Wednesday September 20, 2017

September 19, 2017 episode transcript

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The AIH Transcript for September 19, 2017

Hosts: Helen Mann and Jeff Douglas

STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE

Prologue

HELEN MANN: Hello, I'm Helen Mann.

JEFF DOUGLAS: Good evening, I'm Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.

[Music: Theme]

JD: Tonight.

HM: A recurring nightmare. A powerful earthquake topples buildings in Mexico for the second time this month, and 32 years to the day after a quake in Mexico City killed nearly 10,000 people.

JD: Supply teachers. That is not an adjective and a noun, it is a fervent request in one Manitoba First Nation where 200 children still are not on class due to an acute shortage of educators.

HM: Issuing an address about failing to address the issue. Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi finally breaks her silence on the violence against Rohingya people in her country, only to say almost nothing.

JD: There was nothing illegal about it but he still face multiple charges. When researching the effects of an electric eels jolt on humans, our guest came to a shocking conclusion — he would have to be the test subject.

HM: Getting their Martian orders. After eight months of pretending to live on a frightening, inhospitable planet, researchers emerge from an isolated Mars simulation in Hawaii to find they're actually living on a frightening, inhospitable planet.

JD: And…he spent weeks behind bars but now Mark Beaumont is finally free, having set a new world record by traveling around the world by bicycle in just under 79 days. As It Happens the Tuesday edition. Radio that wanted to interview the bike but will settle for its spokes-person.

[Music: Theme]

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Part 1: Mexico earthquake, Suu Kyi @ UN: reaction, Mars isolation

Mexico Earthquake

Guest: Rafael Fernandez

JD: The ground shook, buildings toppled, people streamed into the streets. Today a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked central Mexico. It is the second one to hit the country in as many weeks, and it served as a bitter reminder of yet another earthquake — the massive one that struck Mexico City on this day in 1985, killing thousands of people. As we went to air there were reports that dozens of people have been killed. Rafael Fernandez is a writer for Fusion, we reached him earlier today in Mexico City.

HM: Rafael Fernandez, where were you when you first felt this earthquake today?

RAFEAL FERNANDEZ: Well, I was on the 12th floor of my office in Reforma Avenue, which is one of the main streets, main avenues in Mexico City. And we were commemorating today the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake here in Mexico City, and there was a drill. So when the alarm went off we thought it was a second drill, but then we notice the building was actually shaking, and the floor was shaking, up and down and sideways. So everyone walked, and kind of ran down the stairs and into the street. And you know you could just see the thousands of people in this avenue. And then the problem is there were several gas leaks around this area, so people started to move in all directions trying to avoid the smell of gas. And everyone was just shouting, “Don't smoke, don't smoke,” because it could blow out or something.

HM: And when you when you felt the quake, I mean, I don't know if you've been through many of them — how did it feel, how did it compare to anything else?

RF: Well, we just had another earthquake, which was actually stronger, two weeks ago and this one felt stronger somehow. The last one was 8.1 I believe this and was 7.1, but this one actually felt stronger and a lot of some old buildings and neighborhoods like Lacondesa and Roma actually crumbled. And I think some people trapped in some locations and some schools, certainly in old buildings. And also in the state of Puebla and Morelos, where the earthquake originated.

HM: Yeah, President Pena Nieto is saying that in Mexico City alone 27 buildings have collapsed. You mentioned people trapped in some places, I guess, in other parts of the area as well. Do you know anything about rescue efforts that might be underway?

RF: Yes, I'm seeing ambulances and the police you know setting up checkpoints to treat people with minor injuries all over town. Mostly I saw people crying and just trying to regain their breath, and having panic attacks because it was very scary if you were in one of the high rises here in Mexico City. And right now as I'm as I'm here in the street, I'm seeing people being walked in stretchers. So there are some people that got really injured, and yes I've heard reports around the city there are people trapped.

HM: Now you mentioned Morelos and we're hearing that there are more than 40 dead there. What is that area like?

RF: Well, Morelos doesn't have the big buildings that Mexico City has, but it has older buildings, historic buildings from way back. It seems more severe in Puebla and in Morelos, and here in Mexico City it might be a little bit better. But there were some buildings here in the city where actual buildings crumbled, and people are really scared. And it's just, people are kind of weirded out by the fact that it happened you know during the anniversary of the 85 earthquake.

HM: Yeah, what are people saying about that?

RF: It's magical realism at its finest, you know. We have the anniversary, we have a drill, and then we have an actual earthquake. So like I said, there's been two big, scary earthquakes in less than a month and people are on edge because they think a third might be coming. And also when you get an earthquake this big people expect there to be other earthquakes that come a little bit later. So people are evacuating buildings. I think everyone's done with work for today. Authorities are looking into buildings and everything, just to make sure conditions are safe to go back in so everyone can pick up their belongings and basically head home. But you know traffic is chaotic at this time — it's always chaotic in Mexico City — but today is going to be an especially chaotic day trying to move around. So yes I think people are going to try to avoid you know sky rises, or tall buildings, or being on 12th floor for the time being at least for the next few days.

HM: Yeah because people who survive earthquakes they're often really quite scared to go back inside. But if you live in a 12th floor or 14th floor or whatever — I mean how do you prepare for that?

RF: Well you don't really prepare. Like when I was on the 12th floor I literally like the building was going to crumble, like the floor beneath me. So they tell you to get under your desk, I did not feel like getting under my desk. The adrenalin kicked in and I was like, “I need to get the hell out.” So I just went out of the office and started walking down the stairs with everyone else. It just felt like you had to get out of there.

HM: Yeah, Have you spoken to family and friends — checked in on people?

RF: Yeah, I mean mostly everyone I know is all right. Although I have some friends whose apartments are completely destroyed. The walls, tables, you see shattered windows when you're walking around. So yes, I think a lot of people are going to be sleeping in with friends tonight in other parts of town. So yes, it's a strange day here in Mexico City, it feels like you see all these workers walking around. Traffic is crazy, but like I said, people are showing their best side. There are already calls to help out. There's reports of some schools crumbling and some kids trapped inside. So people are headed in that direction. So during these tough times you also see the best of society at play.

HM: Yeah. How are you yourself feeling right now?

RF: I'm good. I'm a bit nervous because being on the 12th floor and just feeling everything shake just thinking the building's going to crumble. You really feel like it was your last moment. But luckily everyone got out, there wasn't a stampede. So it's just one of those strange moments when you're thinking about all the coincidences. And is it just digesting everything right now.

