Blake, Tim — Marijuana & the California Drought Part Two

This is the second of two interviews about the nation-wide acceptance of the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.  Our guest is Tim Blake, founder of The Emerald Cup, California’s oldest competition among outdoor growers of organic cannabis.  He shares his opinions about the future cultural and legal acceptance of marijuana. 

Tim Blake and I continued our conversation about the growing nation-wide acceptance of marijuana and why. His comments and opinions are his, and were recorded in the studios of Radio Curious on January 17, 2014.

The book Tim Blake recommends is “The Urantia Book:  Revealing the Mysteries of God, the Universe, Jesus and Ourselves,” published by the Urantia Foundation.

Tim Blake’s comments and opinions are his and not necessarily that of Radio Curious.  We’re just curious.

Click here to listen to part two or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part one.

Seeger, Pete — Pete Seeger: In His Own Words

With sadness and admiration we pay tribute to the life and times of Pete Seeger, America’s foremost folk singer and troubadour. Pete Seeger brought songs of hope, justice and equality wherever he went with his 5 string banjo, 6 string guitar, 12 string guitar and Chailil, a simple handmade bamboo flute.

Pete Seeger died January 27, 2014, at the age of 94.  Seeger chronicled the history of activism in the United States through his music:  From the beginnings of World War Two, through the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 60s, the anti war movement of the 1960s and 70s to the Iraq-Afghanistan wars today.

This interview with Pete Seeger was recorded in January of 1992. We began our conversation when I asked him to describe what he meant when he said the world is at an age of uncertainty.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Organic Grapes, Wine & Charlie Barra

One might say that wine is the life blood of Charlie Barra, the founder of Barra of Mendocino Organic Wines.  He’s our guest on this edition of Radio Curious.

Barra was born in 1928, close to his winery, about five miles north of Ukiah, in Mendocino County, California.  His parents, both immigrants from the Piedmont region of Italy, had a long history in the vineyards and grew only organic grapes.  Barra continues that policy now in his vineyards and grows only certified-organic crops.

He says that for the past 67 years he never missed a harvest, claiming that pay day comes once a year, after the harvest is sold.

Charlie Barra and I visited in the kitchen of his home in Ukiah, California on November 1, 2013, and began our conversation with stories of his early memories.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.

Benally, Leonard — A Navajo Elder Remembered

In this edition of Radio Curious assistant producer Christina Aanestad speaks with Leonard Benally, a Dine’ elder. Dine is the indigenous name for the Navajo people. Leonard Benally lived in an area called Big Mountain on the Navajo and Hopi reservations close to the Arizona-New Mexico border. He died on October 11, 2013 from cancer.

In the 1970′s a Hopi – Navajo land dispute erupted on Big Mountain; some claim it was devised to move the Navajo out of the area because Peabody Coal wanted the coal rich land below their feet. As a result, an estimated 20,000 Dine’ were displaced. A few hundred remain to this day-refusing to leave. Leonard Benally was one of them.  

In August, 2012 Leonard Benally agreed to talk about his life.  He began the conversation by describing the boarding schools he was forced to live in, as a child, one being the school for Navajo children in Tuba, Arizona.

Leonard Benally recommends people listen to XIT an indigenous rock band from the 1970′s. This conversation with Leonard Benally was recorded in August of 2012 and first aired on Radio Curious in October 2013.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.

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 aired it for the first time in the last week of 2011, and again in October 2013 as we near standard time.

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.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.

Czifra, Steven — Eight Years in Solitary Confinement Part Two

This is our second interview with Steven Czifra, a 38 year old undergraduate student at the University of California at Berkeley who spent almost 16 years in prison beginning when he was 14 years old.  For almost eight of those years he was held in solitary confinement. 

Having been held in a solitary confinement facility known as the SHU, security housing units of California’s juvenile and adult prisons, for almost eight years, he recently participated in the hunger strikes in solidarity with current prisoners to end the use of those facilities.

In the first of a two-part series on prisons from the prisoner’s perspective, Steven Czifra shared his story and experiences.  Our first conversation ended when he was about to explain his desire to give a voice to the segment of the population which ends up in prison, and is otherwise not heard.  Who they are and why they are there. 

