Steven Pinker and Ken Dryden: 'Where there's a way, there's a will' (important)
When NHL legend Ken Dryden was about to publish his book, Game Change, he got in touch with Harvard psychologist and linguist, Steven Pinker, who was about to publish Enlightenment Now. Their common ground: what does it actually take to change someone's mind? Pinker also happens to have grown up in Montreal, and idolized the former Canadiens goaltender. The two talk to Paul Kennedy about the relationship of rhetoric and reason.
Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden wants to change not just the rules of hockey, but the entire culture of the sport. There are simply too many serious head injuries, and the thinking behind the rules governing the game has lagged behind the realities of how it's actually played. Pulitzer Prize winning psychologist Steven Pinker believes that Enlightenment values have had their stock lowered on both the right and left, and he would like to see them resurrected — values like reason, science, humanism and progress. Too often, truth gets personalized. And we lose sight of the fact that life for most people has improved compared to any other epoch in history. And we owe that improvement, he argues, to the Enlightenment.
Progress in particular almost appears antiquated as an ideal. But both are firm believers in the notion that it is still viable, perhaps more than ever. Whether it's a sport in particular, or a society in general, changes for the better not only can be made; they have been made.
Into the Gray Zone with neuroscientist Adrian Owen (important)
Dr. Adrian Owen's ground-breaking research demonstrates that some patients who were once considered to be in a vegetative state have some level of awareness and are able to respond to simple commands.
Imagining playing tennis lights up specific parts of the brain. Imagining walking through the patient's home lights up other distinct parts of the brain. Using these for simple yes or no questions, neuroscientists can communicate with some patients, learning how aware they are of their surroundings, or even simply asking them whether they are in pain.
Censorship and Identity: Free speech for me but not for you (important)
Anti-racist black lesbian, Linda Bellos, was disinvited from giving a talk at Cambridge University because of her views on "trans politics". Whether it's redressing historical wrongs, new hate speech legislation, or safe spaces as a human right: when does the desire to accommodate aggrieved groups become censorship? - A debate among public intellectuals at London's Battle of Ideas.
The politics of outrage is especially intense on university campuses. Dalhousie University student activist Masuma Khan angered many when she posted on Facebook that people should boycott Canada Day because of its 400 year history of genocide. She said: "white fragility can kiss my ass". A fellow student then filed a complaint that her post was blatant discrimination against white people. At the University of Berkeley, free counselling was offered to students who felt they might be adversely affected by the words of Ben Shapiro, a right-wing commentator who was invited to speak on campus. In the larger world, free speech is sometimes shut down by ultra-conservatives. At Poland's annual nationalist rally, some participants said that Muslims living in the country should be placed under surveillance and made to wear arm-bands. In France, many nationalists want to limit or rid the country of new immigrants. The populist Sweden Democrats has targeted journalists because it believes they are endangering traditional Swedish values.
- Nick Gillespie is a libertarian journalist and editor-in-chief of Reason.com.
- Toby Young is co-founder of the West London Free School and associate editor at The Spectator.
- Jodie Ginsberg is the chief executive of Index on Censorship.
- Trevor Phillips is the founding chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He is also co-founder of the diversity analytics research company.
- Frank Furedi is a public intellectual, author and professor emeritus of sociology at the University Of Kent.
- The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics by John B. Judis, Columbia Global Reports, 2016.
- Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World by Timothy Garton Ash, Yale University Press, 2017.
- Free Speech on Campus by Howard Gillman, Erwin Chemerinsky, Yale University Press, 2017.
- On Censorship by Salmon Rushdie, The New Yorker, May 11, 2012.
- A Nation of Snowflakes by Adam Swerer, The Atlantic, September 26, 2017.
- The Two Clashing Meanings of 'Free Speech' by Teresa M. Bejan, The Atlantic, December 2, 2017.
- 11 Canadian Books That Have Been Challenged, CBC Books, February 28, 2018.
- The Age of Offence by Ira Wells, Literary Review of Canada, April 2017.
Enright Files: Your brain on digital technology (important)
Nicholas Carr is a prominent American journalist and author who sees our minds as being hopelessly susceptible to the endless distractions and rapid-fire barrage of information the Internet serves up to us. He further argues that rather than being a transformative tool for democratic participation change, the Internet has made our participation in civil society more fleeting. Nicholas Carr wrote The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing to our Minds.
Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon came to dominate their markets by creating better products that people wanted. But to Franklin Foer, their hegemony poses grave dangers for democracy, let alone the principle of competition. He sees a handful of huge corporations monopolizing our attention and shaping our consciousness itself, not to mention our economies. Imagine if governments in Western democracies did as much to monopolize our attention and influence our minds and our way of life as big tech companies do today. Franklin Foer is a former editor of The New Republic Magazine, and he's the author of World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech.
