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Jessica Phillips with a Young Feminist’s Take on Sarah Palin

Palin, Palin, Palin. The mainstream media is obsessed and the feminist blogosphere has been very interested in the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate. On many feminist blogs you’ll see questions like "Is Sarah Palin a feminist?" or "Can someone who was given a free ride break a glass ceiling?" and an old favorite "Can someone who doesn’t support reproductive choice be a feminist?" The Palin pick may cause a feminist identity crisis just as the Obama-Clinton primary season did.

Click READ MORE below!

The response to the Palin pick from some self-described social liberals and feminists has been appalling. I’ve witnessed some such people decry Palin for choosing to ambitiously go after the second highest office in the land instead of staying in Alaska with her newborn child who has Down’s Syndrome. I’m dismayed at this kind of scrutiny over Palin’s work-life balance. It’s nothing like what we would see if a man with a similar situation was running. And even if a male was questioned on work/family balance issues, as John Edwards was for his decision to campaign after his wife’s was diagnosed with cancer, it would be much less strident and the candidate in question would eventually be seen as some kind of self-sacrificing hero. And while some women are criticizing Palin for not supporting reproductive choice, they’re forgetting that she represents something very rare: a woman who has not only reached high achievement in her professional field, but done so while being a mother to a large and seemingly normal and happy brood who just seem like an average American family. Palin has managed to have a great career and a great family. Is she the evidence that women can, in fact, and after long-last, "have it all?"

I doubt we are quite there yet, and of course Palin’s life isn’t perfect. Some are pointing to her teenage daughter Bristol’s pregnancy as evidence that her family was sacrificed to her ambition, but this is clearly stupid. Plenty of stay-at-home devoted mothers have teenage daughters who become pregnant. Anyway, there is nothing shameful about being a teenage mother. It may have unpleasant outcomes on a woman’s later earning power and as such may be something that career-minded teenagers want to avoid, but there is nothing inherently immoral or shameful about it. Basically, Sarah Palin has seemingly achieved what feminist women say they want to be the reality for all women: not having to choose between having a career and having a family. And that in itself makes her a very interesting figure to young feminists like me, who are keenly aware of the decisions we are going to have to make in the near future and how they are going to affect the rest of our lives. Studies show that spending three years out of the work force results in losing as much as 40% of your earning power. I hate the idea of spending my 20’s building my career only to lose a large chunk of my professional currency if I have a child and for whatever reason do not work for the first few years. For these reasons, the Sarah Palin’s of the world intrigue me.

As for the question of whether a woman can be a feminist while also being against reproductive choice, I personally believe that you can, but with certain conditions. I did not always feel this way. This is a controversial thing to say, but just as I have come to respect (and usually agree with) horrified animal rights activists who believe innocent creatures with an inherent right to life are being tortured and murdered all around them, so have I come to respect (while disagreeing with) those who view abortion as mass murder of innocent creatures who have an inherent right to life and as something that must be stopped. I can understand the world view of people who oppose choice though I vehemently disagree with it because I understand that most of these people are motivated by a kind of love. And if that person also supports the funding of pro-family programs like state and federally funded childcare and health care for children among other programs to help families and women be successful, I think they can oppose reproductive freedom and still call themselves a feminist. And obviously Sarah Palin does not support programs like that, and has a history of cutting such programs during her time as Governor of Alaska, including slashing funding for programs that supported teen mothers (okay, so there is some debate over whether or not what she did counts as slashing funding or not. Regardless, the Republican agenda isn’t promoting the idea of expanding federal funding for these kinds of programs). So my own criteria would seem to count Sarah Palin out as a feminist, though I still find her admirable in many ways.

As a young feminist, the idea of a female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket seems like the kind of thing I’d be over the moon about. But honestly, it hasn’t excited me in any real way. The Palin pick doesn’t represent an authentic shift in the gender power balance in Washington. It seems to obviously be a purely political choice designed to help McCain win the election. He has picked a running mate instead of someone he would like to have as a partner for the next four years. I made the reverse criticism about Obama, who failed to make the best, most politically shrewd choice for running mate, focusing instead on who would be the best partner once he was elected. I’m not sure which of them made the best choice-I guess the next few months will tell.

But until we find out who made the best choice, I hope the mainstream media and the frenzied blogosphere can both calm down a bit over the Palin pick and try to froth at the mouth a little bit less. (I won’t be holding my breath…)


Home sweet home!

Hello everyone,

Jessica here, happy to be back in the good old USA. Nothing like two weeks out of the country to make you appreciate home again. Even if you have a wonderful time, as I did during the past two weeks in Vietnam, it is good to come home again.
But enough of that; I have so much more to tell you about my trip.

Click "Read More" below for more stories and pictures.

When I last left off, the Americans were waiting in Pleiku while the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam was attempting to get permission to exhume remains they believed to be his….

Day 4

We left our hotel in Pleiku at 7:30. We anticipated a three and a half hour drive to the grave site, but an hour into the trip we realized it would only be two hours, which made us very happy since we had to turn around and drive another five hours to get back to the train station. However, our joy was short lived because we got a call from the family. The military police were suspicious of us, they said, and would not permit us to come to the graveyard unless we had permission from the provincial authorities. We would have to turn around and drive an hour back to Pleiku, attempt to secure permission which would take who knows how long, and then drive the two hours back. We recognized that by that time they would be done exhuming the body anyway. It would be better for us to return to Pleiku and wait, which we did.

On the way we stopped at what was once the gatehouse to Camp Enari. This is where Homer was first taken when he arrived in Vietnam. It was quite an experience for him to stand and look in the street where you can still see the remains of the gatehouse that guarded the base.

A few hours later, the Hoang family met us in Pleiku. They were elated that they now were in possession of what they believe to be their brother Dam’s remains. Why do I phrase it like that? It was a fortuneteller who told the Hoang family which grave in the graveyard held the remains of their brother. This is a grave site that holds the unidentified body of many Vietnamese soldiers killed during the war. There was no documentation that could offer any assistance in determining where Dam’s body was located; remember, his identifying documents were removed from his body by Homer. DNA testing was a possibility for the family, but they did not feel that this was necessary. The word of the fortuneteller was enough proof for the military police who run the grave site, and the Hoang family was permitted to recover the remains.
There is a lot of sensitivity in Vietnam about bodily remains, so the Hoang family had to camouflage the bones by hiding them in a box that once was the packaging for a shower head.

We left Pleiku and traveled back to Quy Nhon, stopping at the Mang Yang Pass to conduct a small but beautiful ceremony.
The next day, Homer revealed a stunning fact. The place that we chose to pull over at the Mang Yang Pass is, he believes, the exact place where he had been dropped by a helicopter to begin the RIF (reconnaissance in force) mission during which he had killed Hoang Ngoc Dam. A concrete reinforcement that kept the hill from sliding down was still there. He remembered that during the mission, he had seen a single tree that towered above the rest of the canopy on the ridge line. He had chosen that tree as a spot to aim for. That tree was still there. The ridge line and road and valley below all was exactly the same. How could this be? How could this be the same spot where he had begun the mission during which he ended up killing Dam? He was stunned by this, quite unable to believe it, but the evidence was all around him.

Picture by Homer Steedly, showing the tree he remembers from 40 years ago.

Homer with the Hoang family at the ceremony at the Mang Yang Pass


The ceremony complete, we travelled to Quy Nhon, where we caught a train just a few minutes after midnight.

Day 5

We were on the train until around 7:00pm. At around 6 am, we went through the gorgeous Hai Van Pass. The pictures I took of it can’t do it justice, so I did a little google image searching for you. This is one of the most beautiful spots in the country. You are right in between the water and the mountains, with each attempting to outdo the other.

Click the images to go to their original location



When we passed through Vinh, Lt. Col. Tien joined us on board to come with us to Thai Binh. Wayne, Homer and the Hoangs were able to spend a good deal of time together, sharing stories of the past few days and their feelings about what had occurred. We arrived in Nam Dinh at 7:00. We got off the train, with Dam’s remains. Relatives who were waiting outside the train station to meet the Hoang family began wailing as soon as they spotted the remains. The Hoang family put the remains in the car and travelled back to their village to prepare for tomorrow’s funeral. We tired Americans hurried to our hotel to get some sleep.

Day 6

We left Nam Dinh at 5:00 am to travel to Thai Giang for the funeral of Hoang Ngoc Dam. How can I describe the day? It felt like a dream within just a few hours after it had happened. We arrived in the village around 6 am. Dang Cat took us to meet the chairman of the People’s Committee. The courtyard of the People’s Committee house was covered by an enormous tent and hundreds of people were milling about. A military band was playing traditional Vietnamese music as family after family approached the altar set up on the far end of the courtyard. After meeting with the chairman, we were ushered to the front of the tent to witness the dozens of families coming to pay respects to Dam. We must have sat there for an hour and a half watching family after family approach the altar, make offerings to the family, and light incense in Dam’s memory. We watched as several men, who had enlisted the same day as Dam, approached the altar and made their offerings.

The tent in the courtyard at the People’s Committee House

Female relatives of Dam’s sat on the floor near the altar

The oldest brother of the family weeps as he approaches the altar

The family, dressed in black and wearing white headbands signifying mourning


Finally, we Americans approached the altar on our own, and left a gigantic wreath. After a few speeches it was time to make the procession to the cemetery. Homer was asked to help carry the coffin to the cart.

Homer helps carry the coffin to the cart

Then he and Wayne were asked to walk in front of the cart. I was accompanied by a wonderful old woman who kindly shielded me from the hot sun for the entire slow walk with a parasol. She kept me from getting terribly sunburned and was very sweet.

My Savior

There were hundreds of people following the coffin cart to the cemetery. Traffic became backed up, even on this small local road.

Wayne and Homer in front of the cart

The very loud band that played as we traveled to the cemetery – my ears were ringing for hours afterwards


The cemetery in the middle of the rice paddy

Cars and trucks waiting for the funeral procession to pass

We arrived at the cemetery, where only a few bodies have been identified. Most remains there are simply unknown soldiers. The casket was lowered into the hole in the ground, and Homer and Wayne were asked to throw the first handfuls of dirt on top of the casket.

The red graves of the war heroes of Thai Giang

Homer puts the first handful of dirt on Hoang Ngoc Dam’s coffin


It was a deeply emotional moment for everyone. We were all so exhausted from the heat and from the challenges of the previous few days, we barely knew which way was up anymore. But we all felt a sense of release and relief, that we had accomplished what we had set out to do and that it was good. Homer Steedly, Jr. had brought his former enemy, Hoang Ngoc Dam, home at last.

Homer prays at the grave of Hoang Ngoc Dam

After the funeral, the Hoang family invited us back to their home for a final feast. It seemed the entire village was there. The mood shifted from being serious and heavy to a happy, relieved atmosphere.

The family provided quite a feast

Homer talks with the men who enlisted with Hoang Ngoc Dam. They were exceptionally friendly and open.

After lunch, it was time to say goodbye to the Hoang family and make the trip back to Hanoi. I cannot say enough good things about this family. Their kindness and ability to not only forgive Homer but to honor and celebrate him is remarkable. I consider it quite a gift to have known such a family and I look forward to bringing you their voices and words when we turn the audio from this trip into a radio documentary.

I also cannot say enough good things about Homer. He is truly a remarkable person. What he did took a kind of courage that isn’t easy to understand. And beyond that, he is a kind, caring and observant person who took a special interest in noting all the things he had in common with the various Vietnamese people we met along the way. He is a person who focuses on the connections we all share rather than focusing on those things which make us different. That’s a special thing.

It will take me a few weeks to put this trip into perspective and really understand what I learned from it. I hope you have enjoyed my travel blogs and pictures.




Vietnam Update

Hello friends,

Jessica here with an update from Vietnam.

The past few days have been among the strangest, most challenging and most wonderful of my entire life. There is no way I could even begin to do them justice in this blog post. All I can do is bring you a basic outline of what has transpired over the past few days and promise you that soon after I return home we will begin work on a documentary to bring you this amazing story.

Click "Read More" below for the story and pictures.

I came to Vietnam on May 20th with Homer R. Steedly, Jr. He was returning to Vietnam for the first time since he served here almost 40 years ago. His mission was to meet the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam, a North Vietnamese soldier and medic he had met on a jungle trail, shot and killed in 1969. He had promised not only to travel and meet the family, but to journey with them into south Vietnam to recover Dam’s bones, and then to return with the family to their small village for the funeral. He hoped that this trip would offer the family some closure for their tragic loss, and also help him in his recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a recovery he began several years ago with the help of his wife, Tibby. The story of how Homer got in touch with the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam was the subject of a CEM produced documentary called Wandering Souls. You can listen to it by clicking here.

But now let us move to the story and photographs of what has transpired over the past few days.

Day 1

We departed from Hanoi by van early on Saturday the 24th. Our destination was the village of Thai Giang in the province of Thai Binh. The village is about three hours south of Hanoi but a million light years away. It is a rural place, home to only a few thousand people. The road into Thai Giang is bumpy and lets you know that you are officially off the beaten path. When we pulled into the village, we were met by the youngest brother in the Hoang Family, Hoang Dang Cat. He shook every one’s hands and whisked Homer and Wayne at once into the People’s Committee House, where they were asked to provide the passport numbers and full name of everyone who was traveling in our party.

The People’s Committee House

People’s Committee House

After a few minutes, they returned and we all got into the car and went to the Hoang family home.

We heard the wailing as we walked up the alley to the home, and the sound increased as we entered the courtyard of the home. Homer was carrying a tray laden with fruit and other offerings for the altar. He walked into the home with wailing women on either side of him. We were all given incense to place on the altar. The room was hot, with fans pushing the air around. The wailing intensified as we approached the altar. We each paused before the altar with the incense in our hands and bowed our heads in Dam’s memory, and then we placed the incense in the holder. The smell filled the air. The wailing continued.

Homer in the courtyard holding the offering

Relatives of Hoang Ngoc Dam weeping as Homer approaches the altar.

At some point we were ushered back into the courtyard. While we were outside, quite stunned by the heat and the emotion, one of the Hoang sisters, Thi Dam, began to experience what was described to us as a possession by her late brothers spirit. Stamping her feet and speaking words that the Vietnamese speakers among our party did not recognize, her behavior heightened the tension. She was surrounded by her family members who attempted to find out what was going on. Finally, her family brought the message to us that Dam, speaking through her, had instructed us to bring him home and then "everything will be okay." We were moved back into the house and offered chairs. We introduced ourselves to the family and they introduced themselves to us. A huge feast was served and we all sat on the floor and shared the meal. After we ate, the dishes were cleared and we began to discuss the schedule for the next few days. It became apparent quickly that there had been some miscommunication between the family and us. They had settled on a schedule that was one day longer than what we had expected. We relented, because there was no other option but to relinquish control and follow their lead.

