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Jeff Emtman

Jeff Emtman is Host of Here Be Monsters, KCRW ​'s podcast about everything Jeff fears. He's an artist creating true stories about belief and fear.
Recent episodes featuring Jeff Emtman
HBM120: Own Worst Interest
Episode of
Here Be Monsters
In the fall of 1989, in Vancouver, Washington, a short, 29 year-old man named Westley Allan Dodd raped and murdered three young boys. The boys were brothers Cole and William Neer, ages 10 and 11, and four year old Lee Isli. A few weeks later, police arrested Westley at movie theater after he tried and failed to abduct another boy. He quickly confessed to the three murders. The prosecution sought the death penalty, and Dodd pled guilty. Death penalty cases take a long time due to all the appeals built into the process. These appeals are designed to make sure the state hasn’t made any mistakes in the death sentence. They check for things like juror misconduct, incompetent defense lawyers, new evidence. Death penalty cases take years, sometimes decades. Westley Allan Dodd did not want that. Instead, he wanted to be executed as quickly as possible. In letters to the Supreme Court of Washington, Dodd urged the court to allow him to waive his right to appeal his death sentence. He believed he deserved to die for what he did, and wanted it done as soon as possible. Dodd was what’s known as a “volunteer”–someone who gives up their rights in order to hasten their own execution. The Death Penalty Information Center cites about 150 cases of “volunteers” in the United States. Dodd’s case sparked debate both among people who supported and opposed the death penalty. Some argued he had the right to choose whether the court would review the validity of his death sentence. Others argued that the law ensures that all defendants have due process whether they want it or not. In the meantime, Dodd continued to advocate for his own execution in interviews and in exchanges with his pen pals. He said he felt remorseful, and even wrote a self-defense booklet for kids to learn how to stay safe from men like him. The booklet was called “When You Meet A Stranger”. The debate made its way to the Washington Supreme Court.  In a 7-2 ruling, they decided that Dodd did, in fact, have the right to waive his remaining appeals. After just three years on death row (5 years shorter than the national average at that time) the State of Washington hanged Westley Allan Dodd. On this episode Bethany Denton interviews  Dodd’s former attorney Gilbert Levy. And defense attorney Jeff Ellis, who was a young lawyer during the time of the Dodd trial.   Bethany also talks to Becky Price, who was one of the recipients of Dodd’s pamphlet  “When You Meet A Stranger”. Letter filed to the Supreme Court of Washington state on behalf of Westley Allan Dodd where he asserts his desire to be executed quickly and waive his remaining appeals. Page 1 of 5 Letter filed to the Supreme Court of Washington state on behalf of Westley Allan Dodd where he asserts his desire to be executed quickly and waive his remaining appeals. Page 2 of 5 Letter filed to the Supreme Court of Washington state on behalf of Westley Allan Dodd where he asserts his desire to be executed quickly and waive his remaining appeals. Page 3 of 5 Letter filed to the Supreme Court of Washington state on behalf of Westley Allan Dodd where he asserts his desire to be executed quickly and waive his remaining appeals. Page 4 of 5 Letter filed to the Supreme Court of Washington state on behalf of Westley Allan Dodd where he asserts his desire to be executed quickly and waive his remaining appeals. Page 5 of 5 Westley Allan Dodd’s Sentencing Verdict, in which a jury unanimously agrees that he should be put to death.  Page 1 of 1 This is our last episode of season 7. We’ll be back sometime in the fall, and we’ll let you know when as soon as we know on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime, check out our Art Exchange. It’s like a Secret Santa, only it takes place in the summer and each gift is an original piece of art: sculpture, photography, poem, song, painting, all kinds of things. Click here to sign up (the deadline is June 12, 2019)
HBM119: An Episode of Pebbles and Twigs
Episode of
Here Be Monsters
The end of our seventh season draws near! Just one more episode until we hang up our podcasting hats for a few months.   We don’t want you to miss us too much though, so on this episode, we’re tying up some loose ends, answering some questions, and sharing ways that you can stay connected with us even when our podcast feed is quieter. Here are five ways to stay connected during the dry months: HBM Summer Art Exchange.  You like to make art?  You like to get art? Exchange something with a fellow HBM listener.  All you have to do is fill out this form. It’s free (well, except for postage). Merch. Did you know that we have HBM shirts, stickers, art prints, books, sweatshirts?  Already have those?  Fear not, we’re working on a something new for next season. The VOICE Hotline Dataset.  In 2017, Jeff FOIA’d Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the records of the calls made to their VOICE hotline.  The (heavily redacted) spreadsheet contains 5,164 calls with many pieces of metadata for each call record.Get the data: Google Sheets Version. This is a version that we’ve cleaned up a tad, added some useful analysis to.  You can view and comment collaboratively here. CSV Version. This is a version that you can use offline in software like Excel and Tableau. ICE FOIA LIbrary Version.  This is straight from the source.  Our FOIA is listed under Reports → VOICE Log: Apr. 2017- Oct. 2017 Super Secret Facebook Group.  We have a top secret Facebook group.  If you want to be a part of it, just find it.  That’s the only test to get in. Voicemail Line.  Call us anytime.  Tell us your stories or record strange sounds, or ask us questions.  We love it when you call. Our number is (765) 374-5263. More reporting on the VOICE Hotline on Splinter and the Arizona Republic.