HM: Yeah, I can only imagine. I'm glad you're OK. Thank you very much for talking to us.

RF: Thank you very much for having me.

HM: Take care.

HM: Bye, bye.

JD: We reached Rafael Fernandez in Mexico City.

[Music: Ambient Piano]

Suu Kyi @ UN: reaction

Guest: Phil Robertson

JD: Today Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the crisis in her country for the first time. In less than a month more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have reportedly fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. During that time Ms. Suu Kyi has been criticized and condemned for her handling of the situation. That criticism has included calls to strip her of her honorary Canadian citizenship. Yesterday Prime Minister Trudeau wrote a letter to her expressing quote, “profound surprise, disappointment and dismay,” unquote at her failure to speak out against the attacks on the Rohingya people. Here's a clip from Ms. Suu Kyi speech today.

SOUNDCLIP

AUNG SAN SUU KYI: I understand that many of our friends throughout the world are concerned by reports of villages being burned and hordes of refugees fleeing. As I said earlier, there have been no conflicts since the fifth of September and no clearance operations. We too are concerned. We want to find out what the real problems are. There have been allegations and counter-allegations, and we have to listen to all of them, and we have to make sure that these allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action. Action will be taken against all peoples — regardless of their religion, race or political position — who go against the laws of the land, and who violate human rights as accepted by the international community.

JD: That was Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaking today. Phil Robertson is the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division. We reached him in Bangkok.

HM: Mr. Robertson, we just heard a bit there from Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech today. The international community has been asking for weeks for her to speak out. What do you think of what you heard?

PHIL ROBERTSON: Well, unfortunately it's a real disappointment. Aung San Suu Kyi seems to find it mysterious that more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims actually fled Burma. But there's really no mystery, we've been tracking this all along. And what we found is the Burma military has engaged in a campaign of mass arson, killing, looting — essentially ethnic cleansing. And what she is saying instead of as Foreign Minister inviting in the fact finding mission that was established by the U.N. Human Rights Council in March to investigate human rights violations, she's offering propaganda tours. She's inviting more diplomats from the capital city Yangon to go up to Rakhine state and essentially look around.

HM: In the clip we heard her say there have been no conflicts or clearance operations since the 5th of September. What is the evidence that you've seen that that contradicts that?

PR: Well, that's just that's just incorrect. We have significant burning of Rohingya villages since the 5th of September, including a significant number over the past week. Human Rights Watch has now got satellite footage of over 214 villages that were burned, and many of those, as I mentioned, have been burned very recently. And significant parts of the Northern Rakhine state are still on fire. What you see is a situation where the government of Burma should be focusing on the problems that are being presented by the international community, and finding ways to work with the international community. Instead we're getting excuses, we're getting pushback, we're getting basically falsehoods in some cases.

HM: She says in that speech she wanted to find out why the exodus is happening. Is there any doubt that she does know what's going on? Is there any way she could not be aware of the facts on the ground?

PR: I think she would never admit it even if she did not know exactly what was going on. What’s rich is that she has basically said that she wants to have evidence presented. But when it comes to her making allegations, for instance against NGOs or U.N. agencies who have been providing food and other systems to the Rohingya, she was issuing statements saying that there was a suspicion that the local staff of those agencies were involved in supporting the insurgency. The situation is one where the real focus here has to be not on her, but on the military commanders. The military commanders are the key people who are perpetrating these abuses. This is why we have been calling now for targeted sanctions against the Burmese military and their commanders, looking also at the various industrial conglomerates that are controlled by the military of Burma. And really a global arms embargo, to cut off Burma’s military from its suppliers in the international military community.

HM: Last year she was pretty much the toast of the General Assembly at the United Nations and this year she's decided not to even come. Why do you think that is?

PR: I don't think she was prepared to face the kind of brickbats that she would be getting from the international media and other government leaders. She retreated to Naypyidaw and she decided that that was where she would give her speech. I think the problem is this, there was a compact, an informal compact I would say, between her and the international community. When she said that when she was under house arrest, use your liberty to promote ours. She may have not realized, but people were taking that action because they had certain expectations of her. And those expectations were that she was someone who was all about human rights, she was taking on a military dictatorship of four decades, but also that she was all supporting human dignity. And many of these prizes, ranging from the Nobel Peace Prize, to the award from the local city or council, all really came from that understanding of who she was. And now it looks like maybe that's not who she was all along. And people are feeling personally betrayed by that. Somehow she's reneging on that informal compact.

HM: Well in fact, as I understand it, you met her a few times in the 90s. Do you think people's confidence was misplaced?

PR: I think she was very determined in the 1990s. She was someone who was focused. She was prepared to really battle all the way through. The sort of the steely concentration that allowed her to survive all those years under house arrest, and that made her such a phenomenon that people wanted to support her, and believed in her. I think that that kind of focus, that sort of narrowness, that sort of, to be honest stubbornness, is now betraying her. And I think that she said, “I'm now a politician, I'm not a human rights activist.” I think that a lot of people still want her to be a human rights activist or at least to show that she cares about human rights, and the speech she gave today didn't convince a lot of people outside that she gave it in front of all those government officials and diplomats.

HM: Mr. Robertson thank you very much for talking with us.

PR: Thank you so much for calling.

HM: All right. Goodbye.

PH: Goodbye.

JD: That was Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch. Reacting to Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech earlier today. We reached Mr. Robertson in Bangkok. And if you'd like to hear that interview again or share it, it is on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih

[Music: Ambient Bass]

Mars isolation

Guest: Ansley Barnard

JD: Imagine living in Hawaii for eight months, soaking up the sun, the surf, feeling the tropical breeze in your hair. Now imagine living in Hawaii for eight months without being able to do any of those things because you're pretending to live on Mars. You might choose the first scenario, but six researchers chose the second. And on Sunday they emerged from their long isolation in a Mars simulation exercise — one of the primary goals of which was to study the psychological impact of long term space exploration. Ansley Barnard. Barnard is the Engineering Officer for the High Seas mission, which is supported by NASA. We reached Ms. Barnard in Hawaii.

HM: Ansley Barnard, you've been in this Mars simulation in this remote part of Hawaii since January. Tell us about that moment that you first set foot outside the dome with a space suit on?

