Friday, December 31, 2010

Jan 3 - 7 Programs

Monday: Painting With Animals: Olly & Suzi are London-based artist-explorers who have portrayed wild dogs and lions in Tanzania, killer whales in Norway, polar bears and Arctic foxes in Siberia, and many others. The artists collaborate with one another and induce wild creatures to interact with their canvases. Bites, footprints, rips, and slithers are "proof of where they are now," they say, "but might not be for much longer." Rebroadcast from 12/17/2009.

Tuesday: The Interfaith Amigos: Three clergymen from the three Abrahamic faiths used friendship to create a dialogue. Rabbi Ted Falcon, Sheikh Jamal Rahman, and Pastor Don Mackenzie met every week for nine years after 9/11 in search of common ground. They sum up their collective discoveries in the book, Getting to the Heart of Interfaith: The Eye-Opening Hope-Filled Friendship of a Pastor, a Rabbi and a Sheikh. Rebroadcast from 07/08/2010.

Wednesday: The Adventures of Tintin: Tintin is the most well-known comic character worldwide, comparable in popularity only to Mickey Mouse. Tintin’s adventures lead him and his readers to such places as China, the Congo, America, and even the moon! But through time and history, Tintin and his Belgian creator Hergé have not been spared by controversy. Accused of such a serious charge as racism, Hergé was forced by history to review some of the depictions of the places Tintin visits. So how has Tintin changed over time? And what explains the enduring popularity of Tintin? Rebroadcast from 08/19/2010.

Thursday: Inside Islam: Muslims, Mosques and the American Identity: What goes on in mosques in America? Are mosques a part of the tradition of religious pluralism in America? Can a Muslim be an American? Islamic Studies luminary Akbar Ahmed traveled for a year around the country, visiting over a hundred mosques to find out how Muslims are living every day in America. Rebroadcast from 11/02/2010.

Friday:Eating Animals: Vegetarianism is nothing new, but for some reason Jonathan Safran Foer's 2009 book, Eating Animals, sparked a nationwide conversation about how we eat. The paperback edition of this bestseller comes out this week and Jonathan Safran Foer joins us to continue the conversation he started, this Food Friday. Rebroadcast from 09/24/2010.

Happy New Year! We’ll talk again in 2011.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Dec 27 - 31 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Whitman and Lincoln: Parallel Lives on the World Stage: Who knew that San Marino made Lincoln an honorary citizen? Or that Karl Marx was a fan and followed the progress of the Civil War with great interest, thinking it might be a model of resistance? And given the political tensions that seem threatening to tear us apart in our own time, how hopeful to look back and remember why it was so important to the whole world that this nation, "so conceived, and so dedicated," did not perish from the earth.

Monday: Kung Fu for Life: Think Kung Fu is just for Jackie Chan? How about the Kung Fu of cooking? Philosophy professor Peimin Ni is bridging the divide between East and West to show that the true Kung Fu is not a style of fighting but a philosophy of life we can all learn from.

Tuesday: A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA snatched off the terrorist suspect Abu Omar from a street in Milan on February 17, 2003, and spirited him away to Egypt for extraordinary rendition. The Italian court responded by convicting 23 CIA agents, marking the first time the CIA has ever been brought to trial. Freelance journalist Steve Hendricks investigated the case and wrote about it in his book, "A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial."

Wednesday: Capital Punishment on Trial: Why does the U.S. hold on to the death penalty while other countries in the West have abolished it? Justice Stevens caused quite a stir in explaining why he turned against the death penalty in his review of David Garland’s new book "Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition." Find out why when we talk with David on the show next Wednesday.

Thursday: Love and Other Letters: Anthropologist and Milwaukee native Nancy Lurie discovered a treasure trove of over 500 letters that her father wrote to her mother in the years leading up to their marriage, from the gaslight era to the Jazz Age, yielding fascinating insights into the First World War, the Russian Revolution, Prohibition and many other signs of the time. What’s waiting to be discovered in your attic?

Friday:Eating Animals: I’m still not a convert, but after talking with Jonathan Safran Foer about vegetarianism, I’m weakening. His 2009 book "Eating Animals" sparked both a nationwide conversation about how we eat and a movement which is gaining momentum.

Merry Christmas and to all a Good Night!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Letters from Brussels: A Snowflake through Time - 12/23

Dominique Haller

On today's show, we'll feature another one of Leona Francombe's wonderful Letters from Brussels. It's called A Snowflake through Time. You can read it here.

To check out all of Leona's Letters from Brussels, please click here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

International Children's Literature - 12/22

Dominique Haller

What books did you grow up with? On today's show, we'll talk with two experts on children's literature about its history and its diversity in the world today. Authors such as Edith Nesbit from the UK and Astrid Lindgren from Sweden have provided our youngsters with great classics of children's literature. Here's a list with links to some of the authors we'll talk about in today's show:

Astrid Lindgren, Sweden: go to her website and find out about her books here.

