Dambisa Moyo makes the case that Western aid to Africa has been a disaster. Peter Singer lays out the argument that virtually everyone in America has a moral obligation to give money to help the desperately poor. Jacqueline Novogratz combines capitalism and charity to apply business principles to philanthropy in a way that benefits people’s lives. Abraham Verghese reads passages from his novel and talks with Steve Paulson about his own experience with the mission hospital system in Africa.
Richard Poplak describes the ill-fated attempt to adapt The Simpsons for the Arab world. Daniel Radosh went to a Christian rock festival and was introduced to the world of Christian pop culture. Pagan Kennedy has written an essay about Dr. Alex Comfort, the pioneering sex researcher behind the book “The Joy of Sex.” Nathan Rabin explains the pivotal role popular culture has played throughout his life.
Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones designed the font of Hope and Change. Nicholson Baker reviewed the Kindle, Amazon’s electronic reading device and says that e-readers have some advantages over the printed book. Matthew Carter designed Verdana and co-designed Helvetica – the most ubiquitous font family in the world. Tracy Honn takes us on a tour of a working museum of letterpress printing and its star, The Trolley: a Golding Official #6 from the late 1800s. Kitty Burns Florey says handwriting is the original font and describes practicing Palmer method.
Lavinia Greenlaw explains how music helped her as she grew up and reads from her book. Ralph Stanley talks about his family, his music and his concern with death. Nick Hornby reveals his knowledge of obsessive music fan-dom. Geraint Watkins is a rock and roll pianist and accordionist who’s doing his best work as he nears sixty.
Joan Wylie Hall talks about the Library of America’s new volume of Shirley Jackson material. Blake Bailey has studied the work and life of Richard Yates. Chris Bachelder wrote a novel that uses as its central character early 20th century novelist Upton Sinclair. Jonathan Lethem discusses Philip K. Dick, whom Lethem calls “science fiction’s Lenny Bruce.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali says that her fierce criticism of religion grows out of her own shattering personal experience. Philip Pullman tackles the story of Jesus, and the role supernatural miracles play in his life. Phil Zuckerman spent a year in Scandinavia and found that most Danes and Swedes he spoke with are happy to get along without religion. Rhoda Janzen left her Mennonite faith, but returned to her family and had to deal with their beliefs. Tony Dushane wrote a novel based on his childhood as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Christopher McDougall learned to run barefoot with members of the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico. Gretchen Reynolds discusses theories concerning running and the body which modern exercise physiology is exposing as purely myths. Jason Robillard is a runner and founder of Barefoot Running University. Haruki Murakami wrote “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running;” Jim Fleming reads selections from it.
William Cronin says that national parks intended for the masses are a 19th century invention and a distinctly American one. James Mills describes the role the Buffalo Soldiers played in the national parks and looks into why so few African-Americans visit the national parks today. Mark Dowie relates a story about a confrontation between a Masai leader and environmentalists, but also found conservation projects involving native peoples that actually work. Richard Nelson hosts of a public radio program called “Encounters,” and hikes through the Alaskan wilderness recording sounds. Nevada Barr sets her Park Ranger Anna Pidgeon mysteries in various national parks.
Douglas Rushkoff thinks we’ve become like individual corporations. Matthew Crawford writes about why manual work matters. Candacy Taylor documented the lives of the career waitresses. Charles Wilkins describes his summer job when he worked for a large suburban cemetery.
David Rothenberg talks about the duets he played with whales: humpbacks, belugas and orcas. Jennifer Angus is an artist who finds insects so beautiful she uses them in her work. Anne Fadiman describes about the delight she and her brother took as children with collecting (and killing) butterflies. David Gessner makes the case for wilder, messier, more eccentric writing about nature. Christopher Benfey writes about why there was a hummingbird craze in 19th century Massachusetts.
Anthony Horowitz’s special interest in children’s fiction has its roots in his own troubled past. Ellen Handler Spitz is the author of many books on psychology and aesthetics. Michael Chabon says that his own past still influences his writing. Julia Mickenberg found that some of the best known children’s book writers were longtime political radicals.
David Bainbridge found that a prolonged adolescence is unique to humans and one of our greatest evolutionary advantages. Frank Warren founded the blog PostSecret, and he treasures the postcards he receives. Rebecca Walker relates the story of her unconventional upbringing and how having a child of her own changed her feelings. Eugene Mirman says that school was horrible for him but gave rise to his nerd humor. Laura Miller explains why she thinks Stephanie Meyers’ “Twilight” books are such a phenomenal success with young women.
Alexander Rose describes an all mechanical clock being constructed in the high desert of Eastern Nevada designed to run for ten thousand years. David Toomey wrote about the research and experiments on time travel being done by some of the world’s leading theoretical physicists. Lera Auerbach has lived most of her life in terror of time. Carl Honore relates how the Slowness movement got started and how it’s developed into a revolution. Wade Davis explains the Australian Aboriginal concept of “The Dreaming,” an existence with no linear time.