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Today in History: The 19th Amendment

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Suffragists rally, February 1913, waving pennants reading Votes for Women.

Suffragists rally, February 1913, waving pennants reading Votes for Women.

On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, was ...


Hardwired to Seek, Search, Hunt

Friday, August 21, 2009

78761369CJ002_Websites_reflFlea markets, casinos, bars, and the internet search engine all tap into what Emily Yoffe of Slate Magazine calls the 'human motivation to seek'. Studies done on lab rats and humans revealed an area of the brain called the 'seeking center' and that we are driven to search as a reward in itself.

Yoffe spoke with guest host Andrea Bernstein on The Brian Lehrer Show. An excerpt of the interview:

Andrea Bernstein: So there is this incredible human motivation just to search or to seek or to hunt?

Emily Yoffee: The brain is over-wired for this, seeking, curiosity, exploration...If you think of it in evolutionary terms, it all makes sense. If you have a creature that is very easy satisfied and is just sitting there being happy, it’s probably going to be eaten pretty quickly. We are strongly, strongly motivated to get out of our beds, our dens, our holes and go out and seek and search.

Bernstein: Is that is what is happening when you are reading a mystery or a thriller? You love the hunt and maybe why you feel a little let down when you get to the end?

Yoffe: Yes, this is why flea markets are so great, gambling, going to pick up bars. It is not that we don’t feel the reward, but the reward only lasts a little bit of time and then the seeking urge is renewed again. It’s not just that we are compelled to seek to in order to get the reward to feel good. Seeking, wanting, feels good itself...It feels great to be in that aroused, excited state. Drugs, like amphetamines, and cocaine stimulate that system. It’s the dopamine system. It feels good to be excited. It feels good to feel “I can do anything.”

Bernstein: Is Googling really changing anything or is it just helping us do what we would do anyway?

Yoffe: Googling, and all our electronic devices that help us search or find or get constant tweet updates from people, it hasn’t created a new sensation in the brain.

'If humans are seeking creatures, we have now created the perfect seeking machines.'

The dopamine system is the neurotransmitter for the seeking system, it is also believed that it controls our sense of time. That is why you can sit down to find one thing and you find it is an hour later. Where did that hour go?


Digesting Politics: Chris Christie & Bill Thompson

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chris Christie starts to lose the news cycle over an undisclosed loan and Bill Thompson comes under the klieg lights. Andrea Bernstein and Bob Hennelly mull it all over in this week’s “Digesting Politics.”

Digesting Politics

'Digesting Politics.' We're back!



Storm Leaves Mess in NYC

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Forestry experts are evaluating the extent of damage done to hundreds of trees in Central Park during last night's fast-moving thunderstorm. About 100 trees were knocked down, and hundreds more have broken limbs, and may need to be taken down.

"Many of them are just snapped off ...


Today in History: U-2

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The trial of Francis Gary Powers in Moscow in August, 1960.

The trial of Francis Gary Powers in Moscow in August, 1960.

On August 19, 1960, a Soviet military court sentenced U.S. pilot Gary Powers to 10 years in prison. On ...


The Art of Vacationing Dangerously

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

'A tourist looks an awful lot like a spy', says Robert Young Pelton, adventurer and author of Licensed to Kill. 'You have a camera, a video camera, they can Google you very quickly and find out you've work in other countries.' In the age of the blogger, Pelton argues, many young adventure-seeking tourists are blurring the boundary between amateur and professional. 'Quasi-journalists', says Pelton, are often compelled to 'report' on their experiences. Writers, photographers, and plain thrill seekers may take unwise risks, turning normal situations into 'dangerous vacations.'

Earlier this month, three American tourists were arrested and detained near the Iraq-Iran border by Iranian officials while hiking. This occurred shortly after the pardoning of American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee from illegally entering North Korea. Tourist or journalist; the risk factor remains the same when exploring a politically-unstable country. The author and filmmaker discusses the tendency of traveling youth to place too much trust in the visiting country's ability to keep them safe.


On the other hand, Pelton supports adventure seekers, as well as the 'quasi-journalist', as long as they take precautions. 'Before you choose a destination, go on the internet and deal with people from the area', as opposed to gathering your information from the media, says Pelton.


Today in History: Tryst with Destiny

Friday, August 14, 2009

nehruOn August 14, 1947, the eve of India's independence from British rule, Jawaharlal Nehru delivers his famous 'Tryst with Destiny' speech:

'Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.'


On The Media's Eulogy Project

Friday, August 07, 2009


On The Media wants to hear your thoughts on the slow death of newspapers – are you sad to see them go or glad to see the back of them? Either way, send your emails to onthemedia@wnyc.org and write ...


Practical Economics: Dogs, Cats, & Shoes

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Labor Department released unemployment numbers this morning, indicating that only 247,000 jobs were lost in July, as compared to 443,000 in June. The unemployment rate fell from 9.5 to 9.4, the first drop since April 2008, leading some to cautiously suggest that the worst of the recession is over. ...


