Show cover of What on Earth is Going on?

What on Earth is Going on?

Your weekly podcast for a world in flux. Globalization and climate change. The rise of social media and the decline and fall of Blockbuster Video. AI and VR. Donald Trump and Flat Earthers. The world is changing so fast that we can't get a grip on how we got here, let alone where we're headed. Join Ben Charland as he peels back the headlines to ask, what are the events, characters, forces and ideas that shape the human story today? Have things always been this nuts, or are they getting crazier by the day? Who were those barbarians that took down the Blockbuster Empire? Just what on Earth is going on?


...with the new novel, Seven by Farzana Doctor (Ep. 101)
Farzana Doctor's new novel, Seven, juggles family, history, culture, and the incredible weight of those forces on women today. It's a detective story and travel novel, and a powerful insight into a woman struggling with sex, identity, her past, and her vast network of relatives. But the overarching issue throughout the book is female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice still common around the world. Farzana joins Ben to talk about the book, FGM, her writing process, and much more. About the Guest Farzana Doctor is a writer, activist, and psychotherapist. Her ancestry is Indian, and she was born in Zambia while her family was based there for five years, before immigrating to Canada in 1971. She became interested in community organizing as a teen (primarily environmental issues, gender violence and LGBTTTIQ rights). From 2009-18, she curated the Brockton Writers Series and has been a volunteer with The Writers’ Union of Canada and the Writers’ Trust. She currently volunteers with WeSpeakOut, a global group that is working to ban female genital cutting in her Dawoodi Bohra community. She studied social work in the early nineties and has been a social worker ever since. She worked in a variety of community agencies and a hospital before starting part-time private practice, where she sees individuals and couples. She has been writing all of her life but it became a more regular practice around 2000, when she began writing her first novel, Stealing Nasreen, which was published by Inanna in 2007. Her second novel, Six Metres of Pavement, won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award and was short-listed for the 2012 Toronto Book Award. In 2017 it was voted the One Book One Brampton 2017 winner. Her third novel, All Inclusive was a Kobo 2015 and National Post Best Book of the Year. While all her books are distinct from one another, some common themes include loss, relationships, community, healing, racism, LGBT rights, diasporic identity and feminism. She seamlessly blends strong stories with social justice issues. Her genre so far has been contemporary literary fiction, but here is usually a hint of magic realism in her stories. She's just completed a novel, Seven (August 2020, Dundurn), and a poetry collection. You Still Look the Same. She is currently at work on a YA novel. Farzana was recently named one of CBC Books’ “100 Writers in Canada You Need To Know Now". She is represented by Rachel Letofsky of CookeMcDermid. She’s an amateur Tarot card reader and has a love of spirituality, energy psychology, hypnosis and neuroscience. She lives with her partner and dog near the lake in Etobicoke, the traditional territory of the Haudenosauneega, Anishinabek and Huron-Wendat peoples. Mentioned in this Episode Female genital mutilation (FGM), also called female genital mutilation. Read this WHO fact sheet about the practice that affects millions of women and girls worldwide. The Dawoodi Bohra community Farzana's advice column, Dear Maasi Hussonally Abdoolally Nasirudin Dholkawalla, an Indian entrepreneur on whom a key character in the book is based The book, Mullahs on the Mainframe: Islam and Modernity among the Daudi Bohras by Jonah Blank The 2020 Vice documentary, Meghan Markle Escaping the Crown The Quote of the Week We are human beings. We make the traditions so we should have the right to change those traditions. - Malala Yousafzai
54:57 9/18/20
...after 99 Episodes (Ep. 100)
It's been over two years since host Ben Charland kicked off this podcast in a basement in Kingston, Ontario. After nearly 100 fascinating conversations about everything from the mafia to the water supply, from science to philosophy, we're revisiting some of the best moments. Author, science broadcaster and previous guest Ziya Tong (Episode 85) interviews Ben with questions from listeners about what on earth is going on behind the scenes. Enjoy this very special centennial episode! About the Guest Host Award-winning host Ziya Tong has been sharing her passion for science, nature and technology for almost two decades. Best known as the co-host of Daily Planet, Discovery Canada’s flagship science program, she brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to the stage. Tong speaks on leadership, how to shift perspective, and the role of science and technology in society in her riveting and eye-opening talks. Before co-hosting Daily Planet, Tong served as host and field producer for PBS’ national primetime series, Wired Science, produced in conjunction with Wired magazine. In Canada, Tong hosted CBC’s Emmy-nominated series ZeD, a pioneer of open source television, for which she was nominated for a Gemini Viewer’s Choice Award. Tong also served as host, writer, and director for the Canadian science series, The Leading Edge and as a correspondent for NOVA scienceNOW alongside Neil deGrasse Tyson on PBS. In the spring of 2019, she participated in CBC’s annual “battle of the books.” After a national four-day debate, she won Canada Reads. In May 2019, Tong released her bestselling book The Reality Bubble. Called “ground-breaking” and “wonder-filled”, the book has been compared to The Matrix. It takes readers on a journey through the hidden things that shape our lives in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. Tong received her Masters degree in communications from McGill University, where she graduated on the Dean’s Honour List. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the World Wildlife Fund and is the founder of Black Sheep. Learn more about Ziya or follow her on Twitter (@ziyatong). Mentioned in this Conversation Episode 85: The Reality Bubble with Ziya Tong Episode 1: Populism with Keith Banting Episode 52: Science with Bob McDonald Episode 56: Men and Gender Equality with Michael Kaufman Episode 38: The Mafia with Antonio Nicaso Episode 93: Politics and its Future with Kent Hehr Episode 2: The Digital Age with Carlos Prado Episode 25: Water with Pascale Champagne Episode 52: Science with Bob McDonald Episode 42: Live Performance in the Digital Age with Colleen Renihan, Craig Walker and Michael Wheeler Episode 66: Acting and Storytelling with Andy Curtis Jake Adelstein, a US journalist with a focus on crime reporting in Japan Eric Hobsbawm, a British historian The Ezra Klein Show, a podcast In Our Time, a BBC radio program and podcast
58:46 9/4/20
...with Changing Cities (Ep. 99)
The one thing that doesn't change about cities is the fact that they are constantly changing. Most people now live in cities, transforming them with their consumer behaviour, their culture, their ideas and their advocacy. City planners have to balance the natural development of these vast social organisms with complex, long-term plans. How do they do it? Ben chats with veteran urban planner Teresa Goldstein. . Follow Teresa on Twitter (@teresagoldstein). Mentioned in this Episode The People's Republic of Walmart: How the World's Biggest Corporations are Laying the Foundation for Socialism, a book by Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski Episode 45 of this podcast, featuring broadcaster Terry O'Reilly on counterintuitive ideas and more "Where Libraries are the Tourist Attractions", article in the New York Times featuring Calgary's new Central Library Article in the Guardian discussing the Mayor of Paris's plans for a 15-minute city The Quote of the Week By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities. - Socrates
59:01 8/21/20
...with Creativity, Music and Politics during COVID-19 (Ep. 98)
The coronavirus pandemic is altering our lives in ways we cannot yet comprehend, and in decades we will marvel at this transformative time. COVID-19 is not just accelerating trends that were in place beforehand, but it is creating new realities. How are artists coping? How about our politics and ideologies? Alex Green's podcast, Stereo Embers, addresses the current creative moment of the artist. He joins Ben remotely from San Francisco for a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation. About the Guest A native of California, Alex Green is the author of four books: The Heart Goes Boom (Wrecking Ball, UK), Emergency Anthems (Brooklyn Arts Press), Let The West Coast Be Settled (Tall Lighthouse) and The Stone Roses (Bloomsbury Academic). Alex is a known live moderator, interviewing authors, musicians and artists for the Bay Area Book Festival, LitQuake, A Great Good Place For Books and Green Apple Books. Over the course of his career, he's interviewed David Bowie, Maira Kalman, R.E.M., Kristin Hersh, Joshua Mohr, Stephan Pastis, Sherman Alexie, Janice Cooke Newman, and Alison Moyet. ​ He's the host of Stereo Embers: The Podcast, a weekly long-form interview program that focuses on the creative life and the artist's commitment to their craft. The program is already one of the fastest growing podcasts on iTunes. ​ Alex is also the host of the weekly radio show "The Heart Goes Boom," which focuses on new music coming out of the UK and beyond. ​ Alex is the Editor of the daily entertainment site Stereo Embers Magazine ( and he currently teaches in the English Department at St. Mary's College of California. Learn more about Alex or follow him on Twitter (@EMBERSEDITOR). Mentioned in this Conversation Whiskey Sour Happy Hour featuring Ed Helms For Emma, Forever Ago, debut album from Bon Iver "Studio Notes on Your Rom-Com, for the Coronavirus Era", a short in the New Yorker, 29 June 2020 Dune, a classic science fiction novel by Frank Herbert The Coddling of the American Mind, a book by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, a book by Michael Kimmel Episode 26 of this podcast, featuring Professor Sulaimon Giwa discussing racism Here are some of the writers, artists and musicians we discussed: Jon Bon Jovi, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Joe Strummer, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, DH Lawrence, Gord Downie, Green Day ("American Idiot"), Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan, Dead Kennedys The Quote of the Week "He was trapped in a haircut he no longer believed in." - Billy Bragg
62:22 8/7/20
...with Kingston WritersFest (Ep. 97)
