Last Build Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2016 00:00:00 -0400Copyright: WNYC
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.
Please Explain: The Leonard Lopate Show!
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.
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'
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Fri, 13 Nov 2015 15:34:18 -0500
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!
Understanding How The Media Reports on Health and Nutrition
Today's Please Explain: handwriting! We want to see yours. Some pangrams from our show staff to get you started pic.twitter.com/OdFWs6L3la— Leonard Lopate Show (@LeonardLopate) September 9, 2016
Fri, 06 Nov 2015 12:30:12 -0500
On today’s Please Explain, we’ll attempt to understand what it’s like to translate the untranslatable! English audiences rely on translators for access to much of the world’s most important literature and religious texts, from Cervantes, to Voltaire, to the Bible. But unfortunately there is no magic formula when it comes to choosing comparable words from one language to another. Our guests for today's Please Explain argue that there is no such thing as a literal translation – rather, it’s a task that veers into the philosophical, and depends on each individual word, language set, and text.
Esther Allen is a Professor at Baruch College, co-founder of the PEN World Voices Festival, and board member of the American Literary Translators Association. Jacques Lezra is Professor of Spanish, English, and Comparative Literature at New York University. He also was an editor for The Dictionary of Untranslatables.Translating the Untranslatable
Fri, 30 Oct 2015 13:36:38 -0400
For our latest Please Explain, we are talking to the journalist Wendy Williams about the history of horses. Horses and humans have worked together for thousands of years, and they have made a big impact on the course of human civilization. Williams' book is The Horse: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion.
Fri, 23 Oct 2015 10:30:45 -0400
In 2006, Congress tried to crack down on illegal online sports betting. Nearly a decade later, Internet gambling is flourishing, and a new business that increasingly looks like gambling, fantasy sports, is winning millions of players and stoking controversy. For this week's Please Explain, we talk to James Glanz and Walt Bogdanich, part of the New York Times investigative team that, with the PBS series "Frontline," investigated the business, and the technology, of illegal gambling in the Internet age.
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Fri, 16 Oct 2015 11:12:36 -0400
When Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 a pill, it brought the issue of high drug prices to the spotlight. The prices of many important drugs have been rising for decades, and drug companies are able to set prices freely for drugs in this country, often leading to prescription drugs costing far less overseas. For this week's Please Explain, we are discussing drug prices: examining the history behind the reasons that drug companies charge what they do for prescription drugs, and if there is anything that government can do to make drugs more affordable in this country.
Melissa Thomasson, professor of economics at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business, is a Research Associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research, and her work on the economic history of health insurance and health care has been published in top journals.
Peter Bach is the Director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is a physician, epidemiologist, researcher, and healthcare policy expert whose work focuses on the cost and value of anticancer drugs.Why Are Life-Saving Drugs So Expensive?
Fri, 09 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
In our latest Please Explain, we confront our worst nightmares! The gripping fear when you're walking through a haunted house is not the same as the gut-wrenching fear that your life might be in danger. Nor is it the same as the fear of being rejected by a potential mate or the fear of jumping out of a plane. And our reactions to those chilling moments can range from screams, to adrenaline rushes, to even laughter. Margee Kerr is a sociologist at the University of Pittsburgh, and she also moonlights at a popular haunted house, where she gets an inside look into what fear does to us and why we're so attracted to it. In her new book, Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear, she explains the science of fear, unraveling the various dimensions of its grasp on us and our society.
Lurking Behind Your Fear
Fri, 02 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400
For this week's Please Explain, the veil is lifted on hit-making! New Yorker staff writer John Seabrook spills the secrets of how to produce industrial-strength hits in his new book, The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory.
The story of modern pop music today starts with Denniz PoP, a Swedish DJ who produced the band Ace of Base, and was responsible for their smash hit "The Sign." Remember that one?
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This was an age of dance music, of big soaring choruses, and Denniz PoP knew exactly how to tailor music for the clubs. Swedish musicians were able to combine R&B and Europop because they didn't have to contend with the racial legacy of R&B, says Seabrook. Even the fact that English was not their native language was an asset to these Swedish songwriters. They wrote songs based on the sounds of syllables, not the meaning of words. Gone were the songs with heavy metaphors, double entendre, and symbolism.
The Swedes industrialized a form of song-making that started with Hip-Hop, says Seabrook, the track-and-hook approach. Despite the fact that hit machines don't last long, Denniz PoP's disciples continued to churn out hits. Max Martin is responsible for many Backstreet Boys hits, and Britney Spears' infamous "Baby One More Time" (though the song was originally pitched to and rejected by TLC).
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But as the backlash against pure-pop music emerged and Napster ate into CD sales, many of these hitmakers began to lose work. Until a little show came along called American Idol. Kelly Clarkson worked with Max Martin and his protege, Dr. Luke, on her first smash hit.
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When Clarkson broke away from Martin and Dr. Luke and released an album of original music, it tanked. Max Martin, Dr. Luke, and their music machine continue to churn out hits.
EVENT: On Monday, October 5th, John Seabrook will be at Greenlight Bookstore, 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 at 7:30 P.M.Why The Pop Music Machine Is Dominated by the Swedes
Fri, 25 Sep 2015 11:34:49 -0400
Monosodium glutamate (more commonly known as MSG) is a commonly occurring non-essential amino acid found in everything from seaweed to tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese. In the early 1900s, Japanese scientists were able to extract MSG from kombu seaweed into a crystalline form, thereby inventing an instant umami ingredient that became ubiquitous in Asian cuisine, including Chinese restaurants in the US. But with Americans complaining of "Won Ton Soup Headaches" beginning in the late 1960s, MSG earned a harmful reputation. On today's Please Explain, we'll learn about this history, why MSG got a bad rap, and whether or not it is safe to consume. We’ll also learn how to use it in our own cooking, and why MSG can be so useful – and delicious – in the kitchen! We’ll be joined by Red Farm owner and operator Ed Schoenfeld and Ian Mosby, a food historian and postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University.
The Truth Behind "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome"