108: Trans Voices

It’s August 2015, and transgender people are finally winning recognition in pop culture and government. But at the same time, transphobic violence is reaching alarming levels, and trans voices continue to be shouted down. Are we making progress?

This week, we hear reflections on gender identity, love, and power from people who identify as trans. The episode includes poetry from Darkmatter and interviews with author-activist Toni Newman and tech employee Brook Shelley.


Guest notes:

You can learn more about Toni and Brook’s experiences through their writing. Toni’s memoir is entitled “I Rise,” and Brook was recently published in the essay collection “Lean Out.”

For more Darkmatter poetry, visit their website or Facebook page. You can also donate to support Alok and Janani’s work.



We said that seventeen trans women had been killed in the U.S. so far this year. Here are the names of the first sixteen. Here is an early report on the death of Tamara Dominguez, who is the seventeenth.

Toni said that trans people of color were twice as likely to suffer violence as other LGBT people. The real number is probably higher. A report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that two-thirds of all LGBT and HIV-affected homicide victims in 2013 were trans women of color, despite making up a small fraction of the overall LGBT population.

Toni also said that many people charged with murdering trans victims pleaded out to lesser crimes such as manslaughter. We could not find any data to indicate such a trend, but we did uncover two examples of such plea bargains being offered.

Lastly, Toni mentioned that trans people are likely to be unemployed or employed as sex workers. The National Center for Transgender Equality reports that due to “extreme levels of unemployment and poverty,” a disproportionate number of trans people - one in eight - resort to “underground economies” such as sex and drug work to make ends meet.


Music and audio clips:

In order of appearance, this episode featured “Stars are Out” by Podington Bear; “Candlepower,” “Undercover Vampire Policeman,” and “What, True Self? Feels Bogus, Let’s Watch Jason X” by Chris Zabriskie; “Good Times” and “Guestlist” by Podington Bear; “Summer Days” by Kai Engel; “Prelude No. 21” by Chris Zabriskie; and “Afterglow” and “Starling” by Podington Bear.

The news clips in the introduction came from Katie Couric, The Golden Globes, ABC News, ABC7 WJLA, and The Wall Street Journal.

The credits featured an original cover of “Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment.

Our theme song is Fireworks by Jahzzar.

107: The Unbearable Wearable

The Apple Watch is here! As if millennials aren't distracted enough already. In this appropriately sized mini-episode, the gang debates whether Samir's new wrist-mounted toy makes him a worse person and discusses how it could affect social norms. (Apologies for the audio feedback at the beginning -- we're a bit rusty!)

Notes and resources:

  • Mark Wilson at Fast Company argues that the Apple Watch is doomed to fail.
  • A Wall Street Journal report by Daisuke Wakabayashi describes the Watch that could have been.

This week's music:

106: Mars One

Mars One is a Dutch nonprofit that aims to send four astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars. (If that doesn't pique your curiosity, you should probably leave now.) This week on the podcast, Samir and Tim interview two of the 100 remaining candidates for those four coveted seats. And in a roundtable on the risks and potential of space exploration, your hosts ask: what makes humans strive for greatness?

Notes and resources:

  • You think your 10-year plan is ambitious? Check out this 13-year roadmap from Mars One.
  • In an overview of another planned mission to Mars, Wired's Adam Mann outlines the risks of deep space exploration.
  • In Physics Focus, Amy Shira Teitel explains the skepticism surrounding Mars One.
  • Slate's Patrick Lin and Keith Abney explore the ethical questions surrounding one-way human space travel.
  • Ariel Levy profiles Diana Nyad, a swimmer who attempted the seemingly impossible, in the New Yorker.

This week's music:

105: Where Are You, Mr. Cronkite?

Up until a few weeks ago, Brian Williams was the closest thing we had to Walter Cronkite. In this episode of Boombox, we ask ourselves - is the golden age of journalism a relic of the past? With news being distributed through so many different mediums, perhaps, yes, no one seems to gather around the Sunday morning paper at the breakfast table anymore. Clickbait is the new primetime as shown by the recent events from The New Republic, Brian Williams' news desk, and more.

Notes and Resources:

  • Ryan Lizza gives the inside scoop on the great The New Republic's collapse of 2014. 
  • Brian Williams is suspended for 6 months following admission of his embellished accounts in Iraq.
  • Jon Stewart turns the finger from Brian Williams and directs a big fat wagging pointer to the media at large. Hypocrisy, thy name is us. 
  • At 27 years old, Emerson Spartz is the proclaimed King of Clickbait, which makes the irony in hyperlinking to this New Yorker profile of the media mogul himself all the more undeniable. 

104: Someone or Anyone?

Can a series of questions really make you fall in love with anyone? The hopeless romantics at Boombox are determined to find out. This week on the podcast, Samir and Anand discuss the 36-fold path to true love that has taken the internet by storm, and Tim gets a firsthand look at a couple testing out the questions for themselves.

Notes and resources:

  • In the Modern Love column of the New York Times, Mandy Len Catron provides the spark that started it all. (The original set of 36 questions can be found here... and since it's 2015, there's an app for that.)
  • Our theme song this week is Fireworks by Jahzzar.

103: The Oscars!

It's Oscar season! Or, well, it was until yesterday... This week, we talk about the Academy Awards: why we didn't like The Imitation Game, whether we should #BoycottOscars, what the point of movies is anyway, and whether Michael Bay will ever direct a Robot Selma.

Notes and resources:

  • Steven Soderbergh, in a keynote at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2013, speaks about the State of Cinema. (Transcript here.)
  • In the New York Review of Books, Christian Caryl criticizes the Imitation Game.
  • Mark Harris at Grantland catalogues franchise movies and poses a selfie theory of the Oscars. (That phrase was actually coined by Cara Buckley for the New York Times Carpetbagger blog.)
  • Our theme song this week is Fireworks by Jahzzar.

102: On-Demand Everything

Samir's pissed -- and not just because he's been snowed in for the better part of three weeks. One company like Uber is bad enough, he thinks. But fifty Ubers? A hundred? A thousand? When will it stop?!

This week on Boombox, we debate how the on-demand economy impacts society and our brains, and Tim goes straight to the source on Uber in our first-ever interview. (You can find the uncut version of the interview on our SoundCloud account.)

Notes and resources:

  • An ode to our times: "There's An Uber For X" by Jason Gilbert at Quartz.
  • The Economist reports on the booming on-demand economy and its implications for the workforce.
  • Will Wilkinson at The Dish suggests that an "Uber for the proletariat" could provide a boost to the working class.
  • LaToya Peterson at Racialicious explains how Uber might reduce racial profiling.
  • The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf argues that Uber helps open the taxi industry to women.

This week's music: Enthusiast by Tours

Relevant books we totally read*:

* Okay, so we didn't actually read those last two.

101: Gentrifiers on Gentrification

Did you know that developers in some gentrified neighborhoods are flipping houses for over 50% profit in a six-month turnaround? They're called "hipster flippers." No relation to dolphins.

In the inaugural episode of Boombox, we look at gentrification as an entry point to a larger conversation on widespread income inequality, and Tim and Anand discover that artisanal mayonnaise is oh so real.

Notes and resources: