National News

More Diplomacy, Fewer Military Missions: 5 Obama Statements Explained

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 01:01

In a wide-ranging interview with NPR, the president says U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century should focus on diplomacy and counterterrorism rather than large-scale military operations.

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Law & Order: tech edition

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 01:00

For those who have spent an entire day on the couch letting Netflix dominate the tv or laptop screen, binge watching is not such a new phenomenon. Artist Jeff Thompson is certainly no stranger to the concept: he has watched all 456 episodes of the original Law & Order franchise. But unlike the rest of us, he was getting paid to do it.

That's because Thompson received a grant from Rhizome to track the use of technology throughout the show's 20 year history. The fact that the show thrived on being "ripped from the headlines" (i.e. as current as possible), produced a weekly episode, and ran for such a long time make it a particularly useful series for such a project. 

Aside from maintaining a blog of screenshots of every computer that makes an appearance on the show, Thompson used the opportunity to track other technology-related data. For example, he maintained a list of every URL used throughout the series, as well as a chart that tracked the parallels between the drop off of computer useage on the show in tandem with the burst of the dot-com bubble. The chart below shows the number of computers used per season, while the following chart tracks the closing price of the Nasdaq (in light grey) over the same years.

A chart of the computer count in every episode of Law & Order

The light grey portion charts the closing price of the Nasdaq

Thompson also saw an opportunity to track the evolution of our attitude towards technology as well. In the beginning of the series, computers generally sat in a corner, eventually making their way onto individual's desks as their use became more ubiquitous. It's these minute details that really interested Thompson. He points out that while a lot of people document and write about the history of technology, the seemingly boring details are not as thoroughly documented. In fact, when asked about his favorite bit of technology in the series, he points to a pretty mundane piece of furniture: the computer desk. 

How marriage contributes to inequality

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 01:00

Prior to the 1960s, it wasn't unusual for a college-educated man to marry a woman with earnings that were significantly less than his -- or a woman who earned nothing at all.

Over time, as more women entered college, a pattern of "assortative mating" began to emerge. Research shows that, beginning in the 1960s, college-educated men became more likely to marry women who were also college-educated. Income is highly correlated to education, leading to the growth of double-income households that earn more then their less-well-educated peers. Some researchers though, warn that structural factors like taxation and the shrinkage of labor unions are far more pertinent when discussing the rise of inequality in 21st century America. 

Hosting the Olympics and coming away with a profit? Imagine that. Three cities that bucked the trend

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 00:30

With such high costs, it's seemingly miraculous that any chosen location manages to turn a profit. Yet, some manage to do so. Here are three cities that managed to come out of their hosting stint on top:

Getty Images

1. Los Angeles - Surplus: $232.5 Million

The west coast city managed to end the games with a $232.5 million surpluss due to smart planning -- like revamping old facilities as opposed to building new ones -- and budgeting. The design teams also used cheaper materials typically associated with temporary tents. You can read more about how L.A. pulled it off here.

Michael Smith/Newsmakers

2. Salt Lake City - Surplus: $56 Million

Salt Lake City donated about $30 million of their profits to the Utah Athletic Foundation.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

3.  Atlanta - Surplus: $10 Million

Aside from finishing in the black, Atlanta also benefitted from converting one of its Olympic stadiums into a facility for baseball.

Public radio's teachable moment

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:32

If public radio sometimes feels a little like a classroom—and we all know it does – there’s a reason.

Or, at least, a convenient excuse.

Public radio got its start in schools. “Broadcasting began in the U.S., largely on university campuses in engineering departments,’’ said Michele Hilmes, a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.  “People were experimenting with radio and building radio sets.” 

By the mid-1920s, those engineering experiments were becoming stations, and broadcasting educational programs. 

The earliest programs were aimed mainly at homemakers and farmers.  Later, said Hilmes, the stations “got into schoolroom broadcasts, where kids in schools could actually listen to things that related to their lessons.” 

Dozens of state universities, departments of education and school boards created shows for kids. 

In Cleveland, for instance,  WBOE was licensed to the local board of education in 1938 (hence the BOE).  The station broadcast instructional programming for nearly 40 years, beginning in the morning—like the school day— and ending in mid-afternoon. 

John Basalla,  an archivist with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, says schools had radios made specially to pick up only WBOE’s frequency.

WHA now a part of Wisconsin Public Radio — had one of the most active “schools of the air.” There were music classes.  Drama classes.  Nature classes. (Check out their 1943 programming schedule. )

The idea was simple.  Broadcasting would transform education by making it possible for students to learn from great teachers wherever they were—so long as there was a radio in the classroom.

