A semi up-to-date archive of my radio essays for BBC’s The World


The Putinization of Donald Trump

June 13, 2017

Is this remote Siberian language an ancestor to Navajo?

May 24, 2017

The strange history of ransomware

May 17, 2017

Dreaming of a DIY mission to Mars

May 12, 2017

Japan’s ‘evaporated people’ have become an obsession for this French couple

April 25, 2017

‘What a total God shot!’ Understand that? Then you speak Christianese.

March 29, 2017

Arabic has a Jewish dialect, and these women speak it

March 16, 2017

The next K-Pop sensation could come out of New York City

February 17, 2017

In New York’s Lunar New Year parade, women are breaking barriers as lion dancers

January 27, 2017

Victims of online romance scams, there’s a place you can go for help

January 12, 2017

Celine Dion is an unlikely savior of Montreal’s classic Jewish deli

December 28, 2016

At this school in upstate New York, students are free to speak Mohawk

November 28, 2016

Born in Canada, they sing in the Russian dialect of their grandparents

October 28, 2016

Siberia’s coffee king is setting up shop back home in California

October 16, 2016

A new generation of Canadians are learning this language, and not all of them are tribal members

August 18, 2016

Diamond labs say theirs are forever too — even if they were made yesterday

August 9, 2016

Victor Kruglov tells his Russian clients to succeed in Hollywood, there’s one key — lose the accent

July 20, 2016

There’s one thing that Russia and Ukraine agree on — their favorite TV shows

July 13, 2016

There’s a Tibetan dialect called ‘Mustang,’ and it’s staying alive in the US

June 30, 2016

Some Canadians really want to sponsor Syrian refugees. Turns out it’s harder than they thought.

June 9, 2016

A tussle between Russia and Norway at an exclusive resort at the top of the world

June 7, 2016

Here’s how American Bandstand led a guy from Philly to the Communist Party

May 10, 2016

Where did the Etruscans come from? The linguistic and genetic clues are piling up.

April 18, 2016

A 1915 novel is now the blueprint for a real-life feminist utopia

April 14, 2016

Is the pressure to set new records turning polar adventure into a lying game?

March 28, 2016

There are more than 20 towns in America called Moscow. Why is that?

March 10, 2016

This Native American tribe on Long Island is trying to raise its language from the dead

January 14, 2016

This woman demonstrated that even in Russia all politics is local

October 13, 2015

The guy who supplied the soundtrack for Boris Yeltsin’s Rock the Vote

October 6, 2015

A man who travels the world not to see things, but hear them

September 28, 2015

This bike race attracts official sponsors, but technically it’s not legal

September 15, 2015

A Norwegian artist wants to raise a storied ship using some really big balloons

August 24, 2015

Bootstrapping their own K-pop band — in New York City

How this Russian rapper found his groove — in New York

August 10, 2015

Launching an art magazine by people and for people who know nothing about art

July 31, 2015

When you think Kazakhstan think Timur, not Borat

July 23, 2015

When Belarus closed its last liberal arts school, the university went into exile

July 14, 2015

What does a 20th century Russian poet have to do with Johnny Cash?

July 13, 2015

On the Danube, the world’s newest micro-nation. But Liberland has a problem.

June 29, 2015

Bagels disappeared from Lithuania after WWII … but now they’re back

June 16, 2015

How a Texas legal aid lawyer is bringing kidnapped children home from Mexico

June 3, 2015

All those musicians you see playing in the New York subway? Some of them auditioned for the spot

June 1, 2015

Self-published photo books go from last resorts to museum treasures

May 22, 2015

Meet the ice swimmers who put the Polar Bear Club to shame

May 18, 2015

A Russian DJ breathes life back into Russian and American legends alike

May 11, 2015

Independent perfumers are making a big splash in the fragrance world

May 6, 2015

The grandson of ‘Old Blood and Guts’ makes film, not war

April 29, 2015

The Chinese went wild for American pecans — which may be bad news for wild pecan trees

April 17, 2015

A custom three-bedroom house for $69,000? Welcome to the new model for disaster relief.

April 10, 2015

On the Texas border, they’re fighting for the right to have street lamps

April 3, 2015

1,200 years later, is Chinese poetry entering a new golden age?

