Wednesday's Show

Extreme Altruists

How far do you go to honor the Golden Rule, to “do unto others”? Chances are you don’t go nearly as far as the people profiled in journalist Larissa MacFarquhar’s new book. The donor who offers up his kidney to a complete stranger; the activist who abandons his normal life to care for lepers; the couple that gives most of their income to charity. These people truly live to help others. MacFarquhar joins us Wednesday to explore what extreme altruists can teach us about what it means to be human.
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Courtesy of Kristen Oney / Plimoth Plantation

In a new documentary for the PBS series American Experience, filmmaker Ric Burns tells the tale of a small group of extreme people whom history and myth record as the founders of a new nation. The Pilgrims faced countless challenges when they came to the New World in 1620. The fact of their survival and success is not only commemorated every November, it also exists in the very myth of America’s origins. Burns joins us Tuesday to winnow fact from fiction as we explore the true story of the Pilgrims.

Don Quixote

Nov 23, 2015
nicointokio via CC/flickr,

Today, Don Quixote is regarded as one of the most important novels ever written. But when it debuted 400 years ago, Miguel Cervantes’ book was deemed unworthy of serious artistic consideration. Ilan Stavans, a professor of Latin American and Latino Culture, has a profound affection for the tale of don Quixote de la Mancha, and he says the wandering knight’s adventure through life mirrors our own. Stavans joins us Monday to explore how Don Quixote rose to global success and gave rise to modernity.

Wonder Woman

Nov 20, 2015

Great girdle of Aphrodite! Friday, historian Jill Lepore joins Doug to tell the story of Wonder Woman, who she calls the “missing link” in the women’s rights struggles of the 20th century. Wonder Woman was created by psychologist William Marston, whose own family was very, very complicated and deeply influenced by the suffrage movement. We’ll talk about Wonder Woman’s feminist roots, the “new type of woman” Marston had in mind, and her influence on the women’s lib movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s. (Rebroadcast)

The LDS Church recently made headlines with new guidance for lay leaders in dealing with same-sex couples and their children. Critics call it a step backwards in the Church’s efforts to show compassion to the LGBT community. Defenders say it’s simply a reflection of Church doctrine. The LDS Church has declined to join us. So Thursday, historian and Mormon scholar Russell Stevenson takes us through the doctrine that under-girds the Church’s religious policies towards its LGBT members.

David McLain, 2006

The writer Gretel Ehrlich first visited Greenland in 1993. She’s made many trips to the Arctic since then and she’s noticed the slow death of its ice. While the Arctic is remote, and perhaps distant from our everyday thoughts, Ehrlich says “what happens at the top of the world affects all of us.” It is Earth’s “natural air conditioner,” after all. Ehrlich is in Utah this week, and she joins us Wednesday to talk about the changing Arctic and her life spent writing about the natural world she loves.

Thierry Ehrmann via CC/Flickr,

In March, the journalist Graeme Wood joined us to put the Islamic State under the microscope. What is it? Where did it come from, and what does it want? In an article for The Atlantic magazine, Wood argued that ISIS seeks to revert civilization to a “seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately bring about the apocalypse,” and it’s committed to killing vast numbers of people in the process. We talked about ISIS’s intellectual genealogy and why it’s imperative the West better understand it. (Rebroadcast)

The Road Not Taken

Nov 16, 2015


“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . .” Those are the first words to Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken." One hundred years after their publication, Frost’s immortal lines remain unbelievably popular. The poem seems straightforward enough: it's about boldly living outside conformity, right? Wrong, says poetry columnist David Orr. He says nearly everyone hopelessly misreads Frost's poem. Orr joins us Monday as we explore the meaning of "The Road Not Taken" and the history behind it.

Shoe historian Elizabeth Semmelhack says there’s a stereotype that footwear is somehow a woman’s domain. But consider this: in 2014, men’s athletic shoes accounted for nearly twice the sales of women’s dress shoes in U.S. stores. Over the last century, sneakers have symbolized performance and affluence, street style and high-end fashion. Friday, Semmelhack is our guide for a history of sneakers. We’ll talk about innovations, trends, and what each shoe tells us about a particular moment in time. (Rebroadcast)

J. Michael Tracy via CC,

Forecasting is a part of everyday life. We’re always making decisions based on some expectation of future outcomes. But sad to say, most of us are pretty bad at it. Psychologist Philip Tetlock has devoted his career to changing that. He wants to know what makes some people incredibly good at making predictions—he calls them superforecasters—and then he wants to teach that talent to others. Tetlock joins us Thursday to explore how we can all be better decision makers and thus better thinkers.

At the center of author Richard Rubin’s latest book, The Last of the Doughboys, are several dozen extraordinary individuals, all more than a century old, all now passed away. They were the final survivors of the millions who made up the American forces that fought in World War I, 19th-century men and women living in the 21st century. Rubin’s book chronicles their remarkable stories and he joins us to to relate how the forgotten war and its forgotten veterans created the modern world. (Rebroadcast)


Thursday's Show

The Table Comes First

As you're putting together your Thanksgiving meal, we're talking to The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik about his latest book, The Table Comes First. Gopnik says that every human group that's ever been ritualizes its food. Indeed, the way we approach the table defines who we are. The book is a journey from eighteenth-century France to our modern-day obsession with gastronomy. Gopnik joins us to answer this question: what is the true meaning of food in our lives? (Rebroadcast)
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Edward Snowden, Live from Russia

Dec 5th at 7:30 p.m. Join Doug Fabrizio as he talks with Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked highly classified documents and ignited an intense debate about government surveillance.


Come Closer

Jeff Metcalf is an essayist, playwright, poet, and teacher living in Salt Lake City. After he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Metcalf turned to writing and fishing to help him heal.

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