Listen to Lost Notes
Episode of
Here Be Monsters
Lost Notes is a podcast that we love.  It’s about music. We think you should subscribe.  This episode comes from the new season and it’s about Suzanne Ciani, an early user of the modular synthesizer.  Ciani wound up being nominated 5 times for a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album, but gained her biggest audience from her iconic commercial work for Coca Cola and others.
HBM118: Mountain Seabed
Episode of
Here Be Monsters
Life on earth began in the oceans.  And it used to be simpler. For the first few billion years, life consisted of microbes that didn’t really swim or hunt; they mostly floated and, if they were lucky, bumped into something they could engulf and digest. But that changed during the Cambrian period. Over a relatively short period of time known as the Cambrian Explosion, organisms started becoming larger and more complex. For the first time they grew limbs and exoskeletons; intestines and eyes. Animals from this period developed strange body plans that look almost alien to the modern eye. It was an unprecedented surge of biodiversity.  But many of the animal groups that emerged during the Cambrian Period died soon after during an extinction event, their bizarre body plans perishing along with them. To paraphrase the evolutionary biologist and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, these were “early experiments in life’s history.” Among the survivors of the Cambrian extinction event was metaspriggina, a tiny fish the size of a human thumb. This tiny fish is one of the oldest ancestors of all vertebrate life on earth - including us. A metaspriggina fossil. Metaspriggina is an ancient relative to all vertebrate life on earth. Photo by Molly Segal. Animation of a metaspriggina swimming. Over millions of years and tectonic shifts, Cambrian-era seabeds became modern-day mountains. Today, one of the best places in the world to study fossils from the Cambrian period is at the Burgess Shale fossil deposit, high in the Canadian Rockies. The animals fossilized in the rock were buried quickly in mud that had the right conditions to preserve the soft tissues like brains, organs, and muscles, giving paleontologists a detailed glimpse at some of the first complex life on earth. Scientists have been mulling over the Burgess Shale fossils since they were first excavated in 1909. Stephen Jay Gould was one of those scientists fascinated by the Burgess fossils. He paid attention to the research coming out about them and started wondering what life would look like if a different set of animals had survived and our ancestors had died out. Would humans - or something like us - have ever evolved?  Gould thought not. In his 1989 book Wonderful Life, he came up with the ‘tape of life’ thought experiment. Gould wrote, “Wind back the tape of life to the early days of the Burgess Shale; let it play again from an identical starting point, and the chance becomes vanishingly small that anything like human intelligence would grace the replay.” This idea is called Evolutionary Contingency. An interview with Stephen Jay Gould from the 1993 Dutch documentary series called A Glorious Accident. Not everyone agreed with Gould. Most notably his contemporary Simon Conway Morris, another evolutionary biologist and paleontologist. Simon Conway Morris spent years studying the Burgess Shale, and it was his work that Gould had cited for his book about Evolutionary Contingency. Conway Morris disagreed with Gould’s interpretation that human intelligence was a fluke. He wrote his own book in 1998 called The Crucible of Creation and posited that, while life may have looked very different after a replay of the ‘tape of life’, consciousness may still have emerged in other forms. He wrote, “There are not an unlimited number of ways of doing something. For all its exuberance, the forms of life are restricted and channeled.” (p. 13) This idea is called Evolutionary Convergence. A 2016 interview with Simon Conway Morris about evolutionary convergence, among other things. Part of Cambridge University’s Darwin Correspondence series. In August 2018, producer Molly Segal joined a group of paleontologists, including Jean-Bernard Caron of the Royal Ontario Museum for their biennial dig at the Burgess Shale.  Caron believes that Contingency and Convergence both play a role in evolution, their debate has informed discussions about evolution ever since. PhD student Joe Moysiuk examines the Shale. Photo by Molly Segal. Jean-Bernard Caron, curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, uses a saw to split the Shale. Photo by Molly Segal. Maryam Akrami holds a broken fossil. Maryam manages the invertebrate paleontology collections at the Royal Ontario Museum. Photo by Molly Segal. A specimen nicknamed “the spaceship” that has yet to be identified. Hammer for scale. Photo by Molly Segal.