There was hype. Hope.

And a lot of money.

Check out these photos and captions from the 1952 book Teaching Through Radio and Television.

Levenson and Stasheff, Teaching through Radio and Television, 1952

But, the revolution never came. Lots of schools didn’t have radios. Those that did, often had trouble coordinating regular lessons with those on the radio.  And many of the shows just weren’t that good. “If you talk to old practitioners in public broadcasting,  they actually use ‘educational radio’ as a pejorative,” said Josh Shepperd, a media studies professor at Catholic University, in Washington, DC.

Commercial broadcasters also took a crack at the classroom.  CBS had the American School of the Air;  NBC broadcast the Music Appreciation Hour.  “The best and most effective educational broadcasts did come out of the networks,” Sheppard said.  But there wasn’t enough money in it, to keep them interested.  Broadcasting education shows to school kids just wasn’t sustainable for commercial radio.

Gradually, public stations that stayed on the air started making better shows.  They started making radio less -geared to students sitting, listening, in circles. 

And more for learners like us.

We’ve got more on the history of radio in the classroom here

Seven more fun facts about the history of public radio

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:22

We’ve got the audio piece and the 1951 map of instructional radio stations across the country. But there’s only so much ground they can cover. Here are more cool things to know about the history of radio as an education technology.

The hype was huge. In his 1932 book, Radio: The Assistant Teacher, Benjamin Darrow (who founded the Ohio School of the Air) wrote: "The central and dominant aim of education by radio is to bring the world to the classroom, to make universally available the services of the finest teachers, the inspiration of the greatest leaders... and unfolding events which through the radio may come as a vibrant and challenging textbook of the air."

Stations named themselves after their educational missions. At WABE in Atlanta, the ABE stands for Atlanta Board of Education. The BE in WBEZ (Chicago) stands for Board of Education. Bonus points to anyone who knows what the Z stands for.  Do we need to tell you what Cleveland’s WBOE stood for?  And you might think that the “ED” in KQED stands for “education”?  Turns out KQED comes from the Latin quod erat demonstrandum, “which was to be demonstrated.”

Some classroom-broadcasts were… live. Check out this archival broadcast from WBOE.  Around 0:40, there’s an example of why there’s nothing like live radio.  The clip comes courtesy of John Basalla, archivist at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

It wasn’t all about listening.  Worksheets came with many of the lessons. Here’s one that went  with the radio show “Good Health to You”,  from WBOE in Cleveland.  We found it in Teaching through Radio and Television,  published in 1952,  by William Levenson and Edward Stasheff. Teaching Through Radio and Television, Levenson, 1952

Educational broadcasting was college material.  Ohio State University offered a college class in “Education by Radio” in 1930.  Bonus points for anyone that can dig up a syllabus for us.

Public radio almost got left behind.  The Public Broadcasting Act of 196, which created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was originally the Public Television Act of 1967.  Jack Mitchell wrote a great history of how radio finagled it’s way into the legislation over on Current.org.  The story includes Scotch-taping the word “radio” into the law at the last minute.

We want to know what else we should add to this list.  We know you’ll write. From 1930 to 1940 radio listeners sent approximately 225,000,000 fan letters to radio stations. 

Putting public radio on the map

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:14

Where did your public-radio station come from? If it acquired a license in the 1940s or 1950s, there's a good chance it was started for instructional purposes. Many stations created educational programming that was used by students in the classroom. 

As reporter Adriene Hill chronicles in her story on the roots of public radio, over-the-air education fizzled out after television came along.

The map above shows nearly 100 radio stations that had been granted a broadcasting license as of 1951. They include universities, school boards, trade schools and even a public library. The stations were required to have an educational purpose. It could be anything from teaching broadcasting,  to creating programs to be used in the classroom (some stations broadcast only during school hours), to simply playing classical music (apparently it had more to teach us than other types of music).

The red markers show stations that are now defunct; the green ones  are still broadcasting; and yellow is for stations broadcasting under different call letters.

By clicking on a marker, you can read a little more about the station's history

 In general, most stations that were run by school boards are gone. Many of the stations that were licensed to universities have become NPR member stations, and are only nominally affiliated with the institution that was granted the license.

At the college level,  there are still some student-run stations and some are still creating instructional material.  There are even a few high-school radio stations that have survived.

We know there's a lot more public-radio history that we've missed, so please fill us in.  We'd also love to hear from you if your station is not on the map, but was founded for over-the-air instruction.

