HBM074: Benedict Arnold Makes People Nervous (Rumble Strip)

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There is an unusual piece of carved grey stone in the hills of upstate New York.  It depicts the boot of a notorious American villain who was shot in the leg during the Battle of Saratoga.  Major General Benedict Arnold’s name is nowhere to be found on the inscription.  Instead, it refers only to the "most brilliant soldier of the Continental Army”.  The rest is implied.

Steve Sheinkin thinks that we can’t—and don’t—talk about Benedict Arnold’s actual history because it serves Americans an unpalatable contradiction.  Benedict Arnold won crucial battles for American independence, but he was also a turncoat.  

Steve was often asked to sterilize history during his career as a textbook writer.   Certain characters of the American Revolution enjoyed near godlike status.  Giving counterevidence to their omniciencense or foresight was practically blasphemy.  But that counterevidence exists, found in letters and personal journals of George Washington, Paul Revere and others.  And these records paint much more conflicted, funny, perverse and sometimes bumbling portraits of the country’s forefathers.  

But Steve’s bosses found it an issue of money.  His editors were especially risk-averse for fear of offending a seemingly all-powerful Texas State Board of Education, who, according to Steve, had no patience for course material that questioned manifest destiny, Protestant Christianity, or the free market. 

And that, Steve says, is why textbooks are boring.

Author Steve Sheinkin.
Image courtesy Erica Heilman/Rumblestrip

Steve Sheinkin is now the author of many children’s history books that tell the stories left on the cutting room floor of his former employer.   Recent releases are about the history of the atomic bomb, the permanently undefeated Carlisle Indian School football team, and, of course, Benedict Arnold.

We adapted this episode of Here Be Monsters from a brilliant piece by Erica Heilman that she made for her own podcast, Rumble Strip.  Rumble Strip is great, listen to it.  It’s part of The Heard.  Jeff Emtman re-edited this piece with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.

Music: Swamp Dog | | | The Black Spot

HBM067: Dispatches From PestWorld 2016

Feeling anxiety about the American presidential election, HBM host Jeff Emtman took a trip to a place he hoped to be insulated from politics: PestWorld 2016, the largest American gathering of pest management professionals. Jeff has always liked bugs and pest animals, so it was a miniature vacation.

He talked with the following attendees about the tools and the philosophy of pest management:

Rose Eckhart of ZappBugg bed bug heaters
Carlita Turk of TAP Pest Control Insulation
David Walters of HY-C Home Solutions
Evan Bruce of Heat Assault glycol bed bug products
Roger Johnson and Evan Church of Pest Routes
Sheree Swindle of Bed Bug Mutts with Lily Loo
Bill Robinson of B&G Curtis Dyna-Fog sprayers and foggers
Alan Huot of Wildlife Control Supplies outfitter for wildlife professionals

Rose Eckhart of ZappBug explains the basics of bedbug infestations.

The Golden Eagle mosquito fogger from Curtis Dynafog.

Alan Huot of Wildlife Control Supplies demos wildlife baits.

Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.

Music: Serocell | | | Flowers