ANSLEY BARNARD: It feels strange to go outside, not just because you're doing something that you haven't done in eight months, but because in the back of your mind you know you're not supposed to be doing that. We knew during the mission that we could go outside. We know that we're really on earth and that the air is breathable, but because we're dedicated to the analog mission, you really do develop these habits where you know that you're supposed to be doing certain things, or the way that life is constructed you can or can't do certain things. And I think that was the hardest part about stepping out, was remembering that this is OK, and this is the way that life is going to be.

HM: Right that life doesn't have to be structured as it was? Have you had any particularly strange moments as you've been re-entering regular life the last few days?

AB: I think I expected a few things to be odd that weren't. I think I expected seeing new faces to be strange. I only saw the same five people for eight months and I wasn't sure how to respond when I saw new faces, but it felt really wonderful — it felt really natural. But I went down to the ocean yesterday and I didn't get to go to the beach before we went into the mission. I’d never been to Hawaii before, so we went down to the coast and standing in the water felt amazing. It just was warm and I've never had that much water in eight months, and to be able to put my toes in it, and to feel the sand under my feet was everything I was hoping it would be, it was great.

HM: Right. Now the simulation is supposed to mimic what life would be like on Mars during a mission. What were your actual living arrangements? What did it look like?

AB: The living arrangements in the dome are set up with a main living space downstairs. It's the 36-foot diameter dome. So downstairs we have a main living area, we have a kitchen and dining area, we have a very small sort of storage, and laundry, and networking telemetry room with all of our sensors in it, and we have biology labs. And then upstairs part of the dome is open, part of it is split into our six bedrooms and one of our bathrooms, and we have a bathroom downstairs too. So it's set up very comfortably. You can really use the spaces in a lot of ways and I think that's an important part about having such a small space for such a long time. And everybody has, at least, their own rooms to go to. And because we have different rooms downstairs it is possible to sort of split up and work on tasks or be away from each other, if that's what you need to do.

HM: So what kind of tasks did you have to do every day?

AB: One of our biggest tasks while we were in there were geology EVAs. And EVA is extravehicular activity, that's when we would put on our suits and go outside. And for geology we would be studying the local area, and we would be training to identify and understand geological features. So those kept us pretty busy because we'd have two to four people going outside, with one person inside on the radio as what we call Habcom — their link back to the habitat — and one person staying inside with that Habcom. So everybody in the crew would be involved on those days or we would play games and do group tasks that are designed to study our levels of cohesiveness, which is a big part of the psychological research that we're doing.

HM: Well, it's interesting because while you're conducting all these experiments, you are actually specimens in an experiment yourself. Tell us about the psychological impact of this and how it was being measured?

AB: Yeah. You had a great point, which is that we are scientists and engineers who are doing research, but we also are research — everything that we do as data. What we say to each other and how that makes us feel, are things that we want to communicate back to our psychological researchers, because those are things that people might do on a long duration space mission. And that's kind of a weird and humbling thought, that just living your life in this sort of extreme circumstance is actually important and it's actually data.

HM: Being cooped up in a simulated space bunker with five other people for eight months — it's got to be stressful. Any conflicts? Any frustrating moments?

AB: Conflict happens any time people are together and stress happens daily in our lives. So those aspects of your life don't go away in a bubble.

HM: What kinds of things would set off those conflicts though?

AB: When you have five roommates you might have conflict over a house cleaning or cooking. So we have to take care of all of those aspects too. And you can definitely disagree about that. And we had a few small ones. We also have a lot of work to do, and we had to split up these complicated tasks that aren't always very clear. And sometimes people don't want to do certain things or they want to do them the same way as you. So working on a geology EVA we had a few arguments about how to execute the plan, because people see different solutions but we can't do all of them. And that's probably the hardest conflict that we had to face, which is we're all very intelligent and engaged people, but we can't do everything. So how do we split that up and how do we make it as fair as possible?

HM: In the end, I mean the goal was to see whether people could fare on a long journey to and from Mars, what's your takeaway? Do you think it's doable?

AB: I absolutely think it's doable. I absolutely think that people can not only survive, but thrive on Mars.

HM: Will you be spending much time with the other five people that you were in there with in the coming months?

AB: I'm still really good friends with my crewmates. It’s in some ways hard to believe that we won't be together anymore. I’m gonna miss them.

HM: Well, Ms. Bernard thanks very much for telling us about it, it’s fascinating experience.

AB: Thank you so much for having me, it was really fun.

HM: All right, bye bye.

AB: Bye.

JD: Ansley Barnard was the Engineering Officer for the latest NASA backed Mars simulation. We reached her in Hawaii.

[Music: Ambient Hip-Hip]

Quebec language

JD: It's a fait accompli even if some people still believe it's a massive faux pas. When it comes to using English words and phrases in Quebec speakers have never had carte blanche. The provinces office of the French language or Office québécois de la langue française or OQLF, has strictly policed usage. Indeed defending the French language is its raison d'être but of course being such a widely spoken language, English Words have a way of infiltrating the Quebec lexicon. Sure you could sandwich au fromage fondant instead of grilled cheese, but the latter kept popping up on menus and in conversations. I guess it had a certain je ne sais quoi. You could say the same about the word smash. It has a certain element particularly compared to the awkward French substitute. Well, vis a vie of these words and others you’re the OQLF has recently adopted a more laissez faire attitude on its website earlier this year, and unnoticed until now by Anglophones, the office announced the rapprochement with certain selected English words and phrases. Now grilled cheese is officially fine. So is smash. It's OK to use cocktail instead of cocktail. And baby boom instead of bebe boom. A spokesperson for the OQLF explained the changes by saying quote, “Language is something that is vivant,” unquote. Which is true even if it is verging on cliche. Still not everyone agrees, Some say the office has overstepped its bounds, that its job is to be pre-scriptive rather than descriptive. Well touché I guess, but it's not like a few English words will be a coup de grâce for French in Quebec. For one thing language changes at the pace of an escargot and for another remember, the right words in French will always be le mot juste.

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Part 2: Manitoba First Nation teachers, endurance cyclist

Manitoba First Nation teachers

Guest: Chief Jeffrey Napaokesik

JD: September is synonymous with back to school. Across Canada students are getting to know their new teachers and settling into their new classrooms. But for around 200 children in Shamattawa First Nation back to school has not happened yet. The northern Manitoba community is short 11 teachers, leaving many kids out of the classroom. Jeffrey non-hockey is the Chief of the Shamattawa. We reached him in Winnipeg where he is attempting to recruit teachers.

