Dominican-American novelist Junot Diaz was awarded a MacArthur "genius grant" and the no-strings-attached $500,000 prize that comes with it. The Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Brief And Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao talks about the grant, his writing process and how the award may affect his work.
The Oxford English Dictionary needs your help. Do you know where words like disco, baked Alaska or email come from? For years the widely regarded authority in the English language has asked the public for help tracking down the history of words and phrases. Yet as our lexicon evolves, the mission grows even tougher. A new initiative called OED Appeals hopes to solve that problem by using that same crowdsourcing approach online.
How much extra would you pay for local food? It's a familiar question. We face it practically every time we shop for groceries, either at the store or at the farmers market. But what about food that can save the lives of severely malnourished children?
Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 3:00 pm
Appliance maker KitchenAid quickly deleted and apologized for a message that went out on its Twitter account during last night's presidential debate because the comment about President Obama and his grandmother was so offensive.
The comment writer â€” who has not been identified â€” picked up on the president's mention of his grandmother and tweeted that:
"Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! 'She died 3 days b4 he became president'."
Ay-yi-yi, what is it with these Dominican men? Their hands â€” and eyes â€” never stop roving, even as they're slipping engagement rings on their true loves' fingers.
If that sounds like negative stereotyping, don't complain to me: I'm just passing along the collective cultural verdict of the women and men, most of them themselves Dominican, who hustle through Junot Diaz's latest short story collection, This Is How You Lose Her. A good man is hard to find in these stories, and when you do find him, he's always in bed with someone else.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, we are recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month by speaking with the first Mexican-American woman to become a college or university president in the U.S. We'll hear her very interesting story in a few minutes.
But first, we turn to last night's presidential debate. An estimated 60 million Americans tuned in to watch the first face-off between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Film goers will remember Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels for his provocative 2009 drama "Precious," which was based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire. It was an often grim, but also inspiring, story of an obese, illiterate, abused black teenaged mother who eventually finds a way to overcome her many challenges.
And now, we turn to California. Earlier this week, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a landmark piece of legislation banning a controversial form of therapy that is meant to change the sexual orientation of children under 18. Supporters of the ban say the so-called gay to straight conversion therapy can psychologically scar patients in the worst possible ways and there's no medical evidence that it works.
Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 4:43 pm
If you think substance trumps style, the analysis of last night's presidential debate might come as a shock. There seems to be a lot more talk today about things like temperament and facial expressions than the facts.
Here's a sampling of opinion:
Writing in Forbes, Frederick E. Allen says President Obama "looked defensive and uncertain," while GOP challenger Mitt Romney "may have said things that were clearly untrue ... but he said them convincingly."
The bottom line: This doesn't mark any significant change in the jobs market, especially considering the "4-week moving average was 375,000, unchanged from the previous week's revised average." That figure is a better measure of labor market trends.
Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 12:28 pm
The Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera became a baseball legend last night: He took the first Triple Crown in 45 years and joined the likes of Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle as the 15th player in history to win it.
The stats that got him the most coveted mantle for a hitter? A .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs. (You win the Triple Crown if you lead the league in those three measures.) Boston's Carl Yastrzemski was the last player to achieve the feat, back in 1967.
Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 7:04 am
The situation between Syria and Turkey escalated today, as Turkey continued its attack on targets inside Syria and the Turkish parliament gave the OK for military action outside its borders.
As we reported, Turkey is retaliating for a rocket attack that killed five civilians yesterday. The development is important because it could mean the conflict between rebels and the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad has now become regional.
Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Canadian police say they've seized thousands of gallons of maple syrup. They found the sweet stuff in the storehouse of an exporter. The truckloads of syrup appear to be a small part of a heist that siphoned off much of the strategic reserves of a producers cooperative in Quebec. The total amount missing: about $20 million worth. Still, it's a bit of a sticky investigation, as maple syrup is near impossible to track. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.
Major League Baseball's regular season ended yesterday with the kind of day that would warm the commissioner's heart: fans cheering from coast to coast, a towering achievement for one very good hitter, and the promise of even more excitement to come as the playoffs begin. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman has been tracking this season. He's on the line.
Women in the U.S. military have been flying warplanes for years, and recently began serving in artillery and tank units. But they're still barred from direct ground combat.
Now, for the first time in the course's 35-year history, the Marine Corps is putting the first women through its grueling Infantry Officer Course: 86 days crawling through obstacle courses, lugging heavy machine guns, navigating the woods at night.
Col. Todd Desgrosseilliers, the top trainer at Marine Base Quantico in Virginia, says there's a good reason the course is so tough that 1 in 5 Marines fail.
If you want to gain a good insight into Pakistan's economic situation, just look at a few of the country's newspaper headlines on any given day. The language says it all: prices soar, stocks plunge, budget deficit swells, foreign investment evaporates â€” and the list goes on.
Now, analysts are increasingly worried that the faltering economy could join Pakistan's pervasive insurgency and repeated political upheavals as another serious threat to the country's stability.
For one day, anyone who showed up to this alley in the U Street neighborhood of Washington, D.C., could take a free turn at playing Indiana Jones â€” donning a fedora and whip and fleeing from a gigantic, rolling boulder.
James Bond â€” the film franchise, that is â€” is turning 50. But if 007 is getting up there in years, his gadgets will never get old.
Throughout the series, the creators have always come up with wild gear for Bond to bring along on his missions â€” while often taking a lot more creative license than they might have needed. They've come up with pieces that were inventive and prescient at best, impossible in the real world at worst, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tells NPR's David Greene.
Nicole Kotovos was searching for a way to start a new life when the idea struck her: She would go to her ancestral homeland of Greece and open an American-style bakery cafe. She would bring the cupcake fad to Athens.
What she didn't figure on was the historic downturn in the Greek economy.
The former New York TV producer arrived in 2008, just as the country's debt-mired economy was falling into a deep recession it still hasn't emerged from.