Society and Culture

Word of Mouth
9:46 am
Mon June 10, 2013

The Neanderthal Mind

Cranial comparison between Modern Man and Neanderthal from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Credit Matt Celeskey via flickr Creative Commons

To call someone a Neanderthal is to liken one to the heavy browed, ape-like troglodytes we see in history books or movies, but were they more sophisticated?

Sophisticated might be stretching it a bit, but a debate has surfaced in the scientific community about whether Neanderthals had a more complex culture than previous thought, and maybe even the cognitive powers equal to anatomically modern humans of the time.

Journalist Marek Kohn’s has been following the debate, his article “The Neanderthal Mind” appeared in the latest issue of Aeon magazine. He says the story starts with a perforated shell some fifty thousand years ago.

Asia
11:38 am
Mon April 16, 2012

For Japanese Linguist, A Long And Lonely Schlep

Japanese linguist Kazuo Ueda (left) worked 20 years on a 1,300-page, 28,000-entry Idishugo Jiten, or Yiddish-Japanese dictionary. He is shown here with his wife, Kazuko, at their home in Kyushu, Japan.
Lucy Craft for NPR

A smattering of Yiddish words has crept into the American vernacular: Non-Jews go for a nosh or schmooze over cocktails. Yet the language itself, once spoken by millions of Jews, is now in retreat.

But you don't have to be Jewish to love Yiddish. In Japan, a linguist has toiled quietly for decades to compile the world's first Yiddish-Japanese dictionary — the first time the Jewish language has been translated into a non-European language other than Hebrew.

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The Two-Way
3:10 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

After 567,000 Miles And 48 Years, Florida Woman Parks Her 'Chariot'

Rachel Veitch and "Chariot," her 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente.
Katie Ball

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 6:05 pm

When 93-year-old Rachel Veitch picked up the newspaper on March 10 and realized that the macular degeneration in her eyes had developed to the point where she couldn't read the print, she knew it was time to stop driving.

But there's much more to the Orlando, Fla., woman's story.

The decision meant she would no longer be getting behind the wheel of her beloved 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente, a car she calls "The Chariot." Veitch has pampered her ride for nearly five decades and 567,000 miles.

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Around the Nation
3:18 am
Wed April 4, 2012

College Student Pieces His Way To Lego Mastery

Andrew Johnson, 23, of Bartlett, Ill. has been named the new master model builder of Legoland Discovery Center Chicago after competing for the job against seven other finalists.
Rick West The Daily Herald

Only four people in the United States carry the official designation of Lego Master Model Builder. And 23-year-old Andrew Johnson of Illinois is the newest — and youngest — to earn the title.

Legos are robots in disguise for Johnson, as in a 4 1/2-foot replica of the Transformer Optimus Prime made only from those tiny bricks.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Mon March 26, 2012

Facebook May Not Be So Friendly For Those With Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem and Facebook aren't the best mix.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon March 26, 2012 8:44 am

Posting on Facebook is an easy way to connect with people, but it also can be a means to alienate them. That can be particularly troublesome for those with low self-esteem.

People with poor self-image tend to view the glass as half empty. They complain a bit more than everyone else, and they often share their negative views and feelings when face to face with friends and acquaintances.

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Food
4:07 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Italian 'Nonnas' Bring Taste Of Home To Staten Island

Several of the "nonnas," or grandmothers, who cook at the Enoteca Maria Italian restaurant in Staten Island, N.Y.
Glen DiCrocco

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 10:23 am

America is dotted with countless restaurants large and small. Many of those are well-loved for their distinct character — and for what they can teach diners about cooking, and about life.

One such establishment is Enoteca Maria, an Italian restaurant on New York's Staten Island.

After losing his mom and sister, owner Joe Scaravella missed sitting down with family for home-cooked meals. So he created something of an oxymoron: a place to go out for a home-cooked meal.

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Around the Nation
3:00 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Battle Over Barber Poles Spins In Minnesota

Each part of the barber pole represents something different.
Flickr/stevensnodgrass

What's red, white and blue, and has spun its way into controversy? It's the barber pole.

The pole sometimes rotates outside the shops of cosmetologists or hair stylists who don't employ barbers. That's made some barbers across the country unhappy.

Minnesota is the latest state to explore making it illegal to display a barber pole, unless you are a licensed barber.

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Games & Humor
3:00 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Paging Dr. Fill: Computer Takes On Crossword Experts

Challengers work to solve puzzles in the 2011 American Crossword Puzzle tournament. This year, a computer program named "Dr. Fill" will be allowed to unofficially compete.
Don Christensen American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

There's a new kind of technology that may be able to beat you at your own game — at least if your game is a crossword puzzle. Its name is "Dr. Fill," but unlike the TV psychologist, this doctor solves less complicated problems. Its solutions only go down and across.