HM: Chief Napaokesik, why is it that your community is so short on teachers right now?

CHIEF JEFFREY NAPAOKESIK: We had a bit of a warning last school year. We were advised that we would have a very difficult, harder time to recruit teachers into our new school. Because we had fire losses last year we lost our only community store, or our ban office as well. And on top of that we lost six homes in Shamattawa. So I think that caused quite a bit of a concern for teachers who are looking for jobs and maybe they're very concerned coming into Shamattawa.

HM: And it's not just, I gather that they those places were lost to fire, but how they were lost to fire. Can you explain?

JN: So all those fire losses are due to arson, and it's our children that caused it. It happened at a time that nobody expected it to happen like that. It was very shocking and very surprising.

HM: And what has happened with the young people who were found to have set the fires?

JN: I think most of them are under age and cannot be charged. I think at that moment we're trying to implement community justice.

HM: Did you lose any of the teachers that you already had after those fires?

JN: We had some teachers not come back from last school year. They have moved on.

HM: Did they say why?

JN: I didn't speak with them directly but I've heard through my staff that we know that from the fire losses that was one of their concerns.

HM: What's it been like for you trying to recruit teachers to come to Shamattawa?

JN: Well it's always anticipating who could call us, if anybody you know hears about our predicament, our situation. We're hoping that people, teachers, would call and say, “We want to give your youth or your children a chance by going in there and teaching them.”

HM: What do you say in your pitch and trying to get them to come?

JN: We're establishing a working group this afternoon at 3:00 to see what we can do. We're getting the Department of Indian Affairs to get involved this afternoon, and also our Principal. And also we're under co-management and they're involved as well. I'm sure they have a responsibility to get these teachers into Shamattawa.

HM: What's it like for you knowing that people are wary of coming to work and live in your community when the kids obviously need their teachers?

JN: We feel left out. And because of what happened last year with the fire losses, it's just trying to do the best that you can to recruit their teachers into Shamattawa. And Shamattawa is a very long way. It's about 800 kilometres, and it's very isolated. If teachers are out there that love the outdoors, I mean, this is the place for them.

HM: So it's the kids who obviously suffer when they can't go to school. What are the children in your community doing right now?

JN: They're out and about. They're out at public places. They're hanging around, walking about, running about and doing the things that they do in the summer days where they should be in school.

HM: Most kids in this country have been in school for weeks now — so what are they missing by not being there?

JN: It's the experience. You get your child out of bed, get them dressed, get them ready for school and see them off the school bus and all that stuff, and you wait for them to come back and ask them, “what have you learned? How was school, was it exciting?” It's both. It goes both ways for the kids and also for the parents. And we're missing out on that. I think the first few days of school is crucial to starting off in a very good way for a child.

HM: What toll does this take on the kids and the parents do you think?

JN: I guess the toll would be that there's a loss there. We don't want to prolong that loss of experience in Shamattawa for the youth especially.

HM: Do the kids know what's going on?

JN: I know that they've been told that they don't have a teacher. So I know they feel left out. I talked to some of them. I mean, I've got a grandson that was supposed to go to school — he feels left out.

HM: How old is he? Can you tell us a bit about him?

JN: He’s eight years old, he’s outgoing he enjoys school — just like any ordinary kid.

HM: Is anyone trying to, I guess, pick up the slack organize any activities?

JN: Yes as a matter of fact, there's very good, excellent teachers that we got this year. I mean there's some response, there's some positive teachers there that want to do extracurricular activities for the youth.

HM: How much longer can this go on do you think?

JN: You know what, I hope it doesn't last long. I hope we find teachers this week.

HM: Yeah, have you had any interest since you've been down there?

JN: I haven't heard. We'll know more when we get a briefing from the Principal this afternoon. He’s here also in Winnipeg as well, trying to help the situation.

HM: Thank you so much. I wish you the very best of luck in getting that school back up and going.

JN: Thank you. Thank you for your time.

HM: Bye bye.

JN: Bye.

JD: Jeffrey Jeffrey Napaokesik is Chief of the Shamattawa. We reached him in Winnipeg.

[Music: Ambient Tones]

Stanislav Petrov obit

JD: Stanislav Petrov never had to worry about what will be the first line of his obituary. He knew he would be remembered for saving the world. In the early hours of September 26, 1983, Mr. Petrov was a duty officer in charge of monitoring enemy missile launches for the Soviet Union. His say so could have launched a retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States. But on that morning, when his computers warned him of an incoming attack, Mr. Petrov reported to his superiors that the warning was a malfunction. Even though all signs indicated it was not. Thankfully Stanislav Petrov was right. Here is part of an interview with the BBC in which Mr. Petrov told the story of that fateful day.

SOUNDCLIP

STANISLAV PETROV: It was completely unexpected, as such things usually are. The sirens sounded very loudly and I just sat there for a few seconds staring at the screen with the word “launch” displayed in bold red letters. A minute later the siren went off again. The second missile was launched, then the third, and the fourth, and the fifth. The computers changed their alerts from launch to missile strike. There were no rules about how long we were allowed to think before we reported a strike. But we knew that every second of delay took away valuable time that the Soviet Union's military and political leadership needed. And then I made my decision, I would not trust the computer. I picked up the telephone handset, spoke to my superiors, and reported that the alarm was false. I myself was not sure until the very last moment. I knew perfectly well that nobody would be able to correct my mistake if I had made one.

JD: Stanislav Petrov in conversation with the BBC. Mr. Petrov was a former Soviet officer, who very likely prevented a nuclear attack on the US in 1983. Mr. Petrov died in the spring. News of his death though is only being reported now.

[Music: Piano]

Endurance cyclist

Guest: Mark Beaumont

JD: Here on As It Happens we strive to figuratively take you around the world every night with our interviews. Our next guest however, literally, went around the world on his bicycle in less than 79 days. And now endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont holds the world record for making that trip by bicycle — just shy of 29,000 kilometres in exactly 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes. He beat the previous record by 44 days. Mr. Beaumont finished his ride yesterday evening in Paris, and that is where we reached him.

HM: Mark Beaumont, first of all congratulations on reaching the end of this journey in Paris.

MARK BEAUMONT: Thank you. It's an amazing and slightly surreal moment — to a get off my bike after 79 days of pedaling.