At 3:30, we set out with sister Hoang Thi Tuoi, brothers Hoang Dang Cat and Hoang Huy Loang, and brother-in-law Hoang Minh Dieu.
What to expect? How could we know? Emotions and tensions had run high the entire time we were at the family home. When the sister Thi Dam began to shout and stamp her feet, I think several of us felt fear that the entire situation was about to spin out of control. But as soon as the four family members got into the vehicle with us, they were gracious, friendly and curious about us. Their good nature continued as we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with them at a hotel in nearby Nam Dinh while we waited for our train. There were many toasts, questions, and smiles.
We boarded the train at around 8:00 pm and arrived in Vinh around 1:00 am. We made our way quickly to the hotel and to bed. It had been quite the day and tomorrow would be just as packed.

Day Two

We awoke in Vinh and met for breakfast. The family was in good cheer again, shaking our hands whenever they saw us and happily attempting to pronounce our names. We set off without them to visit the home of Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thi Tien. Tien is retired now, but she spent several years running the effort to find and identify the remains of the more than 300,000 Vietnamese who are still MIA from the American War. She designed and built a memorial and museum to that cause in Vinh, and she took us to that museum, where we were met by the Hoang family.

From left: Lt. Col. Tien, Hoang Huy Loang, Hoang Dang Cat, Hoang Thi Tuoi, and Hoang Minh Dieu at the MIA museum in Vinh.

You can read an article about Lieutenant Colonel Tien here.

Quite unexpectedly, at the home of Lt. Col. Tien we were introduced to this gentleman, the truck driver whose drivers license had inexplicably been on Dam’s person at the time of his death. Though in his 70’s and suffering from a bad knee, he had driven 40 kilometers on his motor scooter to meet Homer and the Hoang family.
After saying goodbye to Tien, we went to the hotel to test. At 6:30 that evening, we caught the overnight train to Quy Nhon.

Day Three

We got off the train in Quy Nhon at 10:30. We had to move
quickly because, by our estimation, we had a 6 hour drive to the grave
site. The Hoang family had to arrange the release of Dam’s remains and
the remains had to be exhumed that evening. The family went in a
separate car from us in order to be able to take care of those
arrangements while we traveled to Pleiku to find our hotel room for the
evening. It was a three and a half hour drive from Quy Nhon to Pleiku,
through some truly beautiful country including the exquisite Mang Yang
Pass. We arrived in Pleiku and found a hotel. We got back in the car
and had been driving for about five minutes when the phone rang. It was
the family calling. The process to secure permission to exhume Dam’s
remains was taking much longer than they had anticipated. They didn’t
think it would be done until much later that evening. We will stay here
this evening, they said, you go to the hotel and come meet us here
tomorrow to light incense sticks for Dam, then we will go back
together. We returned to the hotel and hoped things would go more
smoothly tomorrow.

There is so much more, but it is very late here and I must get some sleep. I will update you on the final days of our journey to return the remains of Hoang Ngoc Dam to his village as soon as I can.



Another update from Vietnam

Greetings from Pleiku

I am sitting on my bed under a mosquito net in Pleiku, Vietnam, and I
finally have a few spare moments to update you on the latest adventures
of your favorite globe-trotting producer.
Click “Read More” below for stories and pictures.

Since my last blog
entry I’ve been traveling the country, but we’ll pick up where we left
off: Hanoi. We still had one more day there before we headed off to
meet the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam. Doug Reese took us to the beautiful
Temple of Literature. It was founded in 1070 by King Ly Thanh Tong to
honor great men of academic achievement. Six years later, it became
the first university of Hanoi. The King himself used to pose the
questions to students for their final examinations. Today, it is a
beautiful place to visit.

A man getting a shave outside the gates of the Temple of Literature

The place has a wonderful contemplative feel. It must have been a wonderful place to learn

Students still visit the Temple and rub the heads of the stone turtles that hold the stelae engraved with the names of those who passed the University’s rigorous examinations


After our sightseeing we went to lunch at a place that had two markers of being authentic: eating was done while sitting on the floor, and dog was on the menu.

Homer and Wayne relaxing at lunch

This was the most delicious meal I have had so far in Vietnam. And no, I did not try the dog!


After lunch we went back to the hotel and then I made my way over to examine a monument that had captured my attention. It was a great example of socialist realism.

The kneeling male figure is shown holding a type of land mine that was used against the Americans during the Vietnam War. This mine required the person holding it to jam it up against the target to detonate it-a suicidal endeavor.



The following day we left the city and traveled to Thai Binh to meet the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam. I have many pictures and images of that part of our journey to share with you, but I am afraid you’ll have to wait for them just another couple of days!



Hello from Hanoi!

Hello from Hanoi!

Well I see that my coworker Justin is trying to outdo me with multiple blogs from his trip to West Virginia. Since it is
only 5:30 am at home and he is sure to be asleep, I will take this opportunity to do a little reporting of my own!
Click "Read More" below for stories and pictures.

I am writing to you from my hotel room in Hanoi. We arrived in Hanoi last night at around 7 pm after a flight from Saigon, which here is called Ho Chi Minh City. I am here to document the return of Homer Steedly, a Vietnam War veteran who has come to Vietnam to meet the family of the man he killed in March of 1969. If you want to hear the story of how Homer came to this point in his life, please take the time to listen to
the documentary
that CEM produced as part of the Shared Weight series.

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City after traveling for about 24 hours. We were exhausted. I am visiting this country as a person with no emotional baggage attached to this place-but I am traveling in the company of three American veterans. One of the men, Wayne Karlin, is a writer who has returned many times. Another man, Doug Reese, now lives here with his Vietnamese wife. The third man is of course Homer Steedly, and this is his first visit back to the land that has played such a huge role in making him the man he is today.


From left: Homer, Wayne, Doug


I was relieved to get off the plane when we arrived in HCMC. The scene outside the international terminal was intense and vibrant. It was chaotic and warm and wonderful. Hundreds of people were lined up waiting for their loved ones to arrive. It was loud and hot and just that small experience made me feel the hours of traveling had been worth it.

The scene outside HCMC international airport terminal

We stayed at a small hotel in HCMC called the Spring House Hotel. It was a very nice small hotel. We all crashed and in the morning I was woken by the sound of intense honking on the street below. What a racket! I learned all about Vietnamese traffic from the final installment of CEM’s
Shared Weight Series. In Unpredictable Journey, Marc talked about how the traffic initially flummoxed him. It seemed so chaotic, so random, so dangerous. The hundreds of scooters, bicycles and cars seem to operate independent of any order. Disaster seems imminent. But somehow, it all works. It doesn’t make sense to my American eyes, but I have to admit that I enjoy it. I love being in a taxi and seeing a
scooter approaching from one side while a car approaches from another, while the driver deftly maneuvers to keep from colliding. I just laugh to think of my mother along with me and how she would be pushing an imaginary break on the floor of the car!

Doug Reese took Homer and me to a huge indoor market. I love
markets and this was a good one. From shrimp to jewelry to raw meat to beautiful artwork to an entire tailored suit from scratch–there was nothing this market couldn’t offer! It was the kind of place I could have spent four hours in, taking my time wandering from stall to stall, carefully weighing all my options before making my purchases.

Various types of rice and beans for sale

Meat for sale at the market

These little blue pigs caught my eye


Doug then took Homer and me to the rooftop deck of a very tall hotel so we could see a great view of Saigon.

After that, it was back to the hotel to check out, then a great lunch, then off to the airport–where our flight was delayed by an hour before we got on the plane headed to Hanoi. On the plane I met an American woman
who was with the Vietnamese boy and girl she had just adopted. She had been in the country for seven weeks already. She had arrived with her husband having been promised by the adoption agency that the entire
process would take only three weeks. However, there has been a recent crackdown on international adoptions after agencies in the US complained about irregularities such as some children turning out to not really be orphans after all. It took seven weeks for the adoption to come through, and she was leaving Saigon and heading to Hanoi to go to the American embassy to fill out the necessary paperwork to be able to take her new son and daughter home. She was hoping to be able to leave for the US in a week. She looked tired but as he held her beautiful son in her lap it was clear that she
would have stayed as long as necessary.

In Hanoi we had dinner at a restaurant that serves only one dish: grilled fish. It became clear once we walked in that the restaurant had some experience with disappointed tourists. They handed us a piece of paper that said, "We serve only one dish: Grilled Fish!" We smiled
and nodded; we had come to the restaurant fully aware of this. We walked upstairs and sat down. The waiter brought over a piece of paper. "We serve only one dish: Grilled Fish!" We smiled and nodded. Yes, we know. He pointed again at the paper. Yes, we know. Finally he understood that we were aware and that we were not going to make a
fuss when they didn’t appear with a menu. The meal was delicious.

Today we woke up and went for a walk around the neighborhood. Then we met Wayne’s friend Duc. He is an artist who lived for a time in San Francisco where he had a radio show on KQED. Now he lives in Hanoi and owns an art gallery. He took us to a wonderful coffee house. If you have never had Vietnamese coffee, you must! It is served with sweetened condensed milk and is delicious.
Wayne, Doug, Homer and Duc all had the traditional Vietnamese meal of pho. As a pescatarian , I was unable to eat this as it is made with chicken broth. Duc asked them to bring me some bread, assuming a baguette of some sort would be delivered. Instead, they brought me a wrapped loaf of sliced American-style white sandwich bread. We all got a good laugh out of that.



After coffee and pho we walked around Truc Bach Lake. Hanoi is a city of lakes and much of the social life of the city is centered around these areas.

A couple enjoying the scenery together

A grandfather taking his grandson for a stroll around the lake

Smiling teenage girls enjoying each other’s company at the lake

Another couple enjoying some time together

This is the lake that John McCain parachuted into after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War. A monument commemorating the event has been erected on the western side of the lake. Some details are wrong, such as the spelling of his name and military branch.



We stopped at Vietnam’s oldest pagoda, the Tran Quoc Pagoda, on the West Lake. This is a beautiful and peaceful spot-that is, until the tourist bus arrives!


Later in the day, we went to the Hoa Lo Prison, known more commonly to Americans as the Hanoi Hilton. This prison was built by the French when they occupied Vietnam. Many Vietnamese political prisoners were held there and subject to torture and terrible conditions. Years later it became the place where captured American soldiers were held, including Senator and Presidential hopeful John McCain. American soldiers who spent time there tell their own stories of torture and enduring awful conditions. It is very strange to visit the Hanoi Hilton, as an American, fully aware of these stories-and then to see display after display that shows pictures of American soldiers playing basketball and decorating Christmas trees while being held at Hoa Lo. Visiting this prison, you cannot help but be struck by the insanity of a place being used to torture one people who then turned around and used it to torture another. You are struck by the sadness of what we are capable of doing to each other, and you just hope that places like this throughout the world all become museums and cease to be operational.

The entrance to Hoa Lo Prison, aka the Hanoi Hilton

This very eerie room is full of statues showing how Vietnamese prisoners were kept shackled. You feel almost as if they could come to life any moment.

Artwork depicting the torture of Vietnamese political prisoners


That was enough for one day. I sit in my hotel room now resting with the streets still exploding with noise beneath my window. Tomorrow we have another day in Hanoi, and then we begin the journey to meet the family of Hoang Ngoc Dam, the young medic that Homer Steedly killed 40 years ago while a soldier. We will travel with them to where the fortune teller has told them Dam is buried. That body will be disinterred, and then we will travel with them back to their village for the funeral.

I hope to have the opportunity again to share more about my travels while I am here in Vietnam! I hope you have enjoyed reading about the journey so far!




4/21 Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to the Center for Emerging Media’s new website!

We’re so excited to bring this to you after working on it for a month and a half. This website brings together in one place all our various projects, and also incorporates an interactive forum for our listeners to interact with each other.

If you have any questions about how to use this website or where something is located, leave a comment below or send me an email at

To navigate the website, pay attention to the top menu bar. That will be your number one place to go once you know what you wanted to do. Do you want to read the blog? Click on “Blog”. Do you want to listen to CEM programs? Click on “Programs”. And so on. Once you make a decision, depending on what you click on, the right column will give you more options. For example, if you click on Programs, the right column will show you what programs we have available for you to listen to. If you click on Blog, the right column will show you archived entries and tags.

Just click around and get to know the site. Please let us know if you have any problems or questions about how this works!

We look forward to seeing you all in the forums and on this blog!

2/21 Child Brides; Stolen Lives


Sunam is only 3 years old. She is dressed up in her bridal outfit as she prepares to marry her 7 year old cousin. Photo Credit: Farzana Wahidy/AP.

We have brand new content for you from the Center for Emerging Media! Stream the podcast here. (Or just right click on that link, and choose “Save Link As.”  This will download it onto your computer.  Thanks to our intelligent reader Ron Counsell for figuring this one out!) Program length is 39: 21.

Female genital mutilation. Sex slaves. Human trafficking. These are the topics that journalist Maria Hinojosa thought of when she was deciding which global women’s issue to focus on for a special episode of NOW, the acclaimed PBS program. But a phone call to a source set her straight. The biggest issue facing women globally is not genital mutilation, or slavery. It is the millions of women that are forced to marry as children. 51 million girls under the age of 18 are married. According to a report by the International Center for Research on Women, that number will rise to 100 million by the end of this decade. Marc and Maria sat down and talked about her documentary Child Brides; Stolen Lives which premiered on PBS in 2007.

You can stream that interview here. (Program length is 39: 21)

Want to watch the documentary? Visit the website of Now on PBS.

Under the cut…resources and pictures!

Read More→

Share your CAB meeting reflections

I want to thank all of you who came to the CAB meeting tonight.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to see your faces and hear your thoughts.

I see some people already made post-CAB comments in the previous post, so I imagined others would follow suit, and I wanted to make a place for all the post-CAB comments.  So feel free to share your impressions, feelings, thoughts in this post.

I am sure Marc will write something to you tomorrow.


New Links

Hi everyone,

Please note the new header tab above with the words “Protest Links”.  If you go there, you’ll find links to the following sites:

Read More→

2/15 Marc on Norris again!

