18-19 Segment 1: Honoring the Soldiers Who Fought in Vietnam

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The Vietnam War was an unpopular war and soldiers came home to a society that didn’t approve of or appreciate their service. Elizabeth Partridge, author of Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam, first got involved with the war as a protestor. Partridge didn’t have much to do with Vietnam for many years after until she visited the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and found herself overcome with emotion while reading the soldier’s names.

The event had sparked her interest in the war and the men and women who served in Vietnam. Partridge, being a writer, decided to write her own book about the war that she had protested so many years ago. She wanted her book to be different than the thousands of Vietnam War books that already existed. So she set out to find veterans to interview who could tell her their personal experiences of the war. The stories of six men and one woman who Partridge interviewed were interspersed between chapters on politics and culture.

The switching between large-scope ideas to laser-focused personal experiences creates a uniquely informative non-fiction book that achieves an impressive feat; it brings humanity back to the tragic war in which nearly 60,000 American soldiers lost their lives. Partridge can’t raise the dead but she can bring their lost stories back to life. To purchase a copy of Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam and read more about Partridge and her other works visit the links below.

Guest:

  • Elizabeth Partridge, Former Vietnam protestor and author of Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam

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18-19 Segment 2: Men’s Place in the #MeToo Movement

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The #MeToo movement has been getting headlines for months now. The movement was started by women, but men still have a role to serve in the fight for equality and in the elimination of sexism and misogyny.

Guest:

  • Brendan Kiely, author, Tradition

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Culture Crash 18-19: The Hamilton Mixtape, Hamildrops and the Hamiltome: Keeping Hamilton alive

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

By now, it’s well-known that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2015 musical Hamilton is a cultural sensation. The musical won all sorts of awards including 11 Tonys, a Grammy, and a Pulitzer. The lyrics were quoted by President Obama, and the original Broadway recording has spent over 130 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 and has reached as high at number three on the list. Some even credit the musical with convincing the US Treasury to keep Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

But Miranda has ensured his musical lives beyond just the musical itself. Since its premiere, he has co-authored a book about the development of the show, participated in a PBS documentary about the show, and released 28- yes, 28- bonus songs.

First came The Hamilton Mixtape, born out of Miranda’s self-professed love of cassette mixtapes from the 90s, the album was full of songs cut from the show and remixes by notable musicians including Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Chance the Rapper, and Asher.

In recent months, Miranda has begun what he called the Hamildrops – one new song per month until he runs out of material. The Hamildrops have included a song about Benjamin Franklin, a pro-gun control collaboration with the musical Dear Evan Hansen made to benefit the March for Our Lives, and the first draft of one of Hamilton’s many showstoppers, Burn performed by five different actresses who has portrayed Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton in the musical.
Hamilton is a cultural moment, but it’s also proving to have some endurance. Over three years since its premiere, new songs released under its brand-name still zoom to the top of iTunes and Spotify charts, and keep Hamilton’s rabid fanbase delighted and excited.

I’m Evan Rook.

18-18 Segment 2: The Ethical Implications of Genetic Screenings on Children

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Genetic testing is the new frontier of the healthcare industry. It’s advancement has uncovered new diagnoses, treatments, and ethical implications.

Genetic testing can help doctors identify issues much sooner than with previous technologies. Certain indicators hidden in genetic code can diagnose diseases such as breast cancer. Increasingly, genetic testing is being used to screen for irregularities, and even identify increased odds of mutations occurring in unborn children.

This can place families in the middle of ethical dilemmas. For example, carrier screenings performed before pregnancy can tell parents the likelihood of passing on a fatal genetic disease to a child. If there’s a good chance, is it ethical to try to start a family?

Even though this can be an extremely scary proposition for parents, Rochman asserts that the more knowledge we can gain from this kind of testing the better. Although, she cautions that genetic technology is much further along then our understanding of it.

To learn more use the links below or buy a copy of The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies are Changing the Way We Have kids—and the Kids We Have.

 

Guest:

  • Bonnie Rochman, journalist and author of The Gene Machine: How genetic technologies are changing the way we have kids—and the kids we have

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Culture Crash 18-18: True Crime

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Since Truman Capote published his 1966 masterpiece In Cold Blood, America has been fascinated with true crime. Our current version may occasionally take different form: TV shows like The People vs. OJ or docu-series like Making a Murderer have obsessed us in recent years and the Serial podcast took true crime into the digital age… but the idea is the same: to document how crimes have happened, and occasionally, to launch impromptu investigations.

