Renee Fleming will sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Sunday in New Jersey. She is the first opera star to be asked. NPR's Scott Simon remembers how Fleming has performed under pressure many times, including when she sang "Amazing Grace" at the ruins of the World Trade Center after 9/11.
Suicide bombings like the one that killed two university colleagues in Kabul prompt many Americans to tell themselves they're safe from targeted violence in the U.S. We know that isn't true, says NPR's Jacki Lyden.
Linguist Geoff Nunberg lives in the Mission and says young tech employees have been pouring into the neighborhood. But what to call these new residents? He says the term "techie" used to suggest a computer whiz with no social skills; now it suggests one with no social conscience.
Dennis Rodman took a team of former NBA players to North Korea to celebrate leader Kim Jong Un's birthday. NPR's Scott Simon likes the flamboyant and frank Rodman, but wonders if his tour amounts to sports diplomacy or propaganda for the North Korean regime.
Many students prepare for the SAT by drilling themselves on esoteric, arcane and recondite words — like esoteric, arcane and recondite. Linguist Geoff Nunberg doesn't discourage these efforts, but he does have a word of caution: memorizing a definition is hardly the same as learning a new word.
Linguist Geoff Nunberg says he feels a little defensive about choosing "selfie" — a word that wears its ephemerality on its outstretched sleeve — as the word of 2013. But not only was this a year when we couldn't stop posting photos of ourselves online; we couldn't stop talking about it either.
By the time he died, Nelson Mandela was considered one of the few giants on the world stage. As NPR's Scott Simon remembers, Mandela was not alone in offering his life for freedom, so the acclaim justly heaped upon Mandela is also a credit to those who worked, served and led with him.
The flap over the Kentucky senator's articles and speeches is just the latest in a series of cases of plagiarism by high-profile journalists and politicians. Linguist Geoff Nunberg looks at the way the word plagiarism has been used since it was invented by the Romans and wonders if it's always immoral or just bad form.