Betsy Kaplan

Producer
Bob Jagendorf / Creative Commons

Everyone’s heard of Coney Island -the Wonder Wheel, the side shows, the miles of sandy beach.

Yet, most of us have never seen it except through the eyes of others, including artists and filmmakers who used it as a prism through which to shape their view.

And, what they saw was a place with both lovers and con men, natural beauty and bawdy amusement, social inclusion and class boundaries.

Coney Island is not an easy place for them to define, so they portrayed what they saw - but also what they wanted it to be.

Ethan Stock / Creative Commons

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t worry whether our food and working conditions were safe, or whether government regulators were keeping track of these things for us -- but we don’t live in a perfect world.

In fact, there’s a sense that if you run a big company, and you’re responsible for something really bad happening, that you’ll probably skate away with a slap on the wrist while somebody else has to live with the damage done.

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Jews make up 2.2% of the population although it fluctuates depending on who gets counted. The U.S. Jewish population is roughly the same size, north of 6 million, as the Jewish population of Israel. 

And, since there are about 14 million Jews in the whole world, an astonishingly high percentage of them live in those two countries. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Do you know anyone who’s ever had measles, mumps, or rubella? Those diseases have essentially been wiped out in the U.S. because of effective and widespread adoption of vaccines. 

But that might be changing. Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that last year, there were more than 600 measles cases in the U.S., and that was more than there have been for a long time. "This year, there were 100 in January alone," he said.

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More than a million people get cancer every year in the United States, with about 22,000 new cases in Connecticut in 2014. But, thanks to better detection and more advanced treatment, the number of people surviving cancer is growing rapidly. There are 13 million survivors alive today.

So, most of us likely know someone with cancer...a neighbor, a friend, or more often, a member of our family.

The American Cancer Society says that three-out-of-four families have at least one person in their family who has survived cancer...and that number is rising every year. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s not easy being a teenager today. Teens need to do well in school, give back to the community, participate in extracurricular activities, and keep up with a social scene intensified by social media. We also ask them to act responsibly, make good choices, and think about their future.

We're looking for "adult behavior" from people forced to live under our rules. It's a tough balancing act that comes with a lot of pressure.  

Sometimes, their friends are looking for something different and peer pressure can lead to bad decisions and risky behaviors.

It may not sound like they have to deal with much -- but that’s part of the problem. Adults have a tendency to underestimate what teens feel, and how powerfully they feel it.

And if kids have friends, don’t get in trouble, and get pretty good grades, parents and teachers don’t always notice the kids struggling to cope with emotions hidden beneath the surface.

The World Health Organization says depression is the most common cause of illness and disability for teens between 10 and 19 years old and suicide is the third most common cause of death in adolescents...just behind traffic accidents.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Alzheimer’s Association says about five million people in the United States have some form of dementia. They expect that number to increase dramatically as baby boomers age and more people live longer. By 2050, we can expect that number to rise to about a million new diagnoses every year.

Unless things change, many of us will end up in nursing homes.

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WNPR has an experimental radio project and we want you to get involved. The idea is simple: we provide a theme; you call our hotline and tell a story.

The theme: What's so hard about being a teen?

On Friday, January 30, WNPR's Where We Live will talk about the challenges of being a teenager.

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Last month, the Senate Intelligence Committee Report released their report examining the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation after 9/11.

They found that the CIA was using harsher forms of torture that yielded less useful information than we were led to believe.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said, "Detainees were subjected to the most aggressive techniques immediately. They were stripped naked, diapered, physically struck, and put in various painful stress positions for long periods of time."  

Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision / Thinkstock

The price of gas was nearly $4.00 per gallon two years ago. Economists worried the rate would continue to rise, causing financial hardship on those with an already lean budget. What if it went to $5.00 a gallon? Well, those days are long gone.

Gas in Connecticut is around $2.50 a gallon and it's much cheaper elsewhere in the country.

