Things That Go Boom


Stories about the ins, outs, and what-have-yous of what keeps us safe. Hosted by Laicie Heeley.

  • 21 minutes 27 seconds
    The End of the World as We Know It

    When news of a new disaster seems to roll in every day… it can feel like there’s little hope.

    But what if we had… another option? Not just to reverse course on climate change, but to set the course for a better future.

    Carol Cohn and Claire Duncanson think we do.

    GUESTS: Carol Cohn, University of Massachusetts, Boston; Claire Duncanson, University of Edinburgh


    Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals, Carol Cohn

    Feminist Roadmap for Sustainable Peace and Planet

    The Past, Present, and Future(s) of Feminist Foreign Policy, Columba Achilleos-Sarll, Jennifer Thomson, Toni Haastrup, Karoline Färber, Carol Cohn, Paul Kirby

    13 May 2024, 7:00 am
  • 27 minutes 15 seconds
    Inside Poland’s Abortion Crossroads

    When does something as deeply personal as abortion become a matter of foreign policy?

    Maybe when it becomes a stand-in for national values and belief systems. Or maybe when it becomes a clever wedge to divide societies.

    Today, Polish abortion activists are on the cusp of a huge change. After 30 years of some of the strictest abortion laws in the country, it looks like some liberalization could be on the way.

    But it wasn’t easy to get here. And a new trove of documents suggests that Kremlin meddling may have been part of the reason why.

    GUESTS: Rebecca Gomperts, abortion activist/medical doctor; Hanna Muehlenhoff, University of Amsterdam; Wiktoria Szymczak, abortion doula; Klementyna Suchanow, organizer, Polish Women’s Strike; Anna Gielewska, Editor in Chief of V Square

    BACKGROUND: Lucy Hall, University of Amsterdam; Tom Meinderts, University of Amsterdam; Bethany Van Kampen Saravia, Ipas Partners for Reproductive Justice

    A spokesperson for Poland’s Law and Justice party, which formerly led the country’s government, replied to our questions with a statement excerpted below:

    “The Constitution of Poland defends the right to life and Poland's position concerning abortion is based on the Polish Constitution which was adopted in 1997. Polish law allows for abortion in cases where the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act or when the woman's life or health is in danger.

    The Law and Justice government followed established procedures when employing staff and will not comment on individual appointments.”


    Anti-Abortion International Under the Tutelage of the Kremlin: We Are Disclosing the Emails of the Group in Which Ordo Iuris Operates, Klementyna Suchanow for Onet (Machine translation from Polish by Google at the link; we are not responsible for errors)

    A Dying Baby, a Trump Tweet: Inside Network Setting Global Right-Wing Agenda, Sian Norris for Open Democracy

    Conservatives AKA Russia: How a Polish Left Wing Activist Spins Conspiracy Theories, Zuzanna Dąbrowska for Do Rzeczy (republished by Ordo Iuris)

    Tip of the Iceberg: Religious Extremist Funders against Human Rights for Sexuality & Reproductive Health in Europe, European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights

    29 April 2024, 7:30 am
  • 34 minutes 50 seconds
    The War at Home

    Mexico's gotten a lot of praise for its feminist foreign policy — despite ongoing femicide in the country. But Mexican women are doing more than just pointing out the hypocrisy. They're using these new foreign policy tools to fight back at home in the war against their own bodies.

    On this episode, we travel to Mexico to talk with, and march alongside, some of the women fighting for change.

    GUESTS: Daniela Garcia Philipson, Ph.D. Candidate, Monash University; Martha Delgado Peralta, Former Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Andrea Samaniego Sánchez, UNAM; Marcela, Activist; Lidia Florencio, Activist


    Internacional Feminista

    Mexico’s Feminist Foreign Policy, Martha Delgado

    Feminist Foreign Policy Index: A Qualitative Evaluation of Feminist Commitments, International Center for Research on Women

    15 April 2024, 7:00 am
  • 23 minutes 34 seconds
    Fika and Feminism: Part 2

    It took two years, after holdups from Turkey and Hungary, but Sweden has officially joined NATO. A move not everyone in Sweden is super psyched about.

