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Preview: Please Explain from WNYC New York Public Radio Podcast

Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show)



In Please Explain, we set aside time every Friday afternoon to get to the bottom of one complex issue. Ever wonder how New York City's water system works? Or how the US became so polarized politically? We'll back up and review the basic facts and principl



Last Build Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Copyright: WNYC
 



How To Navigate the Open Seas

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Our latest Please Explain is all about navigating the high seas and using water to help you find direction in your everyday life. We’ll hear from explorer and natural navigation expert Tristan Gooleyauthor of How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea.

Do you have a question, or a story, about navigating through open water? Leave us a comment!

How To Navigate the Open Seas


Media Files:
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Spring is Coming. So Are Allergies.

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400

‘Tis the season for sniffles. Millions of Americans suffer from allergies, seasonal and otherwise. For this week’s Please Explain, Dr. Clifford Bassett, the founder and medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, joins us to explain what an allergy is (and isn’t), identify key triggers - from nuts to gluten to the nickel commonly used in cell phones - and offer both medical and nonmedical alternatives to treatment. Dr. Bassett’s book The New Allergy Solution: Supercharge Resistance, Slash Medication, Stop Suffering is out on March 21.

Spring is Coming. So Are Allergies.


Media Files:
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What's At Stake With Clean Water Regulation Rollbacks?

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Dave Owen, Professor of Law at U.C. Hastings, joins us for this week's Please Explain to discuss the history of clean water legislation and what's at stake as the EPA attempts to roll back established water regulations. A recent executive order issued by President Trump instructed the EPA to review the "Waters of the United States" rule, an Obama-era clean water act that the president criticized for it's "horrible" treatment of small farmers and small businesses. Owen will discuss that 2015 water regulation, as well as the history and impact of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974.

Have questions about clean water regulations? Leave us a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

What's At Stake With Clean Water Regulation Rollbacks?


Media Files:
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Pulling the Curtain Back on NASA

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500

This week's Please Explain is all about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)! We pull back the curtain on the institution that explores the mysteries of our universe. Dr. Valerie Neal, curator, chair of the Space History Department at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and author of Spaceflight: A Smithsonian Guide and Where Next, Columbus? The Future of Space Exploration, joins us to talk about the inner-workings of NASA and to answer questions from listeners. 

Have questions about NASA? Leave us a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Pulling the Curtain Back on NASA


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Understanding CRISPR, the Sci-Fi-Esque Gene Editing Tool

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:58:21 -0500

Science journalist Jennifer Kahn joins us for this week’s Please Explain, which is all about CRISPR, an incredible tool that makes precise gene editing cheaper and easier than ever before. Researchers have used CRISPR to genetically engineer malaria-resistant mosquitoes and manipulate the genes so that they copy-and-paste themselves, making it more likely that the new generation of mosquitoes will also be resistant. Kahn will discuss CRISPR, how it can be used in humans, the ethical questions it presents, gene drives and the recent CRISPR patent decision. 

Have questions about CRISPR and genetic engineering? Leave us a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Understanding CRISPR, the Sci-Fi-Esque Gene Editing Tool


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Why Can't You Just Stop?

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Sharon Begley, the senior science writer for STAT, joins us for our latest Please Explain on compulsions to discuss her latest book Can’t Just Stop: An Investigation of Compulsions. She explores the spectrum of compulsions afflicting many people, from checking your smartphone frequently to the people who hoard and exhibit symptoms of OCD. Begley finds that the root of compulsion lies in the areas of the brain that triggers anxiety.

Have questions about compulsions? Leave us a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Why Can't You Just Stop?


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Demystifying That Four-Letter Word (Hint: It Starts with L)

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:40:55 -0500

Why do we fall in love with one person and not another? Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Today’s Please Explain is all about love and attraction! Dr. Helen Fisher, author, biological anthropologist and chief scientific advisor to Match.com, joins us to discuss romance, dating, and marriage. We'll be taking calls from listeners with questions about love.

