18-19 Segment 1: Honoring the Soldiers Who Fought in Vietnam

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The Vietnam War was an unpopular war and soldiers came home to a society that didn’t approve of or appreciate their service. Elizabeth Partridge, author of Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam, first got involved with the war as a protestor. Partridge didn’t have much to do with Vietnam for many years after until she visited the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and found herself overcome with emotion while reading the soldier’s names.

The event had sparked her interest in the war and the men and women who served in Vietnam. Partridge, being a writer, decided to write her own book about the war that she had protested so many years ago. She wanted her book to be different than the thousands of Vietnam War books that already existed. So she set out to find veterans to interview who could tell her their personal experiences of the war. The stories of six men and one woman who Partridge interviewed were interspersed between chapters on politics and culture.

The switching between large-scope ideas to laser-focused personal experiences creates a uniquely informative non-fiction book that achieves an impressive feat; it brings humanity back to the tragic war in which nearly 60,000 American soldiers lost their lives. Partridge can’t raise the dead but she can bring their lost stories back to life. To purchase a copy of Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam and read more about Partridge and her other works visit the links below.

Guest:

  • Elizabeth Partridge, Former Vietnam protestor and author of Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam

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18-19 Segment 2: Men’s Place in the #MeToo Movement

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The #MeToo movement has been getting headlines for months now. The movement was started by women, but men still have a role to serve in the fight for equality and in the elimination of sexism and misogyny.

Guest:

  • Brendan Kiely, author, Tradition

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Culture Crash 18-19: The Hamilton Mixtape, Hamildrops and the Hamiltome: Keeping Hamilton alive

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

By now, it’s well-known that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2015 musical Hamilton is a cultural sensation. The musical won all sorts of awards including 11 Tonys, a Grammy, and a Pulitzer. The lyrics were quoted by President Obama, and the original Broadway recording has spent over 130 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 and has reached as high at number three on the list. Some even credit the musical with convincing the US Treasury to keep Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

But Miranda has ensured his musical lives beyond just the musical itself. Since its premiere, he has co-authored a book about the development of the show, participated in a PBS documentary about the show, and released 28- yes, 28- bonus songs.

First came The Hamilton Mixtape, born out of Miranda’s self-professed love of cassette mixtapes from the 90s, the album was full of songs cut from the show and remixes by notable musicians including Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Chance the Rapper, and Asher.

In recent months, Miranda has begun what he called the Hamildrops – one new song per month until he runs out of material. The Hamildrops have included a song about Benjamin Franklin, a pro-gun control collaboration with the musical Dear Evan Hansen made to benefit the March for Our Lives, and the first draft of one of Hamilton’s many showstoppers, Burn performed by five different actresses who has portrayed Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton in the musical.
Hamilton is a cultural moment, but it’s also proving to have some endurance. Over three years since its premiere, new songs released under its brand-name still zoom to the top of iTunes and Spotify charts, and keep Hamilton’s rabid fanbase delighted and excited.

I’m Evan Rook.

18-18 Segment 1: Parenting A Transgender Child

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As a parent, how do you come to terms with your child telling you they were born as the wrong gender? Is it your job to counsel them to meet traditional gender norms?

Dr. Michele Angello, a gender specialist, and Alisa Bowman are coauthors of Raising A Transgender Child: A Complete Guide for Parents, Families, and Caregivers. The book was the result of a call for help to the doctor by Bowman, a mother whose own child was constantly struggling to identify with the female gender. Angello explained to Bowman the science behind transgender children.

Contrary to what some believe, there is evidence that gender identity issues are based in biology. While in utero, the fetus is flooded with different amounts of two hormones that impact gender identity. Typically, male children are born with more androgen and female children more estrogen. Although the anatomical gender of a child is determined by the number of chromosomes present, their brains can contain an imbalance of these two hormones.

Therefore, a child can be born anatomically female but identify as male due to an increase in androgen during development. According to Angello, how parents raise their children has no impact on whether or not they identify as a different gender. In fact, the scientific evidence clearly shows a biological explanation for the behavior. Apart from the science, Angello says we need to have open minds instead of basing our views on prejudice and conventional gender roles.

To learn more about transgender children visit the links below or buy a copy of Raising A Transgender Child: A Complete Guide for Parents, Families, and Caregivers at bookstores across the country.

Guests:

  • Dr. Michele Angello, therapist and gender specialist
  • Alisa Bowman, journalist, author, mother

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18-18 Segment 2: The Ethical Implications of Genetic Screenings on Children

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Genetic testing is the new frontier of the healthcare industry. It’s advancement has uncovered new diagnoses, treatments, and ethical implications.

