This time of year, pleas for donations are as plentiful as eggnog and door-buster sales. Americans give around $300 billion a year to charity. And as NPR's Alix Spiegel reports, psychologists have started to look more closely at when and why we're motivated to give.
When the euro was rolled out nearly a decade ago, it was touted as a unifying force across European cultures. Uwe Boek, a 48-year-old Berliner, has seen and embraced these changes: "It's us being Europeans in the European Union. Because the euro is money but the European Union is about identity."
There was a time when Greeks were proud of being Greek, of being a people known for dancing, being happy without material wealth, enjoying life. Now, Greeks are known for being deeply in debt, accused by some of living the high life on other people's money, of dragging Europe's economy to the brink of disaster.
This year's 21st First Annual IgNobel Prize Ceremony featured the science of sighs, inquiries into the yawning habits of the red-footed tortoise, and songs about the chemistry of coffee. Ira Flatow and Ig master of ceremonies Marc Abrahams present some of the highlights from this year's festivities.
In his new book The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways writer Earl Swift looks at the history and people behind the world's largest public works project — the U.S. interstate superhighway system.
Some pumpkins just aren't meant for the pie pan. Robert Sabin has been growing "Atlantic giant" pumpkins for ten years and says they are more like children than fruit to him. He raises his pumpkins for competition--the heavier, the better.
The first stethoscope, invented by the French physician René Laennec, was simply a hollow wooden or ebony tube. Laennec named the device using the Greek roots stethos, or chest, and skopein, to look at or to observe. Medical historian Howard Markel discusses how Laennec came up with the invention. Unlike the stethoscope familiar to patients today, the original device was a simple tube.
Originally published on Fri November 25, 2011 4:29 pm
The architect of Arizona's controversial immigration law has been voted out of office. That law and similar statutes are undergoing difficult court challenges. And the strictest law, in Alabama, has ignited a withering backlash expected to force major changes.
Have the crackdowns on illegal immigration finally gone too far?
Before Led Zeppelin, there was Iron Butterfly — these days, a very misremembered band from Los Angeles. Maybe it was the movie industry all around, but '60s garage-rock in L.A. had an expansive, almost cinematic streak. Iron Butterfly was not the most inventive band on that scene, but it became the most famous because of a single, durable, out-of-nowhere hit, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." The song was 17 minutes long, and the proper thing to do on underground radio stations was the play the whole thing.
Originally published on Fri November 25, 2011 8:03 am
Maybe we're too inclined to believe the worst about supermarket food.
How else to explain the reaction to a recent report about honey on the web site Food Safety News? Food Safety News is published by a lawyer who represents plaintiffs in lawsuits against food manufacturers and processors.
Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History dismisses claims that the apocalypse is coming, but it's still scrupulously providing evidence. Some people predict catastrophe in 2012, supposedly based on forecasts by the ancient people known as Mayans. Anthropologists now say there are two, not just one, ancient references to December 2012. But they say modern forecasters of doom have still, quote, "twisted the Mayan cosmovision." It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Good morning, I'm Linda Wertheimer. The world's worst soccer team finally won a game. In 17 years of international play, American Samoa has scored just a dozen goals, compared to the 229 they've allowed. But they scored two this week, to beat Tonga 2-1 in a World Cup qualifying match.
The American Samoans hope their win will raise their ranking. They currently sit at 204th in the world.
It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Egypt's ruling military council and anti-government protesters are in a standoff. The military council has pledge to hand over power once a newly- elected president and parliament are in place next summer, but protesters have rejected the idea.
The housing crisis has stalled home building but apartment construction is undergoing a bit of a renaissance. There's now a huge pool of people forced to rent because they can't afford to buy a home, or they were a victim of foreclosure. In Denver, there aren't enough apartment vacancies. Colorado Public Radio's Ben Markus has the story.
Rhode Island had one of the most underfunded pension systems in the country until last week. That's when an overwhelming majority of state lawmakers passed big changes, mostly affecting future retirees. Now those lawmakers are facing angry unions, which are preparing for a legal fight. As Catherine Welch of Rhode Island Public Radio reports, the unions are also hinting at a political battle against those who supported the plan.
This week in New York Magazine, two writers from different political parties each critiqued their own side. On Thursday, we heard from conservative David Frum, who argues Republicans lost touch with reality. In the same issue, liberal writer Jonathan Chait also uses the word "fantasy" in describing liberals. He tells Steve Inskeep liberals have become unreasonable.
In Afghanistan, a media boom followed the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, but there have been problems. Watchdog groups report hundreds of cases of violence and intimidation against journalists, including murder. Afghan reporters have learned which topics are off-limits, and they take great care to avoid offending the country's powerful. NPR's Ahmad Shafi reports from Kabul.
NPR's Business News starts with rising computer prices. A component used to make computers has become more expensive. The reason why, is around the world in Southeast Asia. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.
It wasn't long ago that Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's rise to the top of the Republican field of presidential candidates was called "meteoric." In August, she won the Iowa straw poll. Now, she's polling in the single digits.
But Bachmann is plowing ahead with her campaign and this week she came out with a memoir, Core of Conviction. In it, she writes about her 28 children — five biological and 23 foster kids. She spent much of the 1990s as a stay-at-home mom.
Sometimes in the life of a reporter, you meet a person so extraordinary, so interesting, that you want to share that experience with others. Such is the case with Albie Sachs, whom I met while on vacation in South Africa.
Sachs has led a remarkable life, moving from freedom fighter to founding father.
At NPR, we know a thing or two about promotional merchandise. After all, we invented the Nina Totin' Bag and the Carl Kasell Autograph Pillow. So, on this Black Friday, White House correspondent Scott Horsley presents the NPR guide to campaign swag.