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New York Times bestselling author Martin Dugard joins Tim to talk about his newest book called “Taking Berlin: The Bloody Race to Defeat the Third Reich.” It’s the story of the Allies’ campaign across Europe during World War II as seen through the eyes of five key figures. This book is part of the “Taking” trilogy on World War II, and follows Martin’s work with Bill O’Reilly on the popular “Killing” series of books. If you listen to our episode #243 from earlier this year, you’ll get the story of D-Day, when the Allies invaded France during World War 2 to take back the European continent from the Nazis. The D-Day invasion happened on June 5th 1944. It was the most massive military invasion ever mounted in the history of the world. This massive operation was called Operation Overlord.  The allied commander was U.S. General Dwight David Eisenhower. Their focus was on landing zones in Normandy. The Allies had planned to land on those beaches in France and then work their way through Europe to the heart of the Nazi regime, Berlin. Today, we’re going to focus on that story. The story of how the Allies mounted a campaign to take back those captive nations from Hitler and win the war. This is the focus of Martin Dugard’s new book called, “Taking Berlin.” It follows his initial book in the series, which was called “Taking Paris.” I asked him how he sees this series unfolding. Links Taking Berlin: The Bloody Race to Defeat the Third Reich, by Martin Dugard (Amazon) Taking Paris: The Epic Battle for the City of Lights, by Martin Dugard (Amazon) Taking Berlin: Kirkus Reviews Interview with Martin Dugard on "Taking Berlin," Town Hall Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara (Amazon) War As I Knew It, by Gen. George Patton (Amazon) Putin's 'Barrier Troops' are Straight Out of Stalin's Playbook, London Telegraph About this Episode’s Guest Martin Dugard Martin Dugard is the New York Times bestselling author of Taking Berlin, Taking Paris,  Into Africa, The Training Ground, Last Voyage of Columbus, and The Explorers. He is also the coauthor, with political commentator Bill O’Reilly, of Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, and Killing Patton. He lives in Southern California with his wife and three sons.
Hallmark artist and creator Tammy Haddix joins Tim to talk about one of America’s more lasting holiday traditions, our holiday ornaments and decorating the Christmas tree. Tammy tells her own story as a member of the Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Studio, as a mother and a wife, and how all of that comes to play when she helps make the holidays that much more special for Americans across the country. This encore episode was originally released November 30, 2020. The Christmas tree made its American debut in the 1700s. German mercenary soldiers who were fighting in the Revolutionary War brought the Christmas tradition with them. But it wasn’t until German and English immigrants came to America in the 1840s and decorated those trees with ornaments that the trees and the ornaments would become hugely popular. Back in 1973, Hallmark introduced a new line of Christmas ornaments. The line consisted of six glass ball ornaments and 12 yarn figures. These are considered the first in a line the company calls its “Keepsake Ornaments,” combining a touch of Hallmark creativity and polish, with a feel of homemade warmth. Since that humble start, the Hallmark Keepsake Ornament line has brought more than 9,500 Keepsake Ornaments to America. The way the company describes it, Hallmark wanted to create ornaments with magical qualities that recalled a nostalgic feel, that celebrated holiday traditions, that recalled Christmas memories. If you were to visit your nearby Hallmark store, or visit the company’s online site, you’d find a wall packed with a Hallmark Keepsake ornament for nearly every taste or sentiment. Everything from characters from your favorite movies or sports teams, to your favorite cartoon characters or holiday traditions, all artfully depicted in brilliant detail. Tammy Haddix has worked in the Keepsake Sculpting Studio since 1996, and has been with Hallmark for 32 years. Links Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments, (Official Site) Hallmark Ornaments by Year, Keepsake Ornament Club, (Official Site) The Story Behind Those Precious Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments, Southern Living About this Episode’s Guest Tammy Haddix Tammy Haddix is a Master Artist and has worked at Hallmark for 32 years, the first eight were spent illustrating everything but cards. Then in 1996 she transferred to the Keepsake Sculpting Studio and began a 24-year sculpting career that she absolutely loves.
Gaming expert Sal Piacente joins Tim to talk about casino cheaters, scammers, and how casinos watch for and catch them. But that’s just the beginning. Sal has some great stories about his career in gaming. He is a consultant and a trainer for casinos and regulators around the world on gaming security. There’s a saying in some casinos. The eye in the sky don’t lie. That’s a reference to the cameras placed throughout the casinos, and the people and systems behind those cameras to catch cheaters and scammers. But it’s much more than cameras. Casinos are some of the most sophisticated organizations that exist to monitor their facilities for anything that could go wrong. And they need to be. With all of that money changing hands with the roll of the dice or the flip of a card, casinos are very attractive turf for some of the most sophisticated scam artists in the world. When we talk about casinos, we’re talking about their big moneymaker games. Slot machines. Table games. Blackjack. Poker. Roulette. Sal Piacente knows a thing or two about casinos. He’s a native of Brooklyn, New York. He started his casino career as a blackjack dealer in Atlantic City after he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marines. Sal worked his way up from dealer, to shift manager, to game protection specialist.  Today, he’s a consultant to casinos on security. And he trains casino staff and students at the University of Nevada on gaming management. He knows every way cheaters try to cheat casinos. He’s seen it all. So, when we sat down, I had to ask him, “What casino game attracts the most cheaters?” Links Sal Piacente (Website) Woman Scammed Out of 10K During a 3 Card Monte Game at Perimeter Mall, WGCL Atlanta The Theory of Blackjack: The Compleat Card Counter's Guide to the Casino Game of 21, by Peter Griffin (Amazon) Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of 21, by Peter Thorp (Amazon) Big Book of Blackjack, by Arnold Snyder (Amazon) Cashier Allegedly Used Photographic Memory to Steal Credit Card Info, New York Post The Contestant Who Outsmarted the Price is Right, Esquire About this Episode’s Guest Sal Piacente Sal Piacente is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and the ultimate student of the game. Piacente’s interest in con games and scams began on the streets at a young age when his father taught him to protect himself from 3 Card Monte hustlers. He started his casino career as a blackjack dealer in Atlantic City after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps. He then worked his way up from dealer to shift manager to game protection specialist, a position created for him by an international casino corporation. Sal is also an instructor for the University of Nevada, Reno’s Gaming Management Certification Program. He has parlayed his experience, skills, passion and knowledge of the various ways to cheat all casino games into a successful consulting business. Over the past 25 years, Sal has trained and/or consulted for dozens of casinos and regulatory bodies on four continents (and counting).
