Ideas

IDEAS schedule for October 2019

Highlights include: how the power of Broadway musicals can propel social change (Oct 5); Canadian author Astra Taylor searches for the meaning of democracy — challenging if it truly can exist (Oct 14); and Harvard historian of science Anne Harrington discusses the ongoing hunt for a biological basis to mental illness (Oct 28).

Tuesday, October 1
EVEN SMITH SAYS
Since his death in 1790, Adam Smith has been invoked both to defend and attack ideas on the economic left — and right. Considered by some to be the 'father of economics,' his name often comes up in two main scenarios. On the right, it starts with "Adam Smith says..." On the left, it begins: "Even Adam Smith says...." This documentary from contributing CBC Radio producer Matthew Lazin-Ryder looks at how Smith's name has been used over the centuries, and how an 18th-century Scottish professor of moral philosophy continues to be contested territory in modern thinking.

Wednesday, October 2
TRUE CRIME BLOODLINE
From the investigative journalism of "In the Dark" and "Murdered and Missing," to the lurid horror of "Dirty John," to the eccentric storytelling of "My Favourite Murder," we're a culture hungrily consuming tales of murder and the criminal mind. It's a darkly popular form of entertainment in this era of podcasts and streaming docu-series — particularly for women. Yet True Crime narratives have been hugely popular for more than 400 years.

Thursday, October 3
IDEAS IN THE TRENCHES: SYRIAN REFUGEE DADS
Adnan Al Mhamied is a PhD student, father of four, and also a refugee from Syria's collapse into war. He escaped his country as a wanted man after Assad's government targeted people like him — members of non-violent, pro-democracy movements. Now Adnan is at the McGill School of Social Work, gathering the stories of other 'refugee dads' in Montreal. With the insights that come from his own experience, Adnan's research exposes the 'silent suffering' of men as they try to lead their families across the cultural divides. Traditions and once-trusted instincts collide with a strange and different Canadian environment.

**This episode is part of our series, Ideas from the Trenches, featuring outstanding PhD students. It's presented by Nicola Luksic and Tom Howell.

Friday, October 4
THE BROADWAY BAROMETER: HOW MUSICALS CAPTURE AND PROPEL SOCIAL CHANGE
The Broadway musical is an art form both beloved and maligned. Whether you love it or hate it, the Broadway musical has the power to tap into the zeitgeist, capturing and propelling social change. Princeton musical theatre scholar Stacy Wolf takes host Nahlah Ayed on a tour of the hidden power of musicals from the 1950s to today.
 



Monday, October 7
2019 MUNK DEBATES: IS CHINA A THREAT OR AN ALLY?
In the Spring 2019 Munk Debates, the motion moved was: Is China a threat to the liberal international order?  H.R. McMaster and Michael Pillsbury competed for audience votes against Kishore Mahbubani and Huiyao Wang at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall in May 2019. 

Tuesday, October 8
STRATFORD: TRUMP & AFTER 
As disruptors go, Donald Trump is the world's most powerful one right now — disruptive in everything from national politics, to social issues, to the international relations. How far will his disruptions go, and what will remain once he's gone? IDEAS convened a panel at the Stratford festival to discuss Trump and after, with The Atlantic Magazine senior editor David Frum, Canadian journalist Linda McQuaig, and former Ontario premier Bob Rae

Wednesday, October 9
OLIVE SENIOR: A WRITER'S LIFE
A stirring and moving account of becoming, and being, a writer by Olive Senior. Born and raised in Jamaica, she moved to Canada as a young woman. And while this country is home, she says: "Everything in my writing life, I owe to my childhood.  The place I was born, the ground on which I stood..." A prolific writer of 18 books of fiction, she has won a slew of awards over her long, illustrious career, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. The program combines her 2019 Margaret Laurence Lecture with an interview, archival tape — and, yes, a little Bob Marley.

