Because the average Angeleno spends 56 hours a year in traffic, and you can’t spend that entire time scowling at people who drive just as poorly as you do, we present Wheel Talk: an occasional series that recommends the best audibles for your daily commute.
From Genesis on up to Better Call Saul, we all like to know the story behind the story.
With that in mind, we present this month’s Wheel Talk, in which we recommend two podcasts and an audiobook that delve into the etiology of everyday things.
Internet History Podcast
Want to know more about pornography’s role in the dot-com boom? Start with the Internet History Podcast, a new series by a guy who’s publishing a book on the history of the World Wide Web one chapter at a time — both transcribed on his website or narrated on his podcast. Here’s the chapter on smut.
Chasing the Scream
The war on drugs didn’t start with Nixon or Reagan. It was spearheaded 100 years ago by Harry Anslinger, a moral crusader hellbent on convincing the populace that drugs would turn minorities into supercriminals. His campaign drove him to falsify studies about the effects of marijuana. He also killed Billie Holiday. All of this is expertly revealed in Chasing the Scream, Johann Hari’s deep-dive into the origins of one of the costliest projects in American political history.
Invisibilia is a fascinating podcast from NPR on how humans think. E.g., why you can have murderous thoughts when someone cuts you off on the 405 but not react violently. Or why parents fear for their children’s safety more than previous generations despite a marked drop in crime. You don’t have to be a psychology PhD to appreciate this.