Anthony Shore is one of the few people in the world who makes a living at naming things like companies, brands, products or services. He joins Tim to talk about the magic in a name, and the work that goes into creating the right name so that the right brand identity can become a household name. Anthony is an expert in naming products, branding, services and organizations. For the past 30 years, he’s introduced more than 250 product and company names to the world. Many are well-known to this day. Most people don’t even think about it. Where did the name of that company or product they love so much come from? Marketers and business owners know, however, that the right name can mean everything. It can mean the difference between success and failure. The wrong name can quickly put a company or a brand out of business. Today, hundreds of thousands of businesses launch each month, and each one needs a name, not to mention names for certain products and services. I’ve been involved in a few projects where we had to create the right name for an organization, a product or a service. While there is a process for that, the key is to start with a deep understanding of that product or service, the problems it solves, the solutions it provides, and most importantly, the emotional connection between your targeted audience and the problem itself. Once you understand that, you can then start to consider the right language that communicates that, quickly, effectively, and almost instinctively. That’s what I know. But I’m not the expert on naming. One of the leading experts on brand names is Anthony Shore. Links Operative Words The Weird Science of Naming New Products, New York Times Magazine Anthony Shore's Naming Partner is a Neural Network, How Brands Are Built Anthony Shore - The Man Behind Some of the Biggest Brand Names in the World, About this Episode’s Guest Anthony Shore Anthony Shore is the Chief Operative of Operative Words. Over 30 years, he has introduced more than 250 product and company names to the world. Trained as a linguist at UC Santa Cruz, his BA thesis received the Chancellor’s Award and Linguistics degree Honors. As Global Director of Naming and Writing for Landor Associates, he led naming, nomenclature and brand strategy projects for Global 500 companies for 13 years. A year at Lexicon Branding and prior jobs as a photomechanical typesetter, software marketer, product manager, copywriter and door-to-door fundraiser have shaped his real-world and holistic perspective on brand naming. In 2009, he started his agency, Operative Words, to focus exclusively on what he’s good at: “Six words or fewer.”
Former FBI profiler James R. Fitzgerald joins Tim to talk about his key role in cracking one of the most notorious serial killer cases in American history – the Unabomber.  James was involved in the pioneering of something called forensic linguistics. The FBI used this profiling approach to identify and capture one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, Ted Kaczynski, otherwise known as the Unabomber. One of the most notorious serial killers in American history was someone who terrorized the country in his own way over 17 years, starting in the late 1970s. The mysterious killer became known as the Unabomber because his targets were mostly people associated with universities or airlines.  The UN in Unabomber stood for university. The A stood for airlines. The killer’s mode of operation was to send mail bombs to his targets, who were academics, business people and others. Over the course of those 17 years – in 16 separate bombings - the Unabomber killed three and injured 23 others. The killer was meticulous, leaving no forensic evidence that could be traced back to him in the packages he sent. No DNA evidence, no fingerprints, nothing. The FBI created a task force based in San Francisco. They called it the UNABOM Task Force or UTF. An army of FBI specialists and operatives worked in the UTF, working to identify and capture the Unabomber. Their approach was mostly traditional criminal investigation work. Use what forensic evidence they thought they had to create a profile of the killer. And then pursue leads. Much of the initial profile was based on assumptions and conjecture that may have been consistent with other FBI cases over the years. But the case was going nowhere. Then in 1995, the FBI decided to focus on the language. If the Unabomber made one mistake it was his propensity to write. He sent a series of letters to major newspapers and magazines, including one 35,000-word manifesto that he sent to the New York Times and four other publications. That document the killer titled “Industrial Society and Its Future.” James R. Fitzgerald and his team at the FBI focused on that manifesto and the Unabomber’s other writings to create a profile based on the clues they could find in the writings themselves.  This new approach would be called, “forensic linguistics.” Through a rapid series of events, the FBI made significant headway in the case, which culminated in the capture and arrest of Ted Kaczynski on April 3, 1996. This thanks in large part to Fitzgerald and his team, and their use of forensic linguistics to unlock Kaczynski’s writings. Links The Fitz Files - Manhunt: Unabomber, by James R. Fitzgerald (Amazon) A Journey to the Center of the Mind, by James R. Fitzgerald (Amazon) Manhunt: Unabomber, Netflix Text of Unabomber Manifesto, New York Times (archives) Unabomber Case, FBI The True Story of John Douglas, People Magazine About this Episode’s Guest James R. Fitzgerald James R. Fitzgerald is an American criminal profiler, forensic linguist and author. He is a retired FBI agent and best known for his role in the UNABOM investigation, which resulted in the arrest and conviction of Ted Kaczynski.  Fitzgerald's law enforcement career began in 1976 as a police officer in Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania. In 1987, after eleven years of local police work culminating in his promotion to the rank of sergeant, he was recruited by the FBI. Fitzgerald was assigned to the New York Field Division's Joint Bank Robbery Task Force. In 1995, Fitzgerald was promoted to Criminal Profiler at the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, which later became the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, or BAU. Fitzgerald has remained active in the fields of criminal profiling and forensic linguistics since retiring from the FBI in 2007,
Attorney Aaron Mackey joins Tim to talk about how intelligence agencies, law enforcement and private companies are buying your data as part of larger surveillance operations. Is this against the spirit of the Fourth Amendment rights to privacy?  Aaron works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the EFF. The foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. It champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation. In this episode, Aaron talks about your privacy. How much you have, who’s invading it, how they’re doing it. And most importantly, what they’re doing with your personal information. You probably already know that you don’t have much privacy. When you leave your house, cameras are watching. You have cameras throughout the city, sending images back to some central security hub. Then you have cameras homeowners install to watch their own property. In the process, you can’t walk down any street without the possibility that you’re being watched and recorded. But it’s not just cameras. That smartphone in your pocket may be the most prolific source of your private data. The cloud knows where you are, where you were, how long you spent there, and in some cases, where you’re going. It knows what you’re thinking about based on what it hears you saying through the microphone and the search engine in the device itself. Did you use a social media app like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? It’s not just each of those sites that know what you’re saying and doing. It’s the network that the phone itself is connected to.  They know…and they share. They share your information, and you don’t know who’s seeing it, and what they’re doing with it. You don’t know how you’re being judged. Aaron Mackey is a senior attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I mentioned all of this to him, but I asked him the big question on my mind. We know these companies have our information, but is it all harmless? Links The Electronic Frontier Foundation Big Brother Watching? Government agencies buying cell phone, internet data to track Americans, Just the News Carpenter v. United States (2018) Supreme Court Case, National Constitution Center About this Episode’s Guest Aaron Mackey Aaron Mackey is a senior attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). He works on free speech, anonymity, privacy, government surveillance and transparency. Before joining EFF in 2015, Aaron was in Washington, D.C. where he worked on speech, privacy, and freedom of information issues at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law. Aaron graduated from Berkeley Law in 2012, where he worked for EFF while a student in the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic. He also holds an LLM from Georgetown Law. Prior to law school, Aaron was a journalist at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Arizona. He received his undergraduate degree in journalism and English from the University of Arizona in 2006, where he met his amazing wife, Ashley. They have two young children.
