Arts

Goats and Soda
1:33 am
Wed April 15, 2015

From Horses To High-Rises: An Insider 'Unmasks' China's Economic Rise

As China continues its massive economic growth, especially in cities, the government continues to severely limit people's rights. Is that system sustainable?
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 3, 2015 6:26 pm

When Henry Paulson first visited Beijing in 1991 as a banker, cars still shared major roads with horses.

"I remember getting into a taxi that drove too fast on a two-lane highway ... [that was] clogged with bicycles and horses pulling carts," says the former secretary of treasury under George W. Bush. "You still saw the hutongs — the old neighborhoods [with narrow streets] — which were very, very colorful and an important part of life."

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The Salt
3:46 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

How AeroPress Fans Are Hacking Their Way To A Better Cup Of Coffee

Twenty-four competitors put their brewing techniques to the test last week at the World AeroPress Competition in Seattle.
Jonathan Vanderweit Courteys of World Aeropress Championship

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 1:14 pm

Perhaps it takes a hacker to lure a hacker.

And Alan Adler, 76, is the ultimate hacker. A serial inventor based in Silicon Valley, Adler has 40 patents to his name. But among coffee aficionados, it's an incredibly simple device that's earned him accolades: the AeroPress.

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Movie Interviews
3:38 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

More Fear Of Human Intelligence Than Artificial Intelligence In 'Ex Machina'

In Ex Machina, the world's first artificial intelligence, played by Alicia Vikander, possesses more emotional intelligence than originally intended.
Courtesy of A24 Films

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 5:45 pm

Unlike most films about artificial intelligence, Ex Machina isn't about technological anxiety. "The anxiety in this film is much more directed at the humans," director Alex Garland tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "It was more in defense of artificial intelligence."

Garland tackled the zombie apocalypse as the writer behind the film 28 Days Later. In Ex Machina — his first film as director — he introduces us to Ava, a creation that is part woman and part machine. There's no hiding that Ava is a machine — but a very, very smart one.

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The Salt
1:26 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: The Evolution Of Tea Sets From Ancient Legend To Modern Biometrics

Ryan Kellman NPR

Originally published on Tue May 26, 2015 4:22 pm

People have been drinking tea for so long that its origin story is rooted in mythology: More than 4,700 years ago, one popular version of the story goes, a legendary Chinese emperor and cultural hero named Shennong (his name means "divine farmer") discovered how to make a tea infusion when a wind blew leaves from a nearby bush into the water he was boiling.

By the 4th century B.C., as Jamie Shallock writes in his book Tea, the beverage had become part of everyday life in China — though in a very different form than we might recognize today.

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Television
12:32 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Forget Right And Wrong: 'House Of Cards' Is About Pragmatism And Power

In House of Cards, Kevin Spacey plays Frank Underwood, a politician who climbs to power using ruthless manipulation. Underwood's wife is Claire, played by Robin Wright.
David Giesbrecht Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 1:05 pm

["Spoiler" alert: This interview about House of Cards discusses plot points from first two seasons, as well as themes addressed in the third season.]

In the pilot of the Netflix series House of Cards, politician Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, strangles a dog that was hit by a car. According to creator and showrunner Beau Willimon, there was a big debate among the producers whether to show the dog or not.

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Book Reviews
12:29 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

'The Children's Crusade': A Heavily Plotted Family Saga To Dive Into And Savor

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 3:13 pm

Ann Packer's new novel, The Children's Crusade, opens in California, on a scene that's so bedrock American, it's borderline corny.

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Monkey See
11:18 am
Tue April 14, 2015

The 'Justified' Finale Brings An End To Another TV Western

Timothy Olyphant plays Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on FX's Justified. The series finale airs tonight.
Prashant Gupta FX

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 3:30 pm

Here's why I'm going to miss FX's modern-day Kentucky Western, Justified, so much.

In last week's episode, our hero, unflinching U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, has ambushed his bitter rival, backwoods Kentucky crime lord Boyd Crowder, shooting at him from across a darkened field on the side of a mountain in hopes of finally putting down the man who is most like his opposite number.

