Speakers Forum | KUOW News and Information

Speakers Forum

Thursday, 11:00 p.m. - midnight on KUOW

Sarah Vowell, Gloria Steinem, Michael Pollan: you can't make it to every lecture in town but you can hear plenty here. We record talks all over the Puget Sound region, from uber–famous intellectuals to lesser–knowns. From soldiers to urban farmers to humorists; we tape it, then air it on Speakers Forum.

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The Untold Story Of Marvel Comics With Sean Howe

Oct 31, 2013
Sean Howe's book "Marvel Comics: The Untold Story."

Nearly half a century ago, a diverse group of characters began to capture children’s hearts: Spider-Man, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men. The epic Marvel Comics universe has been a massive force in pop culture; inspiring countless books, films and becoming a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

Sean Howe chronicles the rise of this phenomenon in “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.”  Howe spoke at the Elliott Bay Book Company on October 17, 2012.

Abduction And Escape In Somalia With Amanda Lindhout

Oct 24, 2013
Amanda Lindhout's memoir "A House in the Sky."

As a child, Amanda Lindhout dreamed about the exotic places she saw in National Geographic.

In her twenties, she traveled all over the world — usually alone, always on a shoestring budget with just a backpack. She trekked through more than 50 countries, and in 2008 she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia, as a freelance journalist where she was abducted. For 15 months, she survived abuse by imagining herself elsewhere. 

After her release, Lindhout founded the Global Enrichment Foundation, a humanitarian organization dedicated to empowering women in developing countries.

Lindhout spoke about her recent memoir “A House in the Sky,” along with her co-author Sara Corbett at Town Hall on September 16.

WordPress And The Future Of Work With Scott Berkun

Oct 17, 2013
Flickr Photo/Armando Torrealba

WordPress.com is the 15th most-trafficked website in the world. It’s also a unique workplace. Everyone works from home, employees use blogs and chat instead of email, and there are no schedules.

Scott Berkun reports on his year at WordPress, including lessons he learned about leadership, productivity, and the evolution of business. He spoke at Town Hall on September 19.

Dean R. Owen's book "November 22, 1963: Reflections on the Life, Assassination, and Legacy of John F. Kennedy"

November 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Journalist Dean R. Owen collected interviews from notable civil rights leaders, White House staff and others connected to Kennedy for his book, “November 22, 1963: Reflections on the Life, Assassination, and Legacy of John F. Kennedy.”

Owen spoke at the Elliott Bay Book Company on September 14, 2013. He was joined by Patricia Baillargeon, a contributor to his book who served as assistant to Eleanor Roosevelt.

Erik Assadourian and Annie Leonard's book "State of the World 2013."

The buzzword “sustainable” has been around for years — so long that it’s nearly begun to lose its meaning. In order to chart a true sustainable future, we need to make changes to our lifestyles that are more drastic than simply composting or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store.

Erik Assadourian and Annie Leonard are co-authors of the book “State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?” They spoke on September 16 at Town Hall. The talk was moderated by Grist founder Chip Giller.

Innovation To The Rescue With Ramez Naam

Sep 26, 2013
Ramez Naam's book, "The Infinite Resource."

With so many global challenges — climate change, overpopulation, natural-resource depletion — Ramez Naam argues that the only solution is innovation. Naam is a computer scientist who spent a decade at Microsoft, where he helped develop early versions of Outlook and Internet Explorer. He’s currently adjunct faculty at Singularity University.

The Future Of Food With Vandana Shiva

Sep 19, 2013
Flickr Photo/Elevate Festival

What is the future of food? How can it sustain us? Vandana Shiva is an environmental and anti-globalization activist. Throughout her career, she’s fought for changes in agriculture practices, among other causes. Her latest book is called “Making Peace with the Earth.” She spoke at Town Hall on September 12, 2013, in a talk sponsored by YES! Magazine.

Is Marriage For White People? With Ralph Richard Banks

Sep 12, 2013
Ralph Richard Banks' book "Is Marriage for White People?"

Though it was once the norm to get hitched right out of high school, marriage has declined throughout American society. This development is the most pronounced among African Americans, and black women are more than three times as likely as white women never to marry. When black women do marry, they are more likely than any other group to wed a man who is less educated or earns less money than they do.

Amy Tan: Creative Minds Do Not Think Alike

Sep 5, 2013
Flickr Photo/David Sifry

Amy Tan’s mother wanted her to become a doctor and a concert pianist. Instead, Tan chose to write fiction, a career that was out of line with her Chinese immigrant parents’ expectations.

Tan’s novels include “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” and “Saving Fish From Drowning,” all of which are New York Times bestsellers.