What makes a book interesting? Beautiful? Provocative? Necessary? Is reading still the best way to get a message across and tell a good story, and how is it changing in our world today? The Kingston WritersFest is one of Canada's premiere literary events, drawing headline international authors as well as big crowds from the bookish Ontario city. Ben chats with the festival's artistic director and alumnus of the podcast, Barbara Bell, about writing, reading, and what goes on in between. About the Guest Barbara Bell is the Artistic Director of Kingston WritersFest. She has extensive experience in programming, management, and event planning and production, including several years as Events Coordinator with Chapters Bookstore. She has produced numerous stage plays, several independent short films, including the award-winning Digging Up Plato, and a feature film. Barbara is also an award-winning actor and playwright and a freelance editor, and for two seasons programmed, produced, and hosted a monthly television book club – Page Turners – for TVCogeco in Kingston. Barbara sits on the Community Arts Advisory Committee for the City of Kingston, as well as on the Arts Advocacy Committee of Kingston Arts Council. Learn more about Barbara. Mentioned in this Episode A quote from William Clifford, 19th century English mathematician and philosopher: "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ... Inquiry into the evidence of a doctrine is not to be made once for all, and then taken as finally settled." The Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years War (1618-48) A quote usually attributed to Thomas Edison: "Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, a novel by Megan Gail Coles The Difference, a novel by Marina Endicott The Tragedy of the Commons, a concept that describes how shared resources are depleted due to deep-seated self-interest Greta Thunberg, Swedish climate activist The Lymond Chronicles, a book series by Dorothy Dunnett A Song of Ice and Fire, a book series by George RR Martin on which the HBO series Game of Thrones is based My Year of Living Spiritually: One Woman’s Secular Search for a More Soulful Life, a book by Anne Bokma Ender's Game, a novel by Orson Scott Card Europe: A History, a book by Norman Davies Barbara's top books from childhood: The Borrowers series by Mary Norton The Chronicles of Narnia series by CS Lewis The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion The books of Enid Blyton The Quote of the Week “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R. Martin
70:30 7/24/20
...with Disability (Ep. 96)
We will all encounter disability in our lives, either ourselves or someone we know and love. What is our responsibility when that happens? What role should the greater community play to provide care and support? What about government, public policy, and spending? What's changing when it comes to disability and how we care for those who truly need it, and why is this important? Ben has an enlightening conversation with Helen Ries, an Ottawa-based advocate with a powerful story of her and her brother Paul. About the Guest Helen is a strategic thinker and analyst with expertise in stakeholder engagement, planning and program evaluation. Helen uses research to explore issues, develop practices and make changes in a way that is systematic and evidence-based. Helen has a special interest in working with people, groups and organizations who are helping to improve the well-being of under-represented, excluded or vulnerable populations. Helen has been in the non-profit and public sector since 2003 creating and evaluating programs, establishing performance measures, creating plans and strategy, analyzing and revising policy, and supporting people and organizations to build their capacity and effectiveness for better outcomes. Learn more about Helen and follow her on Twitter (@helenries). Mentioned in this Episode Episode 46 of this podcast, featuring Canadian senator Kim Pate about the prison and justice system The Ottawa Adult Autism Initiative "What I Never Knew About My Mother", a blog post by Helen The Sibling Collaborative, an organization co-founded by Helen "Disability, Poverty and #MeToo", an article by Helen Memory, Witness and Hope, an initiative recommended by Helen that brings together French- and English-speaking institutional survivors labelled with intellectual disabilities. "People First of Ontario", a video recommended by Helen about the bond between siblings The Quote of the Week When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. - Helen Keller
50:30 7/10/20
...with Rebuilding Democracy (Ep. 95)
What if being a Member of Parliament or Congress had nothing to do with an election, but rather worked like jury duty? What if our officials were seated randomly in a legislature? What if we innovated the very idea of government itself? Dave Meslin says our politics is broken, but instead of repeating this from the sidelines, he's got 100 common-sense fixes. They are all detailed in his fascinating and provocative book, Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up. Ben chats with Dave in Toronto. About the Guest Multi-partisan and fiercely optimistic, Meslin’s presentations focuses on how we can overcome cynicism and create a culture of participation. His unassuming presence, creativity and sense of humour keep audiences enthralled. Meslin encourages those present to find what was important to them and become engaged in the process of promoting change by creative participation. The Toronto Star has described him as “mad scientist”, “a start-up genius” and “a peripatetic public convener”. The Globe and Mail simply calls him a “persuasive rabble rouser”. Dancing between the worlds of mainstream politics and grassroots activism, Meslin has found positive ways to bring them both together and turn energy into action. His TED talk “The Antidote to Apathy” has been viewed over 1.7 million times and translated into 37 languages. A CBC appearance in 2015, involving towers of colourful LEGO, has been watched 2.5 million times on Facebook. Meslin’s resume of non-profit start-ups also includes the Toronto Public Space Committee, the Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto, City Idol, Spacing Magazine, Unlock Democracy Canada, the Downtown De-Fence Project, Dazzling Notice Awards, and DandyHorse Magazine. While he feels most comfortable working with small grassroots non-profits, Meslin has also donned a suit and tie and worked as an Executive Assistant at both City Hall and Queen’s Park. Meslin is currently crowd-sourcing 100 Remedies for a Broken Democracy for his next book. Learn more about Dave or follow him on Twitter (@meslin). Mentioned in this Conversation Episode 1 of this podcast, featuring a conversation about populism with political scientist Keith Banting The Magna Carta, literally "great charter, an agreement of rights signed in 1215 by the English monarch and a group of rebel aristocrats. While the charter failed to prevent conflict at the time, it presaged what would come and became a historically vital document for our modern conception of democracy. The Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, created by the government of British Columbia in 2004 to investigate changes to the province's electoral system. Data collected by the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranks Canada no. 61 (previously 62) in gender representation in government. The Quote of the Week Democracy is never a thing done. Democracy is always something that a nation must be doing. - Archibald MacLeish
73:46 6/26/20
...with Writing Biography (Ep. 94)
Rosemary Sullivan is an acclaimed Canadian poet and biographer. She has written definitive biographies about Elizabeth Smart and Gwendolyn MacEwen as well as a book about the early life of Margaret Atwood. In 2015, Rosemary published Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva to widespread praise. Ben sits down with Rosemary in Toronto to talk about what goes into making a biography (such as calling the CIA first), how she wrote Stalin's Daughter, and much more. About the Guest Biographer and poet Rosemary Sullivan is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. Her 14 books include the critically acclaimed Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape and a House in Marseille and Labyrinth of Desire: Women, Passion and Romantic Obsession. Shadow Maker, her biography of Gwendolyn MacEwen, won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction. She has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Trudeau, and Jackman Fellowships and was awarded the Lorne Pierce Medal by the Royal Society for her contributions to Literature and Culture. In 2012 she became an Officer of the Order of Canada. Learn more about Rosemary. Mentioned in this Episode Video of Christopher Hitchens discussing his idea that religion was humanity's "first attempt" Episode 78 of this podcast, featuring political scientist Jonathan Rose Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein Oscar Wilde, a biography by Richard Ellmann The Writers' Trust Rising Stars program "The Long War Against Slavery", an article in the New Yorker from January 2020 by Casey Cep Video of Howard Stern on how Donald Trump's 2016 run for the presidency was a publicity stunt The Family, a Netflix miniseries documentary about an evangelical Christian group Varian's War, a made-for-television movie about the Holocaust The Death of Stalin, a 2017 satirical comedy directed by Armando Iannucci The Quote of the Week Almost any biographer, if he respects facts, can give us much more than another fact to add to our collection. He can give us the creative fact; the fertile fact; the fact that suggests and engenders. - Virginia Woolf
60:13 6/12/20
...with Politics and its Future (Ep. 93)
Kent Hehr is a former federal Liberal cabinet minister and member of parliament for Calgary Centre. As a so-called "recovering politician" with careers on both the federal and provincial levels, Kent has a lot to say about what on earth is going on -- but he’s also got an incredible story. In October 1991 he was with some friends in Calgary when someone in another car opened fire. The bullet went into Kent’s spine, and just like that, he was paralyzed from the chest down as a C5 quadriplegic. About the Guest As a former cabinet minister, Kent has been at the table when big decisions are made. His understanding of how government works and what decision makers are looking for is invaluable for businesses and not-for-profit organizations looking for results. He recently started his own firm with two other partners, Jessie Chahal and Robbie Schuett: HSC and Associates. Kent has over 20 years of comprehensive experience in civic, provincial and federal government work. Kent has an extensive background in dealing with complex problems, systems, and policies. He has a proven track record of managing divergent stakeholders’ interests, collaborating with federal government departments, intergovernmental relations, and chairing committees. Prior to his entry into public service, Kent was a practising lawyer with the prestigious national law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain (now Dentons). Kent has a long history of serving on not-for-profit boards. He is currently on the board of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Alberta. He is married to Deanna Holt. Mentioned in this Episode The discovery of oil in Turner Valley, Alberta, in 1914 started over a century of the province's oil and gas industry BlackRock, a global investment management company based in New York Mad Money with Jim Cramer, a long-running CNBC television program dedicated to stock markets STEM and STEAM education programs Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, a 2016 book by Thomas Friedman. Check out Episode 60 of this podcast for a conversation about the book. The Heritage Savings Trust Fund, a sovereign wealth fund established by the province of Alberta in 1976. Often compared with Norway's far more successful sovereign wealth fund, which is now worth over US$1 trillion. The Quote of the Week Excellence is not a gift, but a skill that takes practice. We do not act ‘rightly’ because we are ‘excellent’, we achieve ‘excellence’ by acting ‘rightly.’ - Plato
