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Word of Mouth

10.17.16: Cat Wars, The Future of the Library of Congress, & The Art of the Con

Mary Fedotovska via Flickr CC

According to estimates, there are some seventy to eighty million stray and feral cats in the United States - one for every four and half humans.  Today, the cat wars - an ecologist faces off against passionate cat lovers in order to make a controversial argument: that the cuddly subjects of so many popular gifs are actually an invasive species that threaten biodiversity and human health.

Plus, America's great repository of world knowledge faces an existential predicament. In a world where information is stored in servers and googled at will, can the Library of Congress really keep up?

Listen to the full show. 

Cat Wars

From memes, to gifs, to videos of cats playing piano and patty cake, our feline friends rule the internet. And in the US, they also rule a large number of households - pet cats outnumber pet dogs by nearly twenty percent. About half of those kitties spend some time outdoors... Which, when combined with an estimated 70-80 million stray and feral cats who don't have a home, presents an unusual problem: a capable but cuddly predator that is more far successful than its dwindling prey. 

Peter Marra is a conservation ecologist and co-author of Cat Wars: the Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer.  Pete makes the case that cats threaten not just wildlife, but human health as well - and offers some solutions that cat lovers may have a hard time swallowing.

Cat Wars

Making a Bitter Beast into a Sweet Meal

After Cat Wars, we turned to a story about a different approach to saving endangered species - by turning them into food.  This story was produced by Tina Antolini.   

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

The Future of the Library of Congress

Storing the world's knowledge involves a lot more than just the printed word these days.  That's why, since the 1990s, the Library of Congress has made various attempts to go digital.  And yet, it has been tech companies that have emerged as the archivists of the internet age...which begs the question: when so much information is stored in servers, does the Library of Congress still have a purpose?

Kyle Chayka has written for the Verge, the New York Times Magazine, Billboard, and more. His recent article, "The Library of Last Resort" appeared in N+1.

The Future of the Library of Congress

The Art of the Con

Anthony Amore is chief investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and author of Stealing Rembrandts and more recently, The Art of the Con: the Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries in the Art World.

You can listen to this story again: The Art of the Con