With the federal government in the midst of a shutdown, NPR's Scott Simon turns to Profiles In Courage by John F. Kennedy. As he pages through the chapters on politicians who did what they felt was right, in spite of party and constituent pressure, he wonders how similar defiance might play out these days.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas held the Senate floor for 21 hours, and during that time, he read from Green Eggs and Ham. NPR's Scott Simon reflects on the quotes and texts politicians turn to, and the ones they avoid.
For almost half a millennium, the phrase "call a spade a spade" has served as a demand to "tell it like it is." It is only in the past century that the expression began to acquire a negative, racial overtone.
Nike made the leap onto the stock averages index when Hewlett-Packard, Bank of America and Alcoa were dropped because of their low stock prices. Yes, says, commentator Frank Deford, a mere sporting goods company has joined the wealthy elite.
The Washington, D.C., health department has proposed a 24-hour tattoo waiting period. A spokeswoman says it's designed to help customers avoid ink they'll later regret. But NPR's Scott Simon notes that for many, the whole appeal of tattoos is that they are painful — and permanent.
When dictionaries add trendy words like "twerk," they're prioritizing the fleeting language habits of the young, says Geoff Nunberg. And our fascination with novel words tends to eclipse subtle changes in the meanings of old ones — "which are often more consequential," he says.
Daniel Woodrell's new novel explores the lingering consequences of an explosion in an Ozarks dance hall that kills 42 people. It wasn't an accident, but the book isn't about a hunt for the murderer. Instead, reviewer Ellah Allfrey says, it's a remarkable study of a surviving sister's life and grief.
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