62:57 5/29/20
...with Acting, Gaming and Creativity (Ep. 92)
Aurora Browne is one of Canada's national treasures. Best known as one of the cast members of the Baroness von Sketch Show and as co-host of the Great Canadian Baking Show, Aurora has been creating daring, funny and original work for theatre, television and film for many years. Ben catches up with Aurora in Toronto to discuss her career as an actor and comedian, as well as her fascinating with the oceans, video games, clowning, and Dungeons & Dragons. Don't miss this wide-ranging conversation! About the Guest Aurora Browne is proud to be one of the co-creators, writers, executive producers and stars of CBC’s sketch comedy series, Baroness von Sketch Show. Browne graduated from York University's theatre program with a BFA in Acting, and has been honing her sketch chops since 2000 when she was hired by Toronto’s Second City Troupe. Since then she has appeared on Comedy Inc, The Gavin Crawford Show, Comedy Now, The Ron James Show, InSecurity, Corner Gas and many others. She recently co-created and starred in Newborn Moms, a web series about new motherhood on ABC Digital. She is also currently in development for season 2 of The Writer’s Block with Frantic Films. Browne has been nominated for numerous Canadian Comedy Awards for her work in Toronto’s red hot live sketch and improv scene, and in 2008 won the CCA for Best Female Improviser. She was also a nominee for the Tim Sims Encouragement Fund Award. Her son thinks she is hilarious. Learn more about Aurora or follow her on Twitter (@aurorabrowne). Mentioned in this Episode Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop roleplaying game that was first created in the 1970s and is seeing a resurgence in popular culture as well as among casual gamers. The Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance, sometimes called the "clown farm", a performance training centre founded and run by John Turner (one half of the famous Canadian clown duo, Mump & Smoot). Newborn Moms, a CBC TV series. Succession, an HBO TV series. Chernobyl, an HBO miniseries. Zootopia, a 2016 animated film. Come on Eileen, a 1982 song by the Dexys Midnight Runners. The Long Dark, a survival video game developed by Hinterland Games in Vancouver. "How Sid Meier Almost Made Civilization a Real-Time Strategy Game", a YouTube video by Ars Technica featuring Sid Meier discussing his breakthrough original strategy game, Civilization. Starcraft, a real-time strategy game series. Fallout 3, a post-apocalyptic role-playing game. The Lord of the Rings, a classic three-part fantasy series by JRR Tolkien. They Shall Not Grow Old, a 2018 documentary about the First World War produced and directed by Peter Jackson, in which historical footage is drastically enhanced. Tolkien, a 2019 film about fantasy author JRR Tolkien. Sapiens and Homo Deus, two books by historian Yuval Noah Harari. The Quote of the Week Creativity is intelligence having fun. - Albert Einstein
71:19 5/15/20
...with the Writing Process, Genre, and the Rise of Stupid (Ep. 91)
What does it take to write a novel? What about genre? How does marketing define the books we read before we even open the first page? What does it mean to find a space that isn't programmed? And is the old right-left divide being replaced by a new one: the axis of smart-stupid? Ben is in Toronto to chat with award-winning novelist Andrew Pyper about his work, his writing process, and his take on what on earth is going on today. About the Guest Andrew Pyper was born in Stratford, Ontario, in 1968. He received a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from McGill University, as well as a law degree from the University of Toronto. Although called to the bar in 1996, he has never practiced. His most recent novels include The Homecoming (2019), The Only Child (2017), and The Damned (2015). His 2013 novel, The Demonologist, won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Hardcover Novel, and was a #1 bestseller in Canada and Brazil. A number of Pyper’s works have been acquired for TV or feature film. The Homecoming is being developed by eOne with Andrew acting as Co-Creator and Executive Producer. Other active projects have not yet been announced. Among the earlier novels, The Guardians was published in Canada (Doubleday Canada) in January 2011, the U.K. (Orion) in February 2011, and following this internationally in various territories. It was selected a Globe and Mail 100 Best Books of the Year. The Killing Circle, Andrew’s fourth novel, was a national bestseller in Canada, and has been published in the U.K. (HarperCollins) and U.S. (St. Martin’s/Minotaur). Translation rights have been sold in Holland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Japan. Kiss Me, a collection of short stories, was published to acclaim in 1996. Following its publication, Mr. Pyper acted as Writer-in-Residence at Berton House, Dawson City, Yukon, as well as at Champlain College, Trent University. His first novel, Lost Girls, was a national bestseller in Canada and a Globe and Mail Notable Book selection in 1999 as well as a Notable Book selection in the New York Times Book Review (2000) and the London Evening Standard (2000). The novel won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel and is an Otto Penzler pick on Lost Girls has been published in the U.S. (Delacorte Press) and U.K. (Macmillan) in 2000, and has also been translated into Italian, Dutch, German and Japanese. Andrew’s second novel, The Trade Mission, was published in Canada, the U.K., U.S., the Netherlands and Germany. It was selected by The Toronto Star as one of the Ten Best Books of the Year. Andrew’s third novel, The Wildfire Season, was a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year and has been published to acclaim in the U.K., Canada, U.S. and Holland. Andrew’s creative writing teaching experience includes terms at Trent University, the University of Toronto, and, currently, Colorado College. He lives in Toronto. Learn more about Andrew and follow him on Twitter (@andrewpyper). Mentioned in this Episode The Paris Review, a quarterly English-language publication that often features long-form interviews with writers. Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), Norwegian writer known for his clock-work approach to writing plays This is Horror Podcast episode 38, featuring Andrew Pyper A quote from German composer Gustav Mahler: "A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything." The definition of the word "catholic" (not to be confused with the Catholic church): "Including a wide variety of things; all-embracing." The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a 1956 film The Quote of the Week Sometimes people close a door because they’re trying to figure out a way to get you to knock. - From The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper
72:21 5/1/20
...with Writing Novels (Ep. 90)
Elizabeth Hay is a Giller Prize-winning author of novels such as Late Nights on Air, His Whole Life, and Alone in the Classroom. Most recently, she published a memoir about her parents' final years in Ottawa: All Things Consoled. She has been writing since she was fifteen, and also spent ten years working as a radio broadcaster, living in Yellowknife, Winnipeg, Toronto and Latin America. Ben sits down with Elizabeth in her Ottawa home to talk about her books, her writing process, and much more. About the Guest I was born in 1951 in a beautiful part of the world. Owen Sound, Ontario, is on the southern shores of Georgian Bay. When I was five, we moved about twenty miles north to Wiarton on the Bruce Peninsula, a small town defined by limestone cliffs, icy water, poison ivy and an abundance of colourful characters. I roamed as freely around Wiarton as I did through books. My otherwise strict parents let me read whatever I wanted to. With Eric Friesen at The Lodge on Amherst Island, April 2008. My father was the high-school principal. My mother painted in her spare time, not that she had much time, since I was one of four children. The public library was almost a second home, a place in which I didn’t have to set the table or do the dishes or cope with being teased. I read good and bad alike. We had no television until I was nine, when we inherited my grandmother’s television set and were allowed to watch it for two hours a week. It stopped working after a few years and was never replaced. Then when I was almost ten, we moved inland and about a hundred miles south to another small town, this one on the edge of Alice Munro country. My five years in flat, agricultural Mitchell were probably the worst in my life—the years of puberty, unpopularity, self-consciousness. When I was fourteen, everything changed. Out of the blue my father moved us to London, England for a year and the world opened up in a thrilling way. I saw places every reader dreams about—the British countryside and famous cities—and I went to plays, ballet, art galleries, to Covent Garden as it used to be. That year I attended Camden School for Girls, where by accident (a random English assignment) I discovered that I could write poetry of a sort. A year later we came back to Canada, settling in Guelph, Ontario, where I finished high school. My years at the University of Toronto convinced me that what I needed was not academia but the real world. At the end of second year, I hitchhiked to Newfoundland, and at the beginning of third year I dropped out for a year and took the train to the west coast, eventually making my way to the Queen Charlotte Islands, now Haida Gwaii. I returned to university at the end of August and completed my third year, but went no further in school. After that, I moved west again, then north to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories to join the man who would be my first husband, Craig McInnes. The northern photographs on the website are his. In Yellowknife I began to work in radio. During the ten years I was a broadcaster, I was a writer with a split personality, writing to a formula for radio and writing privately in the notebooks I began to keep. It took me a long time to see that the clarity and economy and directness required to tell a story to a radio audience would serve me well in whatever I wrote. After Yellowknife, I moved to Winnipeg, then Toronto, and then I freelanced in Latin America for a time, basing myself in Mexico. While in Mexico I met Mark Fried and we have been together ever since. We have two children, a daughter and a son. For six years we lived in New York City, where I put together my first books, Crossing the Snow Line and The Only Snow in Havana, and gathered the experiences that I used in Captivity Tales: Canadians in New York. Finally, my homesickness became intolerable and I dragged everyone to Ottawa, where we’ve been since 1992. Small Change, the collection of stories about friendships gone wrong, draws on material from throughout my life and explores the pain we experience in the name of friendship. My neighbourhood is Old Ottawa South, the setting for part of my first novel, A Student of Weather, and for all of my second novel Garbo Laughs. The Rideau Canal is two blocks away, the Rideau River an easy walk in the other direction. The streets look much as they did in the 1950s. It’s a quiet backwater, which suits me. I like to walk, I don’t like to drive and avoid it. The Sunnyside branch of the public library is a ten-minute walk from my house. I use it a lot. Almost directly across the street from the library is the Mayfair movie theatre, in constant use since the 