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Ellen Pekilis


epekilis echoed Privacy, Trust, and Good DesignOct 19th

First, it’s great to hear a major player like Adobe hosting an episode on how the design community can Improve personal privacy by building it into product design. But I have so many comments on this I episode. 1). The hosts are completely focused on the European GDPR privacy regulations as if they are this newfangled bombshell from Europe. Canada has had federal privacy laws since 1997 and doesn’t rate a mention. I guess this explains why we always had such trouble negotiating privacy compliant contracts with our Is suppliers. Even though Canada is or was the US’ largest trading partner, we are perceived as such a small market that they literally do not care about our compliance requirements. 2) similarly, The Privacy By Design phrase that they toss around so casually actually stems from a program spearheaded by Dr Ann Cavoukian, who was at that time Ontario’s Pricscy Commissioner and now with Ryerson, 3) while it is critical that the design community engage and execute on the topic of privacy, expecting the design community to drive these needs within their organization is wholly unrealistic. Round about the part where they were saying that the design department should take presentations right up to the C suite on why privacy is important because this could undermine the fundamental business model gets right to the heart of it. This is a C suite issue of business ethics and business strategy. The requirements to harvest and sell all that personal data for personal gain originate in the C suite, backed by Sales, Marketing and Finance. The designers are executing on requirements from on high that they largely can’t impact. Yes, the design community needs to understand and execute Privacy by Design, but they can only do so if the C suite and the business model permits them to. If the C suite sent orders down the chain saying that the company’s value proposition and business model now puts a premium on appropriate, well designed yet secure customer privacy, then this problem would disappear and elegant, simple solutions would emerge from the design community quickly. The C suite is where the focus of this topic needs to be.

Privacy, Trust, and Good Design


epekilis echoed The Working Tapes of Studs TerkelOct 14th

Great episode featuring the work of one of America’s great journalists of the last century. Studs Terkel reminds me of Ernie Pyle in his focus on the everyday lives, joys and tribulations of the average American rather than the celebrity superstar.

The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

Radio Diaries

epekilis echoed Episode 2: The Economy That Slavery BuiltOct 6th

They used slaves - actual people - as collateral to back up loans, and then package and sell the debt. The majority of America’s early wealth was slaves. I feel like a duck caught in an oil spill.

Episode 2: The Economy That Slavery Built


epekilis echoed 364- He's Still NeutralOct 1st

This episode renews my faith in human nature. Community spirit still exists.

364- He's Still Neutral

99% Invisible

epekilis echoed The Almost Moon ManSep 30th

A brilliantly qualified black Air Force pilot slated to become a General is selected to train as an astronaut, supported by JFK’s interest in civil rights. He is essentially disqualified by a combination of administrative rules structured to ensure that only white males can ultimately succeed and JFK’s death. Within a month of JFK’s death, he is transferred out of the astronaut program and leaves the Air Force. Cross reference the “Glass Stratosphere” episode of National Geographic’s Overheard podcast. It’s exactly the same story arc. Just substitute “African American pilot” for “female pilot”.

The Almost Moon Man

The Daily

epekilis echoed Min Jin Lee on the untold story of Koreans in JapanSep 30th

Startling parallels between the situations of Koreans in Japan and African American/Canadians. After generations of residence in Japan, Japanese-born Koreans are still marginalized and without full rights even though they feel fully culturally Japanese. This community even has the phenomenon of “passing” in which some family members will “pass” as Japanese. That’s a concept that I associate with light-skinned black people in the US and Jews trying to escape Nazi persecution. Startling to hear of it in modern day Japan.

Min Jin Lee on the untold story of Koreans in Japan

Writers and Company from CBC Radio

epekilis echoed I Want the Fairy TaleSep 30th

Moving episode with slow build-up and beautiful tie-in to the episode Dirty Water, my all-time favourite episode of Ear Hustle. I do hope it’s a fairy tale ending with a golden sunset.

I Want the Fairy Tale

Ear Hustle

epekilis echoed #73 I StradivariusSep 30th

The reputation of Stradivarius violins as the best of all violins has sparked centuries of enquiry into the magic of their sound. Double-blind testing debunked the mystique. When neither players nor listeners knew which was the Strad, new violins consistently won and Strads were amongst the lowest rated. Perhaps we value Strads for their rich history rather than their actual sound quality.

