Latest From The Capitol, Why Cat Videos Make Us Feel Good, Medicare And Medicaid Turn 50

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WIsconsin’s Assembly passed the state budget, sending it to Governor Walker’s desk. We look at what changes Walker might make once it arrives. Also, Medicare and Medicaid turn 50 this month, together now covering over 100 million Americans. Our guests explore the history–and the future–of Medicare and Medicaid. We also get the science behind why we enjoy watching cat videos on the Internet.

Featured in this Show

  • Assembly Sends Budget To Walker And Debates Abortion Ban

    Wisconsin’s Assembly passed the 72 billion dollar state budget early Thursday morning, sending it to Governor Scott Walker for a signature. Walker has said that he won’t announce his intentions to run for president until that budget is signed. He’ll be able to make his deadline, but it will be a tight turnaround before his planned Monday announcement. It also remains to be seen how he might change the document with his line item veto power.

    Also Wednesday, the Assembly is debating a proposed ban on abortions in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill passed the Senate last month and Governor Walker has indicated that he would sign it if it reaches his desk.

  • New Research Explores Why We Love Cat Videos

    Scrolling through social media newsfeeds on any given day, and you’re likely to come across at least one cat video, if not more.

    As of last year, there were 2 million cat videos on YouTube that had accumulated over 26 billion total views. The videos are so popular that they’ve even launched the careers of several cat celebrities, including Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub.

    “This is a major part of our media diet,” said Jessica Gall Myrick.

    Myrick, a journalism professor at Indiana University, conducted a survey of about 7,000 people to find out why people love cat videos so much. Previous research, she said, has shown that people typically use media to help manage their moods — for example, to get out of a negative state or to maintain a positive one. The journalism expert said her study reflected that research.

    “People who were watching these cat videos reported that afterwards they felt more hopeful, more content, they even felt more energized than they did before they watched them,” Myrick said.

    According to her study, fans of cat videos ran the gamut: cat people, dog people, and people who like all animals.. Myrick said these cat videos are really a pop culture phenomenon.

    So why cats? Why not dogs or some other kind of cute animal video?

    “I think it’s this mesh of cultural factors, and who uses the Internet the most, and the fact that it’s sort of interesting (and) unique to see a cat do something funny. Whereas in real life, you know, we’ve trained our dogs, we can usually get them to do something funny or cute on command,” the researcher said.

    Myrick did note that the study was fairly exploratory. The next step, she said, is to do more controlled research on how cat videos affect us.

    In the meantime, don’t feel guilty for taking a break at work to watch a cute cat video or two. Tell your boss that research shows these videos can help restore your energy and repair bad moods. After all, you’re really just trying to make yourself more productive.

  • Medicare And Medicaid Turn 50

    Medicare and Medicaid turn 50 this month. We take a look at the history and future of two of America’s largest entitlement programs.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Veronica Rueckert Producer
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Scott Bauer Guest
  • Jessica Gall Myrick Guest
  • Julian Zelizer Guest
  • Keith Wailoo Guest

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