Brian Unger is the host of the History Channel show How The States Got Their Shapes.
When we talk about our moms, many of us end up crying. Barbra Walters made her career exploiting this universal weakness. Newt Gingrich proved it recently, very publicly, in Iowa talking about his mom.
I'm going to try to control my emotions as I discuss my mom.
Because I'm not ashamed to say — lately, there have been a few tears.
These days, memoirs are often the target of contempt. A scathing slam in New York Times Book Review this year inveighed against "oversharing"; and in the New Yorker, the memoirist was likened to "a drunken guest at a wedding... motivated by an overpowering need to be the center of attention." If the narrative deals with socially unacceptable matters like abuse, addiction, family dysfunction, or even poverty, the scorn gets even thicker.
When Joshua Bell was 21, he recorded an iconic piece of chamber music for piano and violin — the Sonata in A major by Cesar Franck. Today, Bell is 44 and he's recorded it again. It's on his new album, French Impressions, with pianist Jeremy Denk.
All Things Considered host Robert Siegel invited Bell to listen to his old recording for a little session of compare-and-contrast.
"Do you hear the same violinist?" Siegel asks, after playing for Bell the opening bars of his 1989 recording.
When we talk of inquisition it is usually prefaced with a definite article — as in, The Inquisition. But, as Vanity Fair editor Cullen Murphy points out in his new book, God's Jury, the Inquisition wasn't a single event but rather a decentralized, centuries-long process.
Murphy says the "inquisitorial impulse" is alive and well today — despite its humble origins with the Cathars in France, where it was initially designed to deal with Christian heretics.
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: A story of greed, playing the system for a quick buck, a group of corporate raiders led by Mitt Romney, more ruthless than Wall Street.
RAZ: That's part of an anti-Mitt Romney ad now running in South Carolina. The video is being distributed by pro-Newt Gingrich superPAC. And its message may be a sign of a growing philosophical split among the GOP candidates.
Private equity firms are under the microscope this week as a pro-Gingrich superPAC hounds GOP candidate Mitt Romney for his role as head of Bain Capital. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz talks with Dan Primack, senior editor of Fortune Magazine, about how these firms operate and the legitimacy of these attacks.
Ten years after the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, there's still some debate about Mitt Romney's claim that he helped "save" the games — and about whether he used the Olympics to relaunch a fledgling political career.
In 1999, Romney accepted the job as CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC), five years after he failed to oust Sen. Ted Kennedy from his Massachusetts Senate seat.
A controversy, now, in our nation's capital. It's over plans for a memorial to President Dwight Eisenhower. As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, members of the Eisenhower family object to the design by architect Frank Gehry, and they now want to stop the process altogether.
Bombay Bicycle Club isn't from India, nor will any of its members roll through the U.S. on bicycles during their upcoming tour. But the four British indie rockers are bringing a new sound to the States — albeit one with echoes of The Stone Roses, Radiohead and other British rock acts of the past 20 years.
Yet another foreign government has accused Americans of meddling in its internal affairs. It says U.S. donors are bankrolling local political activists, and it may be time for a crackdown on the political influence of outsiders.
The oil industry and environmentalists are fighting over the Keystone XL pipeline, and in this election year, President Obama is caught in the middle.
The industry says the pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, would create jobs. Environmentalists worry it will lead to more pollution. Obama has until next month to make a decision, and that has both sides lobbying heavily.
Aides say President Obama won't get deeply involved in the political campaign until Republicans settle on a nominee, but Mr. Obama has already been busy fundraising. Today, his campaign announced that it raised $130 million last year. And as NPR's Scott Horsley reports, even when the president is conducting his official duties, it's easy to sense the political subtext.
CORNISH: Earlier this week, we remembered the pianist Alexis Weissenberg, who died Sunday at the age of 82. He was known for the precision of his playing. One critic even called it chillingly scientific. But pianist Kirill Gerstein, who knew him well, told us that Weissenberg was just the opposite.
KIRILL GERSTEIN: I think he was not at all cold, neither as a person nor as a musician. I think there was a burning intensity that you could always sense.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Today at noon, America's oldest working clock tower rang out for the first time since the 1800s.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL RINGING)
CORNISH: Old South Meeting House in Boston was a Puritan gathering place. Ben Franklin was baptized there and the Boston Tea Party was planned there, but the belfry has been silent since 1876, after the brick building was nearly destroyed in the great Boston fire.
You can buy Twinkies on the cheap right now. Safeway, just around the corner from our office here in Washington, has them on sale - two boxes for five bucks. So the NPR Science Desk was inspired to take part in the fine, long-standing tradition of experimenting with Twinkies.
NPR's Allison Aubrey reports on their findings.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: My colleagues, Julie Rovner, our health policy correspondent, and Adam Cole, a new addition to our team, had one idea.
This year's auto show in Detroit could set the stage for a shake-up in the fiercely competitive — and hugely profitable — luxury car scene. That's because there's a new kid on the block, and its name is Cadillac.
The General Motors company says its new small, high-performance ATS will allow it to compete for the first time with Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. But getting a brand-new luxury car like the ATS ready for market can be a grueling process.
Audie Cornish talks with Thomas Haupt, respiratory disease epidemiologist for the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. He's the lead author of the study that helped uncover the source of a mysterious and large uptick in Legionnaires' disease. The study, "An Outbreak of Legionnaires Disease Associated with a Decorative Water Wall Fountain in a Hospital" was published in the online journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
The next 40-some weeks or so are going to be a screaming tower of political babble, a cacophony of accusing and boasting, pandering and slandering. I watch the news these days with the mute button permanently depressed, lest I fall into a permanent depression myself. There's only so much contention and vitriol a sensitive soul can bear.
The National Park Service is beginning to map out hundreds of old smuggler roads along the Arizona border. The agency plans to return scarred land to natural desert. Michel Marizco reports for the Fronteras Changing America Desk.