But the higher rate also made people drive less and conserve more, and pushed higher fuel efficiency standards through Congress, nearly doubling the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks by 2025.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The success of a society depends - at least in part - on the civility of its members. Mutual respect, openness to different viewpoints...civil conversation is what we try to promote here on our show. 

Chion Wolf

More than a million people get cancer every year in the United States, with about 22,000 new cases in Connecticut in 2014. But, thanks to better detection and more advanced treatment, the number of people surviving cancer is growing rapidly. There are 13 million survivors alive today.

So, most of us likely know someone with cancer...a neighbor, a friend, or more often, a member of our family.

The American Cancer Society says that three-out-of-four families have at least one person in their family who has survived cancer...and that number is rising every year. 

Josh Glovo / Creative Commons

John Aldridge, a 45-year old lobster fisherman from Long Island, flew off the back of his boat when a plastic handle supporting a box hook snapped with the power of his pull. He grabbed at the side of the boat, missing it by inches before landing in the water at 3:30 am, alone and stunned, as the boat sped away with his partner sleeping in his cabin. They were 40 miles off the coast of Montauk, Long Island. First, yelling, then panic, then silence before he allowed himself to think he was going to die. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We're talking about cowardice today and it makes me think of two people - Hector and Dr. Bones McCoy.

We claim to despise cowardice and to exalt bravery but in real life, I think we value balance a little bit more.

Hector, in the Iliad, is a much debated figure. He seems on occasion to lose his nerve. He also on occasion seems to do something brave mainly because he could not live down the dishonor of not being brave. I've always liked Hector.

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Today, we take a deeper look at the beaver. Beavers are sophisticated eco-engineers, one of few animals capable of broadening biodiversity and currently considered of the keys to reversing climate change. They build sophisticated dams and deep-water ponds that stem erosion of riverbanks, create cooler deep-water pools that support temperature-sensitive plant and fish species, and increase the water table, a big deal for Western states suffering the impact of worsening drought. In addition, they're social animals who live much like humans, with mates, two kits per year, and an active social life. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse brings together some of the best and brightest reporters to break down the week's news. As expected, the state budget faces a serious deficit and the Connecticut Mirror's Keith Phaneuf will explain what that means for taxpayers. Also, the Democrats will retain control of the legislature, but there are some intriguing young Republicans to watch - including a 20-year-old legislator! We will also remember Connecticut Judge John T. Downey, who died this week after an extraordinary life.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

In high school the math teacher who broke my spirit was also the head football coach. When he handed back your tests he called out the position you'd play on the team based on your number. So End was good. You didn't want him yelling halfback as he tossed your test paper towards you; that meant a score in the 40's or worse. I was dragging along miserably in his course so my mother hired a tutor through a local college. His name was Hare and he was newly arrived from India. His accent was so dense that I often could not understand what was being said to me so we communicated through numbers and I started to understand math. I think I wasn't all that bad at it. I got a great S.A.T. score in math but I was a struggling C student because the only man who ever communicated with me was the man who couldn't reach me with words.

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Let's play a game. I'm going to name five things and you tell me what they are - "An Unnecessary Woman," "All the Light We Cannot See," "Redeployment," "Station Eleven," "Lila." They are the five fiction finalists for this year's National Book Award which will be given out this week.  Don't feel bad if you didn't get the answer - I wouldn't have either. My  connection to the nominees begins and ends with having picked up one of the five books from a table at - of all places - Whole Foods.

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We live in amazing times. But where did all this stuff come from? And by stuff, I mean computers and the internet, and all the amazing platforms like Wikipedia, that exist on the internet. There are many answers to those questions. A common theme is, people who were very good at math. But that includes a woman, crippled by measles, living in the nineteenth century as the daughter of one of the most famous poets of all time, and a man living a hidden homosexual life in an era when that was a criminal offense, leading a team of code-breakers in England during WW2. Those were two of the most famous innovators investigated by Walter Isaacson.

Wikimedia Commons

You know lots of sociopaths right?

It could be anyone from your ex-spouse to the guy who cut you off on your drive to work today. It's a term we throw around loosely to refer to anyone whoever lied to us or didn't follow the rules. 