HBM117: Grave Oversight
Episode of
Here Be Monsters
Sudan has been involved in ongoing civil wars since 1983. The wars were about religion, culture and resources. By 2005, approximately two million civilians had died. In 2011, the southern part of the country voted to secede from the north, creating the new country of South Sudan.  But there were still three regions that were claimed by both north and south: Abyei, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan. These regions are rich in oil and have fertile farmlands, so politicians and humanitarians predicted there would be violence following the secession. Civilians in these regions, mostly farmers and shepherds, would be caught in the middle. Checkpoint near Kadugli, South Kordofan, Sudan. January 13, 2011. From the Satellite Sentinel Project report "Evidence of SAF Deployment in South Kordofan,"  Image credit: DigitalGlobe. Checkpoint with barriers north of Abyei Town on road to Diffra. January 13, 2011. From the Satellite Sentinel Project report "Evidence of SAF Deployment in South Kordofan," Image credit: DigitalGlobe. Nathaniel Raymond is a human rights investigator. He was looking into an alleged massacre in Afghanistan when he was introduced to the idea of using satellite imagery for humanitarian purposes. At that time, satellite images were sometimes used for documenting force swells and finding the locations of mass graves. But Nathaniel wondered if he could figure out a way to use satellite imagery proactively; what if he could figure out a way to see an attack coming and sound an alarm before anyone got hurt? Nathaniel Raymond, former Director of Operations at the Sentinel Satellite Project. Photo by Jeff Emtman. Nathaniel wasn’t the only one who had this idea. Actor George Clooney had also been researching ways to use satellites as “anti-genocide paparazzi” in Sudan through an organization he co-founded called The Enough Project. The Enough Project and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and others sponsored the project. The Satellite Sentinel Project partnered with the private satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe, who gave the SSP permission to point some of their satellites where they pleased and take pictures. By December 2010, the Satellite Sentinel Project was in full swing, inventing a new methodology for analyzing satellite imagery of active conflict in real time. The mission of the Satellite Sentinel Project was threefold: Warn civilians of impending attacks, document the destruction in order to corroborate witness testimony in later investigations, and potentially dissuade the governments in both Sudan and South Sudan from returning to war in the first place. “We wanted to see if being under surveillance would change the calculus… If they knew we were watching, would they not attack?” The Satellite Sentinel Project would release their reports at midnight so that they would be available in time for morning news in East Africa. Critics of Satellite Sentinel Project say that South Sudan shouldn’t be a playground for experimental humanitarian efforts bankrolled by a foreign movie star. And Nathaniel says the critiques are valid. “It was always a Hail Mary pass. And, we must be clear, it was always an experiment, which in and of itself is problematic. But… what else are we going to do, sit on our hands?” Fire burning near Abyei town.  May 24, 2011. Image credit: DigitalGlobe. Three alleged mass graves in Kadugli, South Sudan. July 4, 2011. Image credit: DigitalGlobe Satellite Sentinel Project released a total of 28 reports over 18 months. The methodology Nathaniel and his team developed is still being taught at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. Today Nathaniel Raymond is a lecturer on Global Affairs at Yale’s Jackson Institute. Special thanks to Ziad al Achkar, one of Nathaniel’s colleagues from Satellite Sentinel Project that helped us with this episode. Nathaniel Raymond’s 2018 talk on Satellite Sentinel Project at the EyeO Festival 2018. PBS Newshour Reporting on Satellite Sentinel Project’s documentation of burned villages in South Sudan.
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Stats
Location
Providence, RI, USA
Episode Count
145
Podcast Count
5
Total Airtime
2 days, 17 hours