It's a near-perfect morning on Venice Beach in Southern California, temperatures in the 60s, with a breeze. You can hear the waves of the Pacific crash against the sand. Only a layer of clouds mars the scene.
Scott and Sue Nolan, visiting from Houston, play kickball in the sand with their son. They are grateful to be in this mild, if not perfectly sunny weather, but Sue Nolan has noticed something's not right.
"One of the thoughts, when we were driving through town was, how are they sustaining all this with what you see so dry everywhere?" she says.
What do you get when you add Jay-Z's 'Problems' to Three Dog Night's 'Loneliest Number'? In this Season One bonus round, titled "Replacement Math," puzzle guru Art Chung challenges contestants to solve simple arithmetic problems using numbers found in pop culture. Calculus is a lot less scary when it involves your favorite band.
Anjan Sundaram had all kinds of options in the late summer of 2005. He had a master's in mathematics from Yale, a lucrative job offer from Goldman Sachs; and he was just about to begin a Ph.D. But he left all that behind and made a dramatically different choice. He headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the worst conflict zones in the world, to try to start a career in journalism. At the time, the death count in that war was more than 4 million people. That number continues to rise.
Originally published on Sun January 5, 2014 7:42 am
When former South African President Nelson Mandela died last month, he was celebrated around the world, lauded in this country by politicians who range as far apart on the ideological spectrum as President Obama and Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a pair of two-syllable words. The first syllable of the word answering the first clue has the letters A-R, pronounced "are." Change these phonetically to "er," and you'll get a new word that answers the second clue. For example, given "hair-cutter" and "a North African," the answer would be "barber" and "Berber."
Fast-forward to a few hundred years into the future: Resources in the United States are scarce. The government has fallen apart and most of the population has left, looking for a better life somewhere else.
Immigrant laborers — many from China — have come to fill the labor void, and life in the new America is divided into three distinct societies. First, the Charters, walled-off cities populated by the elites. Next are the working-class cities where the laborers live, and last are the lawless and wild places in between.
As we just heard, jobless benefits are a top priority for Congress when lawmakers get back to work tomorrow. But of course, there are more big issues to resolve. And joining us to run through the rest of the 2014 congressional agenda is NPR's political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.
The nation's crime labs are no strangers to scandal. Last year in Massachusetts, bogus testing by former chemist Annie Dookhan called into question tens of thousands of cases and led to the release of more than 300 people from the state's prisons.
A fan named Peter Graham once said that the golden age of science fiction is 12. That's true for me, although like many other fans I'd insist that my first exposure to SF happened during the real golden age. The decade from 1965 to 1975 was science fiction's so-called New Wave, when the genre took on both the turmoil of the '60s and the literary techniques of high modernism. The mix of the two created spectacular results, as dozens of energized writers penned scores of wonderful books. To this day their impact is being recognized; 2014 will see Samuel R.
The Everly Brothers' close harmonies and smooth guitar licks influenced an entire generation of popular musicians. Don Everly's voice usually handled the melody, but Phil Everly gave the higher accompanying harmony to that melody, and that was what defined The Everly Brothers' sound.
When Jimmy Santiago Baca was 20, he was convicted of drug charges and sentenced to prison. He was illiterate when he arrived at the Arizona State Prison. When he got out five years later, he was well on his way to becoming one of America's most celebrated poets.
Baca writes about oppression, love and migration, and his poems range from just a few lines to many pages.
Outside of China and Taiwan, U.S. museums hold the world's best collection of Chinese paintings. It's worth billions of dollars, but it's also fragile: Over time, these paintings fall apart. In the U.S., there are only four master conservators who know how to take care of them, and they're all approaching retirement.
In November, 222,000 Californians opened their mailboxes to find a warning: Unemployment benefits were scheduled to end in December.
While Congress was inching closer to passing a budget, Emergency Unemployment Compensation was not part of the deal. That's the long-term jobless benefits: extra federal money that allows unemployed workers to collect payments for months longer than they could in better economic times.
Sure enough, on Dec. 18, Congress passed that budget and packed up for Christmas recess, leaving those extended benefits to expire just 10 days later.
On Monday, the BCS National Championship featuring Florida State and Auburn University will mark the end of the confusing and controversial Bowl Championship Series. Dennis Dodd from CBS Sports speaks with NPR's Arun Rath about what this means for the future of NCAA football.
"Saul Zaentz, who parlayed a successful career in the music business into a Oscar-winning second act as an independent movie producer, died Friday at his home in the San Francisco area from complications of Alzheimer's," The Hollywood Reporter writes.
He was 92.
The three Oscars that Zaentz won were all "best picture" awards — for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975, Amadeus in1984 and The English Patient in 1996.
On Saturday afternoons, sometimes with a coworker or two, Siavash Rahbari drives up a rutted side street in Kabul to visit the Window of Hope orphanage.
In the living room, there are a dozen boys and two girls. Some are playing, while others lie around on mats on the floor, clearly suffering from a range of disabilities. Rahbari, a Texan who works at an NGO in Kabul, gives the children a cursory inspection.
Former first lady Barbara Bush is home after more than five days of treatment at a Houston hospital. She had pneumonia.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath says the 88-year-old wife of one president and mother of another had a couple "truly great days" in which she responded well to treatment.
Originally published on Sat January 4, 2014 12:26 pm
... there's no hot air left in Washington.
We bet Two-Way readers can do much better than that. Feel free to answer our headline's question in the comments thread.
The news, of course, is that "record breaking cold" is expected through Monday "from the Northern Plains eastward into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley," according to the National Weather Service. It warns that: