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

Sandy Cole / Wikimedia Commons

The Argus Pheasant is a lifelong bachelor. He mates with multiple females but has no further contact with his mates or the baby pheasants he sires. By human terms, not much of a feminist.

Yet, he stages a chivalrous courtship on moonlit nights on a forest stage he clears with meticulous care. He sings and dances and pecks. He encompasses his 'date' in a cape of intricately-colored four-foot-long feathers. He ends with a bow.  

Evolutionarily, there's no purpose for the spectacular feathers on the Argus Pheasant - unless you consider they may have evolved to satisfy the sexual preferences of the female Argus.

Creative Commons

You're shopping for groceries. Out of the blue your heart starts to race, your knees feel weak, you feel like you can't breathe, like you might be having a heart attack. You wonder if you're losing your mind -- but you're not. You're having a panic attack. 

About 1 in 4 people have had at least one panic attack during their lives, yet few like to admit it. Because panic manifests through physical symptoms that can mimic a heart attack, a lot of people feel shame when they go to the ER and find there's nothing wrong with them. In the absence of a test that defines panic, a lot of people worry they might be losing their mind.  

Joe Giron / www.pokerphotoarchive.com

Maria Konnikova, best-selling New York Times author and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, has long been interested in understanding the balance between skill and luck. How much of her life could she take credit for and how much was the luck of her draw? So, she took a year away from work to become a professional poker player. 

Image Catalog / Creative Commons

Your sex life doesn't have to suffer just because you're cooped up at home every day. Researchers say that sex is a healthy way to calm the anxiety of pandemic, even if you live alone. Virtual dating, masturbation, and coronavirus-related porn are more popular than ever.

David / Creative Commons

There are just over 10 million cases of coronavirus globally and almost 500,000 deaths. U.S. deaths recently rose to 125,000.

Yet, the Trump Administration continues to downplay the seriousness of this pandemic. The White House Coronavirus Task Force met Friday for the first time in two months, with Vice-President Pence acknowledging the surge in several states but insisting, "We're in a much better place," than we were two months ago. 

Pedro Ribiero Simoes / Creative Commons

It's nice to meet you! How do you like it here in Connecticut? 

Small talk is both the bane of our existence and essential in our existential quest to understand our place in the world.

Whether you like it or hate it may depend, in part, on whether you like speech that establishes and maintains relationships or speech that provides information. 

We talk to a humorist, writing teacher, meteorologist, and philosopher about small talk. And we want to hear about your small talk stories. 

david siu / flickr creative commons

Nobody likes termites. They get into the wood in our homes and can lead to infuriating and expensive repairs. What's to like?

It turns out, there's a lot to like termites. Scientists study how they build their mounds for clues to solving some of the world's most pressing problems, like mitigating the effects of drought, building colonies on Mars, and creating biofuels.

Travis Isaacs / Creative Commons

Humans typically make enough collective noise to keep the earth vibrating at a steady hum. But the pandemic has quieted that hum enough to let seismologists study the vibrations that can be hard to detect in the din of our noise.

Suzanne Proulx / http://www.suzanneproulx.com

Dust is a fascinating substance. Our bodies are always shedding dust from our skin, hair, and nails, leaving little bits of DNA wherever we roam. Dust floats unseen through the air around us. It's light. It's hard to see unless it lands on a contrasting surface or crosses the path of a ray of sunshine. It can travel far and wide.  

Picasa / Google

Scientists say humans don't know how to breathe very well. We don't breathe deep enough, we breathe too much, and we breathe through our mouths instead of our noses. Our bad breathing can lead to conditions that we don't typically associate with the way we breathe, such as asthma.  

Creative Commons

Social structures, in almost all cases, are defined by some form of hierarchy. Whether in academics, sports, religion, business, or politics, there's usually someone at the top and others whose goal it is to get there. But while it's easy to think that we've designed our world to be this way, the truth may be that we had no choice.

Do You Speak Corona?

Jun 10, 2020
EpicTop10 / Creative Commons

It took two years for the word AIDS to get from coinage to dictionary. It took COVID-19 thirty-four days. The pandemic has inspired a thousand new or repurposed words, slang, nicknames, and neologisms.

It has changed the way we speak.  

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

A group of health officials gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss infectious disease learn that forty-seven people at an internment camp in Indonesia have died from acute hemorrhagic fever.

This is how Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, begins his new novel that in many ways, predicts the pandemic we're currently experiencing. He joins us to talk about it. 

Betsy Kaplan

When did the horrors that once seemed unthinkable become commonplace? 

Alexandra Petri, satirist and columnist for The Washington Post, says this is an alarming and terrible time. Everything is more absurd but not much is funny. How do you make people laugh without losing sight of what's happening?  

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Something different is happening in America at this moment. Do you feel it? We want to hear from you. Call us during our live show Tuesday, from 1 to 2 p.m., at 888-720-9677 or 888-720-WNPR.

People across America are protesting the same police brutality against black Americans that never seems to stop.

America has suffered more deaths from COVID-19 than any other nation, and we still don't have a federal plan to deal with it, despite the efforts of health care workers and scientists.

