Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nov 30 - Dec 4 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Well, we probably OD’ed on Glen Beck and his pals, but I found last Monday’s program about Fort Hood to be quite stimulating. It made me think hard about political correctness and how it disallows honest questions and, therefore, the possibility of arriving at any real understanding of an event as troubling as the shootings. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to ask hard questions about Islam? Nidal Hasan, however confused and misguided, was obviously at least in part motivated by his religion. I myself wonder what it is about Islam -- its history, its culture, or perhaps a mis-reading of certain passages in the Koran -- that lends itself to acts of violence? When the scandal of priest pedophilia came to light in the media, as a Roman Catholic, I didn’t hesitate to ask hard questions about the Church: was it the doctrine of celibacy in the priesthood, or the worship of the Virgin Mary, or the teachings about sex, that had nurtured this kind of perversion? Never did I think to confuse sexual deviance and the abuse of boys with the fundamental teachings of Jesus himself. As freedom loving people who practice open-mindedness and critical thinking, a vigorous pursuit of the truth is what I would expect, and even demand, from any such inquiry.

Monday: Have you ever made soap? Did your grandmother make soap? Melinda Coss, author of The Handmade Soap Book, taught herself how to make soap and then started teaching soap-making in countries like Tanzania and Nigeria where soap is power!

Tuesday: Half the Sky: Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn join us to talk about why the oppression of women and girls in the developing world is the single most important human rights issue of our time, and how helping them can radically alter our world. Dr. Tererai Trent, part of the hopeful story Kristof and WuDunn tell, will join us this hour as well.

Wednesday: Traveling the Silk Road: I was in New York City last weekend and had a chance to see this exhibit on opening day at the Museum of Natural History. I still remember the smell of the jasmine, the roses, and the patchouli! My husband was mesmerized by the astrolabe. For almost three thousand years, a web of trading routes connected the civilizations of China, Northern Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, transporting everything from silk and religion to disease across the ancient world. We’ll travel from Xian, the old capital of China, to ancient Baghdad with Dr. Mark Norell, curator of the exhibit.

Thursday: “Finishing the Job”: Obama’s War in Afghanistan: After much pondering, President Obama is expected to announce his decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan this week. Who will he please? Who will he alienate? And how will Afghan people respond?

Friday: The New Moosewood Cookbook: Vegetarianism has been given a shot in the arm of late. if you’re interested in a diet that’s not only better for you but better for the planet where better to go than to the Moosewood Restaurant? Join us and Moosewood insiders Nancy Lazarus and David Hirsch for recipes from the new Moosewood Cookbook, Cooking For Health.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody! It’s still great to be an American.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Nov 23-27 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Hajj: The Trip of a Lifetime: It’s not easy to explain why 2 million people circling a black box seven times is something worth investigating. Or why those same two million people run back and forth between two hills, or stand all afternoon in 100 degree desert heat, or throw 49 pebbles at three stone pillars, all of which are part of the rites required of all Muslims who undertake the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The answer? In a word: Transformation.

Monday: Reflecting on Fort Hood. As we try to make sense of the Fort Hood tragedy, how should we understand the Muslim faith of the alleged gunman, Nidal Hasan? We’ll discuss our national and personal reactions with expert inter-faith and inter-cultural advocates Leena El-Ali of Search for Common Ground and Prof. John Esposito, of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

Tuesday: Becoming Americans. Perhaps no story gets to the heart of what it means to be American more than the immigrant story. Prof. Ilan Stavans and Richard Rodriguez join us to discuss Stavans’ new anthology, Becoming Americans, which features 400 years of writing from the hands of people who have come to America to remake themselves, their lives, and their identities.

Wednesday: Gratitude: How many times a day do you say Thank you? And what do you really mean by those words? Different times and different cultures have produced different ways of handling the complex matters of giving, receiving, and returning favors and presents. In her new book, The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude, Margaret Visser delves into the complexity of saying thanks.

