The Madeleine Brand Show for December 7, 2011

Up, up and away! But holiday getaways can lead to misery

Surviving the holiday travel season Cranky style

As if being denied Words with Friends weren't bad enough, the cost of flying is up this holiday season. And even with higher prices, airlines expect more travelers this year than last. Get ready for long lines and planes packed to the gills. However, there are some things you can do to make the experience a little less miserable. Brett Snyder, better known as "The Cranky Flier," has some tips.

Automatic cuts could threaten LA school transportation

In light of impending state trigger cuts, California faces a potential $38 million slash to school bus transportation funding. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent John Deasy recently sent a letter to parents warning them of the automatic cuts, urging them to contact state politicians and lawmakers to prevent the funding loss.
A man (C) rides a tricycle across a brid

Chinese smog has international implications

China's smog levels are so bad flights have been canceled. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing found that the index of fine particulate matter had reached 522 micrograms per cubic meter. That's much higher than it should be; a reading between 300 and 500 is considered hazardous. Andrew Jacobs, Beijing bureau chief for The New York Times, joins the show to discuss.
Winter Storm Forces Interstate 5 To Close

Silver lining to Asian dust cloud: More snow in California

Asian dust pollution, kicked up by sandstorms in the interior deserts of the continent, could actually be causing heavier snowfall in California. New research from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego suggests that storm clouds with Asian dust drop more snow on the Sierra Nevada than clouds without the dust. This does not include industrial pollution from burning coal or car exhaust, which actually decreases precipitation. Professor Kimberly Prather joins Madeleine to explain the implications of the study.

New book finds decrease in human violence

Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are all reasons to think war has increased. While many think war is on the rise, Steven Pinker argues just the opposite. Pinker takes the long view, arguing that over thousands of years human violence has decreased. Today is the most peaceful time in humanity, he says. Pinker dips into various disciplines to not only argue that we are living in a golden age of peace, but to explain why this is so.
Passengers using a tablet on plane

Electronic devices on airplanes: Do they really harm?

Steve Proffitt will join the show to talk about a petition to the Obama administration which would allow electronic devices like iPads and Blackberries to be used in "airplane mode" during airplane takeoff and landing. A New York Times blog arguing that electronic devices pose no harm on planes spurred the petition. And yesterday, actor Alec Baldwin seemed to characterize the frustration of the masses as he live tweeted being kicked off an American Airlines flight for playing "Words with Friends" on his phone.
Find an archived Episode: