How many public radio hosts does it take to change a lightbulb? None – they tell their producer to do it. Okay, so maybe you have to work in “the industry” to appreciate that one – but it does bring us one feeble step closer to the subject of this segment: the connection between humor and thinking. The funny bone rarely attracts the serious scholarship of other body parts and functions… Until a cognitive scientist, a psychologist and a grad student walked into a lab and studied the connection between laughter and the human brain.
The Hollywood formula of pitting humanity against the unstoppable wrath of nature has also made ready material for the media. Will Wizlo, staff writer for UTNE Reader wrote about meteor-related melodrama and is on the line to fill us in on a program that simulates asteroid impacts.
Space! The final frontier, an immense void populated by our imaginations and as far as we know, not much else. Since the NASA shuttle program topped headlines for one last nostalgic time this summer, there have been few newsworthy developments in space exploration… until now. Here to share some big news is freelance science journalist Lee Billings, who’s working on a book about the inter-galactic search for earth-like planets.
Our guest embodies two very different worlds – the ivory tower, and the fitness center. By day, Lianne McTavish is a professor of art history at the University of Alberta Canada, she lectures on the seventeenth-century history of the body, and its representation in medieval art. After class, she heads to the gym for weightlifting and toning. Her enthusiasm for fitness got her thinking about working out as a woman and led her to create a new identity as – “feminist figure girl” – and enter the world of competitive bodybuilding.
Jon Greenberg is executive editor here at NHPR and representing today for the Politifact New Hampshire’ Partnership, a joint effort that also includes the Nashua Telegraph and the Valley News. You can hear their truth-o-meter tests of candidate statements right here on Word of Mouth.
A story to restore your faith in music superstars this holiday season. Elvis Costello is rallying his fans to save money by *not* buying a shiny new gift box set of his music called “the return of the spectacular spinning songbook”. The title comes from a trademark of Costello’s live shows with his band, the Attractions…he invites audience members to get to go up on stage and spin a massive, game-show style wheel of song titles from his back-catalog…whatever comes up, Elvis & the Attractions play.
Car makers have a long standing tradition of keeping their forthcoming models under tight wraps, sometimes going to extreme lengths to disguise new cars even as they’re being road tested. But of course, wherever there’s a secret to be uncovered, there are spies trying to get a look under the hood… Photographers who will do just about anything to capture a clear picture of a car before it’s being manufactured.
For more than twenty-five years, readers have puzzled over the mysterious Harris Burdick. Here’s the legend: a man walks into a publishing house and drops off a set of 14 drawings…each with a tantalizing caption. He promises to return the next day with stories to accompany them, but is never seen again. The illustrations are eerie and unsettling…birds fly off wallpaper, a seated nun hovers placidly mid-air in a cathedral, a giant cruise ship plows through a venetian canal. Since then, thousands of school children have written stories sparked by these illustrations.
Sales have been brisk for guns this holiday season. Black Friday 2011 surpassed the single day record for FBI background check requests on gun customers by 32%. Today, a background check of sorts on the Freedom Group, which has swiftly become one of the world’s leading manufacturers and sellers of guns. Natasha Singer a reporter in the Sunday business section of the New York Times, investigated the shadowy Wall Street investment company that has quietly acquired some of America’s most venerable gun and ammo manufacturers.
Hard times and new technology are making for a resurgence in old-school range robbery. But these are not the rope twirling thieves of yore – today’s black hats are using GPS tracking, four-wheelers, and apparently, some inside knowledge of the industry to wrangle cattle. Freelance writer Laura Zuckerman talks about the upward trend of cattle rustling in the American West.
The international conference on aids and sexually transmitted disease in Africa, or “ICASA” is convening this week in Ethiopia. Over the past few decades, activists and educators worldwide have endeavored to dispel rumors and misinformation about aids and people with aids. Today, more HIV positive people can disclose their status without shame and stigma. But there’s a downside to those advances. Relaxed attitudes toward HIV may be contributing to a trend of complacency toward the disease, even here in the United States.