Tag Archives: Fiction

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

Show 449

VICES & TABOOS

Much of the health advice we receive today tells us that in order to be healthy, we must consume a Spartan diet, exercise with the intensity of an Olympic athlete, and take a drug for every ailment. We constantly worry about the foods we should or shouldn’t be eating and the medical tests we have neglected to take. And all that worry costs us dearly–financially, emotionally, and physically according to naturopathic physician Dr. Harry Ofgang and health journalist Erik Ofgang in their new book, The Good Vices. The sub-title is From Beer To Sex, The Surprising Truth About What’s Actually Good For You. Clearly, the Ofgangs have a sense of humor, but we questioned if sex or beer should be labeled as vices. Make sure you listen to hear their answers.

Aging, sex, and death. When combined together, these three emotive words become taboo for many people. In Jill Ciment’s latest novel, The Body In Question she thrusts the question of age and sex and death to the forefront of her imaginative and provocative story set in central Florida. A sensational murder trial is about to get underway. Two of the jurors: Hannah, a married fifty-two-year-old former Rolling Stone and Interview Magazine photographer of rock stars and socialites (she began to photograph animals when she realized she saw people “as a species”), and Graham, a forty-one-year-old anatomy professor. Both are sequestered (she, juror C-2; he, F-17) along with the other jurors at the Econo Lodge off I-75. As the shocking and numbing details of the crime are revealed during a string of days and courtroom hours, and the nights play out in a series of court-financed meals at Outback Steak House (the state isn’t paying for their drinks) and Red Lobster, Hannah and Graham fall into a furtive affair, keeping their oath as jurors never to discuss the trial. During deliberations, the lovers learn that they are on opposing sides of the case. Suddenly they look at one another through an altogether different lens, as things become more complicated. After the verdict, Hannah returns home to her much older husband, but the case ignites once again after public outrage over the verdict. Then, the judge receives an anonymous letter telling of “two fellow jurors who had sexual contact.” This happens as her husband is dying. Ciment reveals in our conversation, her own story of aging, sex, death, and how she used her experiences for her moving and powerful book.

Show 419

Us & Them & Them & Us

                                

Ian Buruma – The Churchill Complex – The Curse of Being Special, From Winston and FDR to Trump and Brexit

It’s impossible to understand the last 75 years of American history, through to Trump and Brexit, without understanding the Anglo-American relationship, and specifically the bonds between presidents and prime ministers. FDR of course had Churchill; JFK famously had Macmillan, his consigliere during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Reagan found his ideological soul mate in Thatcher, and George W. Bush found his fellow believer, in religion and in war, in Tony Blair. And now, of course, it is impossible to understand the populist uprising in either country, from 2016 to the present, without reference to Trump and Boris Johnson, though ironically, they are also the key to understanding the special relationship’s demise. There are few things more certain in politics than that at some point, facing a threat to national security, a leader will evoke Winston Churchill to stand for brave leadership (and Neville Chamberlain to represent craven weakness). As Ian Buruma shows, in his dazzling short tour de force of storytelling and analysis, the mantle has in fact only grown more oppressive as nuanced historical understanding fades and is replaced by shallow myth. Absurd as it is to presume to say what Churchill would have thought about any current event, it’s relatively certain he would have been horrified by the Iraq War and Brexit, to name two episodes dense with “Finest Hour” analogizing. In The Churchill Complex, distinguished author, Ian Buruma offers more than a reflection on the weight of Churchill’s legacy and its misuses.  It’s never been a relationship of equals: from Churchill’s desperate cajoling and conniving to keep FDR on the side in the war on, British prime ministers have put much more stock in the relationship than their US counterparts did. For England, resigned to the loss of its once-great empire and the diminishment of its power, its close kinship to the world’s greatest superpower would give it continued relevance, and serve as leverage to keep continental Europe in its place. And now, even as the links between the Brexit vote and the 2016 US election are coming into sharper focus, the Anglo-American alliance has floundered on the rocks of the isolationism that is one of 2016’s signal legacies. Ian Buruma is a keen observer and a delightfully informative guest.

Wendy Holden – The Royal Governess  – A Novel Of Queen Elizabeth Ii’s Childhood

In 1933, twenty-two-year-old Marion Crawford accepts the role of a lifetime, tutoring the little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose.  Her one stipulation to their parents the Duke and Duchess of York is that she brings some doses of normalcy into their sheltered and privileged lives. At Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Balmoral, Marion defies stuffy protocol to take the princesses on tube trains, swimming at public baths, and on joyful Christmas shopping trips at Woolworth’s. From her ringside seat at the heart of the British monarchy, she witnesses twentieth-century history’s most seismic events. The trauma of the Abdication, the glamour of the Coronation, the onset of World War II. She steers the little girls through it all, as close as a mother. During Britain’s darkest hour, as Hitler’s planes fly over Windsor, she shelters her charges in the castle dungeons (not far from where the Crown Jewels are hidden in a biscuit tin). Afterwards, she is present when Elizabeth first sets eyes on Philip. But being a beloved confidante to the Windsors comes at huge personal cost. Marriage, children, her own views: all are compromised by proximity to royal glory. Best known for her comic novels, Wendy Holden’s diversion into what she calls “hybrid” writing, is almost a self-effacing description of a brilliant melding of fact and fiction. You’ll be enchanted by the bestselling author’s enthusiasm for her story of a progressive young teacher who became governess to children of a family frozen in time.

