Culture, ideas and society.

Susan Matt, a professor at Weber State University, laughed when she first read of someone actually dying of homesickness. Nowadays, homesickness is regarded as a childish affliction that Americans, with our penchant for frequent relocation, are immune from. But as Matt writes, nostalgia has long distressed Americans--we leave to college, move for a new job, or migrate to a new country. She joins us to talk about homesickness and how we've managed to cope with it. (Rebroadcast)

On Monday, Doug talks with documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki. In his film Why We Fight, Jarecki examined America's war machine. His new documentary, The House I Live In, scrutinizes another unique expression of American conflict by telling the stories of individuals at all levels of our war on drugs. The drug war has made America the world's largest jailer even as narcotics of all kinds have become purer, cheaper and more available. Where did we go wrong, and what, can be done about it?

<i>photo: <a href="">Martin Cathrae</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

It seems eating has come to be as much about guilt as it is about nutrition and pleasure. But what does it mean to be a virtuous eater? Food writer Alan Richman decided to find out. For thirty days, he set off on what he calls a "journey of ethical enlightenment." He visited farms and restaurants and ate not just for taste, but with a conscience. Richman joins Doug to talk about his trip and about his 10 Commandments of Ethical Eating.  (Rebroadcast)

The Not So Big Life

Jan 5, 2012

The writer and architect Sarah Susankahas created a movement around the idea of finding a proper scale for the houses we inhabit, and the way she sees it, houses are the perfect metaphor for our lives. Her book, "The Not So Big Life," is also an idea: it's about living a life that's just the right size. We're rebroadcasting our conversation with Susanka on Friday, and it might provide some inspiration for those of you putting the final touches on your New Year's resolutions. (Rebroadcast)

Modern American manners leave much to be desired. People answer their cell phones in the middle of meals, they shush loudly in movie theaters and even clip their toenails on the train. Henry Alford wanted to learn a little more about 21st century etiquette, so he went to Japan, AKA the Fort Knox of good manners, interviewed etiquette experts and even played a game called "Touch the Waiter." On Wednesday, Doug will talk with Alford about how we behave and how we could behave better.

Ballet has played an important role in Western art for more than 400 years, but the historian and dance critic Jennifer Homans cautions we shouldn't take it for granted. Homans is the author of "Apollo's Angels," which looks at the rich and complex history of ballet. She joins us to talk about the art form and the ways it has renewed itself in the face of political and social upheavals. We'll also talk about the "uncertain moment" Homans says ballet is experiencing now. (Rebroadcast)

Sons of Perdition

Dec 27, 2011

St. George, Utah is only an hour away from Warren Jeffs' polygamist community, but it might as well be another planet. Children of the fundamentalist group are taught little of the outside world, and they're told that leaving their faith means their damnation. Wednesday, we're talking to the creators of a documentary that follows 3 teenage boys who fled to St. George and had to give up their families and everything they knew to create a new life. (Rebroadcast)

Tuesday, Doug talks to Brooke Gladstone, host of NPR's "On the Media." She's written a new book. It's graphic nonfiction - a journey through two millennia of journalism. Gladstone says that there's always been a fear that the media are somehow controlling our minds. But rather than being an external force, she argues that the media are mirrors that show us our own reflection. Doug talks to her about "The Influencing Machine," and about what we can do to be savvy media consumers.

Far Between, Part II

Dec 20, 2011

Wednesday, Doug sits down again with Utah filmmaker Kendall Wilcox. Wilcox is creating a documentary that explores the tension between being a member of the LDS Church and being gay. Since joining us in August, Wilcox has been fired from Brigham Young University, but he says he still believes that the Mormon community is leaving polemics behind and "treating each other with genuine love, respect and empathy." We'll talk about his journey and about what he's learning as he films "Far Between."

<i>Image by <a href="">Matthew Kirkland</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Tuesday, we're talking about the King James Bible and its 400 year history. Our guide is the British historian, novelist and broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg. Bragg says that while there have been times the Bible was used "in the pursuit of wickedness," it has also transformed the world for the better. He joins Doug to talk about how this version came to be and how it has shaped social movements, politics, literature and the English language itself.