The State of Things

M-F 12 Noon, M-Th 8p, Sat 6a

Host Frank Stasio.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

We bring the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you. We are a live show, and we want to hear from listeners. Call 1-877-962-9862, email sot@wunc.org, or tweet @state_of_things. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Courtesy of Dan Ariely

Summer is filled with temptation. We know that fresh fruit is a healthier choice than ice cream. A ripe watermelon can be just as sweet, but often times we pass it by for a double scoop in a waffle cone. The barrage of pool parties and cookouts combined with summer vacation may leave many struggling to make and keep health commitments.

picture of Katie Mack staring up immersed in stars
courtesy of Katie Mack

Many kids take things apart to figure out how they work. They stare up at the stars and wonder how the universe functions. As a young child, Katie Mack did that too. But she eventually took that curiosity to the next level, and her childhood fascination led to a career in astrophysics.

Eat Your Feelings: How Hunger Becomes ‘Hanger’

Jul 6, 2018
Petras Gagilas/Flickr Creative Commons

Plenty of people blame feeling angry on being hungry and this year the Oxford English Dictionary added the word “hangry” as a colloquial blend of the two. The term reflects a common experience, but one that had not been well understood.

Jean Leon Gerome / Public Domain

Blackbeard’s stolen vessel, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, ran aground off the North Carolina coastline three hundred years ago this summer.

a picture of someone signing a picture of the band
courtesy of Gracie Curran

Gracie Curran grew up in the church. Her mom was the church choir director and most of the music in their house was gospel. While her friends enjoyed pop sensations like Britney Spears, Curran says she never really connected to popular music until she heard Etta James. James’s voice and lyrics spoke to her.

Robot from French technology summit
École polytechnique - J.Barande / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/UBfMcH

Despite the enduring narrative in pop culture of an impending apocalyptic robot-takeover, humans decided a while back to keep moving forward with plans to imbue intelligence into machines. 

abstract art of a world map
Art by Nicholas Raymond / http://freestock.ca/flags_maps_g80-world_map__abstract_acrylic_p2970.html

In the middle of a landmass in the Northern Hemisphere bordered by oceans, people call themselves Americans. According to both their own laws and broader international ones, they are members of a group known as a nation-state – in this case the United States of America.

photo of a scarred football helmet
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE DEMOCRATS / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Football has remained one of America’s favorite forms of entertainment for years. Even as its ratings fall, the National Football League is estimated to have made $14 billion in 2017 alone. But science is finally catching up to the sport, and it suggests the big hits that delight fans do not come without a price. 

David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library / Duke University Archives

Last August, Duke University removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the entrance to the Duke University Chapel. The removal came amidst country-wide protests over Confederate symbols, and soon after the violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia. Since then, Duke has embarked on a project to interrogate its history and identify some of the unsung heroes of the school.

Fred Nijhout poses with crossed arms in front of abstract
Megan Mendenhall / Duke Photography

Frederik Nijhout grew up in post-World War II Holland, and his childhood was full of stories from the war, including his father's imprisonment by the Germans and his daring escape with forged travel documents. As a child, he moved to Guatemala and later to Curaçao where he was captivated by the diverse and colorful nature.

Seth Wenig / AP Photo

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement this week and sparked panic among many Democrats. During his time on the nation’s highest bench, he cast deciding votes on LGBTQ rights, abortion and the death penalty. President Trump has vowed to replace Kennedy’s seat with a more conservative justice.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

Public outrage shamed the Trump administration into agreeing not to separate families at the border. Now a federal judge has put an end to most family separations and is calling for the families to be reunified. Since May, an estimated 2300 children have been taken away from their parents while trying to enter the country.

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

Valerie June is known for her eclectic voice, energetic on-stage performance and soulful lyrics. She was born in Tennessee, raised in the church and got her start in the music biz by helping out her dad who promoted artists like Prince and Bobby Womack.

Josh Reynolds / AP Photo

President Donald Trump and the NFL continue to wage war over athletes’ right to protest during the national anthem. Earlier this month, Trump suggested that instead of protesting, NFL players should give him names of people who they think are “unfairly treated by the justice system.” In an editorial for the New York Times, four current and former NFL players argued that it is not about individual pardons, it is about systemic injustice.

