Betsy Kaplan

Gags9999 / Flickr Creative Commons

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.  

Wikimedia Commons

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?

Marine Corp New York / Creative Commons

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.

Anthony Calabrese / Wikimedia Commons

Today's Scramble leads off with Annie Lowrey, who tackles a subject that's been dominating a lot of conversations around here lately. What's the matter with Connecticut? is the question Annie Lowrey asks in her weekend essay for New York Magazine. ​​Is there a collective malaise and is it based on economic factors? Annie notes that Connecticut has somehow managed to become both the richest and poorest economy in America--at the same time.

monkeywing on Flickr Creative Commons

The drive-in movie theater turned 80 last summer. If you haven't been to one for a long time, you might be surprised at how much fun they are.

Here in Connecticut their numbers are shrinking --it's probably some combination of real estate prices, gas prices, the advent of home theaters, and the sheer economics of running any movie theater with fewer than 82 screens.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

What would Aristotle say about knees and seat backs? There's a device you can buy that makes it impossible for the person sitting in front of you on an airplane flight to recline. That's caused at least one fight during a mid-air flight that we know about. Is using this device going too far? Or is the lack of space in the first place the real problem?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

You live in an invisible ocean of vibrations caused by the sounds around you. On this show, an almost-creepy experiment shows how the physical changes caused by vibrations can be reverse-engineered to discover the sounds that caused them.

Then, an oncologist, a sonic therapist, and a world-renowned deaf percussionist give their unusual perspective on vibrations.

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.

Colin Bartlett / Creative Commons

Mini-golf was created for children but today's children are less and less interested in playing because of video games. Nintendo Wii for example, makes mini-golf video games. Now, that seems so wrong. You should go somewhere to play mini-golf. That's kind of the idea, or is it.

The recent death of actor Robin Williams left many people shocked, and it re-started the conversation about suicide, its warning signs, and ways to get help. We revisit a show we did about the illness last year.

We also hear a moving story about depression from author Andrew Solomon, who shared it at The Connecticut Forum earlier this year.

Hank Mitchell / Flickr Creative Commons

Mark Coddington from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin joins us to talk about how events like Ferguson are reported on social media. Facebook and Twitter are not equal in what and how they cover news. Assuming Twitter is the best place to get breaking news, how does Twitter change the way it's reported? How does it affect the work of the journalist trained to see the big picture but forced to focus on smaller, always breaking details? Does the urgency of Twitter discourage them from carefully checking facts? How should Twitter handle graphic images, such as last week's beheading?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Presidents and their vacations are a chronic paradox. The job is way too hard and pressure-laden to do without occasional breaks. The job is also so important, that breaks always seem a little self-indulgent, and they're barely even breaks. The nuclear football is never far from the basketball hoop, and all the other duties of office follow you right onto the sailboat. President Obama taking some heat right now for playing golf while on vacation, right after processing and speaking about the tragic murder of James Foley. This is a little bit about a presidential vacation, and a little bit about this particular president, who frequently stands accused of having a peculiarly icy set of emotional reactions.

Katy Tresseder / Flickr: Creative Commons

Poetry, prose, sculpture, painting and music composition: Humanity's final frontiers beyond which no computer will ever go... right? Perhaps not. As technology advances and the dawn of true A.I. draws near, Machines are usurping creative domains once thought to be solely the province of man. 

Happy 25th, Seinfeld!

Aug 20, 2014
Steve Harris / Creative Commons

Pop culture is ephemeral.

People eventually lose interest in music and television shows once a new fad surfaces and piques their interests. Not so for Seinfeld. It is still relevant after 25 years for a whole new generation of viewers.

But, it wasn't always that way. In the beginning, it didn’t test well with audiences. It had weak ratings, bad scheduling and creative differences. It survived under the wing of a lone NBC executive who believed in the show's emphasis on characters who felt like family.

Chion Wolff

Here's my theory just in case I don't get a chance to say it during the show: I think food has become more like sports. People kind of root for things. Ted Allen and Anthony Bourdain are more like sport stars than people whom you would seek out for actual cooking information. People go to Chelsea Market just because they know the Food Network is somewhere upstairs. And, because of that, there's a lot more pressure on food to be exciting. When you pick up the sports pages you want news, not just the same old same old. So, driven by that pulse and a group of media engines that flow alongside it, we always have new things to cheer for. Yay bacon salt! Go gastropubs! Today on the show: where food trends come from and why they succeed, or fail. 

Kevin Hutchinson / Creative Commons

"What is your value to the world or to anything if you're not useful?" asked M.E. Thomas, a self-proclaimed sociopath, and author of Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight, on The Colin McEnroe Show Thursday. She continued, "It gets to the fundamental question of what makes humanity valuable, and why we should treat anyone as a person."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It has been a busy week in culture. There were the deaths of Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams, and the latter death brought up questions about how people behave on social media when an icon passes. Also, he who is tired of sharks is tired of death. But we might be getting tired of sharks!

The Psychopath Show

Aug 14, 2014
Chion Wolf

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. 

Meme Binge / Creative Commons

Once upon a time you opened your first email account and picked out a password. You probably don't know what it was now but let's assume you weren't the type of person to pick out "password" or "123456." So, maybe it was the name of a dog or a kid or two dog and kid names mushed together. Easy to remember, right?

Today, you probably have passwords tied to multiple email accounts, a few social media platforms, a few credit cards and banks, and an unclassifiable hodgepodge of other stuff from Dropbox to Airbnb.