The Queen of Cuba
1 hr 4 min

On February 24, 1996, Cuban fighter jets shot down two small planes operated by Brothers to the Rescue, an organization in Florida that tried to spot refugees fleeing Cuba in boats. A strange chain of events preceded the shoot-down, and people in the intelligence business turned to a rising star in the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ana Montes. Montes was known around Washington as the “Queen of Cuba” for her insights into the Castro regime. But what Montes’ colleagues eventually found out about her shook their sense of trust to the core. (In this excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell’s forthcoming audiobook Talking to Strangers, we hear why spy mysteries do not unfold in real life like they do in the movies.)

To preorder a copy of Talking to Strangers and check out Malcolm Gladwell's book tour, visit www.gladwellbooks.com.

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How to Save a Planet
How to Save a Planet
Gimlet
Should We Go Nuclear?
When it comes to nuclear energy, many people have strong opinions. Some say that if you're not on board with nuclear energy, then you aren't serious about addressing the climate crisis. Nuclear, after all, produces a lot of electricity and doesn't emit greenhouse gases while making energy. Others say that nuclear power tries to solve an illness with more of the disease. They say that nuclear energy, like fossil fuels, is a product of old thinking that ignores the full suite of its environmental impact - the persistence of nuclear waste, and the harm caused by mining for materials, like uranium, that power nuclear energy plants. In this week's episode, we wade into the debate. We look at the history of nuclear energy, how it became so polarized, and whether it holds the promise to get us off fossil fuels now, when we most need to. Calls to Action If you want to be part of reaching the 100% clean energy by 2035 goal for the US, there are lots of organizations working toward this. If you want to join those efforts, here are a few that you might want to consider. If you're a college student, for example, you might get involved with Environment America's 100 Renewable Campus campaign and try to push your school to go renewable.  The Sierra Club has a broader campaign called Ready For 100, to help you encourage your community to go renewable. Similarly, in Minnesota, the local 350.org Chapter has the 100% Campaign. Your local 350.org chapter may have a similar program – it's worth checking out. If you can't find a campaign near you, consider starting your own. The Climate Access Network has a toolkit on starting your own 100 percent renewable campaign (joining is required). Also, if you haven't already, subscribe to our newsletter! It’s great, we promise. You can sign up here. And if you take any of the actions we recommend, tell us about it! Send a voice message to howtosaveaplanet@spotify.com. We might use it in an upcoming episode.
46 min
Science Friday
Science Friday
Science Friday and WNYC Studios
Ig Nobel Prizes, Koji Alchemy. Nov 27, 2020, Part 2
Laugh Along At Home With The Ig Nobel Awards We know traditions are different this year. Maybe you’re having a small family dinner instead of a huge gathering. Maybe you’re just hopping on a video call instead of going over the river and through the woods. At Science Friday, our holiday tradition of broadcasting highlights from the annual Ig Nobel Awards ceremony is different this year too. Rather than being recorded live in front of a cheering crowd at Harvard’s Sanders Theater, the ceremony was virtual this year. But one thing remains the same—awards went to a bunch of genuine scientists for research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think. This year marks the ceremony’s 30th anniversary. Marc Abrahams, editor of the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research and master of ceremonies for the awards, joins Ira to talk about Ig Nobel history, and to share highlights from this year’s winners. Koji: The Mold You Want In Your Kitchen When chef Jeremy Umansky grows a batch of Aspergillus oryzae, a cultured mold also known as koji, in a tray of rice, he says he’s “bewitched” by its fluffy white texture and tantalizing floral smells. When professional mechanical engineer and koji hobbyist Rich Shih thinks about the versatility of koji, from traditional Japanese sake to cured meats, he says, “It blows my mind.” Koji-inoculated starches are crucial in centuries-old Asian foods like soy sauce and miso—and, now, inspiring new and creative twists from modern culinary minds. And Shih and Umansky, the two food fanatics, have written a new book describing the near-magical workings of the fungus, which, like other molds, uses enzymes to break starches, fats, and proteins down into food for itself. It just so happens that, in the process, it’s making our food tastier. You can grow koji on grains, vegetables, and other starchy foods, and make sauces, pastes, alcohols, and vinegars. Even cure meats. Umansky and Shih say the possibilities are endless—and they have the koji pastrami and umami popcorn to prove it. Plus, Urmansky and Shih share some of their favorite koji-inspired holiday dishes and leftover recipes—from turkey amino spreads to cranberry sauce amazake to soy sauce-infused whipped cream. Read more on Science Friday!
47 min
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect
WNYC Studios
The Most Perfect Album: Episode 9
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. In More Perfect's final episode of the season, listen to liner notes for two amendments that contemplate the still-unfinished status of our Constitution. "27" is an album that marks a particular point in our history: this moment when we have 27 Amendments to our Constitution. What will be the 28th? Maybe it will address our nation's capital. The capital has been a bit of a Constitutional anomaly for much of our nation's history — it's at the heart of the democracy, but because it's not a state, people in Washington D.C. have been disenfranchised almost by accident. The 23rd Amendment solved some of the problem — it gave D.C. the right to vote for president. But it left much of D.C.'s representation questions unanswered. D.C. still does not have voting representation in Congress. Instead, D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to Congress. For this liner note, More Perfect profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. The song for the 23rd Amendment is by The Mellow Tones, a group of students from D.C. high school Duke Ellington School of the Arts, along with their teacher Mark G. Meadows. The chorus, "Why won't you count on me?" reflects on the continued disenfranchisement of our nation's capital. The final amendment of the album, the 27th Amendment, put limits on Senators' ability to give themselves a pay raise, and it has arguably the most unusual path to ratification of all 27. The first draft for the amendment was written by none other than James Madison in 1789, but back then, it didn't get enough votes from the states for ratification. It wasn't until a college student named Gregory Watson awakened the dormant amendment centuries later that it was finally ratified. The 27th Amendment song is by Kevin Devine and tells Watson's story.
24 min
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