KPCC Blogs


Holiday gifts gone bad…real bad

Holiday gifts gone bad…real bad

It’s cute to get a home-made gift from a child, but what about when it comes from an adult? And while we all like to get a knit sweater, a knit toilet seat cover is probably less appropriate. What about a plush-toy “PhartEphant,” a stuffed elephant that makes certain, uh, noises when you squeeze it? [...]

The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas

The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas

It's tough for an atheist on Christmas. Everyone's a-ho-hoing or a-ring-a-linging, and it's an obstacle course these days trying to avoid long shopping lines and at-capacity parking lots. When even the gas stations have nativity scenes and the elevators play Christmas music, where is an atheist to turn? Why to <i>The Atheist's Guide to Christmas</i>, [...]

Tests detect early onset Alzheimer’s but, without a cure or treatment, should they?

Tests detect early onset Alzheimer’s but, without a cure or treatment, should they?

Advances in spinal taps and M.R.I.’s now make it more possible than ever for doctors to run diagnostic tests to diagnose early onset Alzheimer’s. But should they? There’s still no treatment for the degenerative brain disease or even a test to verify a patient is suffering from Alzheimer’s and not severe dementia. That moral dilemma [...]

The neuroscience of magic

The neuroscience of magic

There’s a lot more to magic than pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Fooling the eye and the brain is an exercise in neuroscience and the techniques used in magic tricks can be hijacked by hucksters for more nefarious purposes. But the study of these same skills also gives us insight into how the [...]

The Pledge: one nation indivisible?

The Pledge: one nation indivisible?

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands – one nation indivisible – with liberty and justice for all." Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer explain in their new book <i>The Pledge</i> that these 23 words were written as the original pledge of allegiance by Francis Bellamy in 1892. [...]

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no, it’s a flying car!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no, it’s a flying car!

It’s almost 2011 and yet the world of the Jetsons still seems far off. People have been dreaming of flying cars for decades, while the drivers of Los Angeles dream about flying cars every day as they sit in traffic commuting to and from work. The prototypes still need a lot of work and there [...]

Census: 308.7 million people live in the U.S. but population growth is at its lowest rate since the Great Depression

Census: 308.7 million people live in the U.S. but population growth is at its lowest rate since the Great Depression

According to Census Bureau data released today, the population of the United States grew 9.7% to 308,745,538 over the past decade. This is the slowest rate since the Great Depression. But strong population growth continued in the South and West. California is the most populous state with 37.2 million residents. As a result of the [...]

Living off the grid – not just for hippies

Living off the grid – not just for hippies

Author Nick Rosen travels America to discover the motivations behind living without the U.S. electrical grid with surprising results. It might sound like the stuff of hippie delusions, but it turns out there are a lot of reasons people live off the grid, and sometimes it isn’t a choice. Whether he is talking with a [...]

Award season series: Animal Kingdom

Award season series:  Animal Kingdom

No, this isn't the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom; it's the critically acclaimed film <i>Animal Kingdom</i> by writer-director David Michod. If you aren't a crazy film buff you may have missed it on your way to the <i>Social Network</i> or <i>Inception</i>. A few folks who didn't miss this drama about a less than upstanding family [...]

‘Tis the season for green popcorn & yuletide movie cheer

‘Tis the season for green popcorn & yuletide movie cheer

Who can imagine the holidays without Christmas-themed movies? "A Christmas Story" and "Miracle on 34th" Street are almost as traditional as decorated trees and yule logs. But not all holiday films are safe family fare. Think: "Bad Santa," "Die Hard," and "Gremlins." Then there are the forgotten seasonal flicks that are so bad, they’re actually [...]