For March Madness neophytes, it's hard to know if our bracket predictions make any sense. But there's a new tool to determine if your choices are statistically likely to be correct. Sheldon Jacobson joins us to discuss his magical probability tool, and the crazy, what-are-the-odds victory of Harvard over New Mexico last night.
The Afternoon Magazine
March Madness begins today, with the Illini tipping off Friday against Colorado. For public radio listeners, typically not a group enamored with sports, this is a tough time of year to keep up with conversations at work or school. Joining us for a quick primer on the storylines in this year's tournament is Mike Pesca, the sports reporter for NPR. He also weighs in on the Public Radio March Madness bracket (see link below) that went viral earlier this week.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. Eric Swenson, who now lives in Paxton, Illinois with his family, joined the military straight out of high school in 2004. He didn't expect to be involved in combat, but was close to the action, doing intelligence work as part of an infantry batallion. He joined us in studio to discuss his experiences, including the transition back to life in America, and the tough emotional toll of the conflict.
While the debate over guns has largely broken down to "more regulation" vs. "better enforcement," few are talking about one of the biggest issues surrounding firearms in America--the gray market of online gun sales. Websites like Armslist have created a market where guns are available without background checks. It's believed that over 40 percent of gun sales in the US are now facilitated online. Stephanie Mencimer, a reporter for Mother Jones, has written about Armslist, and covered one shooting death in Illinois, where a woman was gunned down by a weapon purchased in Washington state. Mencimer joins us to discuss the case, and whether stricter laws can be effective.
From time to time, Illinois Public Media organizes or participates in other organizations’ “community conversations.” They’re opportunities to discuss a wide range of issues and ideas, to hear what various communities care about, and – ideally, for those of us in the news business – to inform the stories we ought to tell, and the way we ought to tell them. Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert and Sean Powers join us to discuss what they learned from conversations at the C-U Rotary this week.
In the past two weeks, the two biggest university ranking surveys - from the Times Higher Education and the US News & World Report - were released. The news was mixed for the University of Illinois. The school finished #24 on the THE world poll, ahead of such heavyweights as the London School of Economics and Carnegie Mellon University. But the law school placed 47th in the US News ranking, a lowly spot for a school that was once finished consistently in the top twenty. These rankings cause a lot of consternation, since they can affect fundraising efforts, and attempts to recruit high-achieving new students. But according to Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed, both surveys have serious problems.
Music - The Beach Boys, "Be True to Your School"
At this month's community cinema screening in Champaign, we'll be showing Wonder Women, a documentary about the creation of America's first female superhero and her evolution into a feminist icon. Henry Radcliffe joined us to discuss the film, which is screening at the Champaign Public Library on Tuesday at 6pm.
Tuesday is a big one for music: the release of the first David Bowie album in a decade. Most fans and critics are very excited - the owners of the record shop Exile on Main Street are even having a special 'David Bowie Day,' with the mayor of Champaign performing The Thin White Duke's hits, along with many other local musicians. But some people aren't so enthuasiastic. Jim DeRogatis was the rock music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times for years, and is one of the long-time hosts of Sound Opinions, a nationally syndicated public radio show. Count him as a Bowie skeptic. DeRogatis joins us to discuss Bowie's new record, 'The Next Day,' and the nostalgia trap that he sees many critics falling into.
A few weeks ago, astronomy was back in the news after a meteor exploded over Russia, injuring scores of people, the same weekend that an asteroid narrowly missed the Earth. Phil Plait writes about these kinds of phenomenon for his Slate blog, Bad Astronomy. He says that, while we should be worried about extraterrestrial threats, in the end, there's only so much that we can prepare. Phil Plait is speaking at the University of Illinois on Friday, March 8th.
Since the movie Contagion, I've been terrified about the idea of viruses jumping from animals to people. As Yvette Johnson-Walker tells us, it's already happening. She talks about two diseases that have become common in household pets in Illinois - tularemia and Rocky Moutain spotted fever. Dr. Johnson-Walker is speaking on a panel about global health tonight at the U of I veteranary school.