Cover art for podcast Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Open Source with Christopher Lydon

50 EpisodesProduced by Christopher LydonWebsite

Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics

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100 Seconds to Midnight

May 12th, 2022


On the famous clock-face of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the time now is 100 seconds before midnight. Meaning: humankind is closer to nuclear …

A Dangerous Puzzle

May 5th, 2022


It’s Iran, again, at the center of a tricky, dangerous puzzle. Four years after Donald Trump broke out of the nuclear ban agreement, Iran is just days or weeks away from having enough enriched uranium to build a bomb—a …

Grain War

April 28th, 2022


Try this, to get a fresh grip on the war in Ukraine, and its effects still to come: we’ve got a food war in the breadbasket of the world, on the vast Eurasian prairie that’s been feeding Europe, the Middle East, and …

How Do We Look?

April 21st, 2022


We are encouraged to believe, we Americans, that if anything good for the world comes out of the war in Ukraine, it will be that “the US is back,” not shooting but supporting, maybe midwifing a new birth of freedom. …

Real Questions for the Realist

April 14th, 2022


Twenty questions this hour on the war in Ukraine. For starters: will the war end in April? May? Maybe June? Who gets to announce the good news? An essay question: Can a war look more grotesquely cruel week to week, and …

War in Yemen

April 7th, 2022


We’re engulfed by war, rumors of war, videos of war, crimes of war—are we looking at ‘end times’ approaching? Or just the dead end of the forever …

Moral Realism

March 31st, 2022


The war questions are back, you notice—in everyday America: the talk of risk, the chance of ruin, the push and pull of righteousness, restraint; and …

How to Stop Burning Things

March 24th, 2022


When Bill McKibben looks at the war in Ukraine, what he sees is a chapter, maybe the very last one, in the chronicle of a planet that we humans are burning unto our own extinction. To the environmentalist’s eye, oil …

Lessons Learned

March 18th, 2022


Big lessons out of the war in Ukraine about “how the world really works” are showing up on the ground, not in theory class. They’re what you can …

A New Nuclear Age

March 10th, 2022


Sobering questions: how could this unmerciful war in Ukraine go nuclear? If Russia’s barbaric smashing of cities and civilians finally pushes the US …

Of Banks and Tanks

March 3rd, 2022


It’s banks against tanks in the Ukraine war that’s now about everything: about the courage of Kyiv, about hope holding on in a horror show, kids in …

Russian Invasion

February 24th, 2022


Make what you can of the news from Ukraine: nobody’s calling it a Seinfeld crisis anymore, meaning a crisis about nothing, with a painless remedy at hand. Just what is this crisis, though, and how did it catch us by …

A Soldier’s Tale

February 17th, 2022


This hour: the back-story of In Search of Monsters, our collaboration with the counter-punching think tank, the Quincy Institute. It’s the …

Nixon in China

February 10th, 2022


It was the meeting, just 50 years ago this month, that changed more lives at more levels than any other political handshake in our lifetimes. The …

Liner Notes for the Revolution

February 3rd, 2022


This show was originally broadcast on July 15, 2021.

We know their songs, not so much what they were going through, those Black women artists who …

The View from Ukraine

January 27th, 2022


The missing piece in the Ukraine crisis, you begin to notice, is that vast grain field and the 45-million people who live on it. The real players in the crisis are NATO, just west, and Russia to the east, and of course …

Into the Feel Tank

January 20th, 2022


This show first aired on August 12, 2021.

This mood we’re in: stuck, anxious, alone, desperate for an exit ramp, even to another bad stop on the …

Sensible Negotiation

January 13th, 2022

Anatol Lieven.

Vladimir Putin’s threat to invade Ukraine is the first headline crisis of the new year. The headlines and the ‘crisis’ word come …

The Sackler Empire

January 6th, 2022


This show first aired on May 20, 2021.

The opioid epidemic, still rampant, still deadly, turns out to be a family story at its root. Empire of Pain is Patrick Radden Keefe’s account of the drug company that touched …

Darwin’s Successor

December 30th, 2021


This show first aired on November 18, 2021.

The grand master of bug biology E.O. Wilson has always had a way of seeing the big picture in his …

Write Like the Russians

December 23rd, 2021


This episode was first broadcast on February 18. 2021.

The invitation this hour, or maybe the dream, is to learn how to write short stories with …

Say It Loud

December 16th, 2021


There’s a friendly hour’s conversation here about racial matters and moods. It’s been going on in a bookstore for about 35 years. What’s new this time, late in the portentous year of 2021, is first, the fine line …

Blyth Unleashed

December 10th, 2021


Mark Blyth is the butcher’s son from Dundee, now the American professor of political economics, still with the Sean Connery burr in his voice. …

A New History of Humanity

December 2nd, 2021


Giant questions this hour, and a slew of fresh answers: Where do we humans come from? Who are we, after all? Where are we going? Was our pre-history a Garden of Eden, or a nasty war of survival, or some of both? Are we …

Origin Stories

November 25th, 2021


This show was originally broadcast on December 5, 2019.

