The Sunday Magazine

The Sunday Edition for February 9, 2020

Listen to this week's episode with host Michael Enright.

Listen to this week's episode with host Michael Enright:

Michael's essay – Recalling the ancient art of flushing a toilet or turning on a tap: Technology is fine in theory, but — as Michael asks in his essay — do we need it for everything? And why are instruction manuals incomprehensible? He describes one for a kitchen appliance that "reads like the pre-flight checklist for the space shuttle." 

Democrats, not Republicans, are now strangers in their own land: Four years ago, before the election of Donald Trump, we spoke with sociologist Arlie Hochschild, who published a ground-breaking book about staunch Republicans, titled Strangers in Their Own Land. That is how voters in Louisiana felt. Hochschild had embedded herself with them, on and off for about five years. We speak again with her, at the end of this week's events: the Iowa caucuses, the State of the Union address, and the impeachment vote in the Senate. 

Sometimes, it's good to be a nuisance: We think of "nuisance" as a negative word. In this essay, Ruth Miller of Toronto explains how she discovered a whole new meaning for it, when she heard it uttered at a funeral by her rabbi.

Documentary – We all want to vent, these people want to listen: It's a relief to unload life's burdens, but it can be challenging to find the right listener. A unique program in Montreal offers people an opportunity to spill their woes about romance, finance, family, friends, virtually any problem, and a trained volunteer will listen. Two McGill University students created "Vent Over Tea," an idea they want to take across the country. Producer Craig Desson brings us their story.

Not just diseases but ideas can plague us, says this political scientist: How people behave in times of great uncertainty and fear — such as the current scare over coronavirus — is the focus of Emily Nacol's research. She teaches political theory at the University of Toronto and is currently studying accounts of plagues in fiction.

Artists grapple with the complicated relationship between addiction and art: The image of the tortured, addicted, brilliant artist has deep historical roots, and has long held a touch of romance. In the age of the opioid crisis, it's losing its lustre. Peterborough's Electric City Culture Council recently hosted a roundtable discussion about art and addiction, including visual artists, actors, musicians and frontline workers. We share some of that conversation.

Reprise – Bill T. Jones on the life and legacy of James Baldwin: Had he lived, the fiery novelist, essayist and civil rights leader James Baldwin would have been 95 this year. The man whose compelling prose about the growing rift between whites and blacks — and about what it was like to be black and gay — was a fierce analyst of race relations in the U.S. His views are just as relevant decades later. We reprise Michael's conversation with renowned choreographer Bill T. Jones, executive artistic director of New York Live Arts, which staged the festival, James Baldwin, This Time! 

Mail: The platypus; the four-legged companions of the homeless.

Music: The Andrew Scott Quartet, Bert Jansch, Duke Ellington, Kiri Te Kanawa