HM: What's that like for you? I mean, this morning waking up and not immediately getting on a bike?

MB: The honest truth is, this morning hurt a lot — I was really sore. I've been on the bike 16 hours a day riding the best part of 400 kilometres a day since the 2nd of July. So I mean, that's absolutely grueling for the body, and mentally it's been an obsession — it’s been everything I've been thinking about. So stopping is very odd, very strange, and it's going to take a while to readjust.

HM: You've been waking up as I understand it's about 3:30 — what time did you get up this morning?

MB: Oh yes, I slept through. Even though my kids were in the room — I’ve got like a four-year-old and a one-year-old. But even they let me sleep until 8 o'clock — it was bliss.

HM: You mentioned being sore. Generally though, in terms of just the physicality of being sort of on your feet and not on wheels, what's that feel like?

MB: It feels odd, I mean, decidedly odd. Because I say I started from Paris on July 2nd and I've not really walked much since then. I've been fully supported by an amazing team and we've had RVs on the road, so I get I get on the bike at 4 am, I ride 16 hours a day, at the end of the day I get back into the RV, I eat and I go to sleep. So I've not really walked anywhere and attempting a flight of stairs at the moment is quite a challenge. I need to get back on my feet rather two wheels.

HM: Right now you plan to do this in 80 Days. Were you a big Jules Verne fan before this?

MB: Well yeah, I guess like many kids I grew up with that amazing story Around The World Eighty Days. The previous world record was 123 days. And in fact I cycled around the world 10 years ago and in a time of a 194 days. So this wasn't about a marginal gain, this was about taking the round-the-world record to a whole new level.

HM: It's an incredible achievement. Give us a sense of the route — the places this took you?

MB: So leg one was through to Beijing, so that went through Europe, Russia, Mongolia and China. Then across Australia, up new Zealand, which was very similar to the route I cycled 10 years ago. So you’ve got the outback and then some of these amazing, mountainous terrains through New Zealand. And then more familiar territory for your listeners. I arrived in North America in Anchorage, came down through the Yukon, Northern B.C., I crossed into Saskatchewan and parts of North America, just south of the Great Lakes, and then back up through Ontario, New Brunswick and I flew out of Halifax. And the final what I call “sprint finish” was up through Europe. It certainly didn't feel like a sprint but it was a short leg from Lisbon back up to Paris.

HM: In terms of the physical challenge of all of this — were there particular moments that were especially difficult for you?

MB: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I came off my bike three times, which is never fun and certainly moments like that, that sort of threatens the viability of carrying on at all. I and a crash on day 9 just east of Moscow, which I got some injuries from —I broke a tooth and injured my elbow. And my performance manager Laura was definitely — there was a moment where it was a case of — am I OK? Can I get back on the bike? Is this safe?

HM: Is it true that you were so tired you fell asleep or your tooth was being repaired.

MB: Yeah, yeah twice actually, because when I broke my tooth it literally was a case of my performance manager rebuilding it, sort of using sort of a temporary filling, lying there with my mouth open and her rebuilding my teeth, I fell asleep.

HM: You don't go to a dentist in a moment like that?

MB: There’s no time. I mean, if I went to a dentist I would get around the world in 80 days. But it happened again, it fell out when I was riding through Ontario, so by the time we got to Halifax Airport, I was waiting for my flight, and once again Laura had to rebuild my tooth, I fell asleep while we waited to the plane — literally mid-operation if you like.

HM: You mentioned and the mental challenge, which you know, there must be periods of extraordinary boredom as well as that the physical pain you're going through. What do you focus on? What is it that keeps you going in those moments?

MB: It’s probably the probably the most sociable thing I've ever done. I could stand on the London underground with a thousand people around me and I feel lonely and bored. But riding your bike on a journey which everyone seems excited by, where they’re a supporting, willing me through. It was brutal, it was mentally the toughest thing I've ever done, but it's a million miles from being lonely.

HM: You have two young kids and a wife. Did you keep in touch with them somehow?

MB: Yes I did. Not as much as you might imagine. I mean, because of my schedule there’s not a ton of times, so it's been a massive commitment from everyone close to me to make this dream a reality. And I think that goes for any serious athlete. So yeah, now there's a change of pace and I definitely want to spend some time with my kids. Whilst I was away my 4-year-old had her birthday, my one year old started to walk. You know, these are pretty important milestones in a child's life.

HM: Now as you pointed out you've shaved 44 days off the last record holder’s time. It's hard to imagine someone's going to try and on the saddle of a bike tomorrow and do this. But I guess there will be competitors who are going to try and take that record. If they do will you try to beat it again?

[LAUGHTER]

MB: Cycliing around the world for the third time? Not a chance. I really hope that does happen. I mean it only validates records by other people going for them. It's human nature, I want people to go for them. I want people to build on what I've done and go farther. And I think that’s the exciting thing about sport is the exciting thing about human ambitions. What's happened in the last decade, is that this record has gone from an amateur record to a professional record, so it is a lot harder and it costs more. It takes a really professional team around you in terms of logistics and planning, and you need to be a pretty good bike rider.

HM: Yeah, pretty good — well I think you're that. Thank you so much for talking with us. It's an amazing feat of course, and I wish you a quick recovery.

MB: Thank you very much.

HM: OK bye, bye.

JD: Mark Beaumont is an endurance cyclist — that's probably putting it mildly — and the new world record holder for cycling around the world, which he did in just under 79 days. We reached Mr. Beaumont in Paris and we have posted more about his journey on our website, that of course being www.cbc.ca/aih

[Music: Trance Bass]

Polaris Prize winner: Lido Pimienta

JD: Lido Pimienta did not have a speech prepared last night but she did still have something to say.

SOUNDCLIP

Perhaps the only thing that I can say is that I hope that the Arian specimen who told me to go back to my country two weeks after arriving in London, Ontario, Canada is watching this. I want to take the opportunity to thank my beautiful mother — this is my mom y’all — for being so resilient, and for enduring white supremacy in Canada. In her work, when she goes to work she gets told the same thing, to go back to her country. I have so much — I want to say so much — but I just want to say thank you for the protectors of the land that we're standing on. Thank you for the Kree, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, the real people of this country. Thank you for allowing me to be a guest on your land.

