National News

How 'Choose Your Own Adventure' was born

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 11:51

Ed Packard was a lawyer for RCA records. But it wasn't his true calling. Ed wanted to be a writer, and one fateful night back in 1969 he was telling his daughters Caroline and Andrea a bedtime story about a character named Pete marooned on a desert island.

"I was tired from a long day at work, and I couldn't think of what should happen next in the story. So I asked them. I got two different answers. I could sense that this was an unusual approach. They could not just identify with the main character. They could be the main character." 

Ed penned his first book on the train from his home in Connecticut to his law office in New York. He got an agent at William Morris who told him his first book "The Adventures of You on Sugar Cane Island" would be a big hit. But after countless doors were slammed in his face by children's book publishers who told him his work was more like a game than a book, Ed gave up.

He put his manuscript in his desk drawer and left it there to collect dust.

It was only after he met a young literary agent named Amy Berkower through an old college buddy that the books finally got a good, hard second look a decade later. And with the help of another upstart in the publishing business, Joelle Delbourgo at Bantam, "Choose Your Own Adventure" exploded into a phenomenon that rewrote the book on children's literature.

This story is part of Marketplace's new collaborative series with Mental Floss Magazine. For the full story, follow the link here.

What if you could kill your stolen phone?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 11:11
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 11:59 Geoff Holland/Flickr/Creative Commons

A London sign that read: "Beware, mobile phone thieves operating in this area."

 Thieves want your smartphone. They really, really want it. Consumer Reports estimates 1.6 million smart phones were stolen in 2012.

"In some cities, a majority of the reported thefts are for smart phones and other mobile computing devices," said Rob D'Ovidio, a criminal justice professor at Drexel University.  

He thinks a kill switch, which would allow you to disable your phone remotely, could make a lot of sense. A stolen phone that doesn't work isn't worth much. But the ability to kill a phone could be worth a lot to its owner.

"People who formerly had their phones stolen, they won't have that happen anymore so they won't have to go out and buy a new phone," said William Duckworth, a statistician at Creighton University.

And if there's a lot less theft, he said, insurance for phones wouldn't cost as much. All together, he estimated, kill switches could save consumers $2.6 billion a year. That doesn't include the time that police officers spend on smart phone thefts.

"When you look at the rate of thefts of smartphones in major metropolitian areas in the United States," D'Ovidio said, "it's just taxing law enforcement resources.

He thinks it's just a matter of time before all phones come with kill switches. Apple's newest operating system allows users to shut down a phone remotely. And according to Duckworth's research, that's something 99 percent of smart phone owners want.

Marketplace for Friday April 11, 2014by Adriene HillPodcast Title What if you could kill your stolen phone?Story Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Pass The Chipotle-Marrow Matzo Balls, It's Mexican Passover

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 11:01

When tequila meets Manischewitz in the same glass, Passover will never be the same. At Rosa Mexicano restaurants, the Passover menu is inspired by the cuisine of Mexico's nearly 40,000 Jews.

» E-Mail This

In which the government acknowledges Google

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 10:43

And finally, it seems Congress has discovered the amazing powers of the internet. No joke.

From the Congressional Record, Senate Bill 2206 was introduced just last week, and which the legislative language tells us can be cited as the Let Me Google That For You Act.

S.B. 2206 would abolish the National Technical Information Service, collector and disseminator of almost 3 million government scientific, technical, engineering, and business reports, because, yes, you can just Google 'em for free.

Nasdaq'ed: tech slide continues

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 09:55
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 10:46 Spencer Platt/Getty Images

People walk by the Nasdaq stock market.

It was a rough week for tech and bio-tech stocks. And in Marketplace's Weekly Wrap segment, Leigh Gallagher, editor of Fortune Magazine, and Sudeep Reddy, from the Wall Street Journal, recap the week's financial news.

This week's market slump was driven in large part by big-name tech companies, and on Thursday, the Nasdaq Composite slumped 3.1 percent, its biggest decline since November 2011. 

 "We're seeing this increasing skittishness, and whether it's related to Candy Crush's IPO or tech stocks this week or JP Morgan today, if you pull really far back, last year the market was pretty boffo. It was up 30 percent," says Gallagher. "And the whole world knows that we're not going to do that again this year."

Was last year's market performance a little too bananas?