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Shooting Of Sikh Army Veteran Divides Community

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:06

Police had been called before to the home of the Gulf War veteran, who had been diagnosed with mental illness. But on Jan. 25, he was shot and killed, and his family is suing for wrongful death.

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Shooting Of Sikh Army Veteran Divides Community

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:06

In late January, police officers in Lodi, Calif. shot and killed a Sikh-American Army veteran who was mentally ill. The shooting left many unanswered questions and divided the local Sikh community.

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The Divide Over Involuntary Mental Health Treatment

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 22:57

Mental health programs are getting extra attention after the killing spree in California. A law in the state lets authorities require people to get treatment. But it's not clear that it will help.

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How did 'driverless' cars become 'self-driving' cars, and should we be worried?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 19:51

A futurist named Brad Templeton got mad at me some months ago. We don't say "driverless cars" anymore, he told me with a hint of scolding in his voice. We say "self-driving" cars.

OK, I thought. I didn't know the computer-navigated cars had feelings. But as much as the moment felt like a weird discussion of political correctness on behalf of sensors and data-crunching algorithms, it also made some sense to me. After all, it is true that the cars are being driven. Just not by humans. So, fair enough, I thought, and made the switch. Ever since then I've called them by the preferred nomenclature. 

But now that Google has released a new self-driving car prototype, I'm thinking more about it. While self-driving maybe more accurate than driverless, there's a lot more that comes with that, right? Driverless suggests unhinged. Nobody at the helm. A carriage out of control. But self-driving suggests independent, efficient--even magical. A self-driving car is something we want, because it does the work for us. 

Could it be then, that this is really about marketing? The new self-driving prototype we got to see this week has some interesting changes from past vehicles: no brake pedals and no steering wheel. It doesn't look like a car really, either. It's more of a pod. Maybe it's an owl. Whatever it is, it looks like its own thing, and that is also part of the plan. Because if you started seeing Priuses driving around without anyone in the driver's seat, you might not feel so good about it. Like some of Google's other recent inventions, this thing makes some of us a little nervous. If you've been keeping up with HBO's show "Silicon Valley," you might have caught the scene where the cowardly Jared gets screwed by a self-driving car's malfunctioning computer.

 

It's a really funny bit, in part because that feeling of helplessness hits so close to home. None of us want to be in the backseat, do we? This is America gosh darn it. Where we want the right to benefit from the endless permutations of human error. An even more cynical way of saying it, according to the unnamed futurist: We'd rather let drunk drivers kill people on the road than even entertain the thought of letting a computer do it at what is likely to be a far lower rate.

If you can't tell already, I support the idea of self-driving cars. I think they'll make our world more efficient, less polluting, and safer. But that doesn't mean I will ignore the possibility that we're being sold a product; that we're being conditioned. Words and designs carry meaning, and these vehicles are no different. That meaning is born in motivations both virtuous and unnerving. If you think companies like Google aren't thinking about how to deliver us video advertisements once we can all kick back and veg out during the road trip, you're not being cynical enough. So I'll do it--I'll call them self-driving cars. But I'll also leave you with another scene I'm reminded of while mulling all of this. It's from the movie "Wall-E," and it's a fate I hope we avoid.

 

How did 'driverless' cars become 'self-driving' cars, and should we be worried?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 19:51

A futurist named Brad Templeton got mad at me some months ago. We don't say "driverless cars" anymore, he told me with a hint of scolding in his voice. We say "self-driving" cars.

OK, I thought. I didn't know the computer-navigated cars had feelings. But as much as the moment felt like a weird discussion of political correctness on behalf of sensors and data-crunching algorithms, it also made some sense to me. After all, it is true that the cars are being driven. Just not by humans. So, fair enough, I thought, and made the switch. Ever since then I've called them by the preferred nomenclature. 

But now that Google has released a new self-driving car prototype, I'm thinking more about it. While self-driving maybe more accurate than driverless, there's a lot more that comes with that, right? Driverless suggests unhinged. Nobody at the helm. A carriage out of control. But self-driving suggests independent, efficient--even magical. A self-driving car is something we want, because it does the work for us. 

Could it be then, that this is really about marketing? The new self-driving prototype we got to see this week has some interesting changes from past vehicles: no brake pedals and no steering wheel. It doesn't look like a car really, either. It's more of a pod. Maybe it's an owl. Whatever it is, it looks like its own thing, and that is also part of the plan. Because if you started seeing Priuses driving around without anyone in the driver's seat, you might not feel so good about it. Like some of Google's other recent inventions, this thing makes some of us a little nervous. If you've been keeping up with HBO's show "Silicon Valley," you might have caught the scene where the cowardly Jared gets screwed by a self-driving car's malfunctioning computer.

