The State of Things

 

The issues, personalities and places of North Carolina right to you, every day in your podcast feed. Hosted by Frank Stasio and Anita Rao. Listen and subscribe on Google PlayApple Podcasts or wherever you get your favorite shows. Tweet us @state_of_things and see more show content on Facebook and Instagram.

 

A close up picture of the Robber Fly, an orange-eyed fly eating a smaller insect while standing on a green stem.
Matt Bertone

What makes a fly a fly? Well sure, they have wings. But importantly, only two. The larger category for flies is Diptera, which tells you this if you break it down: In Greek, “di” means two (like divide or dialogue), and “ptera” means wing (like pterodactyl). 

A semi-truck bearing the logo of XPO Logistics
Raymond Clarke

Campaign finance records show suspicious donation patterns from former employees at New Breed Logistics. Several former employees at the High Point-based company described an illegal donation scheme — workers’ political donations to specific candidates would be compensated with bonuses from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, the chief executive of New Breed at the time. 

Brendan Campbell/Flickr

 

President Donald Trump announced a 10-year moratorium on offshore drilling off the coasts of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina last week. It appears on the surface to be a win for concerned environmentalists, but citizens in North Carolina are left wondering: Why were North Carolina coasts left unprotected?   

Laura Bratton

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 14, 2018. Two years later, homes and livelihoods are still on the mend. In Craven County, where the city of New Bern was devastated by flooding from the hurricane, disaster recovery groups are still trying to get assistance to nearly 1,400 households affected by the storm. A podcast series called “Storm Stories” focuses on the people and places who may never be the same after the hurricane.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham faced off last night in the first of three televised debates. This race is one of the most closely watched in the country as it is considered a true toss up. 

The North Carolina Council of State is one of two collective bodies that make up the state’s executive branch. It consists of 10 elected positions, including the governor, lieutenant governor and offices overseeing labor, agriculture, the treasury, insurance, education and more. Do you know what each of the 10 positions does or how the Council of State differs from the North Carolina Cabinet? 

A Black woman squatting in front of a totally pink Cadillac with "TRAP" painted on the equallly pink garage door behind
Courtesy of Kyesha Jennings

The linguistic rules of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) are widespread and catalogued — yet most classrooms still frown upon writing and speaking it. Hip-hop scholar Kyesha Jennings grew up in Queens, New York, and remembers teachers correcting her use of the possessive they and double negatives. Now, she’s on a mission to disrupt the common belief that all English follows one set of rules. 

A crowd of protesters, many of them masked, sit in the street in Raleigh.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Months into a global pandemic, a loud cry for racial justice erupted around the country and the world. Protesters took to the streets demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism and repeatedly echoed the names of three recently-killed Black Americans: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Abundant psilocybin mushrooms growing in a tupperware inside a tidy home
Dana Saxon

The world of psychedelics is painted with neon colors and smiling, white hippies with long hair who use hallucinogenic substances for wild, recreational trips. But psychedelics like LSD, MDMA (also known as molly or ecstasy) and psilocybin (also known as magic mushrooms) have a much richer history in their use as therapeutic medicines, which existed in Indigenous communities long before Western culture and medicine discovered them. 

A Black McDonalds employee looks out from a drive-through window wearing a branded mask
Paul Sableman

Union membership in the United States is at a record low. About 10% of workers nationwide are currently union members, and only 2.7% of workers in North Carolina are unionized, which places the state second-to-last in the nation.

20th Century Studios/Dreamworks Pictures

Feeling stir-crazy staying at home during the pandemic? Our next Movies on the Radio may be just what you need. This month with Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes, we will explore films about isolation and escape.

From Tom Hanks' deep and abiding relationship with Wilson in "Cast Away" to Brooke Shields' love affair with Christopher Atkins in "The Blue Lagoon" to Matt Damon's time stranded in outer space in "The Martian," we will talk about films that envision being alone and what it does to the body, mind, and psyche.

A headshot of Randall Kenan
UNC Chapel Hill English and Comparative Literature Department

Last weekend, the literary community was rocked by news of local giant Randall Kenan’s passing. He died in his Hillsborough home late last week at the age of 57. 

A photo split between a torso-up shot of candidate Madison Cawthorn and candidate Moe Davis, both holding microphones
Cory Vaillancourt

Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis are in a close race for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District seat, which represents most of western North Carolina. The two faced off in a two-day forum this weekend addressing issues ranging from police reform to the numerous unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women. 

McKenzie County Sheriff's Office

Hundreds of inmates have been released from state prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic to help curb the spread of the virus. But the same is not true in the state’s jails, which housed just under 16,000 people statewide in the first five months of 2020, according to data from the University of North Carolina School of Government. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety oversees the response to the coronavirus in the state’s prisons, but jails around the state do not have the same accountability or oversight. 

