Episode 154: Cowspiracy

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
— Martin Luther King Jr.
You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products. Period.
— Howard Lyman, former cattle rancher, author, Mad Cowboy

In the past two decades, climate change (previously described as global warming) has been a polarizing and central topic in discussions both political and personal. Some look to governments and organizations to facilitate recycling, curb emissions and reduce waste byproducts. Others invest in individual contributions, like residential solar panels, composting and eco-friendly materials. But rarely do we think about the impact of food production on the environment. In 2014, documentary filmmaker Kip Anderson set out to explore the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. This week we sit down to discuss his film with Leland Holcomb. How have carnivorous habits been internalized on a cultural level? Could we, as a global community, alter our agricultural course for a more sustainable option?

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Episode 153: "Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong"

There was another professor called Peter Cohen in the Netherlands who said, maybe we shouldn’t even call it addiction. Maybe we should call it bonding. Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when we’re happy and healthy, we’ll bond and connect with each other, but if you can’t do that, because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief.
— Johann Hari, 06:04 of his TED Talk on addiction.
And they’ve got both the water bottles, the normal water and the drugged water. But here’s the fascinating thing: In Rat Park, they don’t like the drug water. They almost never use it. None of them ever use it compulsively. None of them ever overdose. You go from almost 100 percent overdose when they’re isolated to zero percent overdose when they have happy and connected lives.
— Johann Hari, 04:40 of his TED Talk on addiction.
It’s now exactly 100 years since drugs were first banned in the United States and Britain, and we then imposed that on the rest of the world. It’s a century since we made this really fateful decision to take addicts and punish them and make them suffer, because we believed that would deter them; it would give them an incentive to stop.
— Johann Hari, 00:25 of his TED Talk on addiction.
Professor Alexander began to think there might be a different story about addiction. He said, what if addiction isn’t about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your cage? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?
— Johann Hari, 05:53 of his TED Talk on addiction.

In our cultural lexicon, we often casually note that we're "addicted" to the latest TV show, album or trend that enters our lives. But we rarely discuss the grave reality of actual addiction and the burdens it creates. This week, we examine a 2015 TED Talk given by Johann Hari on the subject. In particular, he looks at common misconceptions about how and why addiction takes hold. What are the social factors at play? What can addiction reveal about our deeper human nature? How might communities and governments better prepare and respond to citizens to mitigate addiction?

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Episode 152: Dreams of the Dying

These events are distinct from ‘near-death experiences,’ such as those recalled by people revived in intensive care units. ‘These are people on a journey towards death, not people who just missed it.’
— Pei C. Grant, director of the research team at Hospice Buffalo.
The dreams and visions loosely sorted into categories: opportunities to engage with the deceased; loved ones “waiting;” unfinished business. Themes of love, given or withheld, coursed through the dreams, as did the need for resolution and even forgiveness.
— Jan Hoffman of the New York Times, February 2, 2016.
“We should be opening the door with our questions, but not forcing patients through it. Our job is witnessing, exploring and lessening their loneliness. If it’s benign and rich with content, let it go. But if it brings up serious old wounds, get real help — a psychologist, a chaplain — because in this area, we physicians don’t know what we’re doing.
— Dr. Timothy E. Quill, palliative care medicine expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center

Humanity at large has been fascinated, confused and humbled by dreams and the threshold of death since time immemorial. But what would the crossroads of these two phenomena look like and how might it help us better understand our minds and our lives? This week we're joined by Lucy Iselin to examine a New York Times article published in 2016. The thought-provoking article includes insights and perspectives from professionals in hospice care, stories from the terminally ill and those who study end-of-life experiences. How might this article and its subject matter encourage empathy through further observations of dreamers and their experiences? How do dreams of the dying differ from those whose hold on life is firmer? What can these dreams tell us about the most deeply-buried concerns and memories of dreamers late in life?

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Episode 151: If a Podcast Falls in a Forest...

A few weeks ago, Stride & Saunter ran into some technical difficulties on Apple Podcasts/iTunes and vanished altogether. As a personal endeavor, this was a frustrating time. But more importantly, it led me to reflect more thoroughly on the status of the show, the nature of the intimate connections afforded by podcasts and the value of asking for specific help from those around you. A shorter and different episode than you might expect, but we'll be back to regular episodes next week.

In gratitude,

Episode 150: Wonder Woman

I’m such a believer in the genre because I’m a believer in mankind turning stories into about what it means to be a hero and what would I do if I was a hero and how would that feel...And this is such an important time in the world for people to think about what kind of hero they would want to be and what we’re going to do to save this world that I was honored to get to join in the dialogue.
— Patty Jenkins, speaking with Screen Rant on May 31, 2017
Gal Gadot is a revelation; she fully owns the role as much as Robert Downey, Jr. owns Iron Man or Chris Evans owns Captain America. She is Wonder Woman, and it’s impressive to watch her walk the fine line between naiveté without stupidity, sexually aware without being sexualized, a warrior bred for battle who still retains a compassionate heart.
— Alisha Grauso of MoviePilot, on May 30, 2017

Modern film has become a dynamo for discussions about our world, our culture and our humanity. This role has been especially prominent with the release of a Wonder Woman film, starring Gal Gadot. Audiences have come out en masse to marvel at her superhuman strength, commitment to justice and to appreciate her role as a female superhero in a comic landscape which often highlights male narratives. As many critics of the film have pointed out, it serves as a tent-pole of sorts, one which may determine the market viability of future female-led superhero movies. This week we're joined by Aayesha Siddiqui to examine the commentaries made by the film and to explore its unique and widespread influence. What does the movie articulate about heroism, gender and personal growth? What arguments does it put forward about the horrors of war and the conflict between bravery and cowardice?

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