Ideas

IDEAS schedule for November 2019

Highlights include: award-winning author Kamal Al-Solaylee on what it means to be brown in the world today (Nov 6); Boomer-bashing: Is it fair to blame a generation? (Nov 8); Sally Armstrong's CBC Massey Lectures: Power Shift: The Longest Revolution (Nov 11-15): and how climate change is threatening the complex ecosystems of deserts (Nov 22).


Friday, November 1
REPEAT AFTER ME
In 2011, one of the world's most respected psychologists proved the impossible. Daryl Bem, a professor at Cornell University, "proved" that precognition — the ability to sense and predict the future — is real. His study was explosive. This one paper shook the very foundations of psychology, leading researchers to question accepted research standards. Contributor Alexander B. Kim investigates psychology's replication crisis and its explosive aftermath.
 



Monday, November 4
ENRIGHT FILES: OPERA SINGERS ON THEIR PLACE IN A GRAND TRADITION
Opera may have a reputation as being highbrow — a marker of the snootiest kind of sophisticated and affluence. But opera was once regarded and intended as popular entertainment — music for everyone. And many of the best opera singers today happen to be Canadians who hail from places very distant from the world's most celebrated concert halls. This month on the Enright Files: conversations with opera singers about their art and their place in a grand tradition.

Tuesday, November 5
WISHFUL DREAMING: FREUD AND THE DISCOVERY OF OUR INNER LIFE 
Sigmund Freud started a revolution with the idea that we have an internal emotional life, as well as unconscious drives that shape us — and our actions — in profound ways. Much of Freud's clinical practice is discredited today, but his basic principles still survive. A discussion from the Stratford Festival about the current state of Freud's legacy about self-knowledge, featuring psychiatrist David Goldbloom, cognitive psychologist Zindel Segal and social/cultural theorist Todd Dufresne.

Wednesday, November 6 
BEING BROWN 
More than 2.1 billion people around the globe are considered to be brown-skinned. Brown is also increasingly the colour of cheap foreign labour and Western suspicion. Award-winning author, journalist and academic Kamal Al-Solaylee joins IDEAS producer Mary Lynk for an on-stage interview to discuss what it means to be brown in the world today.

Thursday, November 7
LONELY TOGETHER: THE PLIGHT OF URBAN ISOLATION
There have never been as many cities across the world as there are right now, nor with such high populations. Yet urban loneliness is a virtual pandemic, and one with huge social, medical and financial consequences. Why are populous cities the new capitals of isolation?

Friday, November 8
BOOMER-BASHING: IS IT FAIR TO BLAME A GENERATION?
A debate between two opposing views of the 'Baby Boom' generation and its legacy for the world. British sociologist Jennie Bristow, author of Stop Mugging Grandma: The 'Generation Wars and Why Boomer-Blaming Won't Solve Anything, confronts American author Bruce Cannon Gibney who wrote A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America. Nahlah Ayed tries to keep the peace as the pair argue over who's responsible on everything from high house prices, the climate crisis, national debts, insolvent pension funds, and the woes of millennials.
 



Monday, November 11
CBC MASSEY LECTURE: IN THE BEGINNING(S)
Starting in Whitehorse, Sally Armstrong begins her 2019 CBC Massey Lectures reflecting on the origins of her own awareness of gender imbalance and lack of power as a child. As she got older, becoming a journalist in the 60's, she finds the same problems, even after the women's movement was gaining steam. She goes even further back, to the dawn of human civilization and what we know of it, taking us on a lightning tour through history as women inexorably lost power and status to men — all of which brings us to today.
 
Tuesday, November 12
CBC MASSEY LECTURE: THE MATING GAME
In Sally Armstrong's second lecture, this time in Vancouver, she explore sex: the history of sex for procreation, for pleasure, for business. In our time, monogamy is the norm, but evolutionary biology suggests that in earlier times, it wasn't. We've moved through history to see more controlling of women and women's bodies. And this increased control affects women's roles in society — less power and agency, more responsibility to take care of the home and children — and as a result, the domination of women's bodies by men, which has led to the horrors of abuse we're all too familiar with today.

Wednesday, November 13
CBC MASSEY LECTURE: A HOLY PARADOX
The third Massey lecture, delivered in Fredericton, focuses on the status of women in religious affairs throughout history. In prehistory, women appeared to have high status and were deeply respected. But in later times, their status seems to have lowered — women were pushed to the side in all the major religions. Leading the worship of God became a man's job. In cultural norms too, the power of women was curtailed — honour killings, child marriage, genital mutilation, all invoked as extensions of belief systems. A long way from where faith traditions originally started out.

Thursday, November 14
CBC MASSEY LECTURE: WHEN THE PATRIARCHY MEETS THE MATRIARCHY
Women have been trying to move the dial on equality rights for thousands of years. The handprints on ancient Stone Age cave walls were often made by women's hands — they were the artists — and right up through to the #metoo movement, the impetus has been the same: women representing themselves. There's a recent movement to have 30% of women on corporate boards —  it's had spotty success so far, but Massey Lecturer Sally Armstrong says initiatives like this are the only way forward.
 