[APPLAUSE]

JD: Part of Lido Pimienta’s impromptu acceptance speech after she won the 2017 Polaris Music Prize last night for her album La Papessa. Lido moved to Canada from Colombia in 2005, when civil war drove her mom to find safety in what appeared to be, as Ms. Pimienta said in an interview quote, “a place where nothing happened.” That place was London, Ontario where as you heard, nothing did not happen, and everything that did has informed her work. Her experiences in Colombia and Canada shaped her politics, which permeate the songs on La Papessa. She produced that album herself, but it and her live show are the results of extensive collaboration with other artists. That is not just a preference, it is an ethic and it is also political.

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Part 3: Eel researcher

Trump addresses United Nations

JD: If you were listening to the program last night you may have heard me describe Donald Trump's opening comments at the United Nations yesterday as quote, “relatively understated, even bordering on diplomatic,” unquote. That didn't last long. Mr. Trump spoke to the U.N. again today but this time in a 40-minute speech to the General Assembly he called out his various adversaries and enemies, in an un-understated and occasionally undiplomatic terms. Let's start with the President's remarks on North Korea.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. We were all witness to the regime's deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl, to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea's spies. If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

JD: That was U.S. President Donald Trump speaking to the U.N. earlier today. And he was just getting started with North Korea. Next he launched into an attack on Iran.

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DT: The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country, with a rich history and culture, into an economically depleted rogue state, whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos. We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles. And we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. The Iran deal was one of the worst, and most one sided transactions, the United States has ever entered into. That deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don't think you've heard the last of it, believe me.

JD: As President Trump continued his speech, he used similar language to target quote, “loser terrorists,” as well as Cuba and Venezuela. But he also reserved a few choice words for the United Nations itself.

SOUNDCLIP

DT: Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process. It is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council. The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 per cent of the entire budget and more. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it. Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell. The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.

JD: President Trump speaking to the U.N. today. UN General Assembly continues for the rest of the week, and tomorrow President Trump is scheduled to meet with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to further discuss the North Korean situation.

[Music: Industrial Trance]

Eel researcher

Guest: Professor Kenneth Catania

JD: We all know about electric eels. They are slimy, squiggly aquatic creatures who use electric shocks to subdue their prey and attack predators. And Ken Catania knows all that too — he should. As a biologist at Vanderbilt University, he has been studying them for years — but he wanted to know more. Specifically he wanted to study the nature of the electrical circuit that is formed when an eel leaps out of the water to attack a human. It turns out the best way to do that was to get some eels and give them a human to attack. That is where Professor Catania comes in. We reached him in Nashville.

HM: Mr. Catania, what exactly was your role in this experiment?

PROFESSOR KEN CATANIA: Well, that's kind of a long story actually. I've been studying electric eels for several years now, and there was this interesting discovery along the way that they leap out of the water to shock things that threaten them. Basically that creates a very interesting electrical circuit and I was interested in analyzing that, and it essentially became a puzzle. And the last part of the puzzle was to learn about the conduction of the human body.

HM: And you have a human body.

KC: I do, I have a human body and a human arm, and I always tell my students to collect data whenever possible. And so, I'd like to say I had to put my arm where my mouth was, in this case.

HM: Why did you decide that allowing an eel to shock you was the best way to do this. Was there not some alternative?

KC: There might have been alternatives but there would have been no good way to really imitate the interface between an eel and an arm, my hand in the water, and the current flowing through from the whole set up. So I decided, since it is very safe, to basically put myself to the test.

HM: And what was the setup like? I mean how did you measure how the circuit got completed and how powerful it was?

KC: Yes, so it probably, I hope looks like a pretty simple thing, but I really had to scratch my head about how to put this together. How do you measure the current through your hand in water, if you want your hand to stay in the water, but not be connected to the tank? So basically the way I did that was to build an insulated plastic container, and that container was then filled with water, but contained conductive tape connected to a copper wire, that connected then to the outside of the container. So the only way the current could flow once that it entered my arm was out of my hand into the water, the way it normally would if that you attacked under normal circumstances. But then through the wire ,and back to the aquarium through the wire, and that was a key part of the experiment because that allowed me to measure the current in the wire.

HM: So what did it feel like?

KC: That's a funny question. I like to say I haven't gone around testing wall sockets, but I will say if you've ever worked on a farm and backed into an electric fence, it's a pretty similar kind of feeling.

HM: So I have had a minor jolt from a wall socket and it almost throws you away from it — if you're lucky. Is that what happened to you?

KC: Not per se I wasn't thrown away from it, but it does activate your reflexive withdrawal response, which is essentially your body telling you that you've reached a level of pain where your spinal cord wants to remove your arm before your cortex and upper cognitive level is even aware of what's going on.

HM: And the point is to occur to you that maybe this wasn't such a good idea?

KC: Not really, because it's like I said, it's pretty safe. And relatively speaking it seemed though maybe a little bit traumatic, it was not a big price to pay to get some really clear data.

HM: So how many times did you get zapped?

KC: So I had to do it about 10 times because sometimes I forgot to hit trigger on the camera, or I forget to plug something in. So I was really kicking myself every time I messed up.

HM: But I bet every time it was a little bit harder?

[LAUGHTER]

KC: It was a psychologically interesting. I like to say though that it the eel was probably more scared than I was.

HM: Were you in any actual danger?

KC: No, I was in no actual danger from doing this. In about the 200 years that people have experimented with electric eels, including Michael Faraday, there is no report of anybody ever dying from direct electrical shock. I would say though, you wouldn't want to swim where there was a big one around because they can freeze you up and then you could easily drown and that could be a real problem.

HM: I was going to ask you about the size. Would it have been a much worse situation for you if it had been a larger eel?

KC: Absolutely, a really large eel would be able to give easily 10 times the power of a law enforcement taser, and at a higher rate of impulses. So it would not be pleasant, I'm sure.

HM: So this one was how big?

KC: It was about 15 inches long.

HM: Sounds long enough.

KC: Yeah, and it's suprisingly the powerful. I mean, it is an amazing thing that a small animal like that generated 200 volts of electricity. It's just I think an incredible creature all around. Lots of people have studied the physiology of electricity but not a lot of studies have concentrated on the behavior of these animals, which turned out to be really interesting.

HM: So is that what you learned the voltage in the end after putting yourself through all this?

KC: Well, I learned the voltage of the animal and then I learned a series of resistances that were part of this circuit, including the resistance of my arm as part of the circuit. So it was kind of a fun little physics problem to solve piece by piece.

HM: And how will you use the information now?

