Jessica Watkins SPECIALish

Jessica Watkins is a stand-up comedian, actress and producer, whose documentary, SPECIALish, is being released on May 11, 2021 through Random Media. Combining her love of standup and adventure, SPECIALish follows Jessica’s  2014 walk across America. She spent over 8 months on a solo walking comedy tour beginning at Lewes, Delaware and ending in Oceanside, California. She performed standup in a dozen states along the way, pushing a running stroller full of gear and living off the kindness of strangers. She filmed over 300 hours of footage chronicling her experience, recorded a comedy special upon return to tell her story, and combined the two to create the award winning documentary, SPECIALish, which was the winner of Best Film at The Broad Humor Festival and Best Film at New Filmmakers Festival NYC .

You can find out more about Jessica Watkins and SPECIALish by going to her website:

jessicawatkinscomedy.com or via instagram @ ajessicawtkins.

Suzanne Simard FINDING THE MOTHER TREE: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

University of British Columbia Professor of Forest Ecology, Dr. Suzanne Simard, is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence. Her decades of in-the-field-experimental research have revolutionized our scientific understanding of forests, elucidating how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all,  the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

Suzanne Simard’s book, FINDING THE MOTHER TREE: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, was published by Knopf on May 4, 2021.
We spoke together on April 27th.

We end the program with a recent piece commissioned by the Intermountain Opera Company composed by Eric Funk, Requiem for a Forest, Op. 168. It is performed by Roots in the Sky. A video adaptation by Thomas Thomas is available on https://bozemanarts-live.com/event/requiem-for-a-forest/

Requiem for a Forest

In summer heat
And warming world
Storms whip up,
Lightening rolls,
Sparks run to earth.
The wind turns
Through the mountains,
Forests burn.

Fire ends,
Yet fire begins.
As mountains die,
Cones open.
Mors stupebit
et natura
Cum resurgent
Creatura.

Now we must learn
How to live here,
Where fire season
Burns all year.
Blackened earth
With green renew,
May the fires
wake us too.

Mark Sullivan THE LAST GREEN VALLEY

Perhaps you have heard of The Martel Construction Company headquartered in Bozeman, MT. Beginning with a spec house in 1960, this family owned and operated business has become one of Montana’s premier general contracting firms. They also specialize in green building, including the LEED Platinum MSU Norm Asbjornson Hall, the LEED certified Element Hotel, The LEED Silver Bozeman Public Library and other green built structures, such as Morningstar and Emily Dickinson Elementary Schools, Chief Joseph Middle School and The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

Before their arrival in Bozeman during a wild late Spring storm in 1956, however, they had lived through harrowing experiences as refugees fleeing the Red Army from their farmstead in the Ukraine, across Eastern Europe, through separation and reunion in the final year and aftermath of World War II.

Their incredible story of that time is brought vividly to life by award winning local Gallatin Valley writer, Mark Sullivan, in his latest book, THE LAST GREEN VALLEY.

Map of the long, perilous journey the Martels took from their farmstead in southern Ukraine to their eventual reunion in West Germany after the end of World War II.

Mark is the best selling author of 18 previous novels, most recently BENEATH A SCARLET SKY, which has sold about 3 million copies and has been translated into dozens of foreign languages, and which was also an astounding true story from World War II.

We spoke with Mark Sullivan on April 26, 2021.

Ian Millhiser THE AGENDA: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America

Vox.com legal journalist, Ian Millhiser’s, latest book is THE AGENDA: HOW A REPUBLICAN SUPREME COURT IS RESHAPING AMERICA, just out from Columbia Global Reports.

Before his current work at Vox, he was Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress and was a Legal Research Analyst with ThinkProgress. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The American Prospect, Politico, as well as The National Law Journal, The Yale Law & Policy Review, and The Duke Law Journal. He has been the guest on Democracy Now as well as NPR among many others. We spoke with Ian Millhiser on April 19, 2021.