"You've given up everything that you are, so you can murder me," Crowder (Walton Goggins) yells at Givens (Timothy Olyphant) while hunched behind a rock for cover.

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Book Reviews
8:15 am
Tue April 14, 2015

'Cold Silver' Drags Epic Fantasy Through The Mud, Wonderfully

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 1:54 pm

Early in A Crown for Cold Silver — the debut novel by Alex Marshall (a pseudonym for an established author striking off in an epic new direction) — an old woman's battle scars are mistaken for matronly wrinkles. It's a tiny detail, but it speaks volumes. In Marshall's fictional, vaguely medieval world, Cobalt Zosia is a legendary retired general who once led her fearsome Five Villains to victory in a land rife with injustice, mostly of the haves-and-have-nots variety.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Tue April 14, 2015

'Gutshot' Is Gloriously Grand Guignol

Gutshot, by Amelia Gray
Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 10:22 am

There's a label that occasionally gets slapped on works like these. I'm sure you've heard it before: "This book," reads the label's inevitably bold lettering, "is not for the faint of heart."

It's put there sometimes by censors, more often by sensationalizing marketers, and it always aims to warn you about things like Amelia Gray's Gutshot — a book brimming with blood, sexual deviance, mucus and madness. A book, in other words, that won't fail to make you shudder once or twice.

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Code Switch
2:14 am
Tue April 14, 2015

How Asian-Americans Found A Home In The World Of K-Pop

Asian music hitmaker Jae Chong, at work in a studio in Seoul. His work is all over Asian charts, but his passport is American.
Elise Hu NPR

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 6:33 am

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Author Interviews
4:27 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Take It From David Brooks: Career Success 'Doesn't Make You Happy'

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 12:13 pm

The day after Japan surrendered in 1945, and World War II ended, singer Bing Crosby appeared on the radio program Command Performance. "Well it looks like this is it," he said. "What can you say at a time like this? You can't throw your skimmer in the air — that's for a run-of-the-mill holiday. I guess all anybody can do is thank God it's over."

New York Times columnist David Brooks cites this and other aspects of that 70-year-old radio program as evidence that America once marked triumph without boasting.

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The Salt
3:25 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Clear Fruit Brandies Pack An Orchard Into A Bottle

A pear in a bottle at Westford Hill Distillery's orchard in Ashford, Conn.
Courtesy of Westford Hill Distillers

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 12:26 pm

Every springtime in the lovely Alsace region of France, people stand in blossoming pear orchards, sliding glass bottles over tender young pears. The workers fasten the bottles securely to nearby branches, and then wait a few months for each tiny pear to grow and ripen in its own little glass greenhouse.

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The Salt
1:54 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Sandwich Monday: Breakfast In A Tin

Contains egg nugget.
NPR

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 9:14 am

[Sandwich Monday note: Gillian is our resident British Person.]

Americans often look upon British food as bland and stodgy, so for this week's Sandwich Monday, I decided to prove everyone wrong with my offer of Hunger Breaks All Day Breakfast: a can of baked beans, sausage, bacon and "egg nuggets." After a trip across the Atlantic, we blitzed our meal in the microwave, then poured it back into the can for the complete experience. A cup of strong tea and drizzle are optional.

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The Two-Way
12:44 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Alan Turing Notebook Sells For More Than $1 Million At Auction

A page from the notebook of World War II code-breaking genius Alan Turing is displayed along with his portrait. The 56-page manuscript sold Monday for more than $1 million.
Kin Cheung AP

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 1:36 pm

A handwritten notebook by Alan Turing, the British mathematician credited with breaking German codes during World War II, sold for more than $1 million at auction Monday in New York. It is the first time a manuscript by Turing, a pioneer in computer science, has come to public market, according to Bonhams.

Bonhams says it is currently unable to reveal the identity of the buyer.

