Thursday, June 09, 2011
Back in May, we spoke to The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer about her article, “The Secret Sharer” as part of our Backstory series. Mayer’s article discussed the case of former National Security Agency executive Thomas Drake who is facing charges of violating the 1917 Espionage Act as part of the Obama Administration's efforts to crack down on national security leaks.
In today’s Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima reports that the government has withdrawn some of the documents that Drake had been accused of leaking to a Baltimore Sun reporter. Legal experts say that this weakens the government's case.
UPDATE: on Friday, June 10, The Wall Street Journal reported that Thomas Drake will plead guilty to the unauthorized use of a government computer, a misdemeanor offense. The government will drop the rest of the charges.
Monday, May 16, 2011
On Friday, Leonard spoke to filmmaker Annie Sundberg and democratic protestor Myo Myint Cho, who is the subject of Ms. Sundberg's film "Burma Soldier." The film premieres in the United States this Wednesday on HBO 2, but in Burma it's been shown in less conventional ways. The filmmakers, working with the Democratic Voice of Burma, made a Burmese language version of the film that has been pirated via satellite transmissions and other means into Burma. The filmmakers are encouraging people, says Sundberg, to "watch, duplicate and share the film in any way possible, from free DVD copies left in internet cafes to downloading and forwarding links to the film via email, with the goal of reaching as many Burmese as possible."
The film seeks to help Burmese better understand the 60-year civil war still unfolding in their country. Few Burmese have access to a non-government-approved version of their country's violent history.
Friday, May 13, 2011
On today's Please Explain, Leonard is speaking to Joe Graedon, author of the book and website The People's Pharmacy, about generic drugs. I became interested in the topic when I was recently prescribed a generic antibiotic--and was floored by how much cheaper it was than the name brand I normally requested. Curious to see just how the costs between generics and brand-name drugs broke down, I used data from IMS Health and Drug Topics to compare the prices of the top ten name brand and generic drugs. The full list is in the chart below.
The results aren't too surprising--generics are all significantly cheaper--but now my curiosity has been piqued yet again: just what do these drugs do? Let us know in the comments if you've ever taken one - and share with us your stories of pharmacy shuffles!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The annual James Beard Foundation Awards were held in New York on Monday night, and a few of those honored have been guests on the Leonard Lopate Show in recent years. Food is one of Leonard’s favorite subjects, and he's had some rich conversations with chefs and cookbook writers.
Friday, May 06, 2011
Today’s Please Explain is a look at bugs with Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Bugs. If you want to learn more about some specific insects—and some of the diseases they carry—here are some of our other insect-related Please Explains we've done in the past:
Friday, April 29, 2011
On today's Please Explain, Leonard will be speaking to Deb Perelman and John Willoughby about recipes, both good and bad. Below, we've posted two recipes for the same, delicious food: Devil's Food Cake. The recipes span the 20th century: the first, from Fanny Farmer, was initially published in 1896. The second, by the team at Cook's Illustrated, was tested hundreds of times before its publication in 1994. Notice how much shorter the Farmer recipe is--we'll be debating whether brevity is a good thing, or whether more specific recipes yield better results. But before we do, we'd like to hear from you: what do you look for in a recipe? Let us know in the comments below!
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
After all the rain we've been getting here in the New York area, it's great to walk down the sunny sidewalk and see tulips in full bloom and the trees starting to show their leaves. The down side of that natural beauty: it means that allergy season is here. A few years ago, we looked at allergies on Please Explain, and if you're wondering why you're sniffling, sneezing, or have itchy eyes, just take a listen:
Friday, April 22, 2011
I combined Please Explain with our annual Good Friday gospel show in order to give some background on gospel music. Many people interested in learning about gospel music have been confused by some of its terminology, so I’ll try to clear up some of that.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Last night was the first night of Passover, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the Jews' escape from slavery in Egypt, and, for some, marks the beginning of spring. Here at the Lopate Show, we've discussed Passover traditions both serious and light over the past few years. Below, you can find a list of some of our favorite segments, as well as some of our favorite Passover recipes. If you celebrate Pesach, let us know in the comments about some of your traditions!
Monday, April 18, 2011
T.S. Eliot has said that April is the cruelest month. It’s also Poetry Month, and here at the Lopate Show we’ve been marking it in our own way. Last week we had poet Meghan O’Rourke and former Poet Laureate Billy Collins on to talk about their new works.
