Betsy Kaplan

Producer
Javie Delgado, Flickr Creative Commons

It's hard to improve on the poet, Rilke, who wrote, "Love consists of this, that two solitudes meet, protect, and greet each other." But did Rilke have to deal with Angry Birds and Snap Chat?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Why do opposing political candidates so often wind up disliking each other? I get that there are forces in motion against one another, but does that have to turn into animus? Wouldn't we all like to think that we could keep things on a certain humanistic level if we were running? Say things like "Ralph is a great guy, even if he's dead wrong about everything. I really enjoyed getting to know  him during this campaign, and I admire his commitment to his vision, even though I think the rest of you would be nuts to embrace it."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The notion of a political debate embedded in a campaign for office is a younger idea than you might think. It became codified as a result of a 1960 debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Prior to that, debates were rare. Okay, now you're thinking about the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Those were really unusual for their day, and it's worth noting that in 1858, senators were elected by state legislators. So those debates - conducted before huge crowds - weren't really held for the same reasons that they're done today. The history of debates is really the history of television.

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Kids today are so spoiled! Alfie Kohn says politicians, academics, and the media spend a lot of time instilling in parents the fear that they're ruining their children with too much love. 

But, Kohn says wait a minute! Instead of assuming we're spoiling kids who don't show grit, motivation, and a competitive spirit, maybe we should instead question those values we hold dear.  

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A few times a year we like to do shows about words and language.

Simon Fraser University

Why should we care about writing when texting is quicker and easier to bypass inflexible grammar rules that perplex even the most seasoned writers? Mixed metaphors, split infinitives, passive sentences, ugh!!

Jay Ryness / Creative Commons

Talk to any demographer. Marriage is in irreversible decline. According to Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of "Generation Unbound," 40% of young people are unmarried. Now, that doesn't mean people will stop getting married. You've been to a bunch of weddings this year. What it means is that marriage as a precondition to parenthood is no longer the established norm from which everything else is a deviation.

MarLeah Cole / Creative Commons

One way to think of this is, a middle school principal should not be making blood-spattered slasher films. Another way is, it's kind of amazing that every middle school principal doesn't go home and make blood-spattered slasher films.

Consciousness and the Soul

Oct 2, 2014
Karen Neoh / Creative Commons

It has been nearly 400 years since Descartes wrote his famous declaration “Cogito ergo sum”, or, more commonly “I am thinking, therefore I exist”. But, in all that time, we still haven't answered the basic question: who are we?

In this hour, we explore the concepts of consciousness, the self, and the soul. What do today's top scientists, philosophers and spiritual leaders say about these topics and how have they arrived at their conclusions? Are we ready to accept the brain as the be-all and end-all of who we are or is there more to us than that?

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This hour, we talk about movie trailers. Maybe you wonder what a movie critic thinks of them. Actually, critics don't see as many as you do because they often go to special screenings.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

This hour, we talk about two Connecticut dance halls, each springing from the vision of two very different men who took their respective dance halls down very different paths. One's dream soared, bringing thousands of concert-goers to over 3,000 acts over an eleven-year history. The other's dream stalled, his elaborate dance hall sitting idle for decades.

David Goehring / Creative Commons

We're back today after a one-week hiatus. 

Ben Nadaff-Hafrey is also back, this time as our Scramble SuperGuest.

We start today with a conversation about the embrace of U2 by Apple, and end with a chat about embraces in general.

So, leading off earlier this month, Apple had one of its special events. When people stop what they're doing to watch a big company roll out a new product, in this case the iPhone 6, Don Draper would be drooling in envy, right?

Funk Monk / Wikimedia Commons

Science writer Carl Zimmer names the Dodo and the Great Auk, the Thylacine and the Chinese River Dolphin, the Passenger Pigeon and the Imperial Woodpecker, the Bucardo and Stellar Sea Cow among the species that humankind has driven into extinction. What's notable about that list is that most of us would recognize maybe three or four of those names.

Think about that. We have obliterated entire species whose names we don't even know.

Anna Fox / Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago, I was sick with the April flu, lying in bed in a New York apartment, and trying to distract myself by watching one of the film adaptations of "Nicholas Nickleby." I found myself repeatedly moved to tears, especially when anything good or kind happened. Okay, part of this was that I felt a little vulnerable, and may have over identified with poor tubercular Smike. But another part, I'm convinced, was the excitement generated by pure moral language, which you don't encounter so much in modern culture.

Courtesy of The Defining Photo

Identical twins are just like us - and then they're not! From Ann Landers and Dear Abbey, from the Castro brothers, one of whom might be our first identical twin president one day, carbon-copy twins live lives that the rest of us cannot fathom.

Roxanne Ready / Flickr Creative Commons

Take a few seconds to reminisce about your childhood "best friend." Maybe it was a boy, a girl, an imaginary friend, or perhaps a stuffed toy. This stuffed toy was your childhood confidant that you dragged everywhere, from the local supermarket to the preschool sandbox, a transitional object that temporarily stood between you and your relationship with your parents. 