Tove Jansson, Finland: learn about the Moomin Series here.

Kitty Crowther, Belgium: her books are currently only available in French and Dutch. To see some of her amazing illustrations, click here.

Ryoki Arai, Japan: his website is in Japanese, but his books have been translated to English. To see his quirky picture books, click here.

What are the best memories you have of children's books? Which were your favorites when growing up, and why? Which ones are you now reading to your kids? Leave your comments below.

Celebrating Our Intangible Culture 12/21

Carly Yuenger

On today's show we talk with Chief of the Intangible Heritage Section of UNESCO, Cécile Duvelle, about the most recent additions to the list of the world's intangible cultural heritage. It sounds a little high concept, but the reality is earthly and delightful. Just check out their website...

UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has an amazing multimedia catalog of the over 200 examples already voted to represent the world's intangible cultural heritage (basically, anything cultural that is not a "thing").

Here are just a couple of the gems you'll find there. Enjoy!

Tsuur Music of Mongolia:

Traditional Li textile techniques of Hainan Province, China

Monday, December 20, 2010

Favorite Foreign Films 12/20

Carly Yuenger

On today's show we talk with film critic Jim Hoberman about the past and present of foreign films in America. Here are the trailers from a few films talked about in the show.

Take a look, and then leave a comment telling us about your favorite foreign film!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dec 20 - 24 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): The Butterfly Mosque: Well, it’s been a banner week, and we haven’t even got to the Italian Grandmothers yet. I’m hard pressed to come up with a favorite – I liked them all – but since I have to choose, it doesn’t get much better than Wednesday’s show with G. Willow Wilson, who writes for Superman and is a devotee of Nine Inch Nails, explaining, with calm, open-eyed clarity, why she converted to Islam. And what a lovely title for a memoir: The Butterfly Mosque. I just wish she had a put a little more Superman into it.

Monday: Best Foreign Films: Is it really true that Americans don’t have the patience to read the sub-titles? Veronica Rueckert sits in for me talking with Village Voice film critic Jim Hoberman about America’s on again/but mostly off again love affair with foreign films. And we’ll want to hear about your first, favorite, and most recent excursions into the wider world of cinema.

Tuesday: Our Intangible Heritage: What do Falconry and Turkish oil wrestling have in common? They are two masterpieces of human culture recently added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity. We’ll speak with Cécile Duvelle, Chief of the Intangible Heritage Section, about the challenges and rewards of protecting living traditions.

Wednesday: International Children’s Literature: What are the books you grew up with? If you are still looking for the right book to give to the kids in your family, join us to explore the rich tradition of children’s literature from around the world.

Thursday: Lincoln and Whitman: In 1856, Walt Whitman wished that 'some… middle-aged, beard-faced American blacksmith or boatman come down from the West across the Alleghenies, and walk into the Presidency.' Five years later, Abraham Lincoln did just that. Less known is the shared admiration between the two. Lincoln inspired Whitman's poetry and for years he held imaginary conversations with Lincoln in his journal. We look back at the Civil War, 150 years later, through the shared regard of two of the times' most distinct voices.

Friday:Christmas Eve in Sicily: We combed the Here on Earth archives and came up with the perfect food program for Christmas Eve: On Dec. 24, la vigilia di Natale, Guissepe Scarlata's family will sit down in their home in Trapani to a seven course fish feast: marinated octopus and squid salad, smoked swordfish and thin slices of cured tuna. And that's just for starters. Join us for Christmas Eve in Sicily.

Buon Natale! Buon Natale, tutti quanti!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Dec 13 - 17 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): War Stories and Recipes: I’m in prophecy mode right now, but if Food Friday with Anna Badhken this afternoon comes close to what I’m anticipating, she’s got my vote. I’ve always been deeply connected to food – after all, I come from an Italian family – but it took the memoir of a war correspondent to get me to truly understand why. When everything else fails food, and especially the sharing of food, is what reminds us what it really means to be a human being.

Monday: Finding Utopia: Will utopia ever exist? JC Hallman travelled the world’s intentional communities to study our quest for a better perfect. He came back thinking that even when perfect fails, there’s something human about reaching for it.

Tuesday: Operation Peter Pan and Beyond Robert Wright in a recent NY Times op-ed discusses whether the significant rise of tolerance for gays in the US over the last generation is a road map for Muslims.

Wednesday: Inside Islam: The Butterfly Mosque: WWhy do so many women convert to Islam? You might think it’s because they fall in love with Muslim men, but in Willow Wilson’s case, conversion came first followed by romance.

