Left Behind, Parts 1 - 3

left-behind-occupy-protest.jpgOver the past 30 years, the benefits of economic growth in Canada, the US and much of the rest of the world, have gone increasingly to the top one percent of the population. For the majority of families, however, incomes have stagnated. This rise in inequality coincided with a sea change in government policy. Beginning in the 1980s, governments in much of the English-speaking world embarked on what has been called the neoliberal revolution - deregulation, privatization and tax cuts, aimed at liberating markets and stimulating the economy. The rising tide was supposed to lift all boats, but it didn't. Jill Eisen explores what happened.

Photo: Occupy K Street demonstrators protest in the street of Washington, October 29, 2011. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana

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George MacMartin's Big Canoe Trip

In 1905, George MacMartin, Treaty Commissioner for Ontario, accompanied by federal commissioners and native guides, journeyed through rapids and hiked through the wilds to meet with First Nations leaders. The result was James Bay Treaty Nine. The treaty put northern Ontario into Canadian hands, but First Nations' tradition is clear: their leaders agreed to share the land, not give it away. Christopher Moore, historian and winner of a 2011 Governor General's Literary Award, explores what the diary by George MacMartin reveals, and what it means today.  Produced by Sara Wolch.

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The Power of Colour

Red is passion and lust, courage and sacrifice. Blue is happy, or sad, or - in German - drunk. In India, yellow is said to have been made from the urine of cows, force-fed mango leaves. Cindy Bisaillon looks into the history, psychology, art, music and spirituality of colour. She uncovers the mysteries of the purple tears of sea snails, the vibrant orange of a Stradivarius violin, and the green that killed Napoleon.

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Homo (Sapiens) Neanderthalensis, Part 1 & 2

homo-sapiens-neanderthalens.jpgNeanderthal remains have been found from France and Spain in the west, to Israel and Uzbekistan in the east, and from Germany in the north to the Mediterranean. They appeared perhaps 350,000 years ago, and were the dominant humans in Eurasia for millennia. About 30,000 years ago, they disappeared. Ever since their remains were first identified about 150 years ago, we've been trying to understand who the Neanderthals were, and what they mean to us.

In the last decade or so, scientists have been re-evauating Neanderthals, revising our estimation of their abilities. By using both old and new techniques, they're on verge of answering some of the great mysteries about them, decoding not just their genome, but some of their behavior.

Ideas producer Dave Redel digs into the mysteries of the Neanderthals and discovers that knowing them is really about knowing ourselves.  Read more »

The Bones of the Earth

Plate tectonics was a revolutionary scientific theory that shook our understanding of the planet. Chris Brookes and Paolo Pietropaolo take us to Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park, the site of one of the world's best illustrations of plate tectonics in action.

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Chinese Laundry Kids

Chinese hand laundries used to be a fixture in every town and city. They were so common place that the occupation of "laundryman" became synonymous with the Chinese. They were socially isolated, and endured a life of drudgery and racial hostility. CBC producer Yvonne Gall explores the legacy of these Chinese pioneers through the stories of the children who grew up in their parents' laundries.

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The Malaise of Modernity, Part 1 - 5

Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor is Canada's best known and most widely read contemporary thinker. In books like Sources of the Self and A Secular Age, he has attempted to define the unique character of the modern age. He maps the fault-lines in our modern identity, and points to both the pitfalls and the promise of our condition. Charles Taylor has also been active in politics, having run four times for Parliament during the 1960s. IDEAS producer David Cayley surveys Taylor's thought in a series of extended conversations.

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Speaking Flowers

The gisaeng of Korea were female entertainers. Accomplished in fine arts, poetry and prose, they laid the foundation for Korean female literature and medicine, even as they occupied the lowest class of society. This intimate portrait by Gloria Chang unravels the legacy of these "skilled women", the Flower That Understands Words.
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Legends of The Ahtahkakoop

These evocative stories from the Ahtahkakoop, a Plains Cree nation in central Saskatchewan, create a world where the buffalo once reigned supreme, animals protected each other, and the creator gave the world colour and life. Dramatized, cast and recorded in the community.

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The Idea of Genius, Part 1 & 2

genius-einstein.jpgWe live in awe of genius, of those few individuals capable of producing Hamlet, the Fifth Symphony, or the Theory of Relativity. Genius is more than talent, but what exactly is it? A gift? The result of extreme perseverance? Can anyone become a genius just by putting in enough hours? And why does genius so often border on madness? In this two-part series, science journalist Dan Falk explores our obsession with those who achieve greatness.

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It's A Girl's World

girls-world-main.jpgWhat does the social world of girls look like? At first glance, it's about sharing secrets, giggling over boys and carefree fun. But lurking underneath this facade of niceness is a hidden culture of nastiness that pits one friend against another. Lynn Glazier examines the tumultuous nature of female relationships from girlhood to adulthood; from the playground to the office.