Articles referenced in this interview:

The Supreme Court hears a case next week that could make Citizens United even worse https://www.vox.com/2021/4/17/22384256/supreme-court-citizens-united-disclosure-americans-for-prosperity-rodriquez-thomas-more

A new bill would add 4 seats to the Supreme Court https://www.vox.com/22384461/supreme-court-court-expansion-packing-judiciary-act-13-seats-jones-nadler-markey-johnson

Let’s Think About Court-Packing https://democracyjournal.org/magazine/51/lets-think-about-court-packing-2/

Biden’s Supreme Court reform commission won’t fix anything https://www.vox.com/2021/4/10/22375792/supreme-court-biden-commission-reform-court-packing-federalist-society

What Biden’s first list of judicial nominees tells us about his approach to the courts https://www.vox.com/2021/3/30/22358434/biden-first-judicial-nominees-ketanji-brown-jackson-public-defenders-diversity-criminal-justice

The Supreme Court’s new, deeply fractured decision on churches and the pandemic, explained https://www.vox.com/2021/2/6/22269879/supreme-court-amy-coney-barrett-south-bay-pentecostal-newsom-religion-covid-california

The Christian right is racking up huge victories in the Supreme Court, thanks to Amy Coney Barrett https://www.vox.com/2021/4/12/22379689/supreme-court-amy-coney-barrett-religion-california-tandon-newsom-first-amendment

The Supreme Court’s coming war with Joe Biden, explained https://www.vox.com/22276279/supreme-court-war-joe-biden-agency-regulation-administrative-neil-gorsuch-epa-nondelegation

The Voting Rights Act had a surprisingly good day at the Supreme Court https://www.vox.com/2021/3/2/22309326/supreme-court-voting-rights-act-brnovich-democratic-national-committee-carvin-brett-kavanuagh

The Supreme Court’s enigmatic “shadow docket,” explained https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/the-supreme-court-s-enigmatic-shadow-docket-explained/ar-BB17PxzL

FBI facing allegation that its 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh was ‘fake’ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/16/fbi-brett-kavanaugh-background-check-fake

Supreme court rules juvenile life sentences are unconstitutional https://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/jun/25/supreme-court-juvenile-life-sentences

US supreme court declines to limit life without parole sentences for minors https://www.theguardian.com/law/2021/apr/22/us-supreme-court-life-without-parole-sentences-minors

What the Supreme Court got wrong about homicides committed by cops https://www.vox.com/22373833/supreme-court-police-killings-homicide-derek-chauvin-graham-connor-shooting-fourth-amendment

The Supreme Court Is Also to Blame for Daunte Wright’s Death https://truthout.org/articles/the-supreme-court-is-also-to-blame-for-daunte-wrights-death/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=0286a261-97de-4732-a3fe-ec797fa49ea6

John Topping , 77, Dies; Early Advocate for Climate Action https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/10/climate/john-topping-dead.htm

LaDonna Allard Dies at 64; Led Dakota Pipeline Protests https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/us/ladonna-allard-dead.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Obituaries

Ramsey Clark, Attorney General and Rebel With a Cause, Dies at 93 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/10/us/politics/ramsey-clark-dead.html

Rob Dunn DELICIOUS: The Evolution of Flavor and How It Made Us Human

Returning to Forthright Radio is Rob Dunn, who is a biology Professor in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University. He conducts a Public Science Lab, which engages citizen scientists around the world via the website, robdunnlab.com.

His latest book, DELICIOUS: THE EVOLUTION OF FLAVOR AND HOW IT MADE US HUMAN, has just been published by Princeton University Press, and even though that sounds super academic, Rob writes for the general audience in a humorous and easily understood way. He is the science teacher I wish I had had in high school. To be concise, Rob Dunn is fun. We spoke with him on April 5, 2021.

Links to articles/events relevant to this interview:

Politics & Prose event with Kim Wejendorp and Rob Dunn https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-ima-st_mig&ei=UTF-8&hsimp=yhs-st_mig&hspart=ima&p=%22Rob+Dunn%22&type=ff_q3000_A0IR7_set_bfrq#id=1&vid=1870fdb4e435f45ca537bd2bec62373c&action=click

Hunting for truffles in the Iraqi desert – in pictures https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2021/mar/26/hunting-for-truffles-in-the-iraqi-desert-in-pictures

The rice of the sea: how a tiny grain could change the way humanity eats https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/09/sea-rice-eelgrass-marine-grain-chef-angel-leon-marsh-climate-crisis

Thomas Thomas and Bozemanarts-live.com

Out of adversity comes creativity and diversity. When the Covid 19 pandemic shut down just about everything, Thomas Thomas created a website to be a performance platform for local artists,  https://www.bozemanarts-live.com/

In this interview, Thomas Thomas describes his steep learning curve in creating bozemanarts-live.com and supporting not just the artists who appear there, but the performance arts starved shut-in, shut-down Gallatin Valley community, as well.