Thursday: The Storyteller of Marrakesh: Earlier this fall, travel writer Raphael Kadushin whetted our appetite for the exotic in describing his trip to the Djamaa, the fabled medina of Marrakesh. Now, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, an Indian novelist, takes us deeper in his novel based on the ancient art of storytelling as it’s still practiced by Hassan, the storyteller, as he gathers his listeners in the Djamaa.

Friday:Cooking with Italian Grandmothers: Just as I was about to concede that grandmothers – especially the Italian variety – are an endangered species along comes this glorious cookbook which, I admit, made me cry. The book is the result of a year chef Jessica Theroux spent cooking, foraging, and eating with Italian grandmothers from Milan to Sicily, learning their secrets and listening to their stories. Bless you, Jessica.

Happy Shopping/Happy Baking!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Jean's Pick of the Week for December 3rd

Joe Hardtke

Jean's pick this week had all the elements of a great show: Provocative content, a terrific guest and even a twist at the end of the program.

Check out Jean's pick for this week then download the show from the Here on Earth archive.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Here on Earth - "Off the Mic" - Bob Klein on Ghana

Joe Hardtke

After today's show on the early days of the Peace Corps, Bob Klein, a member of the first cohort of Peace Corps Volunteers, shared this funny (or maybe not so funny?) story from his time in Ghana.

You can download Bob's interview with us now. You'll find it in the Here on Earth archive.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nov 29 - Dec 3 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Talking to the Enemy: If you didn’t get a chance to listen to last Monday’s program with Scott Atran, author of Talking to the Enemy, I really recommend that you download the podcast. Atran is an anthropologist who has spent years getting to know the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks since 9/11. As a result, he has some remarkable insights to share concerning the social context of terrorism and the motivations of the perpetrators. What drives young men to give up their lives for a cause? More than anything, he says it is bonding. He also claims that we have greatly exaggerated the threat; a perspective worth heeding and sharing.

Monday: The Future of Iraq: Months after the withdrawal of combat troops and national elections, Iraqis feel stuck amidst growing violence and ineffectual government. What is our responsibility? Should we cut and run? Have we been told the truth about the war? New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid, who won two Pulitzers for his coverage of Iraq, joins us.

Tuesday: Homophobia and Islamophobia: Is there a Connection? Robert Wright in a recent NY Times op-ed discusses whether the significant rise of tolerance for gays in the US over the last generation is a road map for Muslims.

Wednesday: Madre: Perilous Journeys with a Spanish Noun: What's in a word? Linguistic anthropologist Liza Bakewell spent decades chasing after the many meanings of the Spanish word "madre" as it’s used in Mexico. In her memoir she chronicles the relationship between religion, nationhood and language and celebrates the role of the creative female in a sexist culture.

Thursday: The Peace Corps, Then and Now: In October 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy challenged a group of college students to serve the cause of peace by living and working abroad. Just five months later, President Kennedy signed the Peace Corps into existence. Madison resident Bob Klein was one of the first to sign up. He joins us to talk about the history of the Peace Corps, his experiences in Ghana, and next year’s 50th anniversary.

Friday:Updating Vintage Holiday Recipes: Food is like language: to be alive it must be constantly changing. New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark understands this. A whole section of her new cookbook is devoted to Holiday Food that features vintage recipes with updated variations.

Here’s hoping you had a safe and scrumptious Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Nov. 22-26 Programs

My last public appearance for a while is coming up this Sunday when I'll be giving a presentation at the Madison Women's Expo and signing copies of my memoir, I Hear Voices. Come join me on the main stage at noon the Alliant Energy Center. Check out this month's Brava Magazine for details.

Jean's Pick of the Week: (watch video): Burning Bright: The Mind of the Tiger. John Vaillant tells a tale both harrowing and cautionary in his riveting book, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, about a mysterious tiger attack directed against a poacher in the forbidden arctic hinterland of Siberia. John never saw a tiger while he was in Siberia, but I bet you will after listening to this show.

Monday: Talking to the Enemy: Anthropologist Scott Atran spent years talking to terrorists. In his new book he argues that terrorists don't die for a cause, but for each other. We'll explore the social lives of terrorists, and how things are changing in Afghanistan with a new generation of fighters.

Tuesday: Aung Sun Suu Kyi Goes Free: Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi was released from house arrest last week after 15 years in isolation. The 65-year-old Noble Peace Prize laureate's sudden release brings many speculations surrounding the government's decision. What's behind it, and will her fragile freedom put her on a crash course with the generals?

Wednesday: Bless This Food: Do you say grace? Giving thanks for food is the most common form of prayer found the world over. In anticipation of Thanksgiving, we celebrate this universal cultural tradition with Adrian Butash, author of Bless This Food: Ancient and Contemporary Graces from Around the World.