Don’t miss Marc on the Ed Norris Show on 105.7 WHFS FM today from 10:30-11:30. He’s joining them for their news roundup. Call and be part of the show at 410-481-1057 or email


2/14 New Poll

Happy Valentines Day, everyone. I hope you all have a wonderful day!

New Poll!

Poll: Are you going to the Feb 20th Community Advisory Board Meeting?

Here is a picture of the Heart Nebula. Isn’t it beautiful? If you like this kind of stuff, I highly recommend you hightail it to the Walters Art Museum, where they have a whole exhibition of photographs from the Hubble Telescope.


2/13 I read the news today, oh boy…

Big news out today. Looks like Maryland will have two new faces in our Congressional delegation (unless Wayne Gilchrist and Albert Wynn choose to run as Independents and win). Read More→

1/29/08 Dr. Andres Alonso and paying kids to perform

Did your parents ever give you an incentive to perform well in school?  As in, raise your grades and we’ll raise your allowance?  Or, keep a certain GPA and we’ll take you on a vacation?  Mine did.  Freshman year of college my mom wouldn’t let me take my car to the campus first semester-and I wasn’t allowed to bring it second semester unless I got a certain GPA.  I worked pretty hard to make sure I hit that GPA mark–I needed my car to escape campus every once in awhile.

We all know that lots of parents do this.  But when the actual school system gets involved, we get very uncomfortable about the idea of learning having a cash/material reward system.  We want education to be pure-for students to be motivated by a love of learning-to learn for learning’s sake.  But do we need to do a reality check? Do we need to abandon our high ideals and take a look at what is really going on, and maybe adopt a method that stems from a harm-reduction philosophy? 

That’s what we’re talking about today at noon, with Dr. Andres Alonso, live and in studio.  Join us!

Poll:  What do you think about Dr. Andres Alonso’s idea that the school system pay students who improve their test scores?


1/28/08 Black Conservatism

I remember in 2006 during the race for Maryland’s vacant senate seat, a hot debate being sparked on our show when a guest said, “Any black person who votes for a Democrat in this election is a patsy.”  Oh, the calls that came in for the rest of the hour-people were SO angry! 

While it was a comment that probably could have been worded in a much more intelligent way, what it implied was interesting.  The implication was that the Democratic party was taking the African American vote for granted by not supporting the candidacy of Kweisi Mfume-and that blacks should vote for the Republican candidate, Michael Steele, an African American.  Most of the callers were offended by the very suggestion that the Republican agenda had anything to offer black voters.

But according to statistics, more and more blacks are finding something about the Republican party to interest them. In 1972, fewer than 10 percent of African Americans identified themselves as conservative; today nearly 30 percent-11.2 million-do.  Those are the numbers presented by Christopher Alan Bracey in his new book, Saviors or Sellouts: The Promise and Peril of Black Conservatism, from Booker T. Washington to Condoleezza Rice. He points to the social issues that African Americans tend to be conservative on-abortion and gay marriage for example-and traces the history of politicla conservatism in the Black world.

Figures like Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell–what appeal did they find in conservative politics?  Why do they remain such polarizing figures?  Join us today to discuss.


P.S. Go here for information on Bracey’s event in Howard County this weekend!


1/24/07 Green Governor


Then-Mayor Martin O’Malley at an Earth Day Planting at Gilmor Elementary in 2005

Before I came to work at WYPR, I worked at a documentary company called Soundprint.  While I was there, they were working on a series of stories about urban forests that delved into the unique environmental issues that cities face.  For the documentary Watershed 263, we attended an Earth Day planting ceremony at Gilmor Elementary in Baltimore.  Gilmor was one of a dozen schools in Baltimore that had converted their parking lot into a garden.  Things like parking lots and roads are terrible for the environment.  When it rains, the rain gathers up all the oil and other pollutants that have been sitting on the pavement and then whooshes it all into a storm-water drain.  That all ends up in the Chesapeake, of course, where it wreaks havoc.  A garden, on the other hand, keeps that water right there, and puts it to good use.  It’s a lot of fun for the kids, too, to get a day out of class to get their hands dirty and have a beautiful spot to play.

 The purpose of that whole long story was to tell you that on that day, then-Mayor Martin O’Malley was at that school, and ceremoniously planted the first flower in the soil.  I remember being impressed that he would find time in a busy schedule to visit a school, make a speech, plant a flower, and hang out with the kids for awhile.  I left with the feeling that he cared about the environment.

The impression I was left with would please the now Governor, and those who work to craft his image.  He has very purposefully cast himself as a “Green Governer“.  But what does that term really mean?  As the environmental crisis in the Bay and beyond seems to grow more urgent, how does the criteria for being an environmental politician change?  What is the gold standard in environmentalism for a politician?  What is the leading edge-and is O’Malley on it?

We’ll discuss this today with people who all care deeply and have devoted their lives to the environment.  Join us, to share your thoughts on what you would like to see happen in Maryland.

Poll: Do you think Governor Martin O’Malley is a Green Governor?



Here are some pictures courtesy of one of our guests today, Gerry Winegrad.  His descriptions are below:






1.  brown bull headed catfish taken from the South River near Annapolis by USGS.  Nearly 2/3rds sampled had these cancerous tumors from water pollutants, most likely from stormwater runoff.
2.  BROWN TIDE KILLS 7,000 INNER HARBOR FISH   June 5, 2007 BALTIMORE — State environmental officials said a lack of oxygen killed thousands of fish in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor last weekend.  State program director Charles Poukish said the fish kill is  the result of an algae bloom or brown tide.  Poukish said the lack of dissolved oxygen is the result of a large bloom of microscopic algae. Recent warm water temperatures killed the algae and that depleted oxygen near the water‘s surface.   Massive fish kills also were reported in the Potomac during the summer and other kills in the Magothy and other rivers.
3.  rockfish with mycobactreiosis (chronic wasting disease).  A wasting disease that kills rockfish and can cause a severe skin infection in humans has spread to nearly three-quarters of the rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay, cradle of the mid-Atlantic’s most popular game fish.  The disease also sends a grim message about the entire bay ecosystem. The rockfish remains bay conservationists’ only success story — a species nearly wiped out, then revived by fishing limits.  But as the number of rockfish surged, the fish remained in a body of water too polluted to support the level of life it once did.


1/23/08 Operation Safe Streets


Marc has said for years that the best way to address drug and gang related violence in Baltimore is to get ex-offenders, those wise men who have been there and come back to tell the tale, to work in outreach with troubled communities.  But there has always seemed to be an institutional and government aversion towards giving money to people who have been in prison.  Maybe things just had to get really, really, really bad before that changed.In 2000, Chicago implemented a program that was developed at the University of Illnois School of Public Health in Chicago.  This program began in  West Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. Police Beat 1115 was chosen as the first CeaseFirezone in large part because of the high number of shootings.  The idea was to send ex-offenders, faith leader, and other community members into those neighborhoods to offer conflict resolution, help kids get out of gangs, and whatever else it took to save a neighborhood. In the first year of CeaseFire, shootings in beat 1115 dropped by 67%.  In the past few years, CeaseFire has seen continuing success, which you can read about here.

Last year, Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore City Health Department brought Operation Safe Streets to Baltimore.  It is a program based on CeaseFire, and we’re hearing that the pilot neighborhood has seen a tremendous drop in homicides and shootings.  Today at one, we’ll talk with people from that community to learn more.

Join us….


1/22/08 Americans and Money

As the subprime mortgage mess has gone into major meltdown mode, we’re hearing a lot about “predatory lenders” while sympathetic words are being used for the people who are losing their homes. 

But at what point do we say, “Wait a second–should these people bear some responsibility for making bad financial choices?  Why did they choose a loan that was not good for them?  Are they guilty of living beyond their means?”

Ah, living beyond ones means.  An American tradition, some would say.  Advertisers and credit card companies surely want you to engage in this kind of behavior, and hey, it’s good for the economy, which is good for America, right?  Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves when those $230 Cole Haan shoes at Nordstrom are calling our name.

But at what point does it become too much? If I buy the Cole Haan shoes, or use my credit card to pay for groceries or for my kids school uniform, and then I can’t make the payments and my interest rate jumps not only on the credit card I didn’t make the payment on but on ALL my credit cards–is that my fault for not being responsible with my money?  Or was I lured by dishonest and seductive promises about easy credit and low APR’s into thinking that I could spend now, pay later?

And if, as in the case of the subprime debacle, the government intervenes, what message will it send to people?  Will it help us become smarter spenders and borrowers, or teach us that we can engage in risky behavior and not bear the consequences?

We’re talking about issues of responsibility with debt today, and how our culture thinks about money and credit.  The subprime mess has showed us how far this issue reaches.  All sectors are hurt, not just those involved with the industry. Is it time for our country to radically transform the way we think about money, credit, and debt?

Join us!

Poll: Who do you think is to blame for the mortgage meltdown?

Poll: Should the government intervene to keep people from losing their homes?


1/17/08 Mexico’s Southern Border, and Synesthesia

Mexicans.  That is what many Americans call any person living in America who is from south of our border.  But the truth is that many of the people living in our country without permission began their journey south of Mexico-and they had to sneak into that country illegally as well.  That is the subject of a new article in this month’s National Geographic.  Around 400,000 people sneak into Mexico every single year, making Mexico’s southern border feel “like the place in distant water where the wave first rises and swells and gathers uncontainable propulsive force.”  We’ll talk with the author of that article, Cynthia Gorney.  Please also check out the photographs of Alex Webb, who traveled with Cynthia as she reported the story.

And then…


There is this cool test on the BBC website I took last week that measures whether or not your senses overlap. As in, do you connect days of the week, letters or numbers with color?  Is Thursday always green to you, and is the letter F always red?  What the test is really measuring is whether or not you may have a neurological phenomenon called synesthesia.  Synesthesia is only beginning to be understand by scientists and the people who have it.  There are several different types, the most common called Grapheme-color synesthesia, which is where an individual associates letters and numbers with color.  There is also spatial-sequence synesthesia, where numbers have spatial relationships to each other and to you-for example, 18 is further away and to the left, while 9 is rather close and above.  There are many other kinds and you can read about them here.  

So what is life like for someone with synesthesia?  Today we are going to talk with writer Alison Buckholtz, who wrote a great article for earlier this week called The Letter E is Purple about her personal experience with the condition-and how she feels about the fact that her son may have it..

 Join us!


1/16/08 Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld

Baltimore City’s 36th police commissioner has a lot of work to do to keep the homicide rate from following last year’s trend, when it was the highest since 1999.  He’s going to be in the studio today to discuss his plans, which include using community engagement, targeted enforcement, and strong partnerships. We’re taking your questions for Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld.  Join us at Noon.


1/16/08 Dicussing The Wire with David Zurawik

Baltimore is crazy for HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire.  I think that many citizens of Baltimore secretly enjoy the violent and criminal reputation of the city, that they are perversely proud of it in the way that New Yorkers were of their city before Giuliani cleaned it up. We think it makes us look tough or something.  The Wire is a part of that–almost our way of saying to the world, “See how messed up and tough our city is?  I bet you couldn’t handle this.”

 It’s also just such a great show.  Baltimore Sun television critic David Zurawik, who you also hear weekly on WYPR’s Take on Television, will be in the studio today to discuss the show.  We can also talk about the writer’s strike and what it means for the next year of entertainment.  Is any end in sight?

Join us, with your questions and comments for David.  What do you love or hate most about this new, final season of The Wire?  What television show are you going to miss seeing as a result of the writer’s strike?

Poll: What do you think of the fifth and final season of The Wire?


P.S. Aaron Henkin of The Signal, our weekly arts and culture show, did a great piece last week where he watched The Wire with former drug dealers and got their thoughts on how real or unreal the depiction of their lives is.  Listen to it here.

1/15/08 Middle East Peace

One of the most interesting things I have read about the situation in Israel and Palestine is a positive observation. The observation is that for the first time in many, many years, the leader of Israel and the leader of Palestine trust each other.

The problem is, perhaps, that their own people may not trust them.

Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, is under investigation for corruption, has been blamed for the loss of the second Lebanon war, and according to some polls, only 8% of Israeli’s support his government.

Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority, is in a constant fight to keep the Palestinian populace loyal to his Fatah party as opposed to Hamas.

And President Bush, who is meant to help usher these men and their nations towards peace, is generally disliked in the Arab world and due to leave office in a years time.

Is there any hope?

Join us at Noon today to discuss. We’re going to talk with Aron Raskas, a Baltimore attorney who is national vice-president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and a director of, and with Daoud Kuttab, an award-winning Palestinian columnist/journalist and currently a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, as well as William Kern, Managing Editor of WORLDMEETS.US, a website that provides articles translated into English from an array of international media.

Poll: Do you think this latest push for peace will result in any lasting agreements?


1/10 Primary Review

At Noon today, we welcome you to add your opinion to the never ending analysis of the 2008 Presidential election and the results of the Iowa caucus, the New Hampshire primary, and the Wyoming GOP primary.  From Obama’s surprise victory in Iowa to Hillary’s emotional moment to Edward’s attempts to keep from becoming completly irrelvent, the Democratic primary has been providing some exciting times. On the GOP side, things are no less exciting, as McCain attempts to accomplish what at times has seen inevitable and at times completly out of the question-to become the Republican candidate for President.  Will he be able to get the Republican base to trust him?  Only time will tell. 

Poll: If the Democratic primary in Maryland were today, who would you vote for?

Poll: If the Republican primary in Maryland were today, who would you vote for?


1/2/07 Studs Terkel and Nelson Peery

Marc loves Studs Terkel, the great historian, author, broadcaster, and so much more.  So whenever he releases a new book or is anywhere near a studio and they offer us an interview, we know the answer is always yes.  Recently, he released a memoir called Touch and Go.  After decades of telling other people’s stories, Studs is finally telling his own.  Today at one we bring you an interview with Studs that we recorded before the holidays.  It may be the last time we get to speak to this 95 year old American treasure, so don’t miss it.

 And then we’ll talk with Nelson Peery, an author and activist whose latest book is Black Radical: The Education of an American Revolutionary.  This book examines the time in this communist’s life after he returned home from serving in World War II to the time of the Watts Riots in 1965.  He challenges the notion that the Civil Rights Movement in America was led by the clergy elite. Instead, he believes that it was the experiences of black veterans of WWII that gave the movement the mass appeal that it needed to succeed.  He joined us to discuss his experiences in the Communist party, the freedom movement, and more. 