We also asked Leonard’s Facebook friends what their favorite poems are and got some great responses. >>>
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Listen to El Mariachi Infante perform!
Last night in the Greene Space, Leonard spoke with award-winning journalist Jon Alpert and four young filmmakers from Downtown Community Television Center, who also screened excerpts from documentaries they made in the DCTV's youth media training program. And El Mariachi Infante, a mariachi band featured in one of the films, performed.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
A few weeks ago, Leonard spoke to David Pogue and Katrinn Eismann about digital photography. Now, photographer David Friedman has posted a short video of his interview with Steven Sasson, the inventor of the first digital camera.
In the video, Sasson shows Friedman the first digital camera he invented, which looks like a high school student's poorly designed shop project. According to Sasson, the first digital image was captured by him in December 1975. Check out the full video below—the latest in Friedman's long-running series profiling inventors.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that federal prosecutors in New Jersey are now investigating whether some smartphone applications are illegally grabbing or transmit your personal information without the proper disclosure. It’s an issue that came up during Leonard’s discussions with WSJ editor Julia Angwin in August 2010 and last month.
The online music service Pandora is one of the companies that has received a subpoena, but the WSJ tested 101 apps and found that 56 of them were transmitting information about the device without the user’s consent.
Do you think that you’ll change the way you use your smartphone? Will you cut back on the apps you use on your iPhone or Droid? Should information gathering be a criminal offense? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Monday, April 04, 2011
During Friday’s Please Explain about anger, Dr. Philip Muskin brought up a man named Phineas Gage, who, he said, “was a very responsible manager on the railroad. One day a tamping rod went through his eye, through his brain, and basically gave him a frontal lobotomy. And Phineas Gage then became basically a ne’er do well. He was not responsible, he drank, he caroused, he lost his temper all the time. That is, the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the rest of the brain is really important.”
Phineas Gage was 25 in 1848, and the foreman of a crew building a new railroad track in Vermont. He was packing explosives with a tamping iron that was “43 inches long, 1.25 inches in diameter and weighing 13.25 pounds,” according Steve Twomey, writing in Smithsonian magazine, when an explosion shot the tamping iron through his head—it entered through his cheek and exited through the top of his skull. He survived, but his doctor and friends noticed a remarkable change in his personality in the months following the accident. He became the most famous patient in neuroscience because his injury demonstrated a connection between brain trauma and personality change and showed that specific parts of the brain were responsible for our moods. Read more about Phineas Gage—and see a photograph of him with the tamping iron that injured him—in Smithsonian Magazine.
In February, Dr. V. S. Ramachandran spoke with Leonard about his work in neuroscience, and he described how strokes cause brain trauma that can alter senses and change personalities. One patient started drawing with incredible detail after he suffered a stroke, although he was never particularly interested in or skilled at making art before. In Dr. Ramachandran's book The Tell-Tale Brain, he gives a number of examples of how brain injuries reveal the ways the brain works. You can listen to that interview here.
Friday, April 01, 2011
Today we aired our interview with Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonette, two autistic men who are featured in Geraldine Wurzberg’s new documentary film “Wretches and Jabberers.” They use computers and iPads to communicate with the rest of the world.
It was unlike any other pretaped interview we’ve done on the show. Along with Tracy, Larry, and Geraldine, there were 2 professional aides in the studios, helping Tracy and Larry slowly type their answers to Leonard’s questions. The taping took us 41 minutes to get about 13 minutes of conversation, with our engineers making sure that we had the equipment and the studio time we needed to record the whole thing.
Parts of the interview are moving, others funny. We hope you enjoy this unusual conversation as much as the Lopate Show team has enjoyed bringing it to you.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Today's Please Explain is about radiation. We present for you a primer on uranium, the radioactive rock:
Uranium is one of the heaviest and certainly one of the most volatile elements in nature. It’s also fairly abundant in the universe and can be found in the Earth's crust at a rate nearly 40 times that of silver. It's nucleus is so densely packed that uranium atoms can only be produced through the extreme force and pressure of a supernova. >>>
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Wool was the topic of a Please Explain segment in December, but because winter is not quite over (it’s snowing as I write this), many of us are still wearing scarves and hats and heavy winter coats made of wool, so I'm continuing the conversation. There were a few unanswered questions about wool and about animal cruelty in the wool industry, and Clara Parkes was kind enough to e-mail some answers, which I’ve included below.