But, if we use it that way, it's not a very useful term. A sociopath is not the same thing as a jerk. In fact, the person you know who strikes you as a jerk is probably not a sociopath because it's not in the best interests of sociopaths to let you know what kind of people they are and sociopaths are usually pretty good about acting in their own best interests.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

If you know the name Kara Sundlun, you probably associate it with an especially sunny form of T.V. journalism. She co-hosts the show, Better Connecticut, and as the name suggests, it's about 98% dedicated to positive experiences.

Kara's own life has been more problematic. She grew up aware that her biological father was a man who refused to raise her or even have contact with her.

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One of the biggest American myths is limitlessness. You'd think by now we'd understand our own limitations but the American myth - and you can hear it on Rush Limbaugh every day - is one where the horizon goes on forever and more growth is always possible and any failure from Vietnam to the 2008 crash that we've ever had is just a case of failing to fully exert our exceptional American qualities. 

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This is one of those shows where you may start by saying, "huh?"  But with any luck, 30 minutes from now, you'll start to say, "Oh!" 

I got interested in the word "twee" and in the idea that it's a mostly undocumented cross-platform artistic movement.

There is no question that, in the 1990s, a musical movement called "twee pop" arose, first in England, spearheaded by a label called Sarah Records. Acts like The Field Mice and Talulah Gosh were embraced as twee by fans who wore their twee-ness with pride.

Anne Farrow

Connecticut played a big role in slavery and the Holocaust...but most of us don't know about it.

First, a powerful New London merchant and ship owner sailed his ships to West Africa and the Caribbean for more than 40 years during the late 18th century to trade in slaves whose labor lined the pockets of his most respected family.

Tiffany Bailey / Creative Commons

According to statistics, one in every three Americans is obese and two of every three are overweight.

While we know that extra fat may set us up for heart disease, diabetes, and musculoskeletal problems, we don't really know how fat affects sex and love.

Do you talk to yourself? Is it a silent inter-narrative or do you talk aloud? What form of address to you use to yourself?

When I'm mad at myself I sometimes address myself as Colin. But, I sense that when LeBron speaks to himself as LeBron, it's more affirming. 

I talk aloud quite a bit. A hangover, I think, from growing up as an only child.

The Spanish and Argentine novelist Andres Neumann has a new work, "Talking to Ourselves," in which he explores the solitary inner narrative that each of us conducts either silently, aloud, or writing a diary. 

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There are so many plots and subplots emanating from yesterday.

Republicans had a good night around the country. They extended their control in the U.S. House of Representatives and took control of the U.S. Senate. It was one of the worst blows dealt to a mid-term administration since World War II,  putting President Obama in the company of Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1994.

Chion Wolf

Ever since 1778 when Thomas Jefferson, revising the laws of Virginia, wrote something called a Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, there's been an ongoing debate about how to make sure people know what they need to know to participate fully as citizens of this democracy.

As is so often the case with Jefferson, his ideas and words seem visionary and eternal until you poke around in them a little bit and then it gets more complicated especially vis-a-vis who he thought was really fit to lead the American people.

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First up on the Scramble today, writer and thinker Nicholas Carr, whose new book, "The Glass Cage" is about our blind surrender to automation. Most tellingly about the way we surrender (unthinkingly) control to sophisticated computer tools. 

You'll hear for instance, the story of a luxury cruise ship that ran aground on a sand bar because the GPS was spitting out wrong information and the entire crew ignored visual evidence that should have been a dead giveaway.

Ruth Hartnup / Flickr Creative Commons

Here are the three stories going up the Nose today.

In August Shoshana Roberts took a walk through the streets of New York City followed by a hidden camera. Over 10 hours she was verbally harassed 108 times by men yelling stuff. That doesn't even count the whistles and other nonverbal noises - one guy walked right next to her for five minutes. It's not exactly news but it captured something. The video has been watched more than 22.4 million times. But, some people have issues with the way race is shown in it.

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