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6:49 am
Sat March 21, 2015

The Definitive Road Trip? It's Data-Driven

Randy Olson's algorithm devised the optimal driving route to 50 tourist spots in the Lower 48 states.
Randy Olson

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 9:56 am

Spring is here, and a number of families are plotting road trips for school break.

Randy Olson, a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University and a self-proclaimed "data tinkerer," believes he's devised a route that could allow a family to hit a landmark in each of the Lower 48 states, from Grand Canyon in Arizona to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to the Statue of Liberty in New York, in just nine days of driving.

"About 9.33 days, if you drove non-stop," Olson clarifies.

That means no time sleeping or using the restroom — and no bad traffic.

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Goats and Soda
4:29 am
Sat March 21, 2015

A Year Of Ebola: Memorable Moments From Our Reporters' Notebooks

Twins Watta and Fatta Balyon pose outside the home of their guardian Mamuedeh Kanneh in Barkedu, a village in Liberia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 1:43 pm

It started in December 2013. A 2-year-old boy in Guinea was running a fever. He was vomiting. There was blood in his stool.

He was most likely "patient zero" — the first case in the Ebola outbreak that swept across West Africa.

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Music Interviews
4:46 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

'We Knew Things Were Different For Us': Heems On Rap, Race And Identity

Heems' first proper solo album, Eat Pray Thug, focuses on his experiences as an Indian-American raised in Queens, N.Y.
Shivani Gupta Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 10:06 pm

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Author Interviews
4:39 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

If Drugs Could Talk: In 'Delicious Foods' They Do

person cover detail

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 7:00 pm

There's a certain type of supporting character that author James Hannaham has always wanted to put into the spotlight. Critics call this character the "Magical Negro" — and you may recognize him from movies or TV shows. He's someone who "has incredible abilities and has been through some kind of hardship but it's usually a little vague ..." Hannaham tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "Whenever I see that character, I want the book or the movie or the TV show to take a detour and tell me that story."

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Books
4:33 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Murder City Earns Its Name In 'Blood Runs Green'

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 4:20 pm

Chicago's reputation for dramatic crime and corruption predates Al Capone and Prohibition — by decades. In May, 1889, Dr. P.H. Cronin, an esteemed physician, was found in a sewer. He was naked, dead, and savagely beaten.

The investigation and trial caused an international sensation, and one of the world's first media circuses, over a story that involved Irish revolutionaries and reactionaries, secret societies, and even a French spy. Or was he British? All at a time when Chicago had been burned down, and was reborn as the fast-growing city in America.

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Shots - Health News
4:33 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

From Freud To Possession, A Doctor Faces Psychiatry's Demons

Benjamin Rush, a physician and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, invented the rotational chair as a treatment for psychotic patients. He believed the chair helped improve circulation to the mentally ill brain.
U.S. National Library of Medicine Courtesy of Little Brown and Company

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 8:58 am

People don't talk about psychiatrists the way they talk about neurologists, dentists or vets. In fact, there are those who call psychiatry voodoo or pseudoscience; and, to be fair, the specialty does have a history of claims and practices that are now considered weird and destructive.

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Poetry
4:27 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

'Windows' That Transform The World: Jane Hirshfield On Poetry

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 8:23 pm

Jane Hirshfield is one of our country's most celebrated poets. She's been a Guggenheim fellow. The Academy of American Poets bestowed her a fellowship for her "distinguished poetic achievement," an honor shared with Robert Frost and Ezra Pound.

Oh, and she's an ordained lay practitioner of Zen.

"I'm [also] a Universal Life minister, but that was just so I could marry some friends," she laughs.

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Jazz Night In America
4:27 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Albert 'Tootie' Heath, Drummer Extraordinaire, Turns The Tables

Albert Heath
Michael Perez Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 5:36 pm

Albert "Tootie" Heath is one of the most accomplished jazz drummers of the past 60 years. The 79-year-old has played with everyone from John Coltrane to Ethan Iverson, the piano player for The Bad Plus. Iverson and bassist Ben Street join Tootie Heath for his new album, Philadelphia Beat, named for the fertile jazz city of Heath's upbringing — where, as a young man starting out, he once piloted a group consisting only of the drums and two horns.

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Music
4:26 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

What Glen Hansard Learned From His Friend Jason Molina

Glen Hansard's new tribute EP is called It Was Triumph We Once Proposed: Songs of Jason Molina.
Zoran Orlic Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 10:03 am

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Author Interviews
4:24 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

'State Of Terror': Where ISIS Came From And How To Fight It

Heavy smoke rises following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition aircraft in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the militants of the self-declared Islamic State in October 2014.
Gokhan Sahin Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 11:34 am

There have been mixed results in the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS. Iraqi government forces and their Iranian allies are fighting to retake the central city of Tikrit, but it's unclear how much longer this will take.

Meanwhile, ISIS has established a foothold in Libya. They also recently accepted the allegiance of Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist organization.

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