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Gluttony useful response to scarcity

In Food, Health, NPR on February 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

An evolutionary look at why, in times of economic hardship, we may be “hard-wired” to eat foods higher in fat and calories – even though we know better. Read more here.



“Evolutionary biologists have long speculated that in prehistoric times, when the blueprint of modern human behavior was created as our ancestors struggled for survival, gluttony may have been a useful response to scarcity: If you knew — or feared — a famine was coming, it made sense to tuck away as many calories as possible to prepare for it.”

Kentucky, from “Unbridled Spirit” to “Kicks Ass”

In News, NPR, Pop Culture on January 29, 2013 at 1:41 am

In Kentucky, two young ad execs are advocating for this new state slogan:


Proposed new state slogan

“You have to stand out, and you have to take risks if you want to do this branding and to get noticed…you need mantras that people can rally behind.”

Read more here.

200 years of Mr. Darcy

In History, NPR, Pop Culture, Television on January 29, 2013 at 1:15 am

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is celebrating it’s 200th birthday. The BBC naturally had lots of coverage, which brought my attention to Austenland, a rom com/mockumentary about a young woman obsessed with Pride & Prejudice. Watch the movie trailer and Sundance review here.



Happy 200th Pride & Prejudice!

Happy 200th Pride & Prejudice!

• Also worth reading: “Janeites: The curious American cult of Jane Austen” [BBC]

• The Real Jane Austen, book review. [Fresh Air]

Deadliest Jobs in America

In All Things Considered, Health, International, NPR on January 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Two neat graphics from Planet Money:

Deadliest Jobs in America

What Americans Do For Work



Chicago’s Cold War Missile Launch Sites

In Chicago, History, International, NPR, Politics, WBEZ on January 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm

WBEZ in Chicago recently launched Curious City, where Chicagoans submit their curiosities about the city and surrounding area – and CC does their best to answer. Recent inquiries have included “did Al Capone really have secret tunnels throughout the suburbs?” and  “where does all the Lincoln Park Zoo animal waste go?” (I’d never thought about it, but was indeed curious for the answer).

This week, Curious City discusses the question “What happened to the Nike Missile sites around Chicago?” During the Cold War, Chicago had several missile launch sites scattered about the lakefront, including at Belmont Harbor. The story of the Nike Missiles, how they got here and where they went, is a fascinating piece of forgotten Chicago history.

IFC Radar Towers at Promontory Point, 55th St & South Shore Drive[Courtesy of Michael Epperson /]

IFC Radar Towers at Promontory Point, 55th St & South Shore Drive
[Courtesy of Michael Epperson /]

1961 map of Chicago missile sites []

1961 map of Chicago missile sites

Predicting Lifespan Based on Size

In Health, Nature, NPR, Science on January 23, 2013 at 2:36 am

A fascinating conversation with physicist Geoffrey West about the mathematics of lifespan. “Life is short for small creatures, longer in big ones. So algae die sooner than oak trees; elephants live longer than mayflies, but you know that. Here’s the surprise: There is a mathematical formula which says if you tell me how big something is, I can tell you — with some variation, but not a lot — how long it will live.”

[Courtesy of Yunfun Tan]

[Courtesy of Yunfun Tan]


[Courtesy of Yunfun Tan /]

40 years after Roe V. Wade

In All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Health, History, Law, NPR, Politics on January 23, 2013 at 1:34 am

In recognition of Roe V. Wade’s fortieth anniversary,  NPR had several stories on one of the nation’s most controversial subjects. Terry Gross’s Fresh Air was especially horrifying: ‘We Have No Choice’: A Story of the Texas Sonogram Law. “What good is a law that adds only pain and difficulty to perhaps the most painful and difficult decision a woman can make?”



Also featured:

Roe V. Wade turns 40, but abortion debate is even older

States becomes battlegrounds for nation’s deep abortion divide

“…buying Jaguars and a $540,000 home with no down payment.”

In History, Morning Edition, NPR, Politics on January 23, 2013 at 12:34 am

On Morning Edition, Tina Brown recommended her three must-reads for the week. Her last pick peaked my interest – The New York Times obituary for  Jeanne Vertefeuille, a longtime CIA official who was instrumental in catching Aldrich Ames, “one of the 20th century’s most notorious moles.”

Jeanne Vertefeuille, center, and other members of the team that tracked down Aldrich Ames. [ / CIA]

Jeanne Vertefeuille, center, and other members of the team that tracked down Aldrich Ames. [ / CIA]

A look at Lincoln’s Inaugural menu

In Food, History, NPR, Politics, Pop Culture on January 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm

A day behind, but still worth sharing. Smithsonian Magazine writer Megan Gambino recently wrote about Lincoln’s menu for his second inaugural ball – which ended in some-what of a food fight.  Listen to the NPR story here.

“The floor of the supper room was soon sticky, pasty and oily with wasted confections, mashed cake, and debris of fowl and meat…”

Menu for Lincoln's 2nd inaugural ball, March 6, 1865 [Smithsonian Institution /]

Menu for Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural ball, March 6, 1865 [Smithsonian Institution /]

Inauguration 101

In History, NPR, Politics, Pop Culture on January 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm

5 interesting factoids about the inauguration that will surely help strengthen your Trivial Pursuit game.

And from ABC news, “12 surprising facts about Inauguration.” (quite fascinating, actually)

[MPI/Getty Images]

[MPI/Getty Images]