In this talk, recorded at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall on January 12, 2012, Tan talks about the genesis of creativity, different forms of creative expression and how her own creative process has evolved.

"Cinderella Ate My Daughter" With Peggy Orenstein

Aug 29, 2013
Peggy Orenstein's book "Cinderella Ate My Daughter."

Pink is no longer just a color for young girls — it’s a lifestyle. It celebrates girlhood, but more alarmingly, it fuses girlhood to an obsession with appearance, argues Peggy Orenstein.

Orenstein, an author and the mother of a young girl, was shocked by today’s “princess culture” that forces girls to value material objects and looking pretty over individuality. To research this phenomenon, Orenstein braved toddler beauty pageants, Disneyland and Miley Cyrus concerts, and her resulting book is a tough examination of the girlie-girl culture and its effect on young girls’ identities and futures.

Orenstein spoke at Seattle’s Town Hall on February 15, 2012.

Tom Kizzia's book "Pilgrim's Wilderness."

Alaska journalist Tom Kizzia spent a decade following the Pilgrims, a modern-day Alaska pioneer family. With his wife and fifteen children, Papa Pilgrim masqueraded as a homespun Christian family man. Over time, however, Kizzia reveals that this father was actually a sociopath.

Kizzia spoke at the Elliott Bay Book Company on August 8.

"The Science Of Consequences" With Susan Schneider

Aug 15, 2013

There are consequences to all of our actions — positive and negative, large and small, delayed and immediate.

Biopsychologist Susan Schneider talks about how consequences follow certain scientific principles. She’s the author of “The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World.” She spoke at Town Hall on July 11, 2013.

"Revolutionary Summer" With Historian Joseph Ellis

Aug 8, 2013
Joseph Ellis' book "Revolutionary Summer."

In the summer of 1776, 13 colonies seceded from the British Empire. The British sent the largest armada across the Atlantic to quell the rebellion; and a revolution begans.

Historian Joseph Ellis offers a new perspective on the Revolutionary War in his latest book, “Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence.” Ellis spoke at Town Hall on July 10.

Bill Kibben's book "The End of Nature"

In 1989, Bill McKibben wrote what is considered the first book on climate change for a general audience. More than two decades after “The End of Nature,” McKibben is still advocating for the environment. He’s been a main player in the fight to stop the Keystone Pipeline and he focuses this talk on climate change and the Northwest.

He spoke at the Queen Anne United Methodist Church on April 28 as part of The Well lecture series.

From Wikipedia.

When Benjamin Franklin (and friends) brought the ideals of the Enlightenment to a nascent United States, he laid the foundation for the political revolution that would follow. Historian Jonathan Lyons spoke about the founding father and the country’s intellectual coming-of-age in this talk recorded at Town Hall on June 27.

Environmental Debt With Amy Larkin

Jul 18, 2013
Flickr Photo/rlpporch

Environmental debt — global warming, extreme weather, pollution — is weakening the global economy. Amy Larkin, formerly of Greenpeace, discusses how the natural world and business can coexist. She spoke at the Elliott Bay Book Company on July 1.

Defeating Bullying With Emily Bazelon

Jul 11, 2013
Flickr Photo/J_O_I_D

Bullying isn’t new, but the internet and social media have morphed it into something much more sinister. It’s too easy to post a cruel message or photo without considering the consequences. Emily Bazelon talks about the devastating consequences of bullying, as well as what parents and educators can do to promote empathy and understanding. She spoke with Dan Savage at Town Hall on April 29.

You sang it in elementary school, summer camp or church, and you probably still remember the lyrics. Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” is arguably the most iconic American folk song, though history has glossed over the political messages hidden in some of the seldom-sung verses. Robert Santelli unravels the song in this talk recorded at the Elliott Bay Book Company on May 23, 2012.

Annalee Newitz's book "Scatter, Adapt, and Remember."

We’re long overdue for a catastrophic disaster based on studies of Earth’s past. Scary? It probably should be, considering that during our most recent disasters, more than 75 percent of the planet’s species died out. 

Annalee Newitz is a journalist and editor of the science website i09.com. She’s also the author of “Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction.” Annalee Newitz talks about how, even though catastrophe may be inevitable, humanity's chances for survival are better now than ever. She spoke at Seattle’s Town Hall on May 22.

Five Minutes Onstage At Ignite Seattle

Jun 20, 2013
Flickr Photo/Randy Stewart

Five minutes onstage. What would you say?

That's the premise of Ignite Seattle, a regular worldwide event where presenters get five minutes to get a point across. Speakers at May’s event touched on a variety of topics, including busking in Pike Place Market, stalking strangers online and teaching children how to fail.