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Author Interviews
11:46 am
Mon April 13, 2015

How Young People Went Underground During The '70s 'Days Of Rage'

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Monkey See
8:37 am
Mon April 13, 2015

The Hapless 'Veep' Staff Trips Itself Up As Selina Ascends

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on HBO's Veep.
Patrick Harbron HBO

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 11:02 am

One of the central conceits of the first season of HBO's Veep was the carnival of humiliations suffered by Selina Meyer, played so brilliantly by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, in her capacity as vice president. She battled for relevance while waiting for the phone to ring, surrounded by a staff even more determinedly clinging to shreds of power and significance than she was. Later, Selina wound up battling primary opponents in her own bid to become president — a path that proved to have its own endless frustrations.

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Remembrances
5:43 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Günter Grass, Who Confronted Germany's Past As Well As His Own, Dies At 87

German writer Günter Grass arrives at Günter Grass-Haus, a museum in Luebeck, Germany, for his 80th birthday celebration on Oct. 27, 2007.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 5:53 pm

Günter Grass wrote more than 30 plays, novels, books of poems, essays and memoirs. He was also a visual artist and sculptor. He won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature. He died of undisclosed causes in the German town of Lübeck, his publisher, Steidl Verlag, confirmed. He was 87 years old.

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Author Interviews
4:05 pm
Sun April 12, 2015

From Harpies To Heroines: How Shakespeare's Women Evolved

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 4:43 pm

Tina Packer has spent a lifetime researching Shakespeare and his plays, both as an actress and as a director. And as she focused on the role that women play in his works, she noticed a progression.

Consider Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, one of his earliest plays, which centers on a man breaking a defiant woman's spirit. Strong-willed Kate is a harridan; her compliant sister, meanwhile, says things like, "Sir, to your pleasure humbly I subscribe."

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Poetry
3:25 pm
Sun April 12, 2015

I Saw The All-Stars Of Our Generation Honor Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl'

Poet Allen Ginsberg reads his poem "Howl" outside the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., Oct. 19, 1994, before a hearing on the constitutionality of a FCC policy restricting indecent material.
Dennis Cook AP

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 1:05 pm

Sixty years ago in San Francisco, Allen Ginsberg penned a poem that opened with the now-famous lines:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix ...

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Time Machine
5:26 am
Sun April 12, 2015

Meditating On Maisie Dobbs, Our Favorite Intuitive Detective Psychologist

Originally published on

I'm a romance advocate, and one reason I love romance novels is because they're full of strong, smart, resilient women. But, like many romance fans, I read eclectically – which brings me to another strong, smart woman: Maisie Dobbs, the World War I nurse-turned-sleuth created by Jacqueline Winspear.

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Author Interviews
5:25 am
Sun April 12, 2015

In 'Distant Marvels,' A Witness To Revolutions Tells Cuba's Story

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 9:01 am

It's 1963 Cuba and a woman named Maria Sirena is taking shelter from a hurricane inside the former governor's mansion, along with a small group of other Cuban women. Maria distracts the women at their request by recounting stories of her childhood — personal stories that trace the history of Cuba's long fight for independence.

That's the premise of Chantel Acevedo's latest novel, The Distant Marvels. Acevedo, herself the daughter of Cuban immigrants, tells NPR's Rachel Martin that she intentionally made Maria part of a unique generation in Cuba.

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Remembrances
5:25 am
Sun April 12, 2015

A Good-Old-Boy Thing: Remembering Actor James Best

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 9:01 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The actor James Best is perhaps best remembered for playing Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in "The Dukes Of Hazzard."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE DUKES OF HAZZARD")

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Around the Nation
5:25 am
Sun April 12, 2015

On Steel Horses They Ride — To Honor 19th-Century Cavalries

Reverend Jeff Moore blesses a biker at the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club rally in San Jose, Calif.
Leila Day KALW

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 9:01 am

In the mid- and late 1800s, the Buffalo Soldiers were all-black cavalries and regiments deployed to patrol and protect what would eventually become America's national parks.

