Here is a question that social scientists have been pondering for years: How much of your success in life is tied to your parents, and how much do you control?
The academic term used for this is "social mobility." And a striking new finding from economic historian Gregory Clark of the University of California, Davis claims your success in life may actually be determined by ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago. That means improving opportunities across generations might be a lot harder than anyone imagined.
The Somali-born rapper and singer-songwriter K'Naan can sure pack a lot into a 3-1/2-minute pop song: clever wit, heartfelt angst, a hook you can't shake — and, in the new track "Hurt Me Tomorrow," honky-tonk piano. That's the sort of quirk that helped win K'Naan his earliest fans. All sorts of eccentricities survive on Country, God or the Girl, his most expansive and elaborately produced work to date. Mostly, though, the new album soars with pairings of sharp, confessional rap and catchy vocal hooks.
President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney speak almost every day throughout the campaign season, sometimes two or three times a day. They deliver everything from commencement addresses to foreign policy analyses. But at rallies and union halls, high school auditoriums, at county fairs and a thousand other venues, they offer slight variations on a set of standard remarks known as the stump speech.
Thousands of children with physical and mental disabilities live in institutions, isolated from their families and decades younger than other patients. The institutions are often better equipped to handle their medical needs, but can fall short when it comes to other aspects of the kids' lives.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Last month, customers of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo and several other banks were unable to access their bank accounts. Hackers overwhelmed the sites with traffic that made them extremely slow or totally unresponsive. No funds were lost, but it was a nuisance.
Months earlier in Saudi Arabia, a virus named Shamoon spread through 30,000 of the computers of ARAMCO, the world's largest oil company, and erased file after file.
You might think that Bridget Lancaster and Jack Bishop — two of the culinary talents behind the public television shows America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country — would have their cooking techniques pretty much figured out. Think again.
For the new Cook's illustrated book The Science of Good Cooking, Bishop and Lancaster tested principles they assumed were true — and as Bishop tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "Things that we thought were actually accurate turned out to be, perhaps, more complex."
The Budapest String Quartet has always been my standard-bearer for chamber music. I grew up listening to their recordings, and especially admired not only their gorgeous sound, but also the uncanny interaction among all four players, even when there were changes in personnel. They had a way of playing as if they were speaking to each other, expressing deep and sometimes complicated feelings.
Sixty years ago, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the U.S.
As the weather warmed up each year, panic over polio intensified. Late summer was dubbed "polio season." Public swimming pools were shut down. Movie theaters urged patrons not to sit too close together to avoid spreading the disease. Insurance companies started selling polio insurance for newborns.
The fear was well grounded. By the 1950s, polio had become one of the most serious communicable diseases among children in the United States.