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To The Best Of Our Knowledge
October 6, 2018

The Cost of "Manning Up"

President Trump recently said “this is a very scary time for young men in America.” One group of men that certainly agrees? The Proud Boys, whom we revisit this weekend in an in-depth audio documentary co-produced with investigative reporter Alexandra Hall. A self-described fraternal men's organization, members of the Proud Boys say they look to the group for a sense of fraternity, brotherhood, and shared values.

They are led by a man who has some plainly toxic views on gender -- he describes feminism as "cancer" and says women would be "happier as housewives."

But the men who count themselves as members of his group? They say they are a bunch of friends who want to preserve their manhood, which to them, is under attack.

Men may face a struggle at this moment, but it might not be the one they think. Can men separate traditional sources of male friendship and support from toxic masculinity that demeans women, that promotes fighting and violence, and ultimately leaves men still feeling unable to discuss their feelings? In a culture of “big boys don’t cry," it's easy for men to repress feelings and fall into the traps of alcoholism, violence, drug addiction, and porn.

Clearly boys need to see a better path as they become men. We have to ask ourselves: are we providing them with enough emotional support? Or are we just reinforcing toxic values

It's a personal question that we hope you can ask yourself listening to the show. If you’re a man reading this, do you have friends you can really talk to, or cry on their shoulder? If you’re a father of a son, are your most intimate moments with him surrounding sports? Are you questioning your behavior in high school and college when it comes to drinking and sexual assault? If you see what's wrong in the male culture around you, are you prepared to speak up?


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The Proud Boys: Drinking Club or Misogynist Movement?

Right-wing provocateur and Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes pumps his fist during a rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on April 27, 2017 in Berkeley, Calif.
Investigative journalist Alexandra Hall examined the "Proud Boys," a men's organization whose founder preaches libertarian ideals, the rejection of feminism, and the "veneration of the housewife," which translates to the belief that most women belong at home.
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Singing The Song of a City

From Vivienne's Shadow Walk in Venice
Sound artist Vivienne Corringham takes us on one of her "shadow walks," where she records local spaces and how they affect the people who live there, then "sings the walk" through vocal improvisations.
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Live @ National Writers Series: An Evening with Amy Goldstein

On October 20, Shannon will be interviewing Amy Goldstein, author of Janesville: An American Story. The talk, live at the Traverse City Opera House, is part of the year-round National Writers Series book festival.

Here's a description of what they'll be talking about, via the National Writers Series:

What is Janesville, Wisconsin, without its General Motors plant? Certainly not what it once was. Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Goldstein says the city—despite its intelligence and determination—has still not rebounded. Her new book, Janesville: An American Story, was named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Wall Street Journal, The Economist and Business Insider. Guest host is Shannon Henry Kleiber, producer of To the Best of Our Knowledge. 

In addition, it was the winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for narrative nonfiction, the Financial Times/McKinsey Best Business Book of the Year, and the 800-CEO-Read Business Book of the Year. And Barack Obama listed it as among his top 10 books of 2017. 

The talk is on 10/20 at 7 p.m. You can learn more about attending here.


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Soundwalking the City with David Rothenberg

headphones in the city
A composer, environmental philosopher and guest producer on "To The Best Of Our Knowledge" teaches us how to deeply listen to urban spaces.
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Live @ NYAS: Conversations on the Nature of Reality"

Steve will be at the New York Academy of Sciences in October, December and February for a series of talks that center around how our notion of reality — understanding it, anyway — is complicated by science. Sure, math is the language of the universe, but are limits to what mathematics can reveal about the mystery of our universe? How will superintelligent machines challenge our ideas about cognition, reality, and the limits of human understanding? As we delve into the nature of consciousness itself, might we find that we've be misinterpreting the content of our perceptual experiences?

There are three talks in the series, all focused on our struggle to comprehend the nature of reality.

Each talk will be streamed live on YouTube, and will be available afterward as a podcast and video series. Stay tuned to this space, we'll collect video from the event here. You can learn more about attending over on the New York Academy of Sciences website.

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Terrible Books Written By Atrocious People

Dictators who are also authors
When they weren’t committing mass murder, many of the noteworthy authoritarian leaders of the 20th century wrote books. Terrible books. Journalist Daniel Kalder read all of them.
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Live @ WI Book Festival: Bookmarks!


Our BookMarks presents true stories of people marked by books — stories mined from our secret lives as readers. Stories of intimate relationships and life-changing encounters with books. Stories about the books we can’t forget. On October 13, join Anne at the Madison Public Library in Madison, Wisconsin for a live literary event featuring authors Chloe Benjamin, Mark Kurlansky, Natalia Sylvester, and Rebecca Traister. Our panel of authors will read a passage from their favorite book, discuss how that book affected their lives, and talk to Anne about their relationship with books as readers and writers.

The event is on October 13 at 9:00 PM. You can learn more about the event on Facebook. 

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The City, The Original Music Sample Bed

trains for the train sounds, Paris
Cities are full of music — but can cities also BE music? David Rothenberg gives us a tiny history of how composers have used cities to make music, beginning with Pierre Schaeffer’s “Musique concrète.”
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