Thursday, March 1, 2012
Evolution is a fact, not a debatable theory. Prehistorian and popular-science writer Cameron Smith lays out the evidence and logic in his book The Fact of Evolution. Then, award-winning English writer Edward St. Aubyn’s new novel At Last is the final installment of his acclaimed Patrick Melrose series. A master of dark comedy and difficult truths, St. Aubyn is one of contemporary literature’s finest novelists.
Friday, March 2, 2012
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Next, director Paul Weitz’s most recent film Being Flynn stars actors Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore, and Paul Dano. Based on writer Nick Flynn’s memoir Another Bull* Night in Suck City, the film tell the true story of Flynn (Dano), a rootless young man working in a homeless shelter, who reunites with his estranged father (De Niro) at the shelter. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Elizabeth Onusko. Memories are important to everyone, but some of us need a little help keeping those memories fresh. Onusko is a saver. She keeps ticket stubs, playbills, birthday cards and any other tiny memento that might help her remember a point in her life. Onusko says that when she looks through all of the material she’s accumulated, she feels like she’s going back in time, visiting herself at a younger age.
Monday, March 5, 2012
It’s been ten years since President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law. The education reform bill had lofty goals but have public schools met them in the last decade? John Merrow is the Education Correspondent for PBS’s NewsHour and President of Learning Matters. He joins Bob to discuss the state of public education. Then, Bob talks with multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird about his new CD called Break It Yourself. Primarily known as a violinist, Bird has been playing since he was four, and collaborated with the Squirrel Nut Zippers during their later recordings.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Clay Johnson is the founder of Blue State Digital which built and managed Barack Obama’s online presidential campaign. Now Johnson says we not only suffer from information overload, but we have lost the ability to filter the average eleven hours of data we ingest every day. He describes the problem and offers some advice in a new book, The Information Diet: a Case for Conscious Consumption.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Life Of Super-Earths is a detailed tour of current efforts to answer the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe? Astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, the founding director of Harvard University’s Origins of Life Initiative, takes us on a hunt for habitable planets and alien life forms. This search is feeding directly into synthetic biology—the effort to build new forms of life—making it more likely that we will first discover truly “alien” life forms in a lab right here on Earth. Then, Bob talks with veteran folk musician Jonathan Edwards about his first studio recording in 14 years. The album is titled My Love Will Keep.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
It’s hard to classify the music group Time for Three. Classically trained but sharing a love for all kinds of music, Zach De Pue (violin), Nick Kendall (violin), and Ranaan Meyer (double bass) play a blend of classical, gypsy, indie, country western and jazz to create a sound that is uniquely their own. This group on-the-rise makes their debut tonight at Carnegie Hall.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Next, travel writer Pico Iyer crosses the globe in this very personal exploration of his similarities and life-time connection with writer Graham Greene. Iyer’s book is titled The Man Within My Head. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Michael Taylor. In an age of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, many people behave like they are the stars of their own reality TV shows, often imitating the actions of pop culture celebrities. Taylor doesn’t look for role models on TV or the movies. His heroine is his mother, who never gave an inch in the face of life’s unforgiving challenges.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Barbara Ehrenreich says of Katherine Boo’s new book, “If Bollywood ever decides to do its own version of ‘The Wire’, this would be it.” In Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, Boo chronicles the story of people struggling to live in one of contemporary India’s most notorious slums, nestled in the shadow of the city’s luxury hotels. Katherine Boo has won both the Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur “Genius” Award for long-form reporting on poverty in the United States for the Washington Post and The New Yorker, among other publications.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Eyal Press has written for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and The Nation. Drawing on research by sociologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, politician activists and theorists such as Hanna Arendt, Press’s new book explores the question of what compels a person to stage an act of resistance. It’s titled Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times. Then, in Delirium, Nancy Cohen tells the story of a little known shadow movement that has fueled America’s political wars for forty years. She traces our current political crisis back to the rise of a well organized, ideologically driven opposition movement to turn back the sexual revolution, feminism, and gay rights. This sexual counterrevolution, Cohen shows, has played a leading role in shattering both political parties, dividing Americans into irreconcilable warring camps, and polarizing the nation.”
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
In a recent New York Times front page article, Binyamin Applebaum profiled Americans who criticize government safety net programs even though they are increasingly dependent on them. These government programs were created to keep Americans out of poverty, but it is no longer the poorest households that are receiving the benefits. Then, David Rothkopf says the rise of private power may be the most important yet the least understood trend of our time. Rothkopf is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of Power, Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government—and the Reckoning That Lies Ahead.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Christopher Bram’s Eminent Outlaws chronicles fifty years of momentous cultural change through the lives and work of the gay writers who’ve lived it. Among others, Bram includes James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Allen Ginsberg –all notorious literary figures who’ve shaped the history of the American twentieth century. Then, in 1962, musician Paddy Moloney founded a traditional Irish music group called The Chieftains. Now, this Grammy-winning ensemble has produced 40 albums and is responsible for sharing Irish music with the world. Celebrating their 50th anniversary, The Chieftains recently released Voice of Ages, a collaboration with Bon Iver, The Decemberists, the Punch Brothers and many other contemporary musicians.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Next, at the turn of the century, American Jews and prohibitionists viewed one another with growing suspicion. Jews believed that all Americans had the right to sell and consume alcohol, while prohibitionists insisted that alcohol commerce and consumption posed a threat to the nation’s morality and security. In Jews and Booze, Marni Davis examines American Jews’ long and complicated relationship to alcohol during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the years of the national prohibition movement’s rise and fall. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Betsy Buchalter Adler. Science tells us that pets are good for our health. Pet owners have lower blood pressure and a lower likelihood of depression. Adler says walking her dog makes her lighten up and pay attention to the unexpected small delights of the world. What her dog notices on their meandering walks, she notices, too. And the more time she spends contemplating those small delights, the less time she spends worrying about the never-ending annoyances of her work life.
