How to Make Funny People Funnier
Play • 43 min

As a 12-year-old, multiple Emmy winner Alan Zweibel decided that Rob in TV’s The Dick van Dyke show led the life he wanted to live. Since then he’s written for funny people from Borscht Belt comedians, to the cast of Saturday Night Live, to stars like Billy Crystal and Larry David. It’s all in his new book Laugh Lines. In a way, his life has been a history of modern comedy.

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The Pulse
The Pulse
WHYY
The Miracle and Menace of Plastic
Plastic gets a bad rap — over the years, it’s become synonymous with environmental destruction, cheap fakery, needless consumption, and mass-produced junk. But there’s a reason plastic is everywhere — it’s inexpensive, strong, and versatile; a shapeshifter that over the past century has revolutionized the way we live, from science and medicine to consumer goods. So, what exactly is it that makes plastic both a miracle and a menace? On this episode, we explore the science behind the dual nature of plastic. We hear stories about how plastic shaped everything from our homes to women’s bodies; what’s standing in the way of creating greener plastics; and how waxworms and garbage dump bacteria could hold the key to breaking down our plastic waste. Also heard on this week’s episode: * For years, we’ve been hearing about the promise of “greener” plastics that aren’t made from fossil fuels and are easier to compost. So why haven’t they taken hold yet? Alan Yu reports. * Plastics engineer Chris DeArmitt — who’s also a chemist and polymer scientist — makes the case for why a lot of what we think about plastic is far more complicated than it seems. DeArmitt’s book is “The Plastics Paradox: Facts for a Brighter Future.” * We talk with Isabelle Marina Held, a postdoctoral fellow at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, about how plastic revolutionized women’s fashion and shaped their silhouettes.
49 min
The Takeaway
The Takeaway
GBH, PRX, WNYC Studios
Politics with Amy Walter: What Happens to President Trump's Grip on the GOP Following Two Impeachments?
President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives just one week after encouraging his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol and disrupt Congress as they tallied Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. He is the first president to be impeached twice. Privately, many Republican members said that while they supported impeachment, they were worried about their physical safety and the political fallout from denouncing a president who remains popular among the base. Only ten Republicans joined House Democrats in voting to impeach. President Trump’s ban from Twitter means that for the first time in four years, Washington is unaware of how he’s processing the current news cycle and the end of his term. With President-elect Joe Biden days away from assuming the presidency, he’s preparing to tackle the dual crises of COVID-19 and an economic downturn. How quickly the Senate moves to take up impeachment will have a direct impact on how efficiently the Biden administration is able to move through their agenda. Annie Linskey, a national political reporter at The Washington Post, Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for POLITICO, and Sarah Wire, congressional reporter at The Los Angeles Times, share what the mood is like in the West Wing and what happens to President Trump’s grip on the Republican Party after he leaves office. Throughout his time in office, Donald Trump's actions have raised many questions about the presidency. Particularly, since he broke with America’s proud tradition of a peaceful transfer of power when his supporters attacked the Capitol. Today, a militarized Washington, D.C. stands prepared to address growing security concerns ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration. Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia Miller Center, puts Donald Trump’s presidency into context and expands on how he changed the presidency, for better or worse. Also, the insurrection has highlighted the role social media platforms have in the dissemination of conspiracy theories and lies. Many of those who participated in the violent attack were involved in conversations on Twitter and Facebook that falsely claimed that the election had been stolen from President Trump. While Trump has been banned from several platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, the lies and rhetoric he shared with his followers has not disappeared. Darrell West, senior fellow at the Center for Technology Innovation at The Brookings Institution, and Kevin Roose, technology columnist at The New York Times, describe how individuals become radicalized online and where they go when they’ve been deplatformed.
53 min
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