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Why Oh Why Is There Phlegm?

Feb 18, 2017

Struggling through a nasty round of bronchitis with little better to do than binge watch Netflix and feel epically sorry for myself, I pondered the ageless cold-and-flu-season question: Phlegm. Why?

It begs an answer. The human body is capable of such constant wonder, so much to awe and inspire. And then, phlegm. And not just a little phlegm. Gobs. It's the only word that really describes the whole phlegm experience.

So I started asking around, and in so doing have learned that there's a lot more to phlegm than meets the Kleenex.

After years of declining numbers, hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are rising exponentially. A report from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations found that crimes targeting Asian-Americans tripled in that county between 2014 and 2015. In addition, the FBI found that the number of hate crimes against Muslim communities rose dramatically between 2014 and 2015 (67 percent).

Living by the ocean might sound nice, but in the era of climate change, it's a risky proposition.

As sea levels rise, coastal residents are faced with tough choices: try to fortify their homes, move to higher ground or just pull up roots and leave.

Homeowners in Nahant, Mass., are grappling with these wrenching questions. The community lies on a rocky crescent moon of land in the Atlantic Ocean just north of Boston.

For its entire history, it has been at the mercy of the ocean.

Miffy the rabbit seems quite simple. Two black dots for eyes, a sideways X for a mouth, a body inked in gentle curves — the artistry of Dick Bruna's creation rests precisely in its apparent artlessness. And in the six decades since Miffy was first put to page, Bruna's venerable rabbit has earned the affection of young fans worldwide, the admiration of art critics and even an entire museum in her honor.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

At his White House news conference this week, President Trump painted a grim picture of the challenges facing the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: To be honest, I inherited a mess. It's a mess.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Growing up in the West Bank, Amjad Hasan has watched his leaders trying to negotiate a so-called two-state solution, or a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

"The talks seemed to go on and on," says the 22-year-old electrical engineering student, who studies at Birzeit University outside the Palestinian city of Ramallah. "And nothing happened."

The death knell, Hasan says, came after President Donald Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington this week.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Now, we're going to talk about something else that everyone interprets differently - food expiration dates.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Although President Trump has stepped back from daily management of the Trump Organization, his businesses continue to expand, often in foreign countries.

On Saturday, Trump's sons Eric and Donald Jr. will be in the United Arab Emirates, helping cut the ribbon for the new Trump International Golf Club, according to Kim Benza, a spokesperson for the Trump Organization.

For the third week in a row, President Trump is spending the weekend in Florida at Mar-a-Lago.

It seems Trump enjoys spending time at the club he owns in Palm Beach, but since the election, his stays there have raised issues not seen when he was a private citizen. They involve security and the impact his visits are having on people and businesses in Palm Beach.

Two decades ago only about 9 percent of children's books published in the U.S. were about people of color. Things have changed since then, but not by much.

On Wednesday, the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison's Education School revealed that in 2016, it counted 427 books written or illustrated by people of color, and 736 books about people of color out of about 3,400 books it analyzed. That adds up to 22 percent of children's books.

Big Little Lies, which begins Sunday on HBO, is a miniseries that begins with a murder scene, and investigation, in the close-knit oceanside town of Monterey. It's a seven-episode drama, and HBO made the first six available for preview. Even after watching all of them, I still don't know the identity of the murderer — or, for that matter, the victim. But that's on purpose.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. A new action movie shot in China by a Chinese director has a budget of $150 million and an American star. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un died under suspicious circumstances on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur — and every day since then, the story of Kim Jong Nam's death has gotten stranger and more mysterious.

The body remains in Malaysia, despite demands by North Korea to release it. Malaysian authorities have performed an autopsy on the body but have not made the results public.

More than two months after he publicly criticized Boeing over the costs of a new Air Force One, President Trump visited one of the aircraft company's newest facilities Friday: a plant in North Charleston, S.C., where the company will unveil a new version of its 787 Dreamliner.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency Pruitt has long criticized.

The Senate approved Pruitt on a 52-46 vote Friday afternoon, with two Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — voting for his nomination. Republican Susan Collins of Maine voted no.

The GOP put out a survey Thursday night that's enough to make a social scientist cringe.

It's called the "Mainstream Media Accountability Survey," but this "survey" commits a variety of polling sins.

It contains:

-- Leading questions ("Do you believe that the mainstream media does not do their due diligence fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration?"),

It's been a long week. Take a moment — or even a minute! — to watch something beautiful.

The young mother spoke softly but with determination. After fleeing from her abusive boyfriend, she and her newborn baby found refuge last month in a women's shelter on the outskirts of Moscow.

According to Russian law at the time, he could have faced criminal prosecution for striking her. Now, under legislation signed Feb. 7 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, her partner would most likely face an administrative fine of up to $500.

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