"Bananas, boffo, I'll give you another b-word: bubble," says Reddy. "We've spent so much time thinking about bubbles... that we've actually lost sight of some of the more fundamental issues like corporate earnings and economic expectations. And we'd have to see some pretty remarkable economic growth and profit growth to support where the stock market has been the past couple of months."

Marketplace for Friday April 11, 2014Interview by Kai RyssdalPodcast Title Nasdaq'ed: tech slide continuesStory Type InterviewSyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

Digital comics: Violent sci-fi meets Joan Didion

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 09:53
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 16:29 Ulises Farinas

Here's what downtown L.A. looks like in 2094, in the "Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two" graphic novel miniseries

This week Amazon announced it has bought ComiXology, a popular online store and digital reader for comic books, graphic novels and the like. 

Now, there is a select group of you, i.e., comics nerds  fans, to whom this will mean quite a bit more than it means to say, me. I am not a comics fan. Or at least — I haven’t been one. 

Then I called up Douglas Wolk, a man who writes about comic books, as well as writes comic books, and I started to get pretty excited about comics and the economics behind them. 

Wolk is currently working on a series called "Judge Dredd Mega City Two," which he describes as "probably the closest that incredibly violent sci-fi gets to a tribute to Joan Didion." I am intrigued. 

Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two, the five-issue mini-series by Douglas Wolk and drawn by Ulises Farinas.

Ulises Farinas

Wolk says, part of why he can write crazy mash-ups like this is because of the weird way the comic books business has worked for many years.

"Comics have the strangest economics of just about any medium I can think of," he said. 

Unlike regular books, where a store can return unsold copies, with comic books, a store buys a certain number from a publisher on a non-refundable basis. That means publishers of comics can gauge ahead of time how many copies will be profitable to print, so it's easier to take risks on books that might only appeal to niche markets. 

And tapping into those niche markets has become even easier with the rise of digital comics, according to Calvin Reid, a lifelong comic book fan and senior news editor at Publishers Weekly.  And that’s a good thing for comic book sales, since sales for physical comic books have reached a plateau in recent years. 

"Even in the early nineties there were comics that hit real mass market numbers, a million or so," Reid said. "But now, you sell 100,000 copies, and everyone pays attention."

Even so, physical comics that you can hold in your hand are still a more than $600 million industry.  There's just something addictive about flipping through the pages, says Jeff Ayers, a manager at Forbidden Planet, a revered comic book store in Manhattan that still does brisk business. It's great to be able to read a comic on your phone, Ayers told me. 

"But I'm not inclined to bring phone in to the bath tub, where I would be a comic book," he says.

Reading a comic book tribute to Joan Didion….in the bath tub?  I might try that.

Marketplace for Friday April 11, 2014by Krissy ClarkPodcast Title Digital comics: Violent sci-fi meets Joan DidionStory Type News StorySyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

How A Person Can Recover From Ebola

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 09:52

The stricken are most likely to die within 10 days. But those whose bodies produce antibodies may survive — and be sent home with a clean bill of health. That's happening now in Guinea.

» E-Mail This

Wal-Mart: Everday low (organic?) prices

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 09:50
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 16:29 Win McNamee/Getty Images

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jon Tester holds a handful of his organic wheat on his farm October 15, 2006 in Big Sandy, Montana.

Walmart has announced a new line of prepared organic foods — ketchup, pasta sauce, breakfast cereal — marketed under the name Wild Oats. And cheap: Wild Oats spaghetti sauce will cost the same as Ragu brand. But it's one thing to try to grow demand for organics by offering lower prices. Supplying that demand could be tough, especially at low prices. Already, supplies of commodities like corn, wheat and soybeans are tight.

"There’s not as many acres," says Tim Daley, who buys and sells organic soybeans for Stonebridge, a brokerage in Iowa. "Maybe three or four percent of the marketplace is organic. And a lot of that is still coming in from offshore."  

If not for imports, he says, prices would be even higher. "And they’re already high. So if you’ve got $14 soybeans on the Chicago Board of Trade, you’ve easily got $24 or $28 soybeans."

That's conventional beans, versus organic beans. 

Increasing supply can’t happen overnight. 

"It takes three years for a producer to achieve organic certification," notes Kellee James, CEO of Mercaris, a company that supplies market data on organic commodities. "So even if tomorrow prices go up and a producer decides he wants to grow, say, organic wheat, it’s going to take three years for that supply to come online."

