Blaise, Clark — The Creation of Standard Time

Not such a long time ago, time was an arbitrary measure decided by each community without consideration of other localities.

In this edition of Radio Curious, we visit with Clark Blaise, author of “Time Lord:  Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time.”  Although this program was recorded a long time ago, we are airing it for the first time in the last week of 2011.

In the mid 19th century, with the advent of continent-spanning railroads and transatlantic steamers, the myriad of local times became a mind-boggling obstacle and the rational ordering of time to some became an urgent priority for transportation and commerce.  Standard Time was established in 1884, leading to an international uniformity for telling time.  Arguably, the uniformity of time was a “crowning achievement” of Victorian progressiveness, one of the few innovations of that time to have survived unchanged into the 21st century.

Under the leadership of Sir Sandford Fleming, amid political rancor of delegates from industrializing nations, an agreement was reached to establish the Greenwich Prime Meridian passing through Greenwich, England and the International Date Line that wanders it way through the Pacific Ocean.  The 1884 agreement resulted in a uniform system of world-wide time zones that exists today.

I had a good time visiting with Clark Blaise in the spring of 2001 as we discussed how our current notion of time was established.  We began when I asked him to explain what standard time is.

This interview with Clark Blaise, author of “Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time,” was recorded in the spring of 2001 and first broadcast in the last week of 2011.

The book Clark Blaise recommends is “Time of Our Singing,” by Richard Powers.

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Binder, Mark — The Music Played in His Head and He Began to Dance

Storytelling, like radio, brings pictures to the mind of the listener and allows each one of us to imagine what we hear.   Our guest on Radio Curious is story teller Mark Binder, author of “A Hanukkah Present:  Twelve Tales to Give and Share,” who describes what happens when the storyteller vanishes.  Radio Curious spoke with Mark Binder from his home in Providence, Rhode Island on December 16, 2011.  We began when I asked to discuss the importance of story telling around Hanukkah and other holidays of the winter season.

The book Mark Binder recommends is “The Best of Myles,” by Flann O’Brien.  His website is www.markbinder.com

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Aanestad, Christina — Occupying the Port of Oakland

In response to the attempts to end “Occupy” movements in different parts of the United States beginning the November 2011, local people in and near west coast sea ports on Monday, December 12, 2011 gathered to occupy their local port.

Radio Curious Assistant Producer, Christina Aanestad, went to the Port of Oakland where she met with and interviewed organizers, participants and bystanders. Her journey began at 5:30 am on a cold Monday morning at the West Oakland Bart Station. The first person with whom she spoke was a woman cloaked in a bright blue tarp with the words “The People’s TARP” inscribed thereon.

Before we hear the voice of this woman it is important to remember that TARP is an acronym for the U.S. government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program established to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions purportedly to strengthen its financial sector to address the subprime mortgage crisis. TARP originally authorized $700 Billion Dollars in 2008 to cover unorthodox real estate loans. 50 year old Karen Mackley wore what she called the people’s tarp.

The books Christina Aanestad recommends are “Pronoia is the Antidote of Paranoia: How the Whole Workd is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings,” by Rob Brezsny, and “Angry Women” by Andrea Juno.

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Dakin, Susanna — An Artist in the White House?

Imagine if you will an artist instead of a politician in the White House.  This possibility existed in 1984 in reality, not in the George Orwell novel.  Susanna Dakin, a sometimes resident of Santa Monica, California and sometimes of Mendocino County, California, a sculptor by training conceived of her national campaign for the presidency as a one-year durational art performance piece.  Although Sue Dakin as she is now known, was defeated having been effectively overshadowed by the second term campaign of Ronald Reagan, Dakin has continued to practice what she calls “system sculpture” in her political, spiritual and art life.

This unusual episode in American Presidential Campaign History is revealed in Dakin’s book An Artist for President:  The Nation is the Artwork and We are the Artists, published in 2011.

Maria Gilardin, host and producer of TUC Radio, and a friend of Sue Dakin and me, joined us in the studios of Radio Curious on November 25, 2011 in conversation with Sue Dakin about about her life and book.  Maria Gilardin’s website is www.tucradio.org.

The book Sue Dakin recommends is, “The Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History,” by S.C. Gwynne.

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Katz, Leo — Why Our Law is so Stupid and Perverse

Have you ever asked yourself ‘why is the law so perverse? Why is it directed away from what is right or good?’ This program is about the why the law is sometimes called stupid, irrational or perverse in a conversation with author and Pennsylvania law professor, Leo Katz.

His book, “Why the Law is So Perverse,” presents the multiple conundrums based on legal consequences that are sometimes unintended. We visited by phone from his home in Philadelphia, PA on November 27, 2011, and began our conversation when I asked him to describe, using the examples in his book, how the legal system in the United States evolved to create conundrums, contradictions and unintended consequences.

The book Prof. Leo Katz recommends is, “The Assault,” by Harry Mulisch.

