Monday, March 31, 2008

Ideas Worth Waiting For

This is a plug for a program called Ideas, broadcast on that bastion of Canadian national pride, CBC Radio One. In an impatient age, this is a 55 minute show that usually simply hands over a microphone to a learned and entertaining speaker, and lets him or her speak for an hour. The topics are varied; here are some sample abstracts from shows over the last couple of weeks:

Evelyn Fox Keller is both a scientist, a philosopher and a historian of science. In her book The Century of the Gene, she argues that the idea of genes has outlived its usefulness. She explains why we need a new biology

We are healthier than ever before, and we live longer, but improvements in health are not distributed evenly. The rich outlive the middle classes, who outlive the poor. Swedes and Japanese live longer than Canadians, and Canadians, longer than Americans. Freelance journalist Jill Eisen discovers that the reasons have little to do with our health care systems.

Religious passions are stirring up politics around the globe. The West has learned to separate religion from politics. But Islam has another political theology—one that places God at the center. Historian Mark Lilla surveys this intellectual landscape.

Does that say it all? Sure there are some boring shows... but here is a rare place where truly abstract and/or original thought is given its own way with no advertising for an hour. Some of the shows are available as podcasts or mp3 downloads. Users all over the world can listen live online, and for the Haligonians I know are reading this, you can listen at 9pm every weeknight.

I've noticed that many of my favorite shows are not easily available online, so your best bet is really to tune and listen to it on the air. That requires some patience... but the journey deeper into your own mind is worth it, because some ideas really do take an hour to explain.

Also check out The Age of Persuasion, and Spark on Radio One.

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