Thursday, October 10
GIVING UP EMPIRE
At the height of the British Empire, some British thinkers argued that Britain should let go of its control over much of the world. This notion was radical at the time, but in retrospect, many Canadians would now side with the view of anti-Empire radicals and the colonized people who argued for their own right to independence. CBC Radio Producer Tom Howell finds out what this thinking may mean for Canada today, in light of what some Indigenous leaders call our own "colonial" behaviour toward the other nations within Canadian borders. Should Canadians emulate those nineteen century British anti-colonialists? And if so, what would Canada look like?

Friday, October 11
CAPTURING OUR FRACTURED, FRACTIOUS AGE 
Gun violence, financial uncertainty, climate change, political hostility, food insecurity... The list of features defining our anxious and angry age could go much further. But how to portray it, how to represent it, how to dramatize it? Lucy Ellmann's epic and Booker-nominated novel, Ducks, Newburyport may well have done that. The narrator is a simple, likeable, pie-baking housewife in Ohio. The form is complex and sophisticated: stream-of-consciousness, 1,000 pages long — and comprised of one, single sentence!



Monday, October 14
DIGNITY DOWN THE TOILET: PUBLIC BATHROOMS AS A HUMAN RIGHT
Public bathrooms are something we all need, yet they are a public amenity few of us talk about openly and that cities often get wrong. How should governments and businesses provide for this most basic bodily need and what does it mean for citizens when they have no place to go? IDEAS contributor Lezlie Lowe flushes out the answers on a road trip, with many bathroom breaks, across North America.

Tuesday, October 15
MARK BLYTH: GLOBAL TRUMPISM AND THE FUTURE OF THE GLOBAL POLITICAL ECONOMY
Pundits, analysts and others in the chattering classes were surprised and shocked at the election of Donald Trump and other populist leaders in Europe. But Scottish political scientist Mark Blyth saw it coming. In this talk delivered at McMaster University as part of its Socrates Project, he asks listeners to consider the political and economic circumstances that led to these phenomena. Where is it all going? And why should we pay attention? Mark Blyth shares his thoughts in both his lecture and in a later conversation with our host, Nahlah Ayed.

Wednesday, October 16
ASTRA TAYLOR ON DEMOCRACY, PT 1 
What is democracy? Canadian-American writer and activist Astra Taylor puts aside her initial skepticism and sets out to answer a question we rarely ask. Her conclusion? Democracy doesn't exist, but it still manages to disappoint. And yet, it's still worth fighting for. Taylor takes us on a walking tour searching for the meaning of democracy — in New York City. Part one of a two-part series.

Thursday, October 17
** Pre-empted in the Atlantic and Eastern time zones for the Nunavut federal election candidates event.
THE TEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE
It's never been easier to banish the feeling of boredom — at least for a moment. But some fear our weapons of mass distraction could lead to an epidemic of ennui and ADD. Contributor Peter Mitton examines boredom and discovers a little-understood universal state of mind. From its obvious downsides and unexpected upsides, to its evolutionary origins and the way it's shaping our future — boredom is anything but dull.

Friday, October 18
ASTRA TAYLOR ON DEMOCRACY, PT 2 
Canadian-American writer and activist Astra Taylor continues her search for the meaning of democracy — in New York City, in this second episode of her two-part series on IDEAS.



Monday, October 21
** IDEAS is pre-empted everywhere else for the federal election results. This episode is only airing in our  4 a.m. slot.
BORN TO LIE: WHY HONESTY ISN'T ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY
No one wants to be called a liar. Or worse, to be caught lying. Yet lying is something we all do, often without even realizing it. IDEAS producer Nicola Luksic looks at our instinct to lie, why we do it, how we teach children to do the same — and why it can sometimes be a good thing.