U.S. Marine veteran Worth Parker joins Tim to talk about an unprecedented story that centers on the shadow evacuation of Afghanistan in 2021. The operation was conducted by veterans and others from throughout all of the U.S. military branches to evacuate civilians caught in the chaos of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.  Worth is a retired United States Marine turned writer, who tells us about his role in what we’ve dubbed, “Escape from Afghanistan.” In April of 2021, President Biden announced he would proceed with a full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. He announced a deadline of September 11th. Not coincidentally it was the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. By this point, 2,325 American soldiers had sacrificed their lives in the war on terror. By 2021, 50,000 Afghan civilians had died. When Biden made his announcement, there were about 2,500 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan, but it wasn’t that simple. There were also several thousand American civilians and contractors on the ground in that country. And that doesn’t include all of the Afghanistan citizens who served as interpreters and in other roles for the U.S. government. Reports were that over 81,000 Afghans had worked with the U.S. military during the war and had pending applications for Special Immigrant Visas. By early Summer, Biden set an official evacuation deadline for August 31st. But it didn’t appear the government had a plan, and it was unclear just how many Americans and American allies were still in the country. Things were moving fast, and it was getting confusing. On August 15th, the Taliban was taking control of Afghanistan as the United States was pulling out. The capital city, Kabul, was being overrun by the Taliban. Worth Parker, a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel, was in his bed in Wilmington, North Carolina after 11 p.m. that night when his phone pinged. He had left his Facebook app on, and a private message got his attention. One of the interpreters he had worked with in Afghanistan needed Worth’s help.  That interpreter was now a Marine reservist in Houston, but he had family in Kabul. He was worried what might happen to them once the Taliban was in charge. This set off a series of events that would pull Worth Parker back into service, if not officially, but instead for those who had served America during the Afghanistan conflict. Links Aways Faithful, By Thomas Schueman and Zainullah  Zaki (Amazon) Russell Worth Parker Website Inside the Shadow Evacuation of Kabul, Wired About this Episode's Guest Worth Parker Worth Parker, Photo Credit: Brian Hueske Russell Worth Parker is a retired United States Marine turned writer. He lives in Wilmington, NC with his wife and daughter. Worth can find the soul in your story, put muscle on it, and let it walk around for a while. Give him a holler at the “Contact” page. He isn’t hard to find. He’s also far less self-satisfied than he might appear in that picture above. It’s just that he rarely takes a good picture so he’s getting maximum mileage out of this one. It was the Christmas card for the last three years. Worth writes for a wide array of publications including The New York Times, Garden and Gun Magazine, The Bitter Southerner, Backcountry Journal, Shooting Sportsman Magazine, Salt Magazine, and websites such as, DieLiving.Com, and a number of commercial and non-profit websites. When not contemplating the complexities of arranging the same twenty-six letters in ways that will matter to other people, Worth reads, runs ultra-marathons, and seeks reasons to be outside. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado, The Florida State University College of Law, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Masters in Conflict Management and Resolution Program.
Football legend Larry Csonka joins Tim to talk about his life and what football has done for his life. Larry’s a former fullback with the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants. He was a Super Bowl MVP. He’s an NFL Hall of Famer and a College Football Hall of Famer. He’s a two-time Super Bowl Champion – a cornerstone of the NFL’s only undefeated team – with the Miami Dolphins. And he’s the author of a new book called, “Larry Csonka: Head On: A Memoir.” Photo credits: Larry Csonka Personal Collection Larry Csonka reached the peak of his playing career as a football full back just as the game itself was reaching a peak of its own in the 1970s.  The best analogy might be to think of yourself as a mountain climber, and just as you are the one to get to the top of the tallest mountain, the mountain itself gets that much taller. That’s where Larry Csonka was, at the top of his game in a sport that had just taken its place atop all other sports in America. In 1987, Larry Csonka was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula presented Larry that day, and here’s what he had to say about the Dolphins, their championships, their undefeated season, and Larry Csonka: “Behind all this success was Larry Csonka. He as simply the best fullback of his time. On first down, his average was 4.5 a carry. And when it got tough on third and short, everyone knew number 39 would get the ball…. Shula went on… “Larry played his best in the biggest games. He had three straight 1,000-yard seasons in 1971, ’72 and ’73. We went to the Super Bowl in each of these years…” "What separates Larry from some of the game’s other greats is his superior competitive instincts and his love of playing football the old-fashioned way. It was blood and guts. Dirt all over him. Never leaving the game." And then Shula finished, “A five-time All-Pro choice, he had the respect of his peers. There was a lot of intelligence and talent on our Super Bowl teams. But I know where the heart was. Number 39. Larry Csonka." Links Head On: A Memoir, By Larry Csonka (Amazon) Larry Csonka's Official Website Larry Csonka Pro Football Reference Larry Csonka, 'heart of the Dolphins glory days' on his life of adventure, and perfection, Miami Herald Don Shula, Pro Football Hall of Fame About this Episode's Guest Larry Csonka (After Football) Larry Csonka and Audrey Bradshaw. Photo Credit: Larry Csonka Personal Collection Larry has continued to work in the “public eye” through national commercial ads including the popular Miller Lite commercials of the late '80s, numerous celebrity guest appearances on outdoor shows and host of the original popular competition series, American Gladiators from 1990-1993. After residing several years in Anchorage, he and longtime partner, Audrey Bradshaw, maintain homes in Florida and North Carolina, and a farm in Ohio. For 16 seasons, he and Audrey Bradshaw, hosted and produced the outdoor adventure/travelogue series, “NAPA’s North to Alaska.” This top-rated, nationally televised program aired on NBCSN showcasing adventures in the Last Frontier, its people, culture, wildlife, rich history and Larry’s enthusiasm for outdoor sports and conservation. (1998 – 2013)
