If you want to learn how to write a song — one that's built to last, with vivid characters and images that plant you squarely inside a scene — listen to Guy Clark.
Songwriters who revere Clark will tell you he crafts songs with the same precision and attention to detail he uses when he builds guitars. But Clark has a simpler, blunter explanation, as he told me with a glint in his eye when I visited him recently at his home in Nashville, Tenn.
If every era gets the historical fiction it deserves, we have been good indeed. From the transcendent psychological rummagings of Hilary Mantel to the gooey pleasures of Philippa Gregory, we can set aside flowery bodice-rippers (not that there's anything wrong with those) and view the dusty figures through lenses literary, pop culture-y, or near-pornographic.
In India, police have widened their hunt for the principal of an elementary school. It's the place where 23 children died last week after eating a toxic school lunch. The principal has been missing, along with her husband, since the day the children fell sick. An arrest warrant has been issued for her. In the meantime, parents of the victims are trying to cope with the tragedy. NPR's Julie McCarthy visited some of the families who live in one of India's poorest states.
Get Howard Buffett into the cab of a big ole' farm tractor and he's like a kid — albeit a 58-year-old, gray-haired one. He's especially excited when it comes to the tractor's elaborate GPS system, which he describes as "very cool."
"I'm driving hands-free," says Buffett, the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
He says that the tractor has been automatically set to plant 16 perfect rows of seeds, "so it makes everything more efficient. And it's going to give you a better crop in the end."
Major League Baseball announced that it is suspending outfielder Ryan Braun for the rest of the season for violating its drug policy. Braun was the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player. Before that, he was Rookie of the Year and several times in All-Star. He plays for the Milwaukee Brewers, and he is one of several star players who faced scrutiny by baseball for apparent ties to an anti-aging clinic in Miami called Biogenesis.
Janet Napolitano's announcement that she'll be stepping down as Department of Homeland Security secretary after four years on the job leaves an opening at the top of the key Cabinet agency. But it's not the only job opening at Homeland Security.
Fifteen top posts at DHS, including secretary, are now vacant or soon will be. Many are being filled on a temporary basis, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle want the Obama administration to get busy filling those jobs, too.
Dolphins are like humans in many ways: They're part of complex social networks and, just as in people, a dolphin's brain is big, relative to the size of its body. But there's something else, too — a study published Monday shows these acrobats of the sea use name-like whistles to identify and communicate with each other.
France's ban on face coverings — the so-called burqa ban — has been the law since 2011, but it's still a sensitive topic.
The latest round of unrest began Friday when police officers asked a woman wearing a head-to-toe veil to lift the garment and show her face.
Authorities say the woman's husband attacked the police officer. Muslim groups say the police were disrespectful. The man was eventually arrested, which sparked protests that degenerated into violence.
Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, defended his decision to take the city into bankruptcy. The most contentious issue regarding the city is what bankruptcy protection could mean for the pensions of some retired city workers.
In a blunt interview with All Things Considered's Robert Siegel, Orr said that saying retirees will receive no money is false.
"We're just talking about adjusting them to today's realities," said Orr.