A great show…today at one. Don’t miss it.


1/2/07 Open Phones

We’re back, so dry your tears and join us at Noon today for Open Phones.  What is on your mind?  We’re interested.  1-866-661-9309 or 410-662-8780 or email at  Or leave your comment here.


12/17-12/21 HOLIDAY MUSIC

Time for our annual Holiday Music week.  Here is what is coming up!

Monday, December 17th

12-1 pm Lea Gilmore shares her favorite music.  Want to check out some of what she played?  Here is the playlist.

  • Baby, It’s Cold Outside, performed by Eric Byrd and Lea Gilmore
  • Santa’s Got the Blies, by Denise Lasalle
  • Please Come Home for Christmas, by Charles Brown
  • Santa Baby, by Eartha Kitt
  • All I Want for Christmas is You, by Mariah Carey
  • This Christmas, by Donny Hathaway
  • Give Love on Christmas Day, by the Jackson 5
  • So This is Christmas, by John Lennon
  • Mary Did You Know, by Clay Aiken
  • I am Not Forgotten, by Israel and New Breed
  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing, by Norman Hitchens
  • Silent Night, by Mahalia Jackson
  • What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong

1-2 pm, Tom Hall shares from of his favorite music.

  • Oh Come, All Ye Faithful
  • Come Colors Rise
  • Thank you, by Dave Brubeck
  • Gabriel’s Message
  • Yvette in English, by Joni Mitchell
  • I Wish You Love
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  • Never Will I Marry
  • Nine Crimes, Damien Rice
  • Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel
  • Hallelujah Chorus

Tuesday December 18th

12-1 pm Jon Carney is the Concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and he brought some of his favorite classical music for us.  What did he play?

  • Edward Elgar conducting the London Symphony- 1st movement of violin concerto featuring Yehudi Menuhin at age 16 – 1931
  • Vivaldi – Largo from “Winter” of the Quattro Stagioni, Jon’s recording w/ the Royal Philharmonic – 1992
  • Camille St. Saens – from his “organ” symphony (#3) – Jean Martinon and French Radio Symphony – 1975
  • Michael Nyman – Prospero’s Books (miranda) – 1996
  • Beethoven – slow movement from his opus 135 String Quartet – Guarneri Quartet 1987
  • Bartok – Concerto for Orchestra – last movement – RPO w/ Danielle Gatti – 1997
  • Bach – Chaconne for Partita #2 in D minor for solo violin – Henryk Szerying
  • Fritz Kreisler – “La Gitana” for violin and piano – Jon’s own recording w/ his mother on piano – 1995
  • closing music: Michael Nyman – Quartet #4 – track 14

1-2 pm Jason Willett is the co-owner of the True Vine Record store in Hampden, as well as a member of a litany of fine bands including Leprechaun Catering and Half Japanese.  We asked him to bring his favorite Christmas music, and this is what we heard – not quite in the order we heard them, go figure –

  • James Brown – Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto
  • Culturcide – Depressed Christmas
  • Frieder Butzmann – White Christmas
  • Hybrid Kids – Good King Wenceslaus
  • James White and the Blacks – Christmas With Satan
  • The Jethros – I’m Dreaming of a Wide Christmas
  • Rotary Connection – Opening & Silent Night Chant
  • finally, 3 awesome song poems called Snowbows, Santa Came on a Nuclear Missile, and Santa Goes Modern

Wednesday, December 19th

12-1 pm Keith Covington is the owner of the New Haven Lounge, one of the best places around to see live jazz.  He brought us the gift of great holiday jazz music; here they are in order:

  • Slim & The Supreme Angels – Precious Lord
  • Selah Jubilee Singers – When Was Jesus Born
  • Kenny Burrel – Merry Christmas Baby
  • Ramsey Lewis – Christmas Blues
  • David Benoit – Christmas is Coming
  • Ramsey Lewis – Merry Christmas Baby
  • Chris Botti – Ave Maria
  • Dianne Reeves – Carol of the Bells
  • The Swan Silvertones – I’m Not Tired Yet
  • Ramsey Lewis – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Bobby Durham – Jingle Bells
  • Van Morrison – Have I Told You Lately?
  • The Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama (not to be confused with the Unoriginal Five Blind Boys of Alabama, seriously they’re better) -This May Be the Last Time

1-2 pm Rock and Roll has had something to say about Christmas since the 50’s.  Former disc jockeys Toby Bray and Michael Butscher came by and spun the following tunes.

  • Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid
  • Father Christmas – The Kinks
  • Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney
  • Step Into Christmas – Elton John
  • Happy Christmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon
  • Santa Claus Is Coming to Town – Chicago
  • White Christmas – America
  • The Christmas Song – Linda Ronstadt
  • The First Noel – Air Supply
  • Merry Christmas, Baby – Southern Culture on the Skids
  • Merry Christmas – The Ramones
  • Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
  • Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
  • Please Come Home for Christmas – The Eagles
  • River – Joni Mitchell
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Bruce Springsteen
  • Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby & David Bowie
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Shawn Colvin
  • The Christmas Song – Nat “King” Cole
  • Jingle Bells – Frank Sinatra
  • Let It Snow – Dean Martin
  • It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas – Perry Como
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town – The Jackson Five
  • Christmas Isn’t Christmas (Without the One You Love) – The O’Jays
  • This Christmas – Donny Hathaway
  • L’il Saint Nick – The Beach Boys

Thursday, December 20th

12-1 pm Ed Polochick is a busy guy.  He’s conductor of the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra in Nebraska, Artistic Director of the Choral Artists of Baltimore, and Director of Choral Activities at the Peabody Conservatory.  He was good enough to find time to come in and share his favorite classical and choral Christmas Music.

  • The First Noel, from the album Crystal Carols by Dean Shostak
  • The Holy Boy by John Ireland, from the album A Christmas Garland
  • Adeste Fideles, by Liszt, performed by Walker Marshall
  • Many Moods of Christmas, Suite 2, by Robert Shaw, from the album Festival of Carols
  • Candlelight Carol, from the album Christmas Night: Carols of the Nativity, conducted by John Rutter
  • Christmas Night, Christmas Night: Carols of the Nativity, conducted by John Rutter
  • Many Moods of Christmas, Suite 3, by Robert Shaw, from the album Festival of Carols
  • Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Concert Artists Symphonic Chorale
  • Worthy is the Lamb That Was Slain performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Concert Artists Symphonic Chorale

1-2 pm Hopefully you’ll have some time to relax during the holidays.  And if you do, maybe you’ll want to go to the movies…but what to see?  Never fear, we’ve brought together a great panel of film critics to tell you what to see.  We’ll talk to Violet Glaze of the Baltimore City Paper, Mike Speir from Variety, and Michael Sragrow from the Baltimore Sun.

We really hope you enjoy all of this music and special programming.  Happy Holidays!

-Jessica, Justin, Marcus

12/13/07 Helicon


Time for one of our annual shows. HELICON, a great band that reunites once a year to play an annual winter solstice concert, will be in the studio today from 1-2 to bring you some great music.  We’ll be hearing Ken Kolodner on hammered dulcimer, hammered mbria and fiddle; Chris Norman on wooden flutes, tin whistle, small pipes and piano; and, Robin Bullock on guitar, cittern, fiddle and piano.

 The guys will be playing their 22nd annual concert at Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, on Saturday, December 15 at 3:30 pm and 8 pm.  Go here for more information.

You are psyched.  Don’t deny it.  The hammered dulcimer is hardcore. 

Join us today!


12/6/07 Mothers

In my work as producer for the Just Words series, I’ve come to believe that inner city mothers are the new stoics.  I can’t tell you how many times I have asked a mother “How do you deal with all this?” and they just look at me like I am crazy to even imagine that they would take the luxury of considering NOT dealing with it all.  I do not know how they do it.  Being a mother is hard enough, I imagine.  But to be a mother trying to raise a child with drug dealers on the corner,without much money, with the schools in terrible shape and murders on the rise? 

That’s what we are going to hear about today.  We’re invited three women who have been featured on the Just Words series.  Lorraine Mackey lost her son, Aaron Mackey, to gang violence over a year ago.  She’s doing everything she can to keep her other son safe, and is trying to pick up the pieces and figure out, what went wrong?  Sheilah Cannon’s daughter was caught in gang crossfire while going to pick her little brother up from school, and had to spend months in shock trauma.  Now Sheila is doing everything she can to find a place she can afford to move her children to.  Nargas Hyman began to worry about her eldest son years ago when she saw him and his friends hanging out after school, with nothing to do.  She created an afterschool youth program that she is still running, over a decade later, out of her mother’s basement.

What do these women go through as they struggle to keep their children safe?  We’ll find out today.  Join us.

To hear Nargas, Sheila, and Lorraine on JUST WORDS, go here.


12/04 Jonathon Scott Fuqua and Zakes Mda

The Marc Steiner Show is getting into the Christmas spirit with a doorbuster opportunity for you today…A twofer!  At one o’clock we’re going to bring you two authors in one hour. 

First, we’re talking with Jonathon Scott Fuqua.  When you were a teenager, did you ever have a book that just so perfectly captured your life or your feelings that you read it over and over again?  I did.  It was Girl, by Blake Nelson and I can’t say it so much captured my life as it was the life I wished I had.  I also loved Unfinished Portrait of Jessica by Richard Peck.  Both of these books are about girls turning into women and how thorny that process can be.  Jonathon Scott Fuqua writes books like this.  They are books that come as a relief to the people reading them; finally, someone understands!  His latest book is called Gone and Back Againand is the story of Caley, a teenager whose dad has a personality disorder and whose brother is handicapped.  His parents are divorced and he’s been moved all around the country, eventually ending up in Florida, which is where the novel begins.  It’s a story that draws upon the author’s own struggles with depression.

And then we talk with Zakes Mda.  He’s a writer from South Africa whose work is really about our interactions with history and memory and how we manage those things in the middle of present life.  His latest book is Cion, and is about Toloki, the hero from a previous novel, moving to Ohio with his family and learning about his ancestors, runaway slaves. 

Join us today at one, for all that!


11/29/07 Ghetto Nation

“Prostitution is hilarious!”

I’m always shocked when I hear about some stupid group on a college campus having a Pimp’s and Ho’s party, or a “Ghetto” themed party where you are encouraged to bring 40’s in brown paper bags and “wear your favorite gang colors!”  I mean, do these people really not get it?  Are they really unaware that someone is going to be offended by this?  Where is the motivation, anyway?  Why do people want to emulate ghetto stereotypes and celebrate the worst of human behavior?

These are the questions that Cora Daniels asks in her most recent book, Ghetto Nation: A Journey into the Land of Bling and the Home of the Shameless.  Why do people like Paris Hilton appropriate ghetto attitudes and style?  How can corporate America defend it’s practices of making so much money off harmful ghetto stereotypes? Do we really live in a world where Pimp and Ho”  for children costumes are available?  Yes.  We sure do.

Let’s discuss…at Noon…


11/28/07 Joel Hafvenstein


In 2004, Joel Hafvenstein went to Afghanistan as part of an aid program to help Afghan opium farmers find alternative ways to make money.  Predictably, the program ran into resistance from the area’s drug trafficking warlords, and responded with ambushes.  Within just a few months, nine of his colleagues were dead.

He’s our guest today to talk about his time in Afghanistan, which is chronicled in the new book Opium Season: A Year on the Afghan Frontier. It’s a really exciting account of his time there, and a quite educational story about the complexities of Afghan society and the larger issue of the problems present in U.S. attempts to bring aid to foreign countries.

So join us, to hear this fascinating story….


11/27/07 Kaufman and Hancock

A socialist and a capitalist walk into a bar….

The beginning of a joke, right?  Not today.  Today we have a socialist (A. Robert Kaufman) and a capitalist (Okay, well not specifically a capitalist, but a business writer, so he writes about capitalism and for the most part we’re all capitalists, after all….anyway it’s Jay Hancock from the Baltimore Sun) and they are coming in together to talk about how they both came to this conclusion: the War on Drugs has failed and must be ended. 

Jay Hancock revealed this belief in a column on November 7th.  Kaufman has been advocating this for years.  They’re going to talk about how they came to this conclusion from very different places.

Join us, to share your thoughts on the War on Drugs.


11/26/07 Annapolis Peace Summit

Seems like this week’s Middle East peace conference in Annapolis has come back from the dead.  Everyone was saying that the conference had become irrelevant–that no one was coming, it would only be one day, and it wouldn’t make a dent in the enormous amount of work and negotiation that needs to occur between Palestine and Israel.

But things seem to be looking up.  As President Bush emphasizes his desire to make peace in the Middle East part of his legacy, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and other nations of the Arab League have agreed to attend. 

So looks like we’re going to have a bona fide conference.  Today at Noon we’re going to discuss what issues are going to be at the top of the heap.  What are the likely sticking points?  What is a reasonable set of things we can hope to see accomplished?

We’ll talk with our friend Ali Zaghab, a Palestinian-born local businessman who has joined us many times in the past to discuss these issues, and Dr. Elli Lieberman, a retired Israeli Army major, a PhD in Middle East studies, and a local businessman.  We’re also going to here an essay on peace and interfaith understanding and love from John Oliver Smith.

So join us.  What do you want to see accomplished?  Do you feel optimistic?


11/20/07 Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore


Today, local author, Goucher professor, and friend Madison Smartt Bell is joining us to discuss his new book Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore.  The book is what it sounds like; the author takes us on a walk through Baltimore, pointing out the important cultural, historical, and social points of interest along the way.  He visits typical Baltimore tourist spots like the Inner Harbor and Fells Point, but also goes to places off the tourist track, like the vibrant Greenmount Avenue and Greenmount Cemetery. 

 Producer Justin went out with him last week and captured the sounds of some of these spots…we’ll be playing those on the air today while we talk with Madison.  So join us with your comments, questions, and stories of your favorite parts of the city!


11/15/07 Iraq and Pakistan


Well, I hope if any of you aren’t members, you will become one after today, because we’re gonna be running up the phone bill here at WYPR!

 First–we’re going to go to Iraq, to talk with Nancy Youssef of the McClatchy papers.  She’s going to share her first-hand perspective of the political and security situation in that country.

