humanity | WAMC

humanity

Book cover - Dusk Night Dawn
Riverhead Books

In “Dusk, Night, Dawn,” best-selling author Anne Lamott explores the tough questions that many of us grapple with. How can we recapture the confidence we once had as we stumble through the dark times that seem increasingly bleak? We begin, Lamott says, by accepting our flaws and embracing our humanity.

Book cover for "The Prophets" By Robert Jones Jr.
Putnam

Robert Jones, Jr., creator of the Son of Baldwin online community, has written a debut novel, "The Prophets," about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence. 

Book cover for "Nobody's Normal"
W. W. Norton & Company / W. W. Norton & Company

Roy Richard Grinker is professor of anthropology and international affairs at the George Washington University. He is the author of several books, including "Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism."

His latest is "Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness." The book charts the progress and setbacks in the struggle against mental-illness stigma, from the early industrial revolution, through America’s major wars, and into the high-tech economy.

We will discuss the book as well as COVID’s impact on the experience of mental illness, including its disruptions in mental health care, social isolation, depression, and grieving. Grinker is co-leading a yearlong study of changing funeral practices during the pandemic.

Book cover for "Future Rising"
Mango Publishing / https://mango.bz/

Human beings can and do change the future. Over the course of the past 14 billion years, humanity has gained the ability not only to imagine the future, but to design and engineer it.

In his new book, "Future Rising," Dr. Andrew Maynard, professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at ASU, provides a highly original perspective on our relationship with the future. As a species, we have become profoundly talented architects of our own future. And yet, we so often struggle to come to terms with what this means and the responsibility that comes with this ability. As our world is driven along by the breakneck speed of innovation and rapidly-shifting norms and expectations, we sometimes need to find a still, quiet place to pause and think.

"Future Rising" sets out to create such a quiet place, where we can take advantage of our species' knowledge of the environment, world history, and the importance of science to piece together a positive picture of the future.

When Gene Sperling was in charge of coordinating the shaping and execution of the U.S. government’s economic policy in the Obama White House, he found himself surprised and dismayed when serious people in Washington worried out loud that Obama’s focus on health care was a distraction because it was “not focused on the economy.”

Too often, Sperling found that our economic debate confused ends and means. We measured economic success by metrics like GDP instead of whether the economy was succeeding in lifting up the sense of meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and security of people.

In a time of wrenching economic upheaval, as we face the worst downturn since the Great Depression, Sperling’s new book, "Economic Dignity," seeks to reframe the conversation and offer a profound big-picture vision of why the promotion of dignity should be the singular goal by which we chart America’s economic future.

The New Colossus” tells the true stories of twelve refugees from twelve different time periods, fleeing from violence and oppression in a journey toward freedom. In the play -- which will be at Proctors in Schenectady, New York on Friday, February 7 and Saturday, February 8 -- a group of actors from all over the world tell their ancestors' stories, all woven into a single narrative about escaping their homeland and coming to America.

“The New Colossus is co-written by The Actors’ Gang Ensemble and their Artistic Director and Co-Founder Tim Robbins who also directs. The Actors’ Gang was founded in 1981 and is based in Culver City, California.

Academy Award winning actor, Tim Robbins is best known for his films “Bull Durham,” “The Hudsucker Proxy,” “Mystic River,” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” He directorial film credits include “Cradle will Rock” and “Dead Man Walking.”

As humanity marches on, causing mass extinctions and destabilizing the climate, the future of Earth will very much reflect the stories that Homo sapiens decides to jettison or accept today into our collective identity. At this pivotal moment in history, the most important story we can be telling ourselves is that humans are not inherently destructive.

In "Changing Tides" Alejandro Frid tackles the big questions: who, or what, represents our essential selves, and what stories might allow us to shift the collective psyche of industrial civilization in time to avert the worst of the climate and biodiversity crises?

Named one of the world’s ten most influential intellectuals by MIT, Douglas Rushkoff is an award-winning author, broadcaster, and documentarian who studies human autonomy in the digital age. The host of the popular "Team Human" podcast, Rushkoff has written twenty books. His latest is "Team Human," a manifesto on his most urgent thoughts on civilization and human nature.

