11.16.14: Innovations That Made The Modern World, The Whiteness Project, & Bacterial Fingerprints

Nov 14, 2014

Credit Logan Shannon / NHPR

Among the things we take for granted in today’s America is knowing the time, which makes transportation, business and national events possible. This, however, was not always the case.

On today’s show, from building sewers to standardizing time, the invisible innovations that got us where we are today. And, protests in Ferguson, Missouri prompted calls for a national conversation about race and racism. A filmmaker asks: Can we have a productive discussion if the privileged majority can’t name what it means to be white?

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

How We Got to Now

The Whiteness Project

  • Filmmaker Whitney Dow has found that  white people don’t feel comfortable talking about whiteness, which he thinks is an essential part of our national conversation about racial identity, culture and privilege. So, Dow has set out to ask 1000 white people that very question -- what does it mean to be white?
  • We've got a few links with more information: whitenessproject.org, Whitney's interview with Vice about the project, Whitney is also doing an AMA on reddit tomorrow, November 13th at 1:00 pm ET/10:00 am PT.
  • We want to know what you think about the project. Leave a comment below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

The Origins of a Name

  • For the past few years, the Washington Redskins have been embroiled in a series of battles over its team name. Many object to the name on the grounds that it's a racist epithet from a bygone era. But before engaging in the debate, it helps to understand the origin of the word "redskin" and how it came to be seen as offensive. As Lauren Ober reports, the word's genesis might come as a surprise.
  • You can listen to the story at PRX.org.

The Microbiome: Bacterial "Fingerprints"

  • Jack Gilbert is an environmental microbiologist at Argonne national laboratory, and lead author of a paper exploring microbiomes in our homes and apartments. You can read more about microbiomes and forensics here and here.