1930s. This is the part of the world, not Ottawa but the Ottawa Valley, where my mother grew up. It has a lot of emotional resonance for me as a result. While I was writing my third novel, Late Nights on Air, I was already making notes for my fourth, Alone in the Classroom, which focuses to a large degree on the Ottawa Valley. His Whole Life, which has the 1995 Quebec referendum woven through it, moves between New York City and a lake in eastern Ontario. All Things Consoled, a daughter’s memoir is about my mother and father at the end of their lives. They both died in Ottawa, in a retirement home a six-minute walk from my house. From the age of fifteen I have been writing. The great struggle has been to believe that I have enough imagination of the necessary kind to write compelling material. I am dogged but self-doubting, and happiest at my desk. Learn more about Elizabeth. Mentioned in this Episode Late Nights on Air, 2007 novel by Elizabeth Hay All Things Consoled, 2018 memoir by Elizabeth Hay A Life in Letters by Anton Chekhov, a collection of letters published in 2004 for the hundredth anniversary of his death Video of the comedian Louis CK saying "everything is amazing and nobody is happy" His Whole Life, 2015 novel by Elizabeth Hay DH Lawrence, English writer (1885-1930) The Only Snow in Havana, 2008 novel by Elizabeth Hay Succession, an HBO television drama The Crown, a Netflix television drama Oedipus Rex, an ancient Greek tragic play by Sophocles Tomas Tranströmer, Swedish poet and Nobel Laureate Gustav Mahler, renowned 19th century composer Charlie Kaufman, American screenwriter of films such as Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind A Moveable Feast, a 1964 memoir by Ernest Hemingway "The Mere Presence of Your Smartphone Reduces Brain Power, Study Shows", article from the University of Texas Margaret Atwood, Canadian writer A quote from American writer Kurt Vonnegut: "Novelists have, on the average, about the same IQs as the cosmetic consultants at Bloomingdale’s department store. Our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time." Franz Kafka (1883-1924), German-speaking writer Beryl Bainbridge (1932-2010), British writer The Quote of the Week You are confusing two notions, "the solution of a problem" and "the correct posing of the question". Only the second is essential for the artist. - Anton Chekhov
58:54 4/17/20
...with Generations and the Ethical Choice to Have Children (Ep. 89)
Is dividing people up by their generation (Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, etc.) unhelpful and even harmful? Is it a form of ageism, along the same lines as racism or sexism? What is the coming crisis of our time, and have we already arrived? And is it ethically justified to have children in this world in flux? Ben is in Kingston for a fascinating conversation about all this and more with philosopher Christine Overall of Queen's University. About the Guest Christine Overall's teaching, supervision, research, and publications are in the areas of feminist philosophy, applied ethics (including bioethics), philosophy of religion, and philosophy of education. She is the editor of four books and the author of six. Her book, Aging, Death, and Human Longevity: A Philosophical Inquiry (University of California Press, 2003), won both the Canadian Philosophical Association’s Book Prize and the Royal Society of Canada’s Abbyann Lynch Medal in Bioethics. Her book, Why Have Children? The Ethical Debate,  was published by MIT Press in 2012.  She also recently edited Dying in Public: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer, by Sue Hendler (Michael Grass House, 2012). Dr. Overall was a weekly columnist for the Kingston Whig-Standard from 1993 to 2006, and also wrote a column for University Affairs/Affaires universitaires from 2008 to 2011. Mentioned in this Episode A quick guide from about generations, by Michael T. Robinson The Pax Americana (Latin for 'American Peace', modeled after the Pax Romana during the Roman Empire), a term for the relative global peace and prosperity in the years following the Second World War The Greatest Generation, a 1998 book by US journalist Tom Brokaw about those who grew up during the Great Depression and went on to fight in the Second World War "Will turning your phone to greyscale really do wonders for your attention?", a 2017 article in The Guardian Samuel Beckett, 20th century Irish writer and author of the famous play, Waiting for Godot Sophocles, ancient Greek playwright and author of the Oedipus Rex The Ethics of Belief, a book by 19th century philosopher and mathematician William Clifford Cui bono, a Latin phrase meaning, 'who benefits?' "The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce", an article in the Smithsonian Magazine The Prisoner's Dilemma "The Case for Not Being Born", an article about philosopher David Benetar in The New Yorker, 2017 Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence by David Benatar, 2006 Philosopher's Index, an online philosophy database 'Turtles all the way down', an expression of the philosophical problem of infinite regress "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it", a quote often ascribed to Aristotle The Quote of the Week "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." - William Clifford (1845-79), mathematician
74:05 4/3/20
...with Polling in Politics (Ep. 88)
One of the key features of the democratic process is opinion polling, whether it is leader likability or attitudes on various issues. But do these snapshots of the horserace have an impact on the race itself? How has scientific polling and statistical analysis changed? How will it change in the years to come? And, what happens when the data shows us that the story we think is happening is not the one actually playing out? Ben joins writer and political analyst Eric Grenier at his CBC office in Ottawa. About the Guest Éric Grenier is a senior writer and the CBC's polls analyst. He was the founder of and has written for The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, The Hill Times, Le Devoir, and L’actualité. Mentioned in this Episode FiveThirtyEight, a comprehensive website dedicated to statistics, especially related to politics, founded by Nate Silver Outliers: The Story of Success, a 2008 book by Malcolm Gladwell in which he describes his popular theory of the 10,000 hours needed to master a skill "The Polls Are All Right", a 2018 article written by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight Episode 3 of Bob Rae's Political Stripes podcast, featuring an interview with guest Eric Grenier The Quote of the Week "One of the pervasive risks that we face in the information age, as I wrote in the introduction, is that even if the amount of knowledge in the world is increasing, the gap between what we know and what we think we know may be widening." - From The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail (2012) by Nate Silver
62:00 3/20/20
...with the Power of Names (Ep. 87)
Do our names shape our destiny? What does it mean to live life as Don as opposed to Donald or Donnie? What prejudices do we carry with our names and the names of others, and what about those who change theirs? When we name our children, are we projecting our own battles and biases onto them before they even know the value of a name? Ben is in Toronto to sit down with Mavis Himes, a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist who wrote The Power of Names: Uncovering the Mystery of What We Are Called. About the Guest Mavis Himes is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst with a full-time private practice in Toronto, Canada. She is also clinical consultant at Wellspring, a cancer centre for patients and their families. Himes received her doctoral degree in Psychology from the University of Toronto (OISE) and completed her analytic formation in Lacanian psychoanalysis at Apres-Coup Psychoanalytic Association in New York City. She is a member of Apres-Coup Psychoanalytic Association and a guest member of the Toronto Psychoanalytic Society. With over thirty-five years of experience, Himes began her career in child psychology, working in a variety of children’s mental health clinics until she opened her private practice in 1988. Gradually, she shifted the population of her practice from that of children and adolescents to mainly that of adults. Even during the time of her work with children, she pursued her analytic interests and studies, always working with an appreciation of the effect of unconscious processes in the human psyche. During her years of work with children, Himes became involved with Bereaved Families of Ontario (BFO) where she ran the children’s program and was a member of the Professional Advisory Committee. Subsequently Himes became clinical director of Wellspring for a two-year period, developing and running a number of group programs. Now she offers short-term counseling at Wellspring Westerkirk House on Sunnybrook campus. Since 2003, Mavis Himes has been the director of Speaking of Lacan (SOL), a Toronto-based forum dedicated to the study of Lacanian psychoanalysis. SOL has hosted a speakers series and interdisciplinary colloquia on topics related to psychoanalytic thought, in addition to running seminars and reading groups ( As part of this work, Himes has organized a series of lectures entitled Psychoanalysis and the Arts: In Conversation that provides an opportunity to explore and exchange commonalities and differences between psychoanalysis and the arts. In this series, she has been in dialogue with a number of prominent dancers, musicians and actors. As a writer, Himes is the author of the current book The Power of Names: Uncovering the Mystery of What We are Called published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2016. The Sacred Body: A Therapist’s Journey, a book about her work with cancer patients, was previously published by Stoddart in 2002. She is also the author of numerous psychoanalytic articles and book chapters that have been published in a variety of journals both in North America and abroad. She has given numerous presentations on psychoanalysis to a variety of audiences. Mentioned in this Episode Jacques Lacan, famous French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Video of George Carlin's comedy skit on boys' names Sigmund Freud, Austrian neuroscientist and founder of psychoanalysis King Lear, a 1606 play by William Shakespeare Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva; see the recent biography of her by Canadian biographer Rosemary Sullivan Selfie, a book by Will Storr; also check out Episode 11 of this podcast, about the book The Quote of the Week "I wish my name was Brian because maybe sometimes people would misspell my name and call me Brain. That's like a free compliment and you don't even gotta be smart to notice it." - Mitch Hedberg, US comedian (1968-2005)
67:14 3/6/20
...with Political Philosophy (Ep. 86)