Walmart says it plans to keep prices in line by locking in five-year contracts with producers.

Which may not work, says Paul Mitchell, who teaches agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin. If market prices go up everywhere else, he thinks producers will want to re-negotiate.

"They’re going to ... say, 'Look, WalMart. We sold you our can of corn at $1.50 a can, organic. And now the market price is $2. Well, we don’t want the $1.50 anymore. We want to sell it for $2.'"

And if they don’t get it? Tim Daley, the soybean broker, says beans under contract might “disappear, magically" when market prices climb. "That has happened out here, more than a few years in a row.”

Marketplace for Friday April 11, 2014by Dan WeissmannPodcast Title Wal-Mart: Everday low (organic?) pricesStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

'If you can run the OMB, you can run anything.'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 09:41
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 16:29 Mark Wilson/Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama (2ndL), U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell (L) applaud outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for her service during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House, on April 11, 2014 in Washington, DC.

President Obama has nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell, currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. The OMB is something of a proving ground. 

Past budget directors have gone on to become White House chiefs of staff and cabinet secretaries. 

"It isn't such a big agency, but the subject matter covers everything that the government does," says Alice Rivlin, who led the OMB when Bill Clinton was president. "If you can run the OMB," she adds, "you can run anything."

And it seems to be true, given the resumes of recent OMB directors:

Jacob Lew: Director, OMB (twice) then White House Chief of Staff then Secretary of the Treasury

Rob Portman: Director, OMB then U.S. Senator

Joshua Bolten: Director, OMB then White House Chief of Staff

Mitch Daniels: Director, OMB then Governor of Indiana then president of Purdue University

Alice Rivlin: Director, OMB then Federal Reserve vice chair

Leon Panetta: Director, OMB then White House Chief of Staff then CIA Director then Secretary of Defense

Marketplace for Friday April 11, 2014by David GuraPodcast Title "If you can run the OMB, you can run anything."Story Type News StorySyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

'God' Files Suit In New York To Resolve Credit Dispute

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 09:19

God Gazarov, a Russian immigrant who owns a jewelry store in Brooklyn, says Equifax won't give him a credit history, suggesting he change his first name to resolve the problem.

» E-Mail This

What if you could kill your stolen phone?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 08:59

 Thieves want your smartphone. They really, really want it. Consumer Reports estimates 1.6 million smart phones were stolen in 2012.

"In some cities, a majority of the reported thefts are for smart phones and other mobile computing devices," said Rob D'Ovidio, a criminal justice professor at Drexel University.  

He thinks a kill switch, which would allow you to disable your phone remotely, could make a lot of sense. A stolen phone that doesn't work isn't worth much. But the ability to kill a phone could be worth a lot to its owner.

"People who formerly had their phones stolen, they won't have that happen anymore so they won't have to go out and buy a new phone," said William Duckworth, a statistician at Creighton University.

And if there's a lot less theft, he said, insurance for phones wouldn't cost as much. All together, he estimated, kill switches could save consumers $2.6 billion a year. That doesn't include the time that police officers spend on smart phone thefts.

"When you look at the rate of thefts of smartphones in major metropolitian areas in the United States," D'Ovidio said, "it's just taxing law enforcement resources.

He thinks it's just a matter of time before all phones come with kill switches. Apple's newest operating system allows users to shut down a phone remotely. And according to Duckworth's research, that's something 99 percent of smart phone owners want.

Singer-Songwriter Jesse Winchester Dies

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 08:47

Revered by other musicians, Winchester began recording in 1970. He had a hit of his own with "Say What." Artists such as Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and Elvis Costello covered his songs. He was 69.

» E-Mail This

PODCAST: What's so bad about low inflation?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:57
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 10:46

Why are investors suddenly fleeing from stocks?

Right now our inflation rate is around 1 percent. But some at the Fed say that's way too low. The hope is to see inflation go up. But why on earth would we want to increase inflation?  

When it comes to wellbeing, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. That’s according to new data from the Social Progress Imperative, an organization which aims to understand how countries are performing on a variety of measures including health, education, technology, and opportunity.

