Among the 23 recipients of the MacArthur "genius" grants this past week: an economist, a mathematician, a photographer, a neuroscientist, and a Boston-based stringed instrument bow maker.
Benoit Rolland acknowledges that the violin reigns supreme as the star of the strings, capable of fetching millions of dollars at auction. But what about the bow? "A violin with no bow is not a violin, that's clear," says Rolland.
When we get an early glimpse of Harry Copeland, he's falling in love in an instant, with a girl he sees on the Staten Island Ferry. Her hair "trapped the sun and seemed to radiate light," he writes, "and with New York in 1947, when it brimmed with color, light, drama and a babble of voices that reminded him of the world he fought to save as a paratrooper in World War II."
An unmanned U.S. Predator drone sits on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in southern Afghanistan in 2010. The U.S. has been using drones in Pakistan for years. The Pakistanis initially claimed the drone attacks as the work of their own military, but the strikes have become a source of friction.
The U.S. has been carrying out drone strikes in Pakistan for some eight years, but it's done so under a policy that has emerged piecemeal over that time.
"It started in 2004, when drones were really an oddity," says Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was on the State Department's policy planning staff when it all started during the Bush administration.
Retailers across the country expect to hire hundreds of thousands of extra workers this holiday season to help with the anticipated spike in sales. Retail workers who have been hustling year-round for more hours are looking at that news with a jaded eye — because the vast majority of these seasonal jobs will disappear after December, sending many of these workers back scrounging for more work.
With a 17-hour workweek, Onieka O'Kieffe is left with a lot of time on her hands. Too much time. She said she very often sleeps 12 hours a day just because she can.
Don't try to pigeonhole Josephine Foster. She has recorded albums of psychedelic rock and Tin Pan Alley, music for children, blues, Spanish folk tunes, 19th century German art songs and a song cycle based on the poems of Emily Dickinson. Although her soprano may be a little unusual, it's arresting.
Foster recently released a new album, Blood Rushing. She spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about finding her voice, collaborating with her husband, singing at funerals and embracing small-town life.
Originally published on Sat September 29, 2012 1:17 pm
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Former New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger has died today. He was 86 years old. Mr. Sulzberger took over the New York Times in 1963 after his brother-in-law and predecessor died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger was 37, the youngest publisher in the newspaper's history.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED TAPE)
ARTHUR OCHS SULZBERGER: As I told my sister Ruth, said do I bade my first executive decision, decided not to throw up.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will give another $45 million in aid to Syria. That aid will mostly go toward humanitarian assistance, but it will also include communications equipment for the opposition in Syria. The news came at the end of a week of speeches at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where many raised alarms about the bloodshed in Syria. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
Decades before people would camp out for days, to get the latest next-big-thing in new technology, there was the magic of pictures you could snap and see instantly - or almost. Edwin Land created a company in his garage - sound familiar? - that would be both a success, and an inspiration, to Steve Jobs and other inventive entrepreneurs of a new era, Polaroid. Its products were considered elegant, original and desirable. The company was miles and dollars above any other, in innovative technology. So why couldn't it last into the 21st century?
Writing's often depicted as a private act - scribbling, crossing out, then crumpling two sheets into a fireplace; trial, error and angst - all of which is best kept private. Silvia Hartmann is now writing on a kind of electronic stage - in an open document, a Google doc - so that readers can see her story appear line by line, edit by edit. Silvia Hartmann joins us from the south coast of England. Thanks so much for being with us.
SILVIA HARTMANN: Hi.
SIMON: So what are you trying to do here, write a novel?
Opening a new package of Tylenol can take some effort. There's the cardboard packaging, plus the push-and-twist top and the safety seal.
It used to be a matter of just popping off a cap. Thirty years ago, seven people died in Chicago suburbs after taking poisoned Tylenol. Pharmacies pulled Tylenol off the shelf in a panic, and the nation was in shock.
The southern French city of Marseille on the Mediterranean Sea has long been famous for its spicy fish soup, known as bouillabaisse. The soup started as a poor man's meal, made with leftover fish scraps, but these days, it's evolved to the point that it can run connoisseurs about $75 for a generously sized meal.
I can't think of anything I loved more than talking to Leonard Bernstein. Or, more accurately, listening to him talk — about music or any topic under the sun. I remember a long discourse we had about one of my favorite books, Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, and Bernstein's summarizing statement: "Well, of course, every author spends his whole life writing the same book."
In the spring of 1963, as the U.S. was mired in conflicts with Vietnam and Cuba and the Soviet Union, President John F. Kennedy called his old friend David Hackett to express his frustration at the U.S. men's ice hockey team — and their miserable record overseas.
