Blincoe, Bob — Kurdish People:  Their Struggle to Keep Their Homeland

In this 1997 edition of Radio Curious, we visited with Bob Blincoe, a Presbyterian minister, who lived and worked among the Kurds in the Zagros Mountains from 1990 to 1996.  

The Kurdish people have long been aptly referred to as a “millet.”  This is a Turkish term that originated in the Ottoman Empire when it ruled parts of central Europe to the near east from 1430 to 1921.  It means “any ethnic group.” Until the 20th century millets, were able to control their way of life and effectively rule themselves.  Now approximately 25 million Kurdish people live in the Zagros Mountains, where the borders of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, and northwestern Iran converge.  These Kurdish people live stateless and many homeless in their ancestral homeland.  Currently they have been able to successfully defend themselves from brutal ISIS attacks. 

When Bob Blincoe lived among the Kurds and worked as a community organizer in their ancestral homeland he first spoke Arabic, so he wouldn’t stand out.  He quickly learned Kurdish which he spoke only with great discretion. His stories of the Kurdish people are important to consider now in light of terrorism and other dangers inflicted against them.

When Bob Blincoe and I visited in the studios of Radio Curious in the spring of 1997, we began our conversation when I asked him to describe the Zagros Mountains where so many Kurdish people live.

The book Bob Blincoe recommends is “A Peace to End All Peace,” by David Fromkin.

This program was originally broadcast in May 1997.

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McPherson, Guy Ph.D. — Near Term Human Extinction Part One

Imagine the human habitat in which we all live changing so rapidly that life as we know it is extinguished. Temperatures that are getting hotter than ever, decades long droughts, catastrophic fires, melting polar ice, rising sea levels, and unprecedented winter storms are expected to radically limit food production and availability of potable water. 

In this, the first of a series on near term extinction of the human species, we visit with Dr. Guy R. McPherson, Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. Professor McPherson is co-author with Carolyn Baker of “Extinction Dialogs:  How to Live With Death in Mind.”  Together they present what appears to be overwhelming scientific evidence that our environment is headed for swift apocalyptic collapse.  Not only is this extinction likely, it is occurring every day. “How to live with death in mind” is the goal; living with urgency is the practice. 

The point from which average global temperature rise is measured dates back to 1750, the beginning of the industrial revolution–the time at which the ever increasing use of fossil fuels began. Since 1750, the planet has warmed by more than 1 degree centigrade.  McPherson’s book “Extinction Dialogs:  How to Live With Death in Mind,” explains how this small global rise in temperature is leading to a large scale mass extinction on the planet.

When Guy McPherson and I visited by phone on September 14, 2015, while he was traveling near New York, we began our conversation when I asked him to describe the indicators that reveal we’re in an era of unstoppable climate change.

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part two and here to listen to part three–a conversation with “Extinction Dialogues” coauthor Carolyn Baker.

Weiss, Andrew — Ellis Island: Ellis Island:  Those Who Arrived There, Why, and What Was it Like?

Our story this week is about Ellis Island and the people who arrived there when they first came to America. Between 1892 and 1956 about 12 million immigrants came to the United States and entered the country through Ellis Island, in the harbor of New York City. Who were these people? Where were they from?  What was their experience of getting to Ellis Island and what was it like for them once they arrived there?

In this archive edition of Radio Curious, we visit with Andrew Weiss, who I met in 1992 when he was the guide of a tour I took at Ellis Island.  At that time he also was a doctoral student at Columbia University and a teacher at Barnard College in New York City.  When Andrew Weiss and I visited in November of 1992 by phone from his home in New York City we began our conversation with a bit of the history of Ellis Island.

When this program was recorded in November 1992, the guests were not asked for a recommendation of a book.

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Pico, Pio & Garza, Robert — Meet the Last Mexican Governor of California

Radio Curious goes back into California history about 165 years, and visits with the last Mexican governor of California, Pio Pico. Born at the San Gabriel Mission in 1801, Pico was of Spanish, Italian, Indian and African ancestry. Both as a politician and as an entrepreneur, he espoused the views of many native-born “Californarios” over distant seats of government.

As the last Mexican Governor of California, he presided over the secularization of the missions, and turned over their vast land holdings to private hands. Although he fled California during the American takeover, Pio Pico returned to build the first major hotel in Los Angeles. Later, he served on the Los Angeles City Council.

I met with Pio Pico, portrayed by Roberto Garza, in February of 1998.  When Pio Pico and I met in the person of Roberto Garza we began when I asked him to tell us about his life.

The book Pio Pico recommends is “Pio Pico, A Historical Narrative,” by Pio Pico. Roberto Graza recommends “Pio Pico Miscellany,” by Martin Cole and “The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-Speaking Californians, 1846-1890,” by Leonard Pitt.

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Patterson, Dr. Victoria — Native American Life, Before and After Europeans Part Two

Cultures that have no written language pass on their histories through oral traditions. The stories are the way that social values and traditions are taught by one generation to the next. Animals often play a significant character role in these stories.

In the Native American traditions of the northwest part of California, the coyote is a popular character. Dr. Victoria Patterson, an anthropologist based in Ukiah, California, has worked with native peoples for over 30 years. She knows these stories, and she sees them as windows, allowing us to imagine how original native peoples of northern California thought and lived.

