If you don't have a smartphone, no reason to envy those who do. Your old flip phone might be far smarter than you think. According to the New York Post, a man was being mugged in Central Park. The thief asked for his phone, then saw it was old, flip model. As the victim recalls, quote, "He looked at it like, what the bleep is this? And he gave it back to me."
Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:25 am
Racing car legend Michael Schumacher is not out of danger, but is showing "surprising" improvement as doctors in France continue to treat him for the severe head injury he suffered Sunday while skiing, The Associated Press reports from Grenoble.
That improvement has allowed surgeons to operate for a second time, doctors said Tuesday.
The giant coffee chain sent a cease-and-desist letter to the owner of Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in Missouri. Starbucks told the pub to stop referring to one of its dark, frothy beers as "the frappicino." Starbucks noted it sounds a lot like its trademarked frozen coffee drink.
It's that time again, the American Dialect Society will soon vote on its Word of the Year. Last year it was hashtag. For this year's words that popped, we reached the society's new words guy, linguist Ben Zimmer.
BEN ZIMMER: Good morning.
MONTAGNE: So this year it seems that everyone is coalescing around one word. That word is selfie. It's so ubiquitous that I wonder if that is one of your top words.
In this final interview in our series of conversations about the future, Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep talks to Danny Hillis, a scientist and engineer and the inventor of a clock designed to last 10,000 years. The clock is meant to encourage people to think about the long-range future; the "long now" as Hillis calls it.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.
RENEE MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne. This New Year's Eve is also a deadline in one of the year's biggest stories. Syria is due to turn over more than 500 tons of some its most deadly materials in its stockpile of chemical weapons. That was part of the deal brokered with the Assad regime by the U.S. and Russia, after a chemical attack outside Damascus killed many hundreds of civilians. But the Syrian government will not meet today's deadline.
In 2013, Chicago newspapers and television stations kept a daily deadly count, listing those slain each day, most by gun violence. One of the most noted occurred early in the year when Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot and killed about a week after performing at inauguration events in Washington, D.C., with her high school band.
The seconds left in 2013 are slipping away. And you know what else is slipping away? The seconds left in your life.
Luckily for you, there's a new product called Tikker, a wristwatch that counts down your life, so you can watch on a large, dot-matrix display as the seconds you have left on Earth disappear down a black hole.
For the scientists who have emotionally traveled with NASA's Voyager mission for decades, 2013 will be remembered as the year they knew Voyager 1 had finally become the first explorer from Earth to enter the mysterious realm of interstellar space.
Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, both blasted off in 1977, more than 35 years ago. Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter, then Saturn — and then on toward the unknown region that lies between stars.
Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 5:51 pm
In general, getting a cease-and-desist letter from a big corporation isn't the mark of a good day. But after a brewery owner got a letter from a law firm representing Starbucks, he saw a chance to draw distinctions between the businesses — and to be funny.
The coffee company's bone of contention, Missouri brewer Jeff Britton was told in a Dec. 9 letter, was the use of the name "Frappicino" to describe a stout served at Exit 6 Brewery, a brewpub in a tidy strip mall in Cottleville, northwest of St. Louis.
Zero. That's the total amount of revenue created by Snapchat in 2013. It's the total profit collected by Twitter. And it's roughly how much Apple's stock price has increased between early last December and now.
Which makes you wonder: With all these zeros piling up, how are so many people in Silicon Valley making so much money from technology?
This is one of the best times of the year to spot gray whales off the coast of Southern California as they migrate south for the winter. But recently, there have been an unusually high number of sightings of other whales.
"We've had so many whales," Dan "The Whale Man" Salas tells the guests on his boat. "This is all in the last two weeks. We've had orcas, we had a sperm whale, we've got humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales. Yesterday we had a massive pod of gray whales, so we never know what we're going to see out here."
In Park City, Utah, on Sunday, ski jumper Jessica Jerome, 27, became the first woman to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
But to get to this point has been a fight.
Ski jumping has been an Olympic sport since the advent of the Winter Olympics — that is, men's ski jumping. But for the women — who often soar just as far if not farther than the men — it has been a fight that took them to a Canadian courtroom and was marked with years of setbacks. They were told again and again that women's ski jumping wasn't at a high enough caliber to be in the games.
On the November day in 2001 when Michael Bloomberg was elected mayor, two things were prominent in New York City's air: fumes from the World Trade Center's smoldering remains, and tobacco smoke in the city's bars, restaurants and other public spaces.
Now they're both gone.
Bloomberg helped the city rebuild after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001. And he led the charge against smoking.
The same kind of technology that recommends movies on Netflix or purchases on Amazon is now helping students choose college courses.
A new program developed on a campus in Tennessee uses predictive analytics to suggest classes, and now the technology is spreading across the country and is seen as a way to make higher education more efficient.
On average, graduates take a year's worth of classes they could have done without, or they drop courses before making a bad grade. For Nashville State Community College student Jonathan Hudspeth, it was anatomy and physiology.
Every year, research firm CB Insights offers up a report on the fastest growing and most highly valued private companies in technology — basically, the ones most likely to go public. Audie Cornish speaks with Anand Sanwal, CB Insights' CEO, for a look at the top tech IPO's expected in 2014.
Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 3:09 pm
Many doctors aren't asking teenagers about sex or sexuality, and those who do are spending just 36 seconds on the topic, on average. That's not much time to get into sexually transmitted diseases or birth control, let alone sexual orientation, dating or other big topics.
And teenagers are so bashful when it comes to asking questions about sex and health that they won't bring it up if the doctor doesn't, researchers say.
Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 9:13 am
I never thought about the etymology of the verb "gypped" until the end of college, when my friend, lamenting his stolen iPod, said the word and immediately retracted it. "Isn't that offensive?" he wondered. Until that moment, I had never thought about it either. What sparked our unease was the sudden realization that "gypped" was somehow tied to "gypsy."
New Year's resolutions: Sometimes we make them; usually we break them. The annual goals are intended to bring out the best in us — but what if you're already extremely accomplished?
These five women have worked hard to help others, through businesses, innovation and writing. Four of them were speakers at the TEDWomen conference earlier in December in San Francisco (Katrina Alcorn was an attendee).
Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 2:28 pm
Michelle Snyder, the official who oversaw the creation of the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov website, is retiring.
In a statement on Monday, Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, announced Snyder's departure from the agency, saying she had originally planned to retire at the end of 2012 but had stayed on at Tavenner's request to help "with the challenges facing CMS in 2013."
The Associated Press has posted images of more than 100 receipts believed to have been left behind by al-Qaida operatives in Timbuktu, Mali, that show how "the extremists assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb."
Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 1:52 pm
Intercepted packages. Custom-made cables that steal data. Towers that mimic a commercial cellphone network. Those are a few of the tricks used by elite units of the National Security Agency to monitor potential threats, according to Germany's Der Spiegel. The magazine published those revelations Sunday and Monday, detailing what it calls a catalog of the NSA's high-tech spying products and methods.
The first eruption of eastern El Salvador's Chaparrastique volcano in 37 years sent ash and gas soaring as much as six miles into the air on Sunday and led authorities to evacuate thousands of people from their homes.
Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 12:49 pm
Harold Simmons, the Texas billionaire, philanthropist and GOP donor, has died. He was 82.
The Dallas Morning News says Simmons died late Saturday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. His wife, Annette, told the newspaper that Simmons was "very sick for the last two weeks" and was in Baylor's intensive care unit. The family spent Christmas at the hospital, she said.