Last November Michael Enright spoke with Jean Twenge — a professor of psychology at San Diego State University — about her research into the effects of smartphones and social media on kids. Also taking part in that discussion was Clive Thompson, a widely-read Canadian technology journalist and the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds For The Better.
Is there a culture war against populism? (important)
Is it a positive wave or a troubling pattern? In this age of anxiety over joblessness and immigration, populist leaders in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Sweden and the Philippines are tapping in. Is populism, as the 1960's American historian Richard Hofstadter called it, "a paranoid style of politics"? Or is it what others describe as "the essence of democratic politics"? A debate among public intellectuals at London's Battle of Ideas.
Marine Le Pen will call herself a democrat. But that doesn't mean she is a democrat. You know Trump uses the phrase 'very fine people' to describe people who go to Charlottesville with supremacist ideas. That doesn't mean they're very fine people. – Elif Shafak
I think there's a silent cultural war against populism, it basically symbolizes the fact that for the first time since the end of the Cold War, the traditional establishment feels their basic values are being sort of challenged. – Frank Furedi
Globalization has given the political elites a sense of greater control and it's given non-elites a sense of economic loss, and a sense of loss of sovereignty. – David Goodhart
Good Cheer is a Great Idea!
Almost twenty years ago, Paul Kennedy produced an IDEAS documentary about Samuel de Champlain's "L'Ordre de Bon Temps", which basically kept early French colonists at Port Royal, Nova Scotia alive through the brutal winter of 1606. Paul Kennedy recently learned that a group of foodie friends in Ottawa has turned Champlain's historic meal into an annual celebration. They gather together in the middle of every winter, to prepare a feast for family and friends, basically inspired by the menu and the recipes provided during that original broadcast.
The resistance of Black Canada: State surveillance and suppression (important)
Canada's history of suppressing Black activism is coming to light like never before, thanks to researchers like PhD student Wendell Adjetey. Wendell's historical research uncovers evidence of clandestine government surveillance in the 20th century, while also bringing to life overlooked parts of this history. His work highlights the struggles and setbacks of Black activists in the 20th century, helping us understand the ripple effect of those legacies today.
I think the attempted suppression is rooted in a white supremacy that creates this idea that all things that are not white are dangerous and bad and scary and in need of watching. – Syrus Marcus Ware, visual artist and core team member of Black Lives Matter Toronto.
We as Canadians have contributed handsomely to a myth that makes us feel morally, politically, legally superior to the US at least on the question of race. It's a myth that allows us to think that we don't profit from those structures. – Saje Mathieu, historian, University of Minnesota.
Sheldon Taylor is a historian who completed his PhD at the University of Toronto, where he developed courses on African-Canadian history and the African diasporic experience. His PhD dissertation is called Darkening the complexion of Canadian society: black activism, policy-making and black immigration from the Caribbean to Canada, 1940s–1960s.
Simone Browne is an associate professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. She is the author ofDark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness.
Robyn Maynard is an activist, writer and author of Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present.
On Tyranny: 20 lessons from the 20th century (important)
Authoritarianism is on the rise around the world. And Timothy Snyder wants to push back against this tide. A history professor at Yale University who's written widely on Europe and the Holocaust, takes an unusual approach in his little book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. It's not a sweeping historical analysis, but a collection of observations and suggestions on what forms resisting authoritarianism can take.
"What is patriotism? Let us begin with what patriotism is not. It is not patriotic to dodge the draft and to mock war heroes and their families. It is not patriotic to discriminate against active-duty members of the armed forces in one's companies, or to campaign to keep disabled veterans away from one's property… The president is a nationalist, which is not at all the same thing as a patriot. A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best… A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves."
"Before you deride the 'mainstream media', note that it is no longer mainstream and easy, and actual journalism that is edgy and difficult. So try for yourself to write a proper article, involving work in the real world: traveling, interviewing, maintaining relationships with sources, researching in written records, verifying everything… Journalists are not perfect, any more than people in other vocations are perfect. But the work of people who adhere to journalistic ethics is of a different quality than the work of those who do not."
"Fascists despised the small truths of daily existence, loved slogans that resonated like a new religion, and preferred creative myths to history or journalism. They used new media, which at the time was radio, to create a drumbeat of propaganda that aroused feelings before people had time to ascertain facts. And now, as then, may people confused faith in a hugely flawed leader with the truth about the world we all share. Post-truth is pre-fascism."
A book lover, his library and the Scottish Enlightenment
Two hundred and fifty years ago, a relatively remote and economically-challenged country called Scotland became the surprising host to one of the most exciting intellectual developments in the world. Magically, the best and the brightest minds were being promoted and distributed by enterprising and adventurous publishers, in places like Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Not surprisingly, a select group of printers with rare genius rose to meet an obvious need.