President Trump had threatened to deploy the military if the state officials he first felt the need to denigrate couldn't control the looting in their locales. He proceeded to order the police to use tear gas and flash grenades to disperse peaceful protesters so that he could pose in front of a burned church with a Bible in his hand.

Gerry Lauzon / Creative Commons

The pandemic has laid bare how racism in housing, education, employment, and access to health care, disproportionately hurts Black Americans more than White Americans and leads to police brutality against people the police are supposed to protect.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Shortly after the pandemic shifted our weekday work scenario from one of shared space and bursts of spontaneous conversation, to one hour-long weekly Zoom meeting, Colin shared his urge to sit down with a few old friends to talk about life in the shadow of a pandemic. 

Nik Anderson / Creative Commons

The U.S. is on track to reach 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week. Yet, most states began reopening last week using data that may be undercounting how many people are currently infected. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Who would have guessed a face mask would become the latest cultural symbol of our identity, one more way to express our politics, our sense of style, and our deepest beliefs in what it means to be American.

Heather Hazzam / Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut will reopen some businesses on May 20, as coronavirus-related hospitalizations continue to decrease.

This may be good news for business owners and unemployed workers, and for those looking for a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel.

It may be scary for people with greater risk for having severe illness from COVID-19 and front-line workers with greater exposure.

The bottom line is that we still don't fully understand this virus. And, not all of the 40 states set to reopen are prepared to scale up the testing, tracing, and isolating necessary to prevent a spike in the curve.

Merlin Tuttle / Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation

Bats get a bad rap. People are afraid of animals that tap into our deepest fears and revulsions. Bats aren't cuddly, they fly at night, have big eyes that can’t see, and conjure creepy images of vampires who steal the  blood of the unsuspecting as they sleep. 

Magic Piano / Wikimedia Commons

We can observe how economic inequality in America plays out during this pandemic by watching who gets help and who gets ignored.

Two America's live side by side, often in the same community. Nowhere is it on display more than in Greenwich, Conn., where hedge fund managers in gilded mansions live across town from minimum wage workers in local service jobs.

The inequality on display today is the byproduct of decades of policy choices that benefit the wealthy.

Also this hour: We help you make sense of the sometimes conflicting news about COVID-19 with the host of the podcast This Week In Virology.

t-mizo / Creative Commons

It's hard to fathom the idea that more people have to die from COVID-19 before we come out on the other end of this pandemic. Is it time for political leaders of both parties to have an honest conversation about the moral trade-offs of this pandemic and how to balance them toward the public interest?

Travis Isaacs / Creative Commons

Humans typically make enough collective noise to keep the earth vibrating at a steady hum. But the pandemic has quieted that hum enough to let seismologists study the vibrations that can be hard to detect in the din of our noise.

National Museum of Health and Medicine / Creative Commons

This show originally aired on July 25, 2018.

Two years ago, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, alongside government leaders, ran an intricate simulation of a rapidly spreading pandemic. Their goal was to talk about the difficult ethical questions that arise in the event of a public health crisis. These are the same questions we find ourselves confronting today.

 

White House / Wikimedia Commons

People in several states came together last weekend to protest against stay-at-home orders. Their actions followed President Trump tweets of support to "liberate" their states and start reopening the economy. Dr. David Grew makes the case that resuming "normal" business activity in the absence of testing and credible messaging will do more economic harm than good. 

Also this hour: What would President Selina Meyer do in a pandemic? How about Logan Roy? We talk to Frank Rich, the Executive Producer of HBO's VEEP and Succession. Could even they do a better job?  

Lastly, we talk trash with an essential worker. 

Wikimedia Commons

In March, President Trump blamed our global pandemic on China. When that didn't work, he blamed the World Health Organization (WHO) for not responding quickly enough to the virus. When that didn't work, he blamed governors for not getting their own supplies. Now, he says immigrants will take away American jobs.

The Bible defines a scapegoat as one of two kid goats. One goat was sacrificed and the living “scapegoat” was supposed to absorb the sins of the community and carry them into the wilderness. Is that what's happening here? Are the president's scapegoats supposed to carry away the sins of Mr. Trump?

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

One can't help but wonder if the President understands that getting through this pandemic will not be a quick sprint. 

On Thursday, the Trump Administration announced guidelines for states to begin reopening the economy, with a goal to begin by May 1. On Friday, the President personally encouraged protesters in Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia, to "liberate" their states from onerous social-distancing guidelines imposed by their Democratic governors.  On Saturday, protesters from other states joined the fray. 

CEA

Before the pandemic, most of us craved of a little solitude away from the hustle of life. Now, we've been  been thrust into a form of solitude far from the idleness of the lazy summer afternoon we imagined. Our minds are restless with uncertainty and fear and without the usual distractions we turn toward when being alone with ourselves becomes too painful to confront. 

NIH Clinical Center

Health experts have released multiple plans that all call for some version of the same thing. We need to conduct widespread testing, trace contacts of the infected, and quarantine those contacts BEFORE we can ease social distancing measures. 

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