March 24, 2015

The conflict in Ukraine has led to a Golden Age for Jews — though some are still leaving

March 18, 2015

Here’s how you can find a bathroom, or a living room, on the streets of New York

March 9, 2015

Here’s what you can do with a whimsical idea and a whole lot of leg power

February 27, 2015

Is your family member buried on Hart Island, off the coast of New York? Sorry, you can’t visit

February 17, 2015

This museum is devoted only to animals mentioned in the Bible

February 05, 2015

For a group of Siberians, Hawaii was far from a tropical paradise

January 28, 2015

How I fell in love with the world’s greatest cookie

January 27, 2015

At New York’s cat café, you can drink coffee and commune with cats — as long as you have a reservation

January 19, 2015

What I’ve learned after my Mom got hacked (and her data held for ransom)

January 05, 2015

When your experiment in outsourcing turns into an immigration adventure

December 29, 2014

Putin abolished daylight savings time and Siberians are grumbling about ‘eternal winter’

December 19, 2014

Remember the time Japan invaded the US? Yes, really

December 17, 2014

Entrepreneurs around the world love this Soviet-era storytelling game

December 4, 2014

Featherbowling is an almost unknown sport — but not at this Detroit café

November 26, 2014

The spread of mondegreens should have ended with the Internet — but it hasn’t

November 20, 2014

Some people will go to incredible lengths to find an awesome wild mushroom

November 13, 2014

This library for wizards in New York City is by appointment only

November 5, 2014

It took a ‘cranky,’ dour immigrant to make Coney Island the capital of fun

October 30, 2014

What it means when you see a Russian guy with a knife tattooed on his neck

October 23, 2014

Russian curses are inventive, widely-used — and banned

October 8, 2014

Here’s how ’96 Tears’ became a Michigan city’s official rock anthem

Sept 26, 2014

America is becoming an under-the-radar hub of sumo wrestling

September 22, 2014

Meet The Brady Bunch, Asian-American style — courtesy of photographer Michael Jang

September 15, 2014

To see life’s oddities, you have to vist an odd place — a museum in an elevator shaft

August 26,2014

The man who claimed to be a whaler, and other online dating adventures of Anya Ulinich

August 19, 2014

Want to tour a toxic beach? ‘Anti-tourism’ explores the darker, dirtier corners of the world

August 12, 2014

This movie about a Soviet scientist may be the grandest experiment in film history, if it ever gets finished

August 6,2014

The Russian government has banned lingerie — for your health

July 29, 2014

A Russian writer who wrote about the absurdity of life now has a street in Queens named after him

July 21, 2014

What’s the Point of Learning Russian?

July 15, 2014

Some Japanese Will Pay $4500 for an Old Missouri Prison Uniform. Me, I Collect Japanese ‘Boro’

June 26, 2014

Ever Heard of Crokinole?

June 6, 2014

Bidet vs. Washlet

June 3, 2014

This Chinatown Button Shop Doubles as a Modern Art Gallery

May 27, 2014

Russian leaders have tinkered with their alphabet for Centuries, but with the letter ‘yo,’ they have a fight on their hands

May 19, 2014

Can we choose our ethnic identities based on random obsessions? 

May 14, 2014

For your next cocktail, would you prefer ‘The Bitter Taste of Calm’ or ‘Seven Days in the Grave’?

May 8, 2014

Henry Liu is a musket-carrying member of the Lexington Minute Men. He’s also Chinese American.

April 21, 2014

To get the autographs of top world leaders, you need commitment, courage and chutzpah

April 10, 2014

This photographer has found the beauty in Soviet bus stops

April 04, 2014

In search of the perfect email sign-off

April 01, 2014

Even when your dad’s a physicist, it’s hard to wrap your head around the Big Bang discovery

March 21, 2014

This Soviet-born émigré remembers working at the Kharkov zoo

March 14, 2014

Do you answer ‘How are you?’ the American or the Russian way?

March 04, 2014

Are you Ukrainian or Russian? It’s complicated…

March 03, 2014

A Russian pirate-theme restaurant in Brighton Beach gives solace to Cold War nostalgia seekers

February 27, 2014

Siberia’s not what you think it is. It’s not even that cold

February 20, 2014

Why do Russians hate ice and Americans love it?

February 14, 2014

What does Russian punk band Pussy Riot owe to Yanka Dyagileva?

February 05, 2014

A history of the modern world as told by everyday throwaway ephemera

February 04, 2014

Amateur Night in Harlem draws competitors from around the globe

December 31, 2013

Meet Krampus, the guy who really gets you if you’re naughty

December 24, 2013

When Alina Simone (not her real name) met Alina Simone (not her real name either…)

November 20, 2013