Then, we’re traveling to Pakistan.  We’re going to talk to Shahan Mufti of the Christian Science Monitor, who is reporting from Pakistan.  We’ll also talk to Washington College professor Tahir Shad, a Pakistani who is currently in Argentina.  And we’ll talk with Kamran Asdar Ali, a Pakistani and professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas.

What do you want to know about the situation in Iraq and Pakistan?  Bring them to the show!


11/14/07 Economy

Can I let you in on a little secret?  I am loving the housing slump.  It is my favorite thing in the world.  I hope it just keeps falling and falling.  I, of course, am a prospective buyer.  But you, the owner, are cursing me for celebrating the loss you are experiencing in your net worth!

The differences in our attitudes explains in part why it is so hard to come to a consensus about the economy and how it is doing.  In my eyes, the economy was flying so high that someone like me, young and without much money, couldn’t really get my foot in the door and buy stocks or a house.  It was not an economy that was friendly to beginners. I felt priced out of that economy. But to someone whose foot was in the door already, the economy was perfect-great-never been better!

We’re going to talk today with people who have different ideas about what the economy we have today means.  Does the housing slump portend a recession-or is the market just correcting itself?  Are oil prices rising higher and higher because of actual supply and demand issues, or is it market manipulation? Why does the Federal Reserve seem so optimistic? And what role do hedge funds play in alll this?

Join us…with your comments and questions…or offers to sell me your house at a reduced price!


11/7/2007 Naomi Klein

Disaster capitalism.  What an interesting phrase.  It’s the topic of Naomi Klein’s new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.  What is disaster capitalism?  It’s things like Blackwater, or the privatization of New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina, or Haliburton and the rebuilding of Iraq.  It is the world in which private companies profit from disasters, natural or man-made. 

Is this an example of the triumph of the global free market?  Or evidence that some of the events of the past decades have been engineered to profit certain corporations?

Join us as we speak with Naomi Klein….and watch a short video inspired by the book.

And then, we take a look at the special session in Annapolis.  Is deal making and compromise occuring?  Will slots pass?  Will corporations and those with high incomes be paying more in taxes?  We’ll talk with WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith and Kevin Dayhoff, columnist for The Tentacle.

Join us!


10-29 Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean is our guest today.  She’s the nun whose work with death row inmates was profiled in the Academy Award winning movie Dead Man Walking.  She joined Marc to talk about the death penalty, and why she believes it is not only morally wrong but replete with racial, economic, and geographic disparity as a result of a broken judicial system. 


10/25/07 Rape

Today we’re discussing what is probably one of the uglier topics to be discussed.  Rape.

Some interesting things in the news lately:

  • Students at University of Maryland are protesting because they feel they should be able to name their alleged assailants on a public forum.  The University of Maryland disagrees. Learn more.
  • The Court of Appeals is currently considering a case, Baby v. State (pdf)that came to them from the Court of Special Appeals that says that post-penetration rape basically doesn’t exist.  Maryland currently says that if a woman gives or indicates initial consent, she cannot withdraw it after she is penetrated.  Why?  According to the Court of Special Appeals, which based their unwillingness to call this rape based on the outcome of a 198o case Battle v. State:

“The concept, undergirding the Battle holding, rooted in ancient laws  by English common law, views the initial ‘deflowering’ of  as the real harm or insult which must be redressed by compensating, in legal contemplation, the injured party – the father or husband. … [I]t was the act of penetration that was the essence of the crime of rape; after this initial infringement upon the responsible male’s interest in a woman’s sexual and reproductive functions, any further injury was considered to be less consequential.”

                      -from Court of Special Appeals, Opinion by J. Davis, filed February 9, 2007

I mean WOW, just WOW.  Right? 

Join us today.  We’re going to be talking about rape in the modern world–how we deal with it socially and legally.  How does our culture treat people who allege they were victimized?  How do we treat alleged assailants? 

Here is a link to the op-edwritten in The Baltimore Sun by Glenn Sacks, one of our guests, in which he supports the University of Maryland’s decision to deny protesters a forum to publicly name alleged rapists.

Bring your comments and questions….


10/23/07 Diana Walker


Today we are talking with one of the finest photographers working in journalism today.
Her name is Diana Walker and she is a contract photographer for Time Magazine. She’s spent over two decades covering the White House, and has photographed Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. Today she is joining us because of her new book The Bigger Picture: 30 years of Portraits. It’s an amazing book, and she is full of amazing stories of behind the scenes on the campaign trail and behind the public face of public officials.

National Geographic, which published the book, was kind enough to share with us some of the photographs in the book.

Diana Walker is our guest at 1 pm on Tuesday. Here is some of the great pictures from her amazing book The Bigger Picture: 30 Years of Portraits.


New Jersey Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick-1978


Boris Yeltsin, President Clinton-1995


Clinton-Gore campaign staffers-1996



First Lady Hilary Clinton-1997



The Gores, Democratic Convention-August 2000

These are just a few of the fantastic pictures that are available in Diana Walkers book The Bigger Picture: 30 Years of Portraits. Hope you enjoyed the interview and the photographs!

All photographs © Diana Walker 2007. No use without written permission from the publisher.

Want to meet Diana? She’ll be doing a talk and book signing at Politics & Prose in Washington D.C. on November 11th. Call 202.364.1919 for more information.



10/17/07 Travis Price

When this book came in, I was immediately transfixed.  We get a lot of books coming through everyday, and when a pretty one comes in, it’s a nice break from the policy tomes we see all the time.  But this book goes so far beyond that.  It is way more than pretty pictures.  It’s a poetic argument in favor of reinvigorating architecture with a sense of purpose and spirit.  It’s a passionate plea from an architect who is seeing our world become increasingly devoid of metaphor and grace.

This book is so visually stunning, and the conversation is bound to focus on a lot of the images of the buildings that Travis Price has designed and built.  He was kind enough to let us use some of his images to create a little visual exploration for our blog readers.  Just click here and enjoy!

Join us on air or here in the blog to talk about your favorite buildings, what you think about American design today, and whether or not you think our world has lost it’s way in terms of design.

And don’t forget to become or renew your membership!


10/16/07 Congressional Representatives

Today at noon we are talking with 1/2 of Maryland’s representation in the House.  We’ll hear from Chris Van Hollen, Elijah Cummings, Wayne Gilchrist, and John Sarbanes.  Topics?  Iraq, SCHIP, Iran, veterans issues, and whatever you choose to bring to the table!


10/15/07 Garrison Keillor

At one:

Need I say more?


10/11/07 Personality Disorder

Today we’re going to return to a topic we’ve been covering since the story broke, and that’s the case of wounded soldiers being discharged from the Army under Chapter 5-13 “Personality Disorder.”  This enables the Army to avoid paying medical and disability benefits for these soldiers.  It was being applied despite the fact that these men passed the Army’s rigorous psychological entrance examinations and displayed no prior evidence of mental disorders.  Joshua Kors from The Nation is the one who broke this story (the original article is here,  and he’s back with an update, which you can read here.  We’ll also be joined by Congressman Phil Harefrom Illinois, who has introduced legislation to stop this kind of discharge, and from Congressman Bob Filner from California, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

We’ll also have a statement from the Army.  They declined to come on live. You can read their statement here.  You can also read the statement they sent us on March 27, 2007 here.


10/11/07 Beverly McIver

Beverly McIver “Oh Happy Day” 2001 Oil on Canvas 60 x 55 3/4 in.

I first became aware of Beverly McIver in the November 2006 episode of Art News.  The images of her paintings stopped me on my tracks.  She depicted herself, a black woman, in black-face.  She played off the “Mammy” stereotype.  She painting herself dancing with a white man, but scratched her face out.  She painted portraits of her mentally handicapped sister, whom she is the primary caregiver for.

I have ambivalent feelings about contemporary art.  I walked into a museum in Paris once where a whole room was filled with a table that had potatoes dumped on it, with wires going in and out of the potatoes.  At that moment, I sort of broke up with contemporary art.  So much of it feels derivative and irrelevant to me.  So much of it is absurd and almost obscene in how removed from any real sense of aesthetics it is.  Her art escapes that.  To me it has both contextual and technical beauty and worth.  It is brave and actually manages to shock and unsettle without resorting to ridiculous extremes in terms of medium.   So when the card announcing her October show at the C. Grimaldis Gallery came, I told Marc, “You have no choice.  You are interviewing this woman!”  and he intelligently agreed with me.

I’ve prepared a page with some of her work on it.   Click here. I hope you like her stuff as much as I do.


10/10/07 Pit Bulls

When you think of a Pit Bull, do you think this:

or this?

Are Pit Bulls just destined to be more aggressive and violent?  Or do they only become that way because they have bad owners?  Are laws regulating Pit Bulls unfair?  Or do they provide needed protection for people?  Lots of people get mauled by dogs each year.  I can think of three cases in Baltimore City that got press just this summer.  Two of the victims were seven year old children.  Today we will talk with people on different sides of this issue.

Let us know if you have a Pit Bull story, as an owner, or someone who knows a Pit Bull.  Good or bad experiences, share them here.


010/08/2007 Maria Allwine

“Why is the Steiner Show having a candidate on?” You might say.  “The elections are over!  Dixon and Rawlings-Blake won!”

 Ah, Baltimore.  Where the primary decides it all.  Or at least that’s the accepted wisdom.  Maria Allwine would have it differently.  She’s running as a Green Party candidate for President of the Baltimore City Council.

People loved her at our debates (go here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the links to listen).  Her comments elicited lots of applause and cheering, especially when she talked about the War on Drugs and her anger at the treatment developers get and affordable housing.  A lot of people seemed to like what she was selling.  Is she going to surprise all of us in this election by doing better than expected?

 Join us with your comments and questions for Ms. Allwine, today at One.


10/4/07 California Prisons and Wesley Clark

from the New York Times.  Read the accompanying article here.

California is one of those places that sets trends.  Making restaurants smoke free…the fitness craze…”green living” and nutrition.  And if you think about it, they also show us what problems the rest of the country can expect.  Illegal immigration, water shortages, gang activity, a real estate market more and more people are getting priced out of….California began to struggle with these problems before anyone else.

 With that in mind we were interested when we heard about a documentary that will air on the Discovery Channel on Sunday at 9pm called Breaking Point.  It is an investigation into the problems of overcrowding in California prisons.  Those prisons were built to house about 100,000 people.  Today they have more than 170,000 inmates.  Prisoners are being segregated by race and gang affiliation in an attempt to keep some kind of peace.  Inmates are sleeping on cots in hallways and gyms.  And it costs as much to house, clothe, and feed a prisoner each year as it does to send someone to Harvard.

We’ll talk with Ted Koppel who hosted and produced this documentary, and James Blue, an award w

inning producer who worked on the documentary who just happens to live in Baltimore!

and then….

“I’m coming for you, WYPR.”

He’s not seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States this time around, but he still has a LOT to say about leadership, citizenship, and politics in America.  Marc talks with retired General Wesley Clark about his new book A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country.


10/1/07 Stephen Mihm

When they came out with the “new money” a couple of years ago, there were massive technological advancements in the bills in order to deter counterfeiting.  I think on the whole the American public feels very confident about our money. When I am given change I don’t inspect it, and when I give money to a clerk, unless it is a $100 bill, they don’t inspect it.  It just changes hands without so much as a cursory glance.

Now put yourself in the early 1800’s.  You go down to Ye Olde Shoppe to purchase some dry goods.  You present the shop-keep with a one dollar bill from the Fairhaven Bank, a respected banking institution in Massachusetts.  The shop-keep reaches behind the counter and pulls out a pamphlet called a counterfeit detector.  He goes through the book, which includes a page that says that the Fairhaven bank has several known counterfeits.  He inspects your bill, checks the pamphlet, inspects your bill again.  Finally, he declares that he cannot be sure this is not a counterfeit. He’ll still accept your bill-but not for the full price.  You haggle with the shop-keep until you both finally agree on a reduced value of the bill, and then you purchase your item, receive less change then you had hoped, and you exit the shop. 

Can you imagine?  In a time when money was printed not by a central government branch but instead by individual banks, counterfeiting was a great way to “make money” (you love my puns). We’ll learn today at one o’clock of the political and cultural system that allowed such a situation to develop.  Why did the government shy away from creating it’s own money?  What caused us to develop the system we have today?  We’ll talk with author Stephen Mihm, whose new book is A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men, and the Making of the United States.


09/25/07 Cynthia Enloe

Today for the second half of the one o’clock hour we’ll talk with Cynthia Enloe.


She is in town today to give the 1st annual Korenman lecture at UMBC, today at 4:30 pm. Go here for more information!

I don’t know how one gets to become known as “an international feminist treasure,” but I imagine it involves being pretty smart and interesting.  She is the author of Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics, Maneuvers, The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives, and, The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire

She writes and teaches about the interplay of women’s politics in the international arena. One example she focuses on is the implications for women that exist in the War in Iraq. What does it mean for feminism? What does it mean for the welfare of women in the Middle East?

Join us!


09/25/07 Banned Books


I’ll be honest. I originally decided to do a segment on Banned Books Week because I was fishing around for a last minute show idea. I thought, “Oh, this will be interesting. We can talk about all the great classics that were once banned!”

Basically, I equated the practice of banning books with history. As in, that doesn’t happen anymore.

Oh boy, was I wrong.

Do you know the federal government is banning some books in prisons? Or that books about gay penguins are being challenged in libraries across the country? I remember a series of books I loved when I was a preteen. It was a series about a girl named Alice and her two best friends by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I loved this series. The main character was wondering all the same things I was, feeling all the same things I did, was perplexed by everything I was perplexed by. It felt like having a friend. It made me feel less alone, and safe. I was looking at the list of the 10 most challenged books of 2006, and the Alice series is STILL on it! The books started being written in the 80’s!

Now on the other hand, I was in a bookstore last week and I went into the young adult section and I have to admit, I was pretty horrified. Some of the titles and covers were shockingly grownup and seemed to encourage girls to subscribe to a mindset where pretty, popular, sexy, and sophisticated is all that matters. I grabbed one of the books from the Gossip Girl series and leafed through it. Scotch, sex, smoking. All of these things were discussed casually or actually occurred in the first 10 pages of this book. I certainly don’t think I would want my (nonexistent) daughter reading this book.

But I guess I feel like that is a choice I as a parent should make. Not the government. What do you think? Did you realize we lived in a world where Toni Morrison still has two books on the most challenged list?