In it, he argues that we are essentially social creatures, and that we achieve our greatest aspirations when we work together not as individuals. Yet today society is threatened by a vast antihuman infrastructure that undermines our ability to connect. Money, once a means of exchange, is now a means of exploitation; education, conceived as way to elevate the working class, has become another assembly line; and the internet has only further divided us into increasingly atomized and radicalized groups. If we are to resist and survive these destructive forces, we must recognize that being human is a team sport. In Rushkoff’s own words: “Being social may be the whole point.”

Book Cover for "Falter" and author photo of Bill McKibben
Author photo by Nancie Battaglia

Bill McKibben, often referred to as “America’s most important environmentalist,” thirty years ago offered one of the earliest warnings about climate change in his book, “The End of Nature.” Now he broadens the warning: the entire human game, he suggests, has begun to play itself out. The new book is “Falter.”

This is an Off the Shelf edition of The Book Show recorded in partnership with Northshire Bookstore.

Gerard Stropnicky
Gordon Wendell

In our time, when 280-character insults and snarky memes pass for conversation, is Civic Empathy possible?

Writer, director, activist and instigator, USA Fellow Gerard Stropnicky offers a Field Report on community story applied to community healing and progress as part of Vassar College’s “Engaged Pluralism Initiative Semester of Storytelling.”

On March 27 at 6 p.m. Stropnicky will host the workshop, “Civic Empathy: A Field Report” in the Villard Room on the Vassar campus.

Director and actor Gerard Stropnicky is one of the founding members of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, one of the oldest resident ensemble theaters in the U.S.

Astrid Van Wieren
broadway.com


  On March 12th of this year the new musical “Come From Away” opened at the Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway. The show, written by David Hein and Irene Carl Sankoff went on to earn 7 Tony Award nominations - including Best Musical - and to win one for Best Direction of a Musical for Christopher Ashley.

 

"Come from Away" is based on true events that took place in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada on September 11th, 2001. 38 planes were diverted from their original paths and forced to land in Gander. The planes carried passengers from all over the world; scared, confused, and all-but cut off from their loved ones the accidental visitors - or “come-from-aways” as the Newfoundlanders call them - nearly doubled the population of the region for the better part of a week. The locals opened their doors, pantries, hearts, and minds until the airspace was reopened.

 

The 12 actors in "Come From Away" each play multiple Newfoundlanders and "plane peple" and we are joined today by Astrid Van Wieren who has been with the show - as much of the cast has - since its early development.

Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge; the #1 New York Times bestseller My Name Is Lucy Barton; The Burgess Boys, a New York Timesbestseller; Abide with Me, a national bestseller and Book Sense pick; and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine.

She joins us to discuss her latest novel, Anything is Possible.

  Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and National Humanities Medalist Krista Tippett has interviewed the most extraordinary voices examining the great questions of meaning for our time. The heart of her work on her national public radio program and podcast, On Being, has been to shine a light on people whose insights kindle in us a sense of wonder and courage. 
 
In Becoming Wise, Tippett distills the insights she has gleaned from this luminous conversation in its many dimensions into a coherent narrative journey, over time and from mind to mind.

  Sean Carroll, acclaimed theoretical physicist from Caltech, and author of the highly-praised books From Eternity to Here and The Particle at the End of the Universe, is a rockstar in and out of the science community—in fact, he was personally offered jobs by Stephen Hawking twice, and turned them both down!

In the vein of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, Sean Carroll’s new book: The Big Picture takes readers on a journey of unprecedented scientific scope, examining everything from the matter that makes up the far reaches of our universe to the molecules that make up our DNA—and all the biology, physics, astronomy, and humanity in between.

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology who has worked on the foundations of quantum mechanics, the arrow of time, and the emergence of complexity. 

  As robots are integrated increasingly into modern society on the battlefield, on the road, business, education, and health those who design the machines have a stark choice to make: They can design systems that enhance the quality of human work and life or they can design systems that replace humans entirely. Both approaches will reshape the modern world. 

In the new book, Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots, Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times reporter John Markoff explores this issue and looks for an answer to perhaps on of the most important questions of our age; will these robots help us or replace us? 

    

  We are all aware of the power of money - how it influences our moods, compels us to take risks, and serves as the yardstick of success. Yet, because we take the daily reality of money so completely for granted, we seldom question how and why it has come to play such a central role in our lives.

In Coined, author Kabir Sehgal casts aside our workaday assumptions about money and takes the reader on a global quest to understand the relationship between money and humankind.

Coined is not only a discussion of the concept of money, but it is also an endlessly fascinating take on the nature of humanity and the inner workings of the mind.