Genetic testing can help doctors identify issues much sooner than with previous technologies. Certain indicators hidden in genetic code can diagnose diseases such as breast cancer. Increasingly, genetic testing is being used to screen for irregularities, and even identify increased odds of mutations occurring in unborn children.

This can place families in the middle of ethical dilemmas. For example, carrier screenings performed before pregnancy can tell parents the likelihood of passing on a fatal genetic disease to a child. If there’s a good chance, is it ethical to try to start a family?

Even though this can be an extremely scary proposition for parents, Rochman asserts that the more knowledge we can gain from this kind of testing the better. Although, she cautions that genetic technology is much further along then our understanding of it.

To learn more use the links below or buy a copy of The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies are Changing the Way We Have kids—and the Kids We Have.

 

Guest:

  • Bonnie Rochman, journalist and author of The Gene Machine: How genetic technologies are changing the way we have kids—and the kids we have

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Culture Crash 18-18: True Crime

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Since Truman Capote published his 1966 masterpiece In Cold Blood, America has been fascinated with true crime. Our current version may occasionally take different form: TV shows like The People vs. OJ or docu-series like Making a Murderer have obsessed us in recent years and the Serial podcast took true crime into the digital age… but the idea is the same: to document how crimes have happened, and occasionally, to launch impromptu investigations.

Sometimes, true crime has found rousing success beyond just sales numbers and cultural imprint: The Thin Blue Line, a documentary by Errol Morris was so persuasive that Randall Dale Adams, its subject, was released from prison. Serial shed enough reasonable doubt that the podcast’s focus, Adnan Sayed, is set to receive a new trial. The list goes on…

Most recently has come Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One woman’s obsessive search for the Golden State Killer, a true-crime book that was published posthumously after McNamara died suddenly while writing it. I’ll be Gone in the Dark tells of the grisly crime spree that terrorized California in the 1970s and 80s by a man she dubbed The Golden State Killer, but who had previously been called the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker.

The book was published in February and immediately shot to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list for nonfiction. Last month, HBO announced plans to make it into a documentary series.

But it’s true accomplishment is this: Just 8 weeks after its publication, police arrested the man they believe to be the Golden State Killer. In their announcement of the charges, the police insisted McNamara’s book did not help their investigation… a claim that seems to be tenuous at best if for no reason than the timing. The case had been cold for decades, the investigation began over 40 years ago and suddenly, after receiving attention stemming from a best-selling book, a suspect is apprehended.

Regardless, the glory of catching a suspect isn’t really what McNamara fantasizes about in the book. She wrote emphatically that she wanted the Golden State Killer apprehended for the victims.

True crime, as a genre, can get a bad rep- that it delights in others suffering. But at its true heart, if it is approached with the appropriate reverence, it can help inform people how to protect themselves, inform future investigators what techniques have worked in the past, and maybe just maybe, help bring along some well-deserved justice.
Michelle McNamara’s book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, is available now.

I’m Evan Rook.

18-17 Segment 2: Religion in America’s Prisons

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When the first prisons were created years ago, they were found on religious beliefs, and many prisons today still embody religion as central to their operations. While inmates are not required to practice a religion, many of them have benefitted over time from religious programs that are provided in prison. Why were prisons found on religious beliefs? And, what is religion’s role in the prison system today?

Tanya Erzen, author of God In Captivity: The Rise of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in the Age of Mass Incarceration, explains that the first prisons in our country were created by religious reformers who thought that prisons would exhibit more tolerance than the current methods of sanctioning criminals. They hoped that through prayer and reflection criminals could be rehabilitated and would no longer commit crimes. Today, almost all prisons in the United States, state and federal, offer religious programs to their inmates. Erzen explains that in the event that a prison is unable to fund religious programs, they will provide other programs, such as drug addiction and education courses, that are likely to be taught by religious individuals. While the different programs provided do vary, inmates believe these groups have been particularly helpful for them because it allows them to receive an education and gives a sense of meaning to people with longer prison sentences. Prison can be dehumanizing, but providing inmates with religious programs that give them hope can make the daunting aspects of prison a little more bearable.

While these programs are helpful for many inmates, some do not believe that these programs are fair, particularly inmates who are not Christian. While these programs call themselves “faith-based,” most are based off of Christianity. Erzen talks about a prisoner who was Muslim that felt that these groups were his only option to receive an education, so he attended the groups despite having different religious views. Furthermore, these religious programs also endorse favoritism in prisons. Erzen explains another instance in which prisoners who attended church on Sunday were more likely to receive things they needed because the warden was religious. He would attend these services and the inmates could hand him slips of paper with a request, and they knew that by the end of the day this request was being processed. While these flaws within religious programs should be addressed, they do not deter from the overwhelming amount of good that they can create.

Guest:

  • Tanya Erzen, author of God in Captivity: The Rise of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in the Age of Mass Incarceration

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