Linton Weeks

Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.

Weeks is originally from Tennessee, and graduated from Rhodes College in 1976. He was the founding editor of Southern Magazine in 1986. The magazine was bought — and crushed — in 1989 by Time-Warner. In 1990, he was named managing editor of The Washington Post's Sunday magazine. Four years later, he became the first director of the newspaper's website, Washingtonpost.com. From 1995 until 2008, he was a staff writer in the Style section of The Washington Post.

He currently lives in a suburb of Washington with the artist Jan Taylor Weeks. In 2009, they created The Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation to honor their beloved sons.

Maybe it all started with ugly Christmas sweaters. Or with cheesy inflatable Santas. Or hideously inappropriate tree ornaments. But Christmastime – at least its visible trappings and accoutrements – seems to be getting tackier.

Created by a British-American wordsmith, the very first Word-Cross appeared in the New York World on Dec. 21, 1913.

Created by a British-American wordsmith, the very first Word-Cross appeared in the New York World on Dec. 21, 1913.

Blocks grow with you — from basic alphabet blocks and geometric building blocks, to Tinker Toys and Legos and girder and panel sets, to bricks and

Resolved: That blocks are the best toys ever.

The usual question for Americans on an Anniversary of National Significance is: Where Were You When...?

Where Were You When you learned that: Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot on April 4 in 1968? Neil Armstrong walked on the moon on July 21, 1969? The twin towers of the World Trade Center were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001?

But there is another question of orientation: Who Were You When ... a certain nation-changing event occurred?

This is who I was — 50 years ago this month — when I heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

We are a country at war, yet we live as if we are at peace. We are in economic turmoil, but the stock market soars, and corporations and banks prosper. We decry violence in real life but celebrate violence in entertainment, such as Grand Theft Auto V and Breaking Bad. We warn our young people against promiscuity, while society's sexualization of young people continues.

And on and on.

Starter: Hello. Is that whiskey you're drinking?

Let me tell you about the debt that whiskey drinkers owe to women. Fred Minnick, a writer for the beverage industry, says so in his new book, Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey.

First there was recycling — reusing old material instead of throwing it away.

Recently there has been an eruption of revelations from below the surface of the Earth: Major aquifers beneath Kenya and a vast volcano deep in the Pacific Ocean.

For $50,000, The Associated Press reports, you can stay for a night in an inflatable hotel room — suspended atop a 22-foot-high scissor lift.

Concerned that some professional football players may be sporting gang-related tattoos, the NFL is calling in people who are experts in reading the meanings of body ink, CBS Sports reports.

Tattoos may be skin deep, but their significance sometimes goes deeper. The messages sent by body art are an individual's self-expression, but there are recurring motifs that can often tell you something about the wearer.

"Citizens who choose ...

To be defined by a wall,

or ... to tear it down. "

From Remarks by President Obama at the Brandenburg Gate. June 19, 2013.

****

(If you find examples of Haiku in the News, please send them to: protojournalist@npr.org)

Time was, the stretch following Christmas Day until New Year's Day was a quiet, sleepy spot on the American calendar. The six-day span hung like a lazy hammock between the holidays.

Not anymore.

Nowadays, the WAC — Week After Christmas — is busy and abuzzing. All around the country, Americans continue to celebrate — Kwanzaa, the Christmas afterglow and the coming New Year.

For the sake of argument, let's agree that when we use the word "inauguration" in this particular post, we are talking about the multiday, ball-bestrewn, soiree-soaked, tuxedo-dappled extravaganza that costs tens of millions of dollars and often leaves many Americans out in the cold — figuratively and literally.

To many Americans, the right to vote in a presidential election is a sacred and precious opportunity. To others, the right to not vote is just as meaningful. And they exercise it.

In just-released data, the Pew Research Center reports that about 43 percent of Americans of voting age in 2008 didn't participate in the presidential election.

Peter Remine says he will know it's time to get serious about rights for robots "when a robot knocks on my door asking for some help."

Remine, founder of the Seattle-based American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Robots, says the moment will come when a robot in an automobile factory "will become sentient, realize that it doesn't want to do that unfulfilling and dangerous job anymore, and ask for protection under state workers' rights."

Here's a new idea for a Presidential Debate Drinking Game: Every time someone says "Presidential Debate Drinking Game" today, take a drink. Just kidding.

But drinking games have become a familiar part of the American political landscape — like buttons, bunting and bumper stickers. Where there are political rallies, there are protesting groups. Where there are campaign speeches, there are fact checking teams. And where there are presidential candidates' debates, there are drinking games.

Generation Y is asking why.

Why is it so hard to find a job? Why is health care so expensive? Smart questions from a smart generation. Their inquiries — and the presidential candidate they think can provide the best answers — could be a decisive factor in the 2012 election. If not the Tipping Point, as least a Tilting Point.

For many millennials, economic prospects are murky.

Is it possible to tell whether you are a liberal or a conservative by the jokes you think are funny?

Maybe so. "Like smell or taste, humor is a sense and different people are going to think different things are funny," says Alison Dagnes, author of the just-published book A Conservative Walks Into a Bar: The Politics of Political Humor. "When you throw politics into the mix, our opinions and our biases will affect the way the jokes land."

Leaves are falling in the summertime. School starts in early August in many places. Politicos are already talking about the presidential election — of 2016.

Everything is happening earlier.

As many folks know, Bill Clinton was called the First Black President by Toni Morrison in The New Yorker.

That's it. They win. He's giving up his privacy.

Trying to maintain privacy in contemporary America is just too time consuming, too complicated, too exhausting. He can't tell the good guys from the bad guys anymore. He doesn't know whom to trust.

Like baseballs in a batting cage, the controversies that divide us just keep on coming. Fast and unpredictable.

Last month it was the flap over the Susan G. Komen foundation and its move to cut financial support of Planned Parenthood. The resulting imbroglio dredged up deeply held convictions among Americans about women's health issues and "cause marketing" that, in this case, has resulted in profits for companies promoting breast cancer awareness and research through pink and omnipresent product tie-ins.

Given the nonstop, stereo-rock news cycle, the warp speed tempo of geopolitics and the constant to-and-fro between the media and the president, has the State of the Union address become obsolete?

Traditionally, the speech — an annual where-we-stand lecture delivered by the president to a joint session of Congress — has for decades been an opportunity for the professor in chief to issue a national report card and put current events in calm, codifiable context.

The race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination is fixing to get, as we Southerners tongue-in-cheekly say, about as slippery as a greased pig in a hog wallow. Nasty as a old possum in a croaker sack. Murky as South Carolina swamp mud.

The Republican primary focus is shifting to the South, where folks talk and act different from the rest of the country. And where they look for different characteristics in candidates than other regions of the ...

Pages