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Hump day recommendations, March 27, 2024

Listen: To the latest episode of This American Life in honor of my hometown Baltimore (Ira Glass also happens to be from Bmore). In true TAL fashion, they manage to use a nursery rhyme to connect wide ranging stories – from a skateboarding legend and an estranged uncle’s funeral to the devastating number of journalists that have been killed in Gaza – to reveal a universal theme about how, like humpty-dumpty, some things can’t be put back together again. – Riley

Watch: “Repatriation” In 1992, as South Korea’s military government began relinquishing power to a democratic administration, authorities found a thorny problem on their hands. Dozens of captured North Koreans had spent decades in South Korean prisons without ever renouncing their allegiance to Pyongyang. By then old men, in poor health, these alleged former spies were hardly a threat to Seoul, but successive governments hesitated to grant their wish to return to their homelands and see their remaining family members before they died. Groundbreaking South Korean documentarian Kim Dong-won recorded over 800 hours of footage across 12 years with a group of these men to create a surreal, challenging film that inverts familiar sympathies. - Matt

Read: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. Many years of focused research by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson produced a theory of success and failure of entire peoples that rewrites the narrative of centuries of history. Agree or disagree, it’s a provocative page-turner. - Willis


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