A prosthetic hand grips an object with synthetic skin on its fingertips.
Osborn et al, Science Robotics 2018

Researchers have developed a new part for a prosthetic hand: a synthetic skin that can feel pain. The electronic dermis, or “e-dermis,” fits over the fingertips of a prosthetic hand and helps amputees differentiate between something sharp and something round.

Photo: The U.S. Supreme Court building
Sno Shuu / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday that it refuses to hear a political gerrymandering case that would have decided whether Republican legislators in North Carolina violated the Constitution when they redrew voting maps.

Courtesy of Florence Dore

Literature and popular music are not worlds that usually intersect, at least not in most people’s minds. But Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in literature and Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize in music prove that these two forms not only intersect, but have been connected for decades.

Courtesy of Lindsay Zanno

A group of scientists led by a North Carolina paleontologist have uncovered a rare trove of dinosaur eggs from a species that does not even have a name yet. The dinosaur belonged to the oviraptorosaur group: bird-like dinosaurs that looked a little like parrots or chickens and walked on two legs.

Courtesy of Jason Brown

When he first started playing football, Jason Brown saw it as a business decision. He wanted to get a scholarship to college so that he would not be a financial burden for his parents.

Gerry Dincher / Flickr Creative Commons

There is plenty of debate over whether an algae bloom, or chemicals, or a combination of the two led to the devastating fish kill on White Lake in Bladen County, NC. What is clear, is more than 100,000 fish of various species, including hearty largemouth bass, floated up to the surface and washed ashore starting in May.

Courtesy of the estate of Ernie Barnes

He was raised in “the bottoms” section of Durham, but Ernie Barnes would leave the Triangle to become one of the most recognizable black artists of the time. Anyone who has ever seen the opening credits of the sitcom “Good Times,” has seen the art of Ernie Barnes.

Dan Brainerd

 Last year, the Craven Arts Council and Gallery asked Jon Shain to do a tribute show featuring the music of W.C. Handy. He decided to take on the musical challenge of turning music for cornet and big band into music that a solo guitar and singer could perform. He transcribed hours of old piano music and listened to hours of full band recordings of Handy’s music. He re-arranged the music to work for solo guitar and voice.

Julie Scott / Wikimedia Commons

Tommy Wiseau’s film “The Room” is a textbook example of a cult movie. It made less than $2000 when it first opened in Los Angeles in 2003, got terrible reviews, and is dubbed by some the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Yet years later it became a huge hit.

Chris Gunn / NASA/GFSC

The number of women in STEM is growing, but large barriers remain. A new study shows that experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace have a long-term, negative impact on women faculty in sciences, engineering and medicine and diminish both their scientific productivity and opportunities for advancement.

Courtesy of Sarah Delia / WFAE

During the summer of 2015, a Charlotte woman was sexually assaulted by a stranger. She believes she knows who her attacker is, but for the past three years she has struggled to find justice. A year ago, she took her story to WFAE, the NPR affiliate in Charlotte, and they decided to turn her journey into a podcast.

Rozalind MacPhail playing flute in front of a movie being shown.
Courtesy of Tom Cochrane

Canadian multi-instrumentalist Rozalind MacPhail fell in love with Wilmington when she was stationed there for an artist residency as part of the Cucalorus Festival. She was inspired to create an audiovisual project featuring short films about why people feel connected to the city.

Wikimedia Commons

Late last month more than 50 people in Brooklyn were hospitalized after what law enforcement believes was exposure to synthetic marijuana. The issue hit closer to home this month after a story broke that a Durham County resident experienced severe bleeding presumably from the same thing.

Image of cartoon man standing in mountains on poster from documentary 'Fenn's Searchers'
Courtesy Matt Maisano

When Forrest Fenn was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he decided to give away some of his wealth in an unconventional way. Fenn is a collector, and he buried his gold, rare coins, and gems in a treasure chest and left a riddle leading to its location.

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

For James Roy Gorham, growing up in the small farming community of Falkland, NC was full of tough lessons, and he learned many of them from his father.

Courtesy of Vann McCoy

  Vann McCoy grew up in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and like the fictional town it inspired, some folks who lived there were happy learning what they needed to know to make a living. But from a young age, McCoy was on a search for something different.

 

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