Zimring, Frank — When Police Kill

This program is devoted to some of the reasons why police in the United States kill and who the dead are.

Of the 1,100 killings by police in the United States in the year 2015, 85% were a result of a fatal shooting; 95% of those victims were male.  The death rates for African Americans and Native Americans are twice their share of the population.

Our guest in this first of a two part series on why police kill, is Franklin E. Zimring a law professor at the Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California at Berkeley.  He is also the author of “When Police Kill.”

Zimring’s conclusions, based on evidence garnered from the empirical research revealed in his book show: 1) “Police use of lethal force is a very serious national problem in the United States”; 2) “Killings by police are a much larger problem in the United States than in any other developed nation, in large part because of widespread ownership and use of handguns which increase the vulnerability of police to life-threatening assault;” and 3) “Police killings are a very specific problem that can be effectively controlled without major changes in the performance or the effectiveness of police.”  This third point is the topic of part two in this series.

And, for the sake of full disclosure, Frank Zimring and I have been friends since our early years in elementary school.

Frank Zimring and I visited by phone from his office at Boalt Hall Law School in Berkeley, California on November 17, 2017.   We began our conversation when I asked him to discuss policing as a governmental function.  

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Scott, Jack — Harvesting Redwood Trees, Without a Chain Saw

The California coastal redwood trees are some of the oldest living things in the world. Other than cutting the tree down, the best way to determine their age, or the age of any tree is with an incremental borer.  That’s a long narrow tube twisted into the tree from the bark to the pitch at the center of the tree.  A small finger-size “wooden rod” is removed revealing one line which represents one tree ring is then removed and counted.  Each tree ring represents one year of the tree’s life.  

Though few old growth redwood forests exist now, some of the remaining redwoods are estimated to be close to 2000 years old.  Although that is easy to say, it is beyond my ken to fathom.

96 year old Jack Scott of Ukiah, California, is our guest on this edition of Radio Curious.  In 1936 before the era of the chain-saw, Scott harvested old growth redwoods beginning at 15 years old.  Part of the harvest process was to push and then pull one end of a two-person hand-saw. When Scott visited the Radio Curious studios on November 12, 2017, we began when I asked him to describe working in the woods at that time.

The books Jack Scott recommends are those written by Louis Lamore.  

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Cain, Crispin — Craft Whiskey: What It Is and How it’s Made

Whiskey:  Scotch, Irish, Absinthe and Moonshine, among others, are the topics of this edition of Radio Curious.  Our guest is Crispin Cain, an artisan liqueur maker, distiller and co-owner of Greenway Distillers and American Craft Whiskey, based in Redwood Valley, California, about 10 miles north of the Radio Curious studios. We met in his office of at the Greenway distillery on October 27, 2017, and began our visit sampling some his most tasty products.  After a few sips I turned on the recorder and asked Crispin Cain to describe the distilling process.

The book Crispin Cain recommends is “Writings from Ancient Egypt,” by Toby Wilkinson.  

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Gottlieb, Dr. Dan — Mindfulness in the Digital Age

This program is about some of the consequences of that small pocket size electronic device which, as of January, 2017, 95% of adult Americans own and carry. This device is commonly called a cell phone.  In May, 2017, estimates indicate the average American over age 18 spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their cell phone every day.

Dr. Dan Gottlieb, our guest on this edition of Radio Curious, is a clinical psychologist, author and the host of Voices in the Family  aired regularly on WHYY in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He provides clinical therapy to people who suffer from feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. This condition is commonly known as anxiety and appears to be an unanticipated consequence cell phone usage.

I met with Dr. Dan, as he is often called, in the studios of WHYY in Philadelphia on October 16, 2017.  We began our conversation when I asked him about the consequences of current cell phone usage especially by young people.

The books Dr. Dan Gottlieb recommends are:  “The Black Widow,” by Daniel Silva, and “What Happened,” by Hillary Rodham Clinton.  

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Samson, Don — The Creative Imagination of Playwright Don Samson

The creative imagination of playwright Don Samson is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.  In May 2015, I had the good fortune of seeing a ten minute play entitled “Blind Date,” written by my long time friend, who lives in nearby Willits, California.  For many years prior to becoming a playwright, Don Samson researched and wrote legal briefs for criminal defense attorneys, an experience we also discuss in this program. 