Have questions about dating and love? Leave us a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Helen Fisher will be talking about the anatomy of love, with Jenny Santi, on Tuesday, February 28th at Deepak HomeBase at 888 Broadway. The pre-reception begins at 6:30pm and the discussion begins at 7:00pm. For more information, click here.

 

 

Demystifying That Four-Letter Word (Hint: It Starts with L)


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How You Can Have a Say, In Politics and Your Community

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 13:27:40 -0500

Itching to do something that makes a real change, but not sure where to begin? This week's Please Explain with Ami Dar, founder and executive director of Idealist, and Alex Kouts, chief product officer at Countable, is all about social activism. We'll be answering your questions about ways to become politically active, whether that means simply educating yourself on bills, participating in town halls, or contacting your representatives. We'll also be discussing ways to find volunteer opportunities that match your interests, skills, and availability. 

Have questions about social activism and/or volunteering? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebookor leave us a message on Anchor.  

How You Can Have a Say, In Politics and Your Community


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Listening to Body Language

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 11:31:36 -0500

When is a shrug just a shrug? What are you really saying when you fold your arms across your chest? Whether we know it or not, we’re constantly conveying signals to other people through our body language and facial expressions. On this week’s Please Explain, we’re decoding body language and non-verbal communication, and looking at the psychology behind why we communicate this way with Dana Carney, Associate Professor at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. 

Have questions about body language? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 

Listening to Body Language


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Oh, the Things Our Bodies Would Say

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Jonathan Capehart guest hosts today!

This week’s Please Explain is all about the weird and wonderful human body with James Hamblin, author of If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body. Hamblin, an M.D., is also a writer and senior editor for The Atlantic. He’ll answer all of our most pressing questions including, “If I lose a contact lens in my eye, can it get into my brain?” and “When I shave or cut my hair, does it grow back faster?”

Have questions (strange or otherwise) about the workings of the human body? Leave us a comment!

Oh, the Things Our Bodies Would Say


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Why Fat Is So Misunderstood

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Our latest Please Explain is all about fat with Dr. Sylvia Tara, author of The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body's Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You. Dr. Tara argues that fat, an endocrine organ that’s critical to our health, is one of the least understood parts of the body. She’ll explain how fat can use stem cells to regenerate; increase our appetite if it feels threatened; and use bacteria, genetics, and viruses to expand itself.

Have questions about fat? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 

Why Fat Is So Misunderstood


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Finding Light on the Darkest Day: The Winter Solstice & Yuletide

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500

It's widely known that the modern celebration of Christmas has its origins in Pagan traditions. The Roman Saturnalia was celebrated by exchanging gifts and candles. But there's much more to the story than that. On this week’s Please Explain, we’re looking at the pagan origins of holiday traditions rooted in the celebration of the Winter Solstice. Linda Raedisch, author of The Old Magic of Christmas:Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year, discusses the history, folklore, traditions, botany and recipes of yuletide and explains why they linger in our modern holiday celebrations.

Have questions about Christmas traditions and the Winter Solstice? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 

Finding Light on the Darkest Day: The Winter Solstice & Yuletide


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A Deep Dive into Aquariums

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500

As many of us know from childhood goldfish experiences, there’s a lot that can go wrong when it comes to keeping fish fed, safe, healthy and stimulated. Imagine how much effort it takes to run a successful aquarium, where thousands of gallons of water housing everything from anemones to sharks and seals are at stake! On today's Please Explain, we're going behind the scenes at aquariums with two experts from the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk in Norwalk, CT: Publicist Dave Sigworth and John Lenzycki, their animal curator. 

Have questions about aquariums? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

A Deep Dive into Aquariums


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What's Keeping You Up at Night?

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Why can’t we sleep? The CDC estimates that 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have a sleep or wakefulness disorder, caused by "broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules, but sleep disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also play an important role." 

Dr. Rafael Pelayo, Clinical Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, joins us for this week's Please Explain about insomnia and sleep disorders. 