9/24/07 Jena 6, and Edwidge Danticat

Today at Noon we discussed what is going on in Jena, Louisiana, and what it means for the entire country, and for race relations.  How will this particular event go down in history?  Can Jena be redeemed?

And then…

How do you get to be known as “legendary” while still in your 30’s?  I don’t know, but I guess Edwidge Danticat does, because she has accomplished this.  She joined us to discuss her new book, a memoir.  It begins on a day in September of 2004 when she learned that her father was dying and that she was pregnant.  From there it moves to her childhood, and her emigration to the U.S. 

Hope you enjoyed it!


For more info about Jena 6, click on the names below to go to a couple of other blogs that were mentioned during the show today:

Friends of Justice (Alan Bean)

Southern Poverty Law Center


09/20/07 Civility

Okay, Puppy Day is over.  Sigh.  But today at Noon we’ve got some really interesting stuff for you. 


Sometimes I will be standing in line at a store here in Baltimore and am just inwardly cringing at the rude behavior of the person in front of me–the way they order the clerk around, demand stuff without saying please, and don’t bother to say thank you.  It drives me nuts.  I was raised differently.  When I was a server in a restaurant this used to really bother me as well, when people at my tables would just totally dispense with civility and be rude to me.  Do you ever bemoan the loss of politeness and manners in today’s world?  Do you think it has a real effect on our ethics and quality of living?  Has our loss of civility harmed our social fabric?  Or am I just being a fuddy-duddy and I need to get with the new, casual way of life?

We’ll be discussing all this and more today with Dr. P.M. Forni.  Ten years ago, he co-founded the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, where they study and assess the effects of civility-or the lack of civility-on modern life.

Join us with your thoughts, comments, and horror stories of rude people!

Poll: Is American society less civil now than it was in the past?


9/19/07 Blackwater USA

On Sunday, there was a shootout in Iraq.  No big deal, right?  Happens all time?  But this one was different, because it wasn’t between insurgents and coalition troops, or between different Iraqi groups.  The shootout was between guards who worked for the private military company Blackwater USA and and Iraqi civilians.  Anywhere from 8-20 Iraqi’s were left dead, depending on your source.  The circumstances surrounding the shootout are in question but Iraq has revoked Blackwater’s license and their right to operate in Iraq. 

 I find this whole issue interesting because it brings up the issue of sovereignty and who exactly has the power in Iraq–the Iraqi’s or the Americans.  Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said he wants Blackwater gone, but the U.S. is advocating a wait-and-see approach to this.

Join us as we speak with Naomi Klein, who is an expert on disaster capitalism and the author of The Shock Doctrine, about this issue. 


9/19/07 PUPPIES!



It’s been  a somewhat stressful morning around here.  Can I tell you how excited I am by the fact that at one o’clock, representatives from Baltimore Area and Rescue Shelter (BARCS)are going to bring a doggie in? 

 I am also excited about the work BARCS is doing to expand their offerings for really sick animals.  They don’t just get in normal abandoned puppies, kittens, dogs and cats.  They get in animals with severe physical problems.  And I think anyone who owns a pet knows how amazingly expensive serious veterinary care is.  So BARCS has started a fund to take care of these animals.  It was inspired by Franky, who was only four months old when his owner threw him out of a second story window and then put him in a trashcan.  BARCS saved Franky’s life, and it wants to save the lives of more animals, so it started this special fund.

Want to bring a special pet into your life?  Click here to view the animals BARCS has for adoption!

We’ll hear about all this and more.  Join us!


9/13/07 David Friedman

At one point in time, this was the most famous face in the world.  I bet most people today, at least the ones under 50, couldn’t guess who it is.  It’s Charles Lindbergh, who rose to fame in 1927 for being the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. He achieved instant international recognition.

Now I am willing to bet that NO ONE can identify the man in this picture, though his contribution to mankind was just as important (maybe even more so, if you’ve ever had or ever expect to have surgery).  It’s Nobel Prize winner Dr. Alexis Carrel.

And what does famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and scientist Dr. Alexis Carrel have in common?  Find out today at One o’clock, when we speak with David Friedman, author of The Immortalists: Charles Lindbergh, Dr. Alexis Carrel, and their Daring Quest to Live Forever.


09/11/08 disappear fear and Lea Jones

Today during our second hour we bring you some great music!

First, we’re going to be joined by SONiA Rutstein and Laura Cerulli of disappear fear.  Their new CD, t a n g o, is a collection of thirteen songs in Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and English on the themes of Love, Peace, and Equality.  This C.D. is a world of lush string arrangements, beautiful harmonies, and a view of the world that is most definitly unique.

And then…our friend Lea Jones is back.  In 1992 in a trailer on a dead end road in Washington State, he recorded 10 songs that were meant to serve as the soundtrack for Marc Waszkiewicz’s documentary film Vietnam: An Inner View.  The documentary was never made; but the C.D. is finally being released to mark the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  It’s called Selector Switch On (Rock and Roll).  Lea is in studio and will be playing some tunes; Marc will be by phone from Washington state.

 It will be a great hour so please join us! 



A challenge for our listeners.  If anyone can figure out why the following search terms are sending people to our blog, I will send you a free copy of any show you like.

According to the blog stats that our blog provider shows us, people have typed the following phrases into search engines and then surfed to our blog.

Feet (today)

Girl feet (yesterday)

Feet girls (two days ago)

Girl foot love (two days ago)

  I think I just figured out why this is occuring.  But I keep the challenge open!


08/30/07 Public Safety

Join us today at one o’clock when we will be talking to the Presidents of Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 3, Baltimore City Firefighters Local 734,  Baltimore City Fire Officers Association Local 964,  and Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office Lodge 22.  They’ve formed a public safety alliance and have information for the public about how to be safe…and there is lot’s of policy issues to discuss, from the turmoil in the fire department after the death of a young recruit last February, and the uncertainty in the Police Department as an interim commissioner takes the lead (with others circling) and an election takes place. 

Join us with your comments and questions today.


08/29/07 Mayoral Forum

I complained here about the lackluster spirit surrounding the mayoral debate and how disappointed I was in it.  I had been looking forward to the excitement surrounding the elections since the Senate and Congressional races wrapped up.  I love elections; I think they are so much fun.  All the civic enthusiasm, watching people get excited and angry–it’s fun for me.  I’m a dork, I guess.  I had been disappointed with how ho-hum it was all shaping up to be.

But last night restored my faith!  We held our mayoral forum at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.  In attendance were Sheila Dixon, Andrey Bundley, Robert Kaufman, Mike Schaefer, Jill Carter, and Keiffer Mitchell.  The crowd was intense and very involved.  I heard a lot of “Tell it!” and “Yes you did!” and “No you didn’t!”  We had to stop and ask people to be quiet several times.  There was quite the peanut gallery in the back of the auditorium, where I was standing.  Emotions were running high.  Of course I had to tsk-tsk some people for talking over the candidates but I was also thrilled that people were inspired! 

I hope you’ll listen to the forum today, which we are rebroadcasting from 12-2 pm on the show.  And then come here and let us know what you think!

Poll: If the primary were today, who would you vote for?


Don’t miss Tonight!

Tonight Marc is moderating a mayoral candidates forum at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. It’s at 7-9 pm in the Wheeler Auditorium. It’s open to the public but seating is limited so make sure to get there on time. Thanks to the League of Women Voters of Baltimore City for arranging the event! This forum will be broadcast on our show tomorrow.


08/27/08 Jonathan Kozol

I stand in awe of teachers.  I really do.  Especially city teachers, or any teacher in a low-income neighborhood.  Especially any teacher in a low-income neighborhood that is teaching at a public school and thus has the spectre of No Child Left Behind hanging above her/his head all the time! 

I mean honestly, how do you deal with that?  Well, Jonathan Kozol has some advice.  He is of course the educational activist most famous for his book Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools.  That book looked at race and class based economic disparities in American schools.  His new book is quite a bit more personal.  It’s a series of letters he wrote to a young teacher during her first year in a Boston Public School.  It’s his advice to a young teacher about how to succeed not only winning the attention of the students–but also how to maintain a sense of whim and imagination in a world obsessed with test results.  It’s called Letters to a Young Teacher.

What do you think?

Poll: Do you think No Child Left Behind has been good or bad for our schools?

Poll: What do you think of Kozol’s advice that teachers subvert NCLB in any way possible?

Enjoy the hour. 


America’s Approval Rating

Let me recommend the website once again.  It’s a great website that translates into English articles about the United States from all over the world.

 I found a recent article from a Swiss paper of interest.  It’s called Can America ‘Find Love’ Again?  It’s basically advice from a Swiss columnist on how America could improve its popularity around the world.  A recent Pew Poll that talked to 45,000 people in 46 countries found that this is how people feel about us:

image borrowed from

Yikes. What do you think of that?  I’m sort of surprised that people on Venezuela are so split.  We seem to be pretty popular in Africa; must be all those aid dollars?

How important is it that other countries have a favorable impression of the United States?  Does it matter?  Should we try and improve it?  How could we improve it?

Poll: Is it important for America to have a positive approval rating?

We don’t have a show planned on this topic, but I’d just be interested to hear what you have to say.


8/22/07 Dr. Andres Alonso

Tonight, a very special two hour Marc Steiner Show.  We bring you a conversation with Dr. Andres Alonso, the new CEO of Baltimore City Schools.  He’ll be on the air with the Chairman of the Baltimore City School Board.

My co-producer Marcus says he has seen this scenario a thousand times; a new official comes into a city, and there is a lovey-dovey honeymoon period where everyone extols the virtues of the new official and truly believes this person will have the secret on how to change things.  And then the blush leaves the rose.  What do you think?  Have you heard things from Dr. Alonso that make you feel that maybe this guy has a chance to really make a difference?

Poll: Do you think Dr. Andres Alonso can make Baltimore City Schools better?

Poll: Should Baltimore have an elected school board?

Poll: Should the City-State Partnership be ended?

Poll: Should principals and teachers have more autonomy?

Join us tonight!  Get your questions in beforehand here, or email us at, or call during the show, from 7-9 pm, at 410-662-8780, or 1-866-661-9309 (I finally got those numbers memorized!)


08/22/07 President of Baltimore City Council Forum

Ooowee!  If you didn’t join us last night at the Enoch Pratt Free Library to hear the candidates for President of the Baltimore City Council argue their cases for why they should be elected, you missed out!  I’ll be honest; I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of working until 9:30.  But I had a great time and was really impressed by a lot of the things the candidates had to say. 

Couldn’t come?  That’s okay; we’re replaying the entire debate today, on air.  Tune in to hear Maria Allwine (G), Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), Ken Harris (D), Michael Sarbanes (D), and Charles Ulysses Smith (D).  You’ll hear their answers to burning questions such as: If you had the power to do so, would you remove the Male/Female sculpture in front of Penn Station?  What high school did you go to?  And of course, we’ll talk serious policy issues; the drug problem, vacant homes, schools, taxes, etc.

Special thanks to the League of Women Voters of Baltimore City for arranging and hosting the event!

Don’t miss next weeks forum with the candidates for Mayor of Baltimore City!  Same time (Wednesday, 7pm), same place (Wheeler Auditorium, Enoch Pratt).  Call 410-377-7738 for more information.

Listen to the forum! Hour One  Hour Two



P.S. Extra points if you can determine exactly where the debate got a little dirty!

Poll: Who would you like to see be Baltimore City Council President?

Poll: If you had the power to, would YOU remove the Male/Female statue outside of Penn Station?

08/21/07 Cummings, Schools, Republicans, and Israel/Palestine

Today we bring you four fascinating interviews.

  • Congressman Elijah Cummings joins us to discuss the Iraq War and more.
  • We talk to Principal Susan Burgess and teacher Tracy Larkins from George Washington Elementary, a Baltimore City school that is having great results on standardized testing.  What are they doing right?
  • Our old friend Richard Vatz, Professor at Towson and Associate Psycology Editor of USA Today Magazine, stops by to discuss his recent editorial about Republicans and 2008 politics.
  • And finally, we talk to Rabbi Arik Ascherman and his wife Rabbi Einat Ramon (the first Israeli-born female Rabbi) about the human rights work they do in Israel and Palestine.



08/20/08 Frank DeFord


We did this GREAT interview with Frank Deford one April.  It was live in front of a crowd of people at Hood College.  It was great; Marc and Frank talking for an hour about sports and how sportsmanship has changed…the audience asked questions…everyone had fun and it was a great, great show.

A great, great show that no one ever got to hear because of a mysterious corruption of the audio.


So join us today at 1 pm as we force lightening to strike again, for another great hour with the really wonderful Mr. Frank DeFord.  You know him from his witty and always surprising sports commentary on NPR’s Morning Edition.  He’s just written a new novel called The Entitled: A Tale of Modern Baseball.

Listen to this show!


08/20/07 Open Phones

We’re back! We’re back! Did you miss us?

And as always after an extended time away…we bring you an hour of Open Phones to get back into the swing of things. What’s going on in the world that you care about? What made you mad last week? How do you feel about things?

We missed you! Give us a call ( 410.662.8780) during the show, or email us ( or leave a message here!

Listen to this show!


08/07/07 A. Robert Kaufman


I’ll be honest.  Sometimes, the phone calls from A. Robert Kaufman are not always the most welcome.  You know he is going to twist your ear about not having a certain viewpoint (read:his) on the show, and will give you a slightly long winded explanation of how he feels and the data to back his opinions up and why this is important and so on and so on.  We’re often pressed for time in this job, so sometimes this is not always the most welcome phone call.

But the thing about Bob is, this is really a person who pretty much gives everything he has to the things he believes in.  He’s spent his life speaking out for the kind of people that most consider the dregs of society-the poor, the addicted, the prostitutes, the mentally ill.  He imagines a society where someone who needs help gets it.  That’s really very radical and it’s not often that someone espouses these beliefs and then puts their money where their mouth is like he does.  We live in a Christian nation but this perennial candidate and atheist is one of the few people I know that really embraces and lives some of the social teachings of Jesus about poverty and loving and taking care of those in need, our modern day lepers.

So I have a lot of respect for Mr. Kaufman-and will always take his phone calls.  He’s on our show today because he is running for Mayor of Baltimore, and I know he has a lot to say about how we can make this a better city.  I hope you’ll join us.


08/06/07 Executive Privilege

I will confess that when the whole scandal about the firing of seven U.S. Attorneys I didn’t find myself too captivated by the entire ordeal.  It was one of those incidents where, sure, I knew it was important, but I was having trouble rousing myself to be captivated by it. Maybe it just seemed like just more of the same. But the larger debates that have arisen from it are another story-such as the one over executive privilege.

