When LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy attended live concerts, he says he always felt like there was something missing.
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The average person today consumes almost three times as much information as what the typical person consumed in 1960, according to research at the University of California, San Diego.
On Oct. 30, comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert hosted dueling rallies on the National Mall. Called "The Rally to Restore Sanity" and the "March to Keep Fear Alive," respectively, the two rallies closely mimicked Glenn Beck’s recent "Restoring Honor Rally," also held in Washington, D.C.
Deep beneath the border of France and Switzerland, the world’s most massive physics machine is sending subatomic particles smashing into each other at speeds nearing the speed of light. Physicists working with the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider hope it will help solve some of the universe’s mysteries.
But first, researchers must overcome two very mundane hurdles: how to handle all of the data the LHC generates, and how to get non-scientists to care.
One physicist has a novel way to solve both problems: sound.
Robert Hirst, the director of the Mark Twain Project, joins Fresh Air contributor David Bianculli for a discussion about the recent publication of Mark Twain’s autobiography — in the structure the author himself wished — from dictated stories collected by the University of California, Berkley’s Mark Twain Project
Ever notice that sophisticated architectural renderings make construction projects look impossibly attractive. Exactly, says Dwell senior editor Geoff Manaugh, who blogs at bldgblog.blogspot.com. That’s precisely the point.
From "passed away" to "Chilean sea bass," euphemisms are a way to avoid unpleasant terms or phrases.
But in Euphemania, Ralph Keyes argues that using them isn’t necessarily lazy or evasive; it can actually be harder to not say what we mean and still get our point across.
"Euphemisms can be incredibly playful and a lot of fun — very creative," Keyes tells NPR’s Neal Conan.
Take, for example, the euphemisms we use for death. Keyes notes that the French talk about "eating dandelions by the root," their version of "pushing up daisies." He also recalls an old high school classmate who once told him how the life insurance industry avoids the word: "When one of their policy holders became eligible for his benefits to go to his heirs, they said he was ‘post-retirement.’" And one of the author’s favorite modern expressions is "going offline."
Euphemania: Our Love Affair With Euphemisms By Ralph Keyes Hardcover, 288 pages Little, Brown and Company List price: $24.99 Read An Excerpt
Keyes says many euphemisms were initially created to avoid blasphemy.
"We couldn’t say God so we said ‘gad;’ we couldn’t say Jesus Christ so we said ‘jeepers’," Keyes says, or "cheese and rice," or "grease us twice."
Today, he says, euphemisms are more often applied to money, murder and, most of all, food.
"[At] one time, Patagonian toothfish was freely available to anyone because no one wanted to eat it," Keyes says, "until a very clever entrepreneurial sea importer renamed it Chilean sea bass."
According to Keyes, the tradition of using euphemisms for food is pretty widespread: thymus glands are known as sweetbreads, and bull testicles are known as Rocky Mountain oysters and prairie oysters. Rapeseed oil was an especially tough sale until someone thought to rename it canola oil.
Current events have also provided ample fodder for euphemisms — think "wardrobe malfunction," "wide stance" or "hiking the Appalachian trail," a phrase made famous by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s infamous Argentine escapade. Still, Keyes says the phenomenon is not new.
"In England in the swinging ’60s and ’70s, a woman was upstairs with a guy behind a closed door," he recounts. "Later, when she came down and was asked what she was doing with the guy, she flushed and said ‘Oh, we were discussing Uganda.’" For a long time after that, "discussing Uganda" was used as a euphemism for having sex.
Euphemisms can also evolve in their meanings in what Keyes refers to as "the carousel ride of euphemisms." The phrase "hook up," for example, was once a nice, casual term for getting together. Today, it’s meaning is much more suggestive.
A new study suggests that a thinning of the brain cortex is associated with an increased risk of developing depression. Psychiatrist and MRI expert Brad Peterson explains what the cortex does and what the study results may mean for people with a family history of depression.
When Brian Eno works his musical magic, his presence is unmistakable. You may not know of his long solo career or remember his flamboyant debut as the synthesizer stylist in the early days of Roxy Music. But if you’re a rock fan, you’ve certainly heard his studio wizardry as one of pop music’s most sought-after producers.