Former covert CIA intelligence officer and U.S. Air Force combat veteran Andrew Bustamante joins Tim to talk about his life as a CIA operative, the lessons he’s learned, and we get some insights into the world of the CIA. Today, Andrew is a Fortune 10 corporate advisor, and he’s the man behind the EveryDay Spy self-improvement program, and the host of the EveryDay Espionage podcast. Before we talk to our guest, you need to know some things about America’s intelligence infrastructure. The United States of America has a vast intelligence community. To manage it all, the United States Intelligence Community, or IC, is an actual group of organizations that work separately and collectively to conduct intelligence activities that are supposed to support the nation’s foreign policy and national security interests. Member organizations include the intelligence agencies, military intelligence, civilian intelligence, and analysis offices within federal executive departments. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence oversees the Intelligence Community. That director reports directly to the President of the United States, who as commander in chief is also the chief of all intelligence operations. The list of member organizations is a familiar one. The Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency or NSA, and of course, the Central Intelligence Agency or the CIA. One of the more common points of confusion when it comes to the intelligence community is where the CIA’s responsibilities end, and where the FBI’s begin. And vice versa. The FBI is part of the Department of Justice. It is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States. It is the federal government’s principal law enforcement agency.  As part of the Department of Justice, the FBI reports to the Attorney General of the United States and the Director of National Intelligence. Again, the FBI’s focus is domestic. The CIA is a civilian foreign intelligence service. It was created by President Harry Truman right after World War II. It is charged with gathering, processing, and analyzing information relevant to national security. That information can come from around the world. The CIA is not responsible for spying on American citizens. Though should American citizens be involved with any potential foreign threat, they could find themselves under the microscope of the CIA. Unlike the FBI, which is focused on domestic security, the CIA has no law enforcement function and is officially mainly focused on overseas intelligence gathering. The mysteries surrounding the work of the CIA has been the stuff of books, of Hollywood movies and TV shows. In the news media, it’s been the stuff of legend. You never know what’s really true or not.  That question was my starting point when I had the chance to sit down with former CIA operative Andrew Bustamante. Links EveryDay Spy (website) EveryDay Espionage Podcast (Apple) Why Nations Go to War, by John Stoessinger (Amazon) Sun Tzu's Art of War (Amazon) Former CIA Agent Explains How He Made Targets Fall For Him, Lad Bible About this Episode’s Guest Andrew Bustamante Andrew is a self-declared “improvement junkie; a former covert CIA intelligence officer, US Air Force combat veteran, and Fortune 10 corporate advisor.”  He is the man behind the EveryDay Spy program for self-development. It’s an integrated education and training platform that teaches international espionage tactics that benefit everyday life. He’s also the creator and host of the EveryDay Spy podcast. The mental, physical, and social spy skills CIA gave me have helped me accomplish everything I’ve set my mind to achieve,” he says. “The same can be true for you if you are willing to listen, learn and train with me. I believe all people can learn to master their mind,
Author, doctor and college professor John Abramson joins Tim to talk about his book called, “Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We can Repair It.” John has been on the faculty of Harvard Medical School for over 25 years, and prior to that spent many years in private practice. In this episode, John about America’s healthcare system, which often traces its roots to how drugs are approved for use and marketed to both doctors and consumers. Prior to the pandemic, most Americans knew much less, or even cared about how drugs were approved. Vaccines, drugs, medicines and other medical treatments are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA.  Before the pandemic, most Americans assumed that the FDA and the federal government had their best interests at heart, and that anything approved by the FDA was good for them. When TV viewers watched ads for pharmaceuticals, they assumed that these new drugs had to pass the test of innovation, of efficacy, and that in the end, the new drugs were improvements over the old drugs. The pandemic changed all of that for some, not because of lost trust in the mission of the FDA or other regulatory bodies. And not because of lack of faith in the ability for pharmaceutical companies to provide lifesaving and health-improving treatments. Or their ability to be innovative. What has happened is that America has gotten a peak behind the curtain, and it’s not sure it likes what it sees. That’s exactly what our guest in this episode has spent much of his life doing. John Abramson is a medical doctor. He’s a former expert witness in numerous legal proceedings over the questionable practices of some pharmaceutical companies or executives. Like so many, he entered the medical profession to help people get better or stay healthy. Then he got his own glimpse behind the curtain. Links Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It, by John Abramson (Harper Collins' website) Overdo$ed America, by John Abramson (Harper Collins' website) Comparison of Upper Gastrointestinal Toxicity of Rofecoxib and Naproxen in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, New England Journal of Medicine (November 23, 2000) Risk of cardiovascular events associated with selective COX-2 inhibitors, Journal of the American Medical Association (August 2001) Vioxx Lawsuits, Health Technology Assessment, E-Mails Suggest Merck Knew Vioxx's Dangers at Early Stage, Wall Street Journal (November 1, 2004) Withheld Study on Vioxx Published This Week in Lancet, Kaiser Health News (June 11, 2009) Diabetes Prevention Program New England Journal Of Medicine 2002, About this Episode’s Guest John Abramson John Abramson MD, MS, has served as a family physician for 22 years. He was twice voted “best doctor” in his area by readers of the local newspapers and three times selected by his peers as one of a handful of best family practitioners in Massachusetts. He has been on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for 16 years, where he has taught primary care and currently teaches health care policy. He currently consults as an expert in litigation involving the pharmaceutical industry and has served as an unpaid consultant to the FBI and Department of Justice. Dr. Abramson has appeared on more than 65 national television shows, including two appearances on the Today Show, and more recently on the Dr. Oz Show. He was written op-ed pieces in the New York Times LA Times and others. In addition to his book, Sickening, He is the author of the national best-selling book Overdo$ed America.
