Behind the Scenes: Art in Movies

Props, sets, make-up, and all around art department person, Vanessa Conway talks about making the things that make the movies.

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"(We made) an entire twenty foot tree out of cardboard and muslin... pretty dangerous, but awesome"

Electronic Waste: How Computer Screens and Circuit Boards are Poisoning Rural China

A few weeks ago North and Clark interviewed Willie Cade Founder and CEO of PCRR.  Afterwards we got a chance to speak with his daughter Amy a student at the University of Illinios who writes a blog dedicated to the topic of electronic waste.  I asked her to fill in my readers on this problem and its implications.

Waste is bad.   Electronic waste is worse. 

At the Sustainable Electronic Initiative I am trying to find out as much as I can about how much e-waste exists, how it is dealt with, who is dealing with it, and what can be done about it.  

The most important of all of the e-waste problems comes from the toxins contained in electronics, which can be released if the electronics are dismantled incorrectly.  Exposure to these toxins doesn’t usually happen here in the United States; we tend to send the electronics to places that don’t have these electronics or consume a great deal less than we do.  According to the EPA, 61% of computer screens (CRTs) and TVs collected for recycling were exported in 2005, even though this is illegal.  When they are sent for disposal overseas, they are broken down and sold for parts.  The chemicals released in informal processing are deadly.  The working conditions can be hazardous and the effects are often permanent.  

One example is the town of Guiyu, in Southern China. Eighty percent of the families that live in Guiyu work in the business of recycling electronics.  There is no environmental oversight.  This usually means open-air burning of circuit boards and other electronic components so that valuable metals can be retrieved.  A side effect of recovering silver and gold from these components is that other metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury are released into the atmosphere. 

Exposure to fumes from these chemicals has long been cited as a cause of disruptions to the function of the central nervous system.  A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics has linked air pollution to lower IQs in children.  The people of Guiyu have significant health issues because of lead and other toxins in the air, ground, and drinking water. 

The problem of electronic waste is a huge and difficult one.  But we made the mess, and I have confidence that we can find ways to fix it.

Riot in Washington Park

Keith Fort has done a lot of shows in Chicago, and he's got about a million stories to tell.  This one is the best.

"They were up on the stage in the middle of the show and they were angry."

Graffiti and Graphic Design

Peter Chavez was a Pilsen graffiti kid. He wrote on walls, buildings, and train cars. One of those pieces of "vandalism" won him a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. Now his writing/painting/design is more likely to be in an ad or a t-shirt than a viaduct.

This interview was recorded in a cafe and you will hear that in the background.


"(Graffiti) was something where I could have a name and be recognized"

Taste of Chicago 2009 and The Best Shows I Ever Saw

Keith Fort is the man in charge of the mainstage at the Taste of Chicago, and countless other concerts and events around the world.

In part one of this two part interview with North and Clark Keith talks about his experiences at this years taste and at some of the best shows he's ever been involved in, and when you have worked with Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, and the folks that Keith has been involved with we are talking about some great shows.

Upcoming Podcasts

North and Clark upcoming Interviews


Wednesday 7/22 Peter Chavez went from graffiti writer to graphic designer.  Wednesday he sits down at a coffee shop with North and Clark to talk about how he turned writing on subway walls in Pilsen into a way to "make that money."

Wednesday 7/29 Vanessa Conway is a permanent resident of the art department. She has worked on props and sets for film tv and the stage. North and Clark visits her at her home to talk about making movies and the joys of food continuity.

P. S. Thanks to everyone who checked in this week. We had one of our best most listened to weeks in the history of the show.   These next interviews are going to be good ones, I know cause I already did em'.

Nanotech (Mini-Podcast)

My other headline was:
A Research Tech on Nanotech; Minipodcast with Zach Feiger

This Mini-Podcast was inspired by frequent commenter Charles. His question (for biology Research Tech Zach Feiger) on Nanotechnology lead to the edited discussion which appears below.

This is the second of two interviews with Zach Feiger the first is available here

Studying Cancer, Flourecent Cells and the Life of a Research Tech

Zach's job involves the tiny tiny proteins that move human cells.  He stops by North and Clark to tell us about his work, and why its important to make proteins glow in the dark.

"You shine this infrared light on the whole body and the (cancer cells) light up."

The Power of the $150 Computer

Willie Cade and the people who work at PCRR are looking to bridge the digital divide, save the environment and get your old computer out of you attic. Just how they plan on doing that is explained in the interview below.

Interview with Willie Cade Part 1

Interview with Willie Cade Part 2

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"I actually believe that every student should have a computer at home and one at school. It actually turns out to be cheaper to provide two refurbished computers than one new laptop."

If you want to learn more about PCRR, Willie Cade and E-waste you should check out check out friend of the site Amy Cade's blog on sustainable electronics.

Upcoming Podcasts

No podcast today, but here is what you can look forward to:

7/11 Saturday Who's gonna save the world from toxic computers of days gone by? Saturday we talk to Willie Cade, the man whose company aims to save humanity from your dad's 286.

7/15 Wednesday If someone is going to cure brain cancer, or identify the DNA of killer from a crime seen they're gonna need to take a close look at a lot of human cells and the proteins within them. Wednesday I interview Zach Feiger about what it is like to manipulate and explore tiny tiny things that make up the human body.

Money, Hitmen, Brazil, Explosives and Emeralds (Part 2)

The second half of our interview with anthropologist and University of Chicago Alum Professor Brian Brazeal.  This part of the interview concerns Brian's own personal experience of the emerald trade and his method for studying the sellers, the buyers, and a place called the Rat Market.

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"Even the unreliable sources can provide you with very interesting information if you have a sense of when people are lying to you and when they're not."

Money, Hitmen, Brazil, Explosives and Emeralds

Emerald mining is a business fraught with international intrigue and explosions as professor and anthropologist Brian Brazeal explains.

"If anybody tries to take my mine I'll shoot em'."
See part 2 tomorrow

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