We spoke with Thomas Thomas on March 19, 2021, about his journey into creating this platform, and the upcoming first collaboration between Intermountain Opera and Baroque Music Montana, “Into the Light: A Musical Celebration of Spring” that will be streaming  on March 20 at 7 PM on https://www.bozemanarts-live.com/

Carl Zimmer LIFE’S EDGE: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive

In addition to writing for The New York Times, Discover, National Geographic, the Atlantic, Wired and others, Carl Zimmer is the author of 14 books on science, from his first in 1998: AT THE WATER’S EDGE: FISH WITH FINGERS, WHALES WITH LEGS, AND HOW LIFE CAME ASHORE AND THEN WENT BACK TO SEA to his latest book, which we discuss today, LIFE’S EDGE: THE SEARCH FOR WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ALIVE, just published by Dutton.

He claims to be the only writer after whom a species of tapeworm has been named, Acanthobothrium zimmeri. We spoke with him on March 15, 2021.

We end with poems read by San Francisco poet, publisher and founder of City Lights Books, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He died just two months shy of his 102nd birthday on February 22, 2021.

A Tapeworm To Call My Own https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/a-tapeworm-to-call-my-own

What Is Life? Its Vast Diversity Defies Easy Definition. https://www.quantamagazine.org/what-is-life-its-vast-diversity-defies-easy-definition-20210309/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

The Surprising Origins of Life’s Complexity https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-surprising-origins-of-lifes-complexity-20130716

Meet the Sea Slugs That Chop Off Their Heads and Grow New Bodies https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/08/science/decapitated-sea-slugs.html?surface=home-discovery-vi-prg&fellback=false&req_id=1216872&algo=identity&variant=no-exp&imp_id=659601079&action=click&module=Science%20%20Technology&pgtype=Homepage

The Earth’s first breathable atmosphere https://earthsky.org/earth/the-earths-first-breathable-atmosphere

Tardigrades: nature’s great survivors https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/mar/20/tardigrades-natures-great-survivors

John C. Coffee, Jr. CORPORATE CRIME & PUNISHMENT: The Crisis of Underenforcement

After the global financial crisis of 2008 with all the repercussions to our economy and harm to individual lives, not a single high level corporate executive went to prison. Some claimed it was rank politics protecting them, but was there more to the story?

John C. Coffee, Jr., whose book, CORPORATE CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: THE CRISIS OF UNDERENFORCEMENT, was published in 2020 by Barrett-Koehler, is Columbia University Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law. Although he has been a law professor at Columbia University since 1980, this book is written for the lay audience.

Professor Coffee has won many awards for his writing, his work in corporate governance, and exploring the interests of activist investors. He has served on the Legal Advisory Committee of the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the Legal Advisory Board that oversaw Nasdaq. He is a recognized expert on both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Delaware Court of Chancery, the forum in which the vast majority of American commercial disputes are heard.

Sheldon Wolin DEMOCRACY INCORPORATED: Managed Democracy & the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism

We recently rebroadcast this interview with political theorist, Sheldon Wolin, from September, 2009. His final book, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, was published in 2008, He coined the term inverted totalitarianism in 2003 to describe what he saw as the emerging form of government of the United States. Wolin analysed the United States as increasingly turning into a managed democracy (similar to an illiberal democracy). He uses the term “inverted totalitarianism” to draw attention to the totalitarian aspects of the American political system while emphasizing its differences from proper totalitarianism, such as Nazi and Stalinist regimes.
He died in 2015 at the age of 93.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, beloved poet, founder of City Lights Books and Publishing, and defender of free speech, died on February 22, 2021 at the age of 101 (just shy of his 102nd birthday) in San Franciso. We end with selections of his poetry in his own voice.

Thom Hartmann The Hidden History of American Oligarchy: Reclaiming Our Democracy from the Ruling Class

Thom Hartmann returned to Forthright Radio on 2/3/21 with the latest edition in his Hidden History series, THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICAN OLIGARCHY: Reclaiming Our Democracy from The Ruling Class, just released on February 2nd by Barrett-Koehler Publishing.

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Issac Asimov

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” Voltaire.

Thomas Paine said it best: “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”