Humans are living longer, delaying disease and decay later and later. It's conceivable that we could eradicate the big killers and attain a certain kind of infinite postponement of death. But what would this mean for our humanity? What does philosophy have to say about this, and about the state of our ongoing social experiment with democracy? Ben sits down to chat about all this and much more with Queen's University political philosopher and National Scholar, Colin Farrelly. About the Guest Colin received his PhD from the University of Bristol in England in 1999. Over his 20 year academic career he has held academic appointments in 10 different departments in Political Science, Philosophy and Public Policy in England, Scotland, the United States and Canada. Previous appointments include Visiting Professor in UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the University of Manoa in Hawaii, Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University, Visitor in Oxford’s Program on Ethics and the New Biosciences, as well as permanent academic appointments at Waterloo University, Manchester University and the University of Birmingham. For the past 5 years Colin has been involved in teaching philosophy to male inmates. The author and editor of 6 books and approximately 50 journal articles, Colin’s publications include articles in journals in political science, philosophy, feminism, law, science and medicine. He has published on a diverse array of topics, including the health challenges posed by population aging, the creation and evolution of patriarchy, virtue ethics, virtue epistemology, virtue jurisprudence, play and politics, freedom of expression, judicial review, non-ideal theory, gene patents, deliberative democracy, nanotechnology, sex selection, toleration, a citizen’s basic income, enhancing soldiers and economic incentives. Colin’s next major research project explores the idea of the “playful” society as a realistic utopia and draws on empirical insights from evolutionary biology and positive psychology. Learn more about Colin, watch his TED Talk and check out his blog, In Search of Enlightenment. Mentioned in this Episode Colin's TEDxQueensu Talk on global aging and longevity science. An article by Colin about the naked mole rat's resistance to cancer Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari Thomas Hobbes, 17th century English philosopher known for his work, the Leviathan, and its theory of the social contract 'Epistemic virtues' John Dewey (1859-1952), American philosopher and psychologist Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari The Quote of the Week "Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question." - Yuval Noah Harari
72:09 2/21/20
...with The Reality Bubble (Ep. 85)
Ziya Tong is "one of the world's most engaging science journalists" and after co-hosting Discovery Canada's Daily Planet television program for ten years, she wrote her first book, The Reality Bubble. It's a veil-removing tour-de-force, filled with wonder, rigour and a powerful thesis about our role in the world and how we are often blinded, sometimes by our own choice, from what on earth is really going on. Ben is in Toronto to chat with Ziya about The Reality Bubble and so much more. About the Guest Award-winning host Ziya Tong has been sharing her passion for science, nature and technology for almost two decades. Best known as the co-host of Daily Planet, Discovery Canada’s flagship science program, she brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to the stage. Tong speaks on leadership, how to shift perspective, and the role of science and technology in society in her riveting and eye-opening talks. Before co-hosting Daily Planet, Tong served as host and field producer for PBS’ national primetime series, Wired Science, produced in conjunction with Wired magazine. In Canada, Tong hosted CBC’s Emmy-nominated series ZeD, a pioneer of open source television, for which she was nominated for a Gemini Viewer’s Choice Award. Tong also served as host, writer, and director for the Canadian science series, The Leading Edge and as a correspondent for NOVA scienceNOW alongside Neil deGrasse Tyson on PBS. In the spring of 2019, she participated in CBC’s annual “battle of the books.” After a national four-day debate, she won Canada Reads. In May 2019, Tong released her bestselling book The Reality Bubble. Called “ground-breaking” and “wonder-filled”, the book has been compared to The Matrix. It takes readers on a journey through the hidden things that shape our lives in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. Tong received her Masters degree in communications from McGill University, where she graduated on the Dean’s Honour List. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the World Wildlife Fund and is the founder of Black Sheep. Learn more about Ziya or follow her on Twitter (@ziyatong). Mentioned in this Conversation Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), Norwegian writer Lebenswelt, a German word roughly translating to "lifeworld" Tom Robbins, American novelist Extinction Rebellion, a global climate movement Greta Thunberg, Swedish environmental activist Galileo Galilei, Renaissance Italian scientist Yuval Noah Harari, Israeli historian The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt The Animal People, a 2019 documentary The Matrix, a 1999 film The Interpreter, a series and newsletter from The New York Times "Irony poisoning", an emerging social concept Nav Bhatia, the Toronto Rapots "superfan" The "Beer Summit", a 2009 White House meeting arranged by US President Obama between Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and the police officer who arrested him, Sgt. James Crowley, allegedly because of racial profiling Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), French stage actress Ghostbusters, a 1984 science fiction comedy film Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher The Quote of the Week "We have the technological lenses to see into vast distances of outer space, to see the tiniest microscopic organisms, to see right through the human body, to see the very atoms that make up the material world. But there is one fundamental thing that we do not see. When it comes to how our species survives, we are utterly blind." - From The Reality Bubble by Ziya Tong
54:42 2/7/20
...with Guy Gavriel Kay (Ep. 84)
Guy Gavriel Kay is a bestselling, world-renowned author whose works have been translated into over 30 languages. Originally from western Canada, Guy practiced law, developed a radio series with the CBC, and even assisted Christopher Tolkien with the editing of his father JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion, before becoming established as a fantasy writer. Ben is in Toronto to chat with Guy about writing, creativity, the intersection of art and power, and even the vagaries of pricing single malt whiskey. More About the Guest Guy Gavriel Kay is the international bestselling author of many novels and a book of poetry. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in literature of the fantastic and won the World Fantasy Award for Ysabel in 2008. In 2014, Kay was named to the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour. His books include Tigana, The Lions of Al-Rassan, Children of Earth and Sky, and most recently, A Brightness Long Ago. Learn more about Guy and his books, or follow him on Twitter (@guygavrielkay). Mentioned in this Episode San Gimignano, a walled Italian town known for its medieval towers, often called the "Manhattan of the Middle Ages" An Interview with John le Carré in the Paris Review, 1997 Edward Greenspan, renowned Canadian defence lawyer Bill Hammond, New Zealand artist (mentioned mistakenly in the conversation as John) "Mr. Tambourine Man", a song written by Bob Dylan, 1965 Andy Patton, Canadian painter, critic and scholar based in Toronto Euripides, Sophocles and Aristophanes, playwrights in the ancient Greek theatre Lysistrata, an ancient Greek play written by Aristophanes The Irishman, film directed by Martin Scorsese, 2019 Margaret Mead, 20th century anthropologist The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, a book by Philip Fernbach and Steven Sloman. Also check out Episode 24 of this podcast, about the book. The Quote of the Week "How we remember changes how we have lived. Time runs both ways. We make stories of our lives." - From Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
74:01 1/24/20
...according to the novel, Ducks, Newburyport (Ep. 83)
Lucy Ellmann's groundbreaking and award-winning novel, "Ducks, Newburyport", consists of a single sentence broken up only by the small bits of a parallel story of a mountain lioness protecting her cubs. It's a powerful, engrossing and genuinely readable piece of literature that challenges how fiction is read as well as our base assumptions of history, women, motherhood and the incredible flux of the 21st century. Ben discusses the book with Barbara Bell, Artistic Director of Kingston WritersFest. About the Book Baking a multitude of tartes tatins for local restaurants, an Ohio housewife contemplates her four kids, husband, cats and chickens. Also, America’s ignoble past, and her own regrets. She is surrounded by dead lakes, fake facts, Open Carry maniacs, and oodles of online advice about survivalism, veil toss duties, and how to be more like Jane Fonda. But what do you do when you keep stepping on your son’s toy tractors, your life depends on stolen land and broken treaties, and nobody helps you when you get a flat tire on the interstate, not even the Abominable Snowman? When are you allowed to start swearing? With a torrent of consciousness and an intoxicating coziness, Ducks, Newburyport lays out a whole world for you to tramp around in, by turns frightening and funny. A heart-rending indictment of America’s barbarity, and a lament for the way we are blundering into environmental disaster, this book is both heresy—and a revolution in the novel. About the Guest Barbara Bell is the Artistic Director of Kingston WritersFest, with which she has been involved since the first meeting in 2009, becoming Artistic Director in 2014. “I love working in the arts,” she says, “and offering writers and readers a place to come together to celebrate literature.” Besides being a brilliant organizer, she is an actor, theatrical and film producer, television host, editor, and writer. Barbara won the Eastern Ontario Drama League’s Award for Best Actress for her ‘courageous’ and ‘riveting’ title role performance in Dacia Maraini’s Mary Stuart. She wrote, produced, and performed the one-woman play, Dreams and Desires in Kingston and at fringe festivals across the western provinces. She co-produced: a 28-minute film, Pretty Pieces, which screened at the Reel Heart International Film Festival, among others; several shorts including the award-winning Digging Up Plato; and a feature — Fault — which debuted at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival. A second feature is in post-production. Barbara co-produced and hosted TVCogeco’s Pageturners: Kingston’s Book Club, sparking lively conversations with local authors. Barbara is past-chair of the City of Kingston’s Arts Advisory Committee, sat on the inaugural Mayor’s Arts Awards Nominations Working Group, and also sat on Kingston Arts Council’s Arts Advocacy Committee and the Kingston Writers’ Refugee Committee. Mentioned in this Episode Mrs. Dalloway, a 1925 novel by Virginia Woolf The Gnadenhutten massacre, referenced often in Ducks, Newburyport, occurred in 1782 when US militiamen killed 96 Delaware people James Joyce (1882-1941), an Irish writer The Infinity of Lists, a book by Umberto Eco Lolita, a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov A People's History of the United States, a book by Howard Zinn A clip of featuring comedian Louis CK in which he famously says, "everything is amazing, and nobody is happy" Michel Foucault (1926-84), French philosopher The Quote of the Week "...the fact that we all go on pretending things are fine, hoping everything’s a-okay, even though everything is nowhere near okay and we all know it, no matter how many candlelit vigils you hold..." - From Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