Wall Street Journal Deputy Bureau Chief for China and author Josh Chin joins Tim to talk about his new book he co-authored with fellow WSJ journalist Liza Lin. It’s called “Surveillance State: Inside China’s Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control.” Josh tells about how China has led the way into a new era of mass surveillance on a scale the world has never seen. And it’s not limited to China. The idea of an authoritarian state spying on its citizens is nothing new. Many are alive today who can still remember the secret police of East Germany and their middle of the night raids. There are even a few who still remember the Nazis. And of course, the Soviet Union had its KGB. In these countries, spies could be anywhere, and on top of that, you could never be entirely sure you could completely trust some friends or family. But the difference between totalitarian governments of the past and the ones emerging today centers on people. You just don’t need as many, or sometimes any, if you’re a totalitarian regime who wants to spy on your people to control them. You don’t need as many of those secret police or snitches to get the information you want. Today, the difference is, in a word, technology. And nowhere is this more evident than in China. Josh Chin wrote a book that we will talk about today, and in it, he says that by the start of 2020 – by the start of the pandemic – there were almost 350 million cameras installed on Chinese streets, in public squares, in subway stations and around buildings. There were more than 840 million smartphones throughout the country in the purses and pockets of individuals. Each collecting and transmitting data on its user back to a central database. Organizing it to create a profile on the behaviors of each person. In China, mobile payment systems log millions of transactions every day, and send that data back into the system, further completing the state’s picture of each individual. For Chinese citizens, where you go, what you do, what you buy, the questions you ask search engines, all of it paints a mosaic of you for the authoritarian government. That profile is so full of data, so full of analysis, that the artificial intelligence platforms that follow you, may know you better than you know yourself in some respects. And perhaps even more chilling, the predictive analytics built into these platforms are quite effective at predicting what you will do next. Machines that learn, not shadowy spies, can now listen, see and even think on an entirely new level. Harvesting data. And judging you. Imagine the power that would give an authoritarian government. Well, you don’t have to, it’s here. It’s the power of Big Brother from George Orwell’s prescient book, “1984.” But Josh Chin thinks there’s another book that may have been even more prophetic. It was written in Russia just over 100 years ago, and it’s called simply, “We.” Links Surveillance State: Inside China's Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control, by Josh Chin and Liza Lin (Barnes & Noble) Two Faces of China's Surveillance State, Wall Street Journal Josh Chin's Website About this Episode’s Guest Josh Chin Josh Chin is an award-winning journalist and author who has spent almost two decades documenting the rise of China, mostly for The Wall Street Journal. Josh was hired by the Journal to cover the Beijing Olympics as a freelance video journalist in 2008. He later joined the paper full time to run its China blog, China Real Time, which covered the country's development in every facet, from the delightful to the deadly serious. He switched to reporting on Chinese politics in 2013, covering Xi Jinping's crackdown on dissent, the activities of Chinese military hackers, and China's race to build technologies of the future. In 2017, Josh teamed up with fellow Journal reporter Liza Lin and other colleagu...
Author Mike Mariani joins Tim to talk about what he learned about how people move on in their lives after enduring a life-changing trauma or catastrophe. He’s the author of the new book called, “What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us: Who we become after tragedy and trauma.” In this episode, Mike uses the famous saying that inspired the title of his book as a launching point to tell a story that doesn’t sugar-coat how people respond to adversity, while providing hope and inspiration. Friedrich Nietzsche was a late 19th Century German philosopher who had a great deal of influence on society at a pivotal time in history. His writings and his voice came along at a time when society itself was undergoing a transformation in both Europe and America, relying less on the agrarian economies of nations, and increasingly on an emerging industrial economy. Leaders and peoples were starting to question the status quo, and Nietzsche offered up some of the answers.  Yet there is one quote of his that has embedded itself into our culture, particularly in America, that is so ubiquitous that it is almost never questioned even to this day.  Nietzsche is the one who said, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” This saying was the inspiration for a new book by Mike Mariani that states, “What doesn’t kill us makes us,” but he doesn’t finish the sentence. Does he believe it or not? Actually, it’s not that simple. Mike has had his own share of troubles in life, things that didn’t kill him, and for the longest time, he lived by that mantra, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” But in the past ten years – Mike is only 36 years old now – he sensed that life isn’t so black and white. Maybe the issue isn’t whether something that doesn’t kill us should make us stronger or weaker, just different. That was the starting point for his research and his book. If tragedy and trauma don’t make us stronger, for better or worse, how they change us? To imagine the kinds of trauma Mike was thinking of, think of someone who lost the ability to walk, or someone who has been sent to prison for a long time and lost their freedom, or someone with a condition that prevents them from living the life they once knew. Mike asks, how does a person go about reconstructing their existence in the wake of calamity after much of that existence has been irretrievably lost? What do those whose lives have been knocked off their orbits have in common? How do we make sense of and find meaning in a life where suffering and misfortune go uncompensated? Before we talked about the stories or the themes of the book, I wanted to know how he researched it. Who did he talk to? How does he know? Links What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us: Who we become after tragedy and trauma, by Mike Mariani (Penguin/Random House) Mike Mariani Website Review: 'What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us,' Wall Street Journal The Curious Afterlife of a Brain Trauma Survivor, Wired Magazine About this Episode’s Guest Mike Mariani Mike Mariani, Photo Credit: Diana Jahns Since graduating with his MA in literature, Mike Mariani has worked as an English professor and freelance journalist, writing feature articles for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Guardian, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Newsweek, GQ, Vanity Fair, Mother Jones, and The Atavist and essays for The Believer, Slate, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Pacific Standard, The Nation, and Hazlitt. Some of the topics Mariani has written about include the history of medical gaslighting, criminal cases involving mental illness, the opioid crisis, and the neuroscience of inequality. Mariani currently resides with his wife in Northern California.