Have questions about insomnia and sleep disorders? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 

What's Keeping You Up at Night?


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Behold the Wonders of Butter

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Julia Child once said, "With enough butter, anything is good." Wise words because after all, where would we be without butter, the building block of hundreds of recipes, from flaky croissants to rich buttercream frosting?

On this week’s Please Explain, we are talking all about butter, with award-winning writer and former pastry chef Elaine Khosrova, author of Butter: A Rich History. She traveled across the world to uncover the social and culinary history of butter, from Ireland to Tibet and everywhere in between. She also shares cooking tips and the best butter-centric recipes. 

Have questions about butter? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 

Event: Elaine Khosrova will be doing a reading, Q&A and book signing on Saturday, December 3 at 4 p.m. at The Golden Notebook (29 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY). 

Behold the Wonders of Butter


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Have a Seat: The History of Chairs

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 10:34:56 -0500

This week's Please Explain has us on the edge of our seats! From the Klismos, to the Eames, we're talking about the history of chairs and chair design with Witold Rybczynski, an architect, writer and an emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s the author of, Now I Sit Me Down: From Klismos to Plastic Chair: A Natural History.

Have questions about chairs or chair design? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Have a Seat: The History of Chairs


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How the Electric Guitar Revolutionized Music

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 13:22:34 -0500

Where would music be without the electric guitar, the instrument that gave us everything from the quintessential rock n' roll sound of the 1960s, to hardcore punk, and face-melting metal? On this week's Please Explain, Brad Tolinski, former the editor-in-chief of Guitar World, and author of Play it Loud: An Epic History of the Style, Sound, and Revolution of the Electric Guitarintroduces us to the inventors and musicians who developed the instrument that defines so many genres. Also joining us is Roger Sadowsky, the owner of Sadowsky Guitars who’s made instruments for Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Paul Simon, Lou Reed and Joan Jett, among others. 

Event: Brad Tolinksi and musical guest, Lez Zeppelin, will celebrate Play It Loud at Rizzoli Bookstore (1133 Broadway, between 25th and 26th Street) on November 11th at 6 p.m. 

Have questions about electric guitars? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

 What are some of your favorite electric guitar songs? We've made a playlist, and we want your contributions! Send us your favorite songs, and we might add them to the playlist. Check out the playlist here or below.

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How the Electric Guitar Revolutionized Music


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The Science of Cheese

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 13:01:03 -0400

Ever wonder why Swiss cheese has holes? Why are so many types of cheese yellow in color? Or, what kinds of milk are best for making cheese? Chemist Michael Tunick has spent almost three decades working with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service creating new dairy products and improving existing ones. On our latest Please Explain, he’ll address the chemistry, physics and biology that results in cheese! He's the author of The Science of Cheese.

Have questions about cheese? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

The Science of Cheese


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Beyond Butternut: A Guide to Squash, Gourds, Pumpkins & More!

