Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 6:56 am
The inventor and engineer Rube Goldberg was known for designing elaborate machines that performed simple tasks, usually in a string of successive events, each one triggering the next. His work has been the inspiration for a lot of fantastic art and music videos (think of OK Go's "This Too Shall Pass," or A-Trak's "Tuna Melt").
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 9:00 am
One line President Obama might have borrowed for his speech to the nation Tuesday night was a famous one from John F. Kennedy's inauguration address: "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."
Always admired as a fine turn of phrase, what meaning does this have in our own time?
Perhaps it might have helped Obama make the turn from indicting the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons to explaining why he backed off his own earlier threat of military retaliation against Syria.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. We've told you about baguettes in France offered in vending machines and bars of gold in Abu Dhabi. Now we can report on a vending machine selling vodka in Ukraine. For a dollar, patrons could enjoy a shot in the town center of Melitopol, mixers also available - until the machine was discovered by authorities. Unlawfully produced vodka is widespread in Ukraine and the vodka vending machine - a converted coffee maker. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Mohsin Hamid's latest novel is called How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.
Jonathan Lethem's latest novel, Dissident Gardens, is expansive in scale. Chronologically speaking, it begins in the 1930s with Communist Party meetings in the U.S. It passes through the rise of McCarthyism, the establishment of the New York Mets, the hippie Age of Aquarius and the AIDS crisis. It ventures briefly abroad, to such places as behind-the-Iron-Curtain East Germany and war-torn Nicaragua. It ends in the Obama era of Occupy sit-ins and a rampant TSA.
From the NPR Newscast: Jean Cochran rounds up the latest news about the crisis in Syria
Now that President Obama has made his case to the nation for holding Syrian President Bashar Assad responsible for a chemical weapons attack last month near Damascus, the next key moment in the quickly evolving crisis appears to be Thursday's meeting in Geneva between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Seventeen years ago, Joseph Sweet and a friend went into a cave in Watertown, New York and got lost inside. They grew so desperate for light that Mr. Sweet made little torches out of the only fuel he had, taking dollar bills from his wallet and setting them on fire. On top of everything else, he lost the wallet. He was finally rescued. And now, 17 years later, different cave explorers found the wallet, still with ID, and returned it.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.
President Obama's push for a military strike on Syria is on hold, at least for now. The administration is exploring a possible diplomatic alternative that calls for Syria to surrender its stockpile of chemical weapons. That could provide a face-saving out for the president, who appeared unlikely to win Congressional approval this week for a strike.
The country will pause Wednesday morning to remember the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. At the site of the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan, the names of all the victims will be read, along with the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Since Sept. 11, one of the most effective ways the United States has found to weaken terrorist groups has been to go after their finances. Renee Montagne talks to former Treasury official Juan Zarate, who's new book is: Treasury's War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare.
Las Vegas is adding an eye-catching tourist attraction, in the form of a huge wheel that can take more than 1,000 people on a ride 550 feet into the sky over the city's famed Strip. The main construction of the wheel, called the High Roller, is nearly finished; it is expected to open in early 2014.
In a sign of China's growing importance as a market for Apple, the company will be rolling out its new iPhones simultaneously in the U.S. and China for the first time later this month. There are a few signs, however, that the new models will not find the sort of frenzied demand as before.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is swapping out three of its blue chip companies, in what's being called the biggest shake up of the index in almost a decade. Standard & Poor's announced it's dropping Hewlett Packard, Alcoa and Bank of America at the end of next week. Sliding into their places: Visa, Nike and Goldman Sachs.
Today marks the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Over the last several years, a group of family members have created a movement to turn the anniversary into a national day of service. This year more than 30 million people will be involved, and they claim it's the largest day of service in the country.
Diplomats continue to consider a Russian plan to get Syria to hand over its chemical weapons to international control. If nations can agree on the details, the plan could avert a U.S. strike against Syrian targets. But accounting for and destroying Syria's chemical arsenal is a complicated undertaking.
Next, we'll introduce you to Nathan Myhrvold, who made his name as a prolific inventor at Microsoft. These days, he's focusing on a different kind of technological advance - the threat from biological weapons. Myhrvold is in Washington this week to meet with national security leaders, and try to convince them to spend time and energy on potential attacks. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.
The National Security Agency violated special court restrictions on the use of a database of telephone calls, but the NSA says it fixed those problems. That's the bottom line from more documents declassified by the director of National Intelligence. The document dump is part of an effort to share more details about NSA surveillance activities that were uncovered by former government contractor Edward Snowden.
OK. Maybe you're one of the millions of Americans who attended college but never had a chance to finish. And you have dozens or scores or hundreds of credits just sitting there that don't quite add up to a degree. The University of Wisconsin system has introduced an alternative way to finish your degree by earning credits based on what you already know. It's the so-called Flex Option.
Lauren Henderson goes everywhere with her service dog Phoebe — to the grocery store, Disneyland, the beach. For Henderson, who used to be paralyzed, her 100 pound, lumbering Saint Bernard is a necessity.
An actor who lives in Malibu, Calif., Henderson uses her dog for stability and balance. And if she falls, Phoebe helps pull her back on her feet.
"She's basically like a living walker," Henderson says.
The other day, I was interviewing an economist who studies the effect college majors have on peoples' income. He was telling me that women often make decisions that lead them to earn less than they otherwise might.
Women are overrepresented among majors that don't pay very well (psychology, art, comparative literature), and underrepresented in lots of lucrative majors (most fields in engineering).
For sportswriters the fattest target has always been the America's Cup. It's too easy. It's like all those political writers who make fun of vice presidents and think they're being original. Sportswriters have been going har-de-har-har about the America's Cup even long before one of their wags said it was like watching paint dry. Or like watching grass grow. One or the other. Maybe both.
Last week, Sony Corporation announced a new line of high-end audio components that promise to deliver a better online audio experience. The announcement comes amid growing evidence that music fans are tired of the crappy sound they hear on their portable music players. Case in point is the success of Cookie Marenco's business of selling super high-definition music downloads.
A debate is taking place in Iowa over the ability of people who are legally or completely blind to carry guns in public. The issue stems from a 2011 change in the state's gun permit rules, allowing visually impaired people to carry firearms in public.