After seeing the local production of “Blind Date,” I was curious about the circumstances that came to Don Samson’s mind when he created this play, so I invited him to visit the Radio Curious studios.  We met on May 22, 2015 and began our conversation with his description of those circumstances. 

Don Samson recommends the book, which is also a play, “Antigone,” by Sophocles.  

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Von Drehle, David — Triangle, the Fire that Changed America

Until September 11, 2001, The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911 was the deadliest workplace disaster in the history of New York City.  The fire shocked the nation and exposed the life-threatening conditions in America’s sweatshop industry.  It gave energy to the labor movement and unions, and remade the Democratic Party of the time.

Our guest, David Von Drehle, is the author of “Triangle, the Fire That Changed America,” a book that presents a detailed examination of how this single event changed the course of the 20th century politics and labor relations. In this book, Von Drehle concludes:

“As for the mostly nameless young women and men who went on strike in 1909 and bravely walked those relentless picket lines through a freezing winter—and especially those remarkable young people who later died at the Triangle—their memory grows.  Their individual lives are mostly lost to us, but their monument and legacy are stitched into our world.”

David Von Drehle and I visited by phone from New York City in early September 2003, and began with his description of the fire on March 25, 1911 that changed America.

The book David Von Drehele recommends is “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall” by William Riordan.

This program was originally broadcast on September 9, 2003.

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A Visit with Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Frederick Douglass

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass were good friends from the mid 19th century to the late 19th century, and were active leaders in the fight for the rights of women and blacks throughout their lives.  From time to time they got together to visit and talk about America, as they knew it. In this archive edition of Radio Curious recorded in May 1998, I met with Chautauqua scholars Sally Roesch Wagner and Charles Pace who portrayed Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass. We began our conversation when I asked them each to tell us what it was like to be an American during their life time.

The book Frederick Douglass recommends is, “The Columbian Orator: Containing a Variety of Original and Selected Pieces Together With Rules, Which Are Calculated to Improve Youth and Others, in the Ornamental and Using Art of Eloquence” by Caleb Bingham. The book Charles Pace recommends is, “W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868 to 1919,” by David Levering Lewis.

The book Elizabeth Cady Stanton recommends is, “The Woman’s Bible” edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The book Sally Wagner recommends is, “The Homesteader: A Novel,” by Oscar Micheaux. 

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Adams, Dr. Francis — Are We Still Racist?

“Alienable Rights: The Exclusion of African Americans in a White Man’s Land, 1619 to 2000” is a book in part written by Francis Adams, an independent scholar living in Los Angeles, California. The book posits that the drive for equal rights for black people in the United States has never had the support of the majority of America. Rather, racial progress has been made in brief historic bursts, lead by the committed militant minorities of abolitionists, radical republicans, and civil rights activists.

Dr. Francis Adams and I began our conversation when I asked him to explain the importance of the trial of James Somerset that took place in England in 1772.

The book that Dr. Francis Adams recommends is: “Collapse,” by Jared Diamond.

Originally Broadcast: January 29, 2005.

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

From the Radio Curious archives we visit with Eric Herm 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, in October, 2011, and ended in front of the White House in Washington D.C. to oppose the use of genetically modified organisms, GMO’s. When we visited with Eric Herm from his farm in Ackerly, Texas on October 24th, 2011 began when I 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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Edward Sorel: An Actress, Her Lovers, and a Daft Caricaturist

Edward Sorel, a satirical caricaturist, and cartoonist, whose first book is Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936, is our guest in this edition Radio Curious. Claiming to be daft about Mary Astor for about a half a century, Sorel describes Astor’s career as a Hollywood based actress who seemingly more than enjoyed a lustful and salacious life. Astor’s diary, which allegedly revealed the untold stories of her trysts and lovers, was the centerpiece of the sensational 1936 trial to determine the custody of her young daughter.

Sorel, whose pictorial satires have appeared on the covers of forty-six editions of The New Yorker magazine, visited Radio Curious by phone from his home in Harlem, New York City, on February 27, 2017. We began our conversation when I asked him for the background of his interest in Mary Astor and what drew him to write and illustrate his book Mary Astor’s Purple Diary.

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The books Ed Sorel recommends are: Iron Dawn: The Monitor and The Merrimack, and the Sea Battle that Changed History, by Richard Snowand Terrible Virtue, a Novel, by Ellen Feldman.