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Ball, Betty — History of the Mendocino Environmental Center

The history of the Mendocino Environmental Center, as told by its co-founder Betty Ball, is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious. Betty and her late husband Gary Ball, founded the Mendocino Environmental Center, based in Ukiah, California in early 1987, which soon became a central organizing hub for several environmental movements in Northern California.

The issues in those years included protection of the Northern California coast from off shore oil drilling, an effort which has remained successful; the Forests Forever initiate campaign in behalf of the Heritage Tree Preservation Act, which narrowly lost a state-wide California election in 2002; and Redwood Summer, a non violent civil disobedience effort to protect old growth redwood trees in northern California from being logged, modeled after the Mississippi Summer civil rights projects in 1964. Shortly before the planned beginning of Redwood Summer in June 2000, Judi Bari, a Redwood Summer organizer was severely injured in a car bomb explosion in Oakland, California. In a subsequent civil jury trial the F.B.I. and the Oakland Police Department were found liable for certain matters related to the bombing, and ordered to pay over $4,000,000.00 compensation. The bombers still remain at large.

These and other issues are discussed in this interview with Betty Ball, which was recorded for video and audio broadcast on November 7, 2011, at the studios of Mendocino Access Television in Ukiah, California. We began when I asked Betty Ball what drew her and her late husband, Gary Ball into the environmental movement.

The books that Betty Ball recommends are any written by Arundhati Roy, Derrick Jensen or Chris Hedges.

This interview with Betty Ball was recorded for radio and television broadcast with the generous cooperation of Mendocino Access Television in Ukiah, California, and the engineering assistance of Mikah Mate.

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Dole, Professor Robert — Homosexuality and Schizophrenia

One man’s personal experience in recognizing his homosexuality, is the subject of this program.  Until the mid 1970s homosexuality was considered by many people to be a mental disorder and/or a crime, as it still is in some personal and political belief systems.  Homosexual people sometimes were housed in mental institutions, given medication and suffered an array of treatment methods, including shock therapy and other forms of behavior modification.

Professor Robert Dole, our guest in this edition of Radio Curious, was one of many individuals subjected to behavior modification of that period in time. In his book, “How to Make a Success of Your Schizophrenia,” he explains how the “treatment” he endured as an attempt to alter his homosexual preference made him schizophrenic.  His personal memoir describes his experiences growing up in the 1960s as a gay man, his institutionalization at the McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, the schizophrenia that consumed him as a result of his treatment, his self-led recovery, partially based on a spiritual experience, and his subsequent extraordinary life in academia.

Professor Dole, who is fluent in seven languages, teaches English as a Foreign Language at the University of Chicoutimi in rural Quebec, Canada, where he has lived for 30 plus years.  He and I visited by phone from his office at the University of Chicoutimi on November 4, 2011 and began our conversation when I asked to describe the schizophrenia he experienced.

The books Professor Robert Dole recommends are: “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” by Leo Tolstoy and any book from Stefan Zweig.

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Kennedy, Professor Randall — Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

Racial Politics in America is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious, in our third visit with author and Harvard Law School Professor Randall Kennedy, whose latest book is “The Persistence of the Color Line:  Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency.”  Kennedy is also the author of  “Nigger:  The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word,” and “Interracial Intimacies:  Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption.”  We visited by phone from his home in Massachusetts on October 28, 2011, and began our conversation when I asked him to describe the current role of race in American politics.

The book Randall Kennedy recommends is “Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination,” by Alondra Nelson.

The interview with Professor Kennedy about his book “Nigger:  The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word,” may be heard here and the interview about his book, “Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption,” may be heard here.

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Herm, Eric — Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth

Eric Herm is a 4th generation farmer from Ackerly Texas and author of, “Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth: A Path to Agriculture’s Higher Consciousness.” Herm is transitioning his family farm into an organic farm. He recently returned from a march that began in Baltimore, Maryland and ended in front of the White House in Washington D.C. to oppose the use of genetically modified organisms, GMO’s. We spoke with Eric Herm from his farm in Ackerly, Texas on October 24th, 2011 and asked him to describe his experience in Washington D.C.

The book that Eric Herm recommends is, “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture,” by Wendell Berry.

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Farr, Sam Rep. — Who Controls Congress: 2011

Radio Curious host Barry Vogel visits with his law school friend and Peace Corps cohort, Sam Farr, Congressman from Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, California.  They discuss the political climate the new Tea Party members in Congress since the current session began in January 2011.  They also discuss the Peace Corps and the burgeoning war debt, and the House leadership’s move to eliminate the recycling program and prohibit education about climate change and energy conservation from public schools.

This conversation with Rep. Sam Farr was recorded in his Washington D.C. office September 29, 2011.

The book Rep. Sam Farr recommends is, “Home Grown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts From the Heart of America,” by Garrison Keillor.

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