Edinburgh bibliophile Dr. William Zachs takes Paul Kennedy through his library of amazing books that were published in Scotland during the heyday of the Scottish Enlightenment. At the time, Adam Smith, David Hume, James Boswell and The Encyclopaedia Britannica were runaway best sellers. But obscure titles from a wide range of intellectual disciplines reveal the astounding diversity of Caledonian cogitation.
Gabrielle Scrimshaw on liberating the past and embracing the future (important)
Gabrielle Scrimshaw is a vibrant voice among a younger generation of First Nations leaders. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and is completing her Masters in Public Administration at Harvard.
Gabrielle Scrimshaw grew up in Hatchet Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan. She left home at age 17 to study at the University of Saskatchewan, and then the University of Toronto. Along the way she co-founded the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada.
Gabrielle Scrimshaw delivered the third annual Vancouver Island University Indigenous Speaker Series in November 2017.
Whose Lives Matter? (important)
The Black Lives Matter movement demands serious answers from our society to questions about race, culture and prejudice. This episode features Janaya Khan, d'bi. young and Sandra Hudson in a panel discussion from the Stratford Festival Forum.
"You know, when I think of 'whose lives matter?' I think of — what are our lives worth? Is my life worth a noise complaint, is that enough to end it? When I call the police for help, because maybe I'm having an episode...and that need for help is seen as something threatening?" – Janaya Khan
"Allowing ourselves to believe that we can really change an entire system, just like our ancestors did — I think that's what it's going to take to really, truly shift this system — for everyone." – Sandra Hudson
"I want us to ask ourselves: what does it take for me to care about something beyond my own lived experience. What does it take for me to invest in a set of principles that are going to guide my performance in this game (of life)?" – d'bi. young
Imagining the singularity: What happens when computers transcend us? (important)
"It could literally be the best thing that ever happened in all of human history if we get this right. And my main concern with this transition to the machine intelligence era is that we get that superintelligence done right, so it's aligned with human values. A failure to properly align this kind of artificial superintelligence could lead to human extinction or other radically un-desirable outcomes." – Nick Bostrom, Professor of Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford.
We don't really know how to instill human values in a machine. Doina Precup, a computer scientist from McGill University suggests that one strategy might be simply having them learn by watching us — like children do.
Another challenge might be that a computer superintelligence could be superhuman without being very human-like — making it challenging for us to relate to. Chris Eliasmith, Director of the Centre for Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, says we should be able to create machines which duplicate the functions of a brain — he's working on creating machine intelligence modelled on the organization and function of the human brain.
Science fiction writer and futurist Madeline Ashby points out that this is part of a long history of humanity thinking about creation — whether it's in ancient religious stories, or the more modern stories of creation that perhaps started with Frankenstein and continue through modern science fiction.
As Theologian James McGrath points out, we have a long history of imagining our relationship with beings that are superior to us, and many of these are cautionary tales.
Robin Hanson, an economist and futurist has explored this scenario in his book The Age of Em, and comes to a surprising conclusion. An uploaded life would not be a fantasy world of virtual-reality paradises. It would be a working world in which uploaded minds labour to earn their electricity and server space.
Why is there so much poverty in a rich country like Canada? (important)
A discussion from the Stratford Festival.
"Poverty exists in our society because we've chosen for it to exist. Poverty is the entirely predictable outcome of policy choices and the legal infrastructure that we've created for building our economy and redistributing wealth in our society." – Fay Faraday – Social justice lawyer.
"Our employers should have the responsibility for our health and safety when we go to work, and for our working conditions. And — I don't think it's too much to ask for, that we should be able to pay our bills?" – Deena Ladd – Toronto-based Workers Action Centre.
"So demand leadership from our political leaders because they have a huge say in the poverty that happens in our society, and a way for us to eliminate poverty in our society." – Debora De Angelis – United Food and Commercial Workers Union of Canada.
Writer Heather O'Neill finds wisdom in an eccentric father's advice (important)
Heather O'Neill is one of Canada's top fiction writers — winning awards, accolades, and readers for her vivid novels. But it was an unpredictable path to success: she comes from humble Montreal roots. She was raised by her single father — a janitor who wryly listed his real occupation as professor of philosophy. He offered his book-obsessed daughter a set of rules for life. In conversation, and in her Henry Kreisel Lecture at the Canadian Literature Centre in Edmonton, Heather O'Neill describes her dad's colourful advice to her, as well as the surprising people who made her into a passionate writer and reader, and helped her bridge the class divide that restricted her father's own life.
Andrew Feinstein exposes "the shadow world" of global arms (important)
Buying and selling weapons is a huge, and highly secretive, business — for governments, aerospace and defence companies, and black market profiteers alike. In this UBC Wall Exchange talk from Vancouver, former South African politician and current U.K. corruption researcher Andrew Feinstein argues that the arms trade does not make us more secure. In fact, he contends that it fuels conflict, undermines economic progress and democracy, and — with its unintended consequences — endangers citizens everywhere.
