So many end-of-the year lists detail something trivial. But sometimes those lists can help us appreciate something obvious.
BabyCenter.com has just released their list of the most popular names for American babies in 2011.
The most popular girl's names: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, and Ava, which sound like they could be lifted, letter by letter, from 1960s movie marquees. The most popular boy's names: Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Liam and Jacob, which could be the name of a Boston or Chicago law firm.
The U.S. unemployment rate took a big tumble in November, from 9 percent to 8.6 percent, according to the government's monthly jobs data. Still, it's probably too soon pop the champagne corks. A combination of forces caused the big drop, some good and some bad.
Getting a big fall in the unemployment rate is always good news in the White House, but President Obama was careful not to gloat at an appearance Friday in Washington.
"This morning we learned that our economy added another 140,000 private sector jobs in November. The unemployment rate went down," he said.
"Robert Spiegel's passion for Russian literature, the New York Mets, ethnic cooking and beagles endeared him to generations of students and colleagues at Central Connecticut State University," The Associated Press says. "Now, through the power of social media, the 77-year-old former English professor's obituary is charming strangers, as well."
Originally published on Sun December 4, 2011 12:03 pm
Everybody knows that Ron Paul is a doctor from Texas. Born in Pittsburgh in 1935, he graduated from Gettysburg College and Duke University's medical school. He was a flight surgeon in the Air Force. His wife's name is Carol. He has served as a Republican congressman for years and years.
Everybody knows that Paul has made bids for the presidency three times — as a Libertarian in 1988 and as a Republican in 2008 and this time around. And everybody knows he lost the first two.
'Cosh And Carry': Smiley's colleague Peter Guilliam (Benedict Cumberbatch, left) runs the MI6 division charged with blackmail, kidnapping and other rough stuff.
Credit Jack English / Focus Features
Gary Oldman takes on the character of spymaster George Smiley, linchpin in John le Carre's 1974 novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The Cold War classic, made into a hit TV series starring Alec Guinness in the '70s, gets a big-screen adaptation that's in theaters Dec. 9
If you're walking or biking around New York City this weekend you might look up at a busy intersection and see signs like these:
Traffic warning street signs written as haiku are appearing on poles around the five boroughs, posted by the New York City Department of Transportation. The poems and accompanying artwork were created by artist John Morse. There are 12 designs in all, 10 in English and two in Spanish.
Credit Sara Sackner / Courtesy of Judith Lautner and the John Lautner Foundation
Designed in 1958, architect John Lautner's Chemosphere House perches atop a 29-foot concrete pole on a roughly 45 degree slope in California's Hollywood Hills and is accessible via funicular.
Credit Jeff Georgevich / Courtesy of Judith Lautner and the John Lautner Foundation
In The Big Lebowski, actor Jeff Bridges lounges on the built-in furniture Lautner designed for his Sheats-Goldstein House. Lautner also studded the ceiling with drinking glasses (upper right) in order to mimic the effect of sunlight shining through a forest canopy.
Credit Murray Grigor / Courtesy of Judith Lautner and the John Lautner Foundation
Built in 1968, Lautner's Elrod House is known for its domed concrete roof, skylights that provide indirect sunlight and the way the architect incorporated exposed rocks from the original hillside into the design.
Credit Courtesy of the John Lautner Foundation
Lautner's architecture career spanned more than 55 years, from his beginnings under the tutelage of Frank Lloyd Wright to the projects he was working on at the time of his death in 1994.
An artist with an idyllic childhood might be as rare as a house with walls made of air, but both play a part in the story of architect John Lautner.
Lautner's homes have appeared in Hollywood movies, but the architect himself wasn't particularly well-known when he died in 1994. Still, in 2011 — the centennial year of Lautner's birth — his hometown of Marquette, Mich., has honored him with two exhibitions: one at Northern Michigan University's DeVos Art Museum and one at the Marquette Regional History Center.
As he prepares for the midday rush, Mustafa Baljan puts the finishing touches on the kebabs, salads and stews that make up many a working Turk's lunch. As the steam carries the scent of lamb and garlic into the street, the 37-year-old restaurant owner considers a popular question: With European economies on the ropes, should Turkey still be seeking to join the European Union?
"Are you kidding? Of course I don't want to join," Baljan says. "Countries are going bankrupt. Why would we want to join a union like that?"
Under fire for losing track of weapons that turned up at crime scenes along the Southwest border, the Justice Department has taken the extraordinary step of formally withdrawing an inaccurate letter about the episode that it sent to Congress earlier this year.
Republicans reflect upon the most recent jobs report put out by the Labor Department this morning, from left to right, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Speaker John Boehner, and U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling.
Two different bills calling for an extension of a payroll tax holiday failed to pass the Senate late Thursday, but work on a compromise is continuing on Capitol Hill.
President Obama and Democratic lawmakers put forth concerted efforts to extend the measure, which is set to expire next month. Economists say failure to renew the tax cut, which allows the average American family to keep $900 a year of earnings, would hurt job growth.
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're out to get you.
That could be the motto this week for abortion rights groups that immediately sprang into battle mode when it was discovered that Siri, Apple's new artificially intelligent personal assistant, wasn't so, well, intelligent when it came to abortion.
It turns out, however, that it was all much ado about not so much.
Sears Holding Corp., parent company to Sears and Kmart, is considering a move from its corporate headquarters after a tax incentive package failed to pass the state House of Representatives. More than 6,000 employees work at the Hoffman Estates, Ill., campus.
Thousands of jobs are on the line in a competition between states over the corporate headquarters of Sears. Several states are offering tax incentive packages to try to lure the company away from Illinois, including one bid from Ohio that's worth up to $400 million.
