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Zero Squared #4: The Semiotics of Happiness
January 28, 2015 07:20 AM PST
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Ashley Frawley is the guest this week. Frawley is a lecturer at Swansea University, her book "The Semiotics of Happiness" is coming out from Bloomsbury in February, and we discuss how happiness was made into a political problem in the UK and how the aim of increasing "happiness" has become a substitute for real progressive politics. In podcast news, I'm hoping to double my workload. I've got a couple Pop the Left conversations in my archive as well as a few other archived interviews meant for Diet Soap, and if I can convince Jim Farris to do it after that long unannounced hiatus I'd like to carry on with the Double Feature Review. So here's the thing: Zero Squared has a feed over at the Zero Books blog and on iTunes, but if you search for Zero Squared on iTunes you'll find two feeds, one is the podomatic Diet Soap feed and has a picture of Philip K. Dick with his, cat and the other shows a painting of Jasun Horsley and a guy who looks like Seth Rogen. The guy is me and that feed is the Zero Books blog feed. So, here's what's going to happen…I'm going to phase out the old Diet Soap feed, the one with the picture of Philip K Dick. By April that feed will be gone. Most of you are probably subscribed to that feed. That's the podomatic feed and for a variety of reasons I think it's time to leave podomatic behind. However, while I am going to phase out the podomatic feed I'll be bringing back Diet Soap, Pop the Left and The Double Feature Review over at So, if you want to listen to all of it, to Zero Squared and everything else you can subscribe to through iTunes or some other podcatcher. If you just want to listen to Zero Squared you can subscribe to Seth Rogen picture feed on iTunes or in another podcatcher. Again, my own blog is where you'll find every podcast I'll do. This feed is slowly going away. Now, while I'm at it I should mention that there is one other podcast you might look for while you're on iTunes or wherever…actually there are two more. One is the Former People podcast. That used to be hosted on this feed and it features conversations about movies and literature. The other is Symptomatic Redness. That podcast is new and it features my co-host from Pop the Left interviewing theorists and writers from the left. The music in this episode includes pieces from Nik Walton, you just heard his piece Martha on the Move in the new intro, Dan Lett, and the youtube star Christian Grasslin performing a trumpet loop version of Pharrell Williams' hit Happy. You'll also hear a longish excerpt from a American Enterprise Institute talk by Arthur Brooks called "The Secret of Happiness," David Harvey talking about the Zero Growth economy, and Sam Binkley at the Department of Psychosocial Studies talking on "Happiness as Enterprise," and finally Jasun Horsley from his liminal corner will be heard, and the music you're listening to right now is Mark Hosler from Negativland mixing life at the Ghostprint Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.
Zero Squared #3: Sweetening the Pill
January 21, 2015 11:15 PM PST
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The guest this week is Holly Grigg-Spall. Grigg-Spall is a women's health activist and the publication of her book "Sweetening the Pill" has made many, many, many people angry. Going against the common wisdom she argues that the pill is overprescribed and even dangerous to women's mental health.

Music this week includes the work of Nik Walton. Nik is a contemporary composer from Portland, Oregon, a student of Tomas Svoboda, and a friend of mine. Nik is working composing theme music for this podcast and will be a regular contributor musically along with Dan Lett. You'll also hear a harmonica version of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines from the you tuber MisterFinkMusic, clips from the 1979 sex education film Am I Normal, as well as clips from an interview with the 20th century birth control activist Margaret Sanger.

The music you're listening to right now is Dan Lett's musical doodle Green Sharpie, but in just a moment you'll be listening to Holly Grigg-Spall and I discuss Sweetening the Pill.

Zero Squared #2: The Option that No Longer Exists
January 14, 2015 12:31 AM PST
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John Medhurst is a Trade Unionist and activist and we discuss his book That Option No Longer Exists: Britain 1974-'76. We also consider the possibility that the Labour party's industrial policy was a real solution to economic crisis of the 70s.

Comment on the murder of the staff of the French comic magazine Charlie Hebdo:

As a radical publisher I am compelled to stand in solidarity with these French comrades and announce that "Je Suis Charlie." More than that I'd want to point out that standing with liberty means precisely standing with the satirists and whether it's Stephen Colbert, Stewart Lee, Jonathan Swift, or the Charlie Hebdo twelve the obligation is the same. Drawings of monkeys, prophets, or assholes should not stifle our outrage at religious terrorists any more than the crimes these reactionaries should push us into the arms of Le Pen.

The music and voices you'll hear in this podcast include an amateur string quartet covering the 1979 hit "Funky Town" by Lipps Incorporated, the voice of Brendan Cooney, Esai Morales performing the Internationale on the piano, Harry Partch's "And On The Seventh Day Petals Fell In Petaluma," and Chris Isto White's "Six Composition in Paste."

Jasun Horsley offers his first bout of "Liminalist" musing at the close of this episode.

Zero Squared #1: Seen and Not Seen
January 07, 2015 12:46 AM PST
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Jasun Horsley is the first guest. His book Seen and Not Seen: Confessions of a Movie Autist is coming out from Zero Books at the end of this month.

Also in this episode: the voice of TJ Clark, the music of Dan Lett, the Zero Books manifesto as written by Tariq Goddard, my call for submissions of books written about Marx's peculiar materialism, and a brief recap of the event that led to my landing in the publisher's seat and a veiled call for peace.

Credit goes to Lucinda Horan for the Zero Squared logo and to the Art of Flying’s “Song for my Peeps” for providing the introductory music.

Jasun Horsley will be recurring feature of this podcast with updates from what we're tentatively calling his "Liminalist Corner."

