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Panel Question

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis, and here is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Thank you so much. So 2017 has been better than you knew. That's because there was some pretty nifty material from our show that we didn't even broadcast. We wanted to save it until you needed cheering up. Alonzo, a new study from researchers in the U.K. finds people in what profession tend to have lower brain function than other groups?

ALONZO BODDEN: President of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: A very focused study.

SAGAL: A very focused study.

BODDEN: You can't say I'm wrong.

SAGAL: No, I can't.

BODDEN: You can't say I'm wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Of all the presidents of the United States currently in office...

SAGAL: As a group. No, it's not that - there's only one of those at a time. So this is - there's a lot of these people. It's a profession, these people.

BODDEN: A profession that has lower...

SAGAL: Lower executive brain function. And what that means is the ability to make wise decisions in the moment.


SAGAL: No, actually, these people are not CEOs. I'll give you a hint. It's more like the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times.

BODDEN: Reporters?

SAGAL: Yes, journalists, apparently.


AMY DICKINSON: Wait, wait, whoa, whoa, whoa.


DICKINSON: What? What?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Wait, we'll say it slower for you, Amy.



DICKINSON: Wait, you're...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Journalists think slower.

DICKINSON: You're going to love this question...

SAGAL: Yeah.

DICKINSON: ...Because what the hell is executive brain function?


DICKINSON: What does that mean?

SAGAL: If you have to ask, you don't have it.


BODDEN: Well, it's like jazz.

SAGAL: Executive brain function is a little bit like your capacity to make very wise decisions in the moment, to sort of coolly scan a situation and...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: And understand what question might get you strangled and thrown to the floor.

SAGAL: Exactly.

BODDEN: Right.

SAGAL: To be fair, the reason - you know, they did these studies of various people. And they thought that the reason that journalists tended to score lower is 'cause they have high stress and they have higher than average alcohol and coffee consumption, which, Amy, you know it's true.

DICKINSON: I totally know that's true.

SAGAL: Yeah. And finally we know why nobody at The Daily Planet could recognize Superman with his glasses on.


BODDEN: That was a brilliant disguise...

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODDEN: The glasses would absolutely throw you off.

SAGAL: Hey, Clark, you want some coffee or a beer? Either, I'm having both.


SAGAL: Faith, Japanese is an incredibly difficult language to learn, even for native speakers. To help Japanese children learn hundreds of complex kanji characters, a new book is out that successfully uses what to get kids interested in their studies?

FAITH SALIE: Oh, well, it's Japan, so it has to be something super cute. No, not at all.

SAGAL: Kind of.

SALIE: Kind of? So something that's kind of super cute, like a...

SAGAL: It's a cute version of something that is not normally cute.

SALIE: A kid's version of something that's not normally cute. Is it baby Trump?



SAGAL: I'll give you a hint. All of the exercises are problem number two.

SALIE: Doody (ph)?



SAGAL: Or poo. The poo technique takes something children hate doing, memorizing language...

SALIE: Oh, I thought you meant pooping.

SAGAL: No, they love that. It incorporates something they think is great, which is poo. And it works. Lessons are taught by Professor Poo. He is a poop emoji with glasses and a mustache. And every sentence in the practice book somehow manages to incorporate the word poo.

SALIE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: It's like Mad Libs done by an 8-year-old. This is true, a lesson to teach the kanji symbol of meeting, the one for meeting means, we are starting a poo meeting now. And again, this is true, to teach the kanji for interview, a foreign news outlet came to interview me about my poo, which is actually something the president might say someday.


PAULA POUNDSTONE: Yeah, he's worried about all the fake poo.

SAGAL: Yeah. Tom, a new service in New York lets you hail what just like you hail an Uber? Call it on your phone, comes to you.

TOM BODETT: A - holy smokes, there could be any number of things. Considering the show, would it be professional women of some sort?


SAGAL: Tom...

BODETT: I mean...

SAGAL: ...You've been with us for a long time.


SAGAL: Our show is not lurid.


SAGAL: It's gross.

BODETT: Yeah, oh, right. So it must be - holy smokes.

SAGAL: Well, the standard joke that the driver has to put up with is everybody says, hey, take me to flushing.

BODETT: You can - you call a ride to New Jersey?


BODETT: Or, no, wait, flushing. No, no, I know. A bathroom, they bring you a bathroom.

SAGAL: Yes, they bring you a bathroom...


SAGAL: ...Wherever you are in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Are these porta-Johns?

SAGAL: No, this is - what it is it's a - a toilet paper company has done it for marketing. And it's a van with a real, clean, nice bathroom inside. It's called the Van-Go.


SAGAL: And it's for those moments when you're in New York and you feel the urge to go and there is no destination nearby so you just whip out your phone and you use the app and this van with a clean and private bathroom pulls up, hopefully in time. So if you're going to use this service, if it goes into wide use - right now it's a pilot program - first of all, do not choose the uberPOOL option for this one.


SAGAL: And second, this is really a time when you hope you do not get the driver who likes to chat.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Is there a fee for this?

SAGAL: Not right now because, as I said, it is a pilot program and a marketing thing. But presumably, some day, I mean, you know, having been in New York in that situation, I would pay some small money for this. Well, depending and as the time goes on, I would pay more money for this.

BODETT: Right. I mean, that's the problem. The dynamic pricing...

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODETT: Wait till you try to get the porta-John there and they're like, it's surge pricing, it's $1,000. You're like, I will pay.

SAGAL: Yes, 'cause I am, in fact, surging right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: But that's what the subway is for.


SAGAL: Finally, a conversation which we made some news without even knowing we did it. In May, we went to Denver and we interviewed Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

KURTIS: In that interview, he said something he hasn't really said before, or rather, he didn't say something that everybody expected him to say about his future plans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.