In Louisiana, Mardi Gras comes each year with dozens of parades filled with marching bands, colorful floats and parade-goers who scream, "Throw me something, Mister!"
That "something" the crowd wants are beads. The goal of any Mardi Gras parade is to catch as many as possible. After the revelry, people often have so many beads around their necks they can barely turn their heads.
Online competitive gaming is increasingly mirroring the world of professional sports. E-sports are attracting hard-working teams that compete for millions of dollars in prize money.
Generally, gamers wage battles with one another using rapid clicks of a computer mouse. "A lot of it comes down to reflexes, but a lot of [it] is strategy," says David Gorman, a sportscaster for the popular e-sport, Dota 2. "It's very much like chess, except it's in real time. Almost like speed chess."
The midlife crisis book inhabits a behemoth literary genre. It spans the feel-good fantasy of Eat, Pray, Love; the survival of "ordinary disasters" and meditation on mortality that is Martin Amis' Experience; and the chintz-patterned glasses through which Anna Quindlen envisions the padded retreat into her prime real estate-ensconced years.
On Tuesday, President Obama will unveil his budget proposal for the coming year. But for all the sound and fury surrounding the president's spending plan, it's likely to have very little significance. Congress routinely ignores the president's budget. And lawmakers have already settled on overall spending levels for the coming year.
That's led some to ask whether it's time to bring the curtain down on this annual exercise in political theater.
Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 10:07 am
For real estate agents, March Madness has begun.
The rush is on to throw out clutter, paint walls and clean carpets. Historic data show the peak time for selling homes is April through July, and that means this is the month for spring cleaning.
"Freshen up the landscape and add that mulch now," Dallas Realtor Jeff Duffey recommended in a phone interview. "Get your over-sized furniture out of the small bedroom and put more lamps in that dark room."
The economy has a lot riding on how well people obey Duffey's marching orders.
We've all seen them: the public service announcements about sex trafficking in America. They're plastered on buses and billboards; images of young women exploited for their bodies, with hotlines to call for help.
The numbers are staggering. The Justice Department estimates that each year at least 200,000 children are trafficked for sex in the U.S., and it is said to generate upward of $32 billion a year.
When Mad Men first premiered on AMC in 2007, Xavier Ruffin — a young, African-American graphic designer from Milwaukee, Wisc. — really wanted to like it.
"I wanted to be a fan of it when it first came out," Ruffin tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I just had my own personal differences. Not liking the way blacks were represented in their universe. I just couldn't get over it."
The standoff in Crimea is increasing in intensity and has become a focal point of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Host Arun Rath talks to NPR's Michele Kelemen about the diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff in the region.
In fact, most of those 15 or so states that use the Heat and Eat loophole have Democratic governors. Along with New York and Connecticut are the likes of California, Massachusetts and Oregon. More than 20 percent of Oregonians are on food stamps. That's one of the highest rates in the country. These new cuts would affect over 140,000 people there. On average, they'd lose about $58 a month.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.
Last month, President Obama made a special trip to Michigan to sign the farm bill, finally passed after two years of disagreement in Congress. One important clause said to take effect this month is a major cut to food stamps. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the cuts would affect about 850,000 households, saving about $8.5 billion over the next 10 years. That cut was achieved by closing what some see as a loophole regarding who qualifies for the program.
A gang of 10 knife-wielding men killed at least 29 people and wounded 130 others at a train station in southern China in what the government is describing as a "violent terror attack," Xinhua News Agency reports.
Four of the assailants were also killed by police, reports the Associated Press. One suspect was arrested.
It's time for your weekly look back at technology and culture coverage from NPR and beyond. A quick guide, for first-time readers: Our NPR interviews or stories are in the ICYMI section, links to the broader conversations in tech this week are in "The Big Conversation" and links we loved are in "Curiosities."
Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 12:12 pm
Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum who last month debated TV personality Bill Nye "The Science Guy" pitting his Biblical literalism against Darwinian evolution, says the highly publicized showdown has been like manna from heaven for a foundering $73 million Noah's Ark theme park.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
We've interviewed a lot of musicians on this show, but recently we got a chance to interview the greatest rock band ever in all of history. That would be Tenacious D, also known as actor Jack Black and his friend Kyle Gass.
CARL KASELL: We were joined by Brian Babylon, Charlie Pierce, and Roxanne Roberts and we began with Jack Black trying to describe what their music is all about.
JACK BLACK: Well, it's been said that we're a combination of Black Sabbath and who's the other band, Kage?
When you think of successful movie directors, you think of people like the guy in Fellini's movie "Eight and a Half": confident, half-dictator, half-philosopher, half-womanizer.
CARL KASELL: That's three halves.
SAGAL: Don't quibble. So we were surprised and delighted to talk to Barry Sonnenfeld, director of such huge Hollywood movies as the "Men in Black" films and "Get Shorty." Turns out he's just as odd and nervous as we are.
CARL KASELL: From NPR and WEB Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. And here's your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Carl. Oh, thank you everybody. Thank you everybody, great to see you. Listen, like a lot of people we have finally cracked after months of the polar vortex and blizzards and snow. We have cabin fever, seasonal affective ditorder, rickets.
Thailand's anti-government protesters have temporarily abandoned their street barricades and quit mass demonstrations aimed at shutting down the capital and ousting the country's premier.
But the protesters vowed to regroup at a central location in Bangkok and continue their efforts to force the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was returned to power last month in an election boycotted by the opposition.
Hundreds of visual-effects artists are planning to picket the Academy Awards on Sunday for the second year in a row. They're hoping to bring attention to what's been happening in their industry.
The field is losing jobs and relocating to countries with bigger subsidies for employers. It's the result of a technical revolution that's changed the profession since it kicked off in the 70s with Star Wars creator George Lucas' visual-effects company, Industrial Light and Magic.
The Pakistani Taliban said Saturday it will observe a month-long cease-fire to revive failed peace talks with Islamabad.
"The senior leadership of the Taliban advises all subgroups to respect the Taliban's call for a ceasefire and abide by it and completely refrain from all jihadi activities in this time period," the militant group said in a statement.
Russia's parliament has unanimously approved a request by President Vladimir Putin to authorize the intervention of Moscow's forces in Ukraine until "the normalization of the political situation" there. In response, Ukraine put its own forces on alert and warned that a Russian invasion would spark war between the two countries.
The most romantic scene from any of this year's Oscar-nominated films begins with a deliciously idiosyncratic pickup line. At a swinger's pool party in 1978, a flabby yet still somehow alluring Christian Bale gently grabs the arm of Sydney Prosser, played by Amy Adams at her most wide-eyed and guileful. "Is that Duke Ellington on your bracelet?" he murmurs.