Monthly Archives: April 2000

Jeremey Rifkin: The Age of Access

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At the heart of Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism is the alienation of workers. The social critic Jeremy Rifkin sees alienation all around today’s new economy.

Shoppers used to go to market to buy things, now consumers are marketed experiences, relationships, and access. These days, you don’t buy a car, you lease a driving experience. You don’t have a workout buddy, you pay a personal trainer.

Virtual corporations own nothing and contract out their production. Parents cart their children from school to soccer to violin lessons, instead of letting them play with other kids on the block.

Rifkin says the business of business these days is selling consumers access to their own time and lives, in the form of long term service relationships – relationships that will eclipse the human ones we have today.

Jeremy Rifkin and the Age of Access – in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Jeremy Rifkin is a social critic, lecturer, and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, DC. He is the author of “The Age of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism Where All of Life is a Paid For Experience.”

The Science and Culture of Gender

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The biologist and feminist Anne Fausto-Sterling once wrote that we should dump our two-sex system in favor of five.

She more or less picked five out of a hat – three or thirty-three would’ve been fine. What Anne Fausto-Sterling objected to, and still objects to, is the either/or dualism we use to parse the world.

Why not a whole spectrum of sexes? That’s the only frame that could fit the seventeenth century soldier, Daniel Burghammer, who shocked his regiment by giving birth to a girl, or even the Spanish runner disqualified from the Olympic hurdles because her chromosomes said she was a man.

Sterling says determining sex isn’t always so easy as genetics and genitalia. Boys and girls are made by nature and nurture – and what we think about all four, she says, is a social construction.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Anne Fausto-Sterling

Cabaret with Bobby Short

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Bobby Short gets credit for keeping Cabaret alive and smiling in New York, and it isn’t all Cole Porter. Another slice of the repertoire comes from the jazz and blues divas of the 1920s and 30s.

Ethel Waters was the first and biggest of the black stars with hits like “Stormy Weather” and “There’ll Be Some Changes Made.” Bessie Smith may have been the most original and most influential with her own “Backwater” and “Shipwreck” blues, with classics like “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” and sexy subtleties like “Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl” and not-so-subtleties like “He’s Got to Get It and Bring It and Put It Right Here, or else He’s Going to Keep it Out There.”

There was also Edith Wilson, who sang: “He may be your man…but he comes to see me sometimes.” And “My Handy Man Ain’t Handy Anymore.”

Out of the blues tradition, a modern performer who remembers and gives credit – Bobby Short in this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Bobby Short

Drug War in Colombia

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The latest front in America’s war on drugs is a multi-billion dollar aid package to the Colombian government before the US Senate now.

Plan Colombia would train and equip military and police forces with US helicopters and counter narcotics technology to eradicate the cocoa fields of southern Colombia – the source of 80 percent of America’s cocaine and most of its heroin.

The country is in the midst of a long war fueled by violence and drug profits of rival guerilla forces and paramilitary terrorists. For critics of the plan, it evokes comparisons with the U.S. involvement in the Central American wars of the 1980’s. It’s not a drug war they say; it’s a war against another Latin American insurgency in the name of another Latin American government of human rights offenders.

But if it’s America’s drug appetite that’s responsible for a country that’s on the verge of collapse after all, might it be a war worth fighting? The Colombia question is on this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Ted McDonald, Anthropologist at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

Peter Hakim, President of Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, DC-based think tank

and Francisco Santos, Managing Editor of “El Tiempo,” Columbia’s largest daily paper.

Vermont: the State of Gay Union

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The Green Mountain State is turning pink.

The Vermont Senate passed a bill this week that would recognize the so-called ‘civil union’ of same-sex couples. Gay and lesbian couples who enter into a civil union would be entitled to the tax breaks, inheritance rights, and other benefits afforded to married straight couples.

The Vermont legislature struggled with the language of the statute – civil partnership was discarded, marriage was right out. It may just be that Vermont’s found the path that eluded Alaska and Hawaii – a language that reconciles the division of opinion in the US over gay marriage.

Across the nation, more and more companies are extending benefits to same-sex couples. But 30 states already have laws on the books that forbid the recognition of homosexual marriage, and the family rights lobby isn’t about to take this lying down.

So as goes Vermont, so goes the nation? The state of gay union – in the second hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Mary Bonauto, Co-council in the suit Baker v. State which brought about the Legislation and Civil rights director at G.L.A.D. (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders).

