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The Bear

The first episode of Things That Go Boom!

Words: Laicie Heeley
Pictures: Adam Willoughby-Knox
Date:

The world has experienced no less than two nuclear false alarms in the past two weeks.

First, in Hawaii — and then, in Japan.

My parents live in Hawaii — so, the first didn’t just hit home because my background is in nuclear policy.

When I saw the notice, which, my mom posted first to Facebook (I’m still not sure if I should take that personally) I thought it was an atmospheric test — the one North Korea has been threatening for months.

It felt totally plausible. And totally surreal.

Human error is a factor in what happened in Hawaii and Japan, and a very big one — but much more importantly, for me, the incidents — and our collective reactions to them — drove home the reality of the moment that we’re in.

My parents did almost nothing — they sat on their couch and waited for the bomb. But friends hid in bathroom and basements with strangers. In one case, a friend huddled on the floor, waiting and hoping that her husband would make it home in time while clutching their newborn son.

As Americans, we don’t live in the same world that we did two years ago. And, that world was already very different from the world we lived in on September 10, 2001.

Americans today are rightly thinking about issues like nuclear weapons, terrorism, and post-traumatic stress in ways they weren’t before. But, deeper conversations around these types of issues have traditionally been walled off from the public.

While the rest of the world is opening its eyes to the power of narrative storytelling — national security professionals are still largely having long, in-the-weeds conversations about kinetic force-on-force operations and A2AD in rooms full of, mostly, white men.

For too long, the national conversation and the national security conversation have been treated as mutually exclusive.

Things That Go Boom — a new podcast about the ins, outs, and whathaveyous of what keeps us safe from PRI and Inkstick — aims to change that conversation. It is way past time that we start treating national security in the same way that podcasts, especially, have long treated issues like science and economics — as totally accessible, real subjects that real people can and do care about.

It is our job — and our duty — to shed light on this issue in this moment.

And it doesn’t hurt that the subject contains some of the most engaging real stories around.

Today, we’re so glad to bring you the first few, of many, of those stories — and, it just so happens that they’re perfect for the moment we’re in.

The podcast this season will cover a lot of ground — from white nationalism, to the Founders’ definition of national security, to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” design thinking, and the real impacts of PTSD…

But, this story… is about a bear.

Download the very first episode of Things That Go Boom on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts today!

Laicie Heeley

Editor in Chief

Laicie Heeley is the founding CEO of Inkstick Media, where she serves as Editor in Chief of the foreign policy magazine Inkstick and Executive Producer and Host of the PRX- and Inkstick-produced podcast, Things That Go Boom. Heeley’s reporting has appeared on public radio stations across America and the BBC, where she’s explored global security issues including domestic terrorism, disinformation, nuclear weapons, and climate change. Prior to launching Inkstick, Heeley was a Fellow with the Stimson Center’s Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program and Policy Director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Her publications include work on sanctions, diplomacy, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, along with the first full accounting of US counterterrorism spending after 9/11.

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