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In this episode we ride along on New York City's poop train to find out what happens to poop once it's, well, pooped. Then, we travel to Kenya where legions of athletes, sports gurus, and scientists have tried to figure out why a specific tribe has long-dominated long-distance running. And lastly, we ask why quicksand -- once a real fear -- no longer scares an 8-year-old.

Poop Train

Ever wonder what happens to all of New York City's poop? So did we.

Comments [7]

Cut and Run

Kenyans have long-dominated long-distance running; breaking records, winning Olympic medals, and stupefying sports gurus along the way. So what is it that makes Kenyans so darn fast?

Comments [11]


Long was it that quicksand gripped our hearts and imagination with fear. But these days, quicksand can't even scare an 8-year-old--why?

Comments [4]

Comments [8]

Larry Shaeffer from Philly

Yeah, surprised that the report on NYC sewage sludge left out the fact that it like pretty much all municipal sourced sewage sludge (biosolids) is completely contaminated with heavy metals, chlorinated compounds like PCBs and many other highly dangerous substances. There's plenty of peer reviewed, published research on this.

Guessing its part of your story telling template to insert some kind of mystery or conundrum-this time, why communities rejected NYC sludge?? answer is that many communities who did there due diligence rejected all sewage sludge application from any source. Problem is they were often over ruled by the state environmental departments which are swayed by ag interests not science or environmental protection.

May. 07 2017 01:45 PM
Holly from MN

I listened to your piece on quicksand waiting for what I thought would explain the reason we no longer fear it. I saw the movies and yes, was afraid. Then I heard the simple rational advice to lie on your back. Since quicksand is so much denser than water, it seems obvious you can float on it, and move yourself out of it with simple arm and leg strokes. Am I wrong? Did you not know this? Wouldn't you want to share this?

May. 06 2017 04:14 PM
Mike Stewart from San Diego, CA

Except for the easy-listening portion devoted to quicksand, the rest of the program was not just empty calories as "quicksand" was, but was really annoying deficient. Along with the issues re heavy metals & other questions raised by earlier posters, I was left without any understanding of why the poop trains stopped going to Colorado. Trains were running regularly, wheat production soared, and then they stopped. All I heard was something about a quarter - a 25 cent piece. I've no idea what that had to do with anything nor why the trains stopped. Maybe it clear to the producer why the trains stopped . . . it wasn't clear to the audience.

Re the Kenyan runners and how they have selectively bred themselves for speed and endurance. OF COURSE they've genetically modified themselves - yet you make a big mealy-mouthed point of "not going near" or "not touching" (whichever it was) the subject that this is exactly what was done. WHY NOT discuss this aspect? Genetics and Eugenics definitely have something to say here - since you brought up the subject - so to acknowledge it exists then refuse to discuss it conveys to the less informed audience that there is no merit to the discussion. To be sure, there is no merit in tippy toeing around a subject in such a way that you deny credibility to the genetic component. I suppose you're afraid of the topic since someone might come along and make the obvious point that if Kenyan runners are genetically predisposed to run faster and longer than anyone else, the same explanation serves to explain why the average black IQ is 85 and whites 103.

All in all, this program had some points of interest but what you did with the material was wishy-washy and vague.

May. 06 2017 02:05 PM
Jane from New York

I was taken aback this evening to hear female genital mutilation refered to casually in the segment dealing with Kenyan running prowess as the female equivalent of male circumcision. True, it is a ritual associated with transitioning to adulthood, but the key word would be "mutilation". The proceedure involves removing the clitoris, and some cultures include closing or reducing the size of the vaginal opening. The results can include being unable to deliver a live baby, fistula and leaking of a woman's urea and feces. Some of the damage can be repaired by extensive surgery. I understood the point of the comment being to show that men and women were both committed to raising courageous children, but the totally inadequate description of this proceedure that women from many cultural groups are working to eliminate is so "off" that it made me question the competance of the reporting of the entire piece.

Mar. 30 2015 09:20 PM
Lee from PA

As a resident of a rural area where this stuff is freely applied without any apparent oversight, I am surprised that your story did not question or investigate what measures are (not) taken to make sure it is safe from a health perspective. What else besides nitrogen does this stuff contain? Who is monitoring it?

Mar. 30 2015 03:09 PM
Mike Ewing from Boston area

Poop train

It has been known for decades since Milorganite came on the market that it is loaded with the heavy metals that aren't removed during the waste to sludge process. I'm surprised, or not, this aspect of wasn't covered in the story.

Mar. 29 2015 07:05 PM
Dale from Minnesota

Just heard the story on NY and quicksand. I'm 63 and my husband is 65. We were laughing about 6 months ago about the fact growing up in the 50's we thought quicksand would be more of an issue in our lives as adults.

Mar. 28 2015 04:31 PM
rob hollander from United States

Super episode!
The quicksand analysis seems backward: it was an apt metaphor in the 60's because quicksand was popular in the culture and not yet campy or cheesy. It's like Touboul's 2014 "Hipster Effect" --
I'm with Robert, the black hole serves the same use, so speculating on the meaning of quicksand can't explain its linguistic decline.

Why do some memes get tired and others not? Back in the 80's after "Walk like an Egyptian," any mention of ancient Egypt became an embarrassment. Even "Kafkaesque" has lost ground and black hole metaphors are avoided by some because it's gaining too much ground. Yogi Berra wisdom: "Nobody goes there. It's too crowded." Prestige sets avant-garde fashions but loses its value as soon as it's popular. You see it in architecture or anywhere in the arts. It's an old paradox that keeps fashion moving. By contrast, the Romans had no such notion of fashion -- they thought their ways the best in the world, so why change -- and no such notion of our time=progress either. Also explains why their notion of suicide is also so different from ours...

Mar. 28 2015 02:10 PM

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