Origin stories can be educated guesses, or leaps of collective imagination as to who we …

Orwell’s Roses

November 11th, 2021


George Orwell rests now with the immortal English writers. But why? For impact and influence, you could argue that Orwell in his novels and essays …

The Nutmeg’s Curse

November 4th, 2021


Glasgow on the Clyde is not the end of the story, but you can see the end from Glasgow: it’ll be more “blah, blah, blah,” says Greta Thunberg, the merciless teenage critic the world has come to love, and trust. Glasgow …

A New Day for Boston

October 28th, 2021


Boston politics has taken a turn. The Last Hurrah was 65 years ago – the classic obituary novel about those noisy Irish rascals who ran City Hall …

The CRISPR Challenge

October 21st, 2021


This show was originally broadcast on March 11, 2021.

The CRISPR challenge is back—first to grasp, then how to apply the biggest scientific breakthrough of our century so far. You remember CRISPR: nature’s own …

Prison Playwrights

October 15th, 2021


Prison time can be the strangest interval in a long life: it is experienced, year by year, as a slow-burning hell on earth, often revalued later as productive, enlightening, redemptive turn-around time. Chris Hedges …

Franzen Comes Alive

October 7th, 2021


Jonathan Franzen might just be the last of the fine-grained, big-book portraitists of “the way Middle America lives”—specially the intimate deceptions that family relations are made of. Franzen is a realist with an …

Thoroughly Modern Mozart

September 30th, 2021


Who else could be said to make you smarter, just listening to the sound of his music? Only Mozart, that we know. For 300-and-some years now, he has …

Mann the Magician

September 24th, 2021


Thomas Mann was one of those cultural giants the world doesn’t seem to make anymore—artists with authority, almost as big as their countries, at the …

Moonshot Economics

September 16th, 2021


It’s hard not to notice that we’re flunking tests, right and left, and running out of strategies against global-size troubles. COVID, we said, was our test for the age of viruses. At summer’s end the variants are …

Tragic Architecture

September 9th, 2021


Those twin towers of the World Trade Center wrote two epic stories into the skyline of Manhattan: rise and fall. Most of us saw the hellscape of fire and smoke in the fall of the towers, live on television, 20 years …

The Joy and Genius of Erroll Garner

September 2nd, 2021


This show first aired on December 17, 2020.

Erroll Garner, the jazz pianist, is undergoing an upward revaluation of the sort that artists dream …

The End of the War

August 26th, 2021


The war for Afghanistan is over: the Taliban won in a walk. We’re shocked, more than surprised, but then what? Is this our American empire at …

Tarantino’s 9th

August 19th, 2021


This show first aired on August 8, 2019.

Spoiler alert! (Really.) The big movie to reckon with this summer may be as much about the mood of 2019 as …

JFK in the American Century

August 5th, 2021


This show was first broadcast on October 22, 2020.

A bold new life of JFK cues Emerson’s line: “there is no history, only biography,” …

A Tale of Two Deltas

July 29th, 2021


That blood-red full moon of July looked for sure to be on fire, but only because we saw it through smoke that had drifted thousands of miles east …

Five Stones for Goliath

July 22nd, 2021


You can’t help noticing the badge of success in American business has changed. Robber barons a century ago built monopolies, then palaces. In our …

Moral Economics

July 8th, 2021


This show first aired on May 28, 2020.

John Maynard Keynes was a philosophical giant in twentieth-century England. In his day job, he was a …

Middlemarch at the Beach

July 1st, 2021


This show first aired July 18, 2019.

Middlemarch, a novel by the woman who gave herself a man’s by-line, “George Eliot,” may be the most honored …

A Disease of Humanity

June 24th, 2021


What we call Alzheimer’s—the loss of memory, mind, autonomy—wasn’t always called a disease. It was an aspect of aging, a symptom, a condition: senile dementia. Shakespeare made it the last of his seven ages of man, …


June 17th, 2021


If you’re still struggling to grasp Bibi Netanyahu’s downfall in Israel, listen to this: a Jewish-American novelist, a Palestinian-Arab screenwriter and a Canadian-American-Israeli pundit all walk into a Zoom room …

Extraterrestrial Encounters

June 10th, 2021


Stand by for news from outer space: news the government never said it was collecting or considered important, perhaps because people who take UFOs …

Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach

June 3rd, 2021


This show first aired on May 21, 2020.

The force of art to rescue a world breaking down; the power of music in particular to heal people one by …

Lab Leak

May 27th, 2021


There’s a swerve in the road, signs that say “Sharp Curves Ahead,” in the origin story of the COVID pandemic. Where did that virus come from? And how did it leap to the human species, to kill by now more than three …

Pandemic Premonitions

May 13th, 2021


A year and a half into the COVID story, notice the many unknowns, and one big known. Even now, nobody can tell you absolutely whether the infectious …

COVID in India

May 7th, 2021


The humbling of India, the torment of India, is full of messages for the rest of us. Beware the second wave of the pandemic: that’s the one that has …

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