In this second conversation recorded from his home in Berkeley, California in September 14, 2013, Steven Czifra tells more of his personal story, his background and reflections and how he chose to turn his life around.  

The book Steven Czifra recommends is “We’re All Doing Time:  A Guide to Getting Free,” by Bo Lozoff.  

Click here to listen to part two of our interview with Steven Czifra or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.

Click here to listen to part one.


Slocum, Josh — The Privatization of Death Part Two

The traditional rights of families to care for their dead is the topic of this two-part interview on the funeral industry in the United States, with Josh Slocum and Lisa Carlson, co-author’s of “Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death.”

Final Rights” tells the story of the loss of control over what to do at the time of a death in the family, the euphemisms regarding death, and the laws and regulations in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.  The chapter “Tricks of the Funeral Trade” tells how, when grieving the loss of a loved one, many people fail to compare prices, and become vulnerable to suggestions that their love for the deceased is measured by the amount of money paid for the funeral, the casket and the burial.   

Josh Slocum directs the Funeral Consumers Alliance.  Lisa Carlson directs the Funeral Ethics Organization

In part two Josh Solcum discusses the cultural pathology about death that led to the loss of our rights to deal with our dead at death and allows the state to regulate private family activities that we’d never tolerate in any other sphere.

Josh Slocum and I visited by phone from his office near Burlington, Vermont, on August 30, 2013 and began with his description of how we as a culture deal with death.

The book he recommends is “The Selfish Gene,” by Richard Dawkins.

Our interview with Lisa Carlson, recorded from her home in Vermont, on August 26, 2013, can be heard here

More information on this topic may be found on our website’s law department.

Click here to listen to our interview with Josh Slocum or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.

Swearingen, Wesley — Illegal FBI Break-Ins, Told By a Former Agent

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have a history of illegal break-ins to homes and offices as well as conducting wiretaps without a search warrant.  In the years when J. Edgar Hoover was the Director of the FBI, these warrantless break-ins came to be known as “black-bag jobs”.

This archive edition of Radio Curious is a December 1995 interview with Wesley Swearingen a former FBI agent and author of “FBI Secrets: An Agent’s Expose.”  This book describes some of the “black-bag” warrantless searches in which he was involved, and his opinion of those activities.  Swearingen concludes his book by saying that the Hoover era will continue to haunt the FBI because Hoover knowingly undermined the United States Constitution. When I spoke with Wesley Swearingen from his home near Tucson, Arizona, in December 1995, I asked him what he meant by that.

The book Wesley Swearingen recommends is “Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover,” by Anthony Summers.

Originally Broadcast: December 20, 1995

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.

Frost, Mike — Spying on Americans: Not a New Activity Part 2

In the 1970s and 80s the use of the telephone or credit card, could have been and probably was recorded and saved in an international database called Echelon.

This is the second part of a two part series on international spying, recorded in 1999 with Mike Frost, author of “Spy World: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments.” We talked about Echelon, the code name given to the capability to intercept all of the word’s communications all the time. Mike Frost worked for over 30 years as a spy for the American and Canadian Governments. He wrote the book, which describes many of his experiences, because he felt the privacy rights of innocent people were then regularly violated. I spoke with Mike Frost in April 1999, from his home near Ottawa, Canada and I asked him to tell us about Echelon.

Mike Frost recommends the movie “Wag the Dog.”

Part one of our conversation with Mike Frost is here.

Click here to listen to part two or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.

Frost, Mike — Spying on Americans: Not a New Activity Part 1

The fact that governments spy on each other is no secret. The fact that they also collect data about lives of millions of innocent citizens, world wide, may be unknown to many people.  Mike Frost, the author of “Spy World: Inside the Canadian and American Intelligence Establishments”, worked as a spy for over 30 years. Mike traveled world wide, setting up devices to intercept what were thought to be secret international communications. Mike Frost has since retired as a spy and has many thoughts and considerations about his former job that he is willing to share with us.  Our discussion led to a two-part series, recorded and originally broadcast in April of 1999.

The movie Mike Frost recommends is “October Sky.”

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.