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If you were dreaming up a new religion, maybe you wouldn't include the idea of hell. But in traditional forms of Christianity, even as they evolve, hell seems almost grandfathered in. They can't quit hell. Or can they? A 2013 Harris poll found that while 74 percent of U.S. adults believe in God, and 68 percent believe in heaven, only 58 percent believe in the devil and in hell, down four percentage points from 2005. Still, 58 percent! That seems like a lot.

Paul Joseph / Creative Commons

Getting ready for The Nose, we're all poring over stories about regional preferences for "uh" versus "um," about the new Miss America's performance with a red plastic cup, and about songs and relationships that fade out instead of coming to a dead stop. 

You have to join us to know what we decide but the picture is a good clue to one of our topics.

Chion Wolf

Living in Hartford almost all my life I've known for years the story of Horace Wells. At least, I know the story I know, which is that Wells was a Hartford dentist who introduced anesthesia. He may have been the first but I've always known there were other pretenders to that crown. 

I also knew that Wells became addicted to one of those products and died a horrible, tragic and ignominious death.

But, that's all I knew and I wondered how widely known that story was. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

On the eve of a vote that could trigger independence after 307 years, Scotland has become a hot topic in the media. What would happen if the vote swings "yes"? Or what would be the consequences if a "no" vote rules?

It's interesting to listen to Americans try to explain tomorrow's Scottish vote to each other. We don't even have a common, settled understanding of the nature of the existing union, and therefore we have a hard time judging what is being proposed.

Chion Wolf

The number one lesson with infrastructure is build more than you think you need. If you don't, you spend forever catching up. In Connecticut, this is especially true about mass transit. We didn't build any for decades and now we're so far behind that even becoming semi-respectable is going to take decades.  

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On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article full of President Obama's behind-the scenes reflections and conversations about ISIS and the Middle East. From that article: "He was acutely aware that the operation he was about to embark on would not solve the larger issues in that region by the time he left office. 'This will be a problem for the next president,' Mister Obama said ruefully, 'and probably the one after that.'"

Chion Wolf / WNPR

"Comic book movies, family-friendly animated adventures, tales of adolescent heroism, and comedies of arrested development do not only make up the commercial center of 21st century Hollywood, they are its artistic heart." So writes critic A.O. Scott in a somewhat controversial essay from this week. We will discuss cultural immaturity on this episode of The Nose.

Then, we'll probe the delicate subject of "Fingerprint Words". The premise is that each of us has a word or two - a perfectly good word which we use correctly - that we use a lot. One of mine, I happen to know, is "warranted". I also know where I got it, and to whom I have spread it.

Finally, we'll explore reports that eating cereal is in steep decline. An entire civilization of elves and leprechauns now teeters at the edge of extinction. How about you? Has your perfectly warranted retreat from maturity caused you to give up cereal?

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I root for the Green Bay Packers...and not casually. As I speak, there's a Green Bay Packers mug nearby, on weekends I wear a Packers cap and use Packers shopping bags. Most disturbingly, in the long, long off-season, I subscribe to services which provide me with daily obsessive updates on anything going on in Packers land. And, I read them even though nothing really is going on. 

Chion Wolf

The JFK assassination is like the Maine coastline: craggy, uneven, full of serration, points, inlands, islands, amenable to endless exploration and quickly obscured by sudden fogs. There are so many side trips and any one of them is a potential life's work.

Let me give you some examples.

Mind Meal / Wikimedia Commons

You're about to meet a very special guy. There's a good chance you already know him, if you were in the generational cohort whose lives were enriched by Schoolhouse Rock. More than any other person, Bob Dorough put his unique musical stamp on that show and its offerings. But Bob Dorough is so much more.

Chion Wolf

Life is full of peculiar ironies and thus, Tom Stoppard, quite possibly the most most dizzyingly proficient writer of the English tongue did not grow up speaking English.  to college. He is, to use his old joke, a bounced check. He grew up in Czechoslovakia and spoke that language until the age of three-and-one half, or perhaps five.

Chion Wolf

Imagine having no capacity for language acquisition. Imagine developing a language with grammars that are completely independent from the spoken language of the surrounding hearing culture.

Imagine being unable to engage in any of the thought processes I'm using right now: Choosing words, and bundles of words, to convey meaning, and pausing to ponder the interesting similarities between deafness and deficit; or grabbing for a phrase like "language acquisition" and appreciating the neat little package it represents. 

Chion Wolf

Let me begin with a confession.  I'm part of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle valley. I was too old for them when they made their debut in the mid-1980's and my son, born in 1989 missed their big wave and went straight to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the kid craze that finally bumped the turtles out of the spotlight. 

But, those Rangers are gone. And, for that matter, so is Pikachu.

Chion Wolf

If things had gone according to his plan, Kevin Hines would have been dead for the last 14 years and therefore, not appearing on today's show. 

In September 2000, he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, the second most popular suicide site in the world. Somewhere around 1,600 people have jumped to their deaths from that bridge since it opened in 1937. The rate seems to be rising.

But, this isn't really a show about that location. It's about what we learn from a person who survives a very serious suicide attempt.

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