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Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the Washington Policy Center's annual gala on Friday, October 13, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

If Diane Ravitch were running for office, her opponent might attack her for being "for Common Core before she was against it." Ravitch served as an assistant secretary of education in the George W. Bush administration, and was originally a proponent of standardized testing, school choice, common core standards and the No Child Left Behind Act. 

Updated at 6 a.m. ET

Former FBI Director James Comey says he believed that the investigation into whether Hillary Clinton sent or received classified email from a private server while she was secretary of state was a "no-win" case for him that would further polarize an already deeply divided electorate.

Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

You hear of situations where a book comes to a writer in a torrent. In this talk, writer André Aciman tells such a story about his well-loved novel, “Call Me By Your Name,” published in 2007.

Aciman’s book came to renewed acclaim, and some controversy, when the film adaptation became a phenomenon last year. The acclaim: The movie was nominated for multiple awards and won an Academy Award for screenwriter James Ivory. The controversy: Some raised age-of-consent issues about the relationship between 17 year-old Elio and his lover, 24-year-old Oliver.

A Higher Loyalty, by far the most consequential book yet in the literature of the Trump presidency, is arriving as political conflict roils every aspect of that presidency. Former FBI Director James Comey's scathing review will not settle the arguments about President Trump, nor will it calm the controversy over its author. But it will furnish mountains of ammunition for combatants on all sides.

Photo Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Marcie Sillman talks to author Michael Finkel about the story of Christopher Knight, a man who lived the life of a hermit for 27 years before he was caught by police in Maine for stealing from the community of North Creek. 

Beezus Murphy, 13, poses for a portrait at her home on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW photo/Megan Farmer

Eighth-grader Beezus Murphy has always loved Dr. Seuss.

U.S. Army Spc. Kevin Welsh provides security before boarding a CH-47 Chinook helicopter after completing a mission in Chak valley in the Wardak province of Afghanistan on Aug. 3, 2010.
Flickr Photo/U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8tkNqR

Steve Coll is a staff writer for The New Yorker. His new book, a sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winner “Ghost Wars,” is “Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2016.”

Dr. Tara Westover, author of the new memoir "Educated," at the KUOW studios on April 2nd, 2018.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Your views on politics, your understanding of history, your personal identity: You feel pretty solid about them, right? But what if you didn't? 

Courtesy of Penquin Random House

As crazy as the world seems sometimes, author Steven Pinker argues our ancestors would most certainly envy us. From life expectancy and standards of health to general prosperity, peace and happiness, he argues we’re better off than they were — and don’t get him started on anesthesia.

Closeup of a dictionary page.
Flickr Photo/Marcy Leigh (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/Q34Sfh

"Moist."

Did you get a little grossed out reading that? If so, you're not alone. Moist is one of the most hated words in the American English language. But why do we have such strong feelings about an ostensibly neutral word?

The Crab Nebula was one of the first objects that NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory examined with its sharp X-ray vision.
Flickr Photo/ NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/249nNXy

As an undergrad at MIT, Emily Levesque discovered the three largest stars in the known universe. She was drawn to the project because of a long-seeded fascination with black holes.

That inspiration came from a book she read when she was eight — “A Wrinkle in Time,” which has now been released as a grand production for the big screen.

There’s a line in “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” by Maria Semple, that triggers pained recognition among locals.

“The drivers here are horrible,” she begins. “They’re the slowest drivers you ever saw.”

In this Jan. 29, 1962 file photo, the Spalding family, left, and the Richmond family demonstrate how people of the town would sit out a nuclear attack and its radioactive aftermath in Los Alamos, N.M., birthplace of the atomic and hydrogen bombs.
AP Photo, File

If you follow the news, you might get the impression that things are pretty bad.

Not just "why bother" bad. It's "throw your hands up" bad.

Or even "eat a large bag of Sour Patch Kids in one sitting because we're all doomed anyway" bad.

Courtesy of Red Hen Press

If you’re familiar with the Dear Sugar advice column, you know who Steve Almond is. For the uninitiated, he was the first “Sugar” — a purportedly female advice columnist on The Rumpus. After a while, Almond says, that got weird.

Courtesy of Penquin Random House

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is famously small in stature—and has a penchant for short jokes about himself — but he has big ideas about democracy, patriotism, work, leadership, and the American experiment.

