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Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Report: The People's Climate March

The march announced itself by force of numbers, and by its feel. No one seemed angry. This is not to say that the marchers had been bought off, or didn't understand the long odds facing them, or even that they aren't angry. But they are taking a clever rhetorical detour around a problem.

Sounding the Sea

Composers of classical music often put performance directions or notes throughout their scores. John Luther Adams, a composer known for expansive, landscape-themed music, includes only one word on the score of Become Ocean, a 42-minute ...

Big Data: Who Are We On The Web?

On a corporatized Web, we’re often the sum of our all data — packaged and sold to data brokers for pennies. But the dream of the Internet was that we would be the producers, not the product: participants in a conversation outside of the force of gravity of moneyed media.

Risa Puno: "Please Enable Cookies"

Last weekend, in one of Brooklyn's hippest neighborhoods, DUMBO, interactive installation artist Risa Puno sold cookies at an unusual cost: your personal data. Want a homemade Pink Peppercorn Pistachio cookie? Try giving up your home address and driver's license number. Would ...

Is Capitalism Working?

Casey Stengel raised the question about baseball’s miserable Mets long ago: anybody here know how to play this game? It’s the question more and more of us ask about economists and some of them ask about one another.

Breaking the Fever

With Ophelia Dahl just back from Liberia and Sierra Leone, Jeffrey Sachs, the economist and poverty guru, and Dr. Jim Cunningham, the virus detective, we’re reckoning with Ebola, still the world's biggest story. We're looking for long-term cures that will outlast this feverish moment in American media.

Daniel Bausch, Ebola Doctor

For almost twenty years Dr. Daniel Bausch — director of the Emerging Infections Department at the U.S. Naval Medical Research facility in Peru — has been back and forth to West Africa, treating cases of hemorrhagic fever caused by Ebola and viruses like it (Lassa and Marburg among them). Bausch may know Ebola, up-close and personal, better than any American doctor working today.

American Horror Stories

165 Halloweens on, we still call on Edgar Allan Poe when we want a disturbing kind of classic — all of the horror with none of the guilt. His most famous stories are taught and read and all but buried ...

Jill Lepore: The Feminist and the Superhero

The Harvard historian Jill Lepore – prolific, impish, a super-mom, politically engaged and still professorial – is giving us the kinky inside story of Wonder Woman that you never suspected reading the old comic book.

The Big-Money Midterm

The news from the big-money midterm is: meh! Democrats are out, the Republicans are in, and the country's feeling bluer than ever. Six years after the rise of Obama, we are coming together as a country: not around the ‘hopey, ...

Cornel West's View From Ferguson

"To be on fire is to have a deep love that ignites a holy anger and a righteous indignation and moral outrage at unemployment, decrepit schools, wealth inequality and callousness toward poor and working people."

Back in the U.S.S.R.

The Berlin Wall came down twenty five years ago this week — kicking off the collapse of the Soviet Union, ending the Cold War chapter of world history (or so it seemed), and breaking the heart of ...

Stephen Kotkin: Who's Bigger Than Stalin?

Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin has taken on the most important biography he can imagine: the life, rise and thirty-year reign of Josef Stalin. The first book of a trilogy (out now) goes from Stalin's birth in ...

Capitalism and Chains

We're continuing our series on capitalism by going back to its unspeakable origins. A new wave of  historians say that the  "peculiar institution" of slavery explains more about the present than we'd care to admit: not ...

In Memoriam: Richard Eder, The Exemplary Reader

The beloved Richard Eder had the gift he admired in John Updike and that that sparkled in his own prize-winning book reviews: he “snored” metaphors and similes the way J. S. Bach could “snore” fugues. ...

The BSO's Andris Nelsons: Maestro of ‘Emotionality'

The Boston Symphony’s new maestro Andris Nelsons is a boisterous young athlete in an old man’s job – one of the rising 30-somethings in front of the great orchestras of the world. And still he ...

Ferguson is Everywhere

We’re all caught in the floodlights of Ferguson, Missouri, still reeling from the death of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the man who shot him. We seem to be seeing American society ...

Boston Noir

Noir heroes tend not to be gangsters of Whitey Bulger’s grandeur; not tough cops either: they’re punched-out boxers and junkies, little perps, prisoners, victims reduced to victimizing each other and themselves.

Steve Pinker's Prose Guide

Our friend the linguist and psychologist Steven Pinker has written a manual on prose style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, as he calls it. We asked Steve to bring along some samples of his favorite lines and paragraphs and we tried out some of ours on him, too. We invite you to play along.

The New Kids On The Block

The protests chanting "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" in the wake of the police killings in Missouri, New York, and elsewhere, will draw comparisons. They're less pious than the Civil Rights Movement and they have the same ...

Beethoven at the Piano

We're getting the Beethoven fundamentals, as never before, at my own piano. At a short safe distance from the keyboard, I’m learning, among other things: As volcanic was the man's painful life and descent into ...

"Why, it's Christmas"

After the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, which our mama always read to us on Christmas Eve -- and maybe O. Henry’s story, “The Gift of the Magi” – I don’t know an account of ...

Seeking Super-Interns

Open Source is a weekly radio show on WBUR in Boston and a podcast on the iTunes hit parade. And we need your help! We relaunched the show at the beginning of 2014, and now ...

Vijay Iyer: Jazz in the 21st Century

Where is jazz headed in a new century? With the pianist Vijay Iyer as guide, newly tenured as a professor at Harvard, it tends toward the experimental, with drummers, young musicians and slam poets. If it doesn’t always swing, it’s surprising and takes you in new directions. Will jazz be forgotten or just re-shaped by new, emerging artists like Vijay Iyer?