52:21 1/10/20
...with Rebalancing Society (Ep. 82)
Do the problems we face today -- political gridlock, climate change, social upheaval, accelerating economic inequality -- stem from fundamental imbalances in our society and thinking? What role might the plural (or civil) sector play in rejigging our systems? And why should we be ditching 30-year plans to focus on ones just a few weeks out? Ben sits down with world-renowned scholar of management, Henry Mintzberg, about these questions and many others. About the Guest Henry is a writer and educator, mostly about managing originations, developing managers, and rebalancing societies (where his attention is currently focused), also an outdoorsman and collector of beaver sculptures. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from McGill University in Montreal (1961), working in Operational Research for the Canadian National Railways (1961-1963), and doing his masters and PhD at the MIT Sloan School of Management (1965 and 1968), Henry has made his professional home in the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill. He sits in the Cleghorn Chair of Management Studies (half-time since the mid-1980s), and has had extensive visiting professorships at INSEAD in France and the London Business School in England. Henry has authored 20 books, including Managers not MBAs, Simply Managing, Rebalancing Society and Managing the Myths of Health Care, also 180 articles plus numerous commentaries and videos. He now publishes a regular TWOG (TWeet 2 blOG), as “provocative fun in a page or 2 beyond pithy pronouncements in a line or 2” (@mintzberg141 to A new collection is being published: Bedtime Stories for Managers. I co-founded and remain active in the International Masters Program for Managers ( and the International Masters for Health Leadership ( as well as a venture, all novel initiatives for managers to learn together from their own experience, the last in their own workplace. Some consequences of all this have been election to the Order of Canada and l’Ordre national du Quebec as well as to the Royal Society of Canada (the first from a management faculty), two prize- winning Harvard Business Review articles, and twenty honorary degrees from universities around the world. I may spend my professional life dealing with organizations, but I continue to spend my private life escaping from them, especially in the Laurentian wilderness of Canada, usually with my partner and sometimes with my two daughters and three grandchildren. Learn more about Henry and follow him on Twitter (@Mintzberg141). Mentioned in this Episode Democracy in America, book by Alexis de Tocqueville (1835) Episode 35 of this podcast, about public policy featuring Rachel Laforest of Queen's University Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a landmark US Supreme Court ruling that Henry says essentially "legalized bribery" The End of History and the Last Man, book by Francis Fukuyama (1992) "There is no Nobel Prize in Economics...and why that matters", an article by Henry Mintzberg The Yellow Vest (gilets jaunes) movement in France, which started with increasing fuel prices The New Deal, a series of reforms enacted under US President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s The Quote of the Week The capitalist credo is: “greed is good, markets are sufficient, property is sacred, and governments are suspect.” Henry Mintzberg
44:29 12/27/19
...with Poetry (Ep. 81)
Do music and poetry share the same roots? How do you write poetry that embraces complexity, history, beauty and atrocity? How can literature confront the self with the past, and the events that seem out of our control with the urgent need for a new language to understand them? What is creativity, and is there some kind of salvation there? Ben joins poet and teacher Canisia Lubrin for a fascinating conversation at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where she currently works as writer-in-residence. About the Guest Canisia Lubrin is a writer, editor, critic and teacher. Her work is published widely and has been frequently anthologized, including translations into Italian and Spanish. Lubrin’s debut poetry collection Voodoo Hypothesis was named a CBC Best Poetry Book, longlisted for the Gerald Lambert Award, the Pat Lowther Award, and was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award. She was a finalist for the Toronto Book Award for her fiction contribution to The Unpublished City: Vol 1 and 2019 Writer in Residence at Queen’s University. Lubrin holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. Her upcoming book, The Dyzgraphxst, featuring seven inquiries into selfhood, will be published in 2020. Mentioned in this Episode Lesley Belleau, Anishnaabekwe writer from Ketegaunseebee Garden River First Nation (Ojibwe), near Bawating/Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Kaie Kellough, Canadian poet and novelist based in Montreal Robin Richardson, Canadian poet and founding editor of the Minola Review The Epic of Gilgamesh, a nearly 4000 year-old text from ancient Mesopotamia, widely regarded as one of the earliest surviving pieces of literature "Obama on Call-Out Culture: 'That's Not Activism'", article in the New York Times by Emily S. Rueb and Derrick Bryson Taylor Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography by Roland Barthes A quote from poet Mary Ruefle: "Someone reading a book is a sign of order in the world" The shooting of Philando Castile, July 2016 Dionne Brand, renowned Canadian poet The Quote of the Week “Books leave gestures in the body; a certain way of moving, of turning, a certain closing of the eyes, a way of leaving, hesitations. Books leave certain sounds, a certain pacing; mostly they leave the elusive, which is all the story. They leave much more than the words.” Dionne Brand
68:08 12/13/19
...with Polygraphs, Technology and the Music of Plants (Ep. 80)
What is the future of technology, and what does it take to be a real lifelong innovator at the ground level? Ben's guest is James Brown, a serial entrepreneur, technologist, and head of Limestone Technologies in Kingston. They have been at the forefront of polygraph and other security technology in Canada for years, and their most recent endeavour might sound unorthodox until you hear the backstory: PLANTChoir, a device that lets you hear the music of plants. About the Guest James Brown is the President of Limestone Technologies in Kingston, Ontario, where he has led the way with electronics, software development, polygraphy, phallometrics, employee screening and much more. From 1986 to 2003 he was a project manager with Queen's University's Psychology Department. James's most recent endeavour is PLANTChoir, a technology that lets you tap into the music of your plants. He  Mentioned in this Episode Cleve Backster, early developer of polygraph technology and experimenter of the same technology on plants Episode of Dragon's Den, where PLANTChoir is pitched by Limestone Technologies The Reality Bubble, a science book by Ziya Tong Avatar, 2009 film directed by James Cameron The Quote of the Week "A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
51:01 11/29/19
...with Theatre (Ep. 79)
Live theatre is one of the oldest art forms, but rather than fade away in the face of easy social media and instant entertainment, it is experiencing a resurgence. What is it about live drama that keeps filling theatres around the world? How are theatre directors keeping the form relevant, accessible and engaging? What are the cultural touchstones of the stage, and what makes it so much fun? Ben is in Edmonton to chat with Daryl Cloran, Artistic Director of the renowned Citadel Theatre. About the Guest Daryl began his tenure with the Citadel in September 2016. He came to Edmonton from his role as Artistic Director of Western Canada Theatre (WCT) in Kamloops, B.C. Past chairman of the Citadel Board of Directors, Sheila Witwicky, has said of Daryl that “he has the special combination of vision, skill, experience and artistry that running a theatre centre like ours requires.” Originally from Ontario, Daryl was at the artistic helm of WCT for six years and, in addition, is a nationally recognized director of productions across the country, including at the Arts Club, Theatre Calgary, National Arts Centre, Shaw Festival, Canadian Stage and Neptune Theatre. He was the Artistic Director of Theatrefront, Toronto, known for its unique international theatre collaborations in countries such as South Africa and Bosnia-Herzegovina, which played across Canada and internationally to much acclaim. He’s also the co-creator and director of DRUM! a musical celebration of the founding cultures of the Maritimes which features a large cast of dancers and musicians from Celtic, Acadian, African-Canadian, and First Nations origin. Daryl is thrilled to be spending the next chapter of his career in a theatre town like Edmonton. “My passion as a theatre-maker and Artistic Director is community. It will be my job as Artistic Director of the Citadel Theatre to become a contributing part of Edmonton’s artistic community and to provide opportunities to local artists and train emerging artists from the region and across the country,” he says. “I believe the Citadel must maintain a high profile leadership role within Edmonton and continue to figure prominently as part of the national theatre scene. As Artistic Director, I will pursue partnerships and opportunities to showcase the Citadel’s work on national stages. I believe a theatre with the profile of the Citadel should be known nationally for its work, and while the Edmonton community will always be our primary audience, audiences across North America should see our fabulous productions.” Growing audiences is a particular focus of Daryl’s. He’s keenly interested in having young people experience the magic of theatre, as well as in the importance of multi-cultural voices on Edmonton’s stages. WCT is a national leader in the creation of First Nations theatre work and the support of First Nations artists. Children of God, a musical co-developed at WCT about the residential school experience in Canada, premiered at the National Arts Centre in June 2017, and will appear on the Shoctor stage at the Citadel March 3 to 24, 2018. Daryl also has a great interest in theatrical experimentation. At WCT, he created the annual High-Wire Festival, which challenged the relationship between artist and audience by exploring different theatre formats (micro-performance, immersive performance, interactive productions). Daryl intends to bring this desire for experimentation and attracting non-traditional audiences to the Citadel. “I value theatre that asks questions important to its community; I value creative risks,” he says. “The Citadel is an incredible theatre company with a history of innovation, high production values and important contributions to the Canadian theatre landscape. I want to build on this success, honour its traditions and also take appropriate risks to lead the Citadel into the next phase of its artistic growth. My wife and I and our two young sons are excited to be calling Edmonton home.” Learn more about Daryl or follow him on Twitter (@DarylCloran). Mentioned in this Episode Western Canada Theatre, a company based in Kamloops, BC Poetics, an ancient work on aesthetics by Aristotle Theatrefront, a theatre company based in Toronto and originally founded by Daryl Cloran Theatre Yes, a theatre company based in Edmonton Highwire Series, a new theatre program produced by the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton Fight Night, a play that was produced at the Citadel Theatre in October 2019 Late Fragment, an interactive film co-written and co-directed by Daryl Cloran Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an interactive Netflix program Rashomon, a classic 1950 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa Mump and Smoot, a renowned Canadian performance clown duo Prison Dancer, an upcoming Citadel Theatre project inspired by this video The Quote of the Week "I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." - Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