It's A Girl's World by Lynn Glazier is also a film produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Visit the NFB website for more information.

Visit the film's website for quizzes, anti-bullying resources and more.

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A Bucket With Your Name On It

On the day following his death in 2008, there were found in writer David Cole's closet, memoirs of the dark comedy of his youth.

David died in 2008, in a moment of a heart attack. He was 62.

Over the following months, now years, Barbara Nichol has worked on the material she found on his closet floor on the day following his death. We'll hear portions of those papers in this program.

A Bucket With Your Name On It is read by David Smith, written by David Cole. The show is prepared and presented by Barbara Nichol.

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Dogs Themselves, Part 1 - 3

dogs-portrait-ted.jpgNew evidence reveals what dogs understand, about their world and about people, what they say and how they say it - to each other and to us - and what they know that people don't. The hidden lives of dogs themselves are uncovered by dog observers Jon Katz, Alexandra Horowitz, Clive Wynne and Monique Udell, Xioaming Wang, Gillian Ridgeway, Patricia McConnell, Jennifer Arnold and Suzanne Clothier  in conversation with Max Allen.

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Original Strange Spare

Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins embraced the ecstatic in nature. Conflicted by a repressed homosexuality, he entered the priesthood and adopted the rigours of Jesuit celibacy. He wrote highly original poetry, and produced some of the greatest poems of faith and doubt in the English language. A portrait by Cindy Bisaillon.

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Shanghai Ladies

Painted posters of beautiful women were used to sell all manner of goods in 1920s China. Broadcaster Christina Wong asks if these are images of subservience or liberation. Read more »

Being Canadian, Part 1 & 2

Ideas, stories, and reflections on being Canadian: who we are, what we are, and what it means to be a citizen of Canada today. From east to west, public intellectuals and private citizens (both new and old Canadians), tell film-maker Sun-Kyung (Sunny) Yi about the concerns, the questions, and the challenges of living together in a multicultural and diverse society.  Co-written and produced by Sara Wolch.

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Inventing Dinosaurs, Part 1 & 2 (Listen)

Dragons? Sea serpents? Giants? What manner of antediluvian beast left its bones in the cliffs and quarries of Victorian England? The answer came from a girl selling curiosities to the tourists; a professor of "undergroundology" at Oxford University; a luckless country doctor; an over-imaginative artist and an all-powerful master of Victorian science. Seth Feldman unearths the skeletons in paleontology's past. Read more »

To Be Or Not To Be, Part 1 & 2

to-be-or-not-feet.jpgAccording to the World Health Organization, an estimated one million people kill themselves every year. In Canada alone, 3,000 people die by their own hands. Traditionally, almost all religions have condemned suicide, and many people prefer not to talk about it, shrouding the final act in mystery and stigma. Today, suicide is viewed as a major health crisis that devastates families and friends. Freelance writer Hassan Ghedi Santur speaks to psychiatrists, researchers and grieving families to explore the enigma of suicide.

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Ten Thousand Spirits (Listen)

ten-thousand-spirits-thumb.jpgA religion going back to the Stone Age is enjoying a newfound popularity in modern-day Korea. Once reviled and driven underground, shamanism today is thriving in temples and cafes. Clients pay mostly female shamans hefty fees to call spirits from the dead, settle old scores, and foretell their future. Vancouver broadcaster Gloria Chang, who was born in Korea, returns to her native land to investigate the amazing powers of knife walking, fortune-telling shamans.

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Pasta: The Long and Short of It

Pasta, a simple amalgam of wheat flour and water, is one of the world's most popular staples. It's Italy's gift to humanity. With its hundreds of shapes and sizes, its infinite variety of sauces. Pasta is the foundation of one of the world's great cuisines. From Rome, Megan Williams explains how and when it was invented, where it got its shapes, and why it is so beloved. Read more »

Seeing Red, Part 1 & 2 (Listen)

They are misfits. Witches. Children. Just a few of the labels used to portray menstruating women over time. The Bible has described the bleeding woman as undergoing "customary impurity". In the Middle Ages, it was thought that women menstruated to release "sexual overflow". Their counterparts in the Victorian era were told that a period would deplete their body's precious resources. Twentieth century feminists worked hard to reclaim menstruation as a vital and positive part of womanhood. IDEAS producer Mary O'Conell explores menstruation from a cultural and historical perspective.

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Ocean Mind, Part 1 & 2 (Listen)

ocean-mind-tail.jpgLife on earth began in the ocean and then moved onto the land. But one precocious line of mammals returned to the sea. How has water shaped the minds, the bodies, the sensory worlds and the societies of whales? Our guide is Jeff Warren. Jeff is an explorer of consciousness in its various forms. In 2007 he published a book called The Head Trip: Adventures on The Wheel of Consciousness. He's spent the past 2 years thinking about whales and dolphins, visiting researchers in their labs and in their boats around North America and the Caribbean to find out what they're learning about mind, culture and society in the ocean.