Their moniker was said to have been given to the cavalries by Native Americans who thought the soldiers' hair resembled the woolly texture of a buffalo.

It's a name that carries a lot of pride — and one that lives on today. But instead of horses, today's Buffalo Soldiers ride bikes.

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Television
3:37 am
Sun April 12, 2015

'Nurse Jackie' Ends As TV's Most Honest Depiction Of Addiction

Edie Falco stars in Showtime's "Nurse Jackie."
David M. Russell Showtime

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 2:46 pm

Even after an accident with a carload full of pills gets her arrested, Nurse Jackie Peyton can't be honest about her addictions. Especially not while explaining her sudden absence to her ex-husband Kevin.

"Where were you this past week?" Kevin asks, tensely.

"Really, you want to know where I was?" Jackie responds. "I went to a detox program."

"Is that what you call jail?" he shoots back. "I was notified of the accident. The car's still in my name."

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The Salt
3:27 am
Sun April 12, 2015

Adventures In Vietnam — Street Food, Love And Taking Chances

Courtesy of Ecco Publishing

Originally published on Sun April 12, 2015 9:01 am

When English journalist Graham Holliday got tired of his office job in the U.K., he knew he wanted a change — a big one.

So he packed up and moved to Asia, first to Korea to teach English and ultimately, to the place that would be his home for nine years: Vietnam. As soon as he arrived, he was determined to immerse himself in Vietnamese culture — and for him, that meant food.

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Television
4:56 pm
Sat April 11, 2015

'American Odyssey': Three Ordinary People, One Thrill-Filled Plot

In American Odyssey, Anna Friel plays Sgt. Odelle Ballard, who is stationed in Mali. After her team is killed, she finds herself running for her life — which includes disguising herself as a man.
Keith Bernstein NBC

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 8:47 pm

Action, espionage and secrets fill the new NBC show American Odyssey.

But Peter Horton, the show's co-creator and executive producer, says it's easiest to describe the show by saying what it's not. "It's not a police show, it's not an FBI show, it's not a CIA show," he tell's NPR's Arun Rath. "It's a modern-day thriller told in three story bubbles, basically, about three very ordinary people."

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Author Interviews
4:09 pm
Sat April 11, 2015

A Dark, Funny — And Vietnamese — Look At The Vietnam War

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 7:04 pm

The Captain, a Communist sympathizer who's risen through the ranks of the South Vietnamese Army, has a confession:

I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds. I am not some misunderstood mutant from a comic book or a horror movie, although some have treated me as such. I am simply able to see any issue from both sides.

So begins Viet Thanh Nguyen's new novel, The Sympathizer.

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All Tech Considered
1:48 pm
Sat April 11, 2015

How Iconic: A Word Is Worth Thousands Of Pictures

The Noun Project uses crowdsourcing to gather an army of people to define words using icons. This is just a small selection of the huge icon dictionary.
Creative Stall via Noun Project

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 8:37 am

Picture a dictionary that doesn't need words to get the point across.

It started after Edward Boatman read the book The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. The book is about Professor James Murray, the man who compiled the first Oxford English Dictionary. But Murray didn't do it alone. He had an army of people ready to help define every word in the English language.

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Author Interviews
5:46 am
Sat April 11, 2015

How Jim Grimsley Shed His 'Racist' Skin

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 10:33 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TAMARA KEITH, HOST:

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Arts & Life
5:43 am
Sat April 11, 2015

Inside The Wild (And Hand-Drawn) World Of Bill Plympton

Jake and Ella meet cute on the bumper cars in Cheatin', but their perfect romance goes wrong after another woman starts scheming to drive them apart.
Plymptoons

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 8:54 am

Bill Plympton has come to be known as the king of indie animation — he's made seven animated features, all carefully hand-drawn. The latest has just been released — it's called Cheatin', and it's a wild tale of love, betrayal and bumper cars. Like many of Plympton's films, it has no dialogue.

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