For Thursday and Friday, we've chosen two programs from our archives that we think you'll enjoy hearing again: one is about giving, and the other is about fat!

Thursday: With This Ring Project: Christina Ammon inherited a diamond ring worth $22,000 from her grandmother. She did some quick calculations: $22,000 could restore sight to 660 people in Bangladesh, send 133 Nepalese children to school, protect 220 acres of rainforest, or provide 220 micro-loans to women in the Congo. Her question: do I want a diamond ring, or a better world?

Friday: In Praise of Fat: You have heard of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. What about good fat and bad fat? After thirty years as the most maligned food, fat is making a comeback. Dishes made with lard, bacon, marrow and butter are appearing on chefs' menus and Jennifer McLagan has written a cookbook in praise of it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend celebrating great food with friends and family!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Nov. 15-19 Programs

It’s a short week for me as I prepare to take off for my native New York to attend the annual AIHA (American Italian Historical Association) being held this year in midtown Manhattan. While I’m in town I’ll be giving a poetry reading at Smalls Jazz Club in the West Village at 5:00pm on Saturday afternoon. All their readings are streamed live on video so you don’t have to be there to pick up the vibe! The site is

Closer to home, I’ll be giving the keynote and signing copies of my memoir I Hear Voices on the main stage at the Madison Women’s Expo next Sunday, Nov. 21, at noon. That’s at the Alliant Energy Center. Should be fun.

Jean's Pick of the Week (watch video): Listen to the Banned:A terrific compilation of some of the greatest banned musicians, most of them from Muslim countries, whose voices can now be heard thanks to the humanitarian efforts of Deeyah, who was herself persecuted by her own Pakistani community in both Norway and the UK, and Danish activist Ole Reitov, co-founder of Freemuse.

Monday: Inter-faith, Inter-nation: What happens when you mix immersion travel and interfaith dialog? It was a life changing experience for participants of The National Peace Foundation’s Religion and Society Program, which brought delegations of community leaders from the Middle East to America, and vice versa. For her work directing the trips, Wisconsinite Sahar Taman has been recognized with a 2010 Citizen Diplomat award.

Tuesday: As China Goes, So Goes the World: China has become the world’s largest consumer of everything from automobiles to beer. The effects of the growing Chinese consumer power don’t only change Chinese society from within, it will also change the global economic engine. How does what you buy change the world?

Wednesday: Reza Aslan on 100 Years of Literature from the Middle East: Regular Here on Earth guest and internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, Reza Aslan takes us on a literary journey through the Middle East. He’s the editor of the new Words Without Borders anthology, Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East.

Thursday: The Tiger: The astonishing story of a Siberian tiger who takes revenge on the poachers who have hurt him. It’s an arresting portrait of the beauty of Siberia, and the tenuous relationship between man and predator.

Friday: Cooking Game: As the hunting season opens once again, we’ll find out how the Brits do it when we talk with British chef Trish Hilferty, author of a gorgeous new book about how to prepare game.

Have a great week!


Cookies! - 11/12

Dominique Haller

On today's show, we'll dive deep into the cookie kingdom! Sara Moulton, former executive editor at Gourmet Magazine and spokesperson for the new Gourmet Cookie Book, will let us in on all the secrets of cookiebaking collected by Gourmet Magazine over 68 years! If you want to try some of the recipes, here's a selection of our favorites:

Mocha Cookies
- makes about 3 dozen cookies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick (1⁄2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into bits
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1 1⁄2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the unsweetened chocolate, 1 1⁄2 cups of the chocolate chips, and the butter, stirring until the mixture is smooth, and remove the bowl from the heat. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, the baking powder, and the salt. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale, and beat in the espresso powder and the vanilla. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, fold in the flour mixture, and stir in the remaining 11⁄2 cups chocolate chips. Let the batter stand for 15 minutes. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake the cookies in the middle of a preheated 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are puffed and shiny and cracked on top. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, transfer them to racks, and let them cool completely.

Recipe Notes
1. Err on the side of underbaking these cookies. They are meant to be soft and rich.
2. Cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring the cookies to racks.

Aunt Sis’s Strawberry Tart Cookies - makes about 8 dozen cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (11⁄2 cups) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 large egg yolks, beaten lightly
1 cup strained strawberry jam

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the sugar, and the salt, add the butter, and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the egg yolks, blend the mixture until it forms a dough, and chill the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Let the dough soften slightly, roll level teaspoons of it into balls, and arrange the balls about 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each ball, being careful not to crack the dough around the edges. (If the dough cracks, reroll it and try again.) Fill each indentation with about 1⁄4 teaspoon of the jam and bake the cookies in batches in the middle of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are pale golden. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, transfer them to racks, and let them cool completely. The cookies may be made 1 month in advance and kept frozen in airtight containers.