Western-made weapons used against civilians in the war in Yemen. Guns meant to arm American-allied soldiers in Syria, used against those same soldiers. Armoured vehicles from Canada, used by Saudi security forces against their own citizens. It seems the ultimate route of weapons is never predictable, and that is just one of the troubling issues that author Andrew Feinstein raises in his exploration of the shadow world of global arms.
The Scottish Enlightenment: The invention of modern mind and culture (important)
Sheila Szatkowski — author of Enlightenment Edinburgh: A Guide — provides a walking tour of intellectual hotspots. Arthur Herman — author of How the Scots Invented the Modern World — adds historical and cultural context. On Burns' Night, it seems appropriate for everybody to feel just a little bit Scottish.
Wade Davis: Light at the edge of the world (important)
In our age, many societies look like they're hurtling towards disorder and disunity. For all of our technological sophistication, the centre isn't holding, great civilisations seem less united than ever. Wade Davis thinks we need to pay more attention to the values, the voices, and the concerns of Indigenous peoples. We have a lot to learn by listening more carefully. Wade Davis in a discussion with Paul Kennedy, with excerpts from a lecture at the Ontario Heritage Trust.
Travels through Trump's America one year later (important)
It’s been one year since Donald Trump’s inauguration. His official swearing-in compelled many Americans reflect on what America actually is now, politically, socially and culturally. Contributor David Zane Mairowitz is originally from America, and has been living in Europe for over fifty years. He returned to the U.S. in the spring of 2017 to travel through six southern states, where he recorded his encounters with everyday people at restaurants, churches -- and gun shows. His aim: to gain insight into an America he’s now struggling to comprehend.
Making art that matters: The 2017 Sobey Art Award
Part 1 profiles the four finalists: Raymond Boisjoly, Divya Mehra, Bridget Moser and Jacynthe Carrier. Part 2 profiles the 2017 Sobey Art Award winner, Ursula Johnson.
First Nation, Second Nation: A discussion about the state of Indigenous people in Canada today
In a country where just about all of us are immigrants, Indigenous people are creating new structures and rediscovering old values. A discussion from the Stratford Festival featuring Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Jarrett Martineau and Alexandria Wilson.
Decoding prehistoric art with Jean Clottes
The songs and stories of prehistoric humans are gone. All that remains of their culture is their art. It's the one thing that can bridge the vast, silent chasm of time between then and now. IDEAS contributor Neil Sandell introduces us to the French archaeologist Jean Clottes, a man who's devoted his lifetime trying to decipher the rich, enigmatic world of cave art.
Ken Dryden on changing the idea of hockey (important)
Game Change, the book written by NHL legend, Ken Dryden, is on one level about the increasing number of concussions hockey players have. But it's also about changing the way decision-makers make decisions. As he tells host Paul Kennedy, being right isn't enough. That's why Dryden has turned the old adage "where there's a will, there's a way" on its head. He argues passionately that if there's a way, there's a will.
First Nations in the first person: Telling stories & changing lives
The stories of three Indigenous people told in their own words. Sandra Henry of Winnipeg is a former social worker. Brielle Beardy-Linklater is an Indigenous transgender activist from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. Theodore Fontaine is an author and a former chief of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba.
The Enright Files on suffering, sorrow and the search for meaning (important)
This month's edition of The Enright Files explores how the works of Viktor Frankl, Anton Chekhov and Joan Didion wrestle meaning and solace from tragedy, horror and suffering
Sailing Alone Around the World
In 1895 a retired Canadian sea captain set off to sail alone around the world. It had never been done, and it took Joshua Slocum three years, but the book of his adventures made him famous. Since then, fewer than 200 people have sailed in his wake and two of them are also Canadian. IDEAS contributor Philip Coulter explores this greatest challenge sailors set for themselves — possibly the greatest of all human challenges.
Have insomnia? Blame the Romantic poets
In Hunt's studies of English poets of the Romantic period she zeros in on references to sleep, or lack thereof. By tying references like "anguish and agony" of the "unfathomable hell within," with her readings of medical texts and historical accounts from that period she reveals how the poems reflect a major shift in how insomnia was understood.
"There were any number of threats to peaceful repose," says Roger Ekirch, a historian at Virginia Tech University. "Illness kept many people awake at night — the cold, the heat, the unholy trinity of early modern entomology: lice, fleas and bedbugs, and that's just the beginning. Most homes rattled in a breeze and never were people more vulnerable to [fears of] Satanic demons."
Revisiting Glenn Gould's revolutionary radio documentary, 'The Idea of North'
Glenn Gould's landmark documentary, The Idea of North, first aired on CBC Radio on December 28, 1967.
In his boldly experimental program about the Canadian north, the pianist used a technique he called "contrapuntal radio," layering speaking voices on top of each other to create a unique sonic environment situated in the space between conversation and music.
In Return to North: The Soundscapes of Glenn Gould, CBC contributor Mark Laurie talks to four people who knew Gould intimately, and reinterprets Gould's contrapuntal technique to explore the landscape of Gould's life — and his ideas about music and radio.