Rediscovering Cuba

Starting last month, the American freeze-out of Communist Cuba, which long outlasted the Cold War, began to come to an end. It may have been a small thrill in a bleak political year, but take it ...

Sven Beckert's Cotton: Guilty Fabric of our Lives

For the Delta to become the chief grower of the industrial world’s most important commodity – a kind of Saudi Arabia of the early 19th century – its land had to be taken from its ...

Learning from Paris

The story of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo has gone everywhere in the past week: into meditations on free speech and blasphemy, into declarations of cultural and actual war, and high-wire geopolitics. It's a fresh attack, meaning high emotion and demands for ‘moral ...

Hacking ‘Affordable Care'

On this Kickstarter-launch week we're diagnosing America’s healthcare woes with the meta-journalist and heart patient, Steve Brill. In a new book he calls the Affordable Care Act "America's Bitter Pill", a rationalizing redo of health insurance ...

Steve Brill's Bitter Pill

Steve Brill is our guest. He’s an old-fashioned reporter at book length – out of the David Halberstam school. He’s taken apart the passage of Obamacare in an investigation he titled America’s Bitter Pill: Money, ...

The Challenge of Our Time

We're continuing our "money machine" series on the cost of carbon capitalism. Gas gets cheaper, the weather gets warmer, and for our guests the environmental activists Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben, the choice is clear: ...

The Selma Moment

This week we're taking the measure of the mystery known as LBJ at the Selma moment: not the cinema bully caught dragging his heels in movie theaters this month in Ava DuVernay's Selma, but the real bully who brought ...

Depression, Inside-Out

Depression—characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or alienation—afflicts one of every 10 US adults. Our guest George Scialabba, a writer and public intellectual based in Cambridge, is speaking about his decades-long bout with the illness on ...

Violent Extremism, East and West

Next Wednesday the White House is convening a summit on ‘countering violent extremism.' The details are sketchy — a press release announces that the meeting will "highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, ...

Roger Cohen: this "strange amalgam of identities"

Roger Cohen’s memoir of his Lithuanian-Jewish-South African-English mother’s suicidal depression is an inquest into the damage of displacement that seeps into genes: the longing for home, the need to belong – “right up there with ...

Hacking the News

Last week before our show on violent extremism, we were talking over a big week in media news. We don't quite know what we'll do without Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert; we never had much ...

Gridlocked

This week we’re talking about roads, rails and powerlines — and the lives we live with them. Our Boston staff and radio listeners are mostly hearty New Englanders, but this winter of discontent has exposed all kinds ...

A Winter Journey with Ian Bostridge

The English tenor and writer Ian Bostridge is happily and articulately fixed on a musical mountaintop: For 30 years he has been singing Franz Schubert’s deathbed song-cycle “Winterreise,” the "Winter Journey" of a desperate traveler ...

After Attica

We're revisiting the Attica prison revolt in 1971. It began as a civil rights protest and ended in a massacre when Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered his state troopers to teargas the prisoners and open fire. In the ...

Ganzeer in America: Get the joke? Can we take it?

The Egyptian graffiti genius known as Ganzeer is working on our turf now. I am presuming to welcome him as an artist of radical humanism. Four years ago in the Tahrir Square uprising in Cairo, ...

‘The Changing Same': Race in America

Orlando Patterson has spent his career puzzling over the "immutable force" in American race relations. Is it the ongoing, grassroots cultural revolution we see and hear in the world of jazz and hip-hop? Or the eternal racial gap — in health and wealth, in incomes and outcomes — documented by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander? Patterson is optimistic.

The Meaning of Money

Michael Lewis has become the great teller of modern morality tales around money: from the story of how high finance bubbled up, then popped, in Ireland and Iceland to the story of how a handful of eccentric ...

Michael Lewis's Age of Money

Michael Lewis is the great tale-spinner in the Second Gilded Age in America. He's part muckraker, but part Mark Twain, too, for finding classic characters as good as the King and the Duke in Huckleberry ...

J.S. Bach's Bitter-Sweet Passion

The music in this episode comes from Boston Baroque's 2015 performance of the Saint John Passion, conducted by Martin Pearlman. From the great Bach’s hand, two masterpieces of church theater survive. Both tell the trial and crucifixion ...

Losing The Peace

Our guest David Blight reminds us that Americans are re-fighting the Civil War 150 years after it ended. Historians, he said, "buried the questions at the heart of the war" and lost the truer, harder ...

Barney Frank over 50 Years: the Talker of the House

Barney Frank’s memoir reminds me that we’re almost exact contemporaries – two white guys who’ve been watching a lot of the same stuff, in Boston and Washington, politics and culture, for 50 years, 1965 to ...

The Rebirth of A Nation

The question we didn’t quite nail in this conversation was: how did the Lincoln Republicans blow the victory they’d won on the battlefield? Weren’t they bluffed, waited and in simple truth terrorized out of the ...

Can China Lead?

The People’s Republic has arrived and is applying for co-trusteeship of the globe. We got a good look at the co-trustee, China’s enigmatic president Xi Jinping, through the deep sourcing of The New Yorker’s Evan ...

The Making of Xi Jinping

Evan Osnos writes about international affairs for The New Yorker. On the occasion of a recent profile, we're speaking about the "ruthlessly pragmatic" rise of Xi Jinping, who Osnos says has "emerged as the most ...

Our Worst War

Legendary journalist Seymour Hersh helped us count the ways. Hersh returned to Vietnam this year for The New Yorker to visit the scene of the My Lai crime he broke in 1969. He spoke with ...

Getting to Know Knausgaard

This week we're talking through a new phenomenon in fiction — a novel about nothing: not Seinfeld, but Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume, 3,600-page odyssey of memory through the 46 years of his mostly ordinary Scandinavian ...

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