JFK: Dave, I noticed that in the paper this morning that the Swedish team beat the American hockey team 17-2. Hackett: Yeah, I saw that. JFK: Christ! Who are we sending over there? Girls?
In Utah, the state's lone Democratic congressman is in a tough battle for a seventh term. Jim Matheson's opponent, Mia Love, has the support of national GOP superstars and, if elected, would become the first black Republican woman in Congress.
In a state where only about 25 percent of residents vote as Democrats, Matheson has successfully gotten enough Republicans to vote for him and keep him in office for the past 12 years. He can trace his political roots back to his father, Scott Matheson, the state's last Democratic governor.
Los Angeles County's sheriff is under fire. A blue-ribbon commission issued a scathing report Friday accusing Sheriff Lee Baca of failing to address long-standing allegations of inmate abuse in his jails. The accusations include deputies beating inmates, cover-ups and a persistent culture of violence.
The sheriff has been able to weather many storms during his 14-year tenure, but this may be the toughest fight of his political career.
Originally published on Sat September 22, 2012 9:33 am
The emoticon, punctuation to depict a facial expression, began 30 years ago this week. Using three keystrokes, the colon, dash and parenthesis, to suggest a smile may not be a great scientific advance, like the coronary stent or computer chip. But the emoticon has been simple, useful and enduring.
There had been previous hints of emoticons. A newspaper transcript of Abraham Lincoln drawing a laugh in 1862 follows it with a semi-colon and parentheses, but that may have simply been a printer's typo.
Despite a series of political fumbles, Mitt Romney is "still very much in the game," according to political strategist Steve Schmidt. But, he says, it will take some work.
Schmidt served as John McCain's senior strategist in the 2008 election and helped George W. Bush get reelected in 2004. He spoke with Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon about the Romney campaign's stresses.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Chicago teachers voted to end their strike this week, the first in 25 years, and came back to class. It brought an end to a heated confrontation between leaders of the Chicago teachers union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who repeated this phrase time and again during the strike.
MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: This was a strike of choice and it's a wrong choice for the children. Really, it was a choice.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney released his 2011 tax return this week in an effort to quell fiscal controversy about his personal finances. The Romney Campaign accompanied the release with a letter from his accountant that says the candidate paid at least 13 percent of his income in taxes in each of the past 20 years.
Both campaigns tried to appeal to older voters yesterday. President Obama and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan addressed thousands of members of the AARP in New Orleans. Changes to Medicare and Social Security topped the agenda for both, but NPR's Ina Jaffee reports, there was more to these voters reactions to the candidates.
If you live in a swing state, the political ads on TV right now are inescapable, and they're only going to get more intense in the seven weeks before Election Day. NPR's Ari Shapiro wanted to see the impact that all this advertising's having on one community. He's been in Colorado Springs for the last week reporting a pair of stories that will air on Morning Edition and All Things Considered on Monday. Ari joins us now. Thanks so much for being with us.
It's been more than a quarter century since the federal government enacted any immigration legislation which wasn't about enforcement and over that time, the government has spend hundreds of billions of dollars on fences, aircrafts, detention centers and agents. NPR's Ted Robbins looks at what taxpayer money has bought and why it's not likely to go away, even as budgets shrink and illegal immigration lessens.
Ray Mancini carried hopes and ghosts into the boxing ring. He was the son of a great contender, Lenny Mancini, who was wounded in World War II before he ever got a chance at a championship. Mancini inherited his father's ring nickname — "Boom Boom" — and his championship dreams. In 1980, Mancini succeeded in winning the lightweight championship of the world, earning him widespread adoration.
Saturday marks the 150th anniversary of a crucial moment in U.S. history. On Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, announcing his intention to free the slaves in the states rebelling against the Union.
Unemployment is rampant in Spain and full-time jobs are scarce. Here a woman works at a street stall in Madrid. Some Spaniards are signing up for "time banks," where individuals perform services based on their skills, and receive another service in return. No money changes hands. A woman is shown here working at a street stall in Madrid.
Rickie Lee Jones' new album, The Devil You Know, is a collection of covers. "I think [I recorded the album] partially to remind people that a singer is the one who interprets the song," she says. "And once you do that, it's yours."
Eric San, who goes by the name Kid Koala, plays the blues. But just as Kid Koala isn't a traditional blues name like Blind Lemon Jefferson or Doctor Ross the Harmonica Boss, he isn't a standard blues man.
Kid Koala is a DJ. Big turntables, fast hands, scratching old-fashioned vinyl records — the whole deal. Now, he's taken that DJ equipment and produced a "turntable blues" album titled 12 Bit Blues.
So how did a Canadian DJ discover the blues, exactly? San says it all happened in high school.