The computer program will be an unofficial competitor at the 35th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in New York this week. It was created by Matt Ginsberg's software company, On Time Systems, which specializes in optimization algorithms.

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History
12:01 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Girl Scouts: 100 Years Of Blazing New Trails

Brownies from Troop 65343 in Brookline, Mass. recite the Girl Scout pledge. Enrollment in the organization has declined since the 1980s, but a modernizing makeover and new focus on minority and immigrant communities have helped some.
Tovia Smith NPR

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 11:09 am

It's hard to imagine Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Lucille Ball as part of the same club. But they were all, at one time, Girl Scouts. Founded 100 years ago in Savannah, Ga., the Girl Scouts now count 3.2 million members.

Girl Scout cookies have become as much of an American tradition as apple pie. At a busy intersection in Brookline, Mass., a gaggle of Girl Scouts stand behind a folding table piled high with boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas and Shortbreads.

"They are really, really good," the troop collectively assures a prospective buyer.

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StoryCorps
6:21 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

A Mom Becomes A Man, And A Family Sticks Together

Les and Scott GrantSmith visited StoryCorps in San Diego to discuss how they moved on together, after a crisis point.
StoryCorps

This spring, Les and Scott GrantSmith will mark their 25th wedding anniversary. The couple raised two daughters along the way. But 15 years ago, they hit a crisis that nearly shattered their family. Les was keeping a secret, and that became a problem. But they solved it as a family, in a way that kept them together and happy.

In the weeks leading up to that day back in 1997, Les was certain of two things: She was a mother who loved her daughters — and she was also transgender, the term for someone born in a body of the wrong sex.

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Pop Culture
12:01 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Zumba Is A Hit, But Is It Latin?

Zumba dance classes are all the rage, but some critics say the fitness craze shouldn't be considered Latin dance.
Christopher Futcher iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 10:51 am

Zumba isn't just a fitness craze; it's an international business with more than 12 million enthusiasts in its classes. You can buy Zumba CDs, a Zumba video game and Zumba clothes. For many students — who show up in spandex to body-roll, fist-pump and booty-shake — it's their first taste of Latin music and dance steps. Now, some Latin dancers are trying to make more of a distinction between their art — and what happens in a Zumba class.

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Monkey See
3:34 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Jennifer Lopez In 'Q'Viva': A Talent Search Goes Bilingual, With A Dash Of Drama

Q'VIVA! THE CHOSEN: Jennifer Lopez travels through 20 countries to find and showcase the most outstanding Latin singers, dancers and performers in Q'VIVA! THE CHOSEN premiering Saturday, March 3 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
Fox

Their marriage may be over, but singers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony have come together for a new TV show that seeks out talent from throughout Latin America. It's been airing on Spanish language TV in the U.S. and in 21 countries. And as NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports on today's All Things Considered, the show will also premiere on Fox this weekend, with English subtitles.

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Food
2:46 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Swedish Fat Tuesday Delicacy Kept Alive In Portland

Filling semlor with sweet almond paste requires great concentration from Astrid Foster, age 7. Get the recipe for semlor.
Deena Prichep NPR

Originally published on Mon February 20, 2012 6:56 am

Back when refrigeration wasn't up to modern standards, Fat Tuesday was a time to clear your house of indulgent foods. This led to lots of rich recipes, from Shrove pancakes to King Cake. In Sweden, the specialty is semlor. A group of people in Portland, Ore., are keeping that dish — and a few other Swedish traditions — alive.

Picture soft, sweet rolls, sort of like brioche, piled with creamy almond filling. Now picture them being made by a room full of young, mostly blond children speaking Swedish.

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The Two-Way
2:55 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Flipping 'The Bird' Just Isn't Obscene Anymore, Law Professor Argues

M.I.A.'s now famous finger during halftime of the Super Bowl.
Christopher Polk Getty Images
(Note: This is a post about obscenity. Proceed with caution if the subject bothers you.)

We've got one more thing to say about "the bird" and singer M.I.A.'s flipping of her middle finger on national TV during Sunday's halftime show at the Super Bowl.

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Pop Culture
2:55 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

3 Hidden Themes Of This Year's Super Bowl Ads

Many of this year's Super Bowl ads, like this one from CareerBuilders.com, play off our affection for animals.
CareerBuilders.com AP

Originally published on Sat February 4, 2012 10:01 am

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