Robin's Recommendations

So sorry! Too long between updates! Our small but earnest staff is valiantly struggling with knee surgery (get well Emiko!) and that swine thingy going around.. So, lots of stuff to call attention to.

Many of you told us recent primers were helpful: Stuart Altman, of Brandeis spoke about how Medicare factors into health care reform, Washington Post reporter David Hilzenrath helped us understand "Wellness Programs", and editor June Thomas examined dental care in America. Not a pretty picture.

One of the most provocative segments recently had to be our conversation with Max Blumenthal, author of “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party”. He traces a path from Christian guru once-lefty Francis Shaeffer and the radical right scholar R.J. Rushdooney, to Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and the Lyndon La Rouche backed Town Hall protestors. Many of you appreciated our story. By the way at least two listeners asked for a response from James Dobson; rest assured we have put in many requests!

Then there was Margaret Moth. We at Here and Now were quite taken with the legendary CNN camerawoman who faced bullets and bombs and is now staring at terminal cancer. As a 21 year old college student wrote to us: “She made me feel more brave than I’ve ever felt.” Here is our story, and a link to the CNN documentary on her life.

And then, for the kids in all of us! The story of Tara the Elephant and Bella the dog that would not leave her side, and Jeff Kinney, the author of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid". This was an A list booking for the 6th grade set!


(Posted October 29, 2009)

A quick note to start.  Keep your thoughts and questions on healthcare reform coming (you can click on "contact us"), we plan to answer more in the near future.

Meanwhile, here again is our conversation with Bob Hammes, director of medical humanities at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Their end of life counseling program is said to have inspired the current Congressional proposal.

Many of you seemed interested in our piece on "baby signing" for swine flu symptoms.. This is the popular trend to teach infants sign language to communicate their needs.. applied to the flu. Check out the video!

Columnist (and Nobel Prize winner, can't get used to that! we knew him when) Paul Krugman was recently on.

As was New York Times sportswriter Joe Drape, with his story of the fabled Smith Center, Kansas undefeated high school football team (as of this writing they've kept their string of wins, the longest in the country.)

Finally, our 9/11 contributions, author J.R. Moerhringer writes about growing up fatherless in a town that ultimately lost 50 parents in the 9/11 attacks.. his book is "The Tender Bar".

And Babson College associate professor, Jeffrey Melnick took us through popular culture that's been time stamped.. post 9/11, from Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" to Rapper Jay Z and the animated film, "Chicken Little" .

(Posted September 11, 2009)

Time to update! As it does every year, August demonstrates that you call it a slow news month at your peril.

Last year we were at the presidential conventions, this year, as the healthcare reform debate boils over, we offer some segments that hopefully cut through the din.

We addressed some of the rumors, confusion and false claims about the reform bills, including claims of “euthanasia”.

We also got a primer on what is in the proposed bill from Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times.

Also on the domestic front, our piece on bullying in schools was one that was of interest to a lot of you, judging from mail and downloads. We spoke with Sirdeaner Walker, whose son Carl, 11, committed suicide after unrelenting bullying at his middle school. And Dr. Robert Sege, who co-authored a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and said schools, and pediatricians need to get more involved.

On the music front, Bill Janovitz, of the band Buffalo Tom, brought us a unique look at a rock and roll friendship, with the story of his childhood friend, Chris Campion, author of “Escape from Bellevue: A Dive bar Odyssey.”

And Deb Becker got to talk to Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople. A good time was had by all.

(Posted August 11, 2009)


Lots to call you attention to!  Let’s start with the recent primers.

(By the way, I say PRIM-er.. but listeners like George Slaughter occasionally write to say, isn’t it PRI- mer? George cites Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition: "Pri-mer : 1: a device for priming 2: a small introductory book on a subject," and adds.. it’s like “prime the pump.”  George, thank you!  But we’re going with The American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition: "Prim- er: 1. an elementary textbook for teaching children to read 2. a book that covers the basic elements of a subject.)

Where was I?
Oh yes, the primers!

Our segment on how to buy individual health insurance got a lot of response.

As did our conversation with author and history professor Jennifer Burns about the resurgence in sales of the books of the late Ayn Rand, and just what were her theories of Objectivism.

Lastly, two terrific music segments.

We spoke with great American songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller,

And our pop culture critic Renee Graham helped us remember the musical legacy of Michael Jackson.


(Posted July 13, 2009)

Hi there!
Here are some recent stories, and we had some compelling and controversial ones, judging by the email!!

I'll let them speak for themselves:

We spoke with a former patient of murdered, late abortion provider George Tiller.

Since our story, Dr. Tiller's family announced that they will close his clinic in Wichita, Kansas, one of three in the U.S. that provided late abortions.

We also had a provocative conversation with Africa scholar Mahmood Mamdani, who believes that the conflict in Darfur, while tragic, is not a genocide, and to call it one triggers events that may not be helpful for the people of the region. Give it a listen, and also read the "Save Darfur" response.

