On the Radio

Week of January 31, 2016

Traditional Knowledge

January 31, 2016

Reading books isn't always the best way to learn. Some things you need to learn from your elders, and their wisdom has often been passed down through the generations. We celebrate traditional ways of knowing - from the Potawatomi knowledge of the plant world to the Norwegian folk wisdom of how to chop and burn wood. Also, a plea for Africans to reclaim their local knowledge.

  1. How to Chop, Stack and Burn Wood

    You'd never think a book about chopping and burning wood would turn into a runaway bestseller, but Lars Mytting's "Norwegian Wood" is a publishing sensation in Scandinavia. Lars gathers the collected wisdom on everything from how to build a smokeless fire to the art of choosing a husband based on his wood pile.

    Average: 2.5 (2 votes)
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  2. Hmong Knives

    Traditional knowledge can surface in the most unlikely places. Take La Crosse, Wisconsin, where many Hmong people settled after the Vietnam War. Master blacksmith Tong Khai Vang and his apprentice and translator Kong Mong Yang show us the art of turning hot metal into Hmong knives.

    Average: 1 (1 vote)
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  3. Talking to Plants

    Botanist Robin Kimmerer describes her field experiments as like interviewing a plant. She believes nature is full of living beings - rocks and water as well as plants and animals. As both a Ph.D biologist and a member of the Potawatomi Naiton, she's trying to reconcile modern science with the wisdom of her Native elders.

    Average: 4.2 (5 votes)
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  4. BookMark: Philip Glass Recommends "The Wayfinders" by Wade Davis

    Composer Philip Glass says he was transported by "The Wayfinders" - Wade Davis' celebration of indigenous cultures.

    Average: 3 (2 votes)
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  5. The Eternal Moment

    Wade Davis has been called the Indiana Jones of anthropology. He's traveled deep into the Amazon rain forest to meet shamans; he's investigated Haitian zombies; he's climbed high into the Tibetan mountains to photograph snow leopards. He says indigenous people have a fundamentally different way of seeing the world than we do in modern society.

    Average: 3.3 (3 votes)
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  6. Reclaiming Africa

    Africa needs to reclaim its history and its technology, says Clapperton Mavhunga, a native of Zimbabwe who's a professor in MIT's Program in Science, Technology and Society. He says the traditional hunt is a great example of how Africans have passed on generations of knowledge.

    Average: 3.3 (3 votes)
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Image: Jon Winters via: flickr

Science Fiction: Thinking the Unthinkable (Updated)

January 31, 2016

Reality is catching up to science fiction. But there are still new science-fiction writers who are thinking the unthinkable and daring to go beyond the limits of our imaginations.



  1. The Book of Strange New Things - Michel Faber

    Michel Faber talks with Steve Paulson about his novel, "The Book of Strange New Things."

    Average: 5 (3 votes)
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  2. Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang

    Ted Chiang talks about his short-story collection, "Stories of Your Life and Others."

    Average: 4.3 (4 votes)
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  3. Questionable Practices - Eileen Gunn

    Eileen Gunn talks about her short-story collection, "Questionable Practices."

    Average: 4.7 (3 votes)
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  4. BookMark: Stephen Burn on "Infinite Jest"

    Stephen Burn recommends David Foster Wallace's critically-acclaimed novel, "Infinite Jest." The book was published 20 years ago, on February 1st, 1996.

    Average: 5 (1 vote)
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  5. On Our Minds: Kurt Godel

    The scientific genius Kurt Godel is on our minds this week.  So Anne Strainchamps talks with the French writer, Yannick Grannec, about her novel, "The Goddess of Small Things," which is based on Godel's relationship with his wife, Adele.

    Average: 4 (1 vote)
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