I went to Toys R Us recently to buy my son a Lego set for Hanukkah. Did you know a small box of Legos costs $60? Sixty bucks for 102 plastic blocks!
In fact, I learned, Lego sets can sell for thousands of dollars. And despite these prices, Lego has about 70 percent of the construction-toy market. Why? Why doesn't some competitor sell plastic blocks for less? Lego's patents expired a while ago. How hard could it be to make a cheap knockoff?
Brothers John and Martin Pizzarelli were born into a family of musicians. Their father is the famed jazz guitarist, Bucky Pizzarelli, who, during the 1960s, performed in the Tonight Show Band and who worked as a session player for rock acts such as Dion and the Belmonts. Musical greats, too, were in and out of the Pizzarelli house in Paterson, New Jersey, as John and Martin were growing up. It makes perfect sense then that, eventually, Martin picked up the upright bass professionally and John found his calling with jazz guitar, singing and songwriting.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 1:44 pm
The energy in the room is palpable, as Wynton Marsalis launches into "Dipper Mouth Blues," a tune named for King Oliver's trumpet player, Louis Armstrong. "New Orleans Bump" features the whimsical clarinet of Victor Goines.
Credit Courtesy of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Average life expectancy around the world has ticked up over the past twenty years. Here it's shown for men in 2009. The extremes are in dark green and dark red, which represent 78 to 82 years old and less than 66 years old, respectively.
Credit Courtesy of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
What killed people around the world in 2010? This graph shows causes of death for each age group.
A military coup brought down Mali's prime minister in March, allowing radical Islamists from Mali and surrounding areas to take hold of an area the size of Texas. As al-Qaida-linked militants take over the northern part of the country, many wonder what the U.S. and other can do to intervene.
ScuttleButton, of course, is that once-a-week waste of time exercise in which each Monday or Tuesday (or, as they call today, "Thursday") I put up a vertical display of buttons on this site. Your job is to simply take one word (or concept) per button, add 'em up, and, hopefully, you will arrive at a famous name or a familiar expression. (And seriously, by familiar, I mean it's something that more than one person on Earth would recognize.)
2012 has been a very jittery year — what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and the looming "fiscal cliff." In response to these tense times, some readers seek out escape; others look to literature that directly confronts the atmospheric uncertainty of the age. I guess I'm in the latter camp, because many of my favorite books this year told stories, imagined and real, about ordinary people who felt like they didn't have a clue what hit 'em.
When the 20-inch gas pipeline next to Interstate 77 in West Virginia first ruptured on Tuesday, nobody at pipeline operator, Columbia Gas Transmission, knew it.
Now, the National Transportation Safety Board is trying to find out why. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt says no warning went off in the operating company's control center in nearby Charleston, so investigators are going there to interview staffers and review data.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 3:50 pm
Here's an experiment you can try. But please be the scientist and not the test subject.
Watch people cross the street and note whether they're yakking on the phone, texting or bopping to tunes while they do it. If you're really ambitious, time how long it takes them to cross.
This past summer researchers from the University of Washington did it. They watched more than 1,100 pedestrians at the 20 intersections in Seattle that racked up the most pedestrian injuries over the last three years.
Zakale Creations is a jewelry-designing operation that employs 30 young people who were previously involved in crime. The Nairobi-based operation is the brainchild of John Mucheru, himself a former mugger.
Credit John Burnett/NPR
John Mucheru of Zakale Creations poses with his jewelry designs in Nairobi's Huruma slum.
After covering East Africa for five months, a profound problem I encountered in every country was what will happen to the continent's exploding cities.
The U.N. predicts that by 2040, six in 10 Africans will live in cities — an estimated 1 billion people. One of the pressing questions for African leaders is how to occupy all the idle young men who turn to crime because there are no jobs.
In Nairobi's Huruma slum, I came across a point of light — one man's attempt to take in thieves and prostitutes and give them honest work, of all things, making jewelry.
Switching gears now, the issues of Palestinians, both in the U.S. and abroad, are often in the news, but not, I think it's fair to say, because of the comedy scene, which is where Maysoon Zayid comes in.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, those apps you've been downloading to keep the kids occupied during car rides and sports practices? It turns out, according to federal regulators, they are collecting all kinds of information that they aren't telling you about. So we will. In a few minutes.
And finally today, we want to take a moment to remember a legend in Indian classical music. Ravi Shankar died this week at the age of 92. He played the sitar, a long six-stringed wood instrument. He used it to communicate Indian music and culture to an American audience, and in fact audiences around the world. Shankar is known both for his own musicianship and his collaborations with Western greats like the Beatles and John Coltrane. Here's a collaboration with American violinist Yehudi Menuhin. The album is called "West Meets East."
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, she is Palestinian, Muslim, she has cerebral palsy and she earns a living as a stand-up comic and that is no joke. We'll meet Maysoon Zayid in just a few minutes.
But, first, we want to talk about something you may want to have on your radar if you're still shopping for holiday gifts and one of the things on your list is a mobile device, especially one that a child might use or borrow.
Six-time Grammy nominee Miguel has been heating up the airwaves with his newest album, Kaleidoscope Dream. Miguel sat down with host Michel Martin to discuss his musical style and why he wants to challenge stereotypes about R&B. *Advisory: This conversation may not be suitable for all listeners.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 11:08 am
2012 has been a jittery year, what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and, now, the looming "fiscal cliff." Not surprisingly, many of my favorite books told stories, imagined and real, about people who felt like they didn't have a clue what hit them.
Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 9:30 am
Stephen Prince has plenty of money, and he doesn't mind sending more of it to the federal government.
"There's nothing in history that supports the view that if you give the wealthy their money back, they'll invest it," says Prince, who owns a company based in Nolensville, Tenn., that makes gift cards. "We invest anyway — that's what the wealthy do."
COME RIGHT DOWN RIGHT NOW BUY SOME FURNITURE EVERYTHING MUST GO WE ARE LIQUIDATING MERCHANDISE FOR THE THIRD TIME SINCE LAST FEBRUARY AND THIS TIME WE REALLY MEAN IT WE ARE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS ANY REASONABLE OFFER WILL BE ACCEPTED OR MY NAME ISN'T CRAZYPANTS MCGILLICUDDY.*
President Obama examines a K'NEX roller coaster on Nov. 30 at a Hatfield, Pa., factory that makes the toys. During the visit, Obama spoke about the economy, the middle class and his plan to raise taxes on top wage earners.