This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Before the election recedes too far, there are a couple more takeaways that deserve attention. One is the money. Spending in the 2012 campaign reached record heights. Some estimates put the total at more than $6 billion, and the new outside groups, the superPACs and the nonprofits, spent more than a billion to buy maybe one million television ads. In a moment, the effect of that unprecedented flow of cash.
The contrast couldn't be clearer. On Tuesday night, crowds gathered to watch election returns. The candidates and their nervous supporters had no way to know who'd win. In Beijing, as the Communist Party Congress gathered, the government cleared Tiananmen Square to create an eerie scene one observer described as post-apocalyptic. China's new leaders are being chosen in secret and few have any idea how they proposed to direct policy.
Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 12:23 pm
A scientist enters a hardwood forest in Tennessee. He doesn't collect soil, map the distribution of tree types or statistically sample the behavior of animals who live there.
Instead, he settles down in a patch of ground, one tiny bit of the forest he visits over and over. He watches, listens and takes notes. Eventually, he writes a book about what he learned. It's called The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch In Nature.
Two days after the U.S. election, another major political development is unfolding on the other side of the world. China began its once-in-a-decade transition of power on Thursday with the opening of its 18th Communist Party Congress.
With its lack of personalities or political platforms, it is almost diametrically opposed to the hurly-burly of U.S. elections. In Beijing, the message was about fighting corruption and keeping the Communist Party in power.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 7:30 am
Bassist Omer Avital came from Israel to New York in the early '90s and found himself among the top tier of straight-ahead modern jazz performers. The time in the big city led him to re-investigate his roots — his parents are from the Arab-speaking world — and in 2002, he returned to Israel to study traditional music and oud. Since returning, he's remained a monster bass player, but has also integrated his Middle Eastern musical interests into his composing.
Joy Williams and John Paul White call their Grammy-winning band The Civil Wars, but the two have built a gentle, harmony-rich folk-pop sound in which warm chemistry more than counteracts the tension under the music's surface. Though not a couple themselves — each is married, and Williams just had a baby — they convey many hallmarks of a loving union, particularly in the way she stares at him sweetly as they sing.
Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 5:43 pm
Florida is again having problems determining the winner of its presidential vote. But its difficulties are entirely different from the ones that kept the nation in suspense for more than a month back in 2000.
"It was just a convergence of things that were an embarrassment to Florida," says Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
On Monday morning at about 5:30 (I'm an early riser), I woke up, swung my legs out of bed, and stepped into water.
I live in a basement apartment where I've been for four years, and almost exactly a week after I was blessedly lucky to avoid the superstorm — and at a time when some of my New York and New Jersey friends were still in the dark — a freaky plumbing/heating mishap wound up filling my entire apartment with about an inch of water.
Ethiopia enjoys a rich tradition of enticing music, filled with asymmetric rhythms set to a haunting, five-note scale and sly double-entendre lyrics in the Amharic language. It's a shame that, for Western listeners, a full, clear picture of Ethiopian music has been elusive.