59:38 11/15/19
...with Politics in the US and Canada (Ep. 78)
Rampant and increasing polarization of our politics? The turn to populism as a result of economic inequality? The growing, scarcely regulated political power of social media and Big Data? These are some of the forces that are reshaping our politics in North America, with a minority government in Canada and an impending election (and ongoing impeachment inquiry) in the United States. Ben chats with Queen's University political scientist Jonathan Rose about all this and more. About the Guest Jonathan studied at University of Toronto and Queen's where he received his Ph.D. In addition to Queen's he has taught courses at the International Studies Centre (Herstmonceux, UK), Charles University in Prague, Bratislava, Slovakia and Kwansei Gakuin in Osaka, Japan where he was the Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. In 2008, Jonathan was a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Political Science and International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is the author of Making Pictures in our Heads, Government Advertising in Canada (New York: Praeger Press, 2000). He is also the co-editor of Canada: the State of the Federation, 1998 and is the lead author of First Ministers’ Conference, the Art of Negotiation, a simulation exercise published by Broadview Press and translated into three languages. His most recent book co-written with Patrick Fournier, Henk Van der Kolk and R. Kenneth Carty is When Citizens Decide: Lessons from Citizens' Assemblies on Electoral Reform (Oxford, 2011). Jonathan's teaching is varied. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Canadian politics, political communication, federalism, the mass media, electoral systems, intergovernmental relations and public policy. In 2010 he received the Frank Knox Certificate of Commendation for Excellence in Teaching. In 2011, Jonathan was the recipient of W.J. Barnes Teaching Excellence Award. He has provided advice to the Auditor General of Canada on government advertising and sponsorship, and is a member of the Advertising Review Board for the Auditor General of Ontario, a board that enforces legislation regulating government advertising in Ontario. In 2006, he had the privilege of being the Academic Director of the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, the first such body in Ontario and second in the world. Learn more about Jonathan or follow him on Twitter (@JonathanRose). Mentioned in this Episode POLS 101: "What is Going on? Explaining Donald Trump", a course taught by Jonathan at Queen's University UN Speech by climate activist Greta Thunberg (video) Teardown, a book by Dave Meslin Jody Wilson-Raybould, independent Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville Path dependence, a concept in the social sciences "Justice Dept. Is Said to Open Criminal Inquiry Into Its Own Russia Investigation", an article in the New York Times Episode 45 of this podcast, about marketing and human nature, featuring guest Terry O'Reilly Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, a book by Marshall McLuhan (and origin of the quote: "the medium is the message") The Quote of the Week "A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." - Marshall McLuhan (1911-80)
66:22 11/1/19
...with Gambling (Ep. 77)
We can't seem to talk about gambling without reference to its very real, very serious social problems -- whether it's the association with organized crime, the addictiveness, or the ruination of many people's lives. But what if we look at gambling through the lens of everyday life? Where does it come from, what does it say about us, and how should we manage it in our society? Ben is in Edmonton to chat with University of Alberta gambling expert Fiona Nicoll. About the Guest My greatest strength as a researcher is the creation of interdisciplinary conversations about some of the most challenging political issues of our time, from cultural genocide and reconciliation to gambling policy, white nationalist movements and the challenges facing the neoliberal university. I apply this research expertise to facilitate public art and other knowledge transfer projects. In addition to producing a body of art writing for books and catalogues, I have curated, managed and produced media (including websites and film) related to whiteness, reconciliation and Indigenous sovereignties. In 2002 I curated a social history exhibition for the Liverpool Regional Museum on the life of Aunty Nance DeVries, a survivor of the ‘stolen generations’ of Aboriginal children and speaker to the New South Wales Parliament on the occasion of the Government’s apology in 1997. Working with veteran documentary photographer, Mervyn Bishop and videographer, Sandra Peel, I drew upon and exhibited extracts from a large archive of documents about Nancy’s ‘case’, from her birth up to the age of eighteen when she was released from institutions of state care. Titled Ten Hours in a Lifetime (a reference to the time spent with her biological mother), this exhibition was the most popular in the museum’s history, with thousands of school children attending tours while it was on site, before later travelling to the New South Wales Parliament House. In 2014-2015 I delivered a major project for the University of Queensland titled Courting Blakness: Recalibrating Knowledge in the Sandstone University. This project centred on the Great Court as the symbolic and material heart of the University of Queensland. Reflecting the University’s heritage, traditions and prestige, this gathering place and thoroughfare is also a space where images of Aboriginal people prior to, during and after the colonization of Australia are carved in sculptural reliefs. Curated by Fiona Foley, Courting Blakness entered a creative visual dialogue with these carvings. Works by eight Aboriginal artists (Archie Moore, Ryan Presley, r e a, Natalie Harkin, Megan Cope and Michael Cook, Christian Thompson and Karla Dickens) made the Great Court a unique staging platform for discussions about the relationship between Indigenous people and the University; the edited collection of essays published by UQP provides a permanent record of these discussions. While on site, it reached over 25,000 people, including 800 students across fourteen different courses through disciplinary specific frameworks of discussion and assessment tasks. It delivered staff training through public seminars and two university-wide ‘Diversity Discussions’ and provided over 1,000 hours of volunteer activity. The website attracted over 3031 unique users and was a valuable teaching, learning and research resource for the exhibition. It now forms a digital archive for future research on public art and universities. As convenor of the 2017-2018 Political Science Department Speakers’ series, I brought scholars to campus to reflect on some of the most difficult questions raised by the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Speakers included Glen Coulthard, Audra Simpson, Jaskiran Dhillon, Robert Nichols, Jeremy Schmidt and Aileen Moreton-Robinson. I am currently producing a short film titled Afterlives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: What Comes Next? Directed by award winning Métis film-maker, Conor McNally, it will feature provocative research presentations by Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics and interviews with leaders of Prairie Aboriginal communities. The film will be used in classrooms and boardrooms to educate non-Indigenous people about the meaning and ramifications of ‘cultural genocide’ and current aspirations to national reconciliation. Mentioned in this Episode Where the Action Is: Three Essays by Erving Goffman On Liberty by John Stuart Mill Beyond Freedom and Dignity by BF Skinner The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World by Ziya Tong Yuval Noah Harari, popular historian Anzac Day No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs by Naomi Klein Governmentality, concept invented by French philosopher Michel Foucault The Quote of the Week "Gambling is a principle inherent in human nature." - Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
62:15 10/25/19
...with Elections (Ep. 76)
What makes an election work? Is it the technology aggregates our preferences? Is it trust that our choices will be fairly counted, that they have an impact? Is it the institutions that manage the voting process? Or is it, ultimately, the people we elect and whether or not they choose to respect the process? What happens to our democracy when these components are stretched and strained? Ben chats with Holly Ann Garnett, political scientist and elections expert at the Royal Military College of Canada. About the Guest Holly Ann Garnett is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, and cross-appointed faculty at Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her research examines how electoral integrity can be strengthened throughout the electoral cycle, including electoral management, registration and voting procedures, election technology and cyber-security, civic literacy and campaign finance. She is a co-convener of the Electoral Management Network, and contributes to the Electoral Integrity Project. Holly Ann was an Endeavour Research Fellow at The Australian National University (2017), a visiting fellow at the Åbo Akademi, Finland (2017), a visiting researcher at the University of Sydney (2014), and a Killam Fellow at Cornell University (2009). She completed her PhD in Political Science at McGill University (2017), where she was a student member of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship. She is also a proud alumna of Queen’s University (MA in Political Studies, 2011) and Nipissing University (BA (Hon) in History and Political Science, 2010). Learn more about Holly or follow her on Twitter (@HollyAnnGarnett). Mentioned in this Episode Episode No. 68 of this podcast, about Higher Education with Mark Sollis Episode No. 13 of this podcast, about the division of political power with Anthony Sayers Elections Canada Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, a book by Robert D. Putnam Pippa Norris, comparative political scientists at the Harvard Kennedy School The Electoral Integrity Project, an academic research project based in Harvard and Sydney Universities Episode No. 74 of this podcast, about gamification with David Chandross On Liberty, classic philosophical work by John Stuart Mill Michel Foucault (1926-84), French philosopher Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society, a book by Eric Posner and E. Glen Weyl The Quote of the Week "When people put their ballots in the boxes, they are, by that act, inoculated against the feeling that the government is not theirs. They then accept, in some measure, that its errors are their errors, its aberrations their aberrations, that any revolt will be against them. It's a remarkably shrewd and rather conservative arrangement when one thinks of it." - John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006), Canadian-born economist