Cottage Cheese Cookies - makes about 8 dozen cookies

Cream together 1⁄2 cup softened butter and 1⁄4 cup cottage cheese. Blend in thoroughly 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 egg. Stir in 2 cups sifted flour sifted with 1⁄2 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt. Drop the dough from a teaspoon onto a buttered baking sheet, and bake the cookies in a moderately hot oven (375°F) for about 10 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Recipe Note
Use either large- or small-curd cottage cheese (do not drain it).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nov. 8-12 Programs

Jean’s Pick of the Week (watch video): Muslims, Mosques, and American Identity: We really lived up to our series title, and went Inside Islam, with this program, probing with the erudite Akbar Ahmed, author of Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, exactly what goes on in American mosques – all kinds of things, as it turns out – everything from hostility toward Christians and Jews to committed interfaith dialog. And why shouldn’t it, after all? Why should we expect Muslims to be one of a kind when the rest of us are so determinedly different?

Jean’s Upcoming Presentations: It’s a busy month! I’m in La Crosse this weekend, in New York next weekend, and keynoting an event at the Women’s Expo in Madison on Sunday, Nov. 21. Whew! After Thanksgiving, I’m going into hibernation.

  • Smalls Jazz Club in Greenwich Village – I’ll be reading poetry and excerpts from my memoir, I Hear Voices, at Smalls Jazz Club in Greenwich Village at 5:00pm on Saturday, Nov. 13 and you don’t even have to be in New York to listen! Smalls broadcasts every show live over their video stream, so people can watch anywhere in the world for free. So come down or watch at Smalls is located at 183 West 10th Street, basement, between 7th Ave South and West 4th Street.

  • Madison Women’s Expo – “Bound and Determined” Jean Feraca talks about her dizzying route to becoming a public radio talk show host at the Madison Women’s Expo, Noon on Sunday, Nov. 21 at the Alliant Energy Center. Book signing to follow.
Here’s the line-up of shows for the coming week:

Monday: Chasing the Sun: No, he’s not a surfer. From the man who wrote a worldwide history of swordplay, comes an around-the-world odyssey in search of an elusive moving target – the sun. Scholar-adventurer Richard Cohen traveled to twenty countries, from Mount Fuji to Antarctica to interpret what the sun has meant throughout the ages.

Tuesday: The Power of Beliefs: In pegging terrorists as fundamentalist believers, have we forgotten that we, too, hold very strong beliefs? Professor and public intellectual Jacqueline Rose reminds us that we in the West are also motivated by stubborn belief, religious, political, or otherwise.

Wednesday: Francophilia Revisited: What images come to your mind when you think of France? While France has always had symbolic meaning for Americans, some of those meanings have changed over time. We’ll find out how Francophilia has evolved and how learning French will give you access not just to the real France, but to an entire francophone world outside of France.

Thursday: TBA: The Here on Earth team has a number of prospects in the works for this Thursday. Tune in and be surprised or check back later on our website for an update!

Friday: Gourmet Cookies for Thanksgiving: Are you scrambling to find unbeatable cookie recipes for the holidays? Join us to discover a selection of the best cookie recipes from all over the world, collected over 68 years of Gourmet Magazine’s existence.

Hope to see you in La Crosse this Friday – I’ll be giving the keynote at the Women’s Fund Luncheon.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Conquering Fear - 10/18

Dominique Haller

In response to our show with Rabbi Kushner last Monday, we received an email from listener Karen Ebert who has twice been diagnosed with cancer. In a piece called "Freddie Lives Here", which she published on the blog Caring Bridge, she describes how she came to understand what "living with cancer" really means. If you would like to read more by Karen, visit her personal blog at Caring Bride here.

Freddie Lives Here
Living with cancer, especially the second time around, is a surprisingly mundane affair. It consists largely of dealing with little things. Can we reschedule that lab so that I can make it to my staff meeting? What work clothes in this closet don’t hang on me like a sack? How are we going to get Julia home from yet another after school activity on a chemo day? Did you pick up the prescription? Are bananas on the “to-eat” list for constipation or diarrhea (in general, more attention paid to poop than you’ve seen since potty training)? Who’s locking up if I can’t make that meeting? Do I have time for a nap? Whoah, I have 69 emails to respond to after being out for a week!

I almost forget, till I talk with someone newly diagnosed with cancer, how utterly terrifying it was at first. When the word “cancer” first comes out of a doctor’s mouth, aimed at you, it is as if you have spotted Freddie Krueger, scarred face and knife-blade fingers and all, peering in your patio door. Every test feels like listening to him rattle the door knobs and scratch at your windows. And when the positive results come in, he has broken the glass pane on the front door and is reaching that awful hand in to turn the dead bolt from the inside – and you are not sure whether to run upstairs and hide under the bed, or grab the nearest weapon (a didgeridoo?) and beat at the intruder with all your might. I remember that fear.

