Here's a sobering thought: Wild birds — including city pigeons and ubiquitous Canada geese — carry 170 different types of bird flu. You know, all those viruses with the Hs and Ns in their names, like H1N1 and H5N1.
Only a dozen of these viruses have infected humans so far, but many of those have been deadly, and three of them have caused global flu pandemics.
Does every bird flu that leaps into people have the potential to turn into the next "big one" that spreads rapidly around the world?
A new gastronomic guide to Rio de Janeiro's shantytowns — for a cool $35 — has just been published. A new boutique hotel perched on top of one of Rio's previously most dangerous favelas is about to open. And yes, there is a jazz club and yoga, too.
These are new services catering to a new kind of favela resident.
Very Important Puzzler Lizz Winstead is a huge fan of the "portmanteau," a word formed by combining two other words, such as "smog" being a combination of "smoke" and "fog." But the ones Lizz makes up are much funnier. In this game, Lizz joins host Ophira Eisenberg to prompt contestants to make their own portmanteaus by combining a famous person's name with a food item.
In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg changes the titles of some well-known movies by exactly one letter, and reworks their plots to suit. For example, Star Wars becomes Star Bars when the plot is changed thusly: A long time ago, Luke and Obi-Wan walked into Mos Eisley and went on the greatest pub crawl in the galaxy.
Transportation alternatives are so hot right now, but house musician Jonathan Coulton has got a few innovations of his own. In this game, he's singing popular songs about travel--although he's replaced the method of transportation in the song with a different, more whimsical, type of vehicle. Can you name the original?
Have you ever met a baker whose last name was Baker, or a blacksmith whose last name is Smith? Then you might be familiar with the term "aptronym," a word that refers to a person's name that happens to suit her job or characteristics. In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg asks contestants about people both real and fictional whose last names are aptly suited to their professions.
Later, house musician Jonathan Coulton covers "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park," a seasonal favorite by Tom Lehrer.
As news broke about the NSA collecting telephone records through Verizon, people took to Twitter to voice their opinions. As an experiment, NPR senior strategist Andy Carvin asked his followers to respond to the hashtag #CallsTheNSAKnowsAbout. Their responses ranged from the hilarious to the poignant.