Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 1:06 pm
Credit Mario Tama / Getty Images
New York City's ban on big sodas raises big issues.
Consider: modern political thought starts with the recognition that, as philosopher John Rawls put it, there are different, competing and incompatible conceptions of the good. We live in a pluralistic word.
Religious wars, political upheavals, the discovery and settlement of the New World — all this established the fact that there are wildly different conceptions of how to live, of what makes for a good life.
Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 5:01 pm
Credit Robert F. Bukaty / AP
When it comes to farm raised fish, it doesn't pay to let them be lazy. Fish like wild salmon, tuna and eel are built for the vigorous swimming required during migration.
These fish are "uniquely adapted to a physiology of high levels of exercise performance," says Tony Farrell, who studies fish physiology in the University of British Columbia Zoology department. "Therefore when we put them in constrained environments and remove predators, the consequences are they become a little more like couch potatoes."
"Gherkin" — I like saying it. It's vaguely Indian sounding. "Kerfuffle." That's just fun, with so many F's packed into three syllables. "Diphthong" is sly because it's hiding a silent H, the H right after the P; it's there, but you wouldn't know it. And "hornswoggle?" Just hearing it, I'm on the deck of a frigate, there are seagulls soaring above, and someone is playing a jig.
One of these four words, the "Final Four" in Ted McCagg's "Best Word Ever" contest, became a champion this week.
Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 1:39 pm
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If you had a sudden urge to put a horn on your head, not use your knees and chew on some leaves, you may be catching the spirit of World Rhino Day. It's being celebrated all over the world with art shows, auctions, walk-a-thons and lectures with the theme of "Five Rhino Species Forever."
In a couple weeks, the prestigious Nobel Prizes will be announced. But this week, the Ig Nobels honored the silliest discoveries of 2012. A study on the physics of the ponytail; a paper on why coffee spills when you walk; and a prize for a group of psychologists who scanned the brain of an unpromising patient: a deceased Atlantic salmon. Even more unlikely were their findings: the dead fish had thoughts. Who knows - maybe dreams. Craig Bennett did the experiment and accepted the award with good humor, and a couple of fish jokes.
President Obama named a new national monument on Friday: Chimney Rock in southwestern Colorado. With two sandstone spires soaring from a mesa, not only is Chimney Rock a spectacular place; it also provides a fascinating glimpse into the ancient people who lived in that region more than 1,000 years ago.
Finally this hour, to California, where space shuttle Endeavour made its final flight today. Endeavour left Andrews Air Force Base this morning on the back of a 747. It flew over San Francisco and Sacramento before heading south to Los Angeles. There, it will find new life as an exhibit in a science museum. Before Endeavour touched down, it made a low-level pass over a number of Southern California landmarks. NPR's Mandalit del Barco was with some elementary school students as the shuttle flew by.