Ahmad Seyar Zia is, as he has proclaimed himself to be, the King of Love. He is a young Afghan man, studying abroad in India now. Born in Kabul, raised in different places around Afghanistan and Pakistan, he has developed his own life philosophies that, he finds, hold him apart from most other young people around him.
In today’s interview, Ahmad talks about growing up in the tumultuous past decades of Aghanistan, of the religious and philosophical system he’s developed, of taking up Tae Kwan Do after his brother lost his leg in a mine explosion, and why he’s intent on returning to his country.
Ian Knox is one of Northern Ireland’s premier political cartoonists. After studying for a career in architecture, he made his way into the world of cartooning and now contributes to a whole array of outlets – including The Irish News, Hearts & Minds, Sky News, and The Guardian. He talks about why he likes to annoy people, how he knows if his cartoons succeed in their attempts to shove his opinions down the audience’s throats, which politicians he most likes to draw, and how he survives his daily threat of a heart attack.
Episode 27 has Graeme Watson talking about the philosophy of happiness and the politics of well-being. He’s finishing his PhD in political theory at Queen’s, examining different approaches to achieving happiness and how politicians (especially those in the UK) have brought the notion from twee to power.
Graeme discusses the ascendancy of the notion ‘Well-Being’ into a watchword of Tony Blair’s New Labor and David Cameron’s New Tories, as well as predictions that it will be one of the ‘Big Ideas of the 21st Century’. He explains how the personal is being made political and how the consumer industry of happiness is feeding into a new kind of politics — attracting Middle Class Lefty Guardian Readers, among others.
Plus, Graeme offers some visions of our coming post-human future, his low-grade hedonism, some secrets to happiness, and his planned cult.
Michael Mahadeo has lived in Northern Ireland since the mid 1980s, when he moved here from British Guyana. He speaks about growing up in Guyana during its decolonization, and about the most notorious part of the country’s recent history — the Jonestown massacre, in which hundreds of American citizens killed themselves on a compound in rural Guyana. Michael also discusses being an ethnic minority in Northern Ireland, adjusting to the Troubles, and whether it’s ever possible to become a local here.
In the 1980s, Larry Evans was named a national security threat, Hollywood script writers were intent on telling his life story, he was crossing the Iron Curtain, and he was overtaking the Pittsburgh public television airwaves. As the steel mills were closing down in that decade, Larry ran the Millhunk Herald, a local journal, and was active in the efforts to keep the industry alive. He tells his story — how he got politically active, what’s happened to him since those activist days, and what it’s like to be classed a threat to society.
The video clip below comes from a documentary Larry made about his Millhunk Herald days. Tony Novosel stars in the 1983 Pittsburgh-made ‘Crashdance’, as a steelworker who turns to exotic dancing amidst the collapse of the steel industry in the city.
Fr. Patrick Gaffney, a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, talks about the changing cultures of death in Russia. Professor Gaffney explains how Russians have dealt with corpses, funerals, and the afterlife during the past two centuries. He tells of the journeys to heaven and hell that souls took during the Tsarist era, why the Soviet ‘red funerals’ failed, what happened to Lenin and Stalin’s corpses, and why there are so few obituaries or funeral homes in modern Russia.
The first episode of Another World features interviews with Tony Novosel and Miroslav Budinski. Tony speaks about teaching on the Northern Irish conflict in America and coordinating student exchanges between the US and Northern Ireland.
Miroslav, a shepherd and hostel operator in Novi Sad, the capital of the northern province of Vojvodina in Serbia, turns the conversation to sheep-shearing, socialism, and ethnic conflict.