their album. 

 

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The Mysterious Mr. Thiel. Questions About The News. New Piano Music. 

What do you know about the billionaire venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Peter Thiel? He has been a behind-the-scenes operator, influencing countless aspects of our contemporary way of life, from the technologies we use every day to the delicate power balance between Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Washington. Yet despite Thiel’s power and ubiquity, no public figure is quite so mysterious – until now. In The Contrarian – Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power, the first major biography of Thiel, Max Chafkin traces the trajectory of the innovator’s singular life and worldview, from his upbringing as the child of immigrant parents and years at Stanford as a burgeoning conservative thought leader to his founding of PayPal and Palantir, early investment in Facebook and SpaceX, and relationships with fellow tech titans Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Eric Schmidt. The Contrarian illuminates the extent to which Thiel has sought to export his values to the corridors of power beyond Silicon Valley, including funding the lawsuit that destroyed the blog Gawker and strenuously backing far-right political candidates, notably Donald Trump for president in 2016. Max Chafkin joins Norman B to discuss The Contrarian.

When we have questions about the news headlines we call Dr. Binoy Kampmark for his scholarly insight.

1. What does the recent German election mean for the rest of the world?

2. Canada grants asylum to refugees who sheltered Edward Snowden?

3. UK’s gas crisis? Real or a test?

4. The new James Bond movie with Daniel Craig – are we desperate to relive a time that never really existed?

5. Russia threatens to ban Youtube after it shuts pro-Kremlin channels?

As always, Binoy unfalteringly tackles each question with expert knowledge and a soupçon of wit. Dr. Binoy Kampmark is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

Also in the show, new piano music from Brighton-based, Poppy Ackroyd. Pause is her fourth, full-length album. A collection of ten solo piano works written during the pandemic and shortly after the birth of her first child, the title refers to the feeling of normal life being temporarily put on hold. Poppy says, “For previous albums, almost as much of the creative process was spent editing and manipulating recordings as it was composing at the piano, however after having my son, I struggled to spend time sitting in front of a computer. The only thing I wanted to do while he was still small, if I wasn’t with him, was to play the piano. In fact, much of the album was written with him asleep on me in a sling as I used any quiet moment to compose. It made sense that this should be a solo piano album, it was important to me that every track on the album could be entirely performed with just two hands on the piano.”

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