Thursday: On Kindness (encore). What is the thing that scares us most? The monster hiding under the bed? Not sex, not violence, not money, but kindness has become our forbidden pleasure, according to psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. By involving us with strangers, he says, kindness is potentially far more promiscuous than sexuality.

Friday: In Praise of Fat (encore). You have heard of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. What about good fat and bad fat? After thirty years as the most maligned food, fat is making a comeback. Dishes made with lard, bacon, marrow and butter are appearing on chefs' menus and Jennifer McLagan has written a cookbook in praise of it.

Have a great weekend,


Friday, November 13, 2009

Nov 16-20 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week: Wandering Souls: The Ghosts of Vietnam. What a powerful metaphor for vets suffering from PTSD on both sides of the Vietnam War. If you still need to be convinced that remembering the personal costs of war is the best way to heal from its wounds, just listen to the clarity and alacrity in Homer Steedley’s voice when he tells the story of killing the man whose ghost he brought back home (and check out the video for my reading of one of the most hair-raising stories in the book).

Monday: The Language of Cancer: I’m not really fond of cancer memoirs which have become so commonplace (like the diagnosis itself) that they constitute a genre of their own. But Mary Cappello’s Called Back is in a class all by itself. Well, she’s a writer after all, and she uses her own clear-sighted intelligence and razor-sharp sense of language to scrutinize the culture of breast cancer and to blaze right through it, port scar and all.

Tuesday: Global Competence: it’s one of those vague slippery terms that might mean almost anything. Why is it suddenly so important to have it? President Obama is said to have it; President Bush did not. You can’t get it just by carrying around a passport. You have to be willing to leave your comfort zone, and become a stranger in a strange land.

Wednesday: Responding to Fort Hood: What bothers you most about the killings at Fort Hood? The Muslim faith of the psychiatrist, the alleged gunman at Fort Hood, is a central piece of the picture in this unfolding tragedy. We’ll talk about our national, personal, and media reactions to Nidal Hasan’s Muslim identity.

Thursday: Inside Islam: The Hajj: One of the world's longest-lived religious rites, the hajj to Mecca is even older than Islam. It’s been described as a universal journey for transcendence and peace, but will that change this year given the fear surrounding H1N1? To find out what it means to 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, check out and join us live at 3:00.

Friday: The Wonder in Wonder Bread: One in seven people in the world doesn’t have enough to eat. What’s the key to eliminating world hunger? According to Louise Fresco, the answer may lie in mass-produced white bread.

Have a great weekend, everybody!


Friday, November 06, 2009

Nov 9-13 Programs

Jean is out sick this week. She'll be back next week. Look what we producers have prepared for her:

Monday: Do you remember November 9th, 1989? Journalist Michael Meyer and scholar Konrad Jarausch join us as we relive that day when the Berlin Wall fell and retrace Germany’s difficult transitions through unification and integration, up to today.

Tuesday: Throughout her life and her work, German-Romanian writer Herta Muller has fought a lonely fight against repression. Even though winning the Nobel Prize in Literature this year has catapulted her into the media spotlights, few people are familiar with her unsettling and meticulous prose and poetry. In the light of Romania's painful past under communist dictatorship, we explore the meaning of Muller's life and work for our world today.

Wednesday: We planned to speak last week with Vietnam veterans Wayne Karlin and Homer Steedly about Wandering Souls, Karlin’s new book documenting Steedly’s return to Vietnam to meet the family of a man he killed. They'll tell their story this Wednesday instead, as the nation celebrates Veteran's Day.

Thursday: Similarly, we missed out on having scientist James Lovelock on our show last week so we’ve rescheduled our interview with him for Thursday. Best known as the originator of Gaia Theory, which envisions the world holistically as a giant, living organism, Lovelock will explain why he thinks it's time for humans to prepare to live on a radically warmer Earth.

Friday: French food is not what it used to be. Or so says journalist and wine columnist Michael Steinberger. In his latest book Au Revoir To All That, he investigates the decline of quality in French cuisine and finds reasons that go beyond food.

Thank you for listening,

Here on Earth team