Monthly Archives: June 2004

Edward Albee

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Edward Albee. For more than four decades the controversial playwright has shocked and tantalized. From “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” to “The Goat” or “Who is Sylvia”, his plays tackle taboos, from class to sex in its myriad forms. His characters let the emotional and raw humanity hang out in often ugly confrontations. Albee’s work helped transform the stage, poking the public in the gut. And in an age when theatre has been pushed to the sidelines of American culture, Albee still manages to unnerve, to force audiences to examine their own values and tolerances.

Now, with three Pulitzers and several Tony Awards to his name, Albee is at it again with a new play. The American Theatre: looking forward/looking back with Edward Albee.


Edward Albee, Pulitzer and Tony Award winning playwright.

Asia's Population Crisis

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Imagine a society where men far outnumbered women … where women snapped up the cream of the crop, the ones with prospects, leaving millions of males roaming the countryside and cities without a mate. Well, we’re about to find out what that society would look like. In China, where a cultural preference for sons, combined with high and low technology sex-selection techniques is creating a unique population time bomb. In some of the poorest provinces there are already two boys born for every female child.

The question is, what will all these men without mates do with all that energy. In the past skewed sex ratios have led to violence, crime and social instability.


Valerie Hudson, Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University and co-author of ‘Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population”

Susan Greenhalgh, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Irvine

Rob Gifford, National Public Radio’s China Correspondent.

Bloomsday at 100

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That it took James Joyce nearly a decade to write his sprawling, day-in-the-life-of-ordinary-men masterpiece, Ulysses, is nothing compared to the length of time it takes most of us to finish. Constructed from the architecture of a wild, weird mind and tied loosely to Homer’s Odyssey, it is eighteen installments of everything: from Dickensian parodies to riffs on Shakespeare, Elizabethan meanderings to stream of consciousness sing song. And if the tome is really an event, so is the date it marks.

On June 16, 1904, Leopold Bloom set out across Dublin in search of lemon soap for his wife and some more prurient solace for himself. He met Stephen Dedalus along the way, and 100 years later, we’re still talking about them both. Bloomsday 2004.


Colm Toibin, author, most recently, of “The Master”

James Wood, senior editor at The New Republic and author, most recently, of “The Irresponsible Self: On Comedy and the Novel”

Laura Weldon, national coordinator for ReJoyce Dubin 2004

Africa: The Invisible Continent

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Africa. It is sometimes referred to as the “dark” continent, but today it seems almost invisible. Glance at the front page of any newspaper, and it’s not likely that you’ll find a story about Africa above the fold and probably not below the fold either.

It’s not as if the planet’s second largest continent lacks stories that fit the standard criteria for news. Death: there’s plenty of it, tens of thousands dead and displaced in Sudan’s Darfur region in the past year alone. Disease: AIDS is ripping the place apart. Drama: there’s the ongoing conflict between Islam and Christianity and stories of al-Qaeda gaining strength and recruits in the East. So if Africa has all the elements of a good story, why doesn’t it get the ink?


Mark Doyle, World Affairs Correspondent for the BBC

Michela Wrong, freelance reporter, author of “In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo”

Geoffrey Nyarota, Founder and Editor of Zimbabwe’s only independent daily newspaper, The Daily Press

Jim Smith, foreign editor of The Boston Globe.

David Sedaris

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David Sedaris just might be America’s most beloved misfit. Since his self admitted “girlie” voice hit the public radio airwaves over a decade ago, Sedaris has become an icon for the outcasts. For years he’s been writing essays on being the perennial loser; a youngster taunted by school bullies, a pre-teen waking to his homosexuality, a grown man scraping out a living as a sexually harassed house cleaner.

His new book plucks material from these territories and the one most familiar to his followers, his family. With stories of his sister Tiffany who eats a turkey from a trash can, and his brother Paul who is a redneck poster boy, he writes with his trademark dry humor, and a more uncommon dose of sadness.


David Sedaris, NPR commentator, playwright, and author of numerous books including “Barrel Fever,” “Naked,” and “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” His latest collection of essays is titled “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.”

Banking on Stem Cells

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The great stem cell debate shakes conventional wisdom at every turn. It makes stranger bedfellows than ordinary politics, and now is setting a man against one of his fathers. President George W. Bush’s stem cell policy is at odds with the advocacy of President Reagan’s family.

This debate has now become a states rights issue, with some defying the directions of the federal government, while easing regulations and courting investment on their own. California is taking the boldest step: putting a potential three billion dollar bond issue to fund research on the ballot. But these moves have some wondering whether oversight of this controversial scientific field should be left up to the states.


Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College of London

Larry Goldstein, co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the California Stem Cell Research Initiative and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

Anatomy of a Flag

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“It’s a grand old flag. It’s a high flying flag. It’s the emblem of the land I love,” wrote immigrant entertainer George M. Cohan. The flag is the symbol of one’s country, but it’s not a uniquely American thing.

Yet, the iconic photo of the flag being raised on Iwo Jima, Japan in 1945, fills Americans with awe. Similarly, the iconic image of the red flag being placed atop the Reichstag by Soviet troops in May 1945 fills Russians with a pride that transcends political ideology.

For thousands of years, human beings have been flying flags to project unity, and inspire nationalism. Hear about the history and power of stars, stripes and other symbols.


Dr. Whitney Smith, director of the Flag Research Center in Massachusetts

Carolyn Marvin, professor, Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rules of Interrogation

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Torture is the dark shadow dogging the war on terror. In Guantanamo and Bagram and, of course, at Abu Ghraib, interrogation techniques are being exposed that are making people nervous.

Bush administration lawyers have prepared opinions on how far and how hard military interrogators can go and still be compliant with the Geneva Convention. Does the Geneva Convention apply at all to those who do battle with the U.S. under the cloak of terror? How high up the chain of command is authorization required to smooth the path to reliable information?

More than a few former military lawyers find the very fact these questions have to be asked in the first place, quite disturbing.


Jess Bravin, reporter for the Wall Street Journal

Scott Silliaman, Ret. Colonel and Executive Director of Duke University’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security;
David Rivkin, partner, Baker and Hostetler.