Zero Point: Stanley Kubrick
November 11, 2014 08:03 PM PST
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This week Diet Soap is replaced by Zero Point, a podcast focusing on Zero Books and it's authors. And, because Douglas Lain is working away on his next novel, the mystical movie man Jason Horsley has replaced Lain as host. The question discussed is this one: Was Stanley Kubrick a phony whose greatest artistic achievement was merely conning people into thinking he was a great artist? Why is it that all of Kubrick's bad movies (The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut) are now considered masterpieces? Just what is going on here? Horsley sides with the late film critic Pauline Kael in his assessment of Kubrick's oeuvre. Here's Kael's observations about Kubrick's film "A Clockwork Orange." “When I pass a newsstand and see the saintly, bearded, intellectual Kubrick on the cover of Saturday Review, I wonder: Do people notice things like the way Kubrick cuts to the rival teen-age gang before Alex and his hoods arrive to fight them, just so we can have the pleasure of watching that gang strip the struggling girl they mean to rape? Alex’s voice is on the track announcing his arrival, but Kubrick can’t wait for Alex to arrive, because then he couldn’t show us as much. That girl is stripped for our benefit; it’s the purest exploitation. Yet this film lusts for greatness, and I’m not sure that Kubrick knows how to make simple movies anymore, or that he cares to, either. I don’t know how consciously he has thrown this film to youth; maybe he’s more of a showman than he lets on — a lucky showman with opportunism built into the cells of his body. The film can work at a pop-fantasy level for a young audience already prepared to accept Alex’s view of the society, ready to believe that that’s how it is.”
Double Feature Review Podcast: Time Travel and other Adjustments
November 04, 2014 08:01 AM PST
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The Double Feature review podcast returns and we learn that Time Travel is real, Jim Farris was once the head of HR for the Potato Salad Festival Planning Meeting, and that fedoras are just too stylish and get in the way.

The movies reviewed are The Time Traveler's Wife and The Adjustment Bureau, neither of which are particularly good but both of which are interesting.

Listen as Doug mansplains and hetsplains about heteronormativity. Find out just how the universe is run according to plan. Hear clips from movies that are totally unrelated to the movies we're discussing.

Listen and Believe.

Diet Soap Podcast #226: Goodbye to the Feel Good Left
October 28, 2014 08:48 PM PDT
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Andrew Kliman returns this week and we discuss why Piketty's Capital was so popular and the trials and tribulations of Facebook Leftism. Andrew Kliman is a professor of economics at Pace University and the author of the books Reclaiming Marx's Capital and The Failure of Capitalist Production and this is part two of a conversation about his recent essay in Truthdig entitled Were Corporate CEOs Really Hogging Worker's Wages? I"m sorry for the delay in the schedule and I'd like to thank John Spillane, Andrew M, Jacob L, Ted F, and Niall G for their donations to the podcast. If you like Diet Soap I urge you to find the paypal button at and support the show as well. I think it's important that I put a trigger warning here. The clips in this episode include the voice of Suey Park, Josh Zepp, the Amazing Atheist, Rebecca Watson, and Raphael of "die cis scum" fame. The music includes the 70s hit Popcorn from Hot Butter and the Facebook moments music from that Facebook movie thing that was popular earlier this year.
Diet Soap Podcast #225: Were Top Corporate Executives Really Hogging Workers’ Wages?
October 13, 2014 11:23 PM PDT
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CEOs, Supermanagers, and other rich people are the subject this week as Andrew Kliman asks the question "Were Top Corporate Executives Really Hogging Workers’ Wages?" Professor Andrew Kliman is a professor of economics and Pace University and the author of the books Reclaiming Marx's Capital and The Failure of Capitalist Production," and the answer he gives as he discusses his essay at Truthdig may surprise you. Here's an excerpt from that essay: Thomas Piketty attributes rising inequality in the U.S. primarily to huge increases in the salaries of CEOs and other top executives, but he misinterprets the evidence. Rising salaries of top executives actually explain very little of the rise in inequality, and they depressed other employees’ pay by only a negligible amount. It's Monday, October 13th, 2014, and I'm Douglas Lain the host of this podcast. I'd like to thank Andy M, Jacob L, John Lewis, James H, John S, and Phillip L for donating to the podcast, and urge regular listeners to the Diet Soap podcast to find the paypal button at or look for the paypal buttons at which will be going up in the next few days. Also, the podcast is available via iTunes and I urge people who enjoy this show to consider leaving a review at iTunes in lieu of a donation.
Diet Soap Podcast #224: Pop the Imperialism
October 07, 2014 12:54 PM PDT
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Imperialism is the subject this week as C Derrick Varn and I bring back Pop the Left and discuss Lenin's pamphlet "Imperialism: The Highest Form of Capitalism."This was to be a discussion of the notion of the labor aristocracy, but we decided to start slow and see if we could understand Imperialism first. From Lenin's pamphlet, here's the definition: [Imperialism features] (1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed. I’d like to urge regular listeners to the Diet Soap podcast to find the paypal button at Also, the podcast is also available via iTunes and I urge people who enjoy this show to consider leaving a review at iTunes in lieu of a donation
Double Feature Review: Cabin Fever or Cabin in the Woods
September 30, 2014 10:00 PM PDT
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Cabin Fever along with Cabin in the Woods make up the double feature for this month's Double Feature Review podcast. Also featured in this episode are comments on the movie Grosse Point Blank, the television show Roseanne, and the Jim Farris' endless grumbling.

One time pornographer and screenwriter for Universal Studios, Jim Farris begins the episode by noting our hiatus. "What is wrong with Douglas Lain?" Or to quote him directly, "WTF is wrong with you?" Listen closely for Lain's retelling of his thirteenth mid-life crisis nervous breakdown.

Follow Douglas Lain and Jim Farris on if you can.

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