Monday, March 19, 2012
Bob speaks with journalist Deborah Scroggins about two Muslim women who have become world famous for their diametrically opposed political views. The Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Pakistani Aafia Siddiqui offer a striking contrast in the issue of Islamic women’s rights and the often-overlooked place of women in that society. In her new book, Wanted Women: Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror, Scroggins offers a comprehensive dual biography of these two women who, despite their divergent ideological paths, share similarities in their backgrounds, age and education. Then, disgust is a complex human emotion. What we find nasty, gross, and outright nauseating, is psychologically connected to what attracts, excites, and motivates us. Rachel Herz discusses whether these predilections are innate or learned. Her book on the subject is titled That’s Disgusting.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Bob talks with Mark Johnson, the founder of Playing for Change and the producer of two albums recorded by the street musicians Johnson has met since he started the organization in 2004. The group’s breakout hit was a cover of “Stand by Me” recorded by many different musicians around the world and in their own style. That video mixed them all together and has more than 40 million views on YouTube. Then, Bob talks with Clarence Bekker, Grandpa Elliott and Jason Tamba, just a few of the international musicians affiliated with the band. Playing for Change is touring now and their latest recording is PFC 2: Songs Around the World. Group member Clarence Bekker also has a brand new solo CD called Old Soul.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
George Black’s latest article for OnEarth magazine is titled India Calling. Black explores how the cell phone revolution in India is also fueling a surge in green energy development. Mobile companies plan to build 200,000 new cell phone towers in India over the next few years, and they’re looking to the sun to power those towers. OnEarth magazine is published by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Then, Bob talks with Jeff Forshaw and Brian Cox. Forshaw is a theoretical physics professor and Cox is a professor of particle physics and host of the Discovery Channel series Wonders of the Universe. They have co-authored The Quantum Universe, which is a follow up their best-selling book Why Does E=mc2. Here, they explain quantum mechanics and why it matters in everyday life.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Today’s show is focused on the life of Anthony Shadid who died suddenly in February. Rajiv Chandrasekaran is National Editor at the Washington Post and previously was a foreign correspondent in Baghdad, Cairo, and Southeast Asia. He was also one of Shadid’s closest friends and colleagues. He talks about the life and work of Shadid. Next, Nada Bakri is the widow of the foreign correspondent. Shadid earned two Pulitzer prizes before dying of an asthma attack while on assignment in Syria for the New York Times. Bakri joins Bob to remember her late husband and discuss Shadid’s new book, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East. Then, Bob revisits his April 2011 discussion with Anthony Shadid, in which they talk about the uprising in Syria and his previous capture in Libya by pro-Kaddafi forces.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Next, if you listened to music in the 1960s and 1970s then you heard the Wrecking Crew, the uncredited studio musicians who performed on one hit record after another, for everyone from the Beach Boys to the Byrds to Simon & Garfunkel to the Mamas & the Papas. Kent Hartman tells the story of these largely unnamed session musicians in his book The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Matt Rizotti. Paramedics and firefighters see people during the worst moments of their lives. The strangers they meet are watching their possessions turn to ash, or watching a loved one die unexpectedly. Rizotti is a volunteer firefighter and an emergency medical technician. He says it’s deeply rewarding to help people in such vulnerable circumstances, and that his job has taught him to treasure every moment he shares with loved ones.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Sarah Kliff is a health policy reporter at the Washington Post. She talks with Bob about the Supreme Court oral arguments on health care, which begin today. Then, David Healy says pharmaceutical companies have hijacked healthcare in America. He joins Bob to discuss the life-threatening consequences which he has described in his book, Pharmageddon.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
David Unger is an editorial writer at The New York Times where he’s covered foreign policy, international economics, and the military for more than three decades. He’s been on the editorial board for 22 years and now has written a book called The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Humans have a natural desire to live with others, not alone. But Eric Klinenberg argues that during the past half century, our species has undergone a remarkable social experiment. For the first time in all of human history, vast numbers of people are living alone. In 1950, only 22 percent of Americans were single. Today, more than 50 percent are and about 1 out of every 7 adults live alone. Klinenberg explores what this means for our society in his new book Going Solo. Then, playwright and writer Craig Taylor spent five years interviewing scores of Londoners, compiling their stories and words in his book Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now—As Told By Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long For It. With the city on the brink of hosting the 2012 summer Olympics, Taylor’s book reveals the true face of the world’s most cosmopolitan city.
Thursday, March 29, 2012:
Christopher Bram’s Eminent Outlaws chronicles fifty years of momentous cultural change through the lives and work of the gay writers who’ve lived it. Among others, Bram includes James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Allen Ginsberg – all notorious literary figures who’ve shaped the history of the American twentieth century. Then, we remember singer-songwriter Eric Lowen. In 2006, Bob talked with singing duo Lowen & Navarro. Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro met as singing waiters and wrote Pat Benatar’s smash hit “We Belong.” In 2004, Lowen was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He died last Friday.
Friday, March 30, 2012
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Next, Jeff Flocken heads the Washington DC office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He and Julia Scardina have compiled a written and photographic tribute to steadfast defenders of animal biodiversity titled Wildlife Heroes: 40 Leading Conservationists and the Animals They Are Committed to Saving. Then, in this week’s installment of our ongoing series This I Believe, we hear the essay of Fred D’Aguiar. There are some things we do that have no purpose beyond bringing joy. Dance is one of those things. D’Aguiar is a poet, and a dancer. He says that dance is also magical and curative. D’Aguiar’s multicutural childhood, spread over two continents, taught his body to move in unique ways that inspire him to this day.