Shakespeare in the Funny Pages
What if Shakespeare's characters escaped from the play that they're in, and went off on a grand adventure of their own, freed from the chains of their creators imagination? What if they lived in the modern era and communicated with cellphones and autocorrect? Well, all things are possible through the magic of the human mind. In this episode, a panel discussion from the Stratford Festival featuring Mya Gosling and Conor McCreery in conversation. The discussion is moderated by the Stratford Festival's literary and editorial director, David Prosser.
Playdoh's Republic: Children as natural philosophers (important)
Why were we born? Is life just a dream? What makes something wrong or right? Children often ask questions like these — sometimes to the exasperation of their parents. But children really want to know why the world is the way it is. And they want to know how we know. Maybe that's because they're open, curious and inquisitive — they're natural philosophers.
Journalism in the age of fake news (important)
Established news media no longer have the monopoly on how we consume our news, and "fake" news is proliferating. Now purveyors of false news are saturating social media, emboldened by a U.S. president who regularly derides mainstream journalists as creators of fake news. In panel discussions at the Banff Centre, part of The Democracy Project, journalists ponder reporting in an age where political leaders attack them to discredit their work.
Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are manipulating our lives and threatening our democracy (important)
The internet began with great hope that it would strengthen democracy. Initially, social media movements seemed to be disrupting corrupt institutions. But the web no longer feels free and open, and the disenfranchised are feeling increasingly pessimistic. The unfulfilled promise of the internet has been a long-term concern of Digital Media and Global Affairs expert Dr. Taylor Owen, who delivers the 2017 Dalton Camp Lecture in Journalism. He argues the reality of the internet is now largely one of control, by four platform companies — Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple — worth a combined $2.7 trillion — and their impact on democracy is deeply troubling.
How filmmakers and fishers saved Fogo Island (important)
A little over fifty years ago, while the rest of the country was celebrating Canada's Centennial, the friendly folks on Fogo Island — most of whom were fishers — were ordered to abandon their homes and resettle in larger communities on the larger island of Newfoundland. Memorial University's Extension Department invited the National Film Board of Canada to visit Fogo, and interview people about their future. At the end of what is now called The Fogo Process, they voted to stay put, form a cooperative, and take over the fish plant. It became a model for alternative democracy around the world.
Conservative with age: Why your political stripes change over time (important)
No one really knows who first coined the saying, "If you're not a socialist at twenty, you have no heart, and if you're not a conservative at forty, you have no brain." It wasn't British Prime Minister Winston Churchill or Oscar Wilde, though it's often attributed to them. The smart money seems to be on a rather obscure French jurist from the 19th century, Anselme Batbie.
Whatever the source, it's been repeated for well over a century because it seems to ring true. Youthful ideals give way to the pragmatism as the years go by. But why do so many of us seem to follow in the footsteps of that old adage? Why do others resist it? And what does the adage reveal about the way we come to hold our political beliefs?
The enduring power of Albert Camus' L'Étranger (important)
It's been 75 years since Albert Camus published L'Étranger — usually translated as The Stranger or The Outsider. And it continues to be the most translated book from French into English. Given how intense questions about "the other" are across the globe — who really belongs where and who doesn't — Camus' book is even more relevant than ever. Radio Canada producer Danny Braun speaks with a novelist, a rapper, some academics and a former death row inmate to delve into the enduring appeal of L'Étranger — both to the intellect and to the heart.
Award-winning authors on balancing chaos and control
A parent's fear. A child coping. The final stops of life. These are the ways that some top Canadian writers — all winners of 2017 Governor General's Literary Awards — addressed our challenge to create an original piece of writing on the theme of chaos and control. They reveal where their imaginations travelled, from the most intimate moments of family life, to the largest of cultural questions. Featuring talk and readings from: Hiro Kanagawa, Cherie Dimaline, Richard Harrison, and Oana Avasilichioaei.
Borges' Buenos Aires: The Imaginary City
The Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges had a profound influence on the shape of modern literature. And he himself was profoundly shaped by the city he grew up in — Buenos Aires – a city that plays a major role in many of his stories. One of the great experimental writers of the 20th century, Borges believed that a story is a doorway to a world larger than itself, and that the act of reading is an essential part of both the making and the meaning of the story: the writer and the reader are in a great river, together.
Philip Coulter goes on a walking tour of Borges' Buenos Aires, in the company of the celebrated writer, Alberto Manguel, who used to read to the blind Borges as a teenager, and who, like Borges before him, is now director of the National Library in Buenos Aires.
Precarious Work: David Weil on the disappearing company job (important)
For most of the 20th century, everyone — from the janitor to the CEO — was employed by "the company". But increasingly, large corporations are outsourcing work to small companies, often abroad. For workers, this change means lower wages, fewer benefits and an intensified widening of income inequality, with huge financial gains going to the top one percent. In a lecture and subsequent interview with Paul Kennedy, scholar and Barack Obama appointee, David Weil, talks about precarious work and the disappearing company job.
