Chaim Potok – Escaping Communism

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Chaim Potok, the author of “The Chosen,” “The Gift of Asher Lev,”Davida’s Heart,” and many other novels, chronicled the life of a Russian Jewish family in the non-fictions story, “The Gates of November.” This true story of the Slapeck family, Solomon Slapek, his son Valodya, and daughter-in-law Masha, spans 100 years. Beginning with Solomon’s childhood at turn of the 20th century, his escape to America and return to Russia, it eventually describes Valodya and Masha’s life after they apply for an exit visa to leave Russia in 1968, in order to emigrate to Israel. Chaim Potok died July 23, 2002, at his suburban Philadelphia home of brain cancer at the age of 73.

The book Chaim Potok recommends is “The English Patient,” by Michael Ondaatje.

This program was Originally Broadcast: January 8, 1997

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Elana Rozenman – Jewish, Muslim & Christian Understanding

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In June, 2002 I overheard an American woman now living in Israel passionately describe her belief that teaching children to be suicide bombers is the worst form of child abuse imaginable. I invited Elana Radley Rosenman, an organizer of the Women’s Interfaith Encounter, a group of Muslim, Christian and Jewish women who meet regularly in Jerusalem, to be our guest on this edition of Radio Curious.

Elana Rozenman recommends “Yet a Stranger: Why Black Americans Still Don’t Feel at Home,” Debra Mathis.

Originally Broadcast: July 23, 2002

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The Galapagos Islands and Charles Darwin

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Who was Charles Darwin and what led him to describe what we now call the theory of evolution? These curious questions are ones that I have been following since I was about ten years old. In 1978 I had the good fortune of visiting the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in 1831 for month as part of a five-year voyage around the world. There he saw birds and animals that helped him formulate some of his ideas about evolution he published The Origin of the Species, 22 years later in 1853. Since then the world, science and religion has not been the same.

Now, at a time when concepts of evolution and natural selection are attacked from certain theological and political perspectives, “The Darwin Conspiracy,” a novel has been written by John Darnton, a writer and editor for the New York Times. “The Darwin Conspiracy,” although fiction, is said by John Darnton to be 90% accurate. It covers Darwin’s life and thinking before and after his publication of “The Origin of the Species.”

I spoke with John Darnton from his home in New York City at the end of October 2005. He began by describing who Charles Darwin was, in his time and place.

The book John Darnton recommends is “Snow,” by Orhan Pamuk.

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Fuller, Alexandra — Growing Up White in Africa

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In the late summer of 2003 Radio Curious visited with Alexandra Fuller who, as a child lived in Rhodesia, Malawi and Zambia in southeast Africa between 1972 and 1990.  After her father sided with the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, he was often away from home.   Fuller’s resilient and self-sufficient mother immersed herself in their rural and rugged life. She taught her children to have strong wills and opinions, and to whole-heartedly embrace life, despite and because of their difficult circumstances.  Alexandra Fuller, author of “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood,” known as Bobo to her family, developed a love of reading and story telling early on in her life.

When  Alexandra Fuller and I visited by phone from her home in rural Wyoming in September 2003, we began our conversation when I asked her how she choose the title for her book, “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood.”

The book Alexandra Fuller recommends is “Echoing Silences,” by Alexander Canigone.

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Lawler, Andrew- The Chicken: A Mirror of Humanity

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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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McPherson, Guy — How to Deal With Abrupt Climate Change

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Guy R. McPherson, Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona, is our guest in this second of a two part series about abrupt climate change.  In part one, podcasted at radiocurious.org, we considered the existing circumstances likely to bring about abrupt climate change, in particular, the total melt of the polar ice caps.  This would result in the polar sea water absorbing heat from the sun rather than reflecting it, raising ocean temperatures and shutting off our “planetary air-conditioner.”

These consequences could make Mother Earth grossly inhospitable to human habitation potentially shut down our ability to grow grain and other crops we depend on for food.  Without food readily available, well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Here in part two of our conversation with Professor McPherson we further discuss this pending potential catastrophe and how we may each personally be able to relate to it.

Guy McPherson and I visited by phone on August 12, 2018, and began with his comments of what could occur after the global temperatures preclude the ability to grow grains, the other foods upon which we rely and the resulting reduction of industrial activity.  Finally in this visit we discuss how, in the wake of grimness, joy may be created, along with other options.