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Have Your Meat and Eat It Too! Part 1 - 3

Meat eating has gotten a bad rap in recent years. It's blamed for everything from animal cruelty to global warming to swine flu and cancer. But Jill Eisen argues it's not meat that's the problem - it's the way we raise it. Most of our meat comes from mega-farms housing thousands of animals. Happily, there are alternatives that are humane, healthy and kind to the environment.

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The Origins of the Modern Public, Parts 1-14 (Listen)


Publicity was once the exclusive property of men of rank. They alone, by virtue of their stations, could make things public. During the 18th century it became meaningful to talk about "public opinion" as something formed outside the state. Today anyone with a Twitter account can make a public. In this series IDEAS producer David Cayley examines how publics were formed in Europe, between 1500 and 1700, and how these early publics grew into the concept of "the public" that we hold today.

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The Great Hunger, Part 1 & 2

True famine is rarer than you might think. Most people in famine-prone lands have learned to adapt to nature's fickle ways. Food shortages and starvation are more frequently the product of human action: who lives and dies are the results of a brutal calculus of power. Philip Coulter visits Ireland and Ukraine to tell the story of two "famines" that continue to shape these nations today.

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It's A Teen's World: Wired for Sex, Lies and Power Trips, Part 1-3

teens-world-main-thumb.jpgKids today are active players in a sexually charged popular culture, fuelled by media and personal technology. But at what cost? Whether it's posting sexy photos on the internet, raunchy comments and grabbing in the school hallway or spreading explicit gossip that shatters high school lives, harassment is commonplace, even acceptable. Lynn Glazier exposes what it's like for three diverse groups of Toronto teens to navigate a tangled web of sex, lies and power trips in their social relationship.

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Moral Clarity (Listen)

How do we responsibly talk about good and evil? What does realism really mean? How are morality and religion connected? Philosopher Susan Neiman wants to make the tools of her trade relevant to everyday life.

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Wise Guys

wise-guys-quote.gifCrows can reason, solve problems, and have long memories. They know more about us, and our habits, than we know about them. IDEAS producer Yvonne Gall explores the world of the urban crow and reveals how crows are a lot like us.

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Looking Up, Part 1 & 2 (Listen)

Four hundred years ago, a novel optical device from Holland made its way to Italy and into the hands of a free-thinking mathematician named Galileo Galilei. He soon aimed the instrument skyward - and our universe changed forever. Since that time, astronomers have been building bigger and better telescopes - and their discoveries continue to challenge us. Science journalist Dan Falk tells the remarkable story of Galileo and the revolution he began.

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The Trail of Tears, Part 1 & 2 (Listen)

In 1838, the Cherokee of the American southeast, one of the Five Civilized Tribes, were forced out of their farms and towns and relocated eight hundred miles to the west, in Indian Territory. A caravan of about 16,000 people set off across the rough roads and forests of the Midwest. In the snows of winter, many died. The journey became known as The Trail of Tears. Broadcaster Philip Coulter retraces the trail, asking questions about how the past shapes our present, and what it means to be a nation.

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Message In A Bottle

Megan Williams tells us about composers Victor Ullmann and Gideon Klein who died in the Holocaust; of their struggle to create under the most horrific conditions; and of a group of modern-day scholars and musicians dedicated to reviving their long-silenced music.

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The Tale of Genji (Listen)

It is considered the world's first novel, written in the 11th century by a 30 year-old Japanese woman. The Tale of Genji has been interpreted in hand scrolls, woodcuts, operas, manga and anime. There's even a PlayStation 2 videogame. Broadcaster Teresa Goff considers why the novel continues to fascinate.
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Pleasures of the Flesh, Part 1 & 2 (Listen)

The French have an old and rich tradition of eroticism, celebrating the dark as well as the luminous side of sexuality. Gilbert Reid explores French eroticism from the Marquis de Sade to Madame Bovary and The Story of O to learn what it has to tell us about romance and desire, sexuality and human nature.
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Living On Oxford Time (Listen)

The guidebooks say that "time stands still" among the dreaming spires of Oxford - and modern physics seems to agree. Journalist Dan Falk meets with three brilliant Oxford scientists - Roger Penrose, David Deutsch, and Julian Barbour - and searches for insight into a most peculiar dimension.

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You Are "Pre-Diseased", Part 1 & 2 (Listen)

Why wait until you are diagnosed with cancer, if you can hunt it down before it could kill you? Why not get a simple high tech CT scan to see if you are harbouring signs of pre-disease in your heart, your lungs, your breasts or your bowels? Those are the questions that dog Health Researcher Alan Cassels as he voyages inside the world of cancer screening, taking him from his own doctor's office to the world's biggest medical meeting. Part 2 airs Wednesday, January 13.