Best-selling author Dr. Warren Farrell joins Tim to talk about America’s boy crisis. Warren has written books that have sold around the world, and was named by the Financial Times as one of the world’s 100 top thought leaders.  In this episode he talks about his book called, “The Boy Crisis: Why our boys are struggling and what we can do about it.” We dig into the challenges boys face now and how parents and others can help them become the men everyone wants them to be. Over the past couple of decades, there has been a gradual shift in the way society has approached issues affecting both boys and girls. One of the more surprising tends that has come out of this are many indicators that boys have suffered. In all 63 of the most developed nations, boys are falling behind.  They’re falling behind in school with scores dropping in reading and writing. Boys are more likely to drop out of high school and college than girls. They are more likely to die from an opioid overdose. Boys and young men are more prone to depression and suicides than girls and young women. Once in their 20s, men are five times more likely to commit suicide than women. There has been a noticeable drop in the average IQ for boys. These are just some of the indicators that Warren Farrell cites in his landmark book called, “The Boy Crisis.” Warren has written many books about men and family over the years. He’s done an extensive amount of original research on men’s issues in society. As a result, he’s gained insights into how those issues start to take shape long before boys become men. Links The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, by Dr. Warren Farrell, Amazon Attention Must Be Paid: Warren Farrell and the Boy Crisis, Psychology Today Warren Farrell: Boys are in crisis. Fatherlessness is the reason, Associated Press About this Episode’s Guest Dr. Warren Farrell Dr. Warren Farrell has been chosen by The Financial Times of London as one of the world’s top 100 thought leaders, and by the Center for World Spirituality as one of the world’s spiritual leaders. Dr. Farrell’s books are published in more than 50 countries, and in 19 languages. His most recent, The Boy Crisis, (co-author, John Gray), was a finalist for the Indie book publishing award. His other books include The New York Times best seller, Why Men Are the Way They Are, plus the international best seller, The Myth of Male Power. A book on couples’ communication, Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say, was a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. And Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap–and What Women Can Do About It was selected by U.S. News and World Report in 2006 as one of the top four books on careers. Dr. Farrell has taught at the university level in five disciplines, and appeared on more than 1,000 TV shows, being interviewed repeatedly by Oprah and Barbara Walters, as well as by Peter Jennings, Charlie Rose, and Larry King. He has been featured repeatedly in Forbes, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Warren Farrell is the only man ever elected three times to the Board of the National Organization for Women in NYC. And currently, as Chair of the Coalition to Create a White House Council on Boys and Men, he is working with the White House to create such a Council. Dr. Farrell teaches couples’ communication courses around the country, and speaks internationally on the global boy crisis, its causes, and solutions. Warren has two daughters, and lives with his wife in Mill Valley, California, and virtually at
In this episode we hear from eight people who talked with Tim to answer the question, “Where were you on 9/11?" But the real focus of this episode is on you, your experience with 9/11.  Just as importantly, even if you were too young to remember or weren’t even born yet, this episode is all about why 9/11 still matters to this day, even if you don’t realize it. It’s now been 21 years since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Last year’s 20th anniversary activities are now behind us, and that pivotal moment in our history has returned to its trend of fading in the nation’s memory. One thing we’ve done since the start of the Shaping Opinion podcast was to commit to doing our part to keep the memory of 9/11 alive. To remember those who died, those who survived, and those who tried to help. To remember the lessons of such a tragic event, and to teach new generations of the events and their lessons. Let’s start this episode with a summary and a reminder of what happened that day. On a beautiful early fall morning, 19 terrorists from the extremist group al-Qaida implemented a plan to hijack four commercial aircraft and crash those planes into strategic targets. Those targets were the Pentagon, another site in Washington that no one would fully confirm at the time, and the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City. The hijackers boarded planes at Logan Airport in Boston, Dulles Airport just outside of Washington, D.C., and Newark Airport in New Jersey. All four flights were scheduled to go to California. American Airlines Flight 11, left Boston with 74 passengers and a crew of 11. This included five hijackers including the leader of the operation. The plane was destined for Los Angeles, but it was the first of two planes to hit the World Trade Center towers. A second flight with hijackers aboard left Boston a little later. This was United Flight 175. It carried 56 passengers and nine crew members. Among those passengers were five hijackers. Not long after American Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center in New York, this flight, United 175, hit the other tower.  At 8:20 am, a third flight with hijackers aboard left Washington’s Dulles Airport.  This was American Airlines Flight 77.  The plane had 64 people on board: a crew of six plus 58 passengers, including five terrorists. The plane flew west towards California, but then after the hijackers took control, it turned around, back towards Washington and headed for its target, the U.S. Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. By 9:45 a.m., American Flight 77 had hit the Pentagon, killing everyone on board, and causing death and destruction on the ground. Three planes had hit their targets, while a fourth plane was in the sky with hijackers aboard. It’s United Airlines Flight 93 that had left Newark, New Jersey bound for San Francisco. It has 33 passengers and seven crew. The flight had been delayed 25 minutes from taking off. This gave passengers on Flight 93 time to learn what was happening and to mount their own counter attack. They did, and they foiled the hijackers’ attempt to hit a fourth target. The common assumption now is that Flight 93 was set to hit the U.S. Capitol building. Instead, Flight 93 crashed into a field in Somerset County Pennsylvania.  This happened just before 10 a.m. that morning. Everyone on board was killed. Less than 10 minutes later at 10:05 a.m., the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, onto the street below. The collapse sent a volcanic cloud of dust and debris into the sky and down every street in the vicinity.  Then at 10:28 a.m., the north tower collapsed in just the same way. In the end, 2,996 people were counted as killed in the terrorist attacks. This included the 19 terrorist hijackers who are on those four aircraft. The people who died in New York, Washington, D.C.,