Meditations on the Last Words of Christ

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En route to the Easter bunny, the Easter parade and all the good news that modern Christians love, comes the hard part of the story: that their Savior Jesus, god and man, suffered agonizing torture and brutal death on a cross on what is called ambiguously Good Friday.

It’s been too painful and paradoxical a story even for some nominal Christians to credit. The prophet Muhammad’s Koran rewrote the story to suggest it was a double who died, and that the real Jesus got away.

For our times, the American Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus, self-styled preacher in the public square, says the dark misery in Jesus real death and in the famous seven last words-berating his father, forgiving his enemies, anticipating paradise-are the crux of the whole story.

In a tradition that drew Bach, Beethoven, Becket, Joyce and Gerard Manley Hopkins to meditate on those last seven words, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus is having a conversation with us on this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, author of “Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross by Richard John Neuhaus.

Eccentric Families

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In Britain, families are eccentric. In America, they’re dysfunctional.

English bloodlines and literature are filled with dotty families, and Michael Holroyd’s memoir of his fabulously peculiar clan makes the Royals look quaint.

Yet Americans have their own versions. Bronson Alcott poured a bucket of freezing water over Louisa May every morning for her health. JD Salinger lived by himself and put his wife and children in a house down the road.

Then there are the sitcom families, too: “I Love Lucy,” “All in the Family,” “Frasier.” Woody Allen recreated his own neurotic Jewish family in “Play it Again Sam,” and he did Diane Keaton’s repressed, Wasp family in “Annie Hall.”

The movie “Moonstruck” was all about mercurial but loving Italian-Americans. “The Sopranos” are another story.

Michael Holroyd says: scratch the surface, and you’ll find the bizarre in any family, including your own. Eccentric families – in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Michael Holroyd, author of “Basil Street Blues”


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Autism evokes images of endlessly rocking inpatients in turn of the century mental wards, or of socially retarded savants, like Rain Man.

Autism has milder forms, too – all marked by a more or less severe introversion, and strange repetitive behaviors like spinning. In its many forms, autism is on the rise. Some researchers are starting to say it’s epidemic in America.

A special survey by the state of California found autism cases increased more than 200 per cent in the past decade. And evidence of autism clusters is gathering, as in Brick Township, New Jersey, where 4 out of every 500 kids were diagnosed, calling into question the latest gene-based thinking on the root cause of the disease.

Genetics can’t explain the ongoing explosion in autism, so now researchers are searching for environmental factors like mercury or even childhood vaccines.

Understanding the autism puzzle – in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Dr. Kerim Monir, Director of the Center for Autism at Children’s Hospital in Boston, and Karyn Seroussi, co-founder of the Autism Network for Dietary Intervention and author of “Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A Mother’s Story of Research and Recovery.”

Fairfield Porter

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The painter Fairfield Porter, coming into glory now a quarter century after his death, embraced a variety of contradictions.

He was a figurative painter in an age of abstraction-he was the forward edge, that is, of a realist tradition that, but for him, had died. A New England patrician blessed with Chicago real-estate money, he was the father of five, best known for sunny scenes of his family at leisure; he was also a bisexual adulterer spooked all his life by his own cold childhood.

In his lifetime he got more recognition from writers than from museum buyers and gallery dealers. He was a poet and a critic, too, who said he was prouder of the reviews he’d written than of the paintings he’d painted.

But it’s Fairfield Porter’s paintings that have come to the fore again in a new biography and an overdue show in New York: he made spacious, intimate, open images that call out with intimacy and intelligence.

Fairfield Porter’s life in art in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Justin Spring, Porter biographer and the curator of a new Fairfield exhibit at the Equitable Gallery in New York.

Science, Reason and Genetics

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The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins says your genes care about themselves, not about you. You’re just a vehicle to make more genes.

Some of Richard Dawkins’ many readers have asked him how he gets up in the morning knowing he is nothing but a collection of selfish genes in an uncaring universe. But Richard Dawkins wonders why people consider science so bleakly, thinking it robs life of warmth and worth.

To him, science is filled with wonder, beauty, and awe. Dawkins contends that when Newton explained the prism, he didn’t rob the rainbow of its mystery as the poet Keats complained, he opened the door to the greater wonders of relativity and an expanding universe.

His is a tough-minded view, but he thinks it’s the only one for everyone alive. As he writes in latest book, “we are going to die and that makes us the lucky ones.”

Unweaving the rainbow – in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Richard Dawkins, author of “Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder.”