Today in History: Hiroshima

Thursday, August 06, 2009

On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped nuclear bomb "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 140,000 people.

Chaplain William Downey delivers a prayer for the crew of the Enola Gay before their flight:

“We pray Thee that the end of the war may come soon and that once more we may know peace on earth. May the men who fly this night be kept safe in Thy care and may they be returned safely to us. We shall go forward trusting in Thee knowing that we are in Thy care now and forever in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

President Harry Truman announced the bombing from aboard the USS. Augusta. Here he discusses the event:

"A short time ago, an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb has more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb, we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form, these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development. It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosened against those who brought war to the Far East."


Brooklyn's Greenest Block

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A block along Brooklyn's Lincoln Road has won an award for being the "greenest" residential block in the borough. Judges in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden contest gave the stretch of Lincoln between Bedford and Rogers Avenues the prize because of its full trees, lush sidewalk gardens and ...

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

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Today in History: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

gulfoftonkinOn August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson calls on Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which would give him broad powers in dealing with reported North Vietnamese attacks on United States forces.

“As president and commander in chief, it is my duty to the American people to report that renewed hostile actions against the United States ships on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the United States to take action in reply. The initial attack on the destroyer Maddox on August 2nd was repeated today by a number of hostile vessels attacking two U.S. destroyers with torpedoes....Repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United States must be met not only with alert defense, but with positive reply. That reply is being given as I speak to you tonight.....The determination of all Americas to carry out our full commitment to the people and to the government of South Vietnam will be redoubled by this outrage.


Saturdays on Summer Streets

Monday, August 03, 2009

Janette Sadik-Khan and the mysterious ZoZo discuss Summer Streets.

Janette Sadik-Khan and the mysterious ZoZo discuss Summer Streets.

Park Avenue is filled with traffic today, but the scene will be much different on Saturday morning. The city's Summer Streets ...


The Waterpod Project

Monday, August 03, 2009

New Yorkers are exploring a floating, fully functional, water-based community in West Harlem. The Waterpod serves as a floating home, garden, and performance space and is currently docked at 125th Street on the river. Mary Mattingly created the Waterpod, and says she came up with the idea to ...


Refugee Youth Participate in Summer Academy in Manhattan

Monday, August 03, 2009

This summer the International Rescue Committee is once again running a Youth Academy for newly arrived refugee youth. 100 students representing more than 20 countries are enrolled in the academy designed to help new students assimilate into American life and education.

Students attend academic classes to develop English language ...

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Today in History: Berlin Olympics

Saturday, August 01, 2009

On August 1, 1936, Adolf Hitler presided over the opening ceremony of the Olympic games. Also in this clip, American Jesse Owens on winning several gold medals.

Thanks to WNYC Archivist Andy Lanset


The Streets of Central Brooklyn

Thursday, July 30, 2009

by guest blogger Ferentz Lafargue
(photo by Madame Chang)

(photo by Madame Chang)

Alternate Side Parking
I had a few friends visiting from out of town this weekend and on Monday morning when we went to move their car for alternative side of the street parking, I couldn’t help but notice how it felt like a block association meeting because there were so many neighbors out moving their cars. When I moved onto this block in April 2008 I might see about seven cars double parked on alternate side of the street parking days. A year and a half later, there were at least a dozen cars and countless neighbors outside talking.

Given the current economic downturn, I have to believe that one reason for this impromptu neighborhood gathering then that more of my neighbors have either been laid off or for those who are independent contractors, the jobs simply aren’t as plentiful as they were a year ago.

What also struck me the more that I thought about this scene where neighbors were swapping hellos, weekend tales and job leads, is why don’t politicians capitalize on the captive audiences that are out there four days a week practically twiddling their thumbs for an hour and a half. Alternative side of the street parking days are a great opportunity for local politicos to talk to constituents, maybe even mobilize them to do a community service project, or engage them in another capacity. Making use of this poorly utilized time, might provide great insights on how to address community issues.

The Corner
I think the next five years in Central Brooklyn will be decided on street corners. There has been an a fervent debate going on in central Brooklyn about the Bedford Armory, where part of the reason that residents do not want this influx of homeless men in the area is that they do not want more people loitering on the corners during the day. If you walk around certain blocks it’s astounding to see a dozen young men idling. There are occasionally young women in these ciphers, but not to the extent that these young men are out there these days. This raises brows in flush economic times, but during an economic downturn, this borders on precarious. An under-discussed issue is that the civil-rights generation’s presence on these corners are eroding and that almost overnight younger leaders will be expected to address a range of issues that range from job-training, reentry to public health, without the philanthropic support that was present in the 90s and earlier in this decade. This is why the city council races in central Brooklyn are so important this year, because when candidates like Mark Winston Griffin, Saquan Jones and Tremaine Wright are getting out on the block, they are engaging the people we can least afford to lose at this time.