But Freddie’s moved in now. We’ve built on an extra bedroom so he has a place to sleep and won’t roam the house keeping us up at night. We step aside for him in the hall on the way to the bathroom. I’ve tried to recruit him to help me write sermons. I haven’t exactly managed to get him in a frilly apron chopping my vegetables, but I’ve domesticated him to some extent. The fear of cancer is just such an everyday occurrence that he doesn’t have the power he once had. If he jumps out when I open the closet door, I’m most likely to say, “Oh hi, can you hand me my black wool coat? Thanks.”

I used to wonder how my mom did it. As her cancer progressed, and life became harder, and the future became grimmer, she never seemed jarred by it. She went about life as normally as she could. Since I was in “write-your-own-obituary” mode and carried that didgeridoo as a side-arm at the time, I couldn’t fathom what she was doing. It was as if she had talked Freddie into coming shopping with her, to carry her packages as she shopped for new clothes for her ever-shrinking body. “Hold this. What do you think? The blue one or the yellow one?” The day before she died was spent getting out Christmas decorations, not wringing her hands. She never seemed afraid.

I get it now. This is what is meant by “living with cancer.” Spending every moment in constant vigilance is not only exhausting, it turns over power to Freddie in a way that handing him a set of house keys never can. If you are forever hunched in a defensive posture, keeping fear at bay, you never get anything else done. But if you invite the fear in, look it in the eye, and tell it, “This is my house. You can come in, but it will be by my rules,” somehow, it disarms Freddie. It is the Jiu-jitsu of cancer. Keep it as Enemy Number One and it rules the roost. Make it a member of the household, and it has to fight for attention alongside the very mundane things that make up most of our days.

By the way, who is going to get groceries this week, and can you make sure to get some more Jell-O and ginger ale?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hispanic Heritage Month 10/14

Carly Yuenger

We've had a lot of fun celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a set of programs that culminated in today's long view on Latin American history with Ruben Martinez, writer and host of a recent PBS documentary about the birth of mestizo culture in the aftermath of the Columbus's arrival in the "New World."

Here are links to all four programs we've featured during the month which runs from September 15th (marking Mexican Independence) to October 15th. Let us know what you think!

September 16th: Mexico at the Crossroads
September 29th:
The New Bilingual Literature
October 8th: Heritage Foods From the Americas
October 14th: After Columbus

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Syringa Tree - 9/20

Dominique Haller

In today's show, we invited actress Colleen Madden and director C. Michael Wright to talk about the play The Syringa Tree. It's a play by South African actress and playwright Pamela Gien which describes the Apartheid system through the eyes of a 6 year old white girl. All 24 roles - black, white, male, female, old, young - are played by one actress.

In this clip, Colleen and Michael react to listeners' contributions to the show. Check it out below!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Jean's Pick of the Week for September 3rd

Dominique Haller

Jean's favorite show of the week was Thursday's show Smaller Living Designs from Japan. It's always nice when Here on Earth introduces a new idea drawn from another culture that listeners grab and run with!

The Poupon You Fight Song! - 9/3

Dominique Haller

Today's show was a lot of fun, as it is usually the case when we have Barry Levenson from the Mustard Museum as a guest. In this after show special, he presents the Poupon You Fight Song, promoting mustard over other condiments.

Check out the video below!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jean's Pick of the Week for August 16th

Carly Yuenger

Jean's pick this week was all about fleetfootedness and having fun: Christopher McDougall joined us to talk about his book, Born to Run. Watch Jean explain why it's her pick, then listen to the show for free at the Here on Earth archive.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tintin around the World - 8/19

Dominique Haller

Having grown up in the midst of Tintin albums that had been handed down to me by my father, who in turn was an avid Tintin fan as a child, I am especially looking forward to today's show. In the francophone world, comic albums are part of every family's library, and the Tintin albums have definitely become the center part of that tradition.

However, Tintin has also come under fire for some of the quite obviously racist contents in the earlier albums, especially Tintin in the Congo. So how does reading a comic as a child and as an adult differ? How can we hold on to a childhood friend if we know that he wasn't always up to the challenges of his time?

We'll also broadcast another one of Leona's Francombe's vignettes today, where she tells us about the relationship between Tintin's famous creator Hergé and his hometown of Brussels, where she lives. To check out other pieces in her series on Here On Earth, click here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roman Catholic Women Priests, An Oxymoron? 8/16

Carly Yuenger

The Vatican recently released a statement making the ordination of women priests one of the highest crimes against the church. Still, the ordination of Roman Catholic women priests continues.

