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Longtime Atlantic tech, culture and political writer Derek Thompson cuts through all the noise surrounding the big questions and headlines that matter to you in his new podcast Plain English. Hear Derek and guests engage the news with clear viewpoints and memorable takeaways. New episodes drop every Tuesday and Friday, and if you've got a topic you want discussed, shoot us an email at plainenglish@spotify.com! You can also find us on tiktok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_
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Plain English

Plain English

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The best podcast for learning English if you like current events and trending topics. Improve your English listening, learn new words, and build your confidence with the #1 English-learning podcast focused on stories and English expressions. Join Jeff and JR every Monday and Thursday for a short English lesson. In the first half, you'll enjoy a story about something happening in the world. In the second half, you'll learn how to use a common English expression or phrasal verb. Best of all, t ...
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Web3 in Plain English. So much of the tech content explains Web3 with buzz words and overlong articles that make no sense. This podcast will explain practical Web3 use cases that are easy to understand.
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UX has a usability problem. Chris and Carla are on hand to help you navigate through the jargon, user flows and mind maps so you can concentrate on designing great things for users. **Disclaimer** The views on this podcast are ours and don’t represent the views of any former or current employers or clients.
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Henry Stanton’s 1922 book Sex – Avoided Subjects Discussed in Plain English is intended as a frank (although consevative and moralistic) guide to human sexual behaviour and relationships. It is partly a self-help book, partly an attempt to relay the scientific knowledge of the day in relation to sex and reproduction in a way suitable for popular consumption.
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A fresh season for each new election from former government minister and ACT Party Deputy Leader Hon Heather Roy and TorquePoint business partner and former ACT Party candidate and ministerial staffer Dr Simon Ewing-Jarvie. TorquePoint runs the popular LobbyTorque experiential learning programme on effective political lobbying in New Zealand. With much media coverage reduced to soundbites, many are frustrated with the lack of real commentary from people who have worked in Parliament. Season ...
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Today’s episode is about the science of breathing—from the evolution of our sinuses and palate, to the downsides of mouth breathing and the upsides of nasal breathing, to specific breath techniques that you can use to reduce stress and fall asleep fast. Our guest is James Nestor, the author of the bestselling book 'Breath: The New Science of a Lost…
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Today's story: A new analysis of Beethoven's hair has found elevated levels of lead, mercury, and arsenic. And while these don't explain the famous composer's death, they may explain some of his many ailments, including gastrointestinal issues, kidney disease, and, yes, hearing loss. Learn this English expression: Use 'suffer from' when someone exp…
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Today's story: Most homes in cold-weather places have furnaces or boilers to provide heat indoors. These are effective and are relatively cheap to install, but they run on fossil fuels. A greener option is heat pumps. But like electric cars, heat pumps face barriers to wider adoption. In this lesson, learn how a heat pump works and why it might be …
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What do most people not understand about the news media? I would say two things. First: The most important bias in news media is not left or right. It’s a bias toward negativity and catastrophe. Second: That while it would be convenient to blame the news media exclusively for this bad-news bias, the truth is that the audience is just about equally …
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Today's story: The Mona Lisa is the most famous portrait in the world, but much is not known about it. The background shows a lake, rock formations, and a stone arch bridge, but the location has never been known definitively. Now, a geologist and art historian says she has identified the background: Lecco, near Lake Colmo in Italy. Learn this Engli…
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Today's story: Dengue fever is a tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. Though it's not deadly in the vast majority of cases, about five percent of patients require hospitalization. And cases are surging in Latin America. There have been more dengue cases in four months of 2024 than in all of 2023. Governments are trying to stop the spread, but the…
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Plastic is a life-saving technology. Plastic medical equipment like disposable syringes and IV bags reduce deaths in hospitals. Plastic packaging keeps food fresh longer. Plastic parts in cars make cars lighter, which could make them less deadly in accidents. My bike helmet is plastic. My smoke detector is plastic. Safety gates for babies: plastic.…
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Today's story: Impressionism, the art movement that celebrates bright colors, thick brushstrokes, and outdoor settings, turns 150 years old this month. Though Monet, Degas, Renoir, and others are celebrated in museums and art schools around the world, their work was initially rejected by the art establishment. Learn this English expression: Use 'fa…
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In an age of cults, sports are the last gasp of the monoculture—the last remnant of the 20th century mainstream still standing. Even so, the new NBA media rights deal is astonishing. At a time when basketball ratings are in steady decline, the NBA is on the verge of signing a $70-plus billion sports rights deal that would grow its annual media righ…
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Today's story: "Behavioral science" is the field of studying how humans behave in the real world. Today, take a look at three groundbreaking findings from the career of Daniel Kahneman. First, we feel pain more intensely than we feel pleasure. Second, we make decisions using two different systems. And finally, our judgment is often far worse than w…
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The news media is very good at focusing on points of disagreement in our politics. Wherever Democrats and Republicans are butting heads, that's where we reliably find news coverage. When right and left disagree about trans rights, or the immigration border bill, or abortion, or January 6, or the indictments over January 6, you can bet that news cov…
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Today's story: Daniel Kahneman was a trained psychologist who became the ""grandfather of behavioral economics"" with his experiments on human behavior and decision-making. Though he never took an economics class as a student, he won the 2002 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences for his work on how humans make decisions. He died in March at age 90. Le…
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The game of basketball has changed dramatically in the last 40 years. In the early 1990s, Michael Jordan said that 3-point shooting was "something I don’t want to excel at," because he thought it might make him a less effective scorer. 20 years later, 3-point shots have taken over basketball. The NBA has even changed dramatically in the last decade…
