In his latest book, cultural geographer Jared Diamond asks what modern people – a relatively new group in human history – can learn from long-established traditional societies. Tribal groups around the world have long subsisted independent of developing and modernizing cultures. They’ve also developed unique and effective solutions to essential human problems, such as rearing children, caring for elders and resolving disputes. Diamond joins us Friday to explain how traditional people can serve as models for the rest of humanity.
Every high school has its star athletes who are so good it seems like they were born to throw a football, run the 100-meter dash or swing a baseball bat. The sports writer David Epstein has spent a lot of time around exceptional athletes, and he started to wonder if their skills were the result of freak genetic programming or just lots and lots of practice. Epstein has written a book that examines the science of extraordinary athletic performance and he joins us Thursday to talk about it. [Rebroadcast]
Wednesday, a conversation with celebrated author Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell was in Utah as a guest of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, which gave us the chance to sit down with him. We discussed his new book David and Goliath - which argues there can be advantages to what we think of as adversity. But we also got a little personal and talked about why Gladwell quit the boy scouts after one week, the influence of his unconventional parents and why bad reviews don't really bother him.
In 1836, Elijah Ables, a man of mixed-race, was ordained to the priesthood of the Mormon Church. He was a committed friend of Joseph Smith, and Ables dedicated himself to the faith. But in his lifetime, he'd see the Church ban blacks from full membership and his adopted home of Utah become a slave-holding territory. Historian Russell Stevenson has written a biography of Elijah Ables and he joins Doug to talk about Ables' life and Mormonism's racial history. (Rebroadcast)
Monday on RadioWest we're talking about paper with writer and bibliophile Nicholas Basbanes. In a new book he chronicles paper's surprising history, functionality and flexibility. As Basbanes shows, paper's proliferation and use has revolutionized human civilization. It's a product with a thousand-fold uses (and abuses). It allows us to express ideas and emotions, fly, settle debts and even establish governments. And the story of paper's sweeping influence is colored by the tales Basbanes tells of its makers, shapers, collectors, sketchers and pulpers.
In his book Far From the Tree, the writer Andrew Solomon tells the stories of children whose profound differences -- dwarfism, schizophrenia, Down syndrome, genius, and others -- have made them the subjects of intense prejudice. He also writes about the families who often have to profoundly rearrange their lives around the life of a child who alter their view of the world. At its heart, Solomon's book contends with the readiness to conflate "illness" with "identity." Andrew Solomon will be in Utah this Monday, so we're taking the opportunity to rebroadcast our conversation with him. (Rebroadcast)
Depression, darkness and disillusionment are frequent subjects in Nick Neihart’s song lyrics. Neihart fronts SLC-based band Pentagraham Crackers, and like a lot of artists, he’s had to scrimp by as he’s struggled to make a living, confront the expectations of family and society, and leave his artistic mark on the world. But there’s a glitter of hope shining through the broken relationships and wilting beauty central to Pentagraham Crackers’ punk rock tunes. Neihart and his band join us Thursday to play some music and talk about it.
Wednesday we're profiling the film Life According to Sam. Massachusetts teenager Sam Berns has a genetic syndrome called progeria. The name means "prematurely old" and though it's rare, children with the condition show dramatic signs of aging like balding, wrinkled skin, bone loss and heart problems. But Sam's parents – both doctors – weren't willing to accept that he might only live 13 years and they set out to find a treatment. We'll talk to Sam's mother Dr. Leslie Gordon and filmmakers Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine about family, commitment, sacrifice and hope.
Tuesday, we're telling the story of Chloe Jennings-White. Chloe has a PhD in Chemistry, she holds several patents and she lives an active life. She is also in a wheelchair, but she's there because it's where she feels most comfortable. Chloe has a rare condition called Body Integrity Identity Disorder, which means she's always felt that her left leg wasn't really meant to be part of her. We'll premiere a new VideoWest documentary about Chloe Jennings-White and talk to her – along with Columbia University psychiatrist Michael First – about BIID.
Monday, we're talking about Pioneer Theatre Company's production of Other Desert Cities, a finalist for the 2011Pulitzer Prize. It's a drama that explores the dynamics of a family divided by politics and tragedy as the adult daughter prepares to publish her memoir. Among our guests is playwright Jon Robin Baitz, who says he was thinking a lot about his obligations to the real people he writes about. At its heart, it's a play about truth, perspective and humility in art and in life.