 President Eisenhower was the heaviest user of executive privilege-he invoked it over 40 times in response to demands from Senator Joseph McCarthy that White House aides testify before Congress.   The last time an aide went to court for not complying with a congressional supeana was in 1983, when Environmental Protection Agency official Rita Lavelle was told by the Reagan Administration to not testify regarding the use of Superfund money.  The jury found her not guilty of contempt charges.

 The White House has asserted “executive privilege” as a reason to keep Bush Administration aides from testifying in Congress. According to a lot of things I have read, executive privilege lives in a sort of “constitutional wilderness.”  The concept seems to be generally accepted as an idea, but it’s scope and it’s weight are undetermined. 

Join us today as we discuss this issue.  What do you think?  Is President Bush going too far with who he is extending executive privilege too?  Is Congress on a witch hunt? 


8/1 and 8/2 Rebroadcasts

On 8/1 and 8/2 we will be bringing you some great rebroadcasts.

  • Wednesday at Noon-Though it is known as the Summer of Love, 40 years ago the summer of 1967 was a summer of increasing urban unrest.  Newark and Detroit both suffered serious riots that claimed the lives of almost 70 people. Maryland saw it’s share of violence that summer as well.  In the usually quiet hamlet of Cambridge, on the Eastern Shore, 20 buildings were burned to the ground as the result of racial tensions.  Baltimore’s Summer of 1967 was by no means peaceful.  So three cities, each shaped by their history of racial tensions and violence–all three cities who are struggling with rising crime in their cities today.  What can we learn? We’ll talk to Antero Pietella from the Baltimore Examiner, Stephen Henderson from the Detroit Free Press,and Jonathan Schuppe from the Newark Star Ledger to discuss issues of crime and violence in cities. 
  • Wednesday at One-In another vein entirely…we discuss nonviolence.  Mark Kurlansky was our guest earlier this year to discuss his fascinating book Nonviolence: Twenty-five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea.  We’ll talk about Gandhi and Martin Luther King, of course, and how they used nonviolence-but this isn’t just a history lesson.  We’ll talk about the future of nonviolence, and how this radical notion could work in places like Palestine or Iraq. 
  • Thursday at One-Carl Hiaasen has been delighting readers of his novels and his Miami Herald column for years with his witty, dry humor famous for skewering corrupt officials. He became a journalist’s hero last year when he stood up to a compromised publisher at his paper last year-and won.  He’ll talk about that and also his latest novel Nature Girl, a novel populated with the colorful and larger-than-life characters Hiaasen is famous for.  And-hometown connection alert-his brother is our city’s very own Baltimore Sun reporter Rob Hiaasen!

So, I hope you enjoy.  We’ll be back on Monday!


P.S. I wonder if my visit to made bells go off in our IT person’s office? 

07/25/07 Tsvi Bisk, The Optimistic Jew

I’m not Jewish.  When I told two friends who are Jewish about today’s show with Tsvi Bisk, I said, “He basically says that Jews need to stop being so obsessed with the past.”  These two friends come from about as different political viewpoints as possible, but they each said, “He’s right.  Jews are obsessed with the past.”

Now the interesting thing is that both of these friends are also young-in their twenties.  And in his book called The Optimistic Jew, Tsvi Bisk says that Judaism will lose the attention and interest of these young people-the future- if it remains what he calls “a culture constantly in mourning,” a culture obsessed with what happened in the past.  He believes that the Jewish people need to turn their attention from the past to the future in order to become leaders in the 21st century.

Thoughts?  What did you think when he said that Jews needed to stop obsessing over the Holocaust?  Or when he said that Israel is not the goal-it is simply a tool, a means towards liberal democracy?  I thought he said some pretty interesting and controversial stuff.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.


07/25/07 Future of the Bay

Our Beloved Bay

Today at noon we brought you a conversation with Gerald Winegrad.  He is a former state senator who is now a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.  We invited him on because of a recent op-ed he wrote for the Baltimore Sun called What it will take to restore the Bay.

His op-ed paints a dismal scenario of how Bay restoration will fare if we keep continuing on as we are now.  He talked with Marc about the tough political decisions that have to be made.  He thinks that we are giving a free pass to agricultural polluters, and we need to demand that they stop polluting or take their land and return it to forestland.  He says we have to let the state have more power over land-use decisions.

What do you think?  Are chicken farmers given way too much leeway?  Should counties and municipalities be able to do whatever they want with their land?  What should we do?


7/18/07 The Nation investigates…

At noon tomorrow we will be discussing something we try to return to often: Iraq War veterans issues.

First, an update from Joshua Kors.  You might remember we’ve had him on twice to discuss the work he did investigating the personality disorder scandal.  That is when soldiers wounded in active duty in Iraq were being discharged under Chapter 5-13, a personality disorder.  But personality disorder is a pre-existing condition, and that meant the Army was not responsible for providing disability or medical benefits.  Kors’ investigative work showed that men who were very clearly wounded DURING their service were being cheated of benefits they rightfully deserved by this classification.  His work has attracted the attention of senators who have petitioned Defense Secretary Robert Gates to investigate and who have also introduced an amendment that would temporarily suspend Chapter 5-13 until an investigation can be had.  You can learn more at the website for ABC World News with Charles Gibson, where Bob Woodruff has been working with Kors to continue reporting the story. 

And then…more new shocking investigative work from The Nation.  The Nation has spent the past several months interviewing 50 combat veterans of the Iraq War and these interviews have uncovered what the Nation says is a brutal side of the war and a shocking record of disturbing behavior by American troops.  You can read the report here.  We are going to be joined by the reports authors and by some of the veterans who were interviewed.  Join us for this important show.


07/18/07 Dr. Andrey Bundley

I’ve had people tell me that Dr. Andrey Bundley is the kind of guy whose candidacy should get a lot more press and attention than it does-that he should be a candidate that attracts attention, but his campaign has seemed to ride under the radar.

 I have to admit I am kind of disappointed by the Baltimore mayoral election so far.  When we were working hard on shows about the senatorial and congressional campaigns, I remember thinking, “Wow, I cannot wait to see how exciting the Mayoral campaign is!”  But it’s been sort of quiet and….okay…boring. 

Have people just sort of decided that the interim mayor and thus incumbent Sheila Dixon is going to win?

Well I haven’t–forget that!  Come on people, let’s have a race here!  Let’s get serious!  Let’s get excited! Let’s pay some attention!  Let’s call and write in and ask Andrey Bundley important questions!!!!

I am counting on all of you to restore my flagging civic enthusiasm!


7/17/07 Crime

Five people were shot this weekend.  Two people were fatally stabbed last week.  One of the victims was a 15 year old girl.  A witness in a murder case was shot, and police have charged a 15 year old boy with the crime.

 The murder toll has hit 180.

Do you think the police and the Mayor are doing enough?

We’re going to talk today with Marcie Jones of the Baltimore Crime Blog,Ser Greene of the Ashburton Area Association, and Brian Dale, President of the Ridgely’s Delight Neighborhood Association.

Bring your comments and thoughts to the table….



Our discussion of Citizens on Crime in Baltimore began with a conversation with Anna whose husband Zach was attacked in front on his home on June 1st.  The attack on Zach shows how vulnerable we all are to crime in our city. As a show of solidarity and an attempt to reclaim our streets from violence friends and family of Zach are organizing a Neighbors’ Night Out on Sunday, August 5th from 2 – 8pm. For more information on this event go to:

07/17/07 1 pm The Last Human



I read on CNN.COM today that they have discovered hominid fossils in Ethiopia that date from a time period for which the history of human evolution is poorly understood: 3.5-3.8 million years ago.

Which just makes our show for Tuesday so perfect!

A few months ago Marc came in all excited about an article he had read about a book called The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans.  He asked me to get a review copy of the book and to try and get the authors on.

Today you will be hearing from paleoartist Viktor Deak and Richard Milner, a historian of science, editor of Natural History Magazine, and author of the Encyclopedia of Evolution and Darwin’s Universe. 

So obviously humans are the sole surviving hominid lifeform.  That seems normal to us.  But in fact it is very strange; for most of their history, it seems that various types of humans and prehumans coexisted together.  That’s so interesting to me, and I think a lot of other people too; why else would we like the Geico caveman commercials so much that the ABC network thinks it is a good idea to turn it into a television pilot?  We like the idea of a world where various Homo species live together.  I think we like the way something really similiar to us but not just like us tells us things about ourselves.  We’re obsessed with twins and triplets and stories about long-lost siblings for the same reason. 

But talking about this book isn’t enough.  It’s power comes from the dozens and dozens of arresting, amazingly lifelike images created by paleoartist Viktor Deak.  I knew you needed to see them to really understand how cool this book is.  So…just for you…because I care…Here is a slideshow of some images from the book. 

Get started!


7/12/07 Rural Homelessness

In August 2006, the Department of Public Works of Elkton, Maryland went to the woods where some homeless people were living, pushed their belongings into a pile, and then carted it all off to a dump. The town also passed legislation this May that made illegal certain types of loitering. 

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is suing to protest the legislation and what took place in August 2006.

We invited the police, Mayor, and Commissioners of Elkton to come on.  No one took us up on our offer.

So we’ll talk this half hour about this court case, and the larger issue of rural homelesses in Maryland.  More than 38 thousand people are turned away from shelters each year in Maryland because there simply are not enough beds or enough money to help them.  The town of Elkton has a men’s shelter on Main Street had 18 beds total last summer.  48 men were on the waiting list to get in. 

So what are the resources or strategies that small municipalities can use to deal with the issue of rural  or small-town homelessness? How can we balance the concerns of business owners who say the homeless population causes problems for them with the needs of the homeless themselves? We’ll discuss that this half hour.

And please feel free to share with us your own experiences with homelessness or your encounters with the homeless, whether you live in a city or a small town.


7/12/07 Ralph Nader

We’re back!  Sorry about the break in blogging.  Normal operations to resume.

Didja hear our interview with Ralph Nader today?  What do you think?  Crusader?  Spoiler? Well, today we had him on as an author.  The book is The Seventeen Traditions.  In this book he takes a look back at the values that shaped his own life and childhood, values such as listening, charity, and patriotism.  An overly sentimental look back, or does this book hold lessons for how we can reinvigorate our civic involvement?

Do you want to meet Ralph Nader?  He will be in Baltimore this weekend at an event sponsored by Red Emma’s.  It will be at St. John’s Church at 2640 Saint Paul Street in Charles Village this Saturday at 1 pm.


07/03/07 1 PM Doc Watson and Jean Ritchie

We’ve got a fantastic show for you at one o’clock today.  Folk music legends Doc Watson and Jean Ritchie are giving us their first joint interview in decades. 

You can see them this month at the Common Ground on the Hill Roots Music Festival.

The show is prerecorded, so we cannot take any calls, but you can leave comments, memories, and questions here.



07/03/07 12 PM Space Exploration

I hope you will join guest host Jim O’Leary today at Noon for a look at some of the most recent and exciting developments in space exploration. 

There are several robotic missions that are about to or just begun.  We’ll talk about the New Horizons mission.  Since January 2006 this space probe has been traveling to Pluto.  It won’t arrive until 2015, but will send back information about atmospheric escape, which will teach us about Earth’s atmospheric evolution.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg for this mission.  The Messenger spacecraft has been en route to Mercury since August 2004.  It will orbit Mercury-the first spacecraft to do so-and will send back the first new information in 30 years about that planet.

And in just a few days, the Dawn spacecraft will be launched.  This spacecraft will be exploring the asteroid belt.

So join us this hour as we discuss these exciting developments in space exploration!


06/28/07 Natalie Angier


I am just going to go ahead and admit that I am afraid of science.  I am also afraid of math.  Just the idea of trying to understand mathmatical or scientific concepts makes my brain shut down.  There were many unpleasant moments in high school because of this mental block.*

But so now that I am a bit older and a bit more patient, and more interested in the world around me, I find myself actually wanting or needing science sometimes in order to be able to understand concepts or ideas that are important to our world.  Like, climate change, or bird flu, or stem cells.  But where to go to get that kind of information?  Who is going to teach science to adults?

Natalie Angier is!  Her new book has been called a “guide for the scientifically perplexed adult who wants to understand what those guys in lab coats on the news are babbling about.”  That would be me.  Is it you, too?  Join us today and find out.


*College was quite a different story where thanks to distribution requirements that were kind to non-scientific minds, I was only made to take two science classes.  Most people took psychology, but I took a course called Ethonobotany and a course called The Biology of Science Fiction.  This was hands down the best science course I have ever taken.  In fact it was one of the best classes I took in college.  Every meager things I know about science I learned in this class from science fiction writer and professor Joan Slonczewski.  If you like science fiction, check out her stuff.  Thanks for helping me not be totally terrified of science, Professor S.

06/28/07 12 pm Dick Cheney


I’m hanging this picture above my desk.

Whether you love Dick Cheney or hate him, you gotta admit…he’s got to be pretty clever to have made the vice presidency so powerful.

Marc shared a colorful quote during his introduction to today’s show.  John Nance Garner said the vice-presidency is “not worth a pitcher of warm piss.”  Lovely image, and perhaps not true anymore-or at least, not true for Dick Cheney, who has exercised considerable influence from that position.

We’ll be discussing this at noon today.  What do you think?


06/27/07 12 PM Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and BRAC

How do you feel about the fact that tens of thousands of people are coming to our state because of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)?

 Are you a real estate agent who is looking forward to the business?

…or a parent who is worried about more kids in an already overcrowded school?

Are you a highway construction worker looking forward to benefit from the money for new transportation projects?

…or a frustrated commuter dreading even more clogged roadways?

Are you a homeowner hoping to benefit from a rise in property values that may result from a rise in demand?

…or someone one or two years away from being a first time home-buyer dreading the effect these well-payed military types will have on local home prices (that would be me!)?

There are just so many ways to feel about BRAC!

Today at noon we are joined by Lt. Governor Anthony Brown.  He is the chair of the BRAC subcommittee.  He is going to tell us what he has been doing to make sure we are ready for all these people.


06/27/07 1 PM Maria Allwine


Whatever you think of her politics, you have to respect the passion and commitment that Maria Allwine shows to the causes that are dear to her.