As Supreme Court Nominee Sonya Sotomayor heads for confirmation hearings, you'll be hearing a lot about New Haven's "Ricci case", considered one of the most important affirmative action cases in decades, currently under review by the Supreme court. Here's a great primer.

And if you've got 15 minutes, I urge you to listen to our Memoral Day piece on the mental health issues suffered (largely in silence) by World War II vets. This is a story that's been airbrushed from history, and the segment goes a long way in making the case that veterans today deserve better care, because the myth that generations before them "bucked up" after seeing combat is just that, a myth.

Finally.. a palette cleanser! Our segment with Actor John Krasinski, from NBC's The Office and the new movie "Away We Go", was THE most downloaded recently.

And who can resist.. the bestseller, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." Oh My!

(Posted June 11, 2009)

We’ve met a lot of fascinating people on the program lately, so let’s bring to your attention:

Ed Zine, who suffered serious Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and got help from Dr. Michael Jenike of the OCD Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital.

And then there was Sean Day, who has Synesthesia, he sees colors when he hears music.

His descriptions are enchanting.

Charles Bowden is one of our favorite reporters, and he tells us he’s filed his last report on the drug violence in Mexico.. with his interview with the Sicario, the nickname for the ruthless but somewhat repentant drug cartel hitman.

Military analyst and Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich graced our studios recently, to share his thoughts on the course the U.S should take in what he says the Obama Adminstration is now calling “Af Pak," Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We were enthralled by the music composed by 16th and 17th century cloistered nuns, and performed today by the Massachusetts-based group, Cappella Clausura.

And author Chuck Palahniuk gave us real insight into his books.. from “Fight Club” to the newest “Pygmy."

Should be something here for everyone.

(Posted May 9, 2009)

Here are some segments you might have missed and we think deserve a listen..

Our colleague, freelance producer Karen Pelland, alerted us to a story that is resonating in her hometown, involving Karen’s former high school teacher David Sharrett who taught at both Langley and Oakton High Schools in Virginia.

His son, Private First Class David Sharrett (Jr.), was killed In Iraq. Another former student, New York Daily News national security reporter James Meek, helped investigate the young Sharrett's death, which the Army ultimately acknowledged was from friendly fire. Give it a listen if you haven’t yet!

We also spoke recently with former NPR reporter Sarah Chayes. Her take on Afghanistan is always eye opening and listeners are always asking how they can support her cooperative.

And Leon Kirchner, considered one of the world’s greatest living American composers, turned 90 this year and was celebrated at birthday concerts in New York and here in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where he was formerly conductor of the Gardner Chamber Orchestra. Leon dined with Stravinksy, studied with Schoenberg and taught Yo Yo Ma and John Adams..

Listener Barbara Clifford said the piece and Yo Yo Ma’s playing in it, provoked “tears of joy and gratitude”.
Give it a listen!

(Posted April 21, 2009)

Here are some stories we’re highlighting this week...

David Leonhardt has only been a columnist for the New York Times for 3 years and we find him really clear and refreshing.. Here again his thoughts on executive pay.. on the day the new A-I- G CEO went before a Senate subcommittee to explain those so-called retention bonuses.

We spoke recently with a conservative Republican Sheriff in Butler County, Ohio, who was surprised to find himself on the same side of foreclosures as the activist group ACORN.  We are never surprised when people refuse to stay in the little pre-conceived boxes others put them in!! Here’s that interview with Sheriff Richard K. Jones.

Journalist Benoit Denizet-Lewis was here, to talk about his call to get the anonymity out of alcoholism and other addictions in order to draw more attention to them.

And our interview with 91 year old Arthur Laurents, director of the new West Side Story, took an unexpected turn in the final minute.. for that lovely moment.. and the great music from the piece ….. click here.


(Posted March 26, 2009)

Hi there.

In light of President Obama's announcement to lift the Bush-era ban on embryonic stem cell research we want to direct you to our recent interview with Dr. Doug Melton, co-director of Harvard's Stem Cell Institute.

He's part of a group of researchers who use what's called "induced pluripotent stem" (iPS) cells, which are stem cells made without the controversial use of embryos---while still possessing many of the same properties that make embryonic stem cells useful to researchers.

Melton hopes to use iPS cells to study diseases, but some critics worry that iPS technology will pave the way for human cloning. More on iPS cell technology here.

We also spoke recently with Rory Stewart, head of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard’s Kennedy School, to get his view on U.S. troop movement in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was a live interview (we do more live interviews than many news magazines) and I was struck by how intense and somewhat distracted he seemed.. understandable since he’d just returned from one country and was heading to the next.

We also wanted to direct you to another interview with Rory about his experience working for the Coalition Forces in Iraq.

And finally, a lot of you seemed to get a smile out of our examination of the so called "Sensitive Female Chord Progression" that men use too.. Enjoy.

(Posted February 12, 2009)


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