66:37 10/11/19
...with Being and Becoming Indigenous (Ep. 75)
Some argue that all of humanity today faces an identity crisis, as we struggle with rapid change and a deteriorating habitat -- and that the solutions may lie in indigenous social technologies, especially the power of the story. This is a wide-ranging discussion covering a lot of ground (reconciliation, diversity, Back to the Future), but one that should be relevant to all. Ben is in Edmonton for an inspiring conversation with Jacquelyn Cardinal, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Naheyawin. About the Guest Jacquelyn Cardinal is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Naheyawin, as well as Co-President and Director of Social Awareness Group. Jacquelyn was nominated for Edmonton's Top 40 Under 40 class of 2018, and received an Esquao Award for Achievement in Business and a SHEInnovates Award from the UN Women's Global Innovation Coalition for Change. In early 2019, her first play, Lake of the Strangers, co-written with her brother and co-produced with Fringe Theatre, premiered and received the Sterling Award for Outstanding New Play. When she isn't using ancient tools to solve contemporary problems, she is learning all she can about emergent technologies and exploring her love for film. Mentioned in this Episode The Reality Bubble, a book by Canadian science journalist Ziya Tong Hunter Cardinal, Jacquelyn's brother and Naheyawin's Director of Story The Inconvenient Indian, a book by Thomas King Back to the Future, the 1985 film Wilfred Buck, Cree astronomer mentioned by Jacquelyn Caravaggio, prolific 16th and 17th century Italian painter Episode 70 of this podcast, featuring Fleming Puckett on Power, Colonialism and the San People The Quote of the Week "Everybody has their stories about the sky, because everybody lives under the sky." - Wilfred Buck
65:24 10/4/19
...with Gamification (Ep. 74)
We often see video games as a form of consumer entertainment—an escape from reality, not that different from watching TV or reading a book. But the structure of games are perhaps fundamental to what it means to be human. By playing them, we can learn to be and rehearse as doctors, pilots, engineers, lawyers, and more. We might also overcome real conditions, such as depression and addiction. Ben has a powerful and provocative conversation with gaming, gamification and learning expert David Chandross. About the Guest David Chandross holds masters degrees in both cognitive neuroscience and higher education and a doctorate in curriculum design. As one of the founders of the field of gamification he has not only developed numerous games for training in industry and universities, but also participated in broad research projects in this field. His original work was on neuroscience, pharmacology, and the role of attention in the brain. This transformed into an interest in education for the health professions, where he held the rank of Dean, Assistant Dean, and Program Coordinator across sectors like medical technology management, medical education and allied health professions training. He developed an interest in the use of simulations in medical education which then focused on the design of games to use simulations effectively in undergraduates. After participating as a researcher in the $3 million dollar SAGE gamification grant at Simon Fraser University he worked with organizations across many sectors to improve learning through serious game design. Since that time Dr. Chandross has designed game systems for improving memory in seniors, training health professionals for management of the frail elderly, the design of instruction for the financial sector, cyber-security professionals, Elections Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Faculty of Medicine at University of Toronto, Baycrest Health Sciences, Ryerson University, the National University of Health Sciences, ARC Business Solutions, the energy sector, the College of Family Physicians, Ontario and Humber College. His current research focus is in two areas: (1) The treatment of memory loss in seniors with dementia using streaming digital technology and (2) the optimization of virtual reality and immersive technology in learning. He is the program coordinator for seniors’ off campus education at Ryerson University and is active in the development of advanced systems for training health professionals as part of the E-Campus and Contact North initiatives for the province of Ontario. Mentioned in this Episode Walter Greenleaf, a behavioural neuroscientist at Stanford University David Kaufman, professor of education at Simon Fraser University Martin Seligman, American psychologist (positive psychology) Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, a book by Robert Sapolsky Richard Bartle, British professor and game researcher Paul Howard-Jones, professor of neuroscience and education at Bristol University Ready Player One, a book by Ernest Cline followed by a 2018 film directed by Steven Spielberg Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari The Matrix, the 1999 film Jordan Peterson, University of Toronto psychologist Black Mirror, a series on Netflix Donald Trump, Doug Ford and Jordan Peterson, an article in the National Post by guest David Chandross The Quote of the Week “A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.” - From Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
68:33 9/27/19
...with Philosophy (Ep. 73)
What is consciousness? Where does the mind reside? Can we create artificial intelligence that can fake intelligence, or maybe just have it? What happened in 17th century Europe that led to such a fascinating time for deep thinkers? And are we going through a similar period of churn today? Ben has a fascinating and wide-ranging chat about these big questions with University of Alberta professor of philosophy Amy Schmitter. About the Guest   Besides her position as Professor of Philosophy, Amy is an Executive Editor and Board Secretary for the Canadian Journal of Philosophy.She is also involved in the project “New Narratives in the History of Philosophy,” supported by a Partnership Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. In April 2016, she was a Visiting Professor in the Facultad de Filosof Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, where she lectured and held several seminar sessions. Before coming to the University of Alberta, Amy taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Hamilton College in New York, and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She has also been a Visiting Scholar at the University of California at Berkeley and at New York University, and during 2002-03, held a Fellowship at the Stanford Humanities Center, Stanford University. She has received several awards for Summer Institutes and Seminars from the National Endowment for the Humanities (U.S.A.) and two Standard Research Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She also serves on various committees, including the Religious Studies Advisory Council for the U of A, the Program Committee for the Pacific Northwest-Western Canada Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, and review committees for several grant organizations.  Amy's main areas of research and writing are the history of early modern philosophy and philosophy of art. But those are broad and eclectic areas that (necessarily) take her into many different topics, historical periods and approaches to philosophy. Her teaching interests and educational history cover yet further fields. The result is that she knows a little bit about many different things.  Mentioned in this Episode Here are the thinkers we mentioned in this episode: Hume, Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Russell, Marx, Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, Spinoza, and Poulain de la Barre. Check them out! A History of Western Philosophy, a book by philosopher Bertrand Russell Crash Course on Aesthetic Appreciation, a video that mentions the example of a chained cat statue (is the chain part of the art?) The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History, a book by Stephen J. Gould The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle and the Struggles for the Soul of Western Civilization, a book by Arthur Herman Discourse on Method, a 1637 work of philosophy by René Descartes Physics, a 4th century BC work of philosophy by Aristotle The Quote of the Week "One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another." - René Descartes
77:50 9/20/19
...with Luck and Probability (Ep. 72)
It's Friday 13th! What does that mean? Is it an unlucky day? According to science—no, it means absolutely nothing. But there is one exception: the date has meaning if we think it does. As meaning-machines, we impart significance everywhere we look. We don't want to live in a world where randomness reigns. So what traps have we set? Ben has a fascinating chat with University of Toronto Professor Jeffrey Rosenthal, statistician and author of "Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance, and the Meaning of Everything". About the Guest Jeffrey Rosenthal is a professor of Statistics at the University of Toronto, and author of Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance, and the Meaning of Everything. Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada in 1967, he received his BSc in Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science from the University of Toronto at the age of 20, his PhD in Mathematics from Harvard University at the age of 24, and tenure in the Department of Statistics at the University of Toronto at the age of 29. For his research, Rosenthal was awarded the 2006 CRM-SSC Prize, and the 2007 COPSS Presidents' Award, the most prestigious honour bestowed by the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies. For his teaching, he received a Harvard University Teaching Award in 1991, and a University of Toronto Outstanding Teaching Award in 1998. He was elected to Fellowship of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in 2005, and to the Royal Society of Canada in 2012, and was awarded the SSC Gold Medal in 2013, and a President's Impact Award in 2019. Rosenthal's book for the general public, Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities, was published in sixteen editions and ten languages, and was a bestseller in Canada. It led to numerous media and public appearances, to his work exposing the Ontario lottery retailer scandal, and to a President's Impact Award. Rosenthal has also published two textbooks about probability theory, and well over one hundred refereed research papers, many related to the field of Markov chain Monte Carlo randomized computer algorithms and to interdisciplinary applications of statistics. He has dabbled as a computer game programmer, musical performer, and improvisational comedy performer, and is fluent in French. Despite being born on Friday the thirteenth, Rosenthal has been a very fortunate person. Learn more about Jeffrey at his website or follow him on Twitter (@ProbabilityProf). Mentioned in this Episode The Secret, a book by Rhonda Byrne Poisson clumping, a phenomenon where random events tend to occur in clusters, clumps, or bursts. The hard problem of consciousness The Quote of the Week "Luck has a way of evaporating when you lean on it." - From Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull
57:55 9/13/19