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The News According To Bill

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. Hey, castaway Tom Hanks. I'll be your friend. I'm Bill-son (ph)...


KURTIS: ...Bill Kurtis. And here is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Thanks, everybody.


SAGAL: Thank you all so much. 2018 is finally over, and you thought you had escaped scot-free. But just when you thought you were out, we're going to pull you back in.

KURTIS: On today's show, our own highlights of the year gone by. Someday, you're going to look back on all of this and say, no way that happened. But we've got it on tape.


SAGAL: Here's some of the key news moments of 2018 as interpreted by Bill.


SAGAL: Your first quote, Lynn (ph), is a trenchant observation about the current complex debate about immigration.


KURTIS: Why are we having all these people from [expletive]-hole countries come here?


ROY BLOUNT JR: You know, someday, he's going to have a library.


SAGAL: Lynn, who was that?

LYNN DAFFRON: Donald Trump.

SAGAL: Yes...


SAGAL: ...Donald Trump.

HONG: Yikes.

SAGAL: This week, we finally got Trump's equivalent of JFK's ask not what your country...


SAGAL: ...Can do for you moment. But it was more like, kids, ask not what the president just said.


SAGAL: Look. We can't really say the word that President Trump used to describe countries in Central America.

ADAM FELBER: But we can. Why don't we just pronounce it phonetically? Shi-thole (ph).

SAGAL: Shi-thole, yeah.


HONG: Yeah.

SAGAL: That's a good idea, actually.

FELBER: Yeah, shi-thole.

SAGAL: Shi-thole.

FELBER: He said shi-thole.

SAGAL: He also said - after disparaging the people from those countries, he said he preferred immigrants from Norway, possibly because he had just met the prime minister of Norway the day before, and it went really well. She seemed very white.



HONG: I know I'd be more offended if I was Norway at this point. I'd be like, oh, God, no.

FELBER: Yeah. We're the country he endorsed.

HONG: Ick.


SAGAL: Now, there's one thing that made us - well, I'll just say a little melancholy about this otherwise very interesting news - is that it happened the week after the true legend of NPR, the greatest voice we've ever had on our airwaves, Robert Siegel, retired. So he did not have a chance...


SAGAL: ...To say that on the air.



SAGAL: However, we are fixing that now.



SAGAL: So, ladies and gentlemen, here is Robert Siegel.

ROBERT SIEGEL: Why are we having all these people from [expletive]-hole countries come here?

SAGAL: There you go.


FELBER: You know what's amazing?

SAGAL: What?

FELBER: From him, it sounds almost like...

HONG: I know.

FELBER: ...It's a good question.

SAGAL: I know.

HONG: Seriously, I...


SAGAL: You really - the way - I mean, you're so used to hearing...

HONG: I mean...

SAGAL: ...Him do interviews, you want to say, well, Robert, the reason is...


KURTIS: I ate all the leftover lasagna in my fridge. I figured that if bleep was about to hit the fan, I'd better carb it up.


SAGAL: That was one of many people in Hawaii last Saturday talking about how they reacted to what distressing news?

JORDAN: The nuclear warhead false alarm.

SAGAL: Yes, that they were all about to be killed in a nuclear holocaust...


SAGAL: ...At around 8 in the morning. Yes, that's great.


SAGAL: Terrifying - but false alarm. At around 8 in the morning last Saturday, everybody in Hawaii got a text on their phone reading, ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill. Oh, that's fun. And it turns out that it was all a false alarm, of course. It was caused by a technician who picked the wrong item from a drop-down menu. This is true. Like, one choice said, send test message. The other said, drive an entire state into panicked terror.


SAGAL: And he picked the wrong one because he was also playing "HQ Trivia" on his phone. You know how it is.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Carb it up. I've never heard that phrase before.

SAGAL: Well...

POUNDSTONE: Carb it up.

SAGAL: ...Extreme situations call for extreme solutions.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, got to carb it up.

ALONZO BODDEN: Did he plan to run?