Pioneering neuroscientist Karl Friston joins Tim to talk about a concept he’s developed called the free-energy principle, which may hold the key to advancing the understanding human intelligence as we know it. Karl is a theoretical neuroscientist. He’s an authority on brain imaging. His work has advanced mankind’s understanding of schizophrenia, among other things. At the moment, he’s becoming better known as the originator of the free-energy principle for human action and perception. In this episode, we’ll talk with Karl about that free-energy principle, what it is, what it means and what it can mean for the future. I hope you have your coffee and are sitting in a comfortable place, because this conversation is going to introduce you to some entirely new thinking from one of the world’s most unique scientific thinkers, Karl Friston. Before we get started, you need to know a little about Karl, and you will need an explanation of some of the words we will use here. Karl Friston is a theoretical neuroscientist. As mentioned, he is an authority on brain imaging.  1990, he invented something called statistical parametric mapping or (SPM).  invented SPM, a computational technique that helps create brain images in a consistent shape so researchers can make consistent comparisons. He then invented Voxel-based morphometry or (VBM). An example of this is when he studied London taxi drivers to measure the rear side of the brain’s hippocampus to watch it grow as their knowledge of the streets grew. After that, he invented something called dynamic causal modeling (DCM) for brain imaging, to determine if people who have severe brain damage or minimally conscious or vegetative. He is one of the most frequently cited neuroscientists in the world.  Each one of these inventions centered on schizophrenia research and theoretical studies of value-learning – formulated as the dysconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia. To try to simplify, it’s the hypothesis that when the so-called wiring in your brain isn’t all connecting properly. Karl currently works on models of functional integration in the human brain and the principles that underlie neuronal interactions. His main contribution to theoretical neurobiology is a free-energy principle for action and perception (active inference).  That’s what we cover in this episode. Karl received the first Young Investigators Award in Human Brain Mapping in 1996. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 1999. Since then, he has received numerous other honors and recognition for his work. Links The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI, Wired Karl Friston, The Helix Center Karl Friston and the Free Energy Principle, About this Episode’s Guest Karl Friston Karl Friston is a theoretical neuroscientist and authority on brain imaging. He invented statistical parametric mapping (SPM), voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and dynamic causal modelling (DCM). These contributions were motivated by schizophrenia research and theoretical studies of value-learning, formulated as the dysconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia. Mathematical contributions include variational Laplacian procedures and generalized filtering for hierarchical Bayesian model inversion. Friston currently works on models of functional integration in the human brain and the principles that underlie neuronal interactions. His main contribution to theoretical neurobiology is a free-energy principle for action and perception (active inference). Friston received the first Young Investigators Award in Human Brain Mapping (1996) and was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (1999). In 2000 he was President of the international Organization of Human Brain Mapping. In 2003 he was awarded the Minerva Golden Brain Award and was elected a Fellow of th...
Judith Martin, better known to millions of readers as Miss Manners, joins Tim to talk about good manners, an understanding of etiquette and civility are as important as ever. Judith is an author and a syndicated columnist. In this episode, she talks about her career at the Washington Post, about how etiquette and manners in society have evolved, and about her new book called, “Minding Miss Manners: In an Era of Fake Etiquette.” This episode was first released April 27, 2020. In Judith Martin’s official bio, she describes herself as being a quote – “perfect lady in an imperfect society.” She’s Miss Manners, the pioneer mother of today’s civility movement. And then with her wry sense of humor, she adds, quote, “Now, if she could only persuade people to practice civility as much as they talk about it.” Her syndicated newspaper column under the heading of Miss Manners is distributed three times a week in more than 200 newspapers in the United States and other countries. Her column has chronicled matters of manners since 1978. She’s written several books over the years, and she has received numerous honors for her work, among them the National Humanities Medal in recognition of her contributions to society as America’s foremost etiquette columnist and author. In these current times, you wouldn’t be faulted if you believe that the world needs a champion for better manners now more than ever. Judith Martin is that champion. Links Minding Miss Manners: In an Era of Fake Etiquette, Good Reads Miss Manners, Syndicated Columns Miss Manners Archive, Washington Post Judith Martin Books, About this Episode’s Guest Judith Martin Photo Credit: Daniel Lake Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, is a columnist, bestselling author of numerous books, and manners authority. Born a perfect lady in an imperfect society, Miss Manners is the pioneer mother of today’s civility movement. She lives in Washington, D.C. and Venice, Italy.
Author and Electoral College expert Tara Ross joins Tim to tell the story behind the Electoral College, how it governs elections and why it is still needed. Tara’s latest book is entitled, “Why We Need the Electoral College.” This episode was first released October 12, 2020. It’s happened five times. Five times a candidate won the presidency even though he did not win the popular vote. He won the presidency because he won the Electoral College. If you’re wondering why the United States doesn’t just choose a president based only on the popular vote, the answer as we know it was given in 1804. Some in congress wanted Congress to choose the president. Others wanted a democratic popular vote. And even to this day, many Americans believe that we do elect a president based on that popular vote. The country’s leaders arrived at a compromise which created the Electoral College. Tara Ross is a retired attorney and the author of four books on the Electoral College. While she is one of the nation’s leading experts on the Electoral College, she continues to find that most Americans remain generally confused about why it exists and what it does. Links Tara Ross Website Why We Need the Electoral College, by Tara Ross (Amazon) Presidential Election Process, What is the Electoral College? National Archives About this Episode’s Guest Tara Ross Tara Ross is nationally recognized for her expertise on the Electoral College. She is the author of Why We Need the Electoral College (2019), The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule (2017), We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College (2016), and Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College (2d ed. 2012). She is also the author of She Fought Too: Stories of Revolutionary War Heroines (2019), and a co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (2008) (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.). Her Prager University video, Do You Understand the Electoral College?, is Prager’s most-viewed video ever, with more than 60 million views.   Tara often appears as a guest on a variety of talk shows nationwide, and she regularly addresses civic, university, and legal audiences. She’s contributed to many law reviews and newspapers, including the National Law Journal, USA Today, the Washington Examiner, The Hill, The Washington Times, and  She’s addressed audiences at institutions such as the Cooper Union, Brown University, the Dole Institute of Politics, and Mount Vernon. She’s appeared on Fox News, CSPAN, NPR, and a variety of other national and local shows. Tara is a retired lawyer and a former Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Review of Law & Politics. She obtained her B.A. from Rice University and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.  She resides in Dallas with her husband and children.
