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What on Earth is Going on?

News & Politics Podcasts

Your weekly podcast for a world in flux. Globalization and climate change. The rise of social media and the decline and fall of Blockbuster Video. AI and VR. Donald Trump and Flat Earthers. The world is changing so fast that we can't get a grip on how we got here, let alone where we're headed. Join Ben Charland as he peels back the headlines to ask, what are the events, characters, forces and ideas that shape the human story today? Have things always been this nuts, or are they getting crazier by the day? Who were those barbarians that took down the Blockbuster Empire? Just what on Earth is going on?

Your weekly podcast for a world in flux. Globalization and climate change. The rise of social media and the decline and fall of Blockbuster Video. AI and VR. Donald Trump and Flat Earthers. The world is changing so fast that we can't get a grip on how we got here, let alone where we're headed. Join Ben Charland as he peels back the headlines to ask, what are the events, characters, forces and ideas that shape the human story today? Have things always been this nuts, or are they getting crazier by the day? Who were those barbarians that took down the Blockbuster Empire? Just what on Earth is going on?

Location:

Canada

Description:

Your weekly podcast for a world in flux. Globalization and climate change. The rise of social media and the decline and fall of Blockbuster Video. AI and VR. Donald Trump and Flat Earthers. The world is changing so fast that we can't get a grip on how we got here, let alone where we're headed. Join Ben Charland as he peels back the headlines to ask, what are the events, characters, forces and ideas that shape the human story today? Have things always been this nuts, or are they getting crazier by the day? Who were those barbarians that took down the Blockbuster Empire? Just what on Earth is going on?

Twitter:

@woegoshow

Language:

English

Contact:

403-462-0034


Episodes

...with the new novel, Seven by Farzana Doctor (Ep. 101)

9/18/2020
Farzana Doctor's new novel, Seven, juggles family, history, culture, and the incredible weight of those forces on women today. It's a detective story and travel novel, and a powerful insight into a woman struggling with sex, identity, her past, and her vast network of relatives. But the overarching issue throughout the book is female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice still common around the world. Farzana joins Ben to talk about the book, FGM, her writing process, and much more. About...

Duration:00:54:57

...after 99 Episodes (Ep. 100)

9/4/2020
It's been over two years since host Ben Charland kicked off this podcast in a basement in Kingston, Ontario. After nearly 100 fascinating conversations about everything from the mafia to the water supply, from science to philosophy, we're revisiting some of the best moments. Author, science broadcaster and previous guest Ziya Tong (Episode 85) interviews Ben with questions from listeners about what on earth is going on behind the scenes. Enjoy this very special centennial episode! About...

Duration:00:58:44

...with Changing Cities (Ep. 99)

8/21/2020
The one thing that doesn't change about cities is the fact that they are constantly changing. Most people now live in cities, transforming them with their consumer behaviour, their culture, their ideas and their advocacy. City planners have to balance the natural development of these vast social organisms with complex, long-term plans. How do they do it? Ben chats with veteran urban planner Teresa Goldstein. . Follow Teresa on Twitter (@teresagoldstein). Mentioned in this Episode The...

Duration:00:58:05

...with Creativity, Music and Politics during COVID-19 (Ep. 98)

8/7/2020
The coronavirus pandemic is altering our lives in ways we cannot yet comprehend, and in decades we will marvel at this transformative time. COVID-19 is not just accelerating trends that were in place beforehand, but it is creating new realities. How are artists coping? How about our politics and ideologies? Alex Green's podcast, Stereo Embers, addresses the current creative moment of the artist. He joins Ben remotely from San Francisco for a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation. About...

Duration:01:02:20

...with Kingston WritersFest (Ep. 97)

7/24/2020
What makes a book interesting? Beautiful? Provocative? Necessary? Is reading still the best way to get a message across and tell a good story, and how is it changing in our world today? The Kingston WritersFest is one of Canada's premiere literary events, drawing headline international authors as well as big crowds from the bookish Ontario city. Ben chats with the festival's artistic director and alumnus of the podcast, Barbara Bell, about writing, reading, and what goes on in...

Duration:01:10:28

...with Disability (Ep. 96)

7/10/2020
We will all encounter disability in our lives, either ourselves or someone we know and love. What is our responsibility when that happens? What role should the greater community play to provide care and support? What about government, public policy, and spending? What's changing when it comes to disability and how we care for those who truly need it, and why is this important? Ben has an enlightening conversation with Helen Ries, an Ottawa-based advocate with a powerful story of her and her...

Duration:00:50:28

...with Rebuilding Democracy (Ep. 95)

6/26/2020
What if being a Member of Parliament or Congress had nothing to do with an election, but rather worked like jury duty? What if our officials were seated randomly in a legislature? What if we innovated the very idea of government itself? Dave Meslin says our politics is broken, but instead of repeating this from the sidelines, he's got 100 common-sense fixes. They are all detailed in his fascinating and provocative book, Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up. Ben chats with Dave...

Duration:01:13:45

...with Writing Biography (Ep. 94)

6/12/2020
Rosemary Sullivan is an acclaimed Canadian poet and biographer. She has written definitive biographies about Elizabeth Smart and Gwendolyn MacEwen as well as a book about the early life of Margaret Atwood. In 2015, Rosemary published Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva to widespread praise. Ben sits down with Rosemary in Toronto to talk about what goes into making a biography (such as calling the CIA first), how she wrote Stalin's Daughter, and...

Duration:01:00:12

...with Politics and its Future (Ep. 93)

5/29/2020
Kent Hehr is a former federal Liberal cabinet minister and member of parliament for Calgary Centre. As a so-called "recovering politician" with careers on both the federal and provincial levels, Kent has a lot to say about what on earth is going on -- but he’s also got an incredible story. In October 1991 he was with some friends in Calgary when someone in another car opened fire. The bullet went into Kent’s spine, and just like that, he was paralyzed from the chest down as a C5...

