NPR 4 THE DEF: Giving Public Radio Edge Since 2006


By the end of the week, he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in Kindergarten.” — Senator Barack Obama, North Carolina, Today

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The McCain campaign’s charge that Barack Obama has socialist leanings has put the spotlight on a word relatively uncommon to modern American elections. Linguist Geoff Nunberg explains how the “S” word was used in the past — and why it’s come up now. ALSO, Saturday Night Live‘s Seth Meyers is making waves with a broader TV audience this election season as the show expands its political parodies to Thursday prime time. A graduate of Northwestern University, Meyers joined the sketch comedy show in 2001 and became head writer in 2006. He hasvoterfraud3_1.jpg impersonated such figures as John Kerry, Michael Caine, Anderson Cooper, Prince Charles and Peyton Manning.


Hour 1
With voter registration up and new voting systems throughout the country, we talk about possible problems that could arise with MICHAEL SCHERER, correspondent in TIME magazine’s Washington bureau covering the 2008 presidential campaign. He wrote “7 Things That Could Go Wrong On Election Day.” Then LAWRENCE NORDEN joins us. He is director of the voting technology project at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. He is one of the authors of a recent report entitled “Is America Ready to Vote? State Preparations for Voting Machine Problems in 2008.” Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3
Hour 2
WILLIAM HANSON, M.D., Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the University of Pennsylvania. In his new book, “The Edge of Medicine: The Technology that Will Change Our Lives,” Hanson looks at biotech innovations that are advancing the medical field including an electronic nose that detects infection based on a person’s breath and wheelchairs operated by brainwaves. Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3


319: And the Call Was Coming from the Basement

For Halloween, scary stories that are all true. Kidnappings, zombie raccoons, haunted houses—real haunted houses!—and things that go “EEEEK!!!” in the night. Plus, a new story by David Sedaris, in which he walks among the dead. Host Ira Glass and Albert Donnay read a true ghost story that appeared in a medical journal in 1921. After a “Mrs H” and her family moved into an old rambling house, strange apparitions started appearing…until her brother-in-law figured out the real cause of the ghostly presences. Act One. The Hills Have Eyes. Some of the scariest stories happen when fluffy, innocent creatures turn murderously evil. This American Life producer Alex Blumberg tells one such story, about a raccoon gone bad. Act Two. The Hitcher. Writer Bill Eville and his brother are picked up late at night on the side of the road…and not taken to their destination. Act Three. And the Call Was Coming from…the Listeners! Weeks ago, we set up a special 800 number for listeners to call with their true-life scary stories. Over five hundred people called. We hear a sample. The scariest stories we got all had one thing in common. Act Four. Graveyard Shift. One Halloween, David Sedaris decided to skip all the fake monsters and ghosts and zombies and visit the real thing: dead people. In a morgue.

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Spurred by a string of bad news in his personal life, novelist Mikel Jollett turned to writing songs instead of prose for relief, and within months, The Airborne Toxic Event was born. Shaking up standard rock with the addition of viola and trumpet, The Airborne Toxic Event has become a fixture of the L.A. music scene within just two years.

In a session with host David Dye, the band weighs in on the media’s hefty comparisons between its work and that of artists such as Leonard Cohen. Jollett also explains his songwriting process, noting that it’s not too far off from his prior occupation, since he composes songs as short stories.

 THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT: Sometime Around Midnight

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