#73 I Stradivarius

Twenty Thousand Hertz

epekilis echoed #3: Kids, Kidneys & Double DegreesSep 30th

A warm and supportive environment can help a kid bloom and achieve their goals. Dr. Norman Rosenblum was interested in medical science from earliest youth. His small town high school had coded announcements they would make to alert him to leave class and go to the hospital to observe an ongoing autopsy. As he says, “rules are different in small towns.”

#3: Kids, Kidneys & Double Degrees

Raw Talk Podcast

epekilis echoed Why bringing room service to hospitals helps patients convalesceSep 30th

I completely applaud Joshna Maharaj’s Jamie Oliver-like initiative to improve hospital food. No matter what the benefit to patients, though, I’m not sure what uptake there will be in a system that is so cost-constrained that it resists any change that could add to labour cost. They don’t serve all those disgustingly unappetizing frozen meals that get thrown out because they are sadistic and don’t care about patients. They serve them because defrosting standardized beige meals reduces labour cost. At my kid’s school, they actually completely closed the cafeteria because they said they couldn’t afford to meet the healthy food regulations. The students are invited to bring their own lunch or patronize the many fine fast food options outside the school, which is exactly what the nutritional regulations were trying to avoid. I honestly hope there is a way to improve the quality of nutrition in institutions such as hospitals, schools and elder care residences, but it’s a tough one.

Why bringing room service to hospitals helps patients convalesce

White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio

epekilis echoed Shipping ContainerSep 30th

Just found this podcast that tells the story of ordinary objects that punch above their weight in importance. This episode positions the shipping container as the catalyst for the global economy that is now under such severe attack. We are all hyper-aware of the impact that AI and constant tech improvements will have on job loss in retail, factory and, well, all of us. This story takes us back a few ripples in the water to the 1950s when the dock workers of 50 years ago lost their battle against job loss in the face of logistical efficiency. It’s a real conundrum. We all love the availability and cheapness of global goods while deploring the attendant job loss. There is no easy solution here.

Shipping Container

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

epekilis echoed How Alan Alda went from TV doctor to teaching real doctors about empathySep 30th

Patients who rate their doctor as highly empathetic are 20% more likely to follow through on their doc’s medical recommendations. Two of my favourite podcasts collide here. Brian Goldman interviews Alan Alda, legendary actor and host of podcast Clear + Vivid, about what motivated him to dedicate this part of his life to enhancing communication in science.

How Alan Alda went from TV doctor to teaching real doctors about empathy

White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio

epekilis echoed The Glass StratosphereSep 27th

Early stage testing in the 1960s demonstrated that women pilots had the physiological stamina to excel in space. Lower weight and oxygen requirements; superior cardio; excelled at sensory deprivation testing. The program was abandoned in the US, but the Russians noted the test results and went the first woman into space in 1963.

The Glass Stratosphere

Overheard at National Geographic

epekilis echoed 362- Goodness Gracious Great Balls of TwineSep 23rd

Giant balls of twine; obsessive farmers; the Guinness Book of Records; feuding towns. Does it count if the whole town helped wind it? Do you get extra marks for making it PERFECTLY SYMMETRICAL (hint, at 9 tones, involves a tractor). Then the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not guy shows up with a fistful of cash and a crane, and well it all starts to fall apart. Literally. Awesome good fun!!!

362- Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Twine

99% Invisible

epekilis echoed Storing Data in DNA 🧬Sep 20th

DNA turns out to be a robust, extremely long-lasting medium for . . . Data storage??? Potential solutions involve chemical rather than electronic computerized data storage and recall. A commercial solution could be 5 years away, focused on long term archiving rather than temporary storage. With all the problems in the world, it’s really good to remember that there are also super smart, imaginative people working on solving problems across disciplinary lines.

Storing Data in DNA 🧬


epekilis echoed Sidekicks: WatsonSep 19th

John Watson is not expandable. The stories don’t work without him. He is the Everyman who provides us with an opening to connect with Holmes’ otherwise unapproachable icy intellect. In the current BBC Sherlock, I actually find Freeman’s damaged, thoroughly decent yet barely controlled, tense-as-a-bowstring Watson even more engaging and intriguing than Cumberbatch’s take on Holmes as the genius with Asperger’s and a velvety voice.

Sidekicks: Watson

Imaginary Worlds

epekilis echoed Just one story: Joseph Campbell and 'The Hero’s Journey'Sep 16th

Does the Hero’s Journey reflect a universal human psychologica journey, or does it reinforce and justify a status quo power structure? As the overwhelmingly dominant structure of movie scripts since Star Wars 40 years ago, has The Hero’s Journey contributed to extreme individualization and poarization into camps of good and evil that plagues our broader poliical debates? This episode of Ideas digs deep. Much fuel for meaty discussion. My husband isn’t buying it. See also the April 3 2019 episode of the podcast Imaginary Worlds for more on the Hero’s Journey.