Show 388

The Chaos & Unknowing Of Contemporary Life

Adam Nemett boldly admits to working on his debut novel, We Can Save Us All for over twelve years. The time it took to finally get his sprawling, ambitious book published is essential to why it’s such a fascinating read. Nemett graduated from Princeton University where he co-founded MIMA Music Inc, a student organization that grew into an educational 501(c)3 nonprofit that has operated in 40 countries worldwide. So, it’s hardly a coincidence that in his novel, The Egg is an off-campus geodesic dome where David Fuffman and his crew of alienated Princeton students train for what might be the end of days. America is in a perpetual state of war, climate disasters global states of emergency, and scientists believe time itself might be collapsing using a theory known as Chronostrictesis. When this takes hold on the mainstream, many Americans find themselves popping the new drug Zeronal, a pill that allegedly slows down the experience of time. Meanwhile, storms are lasting longer, and the floodwaters are rising. Adam’s ribald and multi-layered story may be the question of our time: just who is responsible for fixing all of this? Make sure you don’t miss Norman B’s conversation with Adam Nemett, we cannot promise you will hear the answers to the questions he poses in We Can Save Us All, but his enthusiasm will engage you.

The Podcast is available at NPR One & iTunes

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3
Sundays 10.00am ET at WNRM The Root
Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at 
NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network
Fridays at 9.00pm GMT on Cornucopia Radio

If you miss any editions of Life Elsewhere, go here then go to the Listen On-Demand panel, choose the date of a show and click play.

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Sundays 11.00am ET at 
WNRM The Root
Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on 
NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on IRN
Cornucopia Radio airs Life Elsewhere Music throughout each week
You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

Show #299

Real Life Zombies + An Absorbing Saga + New Music

On Matt Simon’s website, there is a photo of him sitting next to someone dressed as a horse. The caption says, “I’m the one on the left. As great as it might seem to be a horse, I am in fact a human, one who is a science writer and scriptwriter at Wired Magazine”Thank goodness Mr. Simon has a deliciously crafty sense of humor. In his new book, Plight Of the Living Dead – What Real-Life Zombies Reveal About Our World & Ourselves, it’s his witticisms that make this decidedly scary book an enjoyable read. Simon specializes in writing about zoology, particularly of the bizarre variety,  documenting his journey through the science of real-life mind control.  Along the way, he visits a lab littered with the corpses of zombie ants, joins the search for kamikaze crickets in the hills of New Mexico, and travels to Israel to meet the wasp that stings cockroaches in the brain before leading them to their doom. Matt Simon is a fascinating guest, but we warn you to be sure not to eat anything just prior to listening to our interview.

Vienna, 1911. Greta Goldbaum has always dreamed of being free to choose her own life’s path, but the Goldbaum family, one of the wealthiest in the world, has different expectations. United across Europe, Goldbaum men are bankers, while Goldbaum women marry Goldbaum men to produce Goldbaum children. Jewish and perpetual outsiders, they know that though power lies in wealth, strength lies in family. So Greta moves to England to wed Albert, a distant cousin. Defiant and lonely, she longs for connection and a place to call her own. When Albert’s mother gives Greta a garden, things begin to change. Perhaps she and Albert will find a way to each other. But just as she begins to taste an unexpected happiness, war is looming and even the influential Goldbaums can’t alter its course. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find themselves on opposing sides and Greta will have to choose: the family she’s created or the one she was forced to leave behind. Best-selling author, Natasha Solomons joins Life Elsewhere to talk about her sumptuous new novel, House Of Gold.

The amount of new music we receive at Life Elsewhere towers can be overwhelming at times. Yet, we listen to everything that comes in, our theory is if someone took the time to make the music and send it to us, the least we can do is take a listen. The benefit for us is we discover true gems. Music we want to hear again and again. Music we want to share. That’s the reason we are including The Loss Adjusters in this edition. They are a three-piece out of London. Lyrics and vocals are by Scotsman, Richard Price, a man who says he is better known as a poet. He is accompanied by Roberto Sainz De La Maza, who writes the music and takes care of production, and Eliza De Leon who sings in duet and background vocals, both are from the Basque territory in the north of Spain. You’ll hear The World Brims, their first single from their yet-to-be-titled forthcoming album. We guarantee you’ll want to hear more from The Loss Adjusters.

The Podcast is available at NPR One & iTunes

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3
Sundays 10.00am ET at WNRM The Root
Mondays 5.00pm PT & Wednesdays 2.00pm PT at 
NWCZ Radio
Thursdays 6.00pm ET at Internet Radio Network
Fridays at 9.00pm GMT on Cornucopia Radio

If you miss any editions of Life Elsewhere, go here then go to the Listen On-Demand panel, choose the date of a show and click play.

Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Sundays 11.00am ET at 
WNRM The Root
Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on 
NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on IRN
Cornucopia Radio airs Life Elsewhere Music throughout each week
You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

Show #297