Sometimes, true crime has found rousing success beyond just sales numbers and cultural imprint: The Thin Blue Line, a documentary by Errol Morris was so persuasive that Randall Dale Adams, its subject, was released from prison. Serial shed enough reasonable doubt that the podcast’s focus, Adnan Sayed, is set to receive a new trial. The list goes on…

Most recently has come Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One woman’s obsessive search for the Golden State Killer, a true-crime book that was published posthumously after McNamara died suddenly while writing it. I’ll be Gone in the Dark tells of the grisly crime spree that terrorized California in the 1970s and 80s by a man she dubbed The Golden State Killer, but who had previously been called the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker.

The book was published in February and immediately shot to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list for nonfiction. Last month, HBO announced plans to make it into a documentary series.

But it’s true accomplishment is this: Just 8 weeks after its publication, police arrested the man they believe to be the Golden State Killer. In their announcement of the charges, the police insisted McNamara’s book did not help their investigation… a claim that seems to be tenuous at best if for no reason than the timing. The case had been cold for decades, the investigation began over 40 years ago and suddenly, after receiving attention stemming from a best-selling book, a suspect is apprehended.

Regardless, the glory of catching a suspect isn’t really what McNamara fantasizes about in the book. She wrote emphatically that she wanted the Golden State Killer apprehended for the victims.

True crime, as a genre, can get a bad rep- that it delights in others suffering. But at its true heart, if it is approached with the appropriate reverence, it can help inform people how to protect themselves, inform future investigators what techniques have worked in the past, and maybe just maybe, help bring along some well-deserved justice.
Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, is available now.

I’m Evan Rook.

Culture Crash 18-17: Netflix’s Battle Against Film Traditionalists

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

In recent years, Netflix has become a major player in the film  industry. They have used festivals as the launching pad for their buzzier titles like the animal-rights movie Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerwitz Stories. Last year, Netflix also made a big splash by acquiring one of Sundance’s biggest hits, Mudbound, which was eventually nominated for four Oscars.

But now comes the pushback: This year, the Cannes film festival announced Netflix films wouldn’t be considered for the fest’s top prize. Director Steven Spielberg said he considers Netflix movies to be made-for-TV and nothing more.

And now, the battle is on. Shortly after the Cannes announcement, Netflix announced they wouldn’t bother to bring any movies to the festival if they aren’t in contention for the highest honors. Since that announcement, film lovers have been thrown in the middle of the Video-On-Demand vs. Theater debate.

Does a movie lose merit if it doesn’t run in theaters around the country? Is a Netflix-release good for consumers, since they can watch, say, Will Smith’s latest film, Bright, in the comfort of their own homes? Or is it bad, since it loses some of that essential community feeling that comes with seeing a smash hit movie like last year’s Get Out or this year’s A Quiet Place with a packed audience?

Right now, it seems opinion is split. Of course, seeing a movie in a theater can be a transformative experience. The screen is huge, the sound is turned all the way up, and that means more immersion in the spectacle. But as theaters have gotten more and more expensive, you can also understand why many people prefer catching the latest releases on their couch. Plus, Netflix’s model has opened the doors for filmmakers who wouldn’t have a place at the big-budget-mega-studios.

Ultimately, the battle has only really just begun. It’s Netflix vs. film traditionalists and as for which side will win out in the end? Well, only time will tell.

I’m Evan Rook.

18-16 Segment 1: Adventures and Explorations

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While being an explorer sounds like a job of the past or one reserved for fictitious characters, many people today still do consider themselves to be explorers. But, since there are no longer new territories waiting to be discovered, how do modern-day explorers bring new life to adventures and explorations?

Dr. Nick Middleton, professor at Oxford University, and author of An Atlas of Countries That Don’t Exist, explains that there are many types of exploration. One way of exploring is learning about a new culture that is not your own. Along with this, he explains that there are plenty of countries around the world that are not recognized on maps. People who are interested in explorations and adventures could research these countries, the people who inhabit them, and their culture. In order to experience an adventure, a person must be willing to step outside of their current understanding of the world and observe another.

Another important aspect of explorations and adventures is understanding the explorers of the past. Dr. Huw Lewis-Jones, historian, explorer, and author of Explorers’ Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure explains that prior explorations have often left many unanswered questions. He believes the best way to understand and learn about them is to look at the explorers personal archives because they often have the very first look at new lands, new species, and new people. These old notes and journals hold important information about how we understand the world today.

For more information, listen to this weeks show and check out the links below for more information on Explorers’ Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure and An Atlas of Countries That Don’t Exist.

Guests:

  • Dr. Huw Lewis-Jones, historian, explorer, and author of Explorers’ Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure
  • Dr. Nick Middleton, professor at Oxford University, and author of An Atlas of Countries That Don’t Exist

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