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Bob Elsewhere

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March 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014
Bob talks to Mary Willingham, a former academic advisor to athletes at the University of North Carolina, and UNC history professor Jay Smith, about the continuing controversy around the university’s big money sports program. Willingham says that some of the football and basketball players at Carolina she tutored or evaluated were reading between a 4th grade and 8th grade level, and a that a handful were functionally illiterate. She said one of the Tar Heels’ basketball players she tutored couldn’t read at all.  UNC officials have accused her of making this up, and demoted her. She’s also received death threats from fans. Willingham and professor Jay Smith are writing a book about the scandal, and the university’s reaction. Then, comedian/performance artist Mark Malkoff talks about going for a week without his smartphone. He had to find creative, low-tech substitutes for daily activities like texting, status updates on Facebook, and posting silly pictures of his cat on Instagram. Malkoff’s previous stunts have included racing a NY city bus on a kids’ Big Wheel tricycle (the Big Wheel won,) visiting all 171 Starbucks in New York city within 24 hours, and consuming something at each one; and living for a week in an IKEA while his apartment was being fumigated.  
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Margaret Fuller was one of the literary elite of 19th Century New England, along with Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. But many of the details of her remarkable life have been eclipsed by her tragic death, in a shipwreck off the coast of Fire Island. A new biography, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, by Megan Marshall, tells her story from youth in New England to adulthood in New York and Europe. Fuller was a literary editor, a columnist crusading on behalf of the poor and a war correspondent. Marshall is the author of The Peabody Sisters, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic and the New York Times Book Review.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Zelda Sayre was the wife and literary muse of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Together they were the living symbols of The Jazz Age, the Roaring 20’s and the Lost Generation. But Zelda was also a writer, dancer, painter and so much more. In her novel, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, written from Zelda’s point of view, Therese Anne Fowler gives Zelda her due. Then, Bob talks with brothers Jonathan and Tad Richards about their book titled Nick & Jake. In the epistolary novel, the two famous literary characters, Nick Carraway and Jake Barnes, refugees from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, strike up a correspondence and then friendship. The story charts their romp through 1950s America with a bizarre cast of fictional characters and actual historical figures. Their book has just been released in paperback.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Bob talks about the political turmoil in Ukraine with Miroslava Gongadze, an anchor and reporter at Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service, and Mychailo Wynnyckyi, a professor of sociology at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, in Kiev.  It all started three months ago when a small group of students met on Kiev’s Independence Square to mark the anniversary of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution.  It quickly morphed into a massive popular uprising, bloody clashes between protesters and police that left about 100 people dead, the sudden departure of President Viktor Yanukovych, and then Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send in troops to the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. Now Ukraine is an international crisis.  Then, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think is Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s book on “datafication”- an emerging science that tracks the movements of people, inventory, …and can even predict the spread of disease.  Co-author and Economist data editor Kenneth Cukier joins Bob to discuss the book.  It’s now out in paperback.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Next, following World War II, the United States secretly brought over a number of former Nazi scientists, notwithstanding their crimes against humanity. Best-selling author Annie Jacobsen details this covert plan in her new book Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bob talks to Dave Zirin, host of SiriusXM’s weekly show “Edge of Sports” about scandals in college sports.  The most recent controversy involves the University of North Carolina.  A former academic advisor to athletes named Mary Willingham went public and said that some of football and basketball players at the university read between a 4th grade and 8th grade level, and a handful were functionally illiterate. She said one of the Tar Heels’ basketball players she tutored couldn’t read at all.  Then, Bob talks with NPR correspondent Margot Adler about her book Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair with the Immortal Dark Side.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

 Bob talks to Columbia University professor Hisham D. Aidi about his latest book Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture.  Then, in her book, The Myth of PersecutionCandida Moss argues that martyrdom, or “the Age of Martyrs” was mostly fictitious, conceived by the church to recruit and expand. This image of Christian-as-victim is still very much with us today, and Moss explains the implications for modern society.  Moss is a religion professor at Notre Dame and an expert on early Christianity.  Her book is now available in paperback.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

 As the 19th century came to a close, America’s big cities worked out how to move people quickly and efficiently. Author Doug Most tells the story of mass transit in his book The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry that Built America’s First Subway.  Then, Bob talks to author Nicole Mones about black musicians in the Chinese jazz age and her latest novel, Night In Shanghai.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bob talks with sports writer John Feinstein about his book Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball.  Then, in their song “All Together Now,” The Beatles sang the lyrics: “pink, brown, yellow, orange and blue, I love you…” and who doesn’t love bright beautiful colors? The lads from Liverpool are far from the only artists to pen odes to the hues of our world, and Folklorists Steve Winick & Nancy Groce join us with some of their favorite examples from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news.  Next, filmmaker Rachel Boynton’s new documentary, Big Men, takes viewers to the oil fields of Ghana and Nigeria, where violence, corruption, and greed deny local citizens the proceeds that come from their resource rich country.  Big Men opens March 14th.   Then, the latest installment of our ongoing series This I Believe.


