Nepal, Ghost Armies, Myths of Meritocracy, Opting Out of Tests

Nepal, Ghost Armies, Myths of Meritocracy, Opting Out of Tests

Top of Mind with Julie Rose

  • Apr 30, 2015 9:00 pm
  • 1:43:09 mins
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Nepal’s Economy Post-Earthquake (1:08) Guest: Alok Bohara, professor of economics and founding director of the Nepal Study Center at the University of New Mexico More than 5,000 people are dead as a result of the Nepal earthquake. Buildings toppled, bridges demolished, whole villages collapsed. The humanitarian crisis in Nepal is urgent. But the worrisome underlying concern is the ability of Nepal’s economy to bounce back from a disaster of this magnitude. The Himalayan mountain nation is already one of the world’s poorest. How far back might this earthquake push Nepal’s progress toward greater development? Nepal: The Seismology and Disaster Mitigation (12:35) Guest: Ron Harris, a Professor of Geology at Brigham Young University specializing in structure and tectonics and natural disaster mitigation. He is also the founder of In Harm’s Way, which works with the most vulnerable communities to prepare themselves for disaster. You can check out the work they do at When a natural disaster strikes, the inclination is to think, “Nothing could have been done. It was an act of God.” But Ron Harris makes the distinction between a natural hazard and a natural disaster.  A hazard becomes a disaster when a community is unprepared for it, so he’s created a nonprofit disaster-mitigation foundation to help communities prone to hazards avoid disasters. Ghost Armies (27:23) Guest: Rick Beyer, best-selling author and filmmaker. His latest work is “The Ghost Army of World War II,” which he co-wrote with Elizabeth Sayles, a children’s book author and daughter of one of William Sayles, who served in the Ghost Army The one thousand men assigned to the US Army’s 23rd Headquarters Special Troops in 1944 had a single mission—deception. They were painters, sculptors, sound engineers and actors. Their assignments were often so secret and so well-executed, they fooled high-ranking German commanders, civilians in towns near where they operated, and even American military personnel from other units. Their very existence was highly classified and largely untold for some 50 years after the War ended. But when their story came to light, it came not just in words, but in a trove of paintings and sketches from these artist-soldiers who seem to have spent every spare minute with their noses buried in sketchbooks and paint boxes. The adventures of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops are now on full display in a just-published book by Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles called “The Ghost Army of World War II: How One Top-Secret Unit Deceived the Enemy with Infalatable Tanks, Sound Effects and Other Audacious Fakery.” Myths of Meritocracy (52:00) Guest: Mahesh Srinivasan, assistant professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley America’s identity is underpinned by a strong sense that with enough hard work, anything is possible— even rising from rags to riches. So, many American children are raised to believe that failure is a result of their own efforts and that working a little harder can mean success in school or on the playing field. On the other hand, if children are frequently told things like “You’re so smart,” or “You’re just not a math person,” they may be inclined to think their success is beyond their control. It’s this dichotomy that psychology professor Mahesh Srinivasan at the University of California, Berkeley set out to study in an article published this month in the journal Developmental Science. Why do some children believe their destiny is in their own hands and others believe they have little control over success in life? Opting Out of Tests (1:10:26) Guest: Eric Mihelbergel, founding member of New York State Allies for Public Education and father of two New York public school children It’s end-of-year test time for public school students across the country. This year marks the first time many of them are taking tests aligned with state-based standards known as the Common Core. And a growing number of parents scattered around the country are instructing their kids to sit-out the tests. The “Opt-Out” movement experienced particular momentum in New York, where standardized tests wrapped up last week. New Earth Layer (1:28:42) Guest: Lowell Miyagi, assistant professor and geologist at the University of Utah, whose research about a new earth layer appears in the journal Nature Geoscience Remember learning about the layers of the earth in elementary school? There’s a thin crust on the surface, then the Earth’s mantle and at the very center is the molten core. Well, there are a lot more layers than that, really. Layers within layers, like the skin of an onion, says University of Utah geologist Lowell Miyagi. He’s just published a paper in the journal Nature Geoscience explaining one of those layers within the earth’s mantle that has been a particular mystery.

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