I met with Dr. Victoria Patterson and asked her about the significance of the story where the coyote jumped off into the sky. Our discussion lead to a two-part program, originally broadcast in February of 1999.  In part one we discuss the indigenous stories and in part two we discuss how the northern California indigenous communities changed after European colonization.

The books Dr. Victoria Patterson recommends are “Deep Valley,” by Bernard W. Aginsky and “Under the Tuscan Sun,” by Frances Mayes.

Originally Broadcast: February 16, 1999 and February 26, 1999.

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Lowe, Felicia — Chinese Immigration:  The Veil of Secrecy and Silence

Secrecy of and revelation about the trip to America to secure a new life during the Chinese Exclusion era is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious. 

Our guest is Felicia Lowe, whose filmChinese Couplets” tells her mother’s story.  Felicia Lowe was met with refusals and silence when as a child she asked her mother about her childhood. This shroud of silence was lifted when Felicia Lowe’s daughter found an old family photograph taken in China and asked her grandmother to tell the story related to the photograph. 

The film “Chinese Couplets” shows and tells the story of a childhood in rural China, the new identity to secure passage to America, the fear of deportation if the truth were known, and a prosperous and successful life of an immigrant Chinese woman in Oakland, California.   The film “Chinese Couplets” will be shown at the Mendocino Film Festival on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 10 am in the Village of Mendocino, California.

When Felicia Lowe and I visited by phone from her home in San Francisco, California, May 17, 2015, I asked her to tell us about her mother.

The book Felicia Lowe recommends is “The Blues Eye,” by Toni Morrison.

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Wallach, Amei — Art Outwitting Oppression:  The Kabakov Story

Amei Wallach, producer and director of the documentary film “Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here,” about the lives of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov is our guest in this edition of Radio Curious.

Amei Wallach met Ilya Kabakov in 1987, when she was in the Soviet Union investigating the effect of perestroika on the arts.  Unavoidably intrigued, eight years later she published the first biography of Ilya Kabakov, “The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away.” 

“Enter Here” documents not only the lives and work of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Russia’s most celebrated international artists, who are now United States citizens, but also the lives of the average Russian from the Stalin era to the fall of the Soviet Union.  The film will be shown at the Mendocino Film Festival May 31, 2015, at 12:30 pm, in the Village of Mendocino, California.

Amei Wallach says her film documents how “art can outwit oppression.” When we visited by phone on May 10, 2015, she began with an explanation of how art outwits oppression.   

The book Amei Wallach recommends is “Vermeer in Bosnia: Selected Writings,” by Lawrence Weschler. 

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Ellsberg, Daniel — The Pentagon Papers

Few moments in American history have held the tension of the Vietnam war, especially in the early 1970′s. The nation was fundamentally divided between young people and their parents, who saw no reason for the United States to be in Vietnam, and President Richard Nixon’s “silent majority,” causing a rupture particularly connected to the still-escalating Vietnam War. The “Pentagon Papers,” which were released by Daniel Ellsberg, our guest in this archive edition Radio Curious, were published on the front page of the New York Times in June 1971.

They focused national attention on United States foreign policy and on our rights as individual citizens to freedom of the press.  Criminal charges were brought against Ellsberg in the United States District Court in Los Angeles, California; they were later dismissed by the Judge.

When Daniel Ellsberg and I visited by phone in March 1997 I asked him to begin by placing the “Pentagon Papers” in the context of the time.

The book Daniel Ellsberg recommends is “Our War,” by David Harris.

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Offen, Bernard — The Power of Good and Evil

In honor of Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day which falls on April 16, in 2015, we visit with Bernard Offen, a survivor of five concentration camps in Poland, when he was a young teenager during World War II. Bernard Offen leads tours of these concentration camps and says, “You don’t have to be a survivor or Jewish. It’s for all the wounded who want to understand the power of good & evil and want to create goodness in the world.”

When Bernard Offen visited the studios of Radio Curious in April 2005, he began our conversation by describing some of his early childhood experiences in Krakow, Poland in the years just prior to World War II. 

Bernard Offen recommends his own book that was published in 2010, entitled “My Hometown Concentration Camp.” 

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Lawler, Andrew–The Chicken: A Mirror of Humanity

Where chickens thrive humans are nearby.  Portable and good travelers, chickens have been carried by humans around the world.  Currently there are three chickens alive at any one time for each individual person alive on earth.  Descendants of dinosaurs, chickens are primarily cared for by women, they’re a never ending source of slang and continue to be depicted in religious and/or political symbols around the world.  Americans eat, on average, 80 pounds of chicken per year—four times the world average. But, chickens raised for food are not considered animals under U.S. law and are generally not subject to humane treatment regulations. 

Our guest is Andrew Lawler, author of “Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?  The Epic Saga of the Bird That Powers Civilization.”  Andrew Lawler and I visited by phone from his home in the North Carolina hills on March 27, 2015, and began our conversation when I asked him how far back the lineage of the chicken goes in world history.

The book Andrew Lawler recommends is “Guns, Germs and Steel:  The Fates of Human Societies,” by Jared M. Diamond.  

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