Sarah Kliff and the Insane Saga of American Emergency Room Bills
America’s most famous healthcare expert was actually born in Canada! The Vox reporter and all-around policy guru explains how, in a country with entrenched interests similar to ours, progressives managed to win coverage for every Canadian. Plus she gives her take on the remarkable unity in the Democratic Party over "Medicare for All," the political realities about what can actually get done, and tells stories from her year spent reading Americans’ terrifying, infuriating emergency room bills. One of the people who sent her his bill was a man in San Francisco who was hit by a public bus, taken to a public hospital, and had insurance -- but was still on the hook for $27,660.
Itzhak Perlman Cracks Wise
The legendary violinist talks about his difficult childhood, stricken by polio in the war-torn early days of Israeli statehood -- and laughs about his early success, whisked away to the United States at 13 to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. Plus, what makes a truly great instrumentalist? What makes a great teacher? Later, his wife Toby Perlman weighs in, too, so the interview becomes a family affair, topped with a spectacular Mendelssohn performance by eight students from the Perlman Music Program. Toby founded that summer school on idyllic Shelter Island to provide a safe space for young musical geniuses to develop their talents, and themselves.
Steven Lee Myers' Putin Primer
Russia has glittering towers and a jet-set elite, but grinding rural poverty. It has one of the world’s great literary traditions, but throws dissenters in jail for a blog post. Who is Vladimir Putin, the man who created this new world power through force of will? New York Times’ correspondent Steven Lee Myers unravels some of this question for Alec. His book is The New Tsar . Myers talks to Alec about Putin’s early years, the Putin-Trump connection and how being the New York Times’ Beijing correspondent is different from -- and similar to -- being Moscow correspondent.
Climate Science, Explained
How can Earth Scientists and programmers really make predictions about the climate? What are the ethics of having kids in a warming world? How to combat the disastrous politicization of the issue? Dr. Peter deMenocal is the Dean of Science at Columbia, and a Geologist. As a research scientist, he studies how Earth's climate has changed in the past. Dr. Kate Marvel helps figure out its future by creating the world's most detailed and accurate computer climate-models. Together, they're the perfect pair to help Alec and listeners understand what scientists really understand about the climate and how -- and why there's reason for hope.
The Delightful Deviant Behind "The Human Centipede"
This episode talks about a movie whose premise might be disturbing to some.
The Human Centipede wasn't in every multiplex when it came out in 2010, but the film is now firmly a part of American culture, the basis of parodies from South Park to Conan O'Brien. When it was released, the premise was so revolting that many reviewers wouldn't even summarize it. Roger Ebert declined to assign a star-rating, concluding, “It is what it is.” When Alec saw the movie for the first time, he wanted to meet its creator. Years later, this episode of Here's the Thing is the result. Fortunately, writer-director Tom Six isn't just warped; he's also a raconteur with a twinkle in his eye. He answers Alec's fanboy questions with humor and patience, and they break down the whole Human Centipede trilogy from critical, financial, and technical standpoints. Listeners will also learn about Six's pre- Centipede career in reality television and teen comedy, and what he has coming up in 2019. Six had a role planned in his new film for Alec. Hear why Alec's wife cut that off at the pass.