The Sears Holding Corporation, parent company to Sears and Kmart, says it is seriously considering the offer after Illinois lawmakers failed this week to approve a package of tax incentives aimed at keeping Sears and another corporate giant from leaving.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, right, and Turkish President Abdullah Gul meet in Ankara, Turkey on Friday. Biden praised Turkey for putting pressure on neighboring Syria to stop its bloody crackdown of protesters.
Credit Louai Beshara / AFP/Getty Images
A supporter of Syria's government draws the Syrian flag on a child's face during a pro-regime rally in Damascus on Friday.
In a matter of months, Turkey has gone from one of Syria's strongest allies to one of its sharpest critics as the uprising in Syria has been met with a harsh crackdown by President Bashar Assad.
Turkey has become a haven for Syrian refugees, a base for Syrian army defectors and a home for Syria's main political opposition group. And on Friday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in Turkey for talks that included the deteriorating conditions in Syria.
On the streets of Istanbul, Akram Asaf, a 31-year-old lawyer who fled Syria, says he feels safe, but not yet free.
The Partnership for a Healthier America is a Washington-based group and it has Washington's most prestigious woman as its honorary chair: first lady Michelle Obama.
But this coalition to fight childhood obesity is focused on what needs to happen outside this town, namely in the private sector, to halt the epidemic. And in the last 12 months, it has managed to ink almost 20 deals with some of the biggest food companies in the country.
Seventeen years ago, Mary J. Blige shook up the world of R&B when she released the record My Life. It ushered in a new sound: soul music over hip-hop beats. Instantly, Blige became known as the queen of hip-hop soul.
My Life was about pain — about Blige's rough childhood, abusive relationship and battles with addiction and depression. Seventeen years on, she's revisited that album. Her new record is called My Life II ... The Journey Continues. She says it's about strength.
Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Wisconsin Professional Firefighters union, and Kathleen Falk, a former county executive, walk to the Wisconsin state elections board office to deliver paperwork required to launch an effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Nov. 15 in Madison, Wis.
Credit Scott Bauer / AP
In August, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker discussed the results of recall elections for state lawmakers. Will he be next to face a recall election?
When the word "recall" makes headlines, it usually involves the removal of a defective product from store shelves, or perhaps the testimony of some nervous executive at a congressional hearing saying, "I don't recall...."
But 2011 has been the year of another kind of recall: the recall election. Angry at elected officials' handling of the economy, budget cuts and other issues, voters across America are taking the "Throw the bums out" approach to new heights.
The Wisconsin State Capitol building has been the scene of protests since February, when Gov. Scott Walker started the process of passing a law that severely limits collective bargaining for public employees in the state.
Yesterday, the Walker administration took a step that is likely to antagonize protesters further. His administration enacted new regulations that would require permits to protest at the Capitol and other state buildings.
The controversial part is that the bill allows officials to charge groups for the security and clean-up costs of such events.
Afghan women walk in the northwestern city of Herat on Nov. 23. Women still have few rights, and can end up in jail on adultery charges when they accuse a man of rape. There are fears that women's rights will be further eroded when Western troops leave the country.
This week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the pardon of a 19-year-old Afghan woman who was imprisoned for adultery after being raped by a relative, in a case that has attracted international media coverage.
But what happened to the woman, Gulnaz, who has been in prison for two years, is not an isolated episode.
Many other women have suffered similar fates. A recent U.N. report suggests that laws to protect women in Afghanistan from rape and forced marriage are still not being enforced — with devastating results.
Erin Morgenstern is the author of The Night Circus.
Yesterday I was told I had approximately 20 hours to write an essay: 450 words about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I'm quite partial to the event. Still, I thought about declining the essay, given the time constraint.
But then I decided, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, that it was rather silly to say "oh, I can't write 450 words in less than a day" So here we go:
Not long ago, economists and others expressed concerns that China's economy was expanding too quickly. Now, the latest data are raising concerns about a slowdown — and the woes it could trigger.
With a sluggish U.S. economy and troubles in the eurozone, Chinese exports are taking a hit, causing a slowdown on shop floors in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Earlier this week, the Chinese Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, fell to its lowest level in nearly three years.
There's word from Rock Hill, S.C., that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain says he'll be making an announcement on Saturday about the future of his presidential bid, The Associated Press reports.
Meanwhile, here's a related bit of news to consider: His campaign just launched a "Women for Cain" effort, chaired by the candidate's wife Gloria.
Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 3:52 pm
The thought of eating Mr. Ed or Seabiscuit is likely to pull the heartstrings of most Americans. But there are plenty of people around the world who see our horses as just another source of protein and energy.
Results from the first round of voting in Egypt's parliamentary elections are being announced this hour. Already, according to al-Jazeera and other news outlets, there's word from the head of Egypt's Elections High commission that 62 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
The Associated Press adds that Abdel-Mooaez Ibrahim called the number "the highest since the time of pharaohs."
As we've noted before, 2011 has been a great year for Internet companies seeking to go public. Today, Zynga said it hoped to price its shares at $8 to $10 per share during its initial public offering later this month. Depending on whose math you trust, that means the company will try to raise about $1 billion and the debut could value the company at $7 billion. (Some news outlets are putting that number as high as $9 billion.)
What is Zynga you ask? They're the makers of social games like Farmville and Cityville.
The unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly to 8.6 percent in November, in part because hundreds of thousands of Americans stopped looking for work. But analysts said the modest increase of 120,000 jobs created last month points to an economy that's generally still limping.