Just one story: Joseph Campbell and 'The Hero’s Journey'

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights)

epekilis echoed 368- All Rings ConsideredSep 14th

“THAT not the Nokia ring tone! Where that guy got it?” Great interview with the creator of the personalized ring tone. A Finnish tech guy at the height of Nokia’s domination of the FInnish economy, he programmed Van Halen’s “Jump” into his phone. He got a thrill of excitement from the reaction of his fellow commuters on the bus when his phone rang. And so a new product was born.

368- All Rings Considered

99% Invisible

epekilis echoed Field Trip! Sep 13th

Calling all Japanese art fans - the Freer will be mounting a major show of Hokusai prints in 2020. Definitely worth a stop if you’re going to be in DC.

Field Trip!


epekilis echoed William Okpo, fashion designers Lizzy and Darlene OkpoSep 11th

Episode celebrates independent fashion label run by two young black women from New York. Can’t imagine the difficulties they have overcome with their super-fun, positive, can-do approach that is determinedly not boundaried by mainstream commercial tastes. Favourite quote (not verbatim): “I’m more avant garde than my sister. I have to be told, ‘Yeah, but women have to be able to walk and sit in it too.’ Well, they can go somewhere else for that.” I just had to laugh.

William Okpo, fashion designers Lizzy and Darlene Okpo

Design Notes Podcast from Google Design

epekilis echoed KraftlandSep 7th

The constant flow of soothing positive feedback from the entertainment world helps us manage emotions that are too big to handle face-on.



epekilis echoed The Myth That Busing FailedSep 6th

Gave me a whole new appreciation of busing and the broader context of how it played out so differently in the north vs the southern US.

The Myth That Busing Failed

The Daily

epekilis echoed Ruth Handler - “Disruption”Sep 3rd

Gave me a whole new appreciation of Barbie dolls. Barbie was the brain child of a tough, smart woman. She noted that girls were rejecting the baby-like dolls of that time for adult looking 2 dimensional paper dolls that could be dressed in clothing changes—and those constant costume changes would be a continuing income stream gold-mine . . . As the only female executive in the toy industry at that time, she was also the only person who bothered to notice the actual play-habits of real little girls.

Ruth Handler - “Disruption”

Great Women of Business

epekilis echoed The spread of fact-checking in AfricaSep 2nd

An African fact checking agency doing heroic work to combat misinformation. They feel that checking the facts is only half the job. They also try to identify influencers to prioritize harms and spread the truth to their community. Inspirational.

The spread of fact-checking in Africa

More or Less: Behind the Stats

epekilis echoed ≤ kg Aug 28th

The story of standardized measures is full of excitement. Seriously. Stick with me here. This is the stuff of revolutions - military and scientific - and the wonder of eternal mathematics. I love the part where she asks to hold the US Official Kg, a platinum ball all shiny and bright. They said “No”.

≤ kg


epekilis echoed Julia Child - “Investing in Oneself” Aug 15th

I am interested in anything about food and have read and heard tons about Julia Child. This podcast covered totally new ground by focusing on her legacy from a business rather than a culinary perspective. It extracts core business principles from her experience as a woman in her 50s establishing a completely new and disruptive business as a branded entrepreneur experimenting with television as a marketing tool. Much food for thought. (Rimshot. I couldn’t resist the bad pun.)

Julia Child - “Investing in Oneself”

Great Women of Business

epekilis echoed Baby Judge SchoolAug 15th

Improving the quality of judicial decisions by giving judges data and training about inherent bias in decision-making may have improved the quality of the decisions, but has not improved public opinion of the judiciary. Series explores how data transparency sort of creates an individual sense of injustice that overwhelms any collective sense of trust or faith in institutions intended to guarantee core rights, even when those institutions are improving. Disturbing.

Baby Judge School

Against the Rules with Michael Lewis

epekilis echoed The Worst Video Game Ever?Aug 4th

This is the human story behind a business story behind a cultural phenomenon: the genesis of the video game industry. The layers in this piece connecting the human and petty to the big social sweep are worthy of 99% Invisible. And I love - just love - the way it never entered the head of 25 year brilliant game developer dude that 5 1/2 weeks wasn’t enough time to develop the type and quality of product that generally took months. This is just so . . . Human. And real. For those of us who have worked in big companies, we all recognize this kind of decision making and its consequences.