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Tis the season for squash! Although most of us are only familiar with a handful of squashes, there are 150 varieties of heirloom pumpkins, squash, and gourds. For this week's Please Explain, Chef Alfred Portale, executive chef and co-owner of the Gotham Bar and Grill, shares his favorite ways to cook different kinds of squash. Zaid Kurdieh, a professor and partner operator of Norwich Meadows Farm, LLC, a certified organic, diversified vegetable farm in Norwich, NY, also joins us to discuss squash varieties and share growing tips.  Recipes (Courtesy of Alfred Portale) Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Crème Fraîche         Makes 6 servings The porridge like consistency of this soup preserves all the distinguishing characteristics of butternut squash, to which hints of nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon are added for a soul-warming autumnal starter that’s as comforting and nurturing as an evening in front of a roaring fire. To coax out as much flavor as possible, the squash is first cut into cubes that are heated slowly in butter until thoroughly caramelized and just beginning to break down around the edges. When shopping, look for a butternut squash with a long neck and pick it up to gauge its weight: if it feels heavy for its size, it will have a small seedbed, which means more usable flesh inside. The crème fraîche behaves almost like a condiment here; swirl it in, or let it rest decoratively on top. Thinking Ahead: The soup and the crème fraîche can be made a day in advance; if you do this, do not enrich the soup with butter until reheating the next day. SOUP: ¼ cup unsalted butter 4 pounds fresh butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1-inch cubes Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste 2 shallots, peeled and sliced 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced 2 sprigs fresh thyme 1 bay leaf 2 cups White Chicken Stock In a 12-inch saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the squash and season it with salt and pepper. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nicely caramelized but still firm. When the squash is nearly cooked, heat 1 more tablespoon of butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until translucent. Add the garlic, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf, and stir for about a minute. Add the squash and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade, and purèe until smooth. Return the soup to the pot to keep warm. Stir in the last 2 tablespoons of butter to enrich and thicken the soup. Ladle it into bowls and garnish each serving with a swirl of crème fraîche. Variations: You can vary the squash, using buttercup or sugar pumpkin if you prefer their flavor. SPICED CRÈME FRAICHE 1/3 cup crème fraiche 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste In a stainless-steel bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Whisk again before serving. Flavor Building: Stir in pieces of duck confit to add gamey punctuation, or top the soup with chopped, roasted chestnuts. Squash- Avoid acorn squash in recipes that call for peeling and dicing; its deep ridges make th[...]


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Please Explain: The Leonard Lopate Show!

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400

We're taking you behind the scenes at The Leonard Lopate Show on today's Please Explain with Executive Producer Melissa Eagan! She and Leonard will talk about the history of the show, share some of their favorite stories and look back at a few of our most memorable guests.

What have you always wanted to know about the show? Give us a call at 212-433-9692, send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

 

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Please Explain: The Leonard Lopate Show!


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The History of Restaurants Revealed

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Centuries before the restaurant became a dining destination, a "restaurant" was actually a medicinal broth that contained ingredients like capon, gold ducats, rubies and other precious gems. So how did restaurants become what they are today? When did eating become an enjoyable, leisurely activity?

Rebecca Spang, author of The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture, joins us for today’s Please Explain all about the history of restaurants! Dr. Spang is a Professor of History, Director of the Liberal Arts + Management Program and Director of the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. 

Do you have questions about restaurant history? Give us a call at 212-433-9692, send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

The History of Restaurants Revealed


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How to Define 'Creepiness'

Fri, 07 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Reports of sinister clowns in the news have us thinking about creepiness. Why are some things simply scary, and other things genuinely creepy? On today's Please Explain, David Livingstone Smith, Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England, offers some insight in an essay for Aeon called, "A theory of creepiness." He tells us how scientists and researchers have attempted to measure and classify creepiness - from robots that are designed to look like humans (but something isn't quite right), to being put off by physical traits like "unkempt hair, bulging eyes, [and] abnormally long fingers."

David Livingstone Smith is the author of seven books, most recently, Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others.

How to Define 'Creepiness'


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Bees, Wasps, Ants, Scorpions... Whose Stings Hurt the Most?

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Is it worse to be stung by a scorpion or a bee? Ask Justin O. Schmidt, a biologist at Southwestern Biological Institute, who’s also affiliated with the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona and the author of The Sting of the Wild. Dr. Schmidt has let more than 83 different species of stinging insects from all over the world attack him... all in the name of science!

Schmidt is the inventor of the eponymous “Schmidt Sting Pain Index,” which ranks the relative pain caused by insect stings on various parts of the body. On this week’s Please Explain, he’ll explain why insects sting in the first place, and what happens to them (and us) when they do it. 

Have questions about insect stings? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Bees, Wasps, Ants, Scorpions... Whose Stings Hurt the Most?