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In Praise of Ice, Parts 1 & 2 (Listen)

For more than 4 billion years, ever since comets first crashed into the Earth, ice has been inextricably linked to life on this planet. From cold-hardy microbes to freeze-resistant frogs, nature has evolved many tricks for survival. Even human beings have learned to adapt to the challenges - and opportunities - of life with ice. Now, as glaciers shrink, and ice vanishes from the polar seas, Richard Longley takes us back to our icy roots, rekindling wonder for this alluring frozen water. Read more »

Visions of Fire, Part 1 & 2

visions-fire-main.jpgIdeas about fire, domesticated and wild, past and present, bringer of life and death and life again. Exceedingly rare in some places and times, fire appears in the mind as a deity: the blazing Shiva, the glowing Vesta, the burning bush. Every living creature depends on fire. And though fire spread civilization through the world, combustion now seems to signal... ruin. This "fire opera" by Max Allen features fire historian Stephen Pyne with a chorus of fire enthusiasts and fire fighters.

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Shadows on Sparks Street (Listen)

On April 7, 1868, one of the Fathers of Confederation was gunned down just steps away from Parliament Hill.  The murder of Thomas D'Arcy McGee made news around the world and culminated in the last public execution in Canadian history.  In February 1869, Patrick James Whelan was hanged for the crime.   But was he the real assassin?  Freelance journalist Sarah Boothroyd explores the mystery. Read more »

Stories of the Southesk Collection

In 1859 an eccentric Scottish nobleman toured Rupert's Land. Edmonton writer Paula Simons explores how the souvenirs he collected provide fresh understanding of the complex and vibrant culture of what later became Western Canada. Read more »

The Hurried Infant, Part 1 & 2 (Listen)

In 1981 a new book called The Hurried Child warned us that children were being pushed too far, too fast. Dr. David Elkind's book became an instant classic. Today it seems the process has only intensified. There are pre-natal stimulation kits to induce fetal learning. Baby Einstein toys. There is also much discussion of how to smart-wire baby's brain to expand cognitive powers, foster language abilities and improve sleep patterns. IDEAS producer Mary O'Connell explores this new terrain of Super Babies.

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The Brains of Babes, Part 1 - 3 (Listen)

The centuries-old Jesuit saying, "give me a child until he's 7 and I will show you the man", may be true in more ways than the Jesuits could have imagined. New research into brain development, human biology and behaviour is showing how early experience can affect our health and well-being for the rest of our lives. As Jill Eisen reports, even so-called "life-style" illnesses, like heart disease and diabetes, may have their roots in early childhood.

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The Evolution of Charles Darwin, Part 1 - 4 (Listen)

IDEAS celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's transformational and contentious book, On the Origin of Species. Darwin's theory of evolution through Natural Selection forever changed how we think about the living world. In this 4-part series, Seth Feldman guides us through the life and ideas of Charles Darwin, a creative genius.
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Lands of Crystal


Montreal writer George Tombs boards the Canadian research ship Amundsen for a scientific odyssey in the Arctic Archipelago. Top researchers from 10 countries are trying to understand climate change by studying everything from the muddy bottom of the Beaufort Sea to the upper atmosphere, and everything in between.

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Climate Wars, Part 1 - 3 (Listen)

Global warming is moving much more quickly than scientists thought it would. Even if the biggest current and prospective emitters - the United States, China and India - were to slam on the brakes today, the earth would continue to heat up for decades. At best, we may be able to slow things down and deal with the consequences, without social and political breakdown. Gwynne Dyer examines several radical short-and medium-term measures now being considered - all of them controversial.

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Gilbert Reid's France, Parts 1 - 5 (Listen)

france-main.jpgFrance is capricious and contradictory; she's traditional and revolutionary; she's archaic and ultra-modern. She exalts in joie-de-vivre and pops anti-depressants. She disdains the vulgar marketplace, but sells her aircraft, haute couture, wines, and nuclear plants around the world. She is not a nation - she is a civilization. In this 5-part series, broadcaster Gilbert Reid explores whether France - and her charms - can survive the 21st century.
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How To Think About Science, Part 1 - 24 (Listen)

If science is neither cookery, nor angelic virtuosity, then what is it?
Modern societies have tended to take science for granted as a way of knowing, ordering and controlling the world. Everything was subject to science, but science itself largely escaped scrutiny. This situation has changed dramatically in recent years. Historians, sociologists, philosophers and sometimes scientists themselves have begun to ask fundamental questions about how the institution of science is structured and how it knows what it knows. David Cayley talks to some of the leading lights of this new field of study.

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