17-30 Segment 1: Pottermania: What we love in the Harry Potter series

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On June 26, 1997, one boy changed the world. That young boy was named Harry Potter, the famous protagonist of the seven-book series by JK Rowling. If you are unfamiliar with either of those names, there is a large chance you are living with the confundus charm. With 160 million copies sold in the U.S. alone and over 400 million copies sold worldwide, Harry Potter has truly taken the world by storm. This week marks the 10 year anniversary of the release of the final installment Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. To celebrate this triumphant anniversary, we spoke with two Harry Potter experts on the impact this series had and continues to have on the world.

You may be familiar with Professor Severus Snape, but did you know Harry Potter professors exist outside the mystical world of the books and novels? Swansea University’s John Granger has specifically dedicated his studies to the magic behind the Harry Potter series. Proclaimed the “Dean of Harry Potter Scholars”, Granger’s fascination with the series led him to dive into the symbolism behind Rowling’s works. Granger says that the entertainment factor of reading the books and watching the movies serves a religious function for everyone in this secular world. Additionally, these books hold a larger symbolism in the way they connect us with the world. Granger says the Potter series is now a shared text of the world, and of western civilization.

As fans who read the books when they were kids, grow up and then read them to their own children,  it is easy to see how Harry Potter has become a favorite for multiple generations.  

 

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Guest:

  • John Granger, PhD candidate at Swansea University; known as “The Dean of Harry Potter Scholars”

  • Jonathan Lethem, New York Times best-selling author and Harry Potter fan

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Culture Crash 17-30: Harry Potter’s Lasting Legacy

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A generation of children grew up with Harry Potter. We look at the books and movies they grew up watching, how they differ and what will stay with them until the very end.

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17-29 Segment 1: Writing Crime Right: How author Don Winslow approaches hot-topic issues

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Everyone loves a good crime story. Author Don Winslow reveals a special affection for crime in his novels. Famous for writing fiction and nonfiction novels on drug cartels and law enforcement, Winslow has just released another book called The Force. The New York Times already added this book to their bestseller list in its first month of release.

 

Winslow spent a great deal of time with policemen and women to truly understand their thoughts and how their occupation affects their lives. In this novel, Winslow addresses the controversial issue of current police shootings head-on, which he says is a hard conversation to have with most cops. Winslow says that he could not write a police book in 2017 without addressing the issues that are in front of all of us. He admitted that some officers were completely open about the topic, while others brushed the issue aside.

 

In addition to addressing police shootings, Winslow also dedicates a section of his novel to those police who have fallen while on the job. He thinks that acknowledging both sides of this issue is important to tell the complete story.

Guest:

  • Don Winslow, author of The Force

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17-29 Segment 2: Losing a Legacy: The collapse of the Stroh Brewing Company

 

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Frances Stroh grew up in the family that owned America’s third biggest brewer, Stroh Brewing Company. As she aged into adulthood, she watched as both the brewery and her family life fell apart. She talks about the struggles the company faced, how her family dealt with it, and when a legacy can become a burden.

Guest:

  • Frances Stroh, author of Beer Money: A memoir of privilege and loss

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17-28 Segment 1: Domestic Violence: How it happens and how we can try to stop it

 

17-28 Segment 2: Asa Jennings: A forgotten American hero

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After World War I, the city of Smyrna was set ablaze and people had to run to the beaches just to escape the flames. We’ll hear how governments and diplomats in the West all but ignored their plight, and how the efforts of one brave relief worker and a Navy commander finally brought the victims to safety.

Read the entire transcript here.

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Guests:

  • Lou Ureneck, Professor of Journalism at Boston University, author of The Great Fire: One American’s mission to rescue victims of the 20th century’s first genocide

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17-27 Segment 1: What Big Data Can Teach Us About Ourselves

 

Have you ever lied on a survey or a social media post? Stephens-Davidowitz says that almost all of us do. He researched the data of big websites like Google and Facebook to discover that what people say or post about themselves often seems contradictory to what their internet searches reveal about their interests or beliefs.

Ever since the introduction of Google, Big Data has been a large part of our lives. Every  time you’ve ever searched something on the internet, you’ve added to the Big Data about you. Although you may not realize it, data experts are analyzing your online behavior to learn more about you, your lifestyle and your spending habits – and it’s all based off of what you search. In his new book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, Stephens-Davidowitz dives into some deep truths about ourselves and our data we might not want to hear.

From the Foreword to Everybody Lies by Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of our Nature:

Blending the informed analysis of The Signal and the Noise with the instructive iconoclasm of Think Like a Freak, a fascinating, illuminating, and witty look at what the vast amounts of information now instantly available to us reveals about ourselves and our world—provided we ask the right questions.

By the end of an average day in the early twenty-first century, human beings searching the internet will amass eight trillion gigabytes of data. This staggering amount of information—unprecedented in history—can tell us a great deal about who we are—the fears, desires, and behaviors that drive us, and the conscious and unconscious decisions we make. From the profound to the mundane, we can gain astonishing knowledge about the human psyche that less than twenty years ago, seemed unfathomable.

Everybody Lies offers fascinating, surprising, and sometimes laugh-out-loud insights into everything from economics to ethics to sports to race to sex, gender and more, all drawn from the world of big data. What percentage of white voters didn’t vote for Barack Obama because he’s black? Does where you go to school affect how successful you are in life? Do parents secretly favor boy children over girls? Do violent films affect the crime rate? Can you beat the stock market? How regularly do we lie about our sex lives and who’s more self-conscious about sex, men or women?

Investigating these questions and a host of others, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz offers revelations that can help us understand ourselves and our lives better. Drawing on studies and experiments on how we really live and think, he demonstrates in fascinating and often funny ways the extent to which all the world is indeed a lab. With conclusions ranging from strange-but-true to thought-provoking to disturbing, he explores the power of this digital truth serum and its deeper potential—revealing biases deeply embedded within us, information we can use to change our culture, and the questions we’re afraid to ask that might be essential to our health—both emotional and physical. All of us are touched by big data everyday, and its influence is multiplying. Everybody Lies challenges us to think differently about how we see it and the world.

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Guest:

  • Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are

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