A fissured workplace is becoming our new norm, and having a radical impact on widening income inequality, according to scholar and Obama-appointee, the former Labor Standards Regulator, David Weil. Professor Weil coined the term to explain how many large companies — Apple, The Marriott Hotel, Amazon — are no longer direct employers of the people behind their products and services.
The Enright Files on changing the way we think about the natural world (important)
Our relationship with the natural world may be our most important, aside from our relationship with each other, yet it has become seriously out of balance. Humans have wrought enormous destruction to the environment, to other species and to the global climate in the name of progress and improving our quality of life. In this month's edition of The Enright Files, Michael speaks to three people who are changing the way we think about our relationship with the natural world, from one-on-one relationships with animals to the massive, unwieldy issue of our impact on a geological scale.
- Brian Brett: Growing up as a "parrot among crows," androgyny and human-animal relationships
- Peter Wohlleben on The Hidden Life of Trees
- Katharine Hayhoe on changing minds about climate change
Making a better world with a culture of 'citizen eaters' (important)
Michael S. Carolan is the author of No One Eats Alone: Food as a Social Enterprise. He gave a public talk in Toronto in the autumn of 2017, and made the following provocative argument: we can change our relationship to food — how's it's made, distributed and even consumed — by changing our relationships with each other, and maybe open up the possibility of creating a better world.
How Martin Luther invented the modern world (important)
It has been 500 years since Martin Luther supposedly nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. There's no proof he ever did that — and it may not matter. We're still living in the aftershocks of the religious, political and social revolution that he began. This program looks at Martin Luther's legacy, and why he still evokes impassioned debate today.
Why democracy depends on how we talk to each other (important!!)
Does democracy have a future? It's a question is being asked in democracies everywhere. People are frustrated with politics and politicians. And politicians appear weary of democracy. Now populist uprisings to protect the status quo are threatening the foundations of democracy itself. Michael Sandel is a world-renowned political philosopher at Harvard University — and the 2017 LaFontaine-Baldwin lecturer. But he doesn't "lecture" in the usual sense of the term: he interacts with his audience, not only answering their questions but asking them questions to make them think and reflect
Roaming Imagination: What the stories we tell about bears say about us
Bears hold a powerful place in the human psyche. From early cave drawings and myths as old as language itself, to modern scientific research, the family Ursidae has captivated the imaginations of humans around the world. At the heart of our obsession are contradictions: a magnetism that draws us in and fear that pushes us away. Contributing producer Molly Segal explores the stories we share about bears, what they say about us and our future.
Friesen Prize winner Dr. Alan Bernstein: Team science will save the world! (important)
As an individual, he may be one of Canada's top scientists, respected the world over. But Dr. Alan Bernstein believes collaboration is what takes science to the next level. The 2017 Friesen Prize winner is enthused about the richness and diversity of scientific research today, as he details in his public talk. He also speaks one-on-one with Paul Kennedy about his trajectory in medical and health science, working on stem cells, blood cell formation, and cancer. He's also explains why — despite those personal accomplishments — he's devoted to bringing great minds together.
Confronting the 'perfect storm': How to feed the future (important)
We're facing what could be a devastating crisis—how to feed ourselves without destroying the ecosystems we depend on. We already produce enough food to feed everyone on the planet. Yet 800 million people are undernourished, while another 2 billion are overweight or obese. And at the same time, almost one third of the food we produce goes to waste. In partnership with the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph we seek out creative solutions to a looming disaster. In this episode we hear from waste expert Tammara Soma and international food security expert Tim Benton
In Canada we waste about a third of the food we produce. And yet four million Canadians experience food insecurity. In partnership with the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, we hear from Dawn Morrison whose work focuses on Indigenous food sovereignty and Bryan Gilvesy, a long-horn cattle rancher who puts sustainability first.
Naked in the Mirror: Stephen Greenblatt on our obsession with Adam & Eve
Professor Greenblatt, author of The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, believes this compelling and contradictory tale of the first man and woman is masterly storytelling that goes straight to the core of some of our most vital human questions.
The 2016 U.S. Election: We had no idea it would be like this (important)
When Hillary Clinton announced that she would run for President, everyone knew the 2016 United States election could be a historic one. We had no idea how historic or unprecedented this election would become. On this month's edition of The Enright Files, we revisit The Sunday Edition's coverage of the candidates and the turmoil within their parties in the months leading up to the election — and the growing unease around what the election would mean for the U.S. and the rest of the world.
- Joan Walsh, National Correspondent for The Nation magazine and political analyst for MSNBC.
- Thomas Frank, columnist with Harper's Magazine, and author of What's Wrong with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America and Listen, Liberal: or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People.