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Dollars and Sense of Blackness: Central Brooklyn

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Snapshots of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights

WNYC invited community members from Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant to talk about economic issues directly affecting Central Brooklyn. Here are some of their responses and the issues they felt were most pressing in their communities.

Listen to The Brian Lehrer Show, broadcast live from The Jerome L. Greene Space, on the topic:

>>>Atim Annette Oton, Owner of Calabar Imports, Editor and Publisher of Calabar Magazine


Housing: 'There has not been a commitment by this administration to affordable housing. It’s almost like you need to redo the census and ask 'how much do you earn?' and 'how much can you really afford?' If you go down and talk to anyone in Brooklyn, the telephone bill has gone up, the light bill has gone up, the gas bill has gone up, the food has gone up. My salary has not gone up. So how am I paying $1500 for a one-bedroom?' otimhead

Seniors: 'I think the biggest issue for seniors is, how do we survive this economy? Even some of them living in rent stabilized apartments in the community. The Social Security has not really increased substantially. They are really making fundamental decisions of life and death. Do I eat or do I get my medication or do I pay a bill? Their children are also losing their jobs so that additional support is gone.'

Education: 'Parents who fundamentally could be involved in their child’s education are working longer hours. That’s a downturn of the economy. You used to work 40-50 hours, now they are doing 60. …there has been a periodic drop in high school graduations. Most kids don’t see college as their future because they have no access to funds.”

>>>Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Community Organizer within Black Muslim community in BK


Fatherhood: 'I have seen a lot of young men around my age (I'm 32), who have younger children and are out of work. I see a lot of young men in my neighborhood, Bed-Stuy meets Bushwick meets East New York--a lot of men are spending more time with their kids. Taking their kids to school, I see tons of young men taking their kids to day care in the morning or picking their kids up. ibrahim100

I met a guy on the bus who was taking classes so he could get custody of his children back. He had the time because he did not have a full time job to go get the extra stuff he needed to make him more pertinent in his children’s lives. There is always a little lining, it was encouraging even if it was depressing at the same time.'

Underground Economy: 'As someone who grew up watching the crack era and seeing it all evolve, there was a time in New York where things were not that great, but you could join the underground economy and make a lot of money. You can’t do that any more. People aren’t making big money hustling.'

>>>April R. Silver, Founder and Director of Akila Worksongs Communications Agency


aprilheadCreative Community: 'In addition to working in the media, I work with artists, independent artists, the spoken word, poets, filmmakers, writers, and there are less opportunities for these artists to support their craft. Many of them are educators to supplement their income. I’ve seen mostly the programs get cut, they have not necessarily been taken off the table, but the budgets have been cut.'

'They are struggling trying not go back into the work force because they really do want to work as fulltime artists. If they try to speak or lecture at colleges, where they used to get $1500, they are now being asked to do the same thing for $500.'

>>>Benita Miller, Founder & Executive Director, Brooklyn Young Mothers’ Collective

The Future Generation: 'We need to take the focus off material gain and celebrity excess. We have to teach young people how to imagine a different world. You know what's funny? benitaheadI see poor kids having Louis Vuitton Parties because Kanye West talks about it. If that's the life kids are imagining, we're setting them up for failure.'

Employment: 'We also see a lot more young women looking for work while they are pregnant. That's new.'

Isolation: 'Some of these communities are so isolated. I don't think I've seen a place as isolated as Brownsville. These communities are isolated and the jobs are downtown; so the question becomes how do you bring isolated communities back in?'

>>>Pam Green, Executive Director of the Weeksville Heritage Center, and currently serves on the Board of Community Resource Exchange and on the Advisory Board of Learning through Expanded Arts Programs (LEAP)


weeksvilleEmployment: 'As a resident of Bedford Stuyvesant, certainly I can see the usual impact - houses that are not being sold, some abandonment, lay offs, fewer summer youth jobs, and deterioration of properties in parts of the community. Near our historic site, there’s almost a level of 'business as usual', in that nothing drastic yet has happened to our immediate neighbors.'

'We are about to begin construction of a new education and cultural arts center. Once this news became public, we began to receive visits and calls from neighborhood folks looking to be hired. As our project is completely city funded, we do not have the authority to hire. It is all done through the contractors, selected by the city through competitive bidding. Fortunately, there are requirements for hiring minority and women owned enterprises, but again, we can only recommend companies and pass along the names of others.'

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Arianna Huffington on Pigs at the Trough

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Arianna Huffington, cofounder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, talks about how corporate corruption and greed have led to the economic crisis. She wrote Pigs at the Trough in 2003, and now, six years later, shes updated it. The book is a harsh indictment of corporate corruption and Wall Street ...