KC: You can now extrapolate from these variables to larger electric eels, for example in the Amazon. And recently people have been shocked. There's a there's a viral video of an eel using this defensive behavior on a fisherman. And you can make a pretty good guess of what the power communicated would be based on the kinds of variables that I've got in this paper. So you can sort of plug in the numbers and come out with some interesting results.

HM: And now you have bragging rights too.

KC: I guess, I do. You know that's it. But it's a tiny eel, there's people that have been shocked by a much bigger one. So even though I've got some dramatic video, there's the guy — that the fishermen that got shocked in the video out there, has gotten much better bragging rights than I do.

HM: Well Professor Catania, doesn't sound very appealing to me but I appreciate your sharing your research with us. Thanks so much.

KC: You're very welcome if you're ever in town, stop by and we can get you shocked.

HM: Yeah that won't happen. Bye, bye.

KC: Bye, bye.

JD: Ken Catania is biology prof of Vanderbilt University. We reached him in Nashville and you can learn more about how he followed his electrical impulses on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih.

[Music: Hip-Hop Drums]

Dateline: Kalishnikov statue

JD: Dateline Moscow.

[Music: Industrial Pop]

JD: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekov — in Moscow you can visit monuments to all these great literary figures. And now there's a new kid on the block whom you can include in your walking tour of the city. A man who did not sway with words, but rather let his masterpiece do the talking for him, for his weapon of choice was not a literary — it was literal. An assault rifle that shares his name — Kalashnikov — also known as the AK-47. The ‘A’ and the ‘K’ of the Avtomat Kalashnikova, and the 47 for the year it went into production. Today The AK-47 ranks as the one of the most popular firearms in the world, with upwards of 100 million in circulation around the globe. It is said to be behind the deaths of as many as a quarter-of-a-million people per year. Mikhail Kalashnikov himself died just four years ago of natural causes. He was 94 years old. And just today his nine-metre bronze likeness was unveiled on a busy downtown street to much fanfare. Several high ranking Russian officials were on hand, as was a Russian Orthodox priest to bless the statue. Kalashnikov, the man is shown brandishing a Kalashnikov — the rifle, in the words of Russian state television quote, “like a violin.” Meanwhile an accompanying monument depicting the Archangel Michael or Mikhail I guess, casting a dragon into hell by slaying him with a spear, stands just behind Kalashnikov. The monument’s sculptor explained that the spear is in fact meant to symbolize an AK-47, perhaps recognizing that on its own a statue of an actual AK-47-wielding Kalashnikov won't blow everyone away.

[Music: Industrial Pop]

Non-fiction winner

JD: It all started when Becky Blake's friend asked her to write something on the topic of food for an event. Now for Ms. Blake food and love are inseparable ingredients. And that recipe made her the winner of this year's CBC's non-fiction prize. According to the jury, Trust Exercise is quote, “an elegant reminder, not only of the malleability of memory, but also of its interruptions,” with writing that quote, “breathes like a series of a long sighs.” Here is Becky Blake reading her award winning submission about first love and all the meals that contributed to it.

SOUNDCLIP

BECKY BLAKE: My first love's name was Anton.Shortly before we met, his mother left his father for a Mennonite caterer. For months after she moved out, there was nothing to eat at Anton's house except Honey Nut Cheerios. No milk.

The first time I encountered Anton's father, he was sitting alone in the living room. He'd rigged up a pulley system which allowed him to manoeuvre a pizza box from the kitchen counter, through the room, and onto his lap. The pizza box was empty.

When I asked Anton to kiss me, he said he would consider it if I made him a very good bowl of Vichyssoise. He also wanted me to promise that we would be together forever. The promise seemed a little dramatic, and I didn't know what Vichyssoise was, but I agreed to both conditions, excited at the prospect of soon having my very first kiss.

There was no internet in those days, so I went to the library to find a recipe. It turned out that Vichyssoise was cold potato leek soup. The recipe was for eight servings. I cut it in half, but partway through I forgot and added too much milk. The result was a potato milkshake. Anton drank it but refused to kiss me since it wasn't very good.

In my last semester of high school, I moved into a commune on Anton's street. I got a job as a baker to pay my rent. At work, I had to wear an apron that said, "I've got the best buns in town." I was 17, and I always had little balls of dried dough stuck in my arm hair. After one month, I got fired.

My housemates and I took turns picking up food from the House of Friendship. The charity baskets they gave us always included three food groups: Jiffy peanut butter, jalapeño peppers and Crystal Light drink mix. Sometimes it seemed like the House of Friendship was trying to kill us.

I got another job: as a short order cook at a senior citizens' golf course. In the kitchen at the clubhouse, I learned to cook staples from the 1950s, dishes my boss thought seniors would enjoy: potato salad, shepherd's pie, tuna casserole. I also learned to make fancy condiments from other more basic condiments: tartar sauce from mayo and relish, shrimp sauce from ketchup and horseradish.

At night, Anton came over and I tried to impress him with my new cooking skills. He had a sweet tooth, so I started to make him strawberry cream cheese pies. Eventually he agreed to kiss me. Then he was my boyfriend.

On weekends, we stayed out all night, then went to the farmers' market at 6:00 a.m. to buy pinch-pot cherry tarts and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. The Mennonites always seemed like they were judging us for being stoned. Anton didn't like Mennonites because of the one who had stolen his mother's heart.

To me, Anton's mother was like a Slovenian Cruella de Vil. An imposing woman who was always flanked by two tall greyhounds, she didn't think I was good enough for her son because I hadn't read Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. Even after I read it — all four books — she still seemed to hate me. She once cooked me a meal with mouldy vegetables, and then stood there watching to make sure I ate it.

When Anton met my parents, we discovered that he and my dad already knew each other. Apparently, my dad had once placed Anton into a school for juvenile delinquents. Sitting with my parents in their living room, Anton was so nervous he started eating the potpourri. Not just one handful, but two. When I stopped him, he said he'd never heard of potpourri.

Anton and I were always broke. One day we found a $50 bill blowing across a parking lot. We immediately went to Toys R Us to buy a soap-bubble saxophone we'd been eyeing. Afterward, we went to the movies and ordered two large popcorns, then took the bus home; it was a great day. Usually, we had to walk everywhere and could only afford to hang out in fluorescent-lit coffee shops holding hands across sticky tables. Those coffee shop days were also great, caffeine fueling our dreams for the future: Anton was going to make music; I was going to be an actress.