Ignite Seattle 20 took place at Town Hall on May 16. The talk was moderated by Seattle Times columnist Monica Guzman.

"The Autistic Brain" With Temple Grandin

Jun 13, 2013
Temple Grandin's book "The Autistic Brain."

Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by social impairment, communication difficulties, repetitive interests or behaviors, and occasional cognitive delays. The number of kids with autism in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years. It's estimated that one in 88 children currently has autism.

Temple Grandin is an activist for autism rights. In her latest book, she talks about genetic research that links brain science and behavior, as well as sharing her own experiences growing up with autism. She spoke at Seattle’s Town Hall on May 20, 2013.

The Tourism Boom With Elizabeth Becker

Jun 6, 2013
Elizabeth Becker's book "Overbooked."

 Tourism is a $6.5 trillion industry globally. But vacationing in places like Paris and Venice and Cambodia leaves a mark. In her new book "Overbooked," journalist Elizabeth Becker explores the dark side of tourism: the environmental impact, damage to cultural sites and employees who work long hours for low wages. She spoke at Seattle’s Town Hall May 15, 2013.

All About Grammar

May 30, 2013
Courtesy of the University of Washington

Don’t use the passive voice.

Never end a sentence with a preposition.

The way we teach grammar is scandalous, according to linguist Geoffrey Pullum. We nitpick too much he says, and we rely too much on old rules that have little application today. Pullum spoke about how we can fix this in a talk recorded at the University of Washington’s Kane Hall on February 12, 2013.

Why The Color Pink Calms Prison Inmates With Adam Alter

May 23, 2013
Adam Alter's book "Drunk Tank Pink."

Pepto-Bismol pink is a color sometimes used in prisons to calm inmates. People with names that start with K are more likely to donate to victims of Hurricane Katrina than Hurricane Rita. Professional cyclists pedal faster when people are watching.

A variety of external factors influence our thoughts, feelings, and decisions, says Adam Alter, a professor of psychology at NYU and the author of “Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave.”

He spoke about the degree to which our environment shapes who we are at Seattle’s Town Hall on April 2, 2013.

The Promise And Perils Of Interfaith Marriage

May 16, 2013

She wanted their daughter to get a nice Catholic education. He wanted to send her to learn about Scientology on a cruise ship. Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are a very public example of interfaith marriage, but they represent some trends Naomi Schaefer Riley discusses in her new book, “’Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America.”

Most notably, 45 percent of marriages in the United States are between people of different religions — and these unions can often lead to unhappiness. By conducting interviews with married (and divorced) couples, Riley explores why interfaith couples tend to be less happy than others and why certain combinations are more likely to lead to failed marriages. She spoke at Seattle’s Town Hall on April 10, 2013.

Hooked On Salt, Sugar And Fat With Michael Moss

May 9, 2013

Every year, the average American eats 70 pounds of sugar. The amounts of salt and fat are equally staggering. The processed-food industry thrives, raking in $1 trillion a year. Meanwhile, the costs to our health include obesity and diabetes.

Michael Moss talks about how companies use salt, sugar and fat to get us addicted to their products, and what we can do to fight back. He spoke at Seattle’s Town Hall on March 15, 2013. The talk was moderated by Chip Giller, president and founder of Grist.

"The Vatican Diaries" With John Thavis

May 2, 2013

What happens behind the scenes at the Vatican? Journalist John Thavis has covered the Vatican for almost 30 years, and he hopes to offer insight into its power and politics in his new book, “The Vatican Diaries.”

Thavis was in Rome when Pope Benedict XVI resigned and when Pope Francis was elected. He spoke at the Elliott Bay Book Company on April 7, 2013.

Inside The Brains Of Animals

Apr 25, 2013
Sad chimp
Flickr Photo/Tom Holbrook

Some animals display very human behaviors: chimps grieve, rats love to be tickled, and moths remember living as caterpillars.

Science journalist Virginia Morell explores the complex minds of animals in her new book, "Animal Wise." From field sites to laboratories, Morell shows how animal cognition research has evolved, and how animals possess traits many feel are unique to humans.

She spoke at the Elliott Bay Book Company on April 8, 2013.

Rethinking The Idea Of Money

Apr 18, 2013

In the book "Rethinking Money," economist Bernard Lietaer and journalist Jacqui Dunne trace the beginnings of our monetary system, including its serious problems and hope for the future.

Peter Blair Henry
Courtesy/NYU

A handful of third-world countries have turned themselves around from numerous hardships in the past 30 years: China rose from seemingly hopeless poverty, Mexico bounced back from the Third World Debt Crisis, Brazil overcame hyperinflation. 

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