Business
10:31 am
Mon December 26, 2011

Tribe's high-interest online lending venture booms

HELENA, Mont. — An Indian reservation in Montana may seem an unlikely place to borrow a quick $600.

But the Chippewa Cree tribe says its new online lending company has already given out more than 121,000 loans this year at interest rates that can reach a whopping 360 percent.

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Technology
10:20 am
Mon December 26, 2011

Timeline: A history of touch-screen technology

The University of Illinois released its PLATO IV touch-screen terminal in 1972.
Courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives

Originally published on Mon December 26, 2011 7:15 pm

1948 The Electronic Sackbut
The history of touch technology begins with touch-sensitive music synthesizers. According to the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Hugh Le Caine's Electronic Sackbut, completed in 1948, is widely considered to be the first musical synthesizer. The Sackbut is played with the right hand on the keyboard and the left hand on control board above the keyboard. The right hand controls volume by applying more or less pressure on the keys, while the left hand controls four different sound texture options.

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Digital Life
10:17 am
Mon December 26, 2011

The touchy-feely side of technology ... or how we learn to touch

While many think of the tablet computer as a new idea, the concept can traced back to the original Star Trek series and Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Noel Celis AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 26, 2011 9:24 am

In 1975, when then-composer and performer Bill Buxton started designing his own digital musical instruments, he had no way of knowing he was helping to spark the next technological revolution. But nine years — and a master's in computer science — later, that all changed.

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Economy
10:16 am
Mon December 26, 2011

How cupcakes can demonstrate a law of economics

Two gourmet cupcake shops opened across the street and within days of each other last spring in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Photo by Jessica Robinson

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 5:15 pm

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - At an intersection in the the quaint resort town of Coeur d'Alene, there are two signs for cupcakes. And each one points in a different direction. Downtown Coeur d’Alene is not very big yet it has two cupcake shops. It’s an example of an economic phenomenon that’s actually not that strange -- in fact, we see it everywhere.

Shawna Leonard owns Sweet B cupcakes.

“We have many flavors," she says. "Like red velvet, chocolate, white chocolate raspberry. Candied sweet potato.”

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Diversions
10:03 am
Mon December 26, 2011

Research sheds light on aggressive reactions to benign remarks

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 3:07 pm

In many families, getting together over the holidays means someone inevitably gets bent out of shape for what someone else thinks is no good reason. New research by Washington State University and Oregon's Linfield College sheds light on knee-jerk reactions to innocent remarks.

Is Uncle Henry giving you the silent treatment, or is he just a man of few words? What did that friend you only see on New Year's Eve really mean when she said you lost weight?

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Politics
10:01 am
Mon December 26, 2011

Washington Redistricting Commission Strains For Compromises

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 2:40 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The once every ten years process of redrawing political boundaries in Washington state is going down to the wire. Members of the state Redistricting Commission are straining to finish a revised map of legislative districts.

They also need to finalize where to put a new Congressional district awarded by the 2010 Census.

In Olympia Thursday, Commissioner Tim Ceis sounded certain that negotiators will find compromises by a January first deadline.

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Artscape
8:54 am
Sun December 25, 2011

Empress hotel adds artist-in-residence to luxury accommodations

"Pastry Chefs," an oil painting in a series of work by Judy McLaren, the artist-in-residence at the Fairmont Empress hotel in Victoria, B.C.

The Fairmont Empress in Victoria, B.C., has all the features you’d expect to find in a fancy hotel: luxurious accommodations, fine dining and a spa.

But the city's landmark hotel also has its very own "artist-in-residence." She's painter Judy McLaren, who typically paints commissioned portraits, scenes of the sea as well as landscapes.

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Holiday spirit
2:33 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

California family answers girl's 'balloon mail' to Santa

AUBURN, Wash. — A 5-year-old girl sent a letter to Santa attached to two pink balloons, and it ended up in the hands of a California ranching family who say they'll make the girl's wishes come true.

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NW Craft Brews
2:23 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

The Friday beer: Boundary Bay IPA

The Boundary Bay IPA.
Paul Gibson

It's the time of year when people reflect back on what they are thankful for... friends, family, good health, a job (for those lucky enough to have weathered the tough economy).

Here in the Pacific Northwest we can also be thankful for a wealth of good beer.

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A Blog Supreme
1:54 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

NPR's links to recent jazz coverage on the internet

Many have weighed in this week on the influence of the late valve trombonist and composer Bob Brookmeyer.
Simeon Morales-Füss Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 10:41 am

Happy Holidays all. The blog will be active with fresh content early next week, though I will be away. Thanks for reading, and see y'all in 2012.

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