On today's show we speak with Alice Iaquinta, one of many women who have gone through ordination as a Catholic priest--although some within the church refuse to recognize her ordination--and Father Roy Bourgeois, a priest who has been excommunicated for presiding over the ordination of women.

Do you think the Vatican will ever change its stance on the ordination of women? Do you think it should? Let us know what you think at our ongoing poll.

On today's program we'll also hear from our European Correspondent, Leona Francombe, about the Belgian perspective on secularism and the Catholic Church. For your reading pleasure, here's the transcript of her essay, "God in Translation," along with her other pieces in our ongoing series, European Vignettes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Jean's Pick of the Week for July 23rd

Joe Hardtke

Jean's pick this week displayed the more serious side of what we do best: Talking about the critical international issues on a very human level.

Watch Jean reveal her pick then download the show for free from the Here on Earth archive.

See you next week with encore presentations from our award-winning Inside Islam series.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Stir Fry to the Sky's Edge! - 7/16

Dominique Haller

On today's show, we've talked with Grace Young about her stunning cookbook Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge. Find a recipe for the Stir-Fried Ginger Beef that Grace mentioned during the show:

Stir-Fried Ginger Beef
(serves 2 as a main dish with rice or 4 as a part of a multicourse meal)

12 ounces lean flank steak
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon corn starch
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
¼ cup sliced pickled ginger (about 1 ounce)
4 scallions halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch sections

1. Cut the beef with the grain into 2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip across the grain into ¼-inch-thick slices. In a medium bowl combine the beef, ginger, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the oil. In a small bowl combine the oyster sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine.

2. Heat a 14-inch-flat-bottomed work or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes whitin 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, carefully add the beef, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the beef begin to sear. Then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 30 seconds until the beef is lightly browned but not cooked through. Swirl the oyster sauce mixture into the wok, add the pickled ginger and scallions, and stir-fry 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the beef is just cooked through and the pickled ginger is well distributed.

And enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Letters from Brussels by Leona Francombe

Dominique Haller

On today's show, we start our series featuring vignettes by Leona Francombe. Leona is a pianist and author who was born in England and grew up in the States. She obtained a BA magna cum laude in Russan and music from Bryn Mawr College, and a Master's from Yale School of Music. She was invited to Brussels in 1987 by the European Cultural Foundation to create an East/West chamber music ensemble. Irresistibly drawn to Europe, she has lived in Brussels, Belgium, ever since. Most of her essays and short stories, as well as her two novels, are inspired by European themes and moods.

Leona's work has appeared in Writer's Forum, Symphony Magazine, The Brussels Bulletin, Humanities Magazine, amongst others. Her first novel, music of the Mists, was a semi-finalist in the 2008 Amazon Novel Competition. (To check out a CD by Leona Francombe, click here.)

Check out Leona's pieces below!

Jean's Pick of the Week for July 9th

Joe Hardtke

Diego in Rome said it best on our Facebook page, "I never believed that NPR would dedicate an entire program to football." Actually, last Wednesday's program was the second time we've talked about the 2010 World Cup. Find out why Jean loved the show in her Pick of the Week video.

You can download the show right now from the Here on Earth archive. We tip our hat to you, Spain.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

World Cup Donations: Get Involved! - 7/7

Dominique Haller

On today's show, we had the great pleasure to talk about the World Cup in South Africa with South African native and Madison resident Raymond Kessel, Professor Emeritus at UW-Madison and co-owner of the Calabash Gift Store in Madison.

With his wife Leah, who runs the Calabash gift store, he initiated the Soccer Gear for Africa Campaign in collaboration with the University Wellness Foundation. The campaign collects soccer gear which will then be sent to South Africa for players of all ages. Fontana Sports already donated 60 cleats, and other people have followed their example by donating 90 soccer balls!

If you too would like to donate soccer gear, you can drop off the items at the following locations:

- Calabash Gift Store, 2608 Monroe Street, Madison
- Keva Sports Center, 8312 Forsythia Street, Middleton
- Stefan's Soccer Store, 6620 Odana Road, Madison

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact Raymond Kessel at or by calling the Calabash Gift Store at 608 233 2640.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jean's Pick of the Week for July 2nd

Joe Hardtke

Jean's pick this week seemed to bring out vivid memories, deep thought and strong emotions in our listeners (and in our host as well, it seems. Well, OK, me too.)

You can download Jean's Pick of the Week from the Here on Earth show archive. Check it out...

...and thanks for listening!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Muslim Women Leaders in Madison - 6/23

Saideh Jamshidi

Twenty women from eleven countries in the Middle East gathered this month in Madison to share their experiences and challenges they face to bring broader political and social rights for women in their home countries. They are a selected group of women to participate in the Women Leaders Academy Retreat created by the National Democratic Institute in Washington DC.

