College Competition and Costs; Random Family; E. L. Doctorow; Microbeads in the Ocean; Diving in Gowanus Canal

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

On today’s show: Laura Newland describes the intense competition to get admitted to the country’s top colleges and the pressures she faced on campus. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc talks about Random Family for this month’s Leonard Lopate Show Book Club. E. L. Doctorow discusses his latest novel, Andrew’s Brain. Find out how the microbeads that are found in many of our soaps, shampoos, and other household products stay in our water long after they’ve been washed down the drain. And we’ll talk to a man who swam in the Gowanus Canal last weekend.

College Competition and Student Loan Debt

Laura Newland examines the hypercompetitive battle for internships and the economic pressures—student loans, the daunting cost of graduate degrees, high unemployment—at the nation’s elite universities. She argues that these economic pressures have fueled a Wall Street recruiting machine that is winning over the best and the brightest. In Chasing Zeroes: The Rise of Student Debt, the Fall of the College Ideal, and One Overachiever’s Misguided Pursuit of Success, she writes about her own experiences with college debt and the lure of finance, and looks at higher education and the tension between ambition and debt.

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Book Club: Random Family

Leonard Lopate Show Book Club’s first selection for 2014 is Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx. Author Adrian Nicole LeBlanc spent years with one extended family in the Bronx to create a portrait of poverty, and of life in and of public housing, prison, and court. It received high praise when it was published in 2003, and remains as relevant and important a decade later. We chose it after we read Andrea Elliott's powerful New York Times series Invisible Child: Dasani's Homeless Life, which reminded us of the extensive reporting on a family's struggles with poverty in Random Family.

Share your thoughts and questions below!

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E. L. Doctorow's Novel Andrew's Brain

E. L. Doctorow talks about his latest novel, Andrew’s Brain, which goes into the mind of a man who has been the inadvertent agent of disaster more than once in his life. In the novel Andrew tells the story of his life, his loves, and the tragedies he’s experienced.

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Microplastics in our Water

Microbeads, tiny pieces of plastic commonly used in personal care products, are showing up in waterways across the nation. These tiny particles are considered potentially dangerous to the environment because of their tendency to absorb toxins in the water and then get consumed by fish and other organisms. Rolf Halden, Director of the Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University, and Sherri Mason, Associate Professor of Chemistry at SUNY Fredonia, explain the hazards of these particles in our water.

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Diving in the Gowanus Canal

John D’Aquino tells us about putting on a head-to-toe Hazmat dry diving suit last week and jumping into the Gowanus Canal, one of the country’s most polluted waterways. He’ll explain why he did it and what he found at the bottom of New York City’s notorious superfund site. He's joined by commercial diver Lenny Speregen.

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Guest Picks: E. L. Doctorow

E. L. Doctorow was on the Leonard Lopate Show recently to talk about his novel, Andrew's Brain. He also told us what he's been reading and listening to recently. 


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