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Oregon State University

We admit to being just a little uneasy in a recent discussion of artificial intelligence, especially when the talk turned to autonomous weapons. 

Think of drone swarms gathering overhead... we'll leave it there. 

But we explore it further with the Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CoRIS) Institute at Oregon State University, which is working on drone swarm technology, along with other projects. 

Google Street View

We get skads of information from the federal census every ten years: how many people live in the United States, where they live, how much money they make, and much more. 

But that's every ten years, and it is a gigantic undertaking.  It is augmented in non-census years by the less comprehensive, but still expensive, American Community Survey (ACS).

Couldn't we use other, available information to come up with more frequent and cheaper data on people?  The answer appears to be yes, especially if we use Google Street View to view cars and trucks and make some assumptions about their owners. 

Timnit Gebru at Stanford University led a team that examined the viability of such a process. 

Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A professor of Yiddish literature and a journalist walk into a studio. 

You were expecting a joke?  Actually, there will likely be several as we visit with Jeremy Dauber, the author of the book Jewish Comedy: A Serious History

The book takes in the development of Jewish comedy in America, but also extends much further back into the history of the Jewish people.  When you're often persecuted, a sense of humor can help. 

Tuality Healthcare/Jeff Schilling

Oregon's budget is tight enough that keeping all the programs required a new revenue source.  So the legislature narrowly passed a tax on health insurance premiums last summer. 

And it surprised no one when a small group of legislators organized a petition drive to force the measure to a public vote. 

Ballots for Measure 101 will go out the first week of the new year for the January 23rd election, and campaigns are already organized, pro and con.  Yes for Healthcare chose a name that makes its position clear.

Things are humming these days at Gary West Meats in Jacksonville. 

It is a true "fourth-quarter" business, making most of its sales and money around Christmas. 

Gary West himself is out of the picture now, but his daughter Whitney Murdoch and her husband Paul keep the business going, providing all manner of meats to happy carnivores. 

We learn more about the business in our monthly chat with entrepreneurs and their followers, The Ground Floor. 

Georgios Giannopoulos/Wikimedia

The stories of the refugees are truly sad: they fled in a hurry from their homes with few possessions and a risky journey ahead. 

The stories of the people who live near refugee camps are anguished, too.  Why do the refugees need to be near them?  This is one of the central questions in today's immigration debate. 

Like the immigrants themselves, the debate crosses national boundaries.  Sasha Polakow-Suransky explores the situation in the book Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy

Ffbri, CC0,

The criminal justice and mental health systems have become intertwined in America, with many people who need mental health services ending up in jail instead. 

Mendocino County provides a good example; its psychiatric hospital closed nearly two decades ago. 

But voters passed Measure B in the November election, putting local money into mental health services.  Sheriff Tom Allman was a booster of the effort, and happily watched it pass. 

Oregon State University

Oregon State University took some heat when it announced plans for a new building at its Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, because the building is in a tsunami inundation zone. 

A tsunami caused by earthquakes either near or far could cover the nearby ground with water. 

So OSU took the situation into account, and designed the building to include ramps to get people from sea level up to the roof of the three-story building.  That's a "vertical evacuation."  We get a full explanation of what that means.

Sharon Draper inherited the last of her grandmother's journals from her own childhood. 

And what Sharon read in that journal became a central part of her novel Stella By Starlight

It's about a girl entering her teen years, in a North Carolina not terribly friendly to people with skin as dark as hers. 

Sharon Draper joined us in January 2015. 

Jamie Lusch/Medford Mail Tribune

Our region is home to plenty of magnificent and beautiful natural features.  But not all are equally valuable in the eyes of the beholders. 

Where tall conifer forests inspire, scrubbier and drier lands may not impress as much.  But they are important ecosystems, too... like the oak savannas of the region. 

The Klamath Bird Observatory joined forces with other groups to rehab areas where oaks are the important plant species. 


Shasta Living Streets wants to make it easier for people to get around Redding and environs without personal cars and trucks. 

But the mission is bigger than that; it's about making life better in the community for everyone. 

When you think about it, transportation is a huge part of how we configure our daily lives.  A transportation plan that emphasizes transit and non-powered transportation would make us live differently. 

Department of Defense/Public Domain

Elections and their aftermath produce jubil

ation and despair, that's clear.  But do people REALLY feel like their voices are heard on a regular basis? 

Activists Frances Moore Lappé and Adam Eichen say NO.  They say too many people feel like our version of democracy may not be worth defending. 

They suggest remedies in the book they wrote together: Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want

They see a movement of other movements to stand up for democracy.


Close to 2,000 people die each year in California from causes related to opioid drug abuse. 

Many of them are in the rural northern counties. 

The state Department of Public Health is well aware of the disturbing trends, and working to curb them. 

James Heilman, MD/Wikimedia

Maybe the last time you heard about a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, it was in a story about Michael Jackson. 

There are benefits to be had from spending time in such a container; in fact one Rogue Valley hospital (Ashland) offers them up for use for wound treatment. 

Dr. Scott Sherr says the uses of HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) go far beyond just treating wounds.  He touts the features of HBOT on a trip up the West Coast. 

John Hodgman's Instagram page

John Hodgman gained fame for his wry and dry look at the world around us, on venues like Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." 

He wrote three books of "fake trivia and invented history" (his terms), then recoiled at the prevalence of fake news in America today.  What else could he do but turn to reality? 

Hodgman's latest book is Vacationland, an actual memoir with actual events from his actual life.  And, of course, it's actually funny--he's still John Hodgman. 

Christopher A. Michaels/U.S. Navy

"Does anybody here know CPR?"  It's a scary question to ask, and it apparently presents some challenges to the person who can answer YES. 

A recent study shows that people who know CPR are more likely to give it to a man than a woman. 

So the aftermath of a heart attack can be different, based on gender. 

Audrey Blewer led the study at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Southern Oregon Digital Archives

The height of the hippie years in America coincided with the peak years of logging in the country. 

And those trends came together in forest replanting efforts staffed by people who came to the Oregon woods to get away from "the establishment." 

Robert Hirning was part of one of those, based in Takilma, called "Green Side Up." 

The story is kept in SODA, the Southern Oregon Digital Archives at Southern Oregon University. 

The repository is called Stories of Southern Oregon.

Christian Ferrer, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Think about some of the most divisive issues in our country, and what's at the heart of them. 

Abortion?  Procreation caused by sex.  Gay rights?  All about who you have sex with. 

You get the picture: sex and attitudes towards it figure prominently in our national debates. 

R. Marie Griffith tracks the debates back a century in Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics

Stillwaterising, CC0,

We forget which movie character said "I'm addicted to breathing." 

We all can relate, but Andy Lovering at the University of Oregon understands better than most people HOW we make use of the air we breathe. 

Dr. Lovering runs the Cardiopulmonary & Respiratory Physiology Laboratory, examining issues like how people live well at very high altitudes, and what breathing issues show up later in life for people who were born prematurely. 

Dr. Lovering is our guest in this month's edition of cUriOus: Research Meets Radio. 

Santeri Viinamäki, CC BY-SA 4.0,

This time of the year features some colorful characters: Santa Claus, various elves, abundant snow-people, and the Debt Monster.  You may not know that last one--by name, anyway. 

But Debt Monster is the term used by Mark Brauer, a financial planner and the director of the Prosperity Center at Goodwill in Eugene. 

He gives talks about avoiding the clutches of the Debt Monster, which may be especially helpful in this season of high consumer spending.