Episode 68: The Holidays and Commercialism

How is the United States at once the most conservative and commercial AND the most revolutionary society on Earth?
— Christopher Hitchens
I think commercialism helps Christmas and I think that the more capitalism we can inject into the Christmas holiday the more spiritual I feel about it.
— Craig Ferguson

As we conclude the 2015 holiday season, we felt it worthwhile to discuss our modern commercial relationship with these annual celebrations. How do they affect our relationships and perceptions of compassion, generosity and gift-giving? We reflect upon our own experiences with gifts around the holiday season and what they say about us as individuals and as a larger culture.

Episode 65: The Abolition of China's One-Child Policy

The abandonment of the one-child policy in China is a momentous change, and there is much to celebrate in the easing of restrictions on human freedom in a particularly private sphere of life. But we need to recognize that the big fall in fertility in China over the decades, for which the one-child policy is often credited, has, in fact, been less related to compulsion and much more to reasoned family decisions in favor of a new norm of smaller families.
— Amartya Sen, New York Times Op-Ed, November 2nd, 2015

Established in the 1970's to control population growth, China's One-Child Policy is likely to be repealed in coming months. The decision to end the restriction followed a four-day strategy meeting of senior Communist Party officials at a Beijing hotel in late October. This policy and its potential conclusion have had profound economic, social, psychological and personal effects on the Chinese people. We discuss our opinions on its impact and possible futures it might create. Of course, our primary lens is as Americans living on the outside and we acknowledge this.

Episode 47: The World of Online Relationships

Above all, Internet dating has helped people of all ages realize that there’s no need to settle for a mediocre relationship.
— Mark Brooks, consultant to online-dating companies, 2011
Let’s be real, there’s nothing wrong in a distant relationship that is honest but we must live in a realistic fact that phone calls are cool, texts are alright, tweets are chill, a Facebook message is okay, but nothing...I mean nothing beats seeing someone in person!
— Kemmy Nola
The market is hugely more efficient … People expect to—and this will be increasingly the case over time—access people anywhere, anytime, based on complex search requests … Such a feeling of access affects our pursuit of love … the whole world (versus, say, the city we live in) will, increasingly, feel like the market for our partner(s). Our pickiness will probably increase.
— Mark Brooks, consultant to online-dating companies, 2011

We're very happy to welcome Phoebe Lewis this week to discuss the nature of online relationships in the modern age. Not restricted to digital tales of romance, we wanted to examine how people behave both online and in reality as it parallels happenings on the Internet. We share our experiences, anecdotes of academic studies and offer insight on how to best navigate the ever-expanding realm of cyber-socializing.

Episode 44: Social Implications of Body Hair

I hit puberty at a really early age and had body hair before a lot of other kids, and was bullied for this ... My mum used to painstakingly pluck and wax my bushy eyebrows for me because I was so worried about fitting in. Now I just let them do their thing.
— Katie, 21, Sydney, Australia
My hair on my head is praised for being so long and beautiful, but my body hair is seen as ‘disgusting.’ Why? They both grow out of my skin.... If someone is offended or disgusted by my natural body hair, then in all honesty, I’m glad it repels them from my life.”
— Elvira, Los Angeles, California

This week we welcome Tim Jurney to discuss ideas surrounding body hair. Scientific research has not concluded its every purpose on the body, though several hypotheses have been put forth. Nonetheless, people and cultures around the globe have made statements of approval or dissatisfaction with gendered and socioeconomic motivations. How do we consider body hair on others and on ourselves? Are our views ever independent of the societies in which we live?