    But this country’s history isn’t quite so peaceful as it might seem.

    So, can a peace-loving nation with a war-loving legacy keep the peace… when someone starts a war in its backyard?

    And how does feminist foreign policy really play out when defense is center stage?


    Dr. Patrik Höglund, historian and maritime archaeologist; Dr. Brian Palmer, Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor, Uppsala University; Dr. Annick Wibben, Professor of Gender, Peace & Security at the Swedish Defence University; Margot Wallström, former Foreign Minister of Sweden


    Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, New World Encyclopedia

    The Vasa Museum

    Vrak - Museum of Wrecks

    Speech by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Conference on Shaping Feminist Foreign Policy, Federal Foreign Office of Germany

    Handbook on Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy, Government of Sweden

    Sweden ends weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, Associated Press

    1 April 2024, 7:00 am
  • 28 minutes 25 seconds
    Fika and Feminism: Part 1

    This season on Things That Go Boom, we’re on a mission to figure out this new thing spreading like wildfire across the world: feminist foreign policy.

    But to even begin to understand what it is and where it’s going, we had to start in the place where it failed.

    We’re calling this season, “The F Word.” And on this episode and the next, we take a deep look at the chasm that caused Sweden’s feminist foreign policy to break in two.

    And we ask: If this thing can’t succeed in Sweden, can it succeed at all?


    Dr. Brian Palmer, Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor, Uppsala University; Dr. Elin Bjarnegård, Professor, Uppsala University; Margot Wallström, former Foreign Minister of Sweden


    Antigone's Diary becomes a mural when youth in the suburb of Husby tell about their lives, Stockholm University

    Handbook on Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy, Government of Sweden

    Sweden’s New Government Abandons Feminist Foreign Policy, Human Rights Watch

    Jantelagen: Why Swedes won’t talk about wealth, BBC

    Special thanks to all of our guests, including our anonymous panel participants and Dr. Brian Palmer who went above and beyond to help our team understand and connect with folks in and around Stockholm.

    18 March 2024, 7:00 am
  • 2 minutes 15 seconds
    Season 9: The F-Word

    With more than 50 elections set to take place around the world, 2024 will be a battle for democracy. It will also be a battle for peace. Because after doing things the same way for, pretty much ever, countries in Europe and Latin America have been experimenting with something called “feminist foreign policy,” and feeling the backlash. After all, there’s a lot in a word.

    But that word is really just the best way folks have come up with to describe this thing that some people think could begin to break up the boys club that dictates how we wage war, and peace.

    So, can it survive? That’s what we set out to find out on this season of Things That Go Boom.

    4 March 2024, 8:00 am
  • 19 minutes 3 seconds
    Things That Go Boom Introduces: Click Here

    Click Here is a podcast, hosted by Dina Temple-Raston, that tells true stories about the people making and breaking our digital world.

    Earlier this year, the FBI added Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev to their Most Wanted hacker list for his alleged role in a number of ransomware attacks against U.S. targets. In a rare interview shortly after the FBI announcement, he talked about being added to the list and what he plans to do as an encore.

    4 December 2023, 8:00 am
  • 33 minutes 7 seconds
    Well, What Do You Know?

    What do swarms of autonomous drones, facial recognition, and nuclear test site monitoring have in common? They are all things we were still curious about as we wrapped up this internet and security season of Things That Go Boom. In this mailbag episode, experts weigh in to help answer some tough questions from you, our audience!


    Lauren Kahn, Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology; Dr. Eleni Manis, Research Director at the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project; Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies


    Hicks Discusses Replicator Initiative, US Department of Defense

    Ground Rules for the Age of AI Warfare, Foreign Affairs

    Madison Square Garden Uses Facial Recognition to Ban Its Owner’s Enemies, The New York Times

    Nuclear Test Sites Are Too Damn Busy, Arms Control Wonk

    The Reason We’re All Still Here, Dr. Jeffrey Lewis

    30 October 2023, 7:00 am
  • 28 minutes 19 seconds
    Least Cost Paths

    On Sunday, the people of Poland cast their votes in an election that some have called a battle for the country’s soul. When we released this episode, we were still watching for the various parties to confirm the parliamentary coalitions that would lead to the final result.

