Sometimes it's small government you need to keep your eye on. Take Middleborough, Mass., whose town meeting recently imposed a $20 fine for swearing in public. According to the police chief, the ordinance was aimed at the crowds of unruly teenagers who gathered downtown at night yelling profanities at people, not just someone who slams a finger in a car door. But whatever the exact idea was, nobody thought it was a good one.
In The Twilight War, government historian David Crist outlines the secret history of America's 30-year conflict with Iran. The book, based on interviews with hundreds of officials as well as classified military archives, details how the covert war has spanned five American presidential terms and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare.
Crist tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that there have been several incidents that have almost resulted in battle over the past 30 years.
There's enough DNA in the human body to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back. But don't confuse DNA with your genes, says writer Sam Kean.
"They are sort of conflated in most people's minds today but they really are distinct things," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Genes are like the story and DNA is the language that the story is written in."
As a child, astronomer Jill Tarter would walk along the beaches of western Florida with her father and look up at the stars.
"I assumed, at that time, that along some beach on some planet, there would be a small creature walking with its dad and they would see our sun in their sky, and they might wonder whether anyone was there," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "But I never thought about it professionally until graduate school."
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Aaron Sorkin: The Writer Behind 'The Newsroom': HBO's new behind-the-anchor-desk drama follows in the footsteps of Sorkin's hit series The West Wing. "I like writing about heroes that don't wear capes or disguises," he says.
Many jazz musicians, the kind who wear jackets and ties on stage, are often carelessly referred to as playing bebop. In reality most of them are post-boppers, who build on that dynamic style that burst forth after World War II, without bringing it back in pure form. It's the rare modernist who gets an authentic bebop sound on alto saxophone, who catches some of the raw explosiveness and rapid-fire grace of jazz god Charlie Parker. And then there's Jesse Davis.
Pianist Eddie Palmieri has been given many nicknames. He's been called The Latin Monk because of his Thelonious Monk-inspired dissonances. He's been called The Piano Breaker Man, because he hits the keys so hard. He's even been called the 'madman of Latin music.' He's taken many of the innovations of modern jazz pianists and brought them into his Latin bands. But he's never stopped playing good dance music.
In 1994, Palmieri's lobbying culminated in the announcement of a new Grammy Award category for Afro-Caribbean Jazz.
A zombie plague has wiped out 95 percent of America. Camps of survivors band together in pockets across the country, waiting for small squadrons of human "sweepers" to inch their way across major cities, destroying the remaining zombie-like creatures hiding out in office buildings and shopping malls.
But now the human sweepers have to tackle their biggest challenge yet: clearing the undead from Lower Manhattan.
Celeste Holm, the actress of stage and screen, passed away of a heart attack on July 15. She was 95 years old.
Made famous on Broadway for her role as Ado Annie in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, Holm earned more fans for her performances in All About Eve (1950), The Tender Trap (1955) and High Society (1956).
In the new USA Network miniseries Political Animals, Sigourney Weaver plays smart, tough Secretary of State Elaine Barrish. It's a role many critics have likened to current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Weaver says the show's creators were thinking beyond Clinton when they devised the role.
"We've had three remarkable women who've been our secretaries of state in our last three administrations, but somehow we're not willing as a country to elect a woman president," she says. "And I think this show partially investigates what that's about."