Betsy Kaplan | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Betsy Kaplan

Senior Producer

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. Prior to that, Betsy worked as an intensive care registered nurse in several Connecticut hospitals.

While taking time off from nursing to have fun with her three young daughters, she was elected to three terms on her town's Board of Education and worked at a local museum. 

She's produced shows for Where We Live and the Colin McEnroe Show, several of which have won local awards.

She is currently the senior producer for the Colin McEnroe Show

J. Scott 2 / Creative Commons

Joni Mitchell's album ">turns fifty this year. It may not have the artistic sophistication of her later albums, but Mitchell's vulnerability endeared her to fans, if not early critics unused to such intimate storytelling. That was okay with Mitchell. She said her "music is not designed to grab instantly. It's designed to wear for a lifetime, to hold up like a fine cloth."

AbdulBokeh

We'll be taking your calls during today's show - and during more of our Monday shows moving forward. We'll still invite guests when we think it's important. Otherwise, we want to talk to you. Call us today at (888) 720-9677 between 1-2 pm Eastern. 

I'm not sure what you want to talk about today but consider this: Nicholas Kristof, opinion writer for the New York Times, complained that "America Is Not Made for People Who Pee." It's great that President Biden wants to rebuild highways, fix aging schools, and upgrade our electrical grid, but what about public toilets? Have you had to search for a public toilet, especially during the pandemic? If so, you're not alone. 

The Allure of Advice

Mar 31, 2021
Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff reporter / Library of Congress

John Dunton started the first advice column in 1690. He called it the Athenian Mercury. John, a bookseller, and his four "experts," wanted to answer "all the most Nice and Curious Questions proposed by the Ingenious of Either Sex." One person wondered why they would trouble themselves "and the world with answering so many silly questions." But it was a hit.  

People have always been drawn to advice columns. They're a public forum for private thoughts; they're communal, yet anonymous; they reveal human strength, yet vulnerability. Despite their popularity, until recently, most readers in the recent decades have been white women.  That's changing. 

Erich Ferdinand / flickr creative commons

Did you get enough sleep last night? If you're like most Americans, probably not. You might feel pretty good after six hours of sleep and a strong cup of coffee, but the physical and mental toll of sleep deprivation is high.

We become more impulsive and less mentally agile, and we make more mistakes. Long term, lack of sleep (six hours or less per night) can mess with mood, hormones, and immune systems, and it can increase our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Tony Webster

A number of media critics gave poor grades to reporters questioning President Biden, at his first formal press conference last week. Is there a disconnect between what the media cares about, such as the filibuster and the 2024 election, and what people care about?  

Douglas Fernandes / Creative Commons

After a year of pandemic, we're all itching to break from the restrictions of the pandemic. We want to travel and explore. It makes sense; we're hard-wired to explore. Our ancestors would not have survived absent the drive to seek food and safety from the dangers of the day. Safe and satiated, they later sought new lands to conquer and later still, to escape the constraints and cruelties of rapid industrialization.

If the recent pandemic left you yearning to explore, you might be inspired by this show we first aired in 2017. 

Marcela McGreal / Wikimedia Commons

Last week's violence at three spas in Georgia, followed a year of escalating violence against Asian Americans, some of it captured on videos that went viral. Despite visual evidence, New Yorker writer Hua Hsu, writes that this current moment stresses the "in-between space Asian Americans inhabit." It's hard to prove bias when we lack a historical understanding of what Asian American racism looks like. 

jseliger2 / Creative Commons

Writer and essayist Lauren Oyler, joins Colin to talk about Fake Accounts, her new novel on internet culture. They'll also talk about literary fiction, cultural criticism, ghostwriting, and her staunch defense of semicolons, among other things.

Lauren Oyler will be at the Mark Twain House & Museum, Tuesday, March 23, 7-8 pm. The event is free. You can register at marktwainhouse.org

Tom / Creative Commons

A 2019 YouGov survey says that 20 percent of American adults "definitely" believe in ghosts; another twenty-five percent believe they "probably exist."

And, while no data yet proves it, there's a good chance that quarantining at home during the pandemic has led more people to wonder where those nighttime creaks and groans are coming from.  

Some skeptics say that seeing ghosts is part of the human experience and far too common an occurrence for everyone who thinks they see a ghost to be crazy. But there are a lot of reasons to explain why we sincerely believe we're seeing a ghost. Yet, it's hard to convince people otherwise - even when confronted with evidence to the contrary.