SAGAL: No. Well, what was interesting was Internet forum Reddit asked for people to say, you know, what they did during that terrifying 38 minutes before they got the news that it was a false alarm.

MO ROCCA: Thirty-eight minutes - wow.

SAGAL: Thirty-eight minutes people thought that they might die. Many people...

POUNDSTONE: You know what I would do?

SAGAL: What?

POUNDSTONE: I would call Verizon.


POUNDSTONE: Because I think you could get through.


SAGAL: Because nobody else would be doing it.

POUNDSTONE: Right, exactly. There's not going to be, like, a long - you know, here, you are - you know, you are 56th in line waiting for...


SAGAL: Joe, for your last quote, please listen to this list that was put out by Delta Airlines.

KURTIS: Comfort turkeys, sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more.

SAGAL: That was part of their press release announcing a new policy from Delta in which they are banning what from their airplanes?

JOE CHRISTIAN: Weird pets.

SAGAL: Not weird pets so much as animals that are classified as what?

CHRISTIAN: Oh, service animals.

SAGAL: Exactly. They are doing something about all the fake...

PETER GROSZ: Oh, my God.


SAGAL: ...Service animals.


SAGAL: Finally - people have been complaining about this for a while. And yes, they say that people have, in fact, brought on board their planes all the animals that Bill just listed. Seriously, guys - comfort turkeys?


SAGAL: Comfort spiders - of course, that makes sense because if you get agitated, they have all those legs to stroke you to calm you down.


FAITH SALIE: Have you ever - I fly a lot, and I've just seen dogs and cats. Have you guys ever seen any of these...

BIM ADEWUNMI: Yes. I mean, I myself travel with a comfort boa constrictor.


SALIE: Sure.

GROSZ: For about the last almost nine years, I've been traveling with an un-comfort child...


GROSZ: ...Which has made traveling very difficult.


SAGAL: Your last quote, Laura, is from the head of the food and beverage conglomerate PepsiCo. And she's talking about women.

KURTIS: They don't like to crunch too loudly in public, and they don't lick their fingers generously.

SAGAL: Those were the comments that got everybody excited this week about her company introducing what potentially great new product?

LAURA: That would be Doritos for women.

SAGAL: Yes, Lady Doritos.


SAGAL: Very well done.


SAGAL: Oh, it was so exciting. It was a beautiful dream. Indra Nooyi - she's the CEO of PepsiCo - She did a podcast in which she talked about female preferences in regard to snack food, like their product Doritos. and she said women don't want crumbs on their hands, and they don't want loud crunching. And, more than anything, they don't want chips that Dorito-splain (ph) to them.


SAGAL: So everybody was excited because everybody was, like, oh, my gosh. Pepsi's introducing Lady Doritos - Doritos for her. But it turns out not to be true. PepsiCo put out a statement. They said there are already Doritos for ladies. They're called Doritos.


AMY DICKINSON: So, Peter, here's one thing they could do.


DICKINSON: You know, Doritos are triangle-shaped.

SAGAL: They are.

DICKINSON: Those of you who, like me - I like to get the big bag and finish it in one sitting.


DICKINSON: What happens to the...

FELBER: "The Big Grab"?

DICKINSON: The big one.


DICKINSON: "The Big Grab."


DICKINSON: What happens to the roof of your mouth...

SAGAL: Yeah.

DICKINSON: ...On those points - it really, really - they can actually...

SAGAL: A little sharp.

DICKINSON: ...Embed in the roof of your mouth. If you're...


DICKINSON: If you're eating a lot of them...

SAGAL: Yeah.

DICKINSON: ...At once...

FELBER: And you are.

DICKINSON: And you are. So that is something I think they could work on.


DICKINSON: If it were more...

SAGAL: More rounded.

DICKINSON: ...Stackable or...

SAGAL: You know...

FELBER: Or a mouthguard that came with it.


DICKINSON: Great idea.