    But experts tell us no matter who wins, one thing is likely to stay the same: Poland's hardline approach to refugees from its eastern border with Belarus.

    So today, we head to that border, where scientists are studying the impact of rising militarization and anti-refugee activity on the region. It's not always easy — because the Polish border guard isn't always keen to hand out the answers these scientists would love to add to their analysis. But Eliot Higgins, the founder of investigative website Bellingcat, says civilians have an edge these days when states won’t answer our questions. We have an unprecedented amount of information at our fingertips — and we're using it to challenge our governments around the world in all kinds of ways.

    A NOTE: We’re heartbroken by the sudden Hamas attack on Israelis and by the Israeli airstrikes and devastation in Gaza. Donate to Doctors Without Borders as it continues to offer impartial medical care to those most impacted by war.

    GUESTS: Katarzyna Nowak, University of Warsaw; Michał Żmihorski, Mammal Research Institute; Maciej Kisilowski, Central European University; Eliot Higgins, Bellingcat


    Threats to Conservation From National Security Interests, Katarzyna Nowak, Dinah Bear, Anwesha Dutta, Myles Traphagen, Michał Żmihorski, and Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Conservation Biology

    Recognizing Opposition Movements is Riskier Than It Seems, John Reid Wilcox, Inkstick Media

    Monitoring the Environmental Consequences of the War in Ukraine, Jon Letman, Inkstick Media

    Can National Reconciliation Defeat Populism? Maciej Kisilowski, Anna Wojciuk. Project Syndicate.

    Thanks to Sławomir Makaruk for additional field production.

    16 October 2023, 7:00 am
  • 31 minutes 2 seconds
    Tobacco, Trust, and the Artist Formerly Known as Twitter

    We’re about a year out from a presidential election, and former President Donald Trump is leading the Republican pack in spite of his supporters’ attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The attack reflected the anger and violence that can be stoked by misinformation. But the issue of misinformation has become heavily politicized since the 2016 election and Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data to target divisive messages at segments of the American population. As a result, researchers like Boston University’s Joan Donovan have found themselves subject to intense political and funding pressures. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Donovan about the parallels between Big Tobacco and Big Tech, and what the online misinformation landscape looks like heading into the 2024 elections.


    Dr. Joan Donovan, Assistant Professor, Boston University College of Communication, Division of Emerging Media Studies


    Harvard Misinformation Expert Joan Donovan Forced to Leave by Kennedy School Dean, Sources Say, The Harvard Crimson

    Here Are 4 Key Points From the Facebook Whistleblower’s Testimony on Capitol Hill, National Public Radio

    Factsheet 4: Types of Misinformation and Disinformation, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

    Social Media Misinformation and the Prevention of Political Instability and Mass Atrocities, The Stimson Center

    2 October 2023, 7:00 am
  • 28 minutes 49 seconds
    Will the Internet Suck Us Dry?

    When we say that we’re going to store something “in the cloud” it sounds like an ethereal place somewhere in the atmosphere. But the online cloud is generated by computer servers in data centers all over the world. Thousands of them. And AI is likely to ramp up demand.

    These data centers don’t employ a lot of people, and each one can hoover up the resources of a small town. So what happens when our need for more, better, faster cyber capability collides with our need for land, water, and power?


    Dr. Anne Pasek, Canada Research Chair in Media, Culture and the Environment, Trent University, Canada; Todd Murren, General Manager, Bluebird Network Data Centers; Kelly Gallaher, activist, A Better Mount Pleasant, WI; Mike Gitter, Water Utility Director, Racine, WI


    The Cloud’s Heavy Toll on Natural Resources, Marketplace Tech

    A New Front in the Water Wars:  Your Internet Use, The Washington Post

    It’s Not Easy Going Green, Reveal

    Data Center Site Selection:  Why Midwestern US Is So Attractive to Hyperscalers, Data Center Knowledge

    Presentation on Microsoft’s Data Center Plan for Mount Pleasant, WI, Microsoft.

    The Risk of AI Power Grids, Radiolab

    The Pros and Cons of Underground Data Centers, Data Center Knowledge

    18 September 2023, 7:00 am
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