The Worst Video Game Ever?


epekilis echoed Homelessness is SolvableAug 3rd

This episode left me energized. It’s so rare to hear about the positive social good that big data analysis can bring, but it’s there. This episode shines a spotlight on how communities-even small, poor ones in the Deep South - have used data to better understand the nature of homelessness in their community and correspondingly address it even where there are no government resources.

Homelessness is Solvable


epekilis echoed Luis von Ahn, Duolingo FounderJul 31st

An interview with the guy who invented the Captcha program that thwarts automated programs from taking out millions of fake free email addresses from Yahoo. At the time, they had to manually program the text distortion capability. The concept was that it had to be a game that a computer would be terrible at a human would be great at; but that a computer could grade the results. As machine learning advances, the Captcha tests have to get harder and harder.

Luis von Ahn, Duolingo Founder

Design Notes Podcast from Google Design

epekilis echoed Tempest in a TeacupJul 26th

Parts of this were so funny that I started laughing and woke my husband up at 5 am. Gladwell’s theme is that a life of crime is the option for the marginalized, not a choice by the psychotic. The pull of the American dream and mainstream society is so strong that crime families will normalize as soon as they have a way into society. I always wondered about the process by which the masses of criminals exiled to Australia built a law and order society; causes me to reflect upon the fact that perhaps it was because they had escaped the marginalization of the UK and the new society needed their hands enough that they had an entree to leave it behind.

Tempest in a Teacup

Revisionist History

epekilis echoed SS: Future foods: all about choice and balanceJul 25th

Episode of this New Zealand science show looks at key strategic shifts disrupting the food sector - increased vegetable consumption and reduced meat consumption; changing food preferences in China, which is a key market for New Zealand products. Consumer purchasing choices are extremely complex. For significant numbers of people, purchasing choices include components related to sustainability and safe working conditions. I usually hear about these sorts of things in podcasts from the retail or marketing sector. So interesting to hear the same issues addressed from the production side by the agricultural sector itself.

SS: Future foods: all about choice and balance

scigest - Plant & Food Research podcasts

epekilis echoed SS: Growing with climate changeJul 25th

I’ve been exploring podcasts from other English-speaking countries and found this interesting science podcast from New Zealand. This episode discusses New Zealand’s plans for climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector. At least THEY seem to be thinking ahead.

SS: Growing with climate change

scigest - Plant & Food Research podcasts

epekilis echoed The CRISPR gene-edited babies and the doctor who made them - what really happened?Jul 25th

Who is watching the watchers? The Chinese doctor who apparently performed the CIRSPR gene-editing on real human babies has been painted in the media as a crazed rogue scientist. This investigation suggests that while misguided, he was well meant and not a rogue with a hidden lab. There were PLENTY of top level doctors - including a Nobel prize winning American doctor - who knew what he was up to before he did it and didn’t take action to stop him.

The CRISPR gene-edited babies and the doctor who made them - what really happened?

Science Friction - ABC RN

epekilis echoed Order! Order!Jul 24th

This is the most clear and comprehensive timeline I’ve heard of how and why the British Parliament has messed up Brexit so badly.

Order! Order!

The Documentary Podcast

epekilis echoed 359- Life and Death in SingaporeJul 24th

What happens when two worth public policy objectives bump up against each other? Singapore has genuine social policy objectives to provide high quality housing within severe land constraints. But in Chinese custom, a cemetery is so much more than a final resting place for the dead. There are a range of annual cemetery visits that reinforce familial and social bonds. This is the story of how the community adapted when population growth meant they could no longer dedicate fixed land mass to permanent cemeteries.

359- Life and Death in Singapore

99% Invisible

epekilis echoed #56 | Boots 'n CatsJul 24th

Turns out that the wonderful inventiveness of beatboxers is such that they produce some sounds that are not present in any known human language. At the same time, the sheer percussive delight of beatboxing provides a wonderful medium for cross-cultural outreach between people who can’t speak the same language.

#56 | Boots 'n Cats

Twenty Thousand Hertz

epekilis echoed 357- The Barney Design reduxJul 24th

It’s no accident that the original Raptors purple dino jersey looked like it was designed for a 5 year old. It was. The team owners figured that to build loyalty to a basketball team in a die-hard hockey town they were going to need to get them young, before the blue-and-white did.