Sharyl Attkisson joins Tim to talk about her latest book and the current state of the news media in society.  Her book, “Slanted: How the news media taught us to love censorship and hate journalism,” centers on that dynamic called “The Narrative,” which appears to drive so much news coverage we see today. Sharyl talks of her many years as a network reporter and the way the media covers news today. This encore episode was first released December 7, 2020. Sharyl Attkisson has been a working journalist for more than 35 years. She’s the host and managing editor of a nonpartisan Sunday morning TV program called, “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.”  She’s a contributor and contributor on numerous other news programs, and she’s an author. In addition to her most recent book called “Slanted,” she wrote another best-seller called The Smear. Both books get into detail about what goes on behind the scenes in the news media. How some stories see the light of day, while others are sure never to see the light of day. Sharyl has covered presidents. She’s won five Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting. She’s worked at CBS News, PBS and CNN. Please Thank Our Sponsors Please remember to thank our sponsors, without whom the Shaping Opinion podcast would not exist.  If you have the need, please support these organizations that have the same taste in podcasts that you do: BlueHost Premium Web Hosting Dell Outlet Overstock Computer Center Philips Hue Smart Home Lighting Links Slanted: how the news media taught us to love censorship and hate journalism, by Sharyl Attkisson (Amazon) Sharyl Attkisson Official Site Sharyl Attkisson on Twitter Full Measure News Busted! After lawsuit thread the New York Times goes into full retreat, Just the News
U.S. Medal of Honor awardee Sgt. Leroy Petry joins Tim to tell his Medal of Honor story, from a life and death battle in Afghanistan to the very definition of the word, “honor.” Sgt. Petry is a retired U.S. Army Ranger who is one of the few to receive the military’s highest honor, and one of the very few medal recipients who have survived to tell their own story. This episode was first released October 20, 2020.   In April of 1862, a group of Union Soldiers in the middle of the Civil War had an assignment. They were supposed to make it across Confederate lines to steal a Confederate train car and ride it to Union lines. Along the way, they were supposed to destroy track and depots, cutting off the Confederate supply lines and transportation. That group of Union solders was called “Andrews Raiders.”  Twenty-five men volunteered for the mission that ended in a dramatic train chase and capture by Confederate forces. Eight of the original 25 volunteers escaped. Three were declared missing. Another eight were hanged. Among those who were executed was leader James Andrews. Another six found their way back to the Union Army as part of a prisoner exchange a year later. That following March, the survivors met with President Lincoln who thanked them for their service and their efforts in the daring mission, and he told them they’d be the first to receive a new honor. The Medal of Honor. And with that, he had a prototype of the medal and gave it to the youngest member of the group, Private Jacob Parott. Jacob Parott was the first in the Army to receive what is now regarded as the highest honor any member of America’s military can receive. The Medal of Honor is the award for valor in combat for all members of the armed forces. Since 1862, more than 3,400 such honors have been bestowed, many if not most of them, posthumously. Not many who earn such an award, live to talk about it. Today, the Medal of Honor is awarded sparingly to service members who as the Army says are, “the bravest of the brave; and that courage must be well documented.” Since the medal is awarded sparingly, and so many of those who receive it die in combat, there are few recipients alive today to tell their story. Retired Sgt. Leroy Petry of the U.S. Army Rangers is one of those few warriors. The U.S. Army Ranger Creed Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers. Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier. Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some. Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow. Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country. Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor. Rangers lead the way! Please Thank Our Sponsors Please remember to thank our sponsors, without whom the Shaping Opinion podcast would not exist.  If you have the need,
Sculptor Susan Wagner joins Tim to talk about a life as an American sculptor, some of her iconic works, and the creative process.  Listen to Susan give insights into what it is about three-dimensional art, sculpture, that taps the human imagination, and draws us to it. She’ll also talk about what it means to “dance with clay.” If you were to travel to the Vatican in Rome, or the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, or just about any major destination in the city of Pittsburgh, you may have seen Susan Wagner’s work. She’s a sculptor who focuses on classic depictions of famous and not so famous people. Art draws us to it. Whether it’s a painting or a sculpture, it catches our attention and pulls us in. Whether it’s modern, abstract or classic, depending on our tastes, and maybe just the mood we’re in at the time, a certain piece of art may stop us in our tracks and make is look, and then think. Why is that?  That’s what we’ll be talking about today with Susan. Since this is a podcast, and you can only experience this through your ears, you cannot see everything we’ll be discussing. We’ll do our best to describe the subjects, but you can also see for yourself by visiting our episode page at, or go to Susan Wagner’s website at I first met Susan recently when I was doing research for a project that I’m helping with. But I had seen her work before. If you live in Pittsburgh and travel to any of the hottest tourism destinations in the city, you’ll see several of her works. She was commissioned to create larger than life versions of baseball greats Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski and Willie Stargell. A short walk away, her sculpture of a police officer stands watch over the city at the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. She’s created historical figures, works depicting medical pioneers, saints, and others. But my favorite one, I have to admit, is a fictional figure of a little girl in a garden at Pittsburgh’s UPMC’s Passavant Hospital. Susan Wagner titled that piece “Hope.” Gratitude Our thanks to Susan Wagner for her participation, and for her photography we are using to show you her work. Also, a big thank you to the BFG Cafe in the Garfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh where we did this interview. Links Susan Wagner's Website - New Abraham Lincoln Statue Unveiled - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Pirates Unveil Bill Mazeroski Statue - Associated Press History Behind the Statues at PNC Park - New Statue Pays Tribute to Legendary Transplant Surgeon Thomas Starzl - University of Pittsburgh website About this Episode’s Guest Susan Wagner Photo Credit: Susan Wagner Susan Wagner is an accomplished sculptor and painter who specializes in figurative sculptures from a few inches tall to larger than life and Fauve style paintings which emphasize painterly qualities, the imaginative use of color and simplified lines. Her mastery of the human anatomy and her ability to capture likeness and convey emotion through both clay and canvas is evident in her sculpture and painting portfolios and truly what makes her works outstanding and unique. Susan’s art is now displayed in public forums and private households around the world ─ from her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the Vatican. Susan’s art and work ethic are heavily influenced by her roots in the Pittsburgh area. Her drive to create was evident at an early age, she remembers digging the red clay from newly bulldozed ground around her home and using it to make sculptures. Growing up in working class neighborhood, Susan learned to stay grounded, be dependable, and always meet deadlines, making her an ideal artist to work with. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a double major in art and anthropology, she started her own freelance business,
Comments (1)

Alex Austin

Just discovered this on Castbox and I’m liking the couple episodes I’ve heard so far very relatable and fun. I especially liked the Sears wish book episode, having grown up in the era when my parents would receive a half dozen holiday catalogues to look through, each year (before the web was a thing, obviously!). Give this one a listen!

Dec 19th
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