Every day between April and August, Philip Connors climbs a 55-foot tower and settles into a 7-by-7 foot enclosed platform for the next eight hours. The tower is in the Gila National Forest of New Mexico, and his duty while there, is to look out for fires. But while Gila receives more than thirty thousand lightening strikes per year, Connors’s job is actually closer to Walden Pond than reality TV. Alone with nature, and his thoughts, he enjoys solitude, freedom and independence — independence which surely helped him complete a new book called “Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout.”
Before Julia Child was a famous cookbook author, before she became television’s first iconic television chef, and long before she was played by Meryl Streep in the Nora Ephron film “Julie and Julia,” Julia Child worked for the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS. The OSS was a spy organization formed during World War II and was a predecessor to the CIA. Julia met Paul Child while they both served in the OSS in the 1940s.
Between the powerful days of the Roman Empire and the intellectually vibrant era of the Renaissance, there was a time that we often refer to as Early Middle Ages, or more pejoratively, as the Dark Ages. During these centuries, literature, written history, and cultural achievements were on the decline in the western world. But just a bit further east, in the Arab world, a golden age of enlightenment was taking hold.
One shining moment, you reached for the sky.... When you hear the song "One Shining Moment," how do you feel? Loved by some and hated by others, the emotional anthem has wrapped up the NCAA basketball championship for 25 years. Where do you stand on “One Shining Moment”? And what is it about sports that so often inspire divisive songs? Jon Solomon has his opinions on the matter. A college basketball journalist for Princetonbaskeball.com, he’s also a DJ at WPRB – Princeton.
In honor of April Fool's Day, Rafer and Kristen decided to turn this week's Movie Date into a Movie Dare. Knowing that Kristen would never choose to see "Road House" on her own, Rafer dared her to see the Patrick Swayze classic. And knowing that Rafer had yet to enjoy the entire Mariah Carey oeuvre, Kristen dared him to see "Glitter." Was this the scariest dare ever?
It’s the season of college acceptance and rejection letters, and all this week, we’ve been talking about college-related topics.
Today, we’re talking again with Beth Kobliner, Takeaway contributor and appointee to the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability. Beth was here on Tuesday to walk us through the ABCs of college loans, financial aid, and debt.
Beth is back today to answer all the listener questions that have come in since her appearance on Tuesday.
"Wretches and Jabberers" is a buddy movie, a road trip movie and a moving adventure. But this new film is different than your typical mainstream fare. The documentary stars two autistic friends and advocates who do most of their communicating through typing. The story follows Larry Bissonnette and Tracy Thresher, as well as their assistants Pascal Cheng and Harvey Lavoy, as they travel around the world, meet other autistic people, and advocate for autism rights.
Remember the periodic table? With its 92 elements and perplexing abbreviations? No doubt, you had to memorize portions of the table back in high school. But beyond high school classes and chemistry jobs, why should we care about the elements?
It’s college acceptance letter season, and all this week, we’re talking about college-related issues. Up until the 1960s, historically black colleges were the primary higher learning institutions available to African-Americans. Some of the most famous black people in the U.S., from Oprah Winfrey to Spike Lee, have attended them and went on to achieve great success. But in our seemingly less-segregated times, are these colleges really a good educational option?
Actor Ted Danson is having a phenomenal year on television. He has hit roles in three hot series: HBO's "Bored to Death" which he stars alongside Jason Schwartzman and Zach Galifianakis. He shows up every now and again on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and shares the screen with Glenn Close in "Damages." But our beloved "Cheers" bartender is mostly fired up about his latest off-screen project, ocean conservationist. He has co-authored a book that looks at the state of the oceans and how we can save them. He says he loves the ocean and wants to make it easy for anyone to help.
More than 140 million people have been watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this year. And nearly everyone involved with March Madness is profiting handsomely from the games. That is, everyone but the players. "Frontline" correspondent Lowell Bergman investigates NCAA labor issues in his new documentary, “Money and March Madness,” which airs on PBS tonight. Sonny Vaccaro believes that student athletes should benefit; he signed Michael Jordan to his first shoe contract.
All teenagers have been warned: “don’t give into peer pressure.” We hear that peer pressure can do things like lead to drugs and binge drinking and unplanned pregnancies. Maybe peer pressure will make you drop out of school and join a gang. But in Tina Rosenberg’s opinion, peer pressure isn’t all bad. The Pulitzer Prize-winner is the author of a new book called “Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World.” She argues that peer pressure is a very versatile tool.
The history of slavery is interwoven with the history of America, but what most of us learn about in school is the history of white settlers. And even in that white history, there are particular characters — mostly Dutch and Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Not Catholics, and certainly not Jews. But that may be about to change. A new novel called “Song of Slaves in the Desert” centers on a slave family and its owners, who are Jewish. It’s written by Alan Cheuse, the novelist and George Mason University professor who you might know as the books reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered.
What is more useful a technical degree or a liberal arts degree. And, which is likely to help you get a job? Two people who stand on opposite sides of the fence. Brian Fitzgerald is the executive director of the Business Higher Education Forum. He stands in favor of science, technology, engineering, and math — or “STEM” degrees. And Mark Bauerlein is an English professor at Emory University. He believes you can’t go wrong with a liberal arts degree.
This week's biggest film news was all about an actress who appeared in her first movie at the age of nine. Rafer and Kristen look back on the career of Elizabeth Taylor and share their favorite memories of the legendary star who died this week, aged 79.
We often hear debates about whether porn exploits women in the industry or plants seeds of immorality in the children who so easily access it online. But Cindy Gallop is more concerned with another question: What does porn do to both men and women – in terms of how they think about intimacy? Cindy is the creator of the website “Make Love Not Porn" and the author of “Make Love, Not Porn: Technology's Hardcore Impact on Human Behavior.”
Do you play video games? If so, what color is your avatar? Does it look like you? Or someone or something else entirely? Do you make presumptions about the identities of other players? Do they make them about you? In short, how does identity and race play out in our virtual worlds? Jeff Yang, organized a panel on this topic last week at South By Southwest called "E-Race: Avatars, Anonymity and the Virtualization of Identity." Jeff Yang also writes the Asian Pop column for the San Francisco Chronicle.
From English teachers to grammar grouches, people have been complaining for generations that the English language is going down the drain. As they see it, our vocabularies are shrinking, our grammar is abysmal, and we’ve all but forgotten about how to punctuate (?!). Carol Shaffer is one of those grammar grouches. A former teacher, she’s also the founder of the website Grammarpolice.com, which has been pointing out language usage errors for fifteen years. Robert Lane Greene has a different perspective. The author of the new book, “You Are What You Speak,” he thinks what some people see as errors are in fact evolution.
The world has been shocked by three photographs released by German magazine Der Spiegel. The photos depict dead civilians in Afghanistan and U.S. Soldiers who are accused of killing them for sport. Part of a self-designated “Kill Team,” the soldiers appear to be making fun of their victims. In one, a soldier smiles as he holds up the head of a civilian corpse. In another, two dead civilians appear to be tied at the wrists. The U.S. Army has released a statement calling the soldiers’ actions “repugnant,” and assuring the public that prosecution is underway. But will this be enough to stem the tide of what appears to be another Abu Ghraib?
The fantasy of outsmarting our enemies and even the ones we love most in this world is a natural dream. We all love to be right, to have the upper hand. The movie “Limitless” tests the boundaries of that fantasy by imagining the consequences of a world where we can access the deepest boundaries of our brains with the helpful pop of a pill.