357- The Barney Design redux

99% Invisible

epekilis echoed 360- The Universal PageJul 24th

The development and use of braille as the dominant tactile reading aide for the blind points to the importance of including the people who experience the need in the development of the solution.

360- The Universal Page

99% Invisible

epekilis echoed Inside the secret finances behind the housing crisisJul 24th

A deep dive into the role of private equity and political lobbying in driving housing prices up in cities around the world. This is a global phenomenon, driven by hedge funds like Blackstone. The 2008 financial crisis actually enabled the entry of hedge funds into the real estate market, buying mass blocks of undervalued residential assets with third party money; repairing and then seeking to maximize their return. This is what is making affordable housing out of reach for the common person. Hedge funds are now the largest owners of residential real estate on a global basis. Episode discusses formal connections between the real estate development community and political lobbying.

Inside the secret finances behind the housing crisis

The Big Story

epekilis echoed Sidekicks: Harley QuinnJul 24th

Harley Quinn is the overwhelming favourite amongst my teenager’s graphic novel and cosplay loving friends.

Sidekicks: Harley Quinn

Imaginary Worlds

epekilis echoed Peanuts: Public Enemy No. 1? Jul 24th

There are still a lot of unknowns in the medical science of allergens, in terms of both causes and cures. The strategy of total avoidance has not stemmed the rising incidence of life-threatening allergies across western countries. A notable exception was Israel, where peanut allergies remains statistically rare and peanut-flavoured baby cereal treats are common. This changed the medical approach to managed exposure, but there are still so many unknowns.

Peanuts: Public Enemy No. 1?

Science Vs

epekilis echoed A Future with AIJul 24th

The AI community is very optimistic about the benefits that AI and will bring to us. In this episode, they are trying to quell the broadly held fears of mass job loss and resulting social dislocation as media-generated hype. I’m not convinced it’s just hype. It is true that we can’t foresee the types of new jobs that AI will create, but I bet there are only going to be a small number of those jobs and all at head office which may be in a completely different company. Not sure what all this means for the 30% of the Ontario population that hasn’t graduated from high school, nor am i convinced that being an Uber driver or similar gig worker is a big step up from being a Walmart greeter or doing inventory at a retail warehouse.

A Future with AI

The AI Element

epekilis echoed Madeleine Albright on the Uses and Abuses of Empathy and PowerJul 23rd

Delightful to hear Albright reminisce about how she forged a respectful working relationship with Jesse Helms. People, it is possible to work with and learn from those with whom you profoundly disagree.

Madeleine Albright on the Uses and Abuses of Empathy and Power

Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda

epekilis echoed 354- Weeding is FundamentalJul 13th

Another brilliant episode of 99% Invisible where they use the specific, people-centred story to illustrate big picture principles. When we cull a collection, what are we losing? Do we care? E-books are not completely displacing hard copy books, which are continuing to grow in popularity and usage. Beyond libraries, this episode is required listening for anybody in organizational records management, data governance and disaster recovery, the controversy around what to keep and whether to track what is being lost rings so true. I have lived small versions of this story.

354- Weeding is Fundamental

99% Invisible

epekilis echoed Sum of All Parts - The Infinite GodJul 11th

The second of two podcasts exploring the connection between music and mathematics. This one features Rob Schneider, who left a career as a successful indie musician to pursue a PhD in mathematics. He was fixing a really good tape deck with a manual he bought at Radio Shack, and had a complete epiphany when he read Ohm’s law. It was beautiful. It was perfect. He realized that the music he loved was electrical impulses that were translated by electricity into a signal through a microphone, onto a tape, back through speakers into the air in a big circuit of electrical waves and he was entranced. This is not the first podcast I’ve heard about Schneider, but I can’t find the earlier one. Has Podyssey dropped older Echoes? Or maybe I just heard it before I started using Podyssey.

Sum of All Parts - The Infinite God

Science Friction - ABC RN

epekilis echoed Sum of All Parts - The sound of seizureJul 11th

The first of two fantastic podcasts about the relationship between music and mathematics. An epileptic patient hears musical auras that accompany his seizures. A mathematician turns those electrical impulses into music. Ya know, 100 years ago, Schoenberg and other composers were exploring the same turf, using mathematics to create new scales. Personally, I hate that music. It is awful and atonal and just jangly. An interesting intellectual experiment but really awful to listen to. This is different. His aura is beautiful and you can see how it swells and becomes so overwhelming.

Sum of All Parts - The sound of seizure

Science Friction - ABC RN