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Sweet Dreams (and Nightmares) Are Made of This

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400

Dreams are a natural part of life, and throughout human history, people have tried to interpret their dreams. But dreaming, in many ways, still remains mysterious. On this week’s Please Explain, we’ll find out what happens in our brains while we dream, what causes nightmares and lucid dreaming, and why some of us talk and walk in our sleep. We’ll also learn about the many ways psychologists interpret dreams.

Joining us is Dr. Michael Breus, a Clinical Psychologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He's the author of several books, most recently, The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More and Dr. Kelly Bulkeley, a dream researcher and Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, Senior Editor of the APA journal Dreaming and the author of Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion.

Have questions about dreaming? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Events: Kelly Bulkeley will be part of a panel at the New York Academy of Sciences on December 7th, talking about dreams and new research on the unconscious. He'll be giving a talk at the National Arts Club on January 30th about the film "Pan's Labyrinth" and lucid dreaming in Guillermo del Toro's childhood.

Sweet Dreams (and Nightmares) Are Made of This


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The Secret Life of Ballerinas

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400

The best ballerinas make it look effortless, gracefully dancing and leaping across the stage in beautiful costumes. But what do ballet dancers really go through, given the physical demands, in addition to the hours of practice, preparation and dedication? On today's Please Explain, we're looking at the secret life of ballerinas with Ashley Bouder, principal dancer in the New York City Ballet, and Tiekka Tellier, who spent 16 years as a professional ballerina and founded Everyday Ballet

Have questions about ballet? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Event: The New York City Ballet Fall Gala opens NYCB’s 2016-17 season on Tuesday, September 20.  Ashley Bouder will give her first performance since giving birth to her daughter, Violet, on Friday, September 23 in Balanchine’s Vienna Waltzes. For ticket's and performance information, visit the NYCB website

The Secret Life of Ballerinas


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Is Cursive Obsolete? The Writing May be on the Wall

Fri, 18 Mar 2016 16:35:32 -0400

Handwriting has helped shape culture ever since the ancient Sumerians created an alphabet on clay tablets. But are digital communication and the internet threatening to make handwriting obsolete? Anne Trubek , author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, joins us for this week's Please Explain all about handwriting!

Do you have questions about handwriting? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 

Why Birds Are Really Living Dinosaurs


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The New Face of Philanthropy

Fri, 11 Mar 2016 13:30:30 -0500

Mark Zuckerberg, the 31-year-old co-founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook, recently announced that he and his wife plan to donate 99% of their wealth - approximately $45 billion - to charity. On today's Please Explain, Michael Hobbes, a freelance writer who also works for a human rights NGO, talks about how philanthropy is changing, from the Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations, to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg's altruism

Do you have questions about philanthropy? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

The New Face of Philanthropy


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How to Spot Financial Scams and Prevent Identity Theft

Fri, 04 Mar 2016 13:49:53 -0500

Tax season is here which means that it’s the best time of the year for phone scams, financial fraud and identity theft. On this week’s Please Explain, identity theft expert Steven Weisman tells us all about the most common scams and how to avoid them. He’ll also offer ways to protect yourself against identity theft. He’s the author of several books on the topic, including Identity Theft Alert, and writes the “Scamacide” blog. He’s joined by Beth Finkel, the NY State Director of AARP, who offers ways to help seniors avoid targeted scams. 

The AARP is hosting Shred Fest events from April 26 through May 1. For more information, check out their website, which will be updated as the event grows near, for more details.

Do you have questions about phone scams or identity theft? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

How to Spot Financial Scams and Prevent Identity Theft


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Questions about Punctuation? We've Got the Answers... Period.

Fri, 26 Feb 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Kurt Vonnegut once gave this piece of creative writing advice: "First rule: Do not use semicolons... All they do is show you've been to college.”  

There's no question that punctuation elicits strong feelings. On today's Please Explain, linguist David Crystal teaches us how to correctly use punctuation, and gives us a history of why we punctuate the way we do. His latest book, Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation, completes his trilogy of books on the English language.

Do you have questions about punctuation? Write to us in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Questions about Punctuation? We've Got the Answers... Period.


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