From left: Tracy Rector and Sara Marie Ortiz
Courtesy Tracy Rector and Sara Marie Ortiz

Can you predict the social media cycle of #metoo? First, the allegations. Then the apology, lackluster or seemingly heartfelt. Then the backlash: shows canceled, jobs lost, formerly prominent men stricken from the public domain. It's happened in film, in television, in comedy. And now it's happening to author Sherman Alexie.

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Ben Blum about his new book "Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family, and Inexplicable Crime." The book tells the story of his cousin, Alex Blum, and how he turned from an Army Ranger to a bank robber.

Parents: Be gardeners, not carpenters

Mar 8, 2018
Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik
Wikimedia Photo/Kathleen King (CC BY-SA 3.0) http://bit.ly/2miDSmR

Bill Radke sits down with child psychologist Alison Gopnik, author of the new book "The Gardener and the Carpenter." Gopnik explains her problems with modern parenting and how to better face the unexpected that comes with raising a child. 

Christopher Sebastian Parker and Arlie Russell Hochschild at Seattle University, Feb. 12, 2018.
KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

We hear all the time about the social-political divide in the United States, mostly from the comfort of our respective bubbles. When UC Berkeley-based sociology professor Arlie Russel Hochschild realized the extent to which she didn’t understand the experience of right-leaning Americans, she decided to do something about it. She choose to embed herself in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for an ethnographic experiment.

KUOW photo/Sonya Harris

For 26 years, Seattle’s African-American Writers’ Alliance has held a reading at The Elliott Bay Book Company on the last Saturday in February. The group’s mission is to provide support for new and published writers, provide peer review and create opportunities for public readings.

Courtesy of Anne McTiernan

Bill Radke speaks with Anne McTiernan about her new memior called, "Starved: A Nutrition Doctor's Journey from Empty to Full." McTiernan is a research professor at the University of Washington Schools of Public Health and Medicine and a member of the public health sciences division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Fantasy author Tamora Pierce has inspired young people for decades with her stories about strong girls who do things like disguise themselves as boys so they can defend their kingdoms as knights. Among her inspired readers was a young Lindy West, now a New York Times columnist.

We invited West to interview Pierce at KUOW.


Writer Stephanie Wittels Wachs got a phone call from her loving and accomplished brother Harris just three days before her wedding, in which he shared some surprising news.

What was it? "He told me he was a drug addict," Wachs says. He died two years later, of an overdose. Harris Wittels was a hilarious and respected Hollywood comic writer, who had become co-executive producer of NBC's Parks and Recreation by the time he was 30, and worked on award-winning shows like Master of None.

KUOW photo/Sonya Harris

Marriage conjures up so many things, but here’s a longish shortlist: union, promise, vow, relationship, interdependence, security, sacrifice, contract, commitment, hard work, choice. Why do people get married? According to a Pew Research Center study, the top three reasons are for love, long-term commitment and companionship.

KUOW photo

If you listen to David Barsamian’s long-running public affairs program Alternative Radio, you know his distinct voice, full of passionate analysis and notable raspiness. But while as host he always introduces his featured speakers, a who’s who of progressive thinkers, we don’t normally hear Barsamian himself at length.

Author Jonathan Kauffman.
Courtesy of Jonathan Kauffman

Carob. Some see it as a heroic stand-in for chocolate. Others, like one Twitter wag, see it as "chalky nonsense." Whatever your thoughts, it's a food that evokes a strong response. 

Author Shaun Scott.
Photo by Christopher Grunder


Filmmaker, author and professional millennial Shaun Scott has a bone to pick about participation trophies. They're just one of many broad brushes with which millennials are painted. But, Scott reminds us, millennials weren't the ones giving out the trophies. The parents were.

KUOW Photo/Sonya Harris

Journalist David Cay Johnston has known and reported on President Donald Trump for nearly 30 years. When they first met in Atlantic City, Johnston says he recognized Trump as “the P.T. Barnum of our age.” He has also said about Trump, and repeats in this talk, that “Donald doesn’t know anything.”

The White House
Flickr Photo/joswr1ght (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/JeAj3d

Here’s a test for you. Who was the first U.S. President to be born an American, i.e., after the Revolution? Hint: He is the same man who said “As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it.”

That would be President Martin Van Buren.

The U.S. Presidency is marked by pomp, circumstance and widespread reference to its occupant being “the most powerful man in the world.”

Courtesy of Red Hen Press

Several years ago, Seattle poet Tina Schumann was inspired to compile an anthology of memoir, essays and poems by children of immigrants in the United States. 

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