August 2nd show : Blog Of The Nation In our first hour, Cornel West's second thoughts on Obama, and fixing higher education.  In our second hour, "Packing for Mars", and the future of black publications.
NPR logo August 2nd show

August 2nd show

On today's opinion page, Professor Andrew Hacker argues that college is far too expensive and in need of a major overhaul. hide caption

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On today's opinion page, Professor Andrew Hacker argues that college is far too expensive and in need of a major overhaul.

Cornel West's Second Thoughts On Obama
Professor, author and social critic Cornel West confesses in the current issue of Playboy magazine that he's having second thoughts about President Obama.  The Princeton philosophy professor talks with guest host Tony Cox and about the president, and other issues including race, tea parties, and the Catholic Church.

Is Higher Education a Waste of Money?
Professor Andrew Hacker says that higher education in the United States is broken and a waste of money. With tuition climbing to nearly $250,000 in some cases, he argues that too many undergraduate courses are taught by graduate assistants or professors who have no interest in teaching.  Hacker proposes an end to the tenure system and talks about what's wrong with America's colleges and the many other changes he'd like to bring to our system of higher education.

Packing For Mars
A mission to land humans on Mars will take a minimum of two years from lift off to homecoming, and the most difficult engineering problem to solve turns out to be us. The human body is glitch prone, difficult to repair and inefficient.  Our fuel is bulky and we leak. For the last two years, author Mary Roach has been documenting the "slapstick-surreal" world of engineers, biologists and psychologists who aspire to land a sane, healthy astronaut on Mars.  Roach talks about the many challenges of sending humans to Mars and her new book, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.

Losing the Essence of Black Media
For the first time in its 40-year history, Essence magazine will have a white fashion director.  The change, at a magazine focused on the lives of black women, outraged many African Americans.  Among them is professor Mark Anthony Neal. In his blog, New Black Man, he described feeling a sense of loss for the magazine he came of age reading.  "Beyond this sense of loss," he wrote, "what really is at stake when a 'black' magazine, no longer black owned, but still critically representative to our communities' sense of themselves, simply becomes another periodical?"  Mark Anthony Neal talks about the changes at Essence magazine and the future of black publications.