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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Nawa, Fariba — Child Brides & Drug Lords

Imagine Darya, a twelve year old girl in a remote village of Afghanistan. Her father forces her to marry a drug lord as part payment for an opium drug trade. Her father is not home and she is about to be taken from her family. Desperately, her hands trembling, she implores you, a complete stranger: “Please don’t let him take me.”

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with Fariba Nawa, author of “Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan.” Fariba Nawa was ten years old when her family fled Afghanistan shortly before the Soviet invasion in 1979. Eighteen years later Fariba Nawa met twelve year old Darya when she returned to her native Afghanistan as an Afghan-American investigative journalist. Her book tells Darya’s story, and reveals what the Afghan opium drug trade is doing to her native land in the midst of war.

Fariba Nawa and I visited by phone from her home near San Francisco, California on January 23, 2012. We began with her description of coming to the United States and flight from Afghanistan.

The book Fariba Nawa recommends is “Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love and War,” by Annia Ciezaldo.

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Wells, Spencer — The Peopling of the World

Around 60,000 years ago, a man – identical to us in all important genetic respects – lived in Africa. Every person alive today is descended from him. This is known because the secrets of human evolution are hidden in our genetic code. In this edition of Radio Curious, we visit with geneticist Spencer Wells, author of the book and movie, “Journey of Man, A Genetic Odyssey.”

Spencer Well is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., where he leads the Genographic Project, which is collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the wold in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the world. He is also a professor a Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The book Spencer Wells recommends is “No Logo,” by Naomi Klein.

Originally Broadcast: February 10, 2004.

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Wells, Spencer — The Unforseen Cost of Civilization

In this edition of Radio Curious we revisit a conversation with Spencer Wells about his book, “Pandora’s Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization,” published in 2010.

Our interview is a follow-up to a 2003 conversation about his book, “The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey,” in which Wells traces our routes as small bands of hunter-gatherers when our ancestors walked out of Africa approximately 60,000 years ago and began populating the world.

“Pandora’s Seed” tells the story of what we humans, with our hunter-gatherer biological construct have created in the past 10,000 years. These multiple life style changes have produced what we call “civilization,” with systems and mechanisms that will not allow us to continue the life-styles that are emulated by many people world-wide, and exploited by those who have access to them. In other words, we can’t last much longer doing what we are doing without radically reducing the way we all live, if not outright killing our species.

Spencer Well is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., where he leads the Genographic Project, which is collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the wold in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the world. He is also a professor a Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

In this interview with Spencer Wells, recorded on July 19, 2010, we began by describing the changes necessary for our species survival.

The book Spencer Wells recommends is “The Histories,” by Herodotus, a 5th century B.C. Greek historian.

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Brown, Seyom — The International Responsibility to Protect

The “responsibility to protect,” established by the United Nations, is a governmental duty to respect and protect international human rights. This responsibility, its adoption, and how countries, especially the United States exercise it, is the topic of our second, 2014 conversation with Dr. Seyom Brown.

Dr. Brown is currently an adjunct senior fellow at the American Security Project, in Washington, D.C. He has previously held senior research and policy analysis positions at the RAND Corporation, the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Kennedy School of Government. He has also served as a Special Assistant in the Office of International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense, and to the Director of Policy Planning in the Department of State. Dr. Brown has taught at Harvard, Brandeis, John Hopkins, Columbia, University of Chicago, and UCLA. He is the author of twelve books on the United States’ foreign policy and international relations.

When Dr. Brown visited Radio Curious on July 4, 2014, we began this conversation with his description of “responsibility to protect” and the history of how it was established.

The book Dr. Seyom Brown recommends is “Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons,” by Ward Wilson.

You also may hear our first 2014 conversation about the contradictions of United States’ nuclear policy here and two 1995 Radio Curious interviews with Dr. Seyom Brown discussing then President Bill Clinton’s foreign policy here.

For full disclosure, Dr. Seyom Brown is the uncle to Radio Curious host and producer, Barry Vogel.

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Rosenwasser, Penny — From Fear to Love: A Judaic Perspective

When Penny Rosenwasser, our guest in this edition of Radio Curious, was a child in the suburbs of Virginia, people sometimes said, “You don’t look Jewish.”  She replied, “Thank you.” 

Her book, “Hope into Practice: Jewish Women Choosing Justice Despite Our Fears,” delves into the Jewish experience and its rich yet tragic cultural history. She explores internalized oppression and ways to face fear with a positive outcome, and describes steps to embrace who we are as a means to create a world based on love, tolerance and justice.

I spoke with Penny Rosenwasser from her home near San Francisco, California on May 5, 2014.  She began our conversation by describing a major theme of her book.

Penny Rosenwasser will be speaking in Redwood Valley, on May 18, at 4pm at Kol-ha-Emek 8591 West Road. Call 707 468 4536 for details.

The book she recommends is “The Colors of Jews: Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism,” by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz.

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Cochran, Gregory — The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution Part Two

In this, the second of two Radio Curious interviews, we continue our discussion of human evolution with Gregory Cochran an aerospace physicist and professor of anthropology at the University of Utah; his expertise is in genetic anthropology. Gregory Cochran along with Henry Harpending, also a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah, are the co-authors of the 2009 book “The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.” This book explores how humans appear to have evolved over the last 10,000 years, largely driven by civilization-the place, culture and lifestyle of the time.

In this two part conversation, recorded by phone with Gregory Cochran from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 23rd, 2009, we discuss how humans have genetically evolved.

In part one we discussed the changes in human biology such as lactose tolerance and resistance to malaria that represent human evolution accelerated by civilization. We also discussed the intermixing of neanderthals and humans and the genetic benefits in our species that continue to this day.

In part two, Cochran discusses how gene mutations have allowed specific human advantages in different locations around the world.   We began with his discussion of the migration of the human species out of Africa, which resulted in some people living in the northern latitudes.  People born in these areas with a random genetic mutation resulting in skin of a lighter color allowed them to absorb more vitamin D from the sun, thus giving them better health and a greater opportunity to have off spring. We also discuss the genetic mutations that contribute to certain types of intelligence.

The book Gregory Cochran recommends is”Tthe Princeton Companion to Mathematics,” edited by Timothy Gowers.

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

Cochran, Gregory — The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution Part One

Have humans changed in the last 10,000 years?  Are we biologically the same as we have been for the past 60,000 years? Recent evidence suggests that so called civilization has promoted rapid evolutionary change in our species in the last 10,000 years.

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with Gregory Cochran, a physicist and anthropologist, who is the co-author of the book “The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution”.  His book asserts that changes in human biology, lactose tolerance and resistance to malaria for example, represent human evolution accelerated by civilization.

In this, the first of two Radio Curious conversations with Gregory Cochran we discuss some of these evolutions.

In part two we discuss the evolution and genetic mutations of race and physiology.

I spoke with Gregory Cochran from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 23, 2009 and began by asking him what biological indications exist to show an increase in human evolution in the past 10,000 years and why they occurred.

The book Gregory Cochran recommends is “Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Re-Wilding of America” by Paul S. Martin

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