In the end, psychologists can offer explanations but no one can definitively prove ghosts don't exist. 

Grendel Khan / Creative Commons

The southeastern part of our state conjures images of casinos, submarines, and a blue-collar vibe that's just a little different from the rest of the state's image of leafy suburbs, clapboard homes, and town greens that show off Connecticut's colonial past.

The southeastern corner has its own allure, challenging writers and artists mystified by this place that time left alone. It's quirky, a little unruly, and special in ways we can't fully define. Wally Lamb describes it as "more feisty than fashionable, more liverwurst than pate."

Brandon Carson / Creative Commons

We reair Colin's 2016 interview with Patti Smith at the Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford when she was in town for a Mark Twain House event. The church was filled to the rafters with a capacity crowd of 700 people who remained enraptured by her presence throughout the entire evening. If you don't know her, you may come to love her after hearing this very funny and endearing interview. 

Olgierd Rudak / Creative Commons

We produced our first show on masks in the spring of 2020. It was when most of us were isolated at home to sidestep the life-threatening illness we've come to call "COVID." The show was about how rapidly masks had become a statement of political identity.

The intensity of the mask battles has begun to calm as we've acclimated to the pervasiveness of masks in our lives. Like them or not, they're here to stay, and they've begun to leave a lasting imprint on our culture.

Phil Roeder / Creative Commons

The theme of election fraud ran through this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference. We talk about how "The Big Lie" is becoming a way for Republican leaders to rationalize the voter suppression measures making their way through state legislatures.

Nana B Agyei / Creative Commons

Ghostwriting evokes an image of the writer who toils away in obscurity, secretly penning books credited to another. In reality, ghostwriters are just good at turning someone's undeveloped vision into a story that others want to read. Their services are in demand from people wanting help writing everything from celebrity memoirs to Instagram captions and online dating profiles.

Self-publishing is on the rise as our fixation on the solitary author and the stigma of ghostwriting recedes. Even rap and hip hop artists are getting on board.

This hour, we pull back the curtain on ghostwriting.

Syd Montgomery

The octopus has always been the stuff of spine-tingling legend, like that of the kraken, the many-armed sea monster believed to drag ships to the bottom of the sea after dining on the crew. Or Gertie the Pus, the giant Pacific octopus that lives under the Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma, Washington, to Gig Harbor.

In reality, the octopus is more benign but equally fascinating. Did you know the octopus has two-thirds of its brain neurons distributed throughout its eight arms? Or that the severed arm of an octopus can walk independently toward a food source and move it to where its mouth should be?

Ben Novak / Revive and Restore

The U.S. is about to surpass 500,000 deaths from COVID-19. That said, new cases are declining, hospitalizations and deaths are trending down, and vaccination rates are picking up, though inequities remain. We talk vaccines, variants, messaging, and more.

Also this hour: A new study finds that House members who hold extreme views receive far more airtime on cable and broadcast news than their moderate counterparts. Changes in the media have incentivized elected officials such as Marjorie Taylor Greene to build a national brand at the expense of legislating for their local constituents.

Last, welcome to Elizabeth Ann, a baby black-footed ferret cloned from Willa, who died more than 30 years ago.

We had trouble mustering enthusiasm to wrap up our final episode of this second season of Pardon Me. Last week's roller coaster of a trial culminated in 43 senators choosing to acquit on a weak and deceptive defense -- despite a factual and painstaking accounting of how bad the breach was, how bad it might have been, and how Donald Trump incited it.

Bain News Service / Library of Congress

Cartoonist Bill Griffith based his legendary character Zippy the Pinhead on Schlitzie, a real life sideshow 'pinhead' who appeared in Todd Browning's 1932 film Freaks. Early audiences were appalled by Browning's use of real sideshow characters to seek revenge on those who treated them cruelly.

Griffith's graphic novel is his effort to understand Schlitzie and the sideshow family who cared for him. We talk to Griffith and a member of Schlitzie's sideshow family.

Also this hour: the man who saved thousands of premature infants by exhibiting them in incubators at the Coney Island sideshow.

Clemson / Creative Commons

The Senate voted to aquit Donald Trump Saturday after falling shy of the two-thirds majority required to convict him. Fifty-seven senators, including seven Republicans, voted to convict him for "incitement of insurrection" and 43 Republicans voted to acquit Trump for a variety of reasons. 

Reliving the January 6 insurrection during last week's Senate impeachment trial has left many of us sorting through a gamut of emotions along with a lack of closure on the last four years.

