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Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Reading Chekhov V: "The Teacher of Literature"

We're reading and gabbing about a Chekhov story called "The Teacher of Literature," published in 1894; Chekhov was 34 years old. It's a story about a young man in love, at a crisis in his young marriage. I'd put this one in the folder of Chekov stories that ask essentially: "Should I stay or should I go?" Can I get out of the village, out of a loving relationship, so as to fulfill my dream and satisfy the mysterious urgings of my soul? The protagonist Nikitin in the story here might be teaching today in Lincoln-Sudbury High School out in the leafy western suburbs of our very own Boston.

Iraq: What's Known, What's Unknown, What We Don't Want to Know

The best question about the Iraq war perhaps isn't for the architects, but for us: what does it say about our system, our media, our country, and our age that we haven't held anyone responsible for the catastrophe in Iraq apart from Chelsea Manning and a few enlisted men and women at Abu Ghraib? Isn't there a lesson for us in the life and times of Donald Rumsfeld?

In Search of a WordPress Wizard

We’re on the lookout for a reliable part-time programmer in the Boston area who knows Wordpress well and has a strong sense of design and UX. We also value experience with PHP, Javascript, and SEO/marketing practices.

Rumsfeld, Snowflake by Snowflake

One of our producers reflects on Rumsfeld, the making of "The Unknown Known", and what the paper trail has to tell us about war and political life today: "I was obsessed, too. Rumsfeld’s cadences, his lame Midwestern sayings, came home with me. Late at night, I would think over this particular charming gray man. Beyond what did he do and even why did he do it, who is he? The character question: what matters to him? The tragic question: what did him in?"

Cold Wars, and How to Survive Them

Ahead of our show with Elaine Scarry this week, we're reminding ourselves of how we got into the nuclear standoff called the Cold War, and how Ronald Reagan dreamed we would get out of it. With a nuclear cold war taking rhetorical shape between Israel and Iran, with Pakistan and India ever in range of the brink, it is no academic or merely historical question: how did the US and USSR get out of their four-decade staring contest without a single one of their many thousands of nuclear guns going off?

Are We Numb to Nukes?

We’re thinking our way through a plausible nuclear emergency with Elaine Scarry who reminds you – we’ve got a weapons monarchy in this democracy. How can we call it a democracy, the rule of the people, when there’s one man’s finger on the trigger that could destroy us all?

Eric Schlosser: Nuclear Nightmares

Eric Schlosser, the investigative reporter of Fast Food Nation fame, has assembled what reads like a Letterman list of hair-raising nuclear bungles and close calls with catastrophe. Command and Control is smelling salts for historical amnesia if lived through the Cold War and repressed it. It could scare the pants off you, if you thought there was nothing to worry about.

Richard Rhodes: Is the Knowledge of Nukes Enough?

Richard Rhodes is the go-to analyst of nuclear weapons for most of thirty years now ever since the publication of his acclaimed history of the Manhattan project and the mostly men and the science and the political emergency behind it. His first masterpiece was called The Making of the Atomic Bomb. He’s even written a play about the Reykjavík Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, perhaps the closest we’ve been so far to the total abolition of nuclear arms.

Nukes by the Numbers

A series of infographics on nuclear weapons, with more to come. What is your most enlightening, or frightening, insight into nuclear America?

What Do We Make of The Big Bang?

In the beginning was the Bang. We’ve got visible proof of it now, thanks to blockbuster discoveries made at Harvard and predicted at MIT. But are our heads too cluttered with creation myths to come to grips with the beginning of everything? So we're clearing the deck to listen to wisdom of the physicists: where did we come from, what are we made of, what happens next, and why? And what do we do with what we're learning?