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Today's story: A corridor of magma below the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland burst to the surface through a series of volcanic eruptions. The Golden Bachelor couple is getting a divorce. Trump is nodding off at his first criminal trial. You'll hear the latest on these stories and more in our semi-annual update episode. Learn this English expression:…
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Today's story: Quebec, Canada's only French-speaking province, has long protected its language. But now, some English speakers say the province has gone too far. New policies by the provincial government restrict the use of English in certain circumstances. And Quebec recently raised tuition for out-of-province students by 33%, a direct hit at Mont…
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Today—a closer critical look at the relationship between smartphones and mental health. One of the themes we’ve touched on more than any other on this show is that American teenagers—especially girls—appear to be “engulfed” in historic rates of anxiety and sadness. The numbers are undeniable. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is published by th…
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Today's story: Canada is a bilingual country, offering government services in both English and French. But the balance isn't 50-50. French is the dominant language in just one province, Quebec. Only 20 percent of Canadians speak French natively. And francophones are more likely to be bilingual than anglophones. Here's how French and English coexist…
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Today's story: Shohei Ohtani is a superstar baseball player in Los Angeles. Since his arrival in the U.S., he has used a Japanese translator. But the translator stands accused of stealing money from Ohtani and using the money to pay off sports gambling debts. Ohtani himself is considered the victim. Learn this English expression: To be 'caught up i…
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For decades, flying cars have been a symbol of collective disappointment—of a technologically splendid future that was promised but never delivered. Whose fault is that? Gideon Lewis-Kraus, a staff writer at The New Yorker who has spent 18 months researching the history, present, and future of flying car technology, joins the show. We talk about wh…
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Today's Story: How do animals behave during a total solar eclipse? It's a difficult question to answer because eclipses are so rare and they don't often pass over zoos or areas where animals can be observed. But the path of totality of this year's eclipse passed directly over six zoos, allowing animal researchers to study their reactions. Also in t…
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Several years ago, I told some friends that I had an idea for a second book. It would be called ‘Everything Is a Cult.’ I’d noticed that in an age of declining religiosity, capitalism was filling the god-shaped hole left by the demise of organized religion with companies and services and products that were amassing a cult-like following in media, e…
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Today's story: Swimming has been prohibited in the River Seine for over 100 years, and for good reason: it has been filthy for much of that time. But Olympic organizers pledged to clean up the river and hold swimming events in central Paris. The Olympics start in June, but bacteria levels are still high. Learn this English expression: Rivers, roads…
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Today, with Gaza protests spreading across the country and around the world, we dive deep into what’s actually happening on the ground in the war between Israel and Hamas—and how this war might actually end, or lead to a broader conflict. The status quo in Gaza is horrendous in every conceivable way. Following an attack that killed more than a thou…
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" Chef José Andrés is famous for his high-end restaurants. He's also the founder of World Central Kitchen, a charity that helps serve meals to people in disaster areas. And now, he finds himself in the middle of the Israel-Hamas war after seven World Central Kitchen workers were killed by an Israeli drone attack. Israel said the attack was unintent…
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In the last week, hundreds of protests across college campuses and American cities have taken place in response to the war in Gaza. Campus life has shut down at Columbia University in NYC. The news is strewn with images of police confrontations on campuses, from Texas to California. Hundreds of demonstrators across the country have been taken into …
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" Fifty years ago this month, ""Carrie,"" Stephen King's first novel, was released. It was the first of many, as King became one of the world's best-selling authors. His stories involved the supernatural, terror, and horror. Several have been adapted into movies and television shows. The 77-year-old is still writing: his next book will be released …
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Today’s episode is all about India.You don’t have to believe that demography is pure destiny to appreciate the fact that the future of India is the future of the world. In 2024, today, India is the largest country by population on the planet, having surpassed China two years ago. In 2050, India is still projected to be the largest country in the wo…
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" A massive bridge over a river in Baltimore, Maryland, fell into the water last month, after a container ship veered off course and crashed into one of the support columns. The ship lost power and had mechanical problems in the moments before impact. All port activity was halted in the aftermath of the disaster. Six construction workers died. -- A…
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Today's show is a critical look at some of the most popular health fads of the moment, with return guests Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg, from the Growth Equation and the ‘FAREWELL’ podcast. We’re talking VO2 max, the benefits of sunlight, so-called morning and nighttime “stacks” (complex multivitamin routines for optimizing your energy and sleep)…
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" Britain and the United States are the two biggest exporters of television. But the third-biggest may surprise you: Turkey. Long-running Turkish dramas have become among the most popular television shows around the world, from Chile to Bulgaria. -- At Plain English, we make English lessons for the modern world. -- Today’s full English lesson, incl…
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Jason Furman, a professor of economics at Harvard, returns to the show to discuss the biggest economic questions of the moment, including: - Why have home and auto insurance prices skyrocketed? - Why did inflation stop falling in 2024? - How did economic experts get their disinflation forecasts so wrong? - What sticky-high prices are preventing fur…
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" Americans buy and sell millions of homes per year, and about 90 percent of transactions use a real estate agent. But agents in the U.S. charge among the highest rates in the world, thanks to their stranglehold on the listing databases. But recent court cases are challenging the agents' control of the market. -- At Plain English, we make English l…
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