Marketplace Tech for Friday, April 11, 2014by Podcast Title 4-11-14 Mid-day Update - What's so bad about low inflation?Story Type BlogSyndication All in onePMPApp Respond No

PODCAST: What's so bad about low inflation?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:46

Why are investors suddenly fleeing from stocks?

Right now our inflation rate is around 1 percent. But some at the Fed say that's way too low. The hope is to see inflation go up. But why on earth would we want to increase inflation?  

When it comes to wellbeing, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. That’s according to new data from the Social Progress Imperative, an organization which aims to understand how countries are performing on a variety of measures including health, education, technology, and opportunity.

Nasdaq'ed: tech slide continues

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:46

It was a rough week for tech and bio-tech stocks. And in Marketplace's Weekly Wrap segment, Leigh Gallagher, editor of Fortune Magazine, and Sudeep Reddy, from the Wall Street Journal, recap the week's financial news.

This week's market slump was driven in large part by big-name tech companies, and on Thursday, the Nasdaq Composite slumped 3.1 percent, its biggest decline since November 2011. 

 "We're seeing this increasing skittishness, and whether it's related to Candy Crush's IPO or tech stocks this week or JP Morgan today, if you pull really far back, last year the market was pretty boffo. It was up 30 percent," says Gallagher. "And the whole world knows that we're not going to do that again this year."

Was last year's market performance a little too bananas?

"Bananas, boffo, I'll give you another b-word: bubble," says Reddy. "We've spent so much time thinking about bubbles... that we've actually lost sight of some of the more fundamental issues like corporate earnings and economic expectations. And we'd have to see some pretty remarkable economic growth and profit growth to support where the stock market has been the past couple of months."

U.S. Denies Visa To Iran's Controversial U.N. Envoy

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:35

The moves comes after Congress approved legislation aimed at denying entry to Hamid Aboutalebi, who was part of a student group that seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

» E-Mail This

4 Strange Sports In America's Past

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:13

If you think beer pong and mud wrestling are odd contests, you should check the history books.

» E-Mail This

Alternative indicator gives high scores to Costa Rica

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:03
Friday, April 11, 2014 - 09:50 EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to well-being, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. 

When it comes to well-being, Costa Rica tops the list of countries in Latin America. That’s according to new data from the Social Progress Imperative, an organization which aims to understand how countries are performing on a variety of measures including health, education, technology and opportunity.

Stephen Keppel, who covers economics at Univision, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain why Costa Rica performs so well. Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

Marketplace Morning Report for Friday, April 11, 2014Interview by David BrancaccioPodcast Title Alternative indicator gives high scores to Costa RicaStory Type News StorySyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Say cheese... all April long

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-11 07:01

Here's an extended look at what's coming up next week:

On Sunday, the final season of "Mad Men" premieres. I had to put on my go-go boots and pour myself a martini for that tidbit.

On Monday, while we all drink heavily at a business meeting we've dressed up and styled our hair for, the Commerce Department is scheduled to report retail sales data for March.

On April 14th, 1939 John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" was first published. The depression era novel went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Speaking of the Pulitzers, Prizewinners are scheduled to be announced on Monday.

Did consumers pay more or less for stuff in March than they did in February? On Tuesday, the Labor Department issues its Consumer Price Index. And it's tax day. An American tradition.

That brings us up to hump day. We'll get numbers on construction of new homes for March. And the Federal Reserve releases its latest Beige Book summary of commentary on current economic conditions.

Wondering why I'm not talking about any hearings on Capitol Hill? It's because Congress is on recess.

Markets are closed for Good Friday.

Television host and comedian Conan O'Brien turns 51.

And since we here at Datebook love cheese, let's end with this deliciousness: April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Start melting.

'I Knew It Wouldn't Be Easy,' Outgoing Health Secretary Sebelius Says

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-11 06:52

With Kathleen Sebelius leaving as health secretary, the president is turning to budget chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell to run the agency that oversees the Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare.

» E-Mail This

ON THE AIR
BBC World Service
Next Up: @ 05:00 am
Democracy Now

KBBI is Powered by Active Listeners like You

As we celebrate 35 years of broadcasting, we look ahead to technology improvements and the changing landscape of public radio.

Support the voices, music, information, and ideas that add so much to your life.Thank you for supporting your local public radio station.

FOLLOW US

Drupal theme by pixeljets.com ver.1.4