- David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, conservative commentator and senior editor at the Atlantic Magazine.
- Arlie Hochschild, Professor Emerita in the department of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.
- Moustafa Bayoumi, Canadian-American associate professor of English at Brooklyn College and author of How Does It Feel to Be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America.
- Patricia J. Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University and author of The Alchemy of Race and Rights and Seeing a ColorBlind Future: The Paradox of Race.
The 2017 CBC Massey Lectures - In Search of a Better World (important)
A call to action for our times, Payam Akhavan's 2017 CBC Massey Lectures, In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey, is a powerful survey of some of the major human rights struggles of our times — and what we can do about it.
Renowned UN prosecutor and human rights scholar Payam Akhavan has encountered the grim realities of contemporary genocide throughout his life and career. Deceptive utopias, political cynicism, and public apathy, he says, have given rise to major human rights abuses: from the religious persecution of Iranian Bahá'ís that shaped his personal life, to the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, and the rise of the Islamic State.
But he also reflects on the inspiring resilience of the human spirit, and the reality that we need each other, to set us free from ideology and go about building that better world.
Democracy Undermined? Debating the impact of Donald Trump's presidency on democracy (important)
The Munk Debates put it starkly: Be It Resolved, American democracy is in its worst crisis in a generation, and Donald J. Trump is to blame. Andrew Sullivan and E. J. Dionne argue in favour of the resolution, Kimberley Strassel and Newt Gingrich against.
Creating a city for all: The future of cities in the 21st century (important)
Athens, Rome, Venice. History offers many examples of cities that were their own world, independent mini-states that offered freedom of ideas and a model for social cohesion — alternative societies that have often been in conflict with the larger surrounding state. Cities still drive social progress, but many factors are changing our modern world, and cities are again being forced to retool and rethink how they work.
- Sevaun Palvezian isChief Executive Officer of the Toronto non-profit CivicAction.
- Gil Penalosa is founder and chair of 8 80 Cities.
- Lorna Day is Director of Urban Design for the City of Toronto
Meat on the table: Can we justify consuming animals? (important)
If you typically eat three meals a day, then it's a choice you make more than one thousand times a year. And if you're like most people, that choice probably involves meat or dairy, or both. On top of that, many of the clothes we wear are made from animals. But can something that nearly everybody on the planet is doing ━ and has been doing for millions of years ━ be immoral?
For Gary Francione, the answer is a resounding "yes". But Nicolette Hahn Niman sees Francione's abolitionist view as unnecessarily extreme ━ even harmful. She is a California beef rancher, lawyer, and the author of Righteous Porkchop and Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production.
Sex, Truth and Audio Tape: Shifting identities on a changing sexual landscape (important)
It's often been said that everything in the world is about sex, except sex itself — sex is about power. So what are we to make of today's sexual landscape, where we see the most diverse range of orientations and expressions of sexuality in history? Lesbian, gay, queer, cis, pansexual, leather daddies, stone butch, asexual... the list keeps growing. And there is entrenched push-back against that expansion. So who gets to say what about whom? And as the sexuality landscape broadens, what will it mean?
The Harvey Weinstein story has unleashed a veritable tsunami of sexual assault and harassment claims. And there's a huge gender gap at work: overwhelmingly, men are the accused perpetrators; women, the victims. IDEAS producer Mary O'Connell explores the motivations, conscious and unconscious, behind this disturbing dynamic.
El Sistema: How the power of music helped change Venezuelan lives
In 1975 the Venezuelan economist and musician Jose Antonio Abreu started an after-school music programme for street kids in Caracas. It was primarily a social action project- how to solve a problem of lawlessness and aimlessness among youth — but it was also about encouraging a love of music for its own sake. El Sistema became a revolutionary movement that has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children — and also helped create a few generations of musicians and a nation of music lovers. Jose Antonio Abreu died last month, and we're re-broadcasting this documentary about El Sistema as a tribute to a great visionary.
Dark tower of dreams: Inside the Walled City of Kowloon
The infamous "Walled City of Kowloon" was once the most populous spot on the planet. With 1.2 million people per square kilometre, it was a gigantic squatter's village. Nobody planned it, but somehow it worked, until it was demolished, just before the British handed Hong Kong back to China. Paul Kennedy speaks with photographer Greg Girard, and urban designer Suenn Ho, about what the Walled City meant to them, and him
The Enright Files on Vladimir Putin's Russia (important)
Since 2000, Russia has been Vladimir Putin's state. Putin has served as president for 13 years since 2000, in addition to four years as prime minister from 2008 to 2012.
In that time, Putin has been credited with bringing relative prosperity and stability to Russia, restoring to Russia the geopolitical heft it enjoyed in the Soviet days, and outmaneuvering the West in global trouble spots like Syria and Ukraine.