SAGAL: I'm glad you outed yourself, if you will, as a Doritos fan, because one of the other things that she said about women who enjoy Doritos and snack foods is they - that, unlike men, they don't like to do the thing where you pick up the bag that's almost empty, and you shake all the little crumbs and debris.

FELBER: Nobody has to do that.

DICKINSON: How do you think I got this eye shadow color?


SAGAL: Carolyn, here is your next quote.

KURTIS: I started this when I was so young and inexperienced.

SAGAL: That was one of the excuses offered by a guy whose company, it turns out, sold all our data without telling us. What's the company?


SAGAL: Yes...

STREETS: Facebook.

SAGAL: Facebook, indeed.

STREETS: (Laughter).


SAGAL: It turns out Facebook is good for three things - posting baby pictures, humble bragging and subverting democracy.


SAGAL: So this company's called Cambridge Analytica. They ended up working on Donald Trump's campaign. They stole the personal data from 50 million Facebook users, and they did it by asking people to download a quiz app. People were thrilled to do it. And because of that, Trump is now president.


SAGAL: There's a direct line between you needing to know if you're more of a Rachel or a Monica...


SAGAL: ...And the fact we're on the brink of nuclear war.


DICKINSON: But what are they going to do? Like, what are they - they're going to find my Facebook memories about the quinoa I had last year? Like, what are they doing with your stuff?

SAGAL: Well...

SCOTT: You just got into quinoa last year?

DICKINSON: Yeah, man.


SCOTT: You're missing out. There's so many grains.


SAGAL: Quinoa? We're into farro now.

SCOTT: What?


SAGAL: So...

ADAM BURKE: This is precisely why Russia wants to destroy us.

SAGAL: Exactly.


SAGAL: And why we deserve it. So people are talking - the hashtag is delete your account because people are so angry about Facebook's betrayal that people are saying, well, I'm going to quit Facebook on principle. But if you do that, how can you tell your friends that you just quit Facebook on principle?


SCOTT: I know.

DICKINSON: I know. So Zuckerberg apologized, basically...

SAGAL: Yeah.

DICKINSON: ...Right?

SAGAL: He says, we're sorry. We didn't understand. We didn't handle it well. We assure you it's going to be better now.

BURKE: You know who wouldn't have done this?


BURKE: Tom from Myspace.

SAGAL: Exactly.


SCOTT: You know, man?

SAGAL: It's true, man.


SAGAL: Here, Josh, is your last quote. It's from new age musician Yanni.


KURTIS: I may be biased, but all I hear is Yanny.

SAGAL: He was, of course, weighing in on what great debate that tore our nation asunder this week?

JOSH SMITH: It was, like, Yanny or Bruno? No.


SAGAL: I'll give it to you. It was Yanny or Laurel.


SAGAL: Laurel or Yanny. You remember years ago, the Internet was consumed by the great gold dress versus blue dress debate. But that was back in a more innocent time when we had no real problems.


SAGAL: Now that the world is on fire, we've moved on to more important things...


SAGAL: ...Whether a computerized voice is saying Laurel or Yanny, especially when it's obviously saying Laurel. What is wrong with you?


TARA CLANCY: Oh, yes. Oh...

ROXANNE ROBERTS: What'd you get?


ROBERTS: Laurel. Of course, it was Laurel.

CLANCY: It's Yanny. Oh, my goodness.


CLANCY: I'm surrounded - people, America, it's Yanny.

ROBERTS: It's Laurel.

BODETT: It's a high pitch, low pitch thing.


BODETT: And I'm 63 years old, and I've been using power tools all my life, and I have no high-end hearing.


BODETT: And I was happy to hear Laurel.


SAGAL: So it's actually interesting. You can play with the audio to hear the differences. So if you pull out all the high frequencies, if you just remove them, it sounds like this.


SAGAL: Laurel - I mean, pretty clear, right? But if you isolate the high end, it sounds like this.


SAGAL: See? And if you remove everything but the bass notes, you get this.

KURTIS: Bill Kurtis.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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