Anton built me a bicycle from scratch. It took all summer. On the day it was finally ready, he rode it over to my place. I'd just found out that I'd been accepted last-minute into a theatre school in Toronto. When I told him I had to leave right away, he rode the bike home, and I never saw it again. He told me later that he sold it, but a friend said she'd watched him dismantle it. I imagined Anton wrenching bolts from their sockets, angry at me for leaving him behind.

Toronto was only an hour away. Anton hitchhiked to visit me on weekends, and I tried to share everything I was learning at school so we wouldn't grow apart. One time I blindfolded him and we wandered around Kensington Market: a trust exercise I'd done in my acting class. For over an hour, I handed him things to touch or taste. I was taking care of his every step, and the bond between us felt unbreakable. Then I gave him an unpeeled kiwi to eat. (I wasn't too familiar with how kiwis worked.) He ripped off the blindfold and spit out a wad of fuzzy green gunk into his hand. "What the hell was that?" he asked, madder than I'd ever seen him.

During my second year of theatre school, Anton moved to England for a while to live in a squat. We didn't talk about dating other people — we didn't have to; our love was going to last forever and always be exclusive. Every month or so, I'd get a postcard or a call from a payphone. "I'm apprenticing with a didgeridoo maker," he told me once, then played me a mournful tune. He sounded really happy though.

When Anton finally came back to Canada, I wasn't sure how it would feel to see him again. I took a deep breath before opening my front door. We were both wearing the exact same orange shirt — a new shirt for both of us. We stood, amazed, on either side of the doorframe for a long moment before we kissed. We were obviously psychic — like all great lovers who were meant to be together.

We spent that summer fooling around and talking about everything we'd seen and done while we were apart. In September, when I was back in school, Anton left again — this time to Vancouver. On my spring break, I went to visit him and he took me to a grocery store that had no staff. It was like shopping in the future, like something out of the sci-fi books he sometimes read. We bought pasta and sauce. Pocky for dessert. The store was silent except for our scanner's beeps—as silent as my weekends back in Toronto without Anton.

In theatre school, there was a lot of touching. Eventually, in my third year, I cheated on him with a clown. It was only one time, but Anton never forgave me. Since then, he probably hates clowns as much as Mennonites, but that's just a guess. It's been more than twenty years since we last spoke, and I don't know where he is.

Twenty years is such a vast expanse to cross that the content of some of these memories may have shifted. One or two could even belong to someone else — be stories that I stole from Anton's friends. Memory, like my word, can't always be trusted. But I promise you this: Anton and I were deeply in love.

I still miss him. That first-ever boy I strawberry-kissed. That first sweet boy I tried so hard to feed.

JD: Trust Exercise written and read by Becky Blake a Toronto-based writer. Ms. Blake is the winner of this year's CBC Non-fiction Prize. You can learn more about her and read her story and the four other shortlisted stories at www.cbcbooks.ca

[Music: Electric Guitar]

From Our Archives: Jerry Pournelle, Hendrix Way

JD: It could be said that Jerry Pournelle was a writer ahead of his time. At the very least, he often wrote about a time ahead of his own. As he once said himself quote, “The iPhone is a pocket computer and we had pocket computers in Mote in God's Eye. Mote in God's Eye is Mr. Pournelle's 1974 novel written with a frequent collaborator Larry Niven, with whom he also wrote popular scifi fantasies like Lucifer's Hammer and the New York Times best seller, Footfall. On his own, he relied on his military experience for books like Janissaries and The Mercenary standoutsin the subgenre of the military sci-fi. Jerry Pournelle died on September 8th. He was 84 years old. Mr. Pournelle didn't just write fiction though, he wrote a number of computer manuals and guides. He also holds the distinction of being the first author to write a novel on a personal computer, in 1977. And that same year along with sci-fi author Isaac Asimov, he shared some thoughts on the future of artificial intelligence, and whether or not AI could someday pose a threat to its human creators. Here is some of what he told As It Happens guest host Laurier LaPierre and this is from our archives.

SOUNDCLIP

LAURIER LAPIERRE: Now one of your colleagues, Dr. Joseph Weizenbaum, who is a professor of computer science says the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that it believes that it is dangerous to pursue the goal of artificial intelligence, for machine will always be alien to humans, though they may eventually appear to be smarter. What is the equivalent in machine terms, Dr. Pournelle, to morality?

JERRY POURNELLE: I merely tell the machine what it is that it wants. I tell it to do certain things and it will do those things. I’m not sure that we want to create a gadget that would have me legal rights. I'm not at all convinced that we want to do much more than have a machine that will do the things that we want it to do, which is to solve certain problems. I'm not convinced that I would find that a desirable goal, but I am not convinced that it is a necessary one either. At the moment, and what is foreseeable, we have created machines which can those things that we cannot do already. Are they then smarter than we are? That's the neuronic level of what we do is not very complicated. If I can describe the world precisely in terms of language that I can put into a computer, and I can tell it what outcomes I would like to have from these input systems, then it will do that. That's not much different from what you and I do. It will already do that, it’s just a matter of my telling it what to do. But I will have chosen its goals for it.

LL: You will be still in command of the machine?

JP: At the moment there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do about that. A chess playing machine may have well within it a learning pattern, that you have told the definition of winning the game. And that's what it tries to do. If you had in fact told it to lose the game then it would find the best possible means of doing that.

LL: And it cannot go counter to your decision?

JP: No, not unless you put in some kind of random system in there and then you have no control over anything any longer, which makes about as much sense as putting a random factor in the steering system of your automobile.

JD: From our archives that was science fiction author Jerry Pournelle speaking with As It Happens guest host Laurier LaPierre in May of 1977. Jerry Pournelle died September 8th. He was 84 years old.

[Music: Ambient Bass]

JD: Right now it’s just boring old West 8th street. But a group of Greenwich Village neighbors want to have it renamed — or at least co-named — Jimi Hendrix way. The street is home to Electric Lady Studios, which the guitarist created in 1970. And inside its walls musicians such as Stevie Wonder, The Stones, Frank Ocean and Adele have all recorded tracks. One person who did not get to use the studio much was Hendrix himself. The day after it opened he recorded one instrumental there and then he flew off to London and died three weeks later. Well, yesterday was the 47th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's death. And so far over 500 locals have signed a petition to have the street renamed. We will keep you posted about Jimi Hendrix way.

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