 

It's a really funny bit, in part because that feeling of helplessness hits so close to home. None of us want to be in the backseat, do we? This is America gosh darn it. Where we want the right to benefit from the endless permutations of human error. An even more cynical way of saying it, according to the unnamed futurist: We'd rather let drunk drivers kill people on the road than even entertain the thought of letting a computer do it at what is likely to be a far lower rate.

If you can't tell already, I support the idea of self-driving cars. I think they'll make our world more efficient, less polluting, and safer. But that doesn't mean I will ignore the possibility that we're being sold a product; that we're being conditioned. Words and designs carry meaning, and these vehicles are no different. That meaning is born in motivations both virtuous and unnerving. If you think companies like Google aren't thinking about how to deliver us video advertisements once we can all kick back and veg out during the road trip, you're not being cynical enough. So I'll do it--I'll call them self-driving cars. But I'll also leave you with another scene I'm reminded of while mulling all of this. It's from the movie "Wall-E," and it's a fate I hope we avoid.

 

10 Thoughts On Obama's West Point Policy Address

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 17:02

From his focus on peace instead of war to his praise for the U.S. stance in Ukraine, the president took a different tone Wednesday than he did in his 2009 commencement speech at the military academy.

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Holder Urges Prosecutors To Back Criminal Justice Changes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 16:43

At a closed-door conference, the attorney general made his case for reducing some drug sentences and opening up the clemency process.

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American Said To Have Carried Out Suicide Bombing In Syria

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 16:22

Al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebel group, says a U.S. citizen known as Abu Hurayra al-Amriki helped carry out a suicide attack on Sunday.

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Georgia Looks To Reopen Some Closed Hospitals As ERs

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 14:21

Financial problems have led many hospitals to shut down completely. Georgia is issuing licenses to rural hospitals that would allow them to become nothing more than free-standing emergency rooms.

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In College Lacrosse, Two Brothers Flirt With Making History

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 14:15

Miles and Lyle Thompson are finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse's highest honor. Either would be the first Native to win it — an irony for a sport created by Natives.

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Apple confirms it will buy Beats for $3 billion

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 14:00

Apple on Wednesday confirmed the previously-reported acquisition of Beats Electronics for $3 billion. The deal will make Dr. Dre even wealthier.

And the $3 billion price tag for the headphone and streaming music company is also the equivalent of...

10,001,666

Beats Studio headphones.

103,448,275

 Apple ear buds.

300,300,300

Copies of Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" available on iTunes.

Apple confirms it will buy Beats for $3 billion

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 14:00

Apple on Wednesday confirmed the previously-reported acquisition of Beats Electronics for $3 billion. The deal will make Dr. Dre even wealthier.

And the $3 billion price tag for the headphone and streaming music company is also the equivalent of...

10,001,666

Beats Studio headphones.

103,448,275

 Apple ear buds.

300,300,300

Copies of Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" available on iTunes.

Solving Detroit's blight, one scary poster at a time

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 13:46
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 14:43 Andrew Burton/Getty Images

A dramatic example of an abandoned home in Detroit.

Good news has been in short supply in Detroit, of late.

There’s the bankruptcy, of course. And then there is the blight. Which, according to a new federal report, is going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more to clean up than anyone thought. Its a huge challenge, but you don’t need to tell that to Erica Gerson.

“It’s 330 pages, that is a lot of digesting,” said Gerson, Chair of the Detroit’s Land Bank Authority, which is in charge of dealing with the broken down properties the city owns. “One of the problems here is there are houses that having been sitting empty for three to five years and they are not getting any better. So we have to get our hands on them faster.”

Gerson says sometimes a direct approach is the best way to deal with neglectful landlords.

“I have a staff of attorneys who go out and put big posters on [abandoned] houses that say ‘Call this number within 72 hours or your property will be seized by the Detroit Land Bank.' That tends to get the landlord’s attention.”

Gerson says that, yes, the task before her can seem daunting. But she doesn’t have to look far for signs that the city is getting better.

“Yesterday people saw a man who they thought was scrapping--tearing down the gutters on a beautiful old house that seemed abandoned. When the police got there, instead of arresting the man, they started laughing...turned out that it was one of the houses we had postered. And [the man] was putting up brand new gutters. A lady in the neighborhood said she hadn't seen anyone do that in 20 years.  That’s what keeps you going.”

Marketplace for Wednesday May 28, 2014Interview by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title Solving Detroit's blight, one scary poster at a timeStory Type InterviewSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No
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