Feeling the Sting

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Friday, July 08, 2011

On today’s show, we’ll look at whether tenure is a cause of some of the problems in higher education. Then, we’ll talk to the director and one of the human participants in a documentary called “Project Nim,” about a chimpanzee who was raised to test the language abilities of apes. Joseph Dorman talks about his documentary on the writer Sholem Aleichem. Plus, Please Explain is all about those gelatinous blobs that may sting you at the beach—jellyfish!

The Faculty Lounges

Journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley argues that tenure—the job security entitlement that comes with a university position—is at the heart of so many problems with higher education today. In The Faculty Lounges: And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get The College Education You Pay For she explores how tenure and the job security, mediocre salaries, and low levels of accountability it entails may be attracting the least innovative and interesting members of our society into teaching.

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Project Nim

James Marsh, director of the documentary “Project Nim,” and Stephanie LaFarge, who is featured in the film, discuss the story of Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment which aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child. The film is an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human. “Project Nim” opens July 8 at Angelika Film Center and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

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Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness

Filmmaker Joseph Dorman discusses his film “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness,” a portrait of the great writer who created an entirely new form of literature and whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” Sholem Aleichem captured a Jewish world in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, and he helped create a new modern Jewish identity. “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness” opens July 8 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

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Please Explain: Jellyfish

A series of new studies has revealed that jellyfish are far more than mindless blobs that can spoil your day at the beach. On today’s Please Explain, Steve Bailey, Curator of Fishes at the New England Aquarium, and Marine Biologist and Chief Aquarist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Michael Howard discuss why jellyfish are much more complex and interesting than scientists once thought. 

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