Monday, March 17, 2014
Grammy-nominated musician Loreena McKennitt talks with Bob about her extraordinary career. Her latest album is The Journey So Far: The Best of Loreena McKennitt. Then, in 1962, musician Paddy Moloney founded a traditional Irish music group called The Chieftains. We mark St. Patrick’s Day by returning to our 2012 conversation with Moloney about his Grammy-winning ensemble’s latest album, Voice of Ages, a collaboration with Bon Iver, the Punch Brothers and many other contemporary musicians. The Chieftains are currently touring Voice of Ages throughout the U.S.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Author Jesse Prinz jabs at the nihilism of the nature/nurture debate in his book Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape the Human Brain. Prinz shares with Bob his belief that “…nurture can transcend nature.” Prinz’s book is now available in paperback. Then, since retiring from his weekly column a few years ago, Dave Barry has remained an astute observer of things that are funny to him. In his latest collection of humor essays, You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty, Barry pokes fun at Justin Bieber, 50 Shades of Gray, teenage girls, and, of course, himself.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” These iconic words were spoken by anchorman named Howard Beale in the 1976 movie Network. In MAD AS HELL: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in MoviesDave Itzkoff, a culture reporter for The New York Times, tells the behind-the-scenes story of the making of Network, including how the film’s screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky prophetically envisioned the future of mass media.  Then, Bob talks with Jason Bateman about his new movie, Bad Words. Bateman stars as 40-year-old spelling bee contestant Guy Trilby. He also directed the film. 
Thursday, March 20, 2014
As Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the rest of Muppet crew return to the big screen this weekend in Muppets Most Wanted, we look at the life of their creator, visionary artist Jim Henson. In his biography, Jim Henson: The Biography, writer Brian Jay Jones tells Henson’s personal story, revealing the man behind the Muppets.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Then, two weeks after a Queens woman named Catherine “Kitty” Genovese was brutally murdered, the New York Times published a detailed account of what happened: For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens….Not one person telephoned the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead.” 50 years later, Kevin Cook takes a closer look at the detail of the case in a book titled Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime That Changed America. Finally, Paul Schomer of is back to share some new music discoveries with us.  This time he’ll play tracks by Boone Graham, Not in the Face, Shortsleeves, Adrienne Lenker and Grand Lake Islands.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Anne Greenhalgh is deputy director of the Wharton Leadership Program and a featured voice on Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School, channel 111.  In 2005, she was voted the Best Lecturer in the Social Sciences by the entire student body of the University of Pennsylvania.  Bob asks her about business radio, how leadership can be taught, and what separates good from bad leadership.  Then, Bob talks to author and PEN/American Award winner David Stuart McLean about his book The Answer to the Riddle Is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
New York Times reporter Michael Moss won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2010 investigation into the dangers of contaminated meat.  In his latest book, Moss examines how food companies use science and technology to engineer the perfect combinations of three magic ingredients to make their food taste better – a process which often neglects nutrition.  Moss writes about the food laboratories where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary drinks and the “mouthfeel” of fat.  His book is titled, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us and it’s now available in paperback.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
In Stokely: A Life, renowned civil rights scholar Peniel Joseph examines the life and legacy of black nationalist Stokely Carmichael. Bob talks to the Tufts University professor about his research and interest in the black power movement.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Even when we ask a work colleague or a close friend for an honest opinion, we often aren’t ready to hear what they have to say. To teach us all to become better listeners, Bob talks with Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, the authors of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well.
Friday, March 28, 2014
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, joins Bob to discuss the latest political news. Then, as front-man of a successful rock band ‘The National,’ Matt Berninger performed sold-out shows for adoring fans, enjoying ample opportunities to express himself creatively while being well-paid for it. Meanwhile, his brother Tom had the less glamorous gig as a tour roadie for The National, but he wisely brought his video camera along. The resulting footage became the film, Mistaken for Strangers, less a traditional rock documentary than a universal story about the striving of brothers and the love of family. It premiered at Tribeca Film Festival last year and marked the true blossoming of Tom Berninger’s creative voice.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Bob talks to former NBA player Len Elmore about the business of college sports, and how it’s changed since he was a student.  Elmore graduated from the University of Maryland in l974, where he was a three-time all-conference player, then spent a decade in the NBA. After his basketball career ended, he went to Harvard Law School and worked as a prosecutor. Elmore says college players are bigger, stronger and train so much harder than he did. He thinks the whole system of college sports is out of balance, with players earning millions of dollars for the coaches and schools, while their athletic scholarships don’t even cover the full cost of education. Then, it is not new news that Americans take less vacation and work more hours than any other country. But what is all of this work doing to us?  Washington Post reporter Brigid Schulte’s new book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, looks at the facts behind our culture of busyness.