During this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talked with author David Toomey about his new book, “Weird Life: The Search for Life that is Very, Very Different From Our Own.” He tells us about organisms that live off acid rather than water, those that reproduce without DNA and thrive in temperatures and pressures so extreme that they really shouldn’t be alive in the first place. Meadows also talked with Toomey about our fascination with exotic life forms here on Earth and why we’re so fascinated with the possibility of the discovery of life in the rest of the universe.
To many February 14 is Valentine’s Day; the “Hallmark holiday” famous for teddy bears gripping pink satin hearts that say “I love you,” chocolate, jewelry and cheesy greeting cards. But according to Sasha Cagen, February 14 is actually QuirkyAlone Day. This hour on Focus, host Craig Cohen talks with Cagen about the movement she’s sparked with her book “Quirky Alone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics.” We’ll talk about why she’s chosen to live alone and why she speaks out against the idea that your life is incomplete until you’re coupled.
Have you chosen to stay single? Do you identify with the QuirkyAlone movement? Maybe you just think Valentine’s Day is dumb and are happy to learn of a counter holiday... Join our conversation. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline that even the chief economist at Google has called “sexy.” This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Charles Wheelan, author of the new book “Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data,” about what we can learn from statistics and their growing role in our world today.
This September marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of JRR Tolkien's novel The Hobbit. An estimated 100 million copies of the book have been sold since its publication, but interest in The Hobbit sees no signs of abating, as the first of a trilogy of Hobbit films by Peter Jackson opens this December. Author Corey Olsen, who produces a podcast called The Tolkien Professor, feels that The Hobbit has lived far too long in the shadow of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books. His idea is to turn attention back to what he calls "this brilliant little book." Olsen is an Assistant Professor of English at Washington College in Maryland and the President and founder of the Mythgard Institute, a new online teaching center for the study of Tolkien and other works of imaginative literature.
This is a repeat broadcast from Tuesday, November 06, 2012, 10 am
A blimp in flames crashes through the roof of a busy downtown bank; a racial incident at a hot, crowded beach spirals into one of the worst urban riots in American history; a transit strike paralyzes the city; the body of a missing young girl is found, the victim of a gruesome murder. The Great Fire of 1871 holds a notorious place in Chicago history – but these incidents over 12 balmy days in 1919 shaped the city in profound ways and paved the way for the birth of the modern American city.
Did video kill the radio star? If so, it was with a lot of help from MTV. It's hard to remember that the initials MTV, now better known for reality programming, actually stand for "Music Television." In its first decade, MTV lived up to its name - it played music videos all day, the way a radio station played records. Though music videos had been played on television since the 1960s, MTV was the first outlet specifically programmed around music videos. We'll talk with Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, authors of "I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution" about the tumultuous first decade of MTV and the videos that made the 1980s and early 1990s memorable.
The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams fought for George Washington, served with Abraham Lincoln in Congress, witnessed Bunker Hill, and as a staunch opponent of slavery, foresaw that slavery would lead to civil war between the North and South. He is, in fact, the only major figure in American history who knew both the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of The Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president. His opposition to slavery inspired John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. Yet he remains one of the least-known presidents in our nation's history. We'll talk with biographer Harlow Giles Unger about John Qunicy Adams.
It’s hard to pass up any book that promotes itself as an “existential detective story.” That’s the subtitle of author Jim Holt’s new book “Why Does the World Exist?” In it, Holt traces efforts to grasp the origins of the universe, and suggests along the way that many discussions revolving around the classic question “why are we here?” are simply too narrow – that there are many more possible answers than the old God versus the Big Bang debate would suggest. Holt talks with philosophers, physicists, and a Buddhist monk, among others, as he seeks big answers to the biggest of questions.
This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, September 07, 2012, 10 am.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the Library of Congress commissioned audio recordings of amateur singers and songwriters throughout the United States. These have come to be called "field recordings," and the recordists travelled the country in search of them. Musician, recording artist, and writer Stephen Wade tells the story of thirteen of these recordings made across the United States between 1934 and 1942 in locations reaching from Southern Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta and the Great Plains. Working 18 years on this project, Wade travelled the country, seeking out the original artists, their families or friends present at the recordings and interviewed more than 200 people for the book. Most of the original artists were amateur singers or musicians who were being recorded for the first and only time; many of their famililes were not even aware that the recordings were made. And yet many of the songs have enjoyed long afterlives, influencing musicians and featuring in films.
Stephen Wade is a musician and writer whose latest album is Banjo Diary: Lessons from Tradition, out on Smithsonian Folkways Records.
According to the Association of American Publishers, last year, for the first time, e-books garnered more revenue than any other format of adult fiction. Overall, net sales revenue for electronic books more than doubled in 2011 compared to 2010, and there’s every reason to believe that transition will continue here in 2012 and beyond.
Meanwhile, the industry has felt the effects of the bankruptcy and closures of Borders stores nationwide, another signal of a rapidly changing industry.
As more people download novels to their Kindles and Nooks, what’s to become of the publishing industry? Could we see a day when actual physical books are no longer printed? Is what’s happening with the newspaper and magazine industries a harbinger of things to come for books?