Culture

Culture, Ideas, Religion

Engineering Eden

Sep 26, 2016
Leon Reed via CC/Flickr, http://bit.ly/2cXKAdT

In the summer of 1972, a young man named Harry Walker left his family’s farm in Alabama and headed for adventure in Yellowstone where he was killed by a grizzly bear. The subsequent court battle raised serious questions about how we manage America’s national parks. In a new book, the writer Jordan Fisher Smith traces Walker’s fatal path, which led him to questions about how much humans should try to engineer nature and soften its sharp edges for our own enjoyment. Jordan joins us Monday to talk about it.

Pinpoint

Sep 21, 2016

Even if you didn’t use GPS to find your way around town today, there’s every chance it touched your life. The Global Positioning System is now integrated into almost every part of modern existence. It helps land planes, route cell phone calls, predict the weather, grow food, and regulate global finance. Our guest Thursday, Greg Milner, has written a book that traces the history of GPS. He also examines the frightening costs of our growing dependence on it. 

How To Be a Tudor

Sep 16, 2016

To understand how our forebears lived, of course you’ll read period records, diaries and literature. There would still be things you wouldn’t fully grasp though, like how they smelled. So when historian Ruth Goodman wanted to understand 16th century English life, she “tudored.” She skipped bathing, brushed her teeth with soot, and slept on rushes. The result of her adventure is a new book called How to Be a Tudor, and she joins Doug for a dawn-to-dusk guide to Tudor life. (Rebroadcast)

Tim Hetherington, http://www.timhetheringtontrust.org

The journalist Sebastian Junger has noticed that for many veterans, and even some civilians, war feels better than peace, and he has a theory about why that might be. War, he says, compels us to band together and support one another in pursuit of a clear goal. But under the normal conditions of modern culture, we lose those connections, and we feel lonely and lost. Friday, Junger joins us to discuss why we’re stronger when we come together and what tribal societies can teach us about leading meaningful lives. (Rebroadcast)

American Eugenics

Sep 6, 2016
Photograph courtesy of Arthur Estabrook Papers, Special Collections & Archives, University at Albany, SUNY.

 

Journalist Adam Cohen has said if you want to learn about an institution, you look at where it’s gone wrong. For Cohen, Buck v Bell is a moment when the US Supreme Court went terribly wrong. Its 1927 decision upheld eugenics laws, and led to the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck and some 70,000 “undesirables” declared “feebleminded.” Tuesday, Cohen joins us to explain how Americans - and some of our most revered legal minds - succumbed to racism and classism in the name of “uplifting” the human race. (Rebroadcast)

How Eloquence Works

Sep 5, 2016
<a href="http://bit.ly/289uFxL">Jack Thielepape/jmt images, via <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">CC</a>/flickr

We all know eloquence when we hear it. The skillful delivery of language delights us, captivates us, persuades and moves us. Most importantly, says the linguist David Crystal, speakers and listeners alike enjoy eloquent speech. Crystal has dissected the qualities and practice of eloquence. Partly, he wants to better understand how it's achieved. He also wants to show that eloquence is a talent everyone who uses words can possess. Crystal joins us Monday to examine how the gift of gab works. (Rebroadcast)

Biblical Literalism

Sep 2, 2016

Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong presents a provocative idea in his latest book. Reading the Bible literally, he says, is heresy. He bases his argument on a close reading of the Gospel of Matthew, which he argues was written by Jews for Jews. Spong says the gospel was not written as a literal account of Christ’s life, but rather as an interpretative portrait of God’s love. Spong joins us Friday to talk about biblical literalism and his uniquely progressive approach to Christianity.

Drinking in America

Aug 31, 2016

Historian Susan Cheever says that America has always oscillated between temperance and drunkenness, but that alcohol often gets left out of the story. She says one of the reasons is that we like our history “high-minded.” Cheever’s new book chronicles the ways alcohol has influenced critical moments in our history – from Paul Revere stopping for a drink during his famous ride to “our drunken friend” Richard Nixon. Wednesday, Cheever joins Doug to talk about “Drinking in America.” [Rebroadcast]

The Hour of Land

Aug 24, 2016
From <a href="http://ansleywest.com/">Ansley West Rivers</a>' photo series "Lunar Traces"

 

Wednesday, writer and naturalist Terry Tempest Williams joins Doug to discuss her latest book, The Hour of Land. It’s a paean to America’s natural parks. The parks are, Williams says, fundamental to our national identity, despite our complicated relationship with them. To mark the centennial of the National Parks Service, Williams visited 12 national parks. She wanted to better understand their relevance in the 21st century. She also wondered if they might serve to help unite our fractured country. [Rebroadcast]

On Trails

Aug 18, 2016
Rich via CC/Flickr, https://goo.gl/uk4xos, https://goo.gl/xYWc9B

In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths beneath our feet. On every scale of life on earth, he says, trails form that “reduce an overwhelming array of choices to a single expeditious route.” But how do they form? Why do some paths improve while others disappear? How does order emerge from chaos? Moor joins us Thursday to explore how pathways serve as an essential guiding force for trailblazers and trail followers, alike.

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