Donald Trump's legal team delivered their defense of the former president Friday. They followed a tightly argued and visceral presentation delivered by House managers that, some say, has made it easy for Republican senators to convict Trump. They likely won't.

We wondered if our show, recorded in part on Thursday, would omit important events that occurred thereafter. Given that many Republican senators have already decided to acquit, why would the defense feel the need to address the 144 constitutional lawyers who debunked their First Amendment argument, the 150 constitutional lawyers who say the impeachment of Trump is constitutional, or the people of this country?

We knew the ending before it even began.

Ninian Reid / Fox News / Zuma Wire

As of Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are still working out the details for the Senate impeachment trial scheduled to begin this Tuesday, February 9. Forty-five senators say it's not constitutional. Conservative lawyer Charles Cooper says it is. We talk to Connecticut U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal on impeachment, intelligence, and more. 

Jim Henkens

We have a complicated relationship with our food. We need food to live; yet, we've become removed from the food we eat and how it's grown and processed.  Even with the best of intentions, today's ultra-processed foods make it hard for us to know exactly what we're eating or how the methods used to mass produce our food are affecting our environment and our health. And I haven't even touched on how food has led to war, famine, poverty, and enslavement.    

Alan Light / Creative Commons

Colin interviewed Hal Holbrook on February 3, 2015, in advance of Holbrook's performance of Mark Twain Tonight in Hartford on his 90th birthday on February 17, 2015. Colin wrote at the time that Holbrook was one of the most remarkable people he's encountered of all the remarkable people he's interviewed over the years.

Holbrook was so passionate and fun to speak with that Colin never got to ask him all the many questions about the love of his life, his difficult childhood, or his time spent at Suffield Academy. He hoped for a second interview.

Holbrook died on January 23. This hour, we reair our 2015 interview with him.

Paul Sableman / Creative Commons

Some say the press continues to portray the Republican Party as a "mainstream, center-right entity," long after their words and deeds reflect something more ominous. Is the media failing to convey the extreme behavior of the GOP out of fear they will be accused of liberal bias? It's not the first time the media has been accused of bias or been too slow to see something for what it is instead of what they want it to be.

Also this hour: Five members of former President Trump's impeachment team departed Saturday, a little over a week before the Senate trial is set to begin on February 9. On Sunday, Trump hired lawyers David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr. to take over. Will they be ready by next week?

Stewart Black / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger. 

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about the nature of altruism.

Nicolas Boullosa / Creative Commons

One of the few silver linings of the pandemic has been a resurgence of interest in motels and RV life from a diverse group of millennials who want safe and less expensive options to travel and work during a pandemic.

And motels and RV companies are trying to meet the demand with upgrades and amenities like flat-screen TVs, memory-foam mattresses, and free Wi-Fi.

Some are turning to RV life permanently to travel, live, and work from where they want instead of being tethered to a desk and real estate. The pandemic has shown us that millennials who have never known the security of stable jobs or home ownership feel more "at home" outside traditional places.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II / Joint Chiefs of Staff

Moderna announced today they were making new versions of their vaccine that can be used as boosters against variants seen in South Africa, Brazil, and the U.K. The vaccine should be effective against variants but it seems to create fewer antibodies against the one that has emerged in South Africa. Either way, vaccines alone will not be enough. We talk about mutations and vaccines. 

Also this hour: The Biden inauguration was the most Catholic inauguration in history. Is a more liberal Christianity on the rise? 

Lastly, a tribute to John McDonough, actor, singer, and a Connecticut native.

We took a chance that House Democrats were going to send the Article of Impeachment to the Senate this week. We were wrong. Instead, the House will transmit its Article of Impeachment charging former President Trump with "incitement of insurrection" to the Senate on Monday.

Why should the House wait any longer when more than a dozen Republican senators are trying to dismiss the impeachment trial before it begins, based on the disputed claim that it's unconstitutional to try an ex-president. And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is already walking back his prior claim that Trump incited the riot at the Capitol.

The House will transmit its Article of Impeachment charging former President Trump with "incitement of insurrection" to the Senate on Monday.

Gregg Richards

Most of the Western world is organized by alphabetical order, which is so much more than the 26 letters that make up the alphabet. Alphabetical order is an organizing principle that allows us to save, order, and access thousands of years of humankind's most precious documents and ideas. Without it, we'd never know what came before us or how to pass on what's with us. It's ubiquitous, yet invisible in daily life.

This hour, a conversation about how we order our world and why we do it. 

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