Duration:01:02:55

...with Acting, Gaming and Creativity (Ep. 92)

5/15/2020
Aurora Browne is one of Canada's national treasures. Best known as one of the cast members of the Baroness von Sketch Show and as co-host of the Great Canadian Baking Show, Aurora has been creating daring, funny and original work for theatre, television and film for many years. Ben catches up with Aurora in Toronto to discuss her career as an actor and comedian, as well as her fascinating with the oceans, video games, clowning, and Dungeons & Dragons. Don't miss this wide-ranging...

Duration:01:11:17

...with the Writing Process, Genre, and the Rise of Stupid (Ep. 91)

5/1/2020
What does it take to write a novel? What about genre? How does marketing define the books we read before we even open the first page? What does it mean to find a space that isn't programmed? And is the old right-left divide being replaced by a new one: the axis of smart-stupid? Ben is in Toronto to chat with award-winning novelist Andrew Pyper about his work, his writing process, and his take on what on earth is going on today. About the Guest Andrew Pyper was born in Stratford,...

Duration:01:12:19

...with Writing Novels (Ep. 90)

4/17/2020
Elizabeth Hay is a Giller Prize-winning author of novels such as Late Nights on Air, His Whole Life, and Alone in the Classroom. Most recently, she published a memoir about her parents' final years in Ottawa: All Things Consoled. She has been writing since she was fifteen, and also spent ten years working as a radio broadcaster, living in Yellowknife, Winnipeg, Toronto and Latin America. Ben sits down with Elizabeth in her Ottawa home to talk about her books, her writing process, and much...

Duration:00:58:53

...with Generations and the Ethical Choice to Have Children (Ep. 89)

4/3/2020
Is dividing people up by their generation (Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, etc.) unhelpful and even harmful? Is it a form of ageism, along the same lines as racism or sexism? What is the coming crisis of our time, and have we already arrived? And is it ethically justified to have children in this world in flux? Ben is in Kingston for a fascinating conversation about all this and more with philosopher Christine Overall of Queen's University. About the Guest Christine Overall's teaching,...

Duration:01:14:03

...with Polling in Politics (Ep. 88)

3/20/2020
One of the key features of the democratic process is opinion polling, whether it is leader likability or attitudes on various issues. But do these snapshots of the horserace have an impact on the race itself? How has scientific polling and statistical analysis changed? How will it change in the years to come? And, what happens when the data shows us that the story we think is happening is not the one actually playing out? Ben joins writer and political analyst Eric Grenier at his CBC office...

Duration:01:01:58

...with the Power of Names (Ep. 87)

3/6/2020
Do our names shape our destiny? What does it mean to live life as Don as opposed to Donald or Donnie? What prejudices do we carry with our names and the names of others, and what about those who change theirs? When we name our children, are we projecting our own battles and biases onto them before they even know the value of a name? Ben is in Toronto to sit down with Mavis Himes, a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist who wrote The Power of Names: Uncovering the Mystery of What We Are...

Duration:01:07:12

...with Political Philosophy (Ep. 86)

2/21/2020
Humans are living longer, delaying disease and decay later and later. It's conceivable that we could eradicate the big killers and attain a certain kind of infinite postponement of death. But what would this mean for our humanity? What does philosophy have to say about this, and about the state of our ongoing social experiment with democracy? Ben sits down to chat about all this and much more with Queen's University political philosopher and National Scholar, Colin Farrelly. About the...

Duration:01:12:07

...with The Reality Bubble (Ep. 85)

2/7/2020
Ziya Tong is "one of the world's most engaging science journalists" and after co-hosting Discovery Canada's Daily Planet television program for ten years, she wrote her first book, The Reality Bubble. It's a veil-removing tour-de-force, filled with wonder, rigour and a powerful thesis about our role in the world and how we are often blinded, sometimes by our own choice, from what on earth is really going on. Ben is in Toronto to chat with Ziya about The Reality Bubble and so much...

Duration:00:54:40

...with Guy Gavriel Kay (Ep. 84)

1/24/2020
Guy Gavriel Kay is a bestselling, world-renowned author whose works have been translated into over 30 languages. Originally from western Canada, Guy practiced law, developed a radio series with the CBC, and even assisted Christopher Tolkien with the editing of his father JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion, before becoming established as a fantasy writer. Ben is in Toronto to chat with Guy about writing, creativity, the intersection of art and power, and even the vagaries of pricing single malt...

Duration:01:13:59

...according to the novel, Ducks, Newburyport (Ep. 83)

1/10/2020
Lucy Ellmann's groundbreaking and award-winning novel, "Ducks, Newburyport", consists of a single sentence broken up only by the small bits of a parallel story of a mountain lioness protecting her cubs. It's a powerful, engrossing and genuinely readable piece of literature that challenges how fiction is read as well as our base assumptions of history, women, motherhood and the incredible flux of the 21st century. Ben discusses the book with Barbara Bell, Artistic Director of Kingston...

Duration:00:52:19

...with Rebalancing Society (Ep. 82)

12/27/2019
Do the problems we face today -- political gridlock, climate change, social upheaval, accelerating economic inequality -- stem from fundamental imbalances in our society and thinking? What role might the plural (or civil) sector play in rejigging our systems? And why should we be ditching 30-year plans to focus on ones just a few weeks out? Ben sits down with world-renowned scholar of management, Henry Mintzberg, about these questions and many others. About the Guest Henry is a writer...

Duration:00:44:28