Her newest incarnation is as the Green Party candidate for President of the City Council of Baltimore City.  She’ll be joining us today to discuss her agenda for that office.  What would she do if elected?  She’s run for office before, but never served.  Would her history of political activism translate into effective political leadership?  What would it mean for Baltimore to have someone like Maria Allwine at the helm of our city council?

Join us with your thoughts and questions.


06/20/07 1 pm Cowboy Junkies


 A little bit of radio lingo for you: perf-chat.  That’s when a musician comes into the studio and performs AND chats with the host.  That is what we are going to do on Wednesday with two members of the Cowboy Junkies. 

The Cowboy Junkies made their mark in 1988 with The Trinity Session, which was recorded live in a single day in a church in Toronto.  Now they are out with their 11th studio album, called At the End of Paths Taken.  It’s a rumination on family, on standing in between growing children and aging parents, on marriage, birth, and death.

They’ll be playing at Ramshead Live!on Wednesday night, but you can join us Wednesday at 1 o’clock for a performance and to hear Marc talks with Margot and Michael Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies.


06/19/07 1 pm Liza Mundy “Everything Conceivable”


Have you ever heard of the practice of “selective reduction”?  This is when a woman who has become pregnant with more than one child has a doctor eliminite one or more fetuses through an injection of potassium chloride. The idea is to strengthen the chances of survival for the remaining fetus or fetuses.  It’s a traumatic experience for the women and families who must undergo it.

The rate that selective reduction happens?  It is going up as more and more women use Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART).  Many of the fertility treatments used today result in a woman carrying multiple fetuses. But while she may conceive that many, the womb remains, as author and journalist Liza Mundy says, ” ideally, a single-occupancy vehicle.”  And so in order to save one or two fetuses, others must be reduced.

 According to Liza Mundy, 1 in 7 American couples struggle with fertility problems.  And in our “want it, get it” culture, those struggling with fertility problems aren’t going to just accept the hand nature has dealt them.  They’re going to invest in what is now a multi-billion dollar industry and in many cases, sacrfice financial stability and their health in order to achieve pregnancy.  And it’s hard to not support what these couples are doing-the pain of being unable to conceive or carry a child to term is unthinkable.

Liza Mundy’s new book is Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction is Changing Men, Women, and the World.”  In this book she takes a comphrensive look at the growth of the ART industry and beyond.  She tackles the philosophical and ethical questions that this new technology is creating and the vast consequences it has for human destiny.

I hope you will join us for this fantastic show and call or write in with your own experiences with Assisted Reproductive Technology or your thoughts on the ethics of it all.  Or post in the blog for other’s to read your thoughts.


A chance to meet an author about to be on the show!


I made a post below asking our female audience to submit their financial questions for Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, authors of the book On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girls Guide to Personal Finance.  We are doing a pre-recorded interview with them this afternoon, and I am happy to say that lots of you submitted questions. 

You have a great opportunity to go meet one of the authors, Sharon Kedar, MBA, CFA tonight at the Light Street Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library at 6:30.  She will be speaking and copies of the book are available for purchase and signing.  Call 410.396.1096 for more information.


06/14/07 1 pm Watching America

Tomorrow, get ready for an hour talking about planning for the influx of people coming into Maryland because of Base Realingment and Closure with Lietenaunt Governor Anthony Brown.

Scratch that. Elected officials are busy, and when your boss is the Governor and asks you to clear your schedule to come to a meeting, you listen! No harm, no foul. We’re working to schedule another date soon. Good thing we had a special super secret show in the works!!

watching-america-begin-copy.jpg is a website I try and check on a daily basis. It’s a place where you can read articles from the foreign press about America. The people who run the website have dozens of articles translated each day from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Russia, China, and more. In conversations with the founder of the website, William Kern, we thought that Watching America could translate into a radio special, too. So tomorrow we are putting some hurt on the phone bill at WYPR (which reminds me…are you a member yet?) and talking to foreign journalists around the world.

We’ll talk to:

  • Ahmad Khalidi, a co-editor of Mideast Mirror, a London-based daily, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly Journal of Palestine Studies.
  • William Waack, a newscaster for O Globo, Brazil. He’s spent multiple decades as a reporter, editor, and international correspondent for the Brazillian Press.
  • Andrei Sitov, the Washington Bureau Chied for the Itar-Tass news agency of Russia.
  • and Hugh Williamson, the Berlin correspondent for the Financial Times since 2001.

We’ll be talking with them about how America is viewed by their audience and in their countries. What does the world think of our domestic debates over immigration? What does the world think of our scandals (federal prosecutor firings, Plamegate, etc.) shows the foreign press writing about topics such as tensions between Iran and the U.S. (understandable; has consequences for the entire world) and Paris Hilton’s trip to, and from, and back to jail (less understandable; of course I care, and desperately, but why do they?)

Enjoy the show. It will be the first of many such programs on Watching America.


 I’m going to jump in here with a few quick words about this hour’s show.  I just came out of the studio, where we recorded the interview that will be played at 1pm.  The conversation never came around to Paris Hilton or any of the recent political scandals, but it did cover a lot of very interesting ground.  To find out the details, you’ll have to listen.  If you don’t catch it at 1pm, just go to  We’ll have the audio up there as soon as possible.

We taped the show in advance in case we had any trouble with all of the international phone connections, and to better coordinate with schedules in so many time zones.  Since we won’t be taking calls as it airs, we’re really looking forward to some feedback right here!


06/14/07 Andres Alonso, new CEO of BCPSS


Who the heck is Andres Alonso?

Well, starting July 1st, the new CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.

He’s also a Cuban immigrant, a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School.  He’s been a teacher and was most currently the Number 2 official in the New York City Public School System.

He’s also our guest tomorrow at Noon.

Now, I know you all are passionate about our schools and how they need to be reformed.  I hope to see lots and lots of comments and ideas in this blog.  Anything posted before the show will be given to Marc so he can consider to read or ask during the program.



update:  Don’t miss our two hour special with Dr. Andres Alonso that will air from 7-9 pm on August 22nd on WYPR!

06/13/07 Seth Lerer “Inventing English”


This afternoon we welcome Stanford University professor Seth Lerer.

He is the author of Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language.

 If you are a fan of William Satfire and love to learn the etymology of words, this show is for you.  My boyfriend is a big fan of words and wordplay.  I had to beg him last night to cease anagramming words outloud-it’s driving me crazy.  He’s the kind of word nut that will excitedly tell anyone who will listen how awful and awesome once meant the same thing, and will get very heated when discussing how he believes people misuse the word myriad.

 If you have the same tendancies (or if you are just driven mad by people who do), join us today.  We’ll be talking about how the English language has developed, and some of the people who had the biggest influence, like William Shakespeare.  Did you have any idea how many words he invented?  Apparently, I have him to thank for my name.


06/13/07 12 pm Open Phones

It’s time for another rollicking round of Open Phones.  What’s on your mind?  Call in at 410/662/8780, 866/661/9309, email at, or post your comment or idea below and I’ll get it to Marc before the show.


Hey Ladies!

On Thursday we are going to be pre-recording an interview with Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar.  They’ve written a book called On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance.

The back reads “Most young women would love to live a carefree lifestyle filled with lunches, Louis Vuitton, and lattes, but what you might not know is that doing so can lead to future financial breakdown.”

I am famously bad with money.  I have no debt only because I KNOW I am bad with money and am thus terrified of credit cards.  But I also have no savings.  And I know most women my age are in the same boat. 

Isn’t our generation of women supposed to be smarter than this?  Aren’t we supposed to be into the idea of providing for ourselves and taking care of ourselves?  Yet I look around and most of my friends seem to be waiting for someone else’s finances to make things like home ownership and a college education for their children possible. 

Since this will be a pre-record, we won’t be able to take calls.  I’m hoping that in the comments section of the blog some of our female listeners will post questions or comments about their failures/successes in managing their personal finances.  What pitfalls have you experienced that you want to warn other women to avoid?  What have you succeeded at? 


06/12/07 Deputy Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld.


The FBI released it’s 2006 crime statistics last week and it looks like Baltimore is the second most violent city in the country, behind Detroit.

Our homicide rate is out of control.

Yet the violent crime rate, which includes rape, robbery, and assault, is down, bucking a nationwide trend.

What’s going on?

We’ll tackle some of the same topics we talked about with David Kennedy.  How is Mayor Dixon’s reign influencing the Police Department?  Will there be a shift away from the statistics driven model that O’Malley preferred?  How is the Police Department using Mayor Dixon’s crime plan?  What is the strategy?

We’ll be joined by Baltimore City Police Department Deputy Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld.  Join us!


06/12/07 1 pm Voices of Immigrants


With immigration reform legislation floundering and the status of millions of people who reside illegally in this country still undecided, we thought it would be an appropriate time to have another show where we hear directly the voices of immigrations, documented and undocumented.

We’ll be hearing from Ruben Chandrasekar, an immigrant from South India, who lives here in Baltimore and works for the American Friends Service Committee.  He works on immigration issues, so he can speak not just about his own experiences but also those of people he helps everyday.  Also, Luis, who is an undocumented immigrant from Guatamala.  He came here to try and make enough money to help his mother escape an abusive relationship. 

I’m a big fan of getting all the facts…which is why when we have shows on immigration we’ve heard from people who can talk about how it can effect schools, hospitals, the economy, how long it will take an ambulance to get to your house.  But part of the facts we need to gather is also why people come here, under what circumstances, and what will happen if they are denied a path to citizenship or if the legal route into this country is made more difficult. 

I hope you enjoy it.


06/11/07 12 pm David Kennedy

Today we welcome David Kennedy on the show.  He used to be a resercher and professor at Harvard, where he wrote the seminal study Beyond 911: A New Era for Policing.  He also directed the Boston Gun Project, which was a large scale iniative focused on dealing with the homicide rate for young people in that city.

His expertise is in community policing.  Now, that’s a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean?  It means a style of policing that strives to reduce violent crime by increasing interaction and cooperation between law enforcement and the communities they serve.  It’s an enforcement strategy but also a philosophy about the role law enforcement plays in a community and its relationship to the public. 

David Kennedy will join us today to talk about how the community policing model has worked in other American cities.  Will Baltimore invest in this model to bring down our homicide rate?

Join us at noon….


06/06/07 BGE and rate increases

So we all know that electricity rates went up on June 1st.

Some people say, “Yeah, this sucks, but electricity costs what it costs because that is what it costs!”

What if that isn’t true?

The Maryland Coalition to Stop the BGE Rate Hikes says that this is NOT true–that the rates we are now paying do NOT reflect the reality of what energy costs.  And furthermore, they are accusing some political leaders and officials of collusion-going so far as to request that State’s Attorney Pat Jessamy investigate Governor Martin O’Malley for collusion with BGE and acceptance of bribes from BGE/Constellation Energy.

We’ll speak with Delegate Jill Carter, who is calling for a special session to deal with these rate increases.  Chris Bush from the above-mentioned coalition will be joining us, as will Rob Gould of Constellation Energy and Marc Case from BGE. 

Join us on the air, through email, or on the blog. 

-Jessica Phillips

06/06/07 The Six Day War with Tom Segev

This June marks the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War. Like anything else in history that has anything to do with Israel, this topic can still inflame passions, exacerbate tensions, cause arguments, etc.

To commemorate the anniversary of this important time in history, we’ll be joined by Tom Segev. He is an Israeli journalist and historian who just recently wrote a book on the Six Day War called 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East. Tom’s previous books challenged accepted views of Israeli history. In this book he works to provide a complete and holistic account of all of the social, historical, psychological, national, and international factors that led to the war.

Should be a great hour with, I’m sure, many passionate callers. Too shy for the phone? Leave your comments here!!!

-Jessica Phillips

06/05/07 John Hemingway “Strange Tribe”

I am confident you will enjoy our one o’clock show.  Ernest Hemingway is one of the more colorful and interesting writers in American literature.  From his participation in the “Lost Generation” to his time in Cuba and Key West, he absolutely was a dynamic and exciting person.

I think a lot of us imagine one day putting pen to paper and writing the story of our family; how great is must be when you do so and people actually want to read it!  John Hemingway is the grandson of Ernest Hemingway, and his new book is Strange Tribe: A Family Memoir. But this story is about more than just the life and times of Ernest.  The book delves as well into the complicated life of the author’s father, Ernest’s youngest son, Gregory, whose preference for wearing women’s clothes led to him undergoing gender reassignment surgery.  He died of a heart attack at a Miami-Dade Women’s Detention Center. 

 This book, and this interview, is an exploration, from the inside, of a family that has been watched by outsiders for decades.  It’s a beautiful book.

-Jessica Phillips

06/05/07 World Environment Day

June 5th is World Environment Day.  It’s run by the United Nations Environment Programme (love that Brit spelling!).  This years topic is the melting icecaps.To mark this important day, we are bringing you TWO interviews for the price of one during our noon hour!  Lucky you!

First we will hear a rebroadcast of an interview we did a couple of weeks ago with George Monbiot.   His book is called Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning. (Okay, there has been some controversy in the office over the title.  Is it “How to Stop the Planet Burning” or “How to Stop the Planet from Burning“?  In keeping with the authors nationality and the British spelling of today’s designation, I am going with the title as it was printed in England, which is, How to Stop the Planet Burning.  But so you won’t be confused when you go to the bookstore to buy this book, I have placed the American version of the cover above.)

And then….Dr. Timothy Foresman.  He is actually the former chief scientist for the United Nations Environment Programme.  But more importantly, I think, he is thinking critically about how to introduce children to the concept of climate change and the effect it will have on their lives and all the rest of the flora and fauna in the world.  His new book is called The Last Little Polar Bear: A Global Change Adventure Story (order it here). When I was talking with Marc about doing this interview, I said to him, “I think that young kids today fear the effects of climate change and are terrified of it in the same way that, when YOU were a young kid, you were afraid of the Russians launching nuclear bombs and destroying life as you knew it.”   I think a lot of kids want to know what they can do to really make a difference, going beyond simple duck-and-cover.   This book helps them understand the science (the what, when, where, why) of climate change, and also explores the emotional toll of losing some of the world’s most beautiful megafauna like polar bears.

Hope you enjoy the show!

-Jessica Phillips

06/04/07 Anthony Romero “In Defense of our America”

Today we are joined by Anthony Romero.  He is the Executive Director of the national American Civil Liberties Union.  He’s coming on to discuss what he sees as an unprecedented assault on civil liberties since the beginning of the War on Terror. 

-Jessica Phillips