Halloween -- Commentator Lenore Skenazy says Halloween has taken on the commercial importance of Christmas, much to her chagrin. It used to be a relatively unadorned festival. Now its full of lawn ornaments, lights and plastic what-have-yous. (2:30)
Chaucer -- Commentator Edward Wheatley says 600 years after Chaucer's death, the father of English poetry is still having an effect on the lives of people who don't even know his name. Words that he was the first to use are still part of the language. (3:15)
Perfect Memory -- Commentator Phillip Hoose, a cousin of New York Yankee Don Larsen, remembers a pivitol time in his life when the pitcher's career achievement (throwing a perfect game in the 1956 World Series) helped his status at school. (4:30)
R Rated Movies - a Kid's Perspective -- Sixteen-year-old Youth Radio
Commentator Rachel Speckman thinks it's ridiculous that she's prevented from buying tickets for R-rated films. She suggests that if she's not considered an adult she shouldn't be paying adult prices at the theater. (4:15)
Bay Area Housing -- Commentator Andrew Lam talks about the housing crunch caused by the digital gold rush in the San Francisco Bay area. Scarce apartments are going to the highest bidder. Some people are renting the right to sleep in someone's dining area or walk-in closet. And the dream of home ownership Lam's family and other immigrants had has faded. (2:45)
Apples -- Commentator Carol Wasserman observes two apple orchards on opposing sides of a street near her home. They have nearly identical products -- and a long-simmering hatred for each other. (4:15)
Avoiding Politics -- Commentator Lee Stringer is trying to keep his optimism
about American democracy. So this year, he's avoiding coverage of the presidential race. (3:00
Faith and Health Care -- Commentator Joe Loconte warns that supporters of
religious freedom and supporters of abortion right are on a collision course over laws that require contraception be included on health insurance policies for state or federal employees. These laws pit a belief opposing contraception and abortion against a requirement to provide means to both. Loconte argues that these new laws are a violation of basic civil liberties. (3:30)
Rice: The New Pasta -- Can rice be anything other than a side-dish?
Commentator Jay Weinstein , a New York chef and writer, says its time to think of rice as the main course. (2:00)
Religion and the Candidates -- Commentator Mary McClintock Fulkerson says that there should be more, not less, discussion of the candidates' religious beliefs. If voters really knew about candidates' religious philosophies, she says, it would be an indicator how they might make decisions about governance. (3:30
Information -- Commentator David Shenk says a major study released today from
the University of California in Berkeley aims for the impossible: to quantify how much information the world produces each year. That includes everything in a year's worth of e-mails, phone calls, radio and television broadcasts, Websites, office documents, newspapers, memos, etc. The number is so big that U.C. is coming close to the extreme end of terms that have been invented to measure such volume. (3:00)
My First Autopsy -- Commentator Marion Roach thought she'd be fearful, but
found beauty in the experience of watching an autopsy. She was allowed into the room as a journalist working on a book. (2:15)
Lock and Door -- Commentator Jeffrey Tayler visited a friend in Russia, and agreed to get a lock on her door fixed while she was away. He took the lock to a local shop, but was laughed out of the store. Men in small Russian towns fix their own locks. They don't have a repairman do it for them. (3:00)
Ebola Comment -- Commentator Laurie Garrett, a Pulitzer prize winning author who has written two books about disease in Africa, says though much about Ebola is a mystery, there is also a lot experts do know. She says the spread of the Ebola virus has been aided by the squalor of third-world hospitals, corruption and war. And she makes an argument for the first world to get involved in the fight against Ebola. (3:30)
Soundtrack to My Life -- Commentator Rawlins Gilliland, a public speaking-consultant and former National Endowment for the Humanities Poet-in-Residence, says other people's music seems to form a soundtrack to his life. It's a constant background din -- as he drives with his top down, talks on his cell phone, stops at a gas station, works out at his gym, visits a park, and finds a birthday party in progress on his own block. (4:00)
Holy War -- Commentator Elissa Ely, a psychiatrist in Massachusetts tells us
about a patient with sleep apnea, who felt he was fighting a "holy war" inside the hospital where she works. (3:00)
Surviving Survivor -- Commentator James Ponewozik says that the biggest innovation of the TV season isn't a show that's new this fall - it's the long life of one of the biggest hits of the summer. Survivor is still going strong - with cast members showing up in many CBS TV. shows this fall. It will keep the buzz about Survivor going until the next show - Survivor in Australia - goes on the air in January. In its brilliant efficiency, CBS is sort of like the Plains Indian tribes who used every part of the buffalo: from ads to books to soundtrack CDs, CBS has figured out how to sell every part of Survivor. (3:30)
Teachers Lounge -- As a kid, commentator Bill Harley pondered the mysteries of the teachers' lounge at his elementary school. The name implied power, but it was hard to know what it really meant. An emergency once forced him to go into the lounge - where a party was progress - forever shaping his view of the secret room. (2:30)
Loud Movies -- Why is the sound in cinemas overwhelming these days? Commentator Lenore Skenazy believes it is because digital technology now allows high volume without distortion. She thinks our ears are imperiled by the 110 decibels that can come from movie theaters (2:00)
Meeting -- Commentator Desree Cooper was shopping with her mother when they ran into a woman who was from the same town. That's not the only coincidence...Desree's family used to work for this woman's family. Desree expected an awkward moment in the chance meeting. (3:00)
Mother's Ashes -- Commentator Marion Roach talks about going to the post office just before Christmas to pick up a package...of her mother's ashes. (3:15)
Debate Analysis -- NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr shares his thoughts on the performances of last night's presidential debaters, Vice President Al Gore and Governor George Bush. (3:00)
Third Parties Left Out -- Commentator Mark Hertsgaard
says the Commission on Presidential Debates makes it nearly impossible for any candidate -- except those from the Democratic and Republican parties -- to participate. He says the debates are essential to any candidacy, and exclusionary rules help the two big parties retain their monopoly over the political system.
Movie Ratings -- Commentator Richard Goldstein
talks about the failure of entertainment codes in the 1950's to protect him from any number of potentially offensive, sexy or violent entertainment. He says the answer to kids' vulnerability to media violence and sex is more attentive parents.
Dot Matrix Dancing -- Commentator Daniel Ferri, a sixth-grade teacher in Chicago
says his students discovered a kind of Brazilian dance-rhythm in the sound of the dot-matrix printer. He calls it the techno-sambo.
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