The dance scholar Jennifer Fisher says that The Nutcracker, at least in North America, has become as "regular as clockwork." Some may find it cliche and for some it may be obligatory. But Fisher argues that Tchaikovsky's piece is one of the most powerful traditions in the world of ballet and that it tells us a lot about the values we share. Friday, Doug talks to Fisher and Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute about The Nutcracker and the place it holds in our culture. (Rebroadcast)
According to journalist Brad Stone, Santa Claus and Amazon.com share a few things in common: they both know what you want for Christmas and they have armies of menial laborers working in remote warehouses to fulfill your desires. In a new book, Stone chronicles the rise of Amazon from a small-fry bookseller to the pinnacle of Internet retail. The story’s also about Jeff Bezos, the company’s innovative and demanding founder. Stone joins us Thursday to profile an online juggernaut that has changed the way we shop and read.
Wednesday, we're talking about the LDS Church's new statement on the policy that banned black men from the priesthood for some 125 years. When it was lifted in 1978, there was little explanation why blacks had been excluded. This statement makes it clear though: it was a policy born of racial prejudice and the Church is clearly disavowing arguments that were used to support it. We'll explore some questions this is raising about the nature of revelation, the fallibility of leaders and the implications for other social issues.
You may have never heard of naturalist, biologist and biogeographer Alfred Russell Wallace, but chances are you're familiar with his greatest discovery: the theory of evolution by natural selection. Of course, Charles Darwin receives first billing for the theory of evolution, but Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin's, discovered the theory independent of his better-known colleague. Wallace's life was as grand as his scientific breakthroughs and Tuesday we'll make his acquaintance with the help of Harvard lecturer Andrew Berry.
How often has man looked up to the sky and wondered, can we really be alone? Aliens have been the stuff of science fiction, while scientists have generally held that life is unique to this planet. But recent breakthroughs have led to new ideas about the building blocks of life and increasingly sophisticated equipment is helping us explore beyond our world. Monday, Doug is joined by science writer Marc Kaufman for a conversation about astrobiology's search for extraterrestrial life.
Fire, water, air, and earth – these are the classical elements of cooking. According to food journalist Michael Pollan, they help us transform stuff from the natural world into delicious food and drink. But increasingly, cooking isn't done in the home; it’s done by corporations and restaurants, and that’s disconnecting us from the very idea of food and how we eat it. Pollan joins us Friday to talk about his latest book, Cooked, and to explore how this trend affects our planet, our culture, our food, and our health. (Rebroadcast)
A new survey ranked American schools 26th in math skills among 34 developed countries. That's below average, and we just managed average in science and reading. Over the last fifty years, US scores have stagnated, while schools in Europe and Asia have made big strides. So what are they doing that we aren't? Journalist Amanda Ripley wanted to answer that question, so she followed three American students for a year abroad. She joins Doug to explain why she says we should be asking more of our kids.
RadioWest and Plan-B Theatre bring you Episode 8 in our Radio Hour series. This year's radio drama is called FAIRYANA and it's written by Utah playwright Eric Samuelsen. It's a dark, funny story of three misanthropic, alcoholic writers of a sickeningly sweet children's television show. They're pulling out all the stops for the Christmas special, which means resurrecting Snoogums, a character so villainous, he possesses his creator. What better time to rethink cute and cuddly then the holidays?
The poet, philosopher, and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht had very personal reasons for making suicide the topic of her latest book. Two of her friends killed themselves just a couple of years apart, leaving their community stunned and grieving. So Hecht began to reflect on the arguments against suicide, not from a religious stand-point, but from a secular and philosophical perspective. Tuesday, she joins Doug to describe the reasons she found to challenge people to "Stay."
If you survived Black Friday and visited your neighborhood shops on Small Business Saturday but still haven't crossed all the names off your gift-giving list, tune in on Monday for our annual Holiday Book Show. Catherine Weller of Weller Book Works, Betsy Burton of The King's English, and Ken Sanders of Ken Sanders Rare Books join us in the studio to suggest their favorite titles -- from children's picture books and chapter books to adult fiction, nonfiction and stocking stuffers for all.