In our show yesterday, we talked with two of these powerful women and asked about the next steps they may take to apply what they learned at this retreat within their home countries.

Chantal Souaid is from Lebanon. She is in charge of the transparency and accountability Grants Projects at American-Middle East Educational and Training Services known as AMIDEAST. She is eager to go back to Lebanon and create a similar organization to AMIDEAST. See my interview with Chantal below:

Batool Al Khalaf is from Saudi Arabia. Batool has created women-only public speaking groups in Saudi Arabia in order to boost women’s confidence to take a stand in public speaking arena. Batool is currently working with the Toastmaster International group to expand its program in Saudi Arabia by starting Arabic-language public speaking clubs for women-only groups. See my interview with Batool below:

What are your experiences with standing for women's rights? Do they compare to the experience described by Middle Eastern women? Leave your comments below!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vahdat's Art Work Is Both Harsh and Beautiful

Saideh Jamshidi

Last April, Fahimeh Vahdat, a Milwaukee artist who uses her experience and background in her paintings to raise awareness about women’s rights and freedom, talked to a group of students at the University of Wisconsin. At this event, sponsored by Project Nur, the student-led initiative of the American Islamic Congress, at the University of Wisconsin, Vahdat stated that she views her paintings as “an instrument to uncover painful issues and bring about positive changes by recognizing the suffering.”

As a teenage girl growing up in Iran, Vahdat observed first hand, the turmoil of revolution. She experienced also experienced the execution of her family members for being of the Bahaii minority religion. Vahdat had to flee the country with her husband and infant girl. They came to the United States in 1981.

At the time, aggravated by the hostage crisis, the US and Iran’s relationship was at its worst. In Vahdat’s words: “The US wasn’t fun. There were a lot of prejudices against Iranians. As soon as you open your mouth and you say you were from Iran, you became one dimensional. All of the other human aspects of you were diminished immediately.” But Vahdat fought back. Only a few years into her immigration, she had learned English and could blend in comfortably with the American culture. “I refused to be treated differently by people, Vahdat said. “I said, I am equal to everybody else, man or woman. I have a different ethnicity which I am proud of.” Eventually, Vahdat enrolled in a community college in Dallas, Texas; then transferred her credits to an MFA program in painting and printmaking at Southern Methodist University.

As a young artist, she became increasingly sensitive to the discrimination against women she observed in Dallas. Vahdat decided to show this pain and suffering in her painting, but her outspokenness did not come without a cost. In one of her public solo shows, in Mountain View College, four of her paintings were knifed by an angry man. “I bet if I was there, I would have been attacked,” she said.

Due to the strong messages expressed in her paintings, some of her works have been censored in Dallas as well as in other places. Julie Shapiro, Vahdat’s professor in SMU commented on the public response: “What I have told her very recently is that her work has a powerful combination of the visual and theoretical,” Shapiro said “I know some people almost feel the work is too powerful. They do not want to deal with that kind of imagery.”

In her private gallery at home, she hung a giant painting of a naked woman bend over, bloody and beaten. A transparent dark fabric hangs over the figure. Vahdat has placed a pile of stone below the paining for a crime of adultery for women in Iran.

there is also another giant painting laid out on the floor titled: “Am I To Be Wed?” In it, we see a naked young girl in the center of the painting standing on a pile of lilies wearing nothing b a ring around her neck. Persian poetry is written behind the girl. There is no color other than black and white. “Color can evoke emotions,” Vahdat said. “I wanted to strip my work from all of these deductive elements.”

Vahdat’s devotion to bringing awareness to injustice is unbreakable. Currently, she is working on a body of printmaking dealing with the recent upheaval in Iran. In June 2009, the Iranian government opened fire on angry demonstrators who were asking for a revote after President Ahmadinejad claimed his victory. In one of her unfinished works, Vahdat has written Persian poetry on a long red canvas. She is planning to attach pictures of those killed in the demonstrations including Neda Aghasoltan, the young and famous girl murdered by a stranger in one of the street protests whose death was caught on a camera-phone and distributed in the Internet. Vahdat also dedicated a piece of long canvas, 4 to 6 feet, the same size of the cells in the Kahrizak prison, where many people were murdered and tortured after June 2009. Although the canvas is painted in a dark color, there is light coming through a small window in the painting. “The light of hope shining through all of these events,” Vahdat says.

Although criticized for the harsh reality she demonstrates in her art works, Vahdat sees beauty in all of these works. “There are lots of flowers that symbolize different themes, or there are poems that I have chosen for my paintings,” she said, “One cannot help but to see beauty in all of these.”