The reading the Guy McPherson recommends “My Life and Death,” an essay by Martin Manley. Manley’s essay discusses his suicide on his 60th birthday may found at at the bottom of Guy McPherson website.

Additional information about abrupt climate change may be found in the following three links: President of Finland talking to Trump; President of Finland in north Russia; and Human extinction by 2026.

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Mark Mello, Reflections on The Underground Railroad—What now?

New Bedford, Massachusetts, a sea port located in the southeast corner of Massachusetts, at the base of Cape Cod is the locale of our program. Early in New Bedford’s history a group of Quakers from Boston moved there and “New Bedford became a safe haven for formerly enslaved African-Americans” who had been able to escape bondage.

stories of those who safely arrived in New Bedford on the Underground Railroad are presented at the 34 acre New Bedford National Historical Park in the Old Town section of New Bedford.

This two part series on the New Bedford Underground Railroad with National Park Ranger Mark Mello was recorded on September 2, 2016, with the sound of wind and street traffic in the background. Part one begins with a historical perspective of the Underground Railroad and the way in which New Bedford, Massachusetts was a safe haven for former slaves.  Part two begins with Ranger Mello’s story of Nathan and Polly Johnson, a free black couple who lived and worked there–he as a pharmacist and she a confectionary.

The books Mark Mello recommends are “Fugitive’s Gibraltar: Escaping Slaves and Abolitionism in New Bedford, Massachusetts,” by Kathryn Grover; “Whale Hunt,” by Nelson Cole Haley; and “Leviathan,” by Philip Hoare.

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Gross, Ron — Socrates in Athens, in Conversation

Socrates of Athens, who lived before the Common Era, is respected as one of the greatest independent thinkers of all time. Socrates himself refused to be recognized as a teacher. Instead, Plato, his well-known student and reporter of Socrates dialogues, tells us he asked to be seen as a “midwife of ideas.” Socrates passion to achieve self-understanding, and the proper ways to live, continues to be studied and emulated to this day.

Chataquan scholar Ron Gross portrays Socrates in this archived interview, recorded in January 2003. We began our conversation when I asked him to describe the process of self understanding.

The book Socrates recommends is “The Trojan Women,” by Euripides. Ron Gross recommends “The Clouds,” by Aristophanes. 

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Krol, Debra — Native American Art of the Southwest

Founded in 1929, the Heard Museum’s mission is dedicated to “educating people about the arts, heritage and life ways of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, with an emphasis on American Indian tribes of the Southwest.” Committed to the sensitive and accurate portrayal of Native arts and cultures, the museum successfully combines the stories of American Indian people from a personal perspective with the beauty of art, showcasing old and new hand woven baskets, Kachina dolls, other art and cultural objects.

The museum showcases the art and regalia of Apache, Hopi, Navajo, Pueblo, and Yaqui, to name a few.  More than 2,000 items make up the museums exhibition.  Artwork ranging from pottery, baskets, beadwork, dolls and paintings are on display.

Our guest is Debra Krol, the communications manager who shared portions of the Heard Museum with me on December 10, 2011.  We began our conversation with Krol when she introduced us to the Heard Museum and the unique features that reflect the evolution of south western Native American art.

Debra Krol recommends two books: “Ishi’s Brain,” by Orin Starn, and “Indians, Merchants and Missionaries: The legacy of Colonial Encounters on the California Frontiers”, by Kent G. Lightfoot. Our interview with Orin Starn may be found here

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Appelbaum, Ralph:  Holocaust Remembrance and the Responsibility of Bystanders


To create thought around Yom Hashoah, known in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, I offer you an archive interview with Ralph Appelbaum, the designer the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington D.C., which opened in April, 1993, when this interview was recorded.

When Ralph Appelbaum and I were Peace Corp volunteers in the mid 1960s, living in nearby towns in southern Peru, we often shared our future plans. This interview shares the story of one of Ralph’s plans which he manifested on a material plane, about 30 years later.

Appelbaum says that a museum’s architecture should focus on the experience by creating time and space events. In the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Appelbuam’s design depicts the suffering, torture and death of millions of people during World War II in Europe, on land controlled by fascist Nazis. He also directs attention to the responsibility of bystanders.

Please keep in mind that this interview was recorded in April 1993. That was when Ralph Appelbaum and I visited by phone from his loft in New York City. We began when I asked him to describe his vision of a museum designer.

The audio of this program was enhanced by Gregg McVicer of UnderCurrents Radio, who was our guest in 2013.

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