Tuesday, October 22
THE IRRATIONAL ANIMAL: JUSTIN E. H. SMITH 
In his book, Irrationality A History of the Dark Side of Reason, Justin E. H. Smith re-tells human history in terms of the flip-side of rationality, as a series of anti-reason developments rather than as a climb towards enlightened scientific modernity. He starts in the 5th century B.C.E., pauses for thought on the supposed "Age of Reason," and then turns the lens on today, pointing out how — as "reason's twin" — irrationality has been equally vital to human development.

Wednesday, October 23
EDWARD SAID: 40 YEARS LATER
Edward Said's seminal book, Orientalism (1978), proposed one of the most influential and enduring analyses of the relationship between the west and the Middle East. In many ways, the ideas contained within Said's book seem uncontroversial, perhaps even obvious today. But when Said first proposed his analysis four decades ago, what he proposed was radical. His contention that the Western understanding of the Middle East was shaped by and large through an imagining of The Other, generated an enormous response. Forty years after the book's publication, the ideas in it still reverberate. 

Thursday, October 24
THE ORIGINS OF US: HUBERT REEVES, PT 1
Hubert Reeves is one of the world's foremost experts on the Big Bang and the origins of time. He lives in France, where the acclaimed astrophysicist has the status of a rock star. In Quebec, where he was born, he is called their Einstein. And yet he's largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Not only is he a brilliant cosmologist; he's also a riveting storyteller and popularizer of science. Not to explain the complex, he says, is undemocratic. Hubert Reeves is now 86, and speaks with producer Mary Lynk at his country home in Burgundy, outdoors and under the stars.

Friday, October 25
THE BEAUTY OF CHANCE: HUBERT REEVES, PT 2
Hubert Reeves is one of the world's foremost experts on the Big Bang and the origins of time. He lives in France, where the acclaimed astrophysicist has the status of a rock star. In Quebec, where he was born, he is called their Einstein. And yet he's largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Not only is he a brilliant cosmologist; he's also a riveting storyteller and popularizer of science. Not to explain the complex, he says, is undemocratic. Part 2 of a 2-part series.



Monday, October 28
MIND FIXERS: BIOLOGY & MENTAL HEALTH
Author and Harvard historian of science Anne Harrington talks with Nahlah Ayed about the ongoing hunt for a biological basis to mental illness. For individuals and families contending with depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, finding those biomedical roots can mean everything from decreased social stigma to better treatments. Yet science and medicine have been inconsistent in their efforts and success. Harrington analyzes the trajectory of research, and how social factors from politics to media portrayals have fueled that inconsistency, both historically and in our own time. 

Tuesday, October 29
THE JEZEBEL PROBLEM
PhD graduate Laura Hare taught herself Biblical Hebrew so she could analyze male and female speech patterns in the original text of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament). She found the women characters consistently using language that shows deference to men. Some of these signs of deference exist in women's speech today in North American English. The only female biblical character who fully speaks 'like a man' also became an archetype of evil — Queen Jezebel. 'Ideas from the Trenches' producers Tom Howell and Nicola Luksic find out what Laura Hare's discoveries mean for the present day.

Wednesday, October 30
FRIESEN LECTURE: DR. BARTHA KNOPPERS
Dr. Bartha Knoppers is the 2019 recipient of the Henry G. Friesen International Prize for excellence in health research. Once a scholar of surrealist poetry, Dr. Knoppers was captivated by the possibility of making an impact in the legal profession. She has since become a world-renowned voice and a prolific researcher in the field of medical ethics. She is the Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University. Her Friesen lecture, delivered in September at the University of Ottawa, is called: "Scientific Breakthroughs: The Prohibition Reflex."

Thursday, October 31
DA VINCI'S MONSTERS
Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks are a treasure trove of life-like sketches of human anatomy and intricate mechanical designs. But hidden amongst the scientifically-minded drawings are fanciful sketches of monsters, beasts, and dragons. Author and historian Ross King takes Nahlah Ayed through the notebooks, and shows how Da Vinci hoped to preserve the ideas of fantasy and imagination, in an increasingly scientific world.