Actor Lamorne Morris standing in front of a public billboard with fliers in his hand, looking confused.
Photo by: Joe Lederer/Hulu

In the pilot episode of cartoonist Keith Knight’s new Hulu show "Woke," the main character Keef is putting up posters in a park when police officers show up, draw guns and slam him to the ground. The cops think he is a suspect in a string of muggings because he "fit the description": a six-foot-tall Black male. The nerdy character, played by Lamorne Morris, is understandably shaken after the incident. 

Author Carole Boston Weatherford reads to students
Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford wrote her first poem in first grade. She dictated it to her mother on the way home from elementary school in Baltimore. 

The front of the North Carolina Legislature building with an American flag and a North Carolina flag out front with two trees on either side
Jayron32

The North Carolina legislature passed the Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 Thursday, which allocates the nearly $1 billion left of federal CARES Act money. 

A poster mapping the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
AtlanticCoastPipeline.com

North Carolina has the largest state-recognized Native American population east of the Mississippi River. But until recently, state-recognized Native nations have had little input on issues of environmental governance. 

A laundry basket sits on a coffee table.
Sean Freese/Creative Commons

For months, families have been quarantining together during the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic has forced parents and partners to rethink everything, from division of household chores and childcare duties to work-from-home needs and whether or not a job that cannot be performed remotely is even worth keeping, if childcare is unavailable or unaffordable. 

The book jacket for "Adverse Effects"
NYU Press

 

Before a pharmaceutical treatment can hit the pharmacy shelves, manufacturers must prove the product’s safety through a series of trials. Phase I trials are on healthy participants to find the best dosage with the fewest side effects and to prove the treatment is not unsafe.

RISMedia

Owning your first home is a rite of passage — a marker of true adulthood. For those privileged enough to buy a house, it is often the first step in building wealth. But millennials are not achieving that milestone at the same rate that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers did at their age. 

Frank Stasio
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Frank Stasio, host of The State of Things, is retiring on January 1, 2021. Frank has hosted the live, daily talk show since June 2006, and over the last 14 years, has covered a variety of important stories about North Carolina.

"I’m proud of what we built on The State Of Things," Stasio wrote in a letter to WUNC staff. "We made some powerfully good radio and, by most accounts, had a profound effect on our community. I’m grateful to all of you and our amazing listeners for helping to make this happen."

Beer cans, beer bottle and red solo cups on a table
Melissa O'Donohue / Flickr / CC

“Colleges may want to blame student partying for not allowing them to reopen successfully, but they have forfeited the moral authority to do so,” writes former Tar Heel Chancellor Holden Thorp in “The Chronicle of Higher Education.” Alternately decrying and advertising the party scene during his time in university leadership, Thorp confesses that fraternities and sororities play a key role in school finances. 

the home screen of a video game, set at a concert venue parking lot
Super Body Games RPG

Eiffel 65 is at the Cat’s Cradle playing their 1998 hit single “Blue” on repeat. Weeks pass. Only you can bring light to the dark musical landscape. Even for those who are not gamers or daily lurkers in downtown Carrboro, Super Body Games RPG is a dangerously fun way to remember the satisfaction of earning music. 

Headshot of Sherrill Roland, an African-American man wearing a green ball cap and black T-shirt
Sherrill Roland

Visual artist Sherrill Roland spent 10 months in prison for a crime he did not commit. What kept him going was a quest to fulfill his dream of going to art school.

Grant Baldwin / Flickr / CC

Last night marked the close of the most unusual political conventions in American history. Both the Republican and Democratic national conventions looked radically different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. For the Democrats, roll call was a virtual parade of state and territory landmarks, including Rhode Island’s trademark calamari. 

Flickr/CC

Nearly one of five students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are the first in their families to attend college. Many first-generation students come from socioeconomically-disadvantaged families and have access to fewer resources and support than their peers. These students are also less likely to graduate — they drop out of college after three years at more than twice the rate of their peers whose parents got a degree. 

Howard Burchette sitting in front of a microphone with a WNCU flag on it
Courtesy of Howard Burchette

Every Saturday evening for more than 15 years, Howard Burchette has hit the airwaves in Durham with a playlist of iconic tunes and interviews with masters of funk. On “The Funk Show” on WNCU, Burchette interweaves dance-worthy songs with stories from greats like Bobby Byrd, Chuck Brown and Bettye Lavette. 

Furniture sitting on a sidewalk curb
CC/Flickr

As of this Monday, Aug. 24, tenants in federally-subsidized housing are facing eviction, homelessness and increased vulnerability to COVID-19. More than just Section 8 public housing, the CARES Act moratorium on evictions that expired July 24 applied to many private rental companies and private landlords with federally-backed mortgage loans. 

Woman sitting at a kitchen table
Creative Commons

For many who suffer from eating disorders, COVID-19 has thrown a curveball into their usual management and coping methods. Social isolation has meant less accountability and a heightened ability to hide disordered eating. 

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