Culture, ideas and society.

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

Tuesday on RadioWest we bring you our annual holiday book show. Here's how it works: we gather up our experts from local bookstores in Utah and ask them to make a list of the best books of the year so you can find just the right gift. They'll bring dozens of books with them into the studio – novels, mysteries, children's books, some meaty history and biography. There's sure to be a title that matches someone on your list.

Hell and Back Again

Dec 2, 2011

Monday, we continue our Through the Lens documentary film series with "Hell and Back Again." Photojournalist Danfung Dennis was embedded with US Marines Echo Company in Afghanistan and his film is remarkable for its visual images. Dennis created a camera system that immerses viewers in the experience of war. But it's also the story of 25-year-old wounded Sergeant Nathan Harris and his struggle to return to the normalcy of home.

It takes a lot of work to stay afloat in today’s ultra-connected world. Every day we face a torrent of emails, tweets, texts, tags, alerts, comments, pokes and posts. The writer William Powers believes that all those digital demands increasingly distract us from ourselves, from an inner place where time isn’t so fugitive and the mind can slow down. He proposes a new digital philosophy that accounts for our needs to connect and for time apart, and he’ll talk with Doug about it on Thursday. 

Wednesday on RadioWest we've got Peter Meehan and Chris Ying, editors of a new magazine called Lucky Peach. Lucky Peach - put out by McSweeney's, a sui generis publishing house - isn't your grandma's food magazine. It mixes travelogue, art, essays, epithet-riddled rants and foodie ephemera with diagrammatic recipes for crazy delicious and sometimes just plain crazy meals. Doug will talk with Meehan and Ying about their radical take on food magazines and McSweeney's' avant-garde publishing.

Secrets & Wives

Nov 22, 2011

Wednesday, Doug talks to a British journalist about his look at polygamy in America. Sanjiv Bhattacharya says he's long been obsessed with religion but when he moved to the United States he knew very little about polygamy. He set out to learn about the 40,000 some fundamentalists that are associated with the practice. We'll talk to him about that journey and about the very complex world that he discovered. (Rebroadcast)

Courtesy Michael Krondl

Fact: Dessert is a frivolous indulgence that can even be harmful in excess. But that's what makes it interesting, says the writer Michael Krondl. As he tells it, dessert's nutritional irrelevance means it's a cultural phenomenon, one rooted in basically the same human desire for sweetness that built the Taj Mahal or brought us Chanel and Mickey Mouse. On Monday, Krondl chats with Doug about the pleasures of dessert around the globe and how the most unnecessary meal course reflects our humanity.

11/18/11: Annoying

Nov 17, 2011

Friday, NPR science correspondent Joe Palca is Doug’s guest and he’s talking about the science of being annoyed. Why do certain sounds or certain smells or certain people just really, really bug us? Palca has written a book that explores how it all works. You should know there’s sort of a recipe to bugging someone, but the book also provides some insight into how we ourselves can become less annoying … which is nice. (Rebroadcast)

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--when we leave to college, move for a new job, or migrate to a new country. She'll join us on Wednesday to talk about homesickness and how we've managed to cope with it.

11/9/11: Two Spirits

Nov 8, 2011

Wednesday, filmmaker Lydia Nibley joins us to tell the story of Fred Martinez, a Navajo teen who was brutally murdered in Colorado ten years ago. Martinez described himself as "two-spirit," a male with a feminine nature. Though this was once an honored role in Native society, Martinez endured bullying at school and harassment from adults throughout his short life. We'll talk about traditional concepts of gender and about the climate that led to Martinez's death.

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

Friday, we're talking about the complicated and sometimes contradictory relationships we have with animals. Take rodents for example. Some people may keep them as pets. Some may set out spring traps to catch them. What about eating a rat? We wouldn't think of it here in the US, but why not? It's eaten elsewhere in the world. Our guest for the hour is Psychology Professor Hal Herzog and he joins us to explain why it's so hard for us to think straight about animals. (Rebroadcast)