Friday, November 15
CBC MASSEY LECTURE: SHIFTING POWER
The final lecture in the series was delivered in Toronto, and gets us to where we have to go — a future where all of us depend on women's skills and unique abilities being recognized and embraced. Sexual harassment is on the rise, and there'll be even more pushback from those who fear change, but the shift in power is happening, and our collective fate depends on men and women walking together. This is the final message of Power Shift: The Longest Revolution.



Monday, November 18
DOES THE DEEP STATE EXIST?
The term has been used by both authoritative academics and flaky conspiracy nuts, by both the political left and the right. In broad strokes, it means that the official leaders of a country aren't the real leaders — that hidden away in bureaucracies or other corridors of power are the real lever-pullers. This documentary by investigative journalist, Bruce Livesey, examines the origins of the conflicted term, and where its in operation today.

Tuesday, November 19
CAPITALISM IN THE ANTHROPOCENE
The evidence is in: if the earth is to survive catastrophic climate change, the economies of the world can't continue to grow and grow. Keeping the status quo makes ecological viability an impossibility. But imagining a world without capitalism seems its own impossibility. It would require fundamentally rethinking our idea of prosperity and how we value work. In lecture and conversation, mathematician and philosopher David Schweickart asks whether there is another way forward for capitalism, one in which the choice isn't between the economy and life itself.

Wednesday, November 20
THE FIRST STONE: JESUS, THE ACCUSED AND US
Variously called 'Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery', 'Jesus and the Accused', and the 'Pericope Adulterae', this story, found in the Gospel of John, still throws off reflections and refractions today. Jesus' message is stark: "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And the history of the text is unique. IDEAS producer Sean Foley asks: What happens in this story? Where did it come from? And what does it say to us about some of our deepest contemporary dilemmas?

Thursday, November 21
MACHINES OF CHANCE
Monte Carlo, Vegas, Macau. Playgrounds of royalty and the Rat Pack. Storied settings for Bond and Scorcese. Casinos are a global entertainment phenomenon, popular now for nearly four centuries. Players know that "the house always wins," and yet continue to gamble against the odds. This documentary asks experts and observers to reflect on the casino in both real life and the imagination. Skill versus luck, attention and distraction, fortune paired with loss: the casino reflects us, individually and culturally, back to ourselves.

Friday, November 22
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE DESERT
Around a third of the surface of the Earth is made up of desert. Deserts hold a special place in the religious and historical imagination. They're places where God is felt and ecstatic visions are experienced. They're also where criminals hide and the marginalized retreat to. In our age, the deserts are also in trouble. Despite warnings of 'desertification' and the expansion of deserts, their complex ecosystems are actually at great risk from climate change. In this documentary, contributing producer Matthew Lazin-Ryder examines the threats to desert life and landscapes. These aren't just ecological threats: they're spiritual and philosophical.
 



Monday, November 25
FOREIGN TERRAIN: MIDDLE POWER IN AN UPENDED WORLD 
As chaotic and unpredictable as the world can be, there was — at least for a time — an international rules-based order, underpinned by US leadership that ensured at least a semblance of stability. That order is in decline. So what's a middle power like Canada to do? What can it do?  The Canadian International Council and Global Canada convened a discussion in Toronto, where some answers were found, both by looking back through history, and in imagining a possible future.

Tuesday, November 26
PLANET YOU: THE MYSTERIOUS WORLD OF THE MICROBIOME
There are trillions of them on — and in — our bodies. Microbes have existed on earth for more than three and a half billion years. Makes you wonder who's playing host to whom, and whether we humans are merely vessels for these tiny survivors. They influence everything from intestinal disorders to mental health conditions — and we're only just beginning to understand their power over us. Contributor Stephen Humphrey journeys into the mysterious world of the microbiome.

Wednesday, November 27
DATA FOR SOCIAL GOOD
We live in a glut of data. Individually we produce vast amounts of information about ourselves simply by living our lives: where we go, what we like, where we shop, our political views, which programs we watch. Each day we produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data and the rate is growing. In the last two years alone we've generated about 90 per cent of the data that's out there. IDEAS contributor Anik See looks at this tremendous amount of data and how some people are harnessing it, not for surveillance or selling, but rather for the public good.

Thursday, November 28
ATHEISM'S ENGAGEMENT WITH RELIGION
Popular atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens have long been attacking religious belief with both derision and admonishment. But atheism is also engaging religion in less adversarial ways. In his latest book, This Life, Martin Hägglund questions the usefulness of religion, with its fixation on the infinite. To bolster his argument, Hägglund draws not upon atheist firebrands, but upon Christian heavyweights: St. Augustine, C.S. Lewis, and Martin Luther King Jr. Philosopher of science, Michael Ruse, has long been at odds with fellow atheists over his own approach to religion. In his latest book, A Meaning to Life, he mines the Darwinian universe for veins of deeper meaning. IDEAS Producer Sean Foley speaks with Hägglund and Ruse about how — and why — they engage with proponents of a faith they do not share. 

Friday, November 29
FOOD INSECURITY: DAVID NABARRO 
More than 800 million people around the world are facing food insecurity. Wars and climate change are pushing those numbers up day by day. We talk almost ceaselessly about the political crises wrought by these two major disruptions. But we talk less about how we can actually address — and possibly transform — the crisis of food security. Dr. David Nabarro, professor of global health at Imperial College in London, is a long-time advisor and leader on food issues and sustainable development. He says that it may be possible to change how we manage producing food and access. But it'll take a lot of effort, and even more thinking.