Russia may no longer be seen as an existential threat to the world, but Putin is regarded as a brazen provocateur and troublemaker, a supporter of rogue regimes and an underminer of the electoral process in Western democracies. Most notoriously, he's been accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, perhaps even colluding with the Donald Trump campaign to defeat Hillary Clinton.
And there are many in Russia who think of him more as a czarist or Stalinist than as a democratic leader. Putin's regime has a reputation for being thuggishly, even murderously repressive toward opposition leaders, anti-corruption crusaders and journalists. Ask a lot of people what's the best way to get rich in Russia, and they'll tell you—be a friend of Vladimir Putin's.
The edge of musical thinking: Capturing the spirit of tango and vibrato
In this episode of Ideas from the Trenches, we feature two musicians from the Schulich School of Music at McGill University who are deeply immersed in investigating the evolution of their art forms and the conflicts within. Flutist and PhD student Hannah Darroch takes us into a controversy known as 'the Vibrato Wars', centring on an all-important 'wobble' in the note that either expresses the human spirit or is "worse than cholera," depending on whom you ask. And cellist Juan Sebastian Delgado is a recent PhD graduate who searches out the essence of tango in today's challenging 'nuevo tango' music.
Master of his own design: Conversations with Frank Gehry
Canadian-born Frank Gehry has been called the greatest architect of our time. And yet he's still a rebel in his field. His sensual, sculptural buildings reject the cold minimalism and glass boxes of Modernism, and the ornate flourishes of post-modernism. Gehry, now 88, became famous in his late 60s, when his extraordinary design for the Guggenheim Museum became a reality twenty years ago in Bilbao, Spain. A complex and engaging man, who's been open about his disdain for the media, gave IDEAS producer Mary Lynk a rare chance to talk with him in California.
Therefore Choose Life: The Lost Massey Lecture by George Wald (important)
In 1970, outspoken Harvard biologist George Wald became the first natural scientist to give the CBC Massey Lectures. The Nobel Prize winner championed diversity—biological and philosophical, as well as the value of both life and death. He also spoke out about long-term negative consequences of social inequality, and environmental pollution; and he took a public stand against the war in Vietnam. Wald's Massey broadcasts were a huge success. But he never got around to publishing them as a book. Now Lewis Auerbach, who produced the 1970 Wald lectures, has recovered the typescripts and tells the remarkable backstory of Wald and his Massey talks, which have only now been published.
Decolonization: The Next 150 on Indigenous Lands
Every year thousands of academics from across the country gather for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. It's the largest annual gathering of scholars in Canada.
This year Congress was hosted by Ryerson University with the theme "The Next 150 on Indigenous Lands."
The future of work (important)
AI and robots seem to be everywhere, handling more and more work, freeing humans up — to do what? In this 3-part serie, contributor Jill Eisen explores the digital revolution happening in our working lives. Artificial intelligence is on the verge of replacing our own intelligence. It took decades to adjust to machines out-performing human and animal labour. What will happen when robots and algorithms surpass what our brains can do? Some say digital sweatshops—repetitive, dull, poorly paid and insecure jobs—are our destiny. Others believe that technology could lead to more fulfilling lives.
The biggest innovation in the world of work in the last decade has been the rise of online platforms which connect workers and customers. Uber and Airbnb are the most well known, but there are dozens of others. Upwork connects businesses with independent professional, TaskRabbit, handy and jiffy are platforms for various home services, Amazon Mechanical Turk is on-line marketplace for small computer tasks called micro-tasks, and the list goes on.
The future of work has become one huge, nerve-wracking question mark. Technology was once believed to be our deliverance. We'd be working shorter hours, and about the only stress we'd have would be to figure out what to do with all our leisure time. But technology hasn't quite delivered on that promise. We're working longer hours, there are fewer jobs and and a lot less job security. In Part 3 of her series on the future of work, Jill Eisen looks at the promise of technology — and how it can lead to a better world.
Autonomy: The unexpected implications of self-driving vehicles
We're racing down the highway to autonomous cars, whether it takes 10, 20 or 30 years. But what happens to our economy, the shape of our cities, and even our century-old car-centric culture once the vehicles arrive? Contributing producer Sean Prpick steers through the excitement, opportunities, roadblocks, and unmarked curves as we are driven into the future by a technology that may understand us better than we understand it.
The Politics of the Professoriat: Political diversity on campus (important)
Universities are supposed to be dedicated to the exchange of ideas. But according to social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, campuses now skew so far to the left that they've become what he calls "political monocultures" in which voices that stray too far from liberal orthodoxy are shouted down. Paul Kennedy speaks with Professor Haidt – and with other scholars who have been thinking about the complex question of diversity on campus.
- Igor Grossmann is director of the Wisdom and Research Lab, based at Waterloo University, in Ontario.
- Jonathan Haidt is Professor of Ethical Leadership in the Stern School of Business at New York University.
- Heather Mac Donald, a lawyer by training, is a Thomas W. Smith fellow of the Manhattan Institute.