Books Shows Tunes & Mad Acts

Books Shows Tunes & Mad Acts

Mostly books but also TV & movies, & music, & stuff people make or do, author & creator & fan interviews with host Jennifer Crittenden.

Episodes

January 1, 2021 3 min

Happy New Year, everybody. Ta-da! The new show will be called "Books, Shows, Tunes & Mad Acts." It will be classified on Podomatic under Art: Books, but if you have trouble finding it, write me at jennifer@discreetguide.com or catch me on Twitter @DiscreetGuide, and we'll hook you up. See you on the other side!
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Nick Brown is back! Former IT guy and now psychologist, Nick talks about some counter-intuitive policy changes for improving the efficiency and lowering costs of IT, by actually making users happier. It's a recognition of the importance of treating co-workers as humans instead of enemies, and an argument for a new way of thinking. This is a great episode to end our run with, as we have been moving toward these ideas over our la...
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November 17, 2020 61 min

Upon the launch of their new book, Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire, join us to talk about what forces have been at work undermining public education in the US. We talk about public funding of religious schools, edupreneurs intent on pocketing tax monies, and edu-marketing, especially of online schools--all ways of diverting money away from traditional public schools--and the growing gap between privileged and disadvantaged st...
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The Hades Factor, a bad-guys-with-a-virus story, was written by Gayle Lynds based on a treatment by Ludlum and published in 2000 shortly before his death. Ludlum wrote 21 books on his own, but his brand marches on, having produced another 26 books after his death, including 13 of the Bourne series. His decline after heart surgery and the death of his beloved longtime first wife was accelerated by an unhappy second marriage and a te...
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November 10, 2020 57 min

University of Virginia professor and director of EdPolicyWorks Jim Wycoff joins us to discuss efforts to tie teacher pay to performance. Following on research about teacher effectiveness, especially in low-performing schools, Jim reviews programs in New York and Washington DC that emphasized teacher evaluation and rewarded high performance with significant financial compensation. He explains how some of those lessons learned, inclu...
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November 3, 2020 55 min

Education researcher and Indiana University professor Chris Lubienski joins us to talk about what charter schools are, how they were and are created, what their promise was, how they are marketed in the US and abroad, and what the research shows about their effectiveness, especially in Indiana where the state has encouraged their formation in the name of school choice. Chris discusses Horace Mann's ideas about a Common School a...
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November 1, 2020 39 min

Rebecca Makkai's 2018 book The Great Believers was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, for good reasons. It is two stories, one about the AIDS epidemic moving through a gay community in Chicago in the 80s and another of a mother searching for her daughter in Paris in 2015. The book is about death and grief, but that means it's also about love and life, and so invigorating and a reminder...
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On October 16, 2020, a French history teacher was beheaded by an Islamic terrorist while walking home from school. Controversy had arisen around the teacher when he used several satirical cartoons depicting Muhammad earlier in the month in a section on free speech. Demonstrations and tributes have followed, as well as aggressive action by French authorities to identify all those involved and shut down radical Islamic organizations....
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October 25, 2020 46 min

We review a virus-related thriller published in March 2020 and written by Chris Bohjalian. A beautiful cover and an intriguing beginning set in Vietnam sadly lose their momentum in this thriller which suffers from minimal character development, a weak climax, and sloppy writing, perhaps because of hurried writing. We check in on reviews from the NYT Review of Books (loved it!) and the Amazon crowd (some, not so much). We engage in ...
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October 20, 2020 54 min

Indiana University education professor David Rutkowski joins us to talk about school assessment tools and outcomes inside the state of Indiana, across US states, and internationally, with lots of surprises. Going beyond the headlines and politics, results may not be what you think. David explains why schools are more than their assessments and why it's important for us to be smart about these measurements. We also touch on scho...
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October 18, 2020 45 min

Published in April 2020, the book has been acclaimed for its ability to predict what would happen during a pandemic. Well, kinda, Wright got some things right, but Covid-19 is not nearly the apocalypse that he predicted. More problematic is the organization and editing of the book; the raw material for an interesting product is there, but it doesn't hang together as a novel: long educational sections about viruses, epidemics, l...
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Labor economist Dan Goldhaber joins us to talk about research findings regarding teacher scarcity and the correlations between teacher qualifications and their measurable impact on student learning. He explains how typical pay schedules reward or ignore teacher characteristics that seem to be related to student gains. He also discusses some research about non-credentialed teachers who come from programs like Teach for America. Anot...
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October 11, 2020 33 min

Peng Shepherd's first book, The Book of M, received some accolades when it was published in 2018 though it doesn't quite fit in the post-apocalyptic genre and creeps over into fantasy. We take a critical look, along with other reviewers, at what makes this story intriguing but how ultimately the writing doesn't live up to the tantalizing premise that losing your shadow means losing your memories. We discuss the impact o...
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October 6, 2020 57 min

USC School of Ed professor Larry Picus talks us through the nuts and bolts of local, state, and federal financing of school districts in California, including Prop 13, school bonds, and this year's Prop 15. He explains how districts are equalized, adjusted for special student populations, how differences persist, and compares other states' systems. We also talk about how money is generally spent (some surprises there) and w...
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October 4, 2020 32 min

We discuss both Contagions, one, a medical thriller by Robin Cook, that turns out to have nothing to do with the 2011 Steven Soderburgh movie with the same title that continues to freak people out today. We learn about the careers of both creators and how these two works have stood the test of time, especially the movie seen through today's experienced and knowledgeable Covid-19 lens. We also talk about Soderburgh's other m...
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September 29, 2020 59 min

We take on the toughest topics in teaching today with Doug McKee who teaches or has taught economics at Cornell and Yale: what makes a good teacher, teaching like a scholar, what good are grades, why we love our teachers, are students now worse than they used to be, avoiding burnout, why use group work, and recent research findings about effective online teaching. This is the second in our series on education and teaching. Don'...
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September 27, 2020 50 min

American sci fi writer Greg Bear has written over 50 books during a career that has spanned 50 years. Blood Music was an early prize-winning novel about an infection caused by nanotechnology which took over reality. Published 15 years later, Darwin's Radio explored the notion of a prehistoric retrovirus that spread around the globe and caused evolution to take a giant step forward. We explore the two novels, Bear's career, ...
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Law professor and public education policy expert Derek Black joins us to talk about his new book "Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy." In this informal but profound discussion, we review how the country's founding fathers and early government documents linked public education to the survival of the new democracy and where we have arrived today with public school funding, vouchers...
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September 20, 2020 47 min

A modern-day town crier gets some ominous messages to read about impending pestilence in Paris while mysterious backwards 4s begin appearing on doors. The 2001 policier by French crime novelist Fred Vargas was translated into English by David Bellos and adapted into a movie by Régis Wargnier. Colorful characters, understated humor, and the complexity of Chief Inspector Adamsberg come through in the translation, not so much in the m...
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San Diego native, percussionist, guitarist, and producer Jeff Berkley talks about his musical evolution, his band Berkley Hart, song writing, record production, and why we keep coming back to acoustic music. Most unusually, he relays the nuts and bolts of making a living as a professional musician and shares some occasions when things they thought would be funny on stage didn't quite work out. He also talks about the power of m...
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