WBEZ | holidays http://www.wbez.org/tags/holidays Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Taking This Week Off? You’re Not Alone http://www.wbez.org/news/taking-week-you%E2%80%99re-not-alone-114340 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1230_empty-office-624x468.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_98976"><img alt="Almost a third of U.S. office workers are taking a break from the workplace between Christmas and New Years, according to a survey for the staffing firm Robert Half. (David Mellis/Flickr)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/12/1230_empty-office-624x468.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Almost a third of U.S. office workers are taking a break from the workplace between Christmas and New Years, according to a survey for the staffing firm Robert Half. (David Mellis/Flickr)" /><p>Here at the offices of WBUR and&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now</em>, there are tumbleweeds in the hallway, as most employees are off for the whole holiday week. And it turns out, we are not alone.</p></div><p>Almost a third of U.S. office workers are taking a break from the workplace between Christmas and New Year&rsquo;s, according to a survey for the staffing firm Robert Half, and human resources experts predict that that might grow in the future as more and more offices see benefits in closing up shop.</p><p>Katie Johnston&nbsp;of the Boston Globe took a look at the data and speaks with<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/12/31/holiday-vacation-statistics" target="_blank"><em>&nbsp;Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s</em></a> Robin Young about what is driving it.</p><p><em><a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/12/27/happy-holidays-closed/9oozRYOzAevqPP0pBvTXpM/story.html" target="_blank">Read more on the story from the Boston Glob</a>e</em></p></p> Thu, 31 Dec 2015 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/taking-week-you%E2%80%99re-not-alone-114340 What Drives the Holiday Spirit? A Christmas Investigation http://www.wbez.org/news/science/what-drives-holiday-spirit-christmas-investigation-114289 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/istock_000049861110_medium1-b0267ae7e10d41b21133c9e9253e477bcba92992-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res460695533" previewtitle="The holiday season is a time for generosity. Let Hidden Brain help you give better."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The holiday season is a time for generosity. Let Hidden Brain help you give better." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/22/istock_000049861110_medium1-b0267ae7e10d41b21133c9e9253e477bcba92992-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="The holiday season is a time for generosity. Let Hidden Brain help you give better. (iStockphoto)" /></div><div><p>The holidays are about nurturing our best selves: the altruistic, compassionate and generous side. We&#39;re told the true joy comes in giving, not receiving.</p></div></div><p>And it&#39;s true, sometimes giving makes you feel good; you do it enthusiastically and out of the goodness of your heart. Other times, when asked to give, you just feel guilt-tripped (like Randy Marsh in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sBZstD-UEk">this clip</a>&nbsp;from&nbsp;South Park).</p><div id="res460281722"><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2sBZstD-UEk" width="560"></iframe></div></div><p>This week on Hidden Brain, we ask why people give to charity, find out how to give better gifts, and learn that re-gifting is a perfectly acceptable response to getting (another) cinnamon spice candle. Then, the musically gifted Adam Cole returns to tie the entire show together with an original Hidden Brain carol.</p><p>First, Shankar talks to&nbsp;All Things Considered&nbsp;host Audie Cornish about some research done by economist John List at the University of Chicago. He finds that social pressure actually plays a significant role in our generosity (perhaps more than we&#39;d like to admit).</p><p>&quot;Anytime you ask someone why they gave to a charitable cause, the typical response is, &#39;I gave because I really want to help another person,&#39; &quot; List says. &quot;But when you dig down deeper, that&#39;s not the true motive for why they gave.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://web.utk.edu/~mprice21/QJE_DTD.pdf">In one study</a>, he ran an experiment with door-to-door canvassers asking for donations to a children&#39;s hospital. A third of the houses received a call saying someone would stop by to ask for donations. A third of the houses were given notice and the opportunity to opt-out. And the final third were told nothing at all. If people gave according to altruism, it shouldn&#39;t matter if they knew a knock is coming.</p><p>But what List and his colleagues found is that people were much less likely to come to the door when they were alerted beforehand, and donations dropped by half. List says about 75 percent of the donations the canvassers collected could be attributed to social pressure and just a quarter to altruism.</p><h2>Stopwatch Science</h2><p>Dan Pink is back for another round of Stopwatch Science &mdash; this time on the theme of giving and receiving. Here are four bits of research that might make you feel more generous &mdash; and could even make you a better gift-giver, too:</p><blockquote><ol><li>When choosing gifts, we often lean toward impressive and desirable. Think the latest video game (regardless of difficult it is to play) or a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant an hour away. But&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jcr-admin.org/files/pressPDFs/030614095536_March2014.pdf">researchers found</a>&nbsp;receivers are not so willing to trade off feasibility for desirability, and sticking to, say, movie tickets closer to home might make a better gift. (And what&#39;s the very best way to get the perfect gift?&nbsp;<a href="http://francisflynn.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Gino-Flynn-JESP-20112.pdf">Just ask</a>.)</li><li>Re-gifting is a holiday tradition, if a socially deviant one. But maybe it shouldn&#39;t be.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.people.hbs.edu/mnorton/adams%20flynn%20norton.pdf">Social science research suggests</a>&nbsp;gift-givers like Aunt Irene won&#39;t actually care as much as you think she will if you pass on that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.preciousmoments.com/light-your-heart-with-christmas-joy-musical-water-globe">Precious Moments snow globe</a>&nbsp;to the next-door neighbors.</li><li>If the Grinch and Scrooge have taught us anything, it&#39;s that compassion can be learned.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bi.wisc.edu/~fox/publications/Weng_PsychScience_2013.pdf">A group of psychologists</a>&nbsp;confirmed this anecdotal evidence in an experiment that found adults who participated in a compassion-training exercise ended up behaving more altruistically than those who didn&#39;t.</li><li>Life is all about trade-offs. Sometimes helping others requires compromising a moral or two. Despite Mom and Dad&#39;s nudging us toward moral absolutism,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24273360">research shows</a>&nbsp;many of us do prefer the consequentialist approach to altruism &mdash; we&#39;re willing to cheat a little if it helps others (and no one sees us).</li></ol></blockquote><p><em>The Hidden Brain Podcast is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Kara McGuirk-Alison and Maggie Penman. Max Nesterak is our News Assistant. Follow us on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/HiddenBrain">@hiddenbrain</a>,&nbsp;</em><a href="https://twitter.com/KaraMcGuirk"><em>@karamcguirk</em></a><em>,</em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/maggiepenman">@maggiepenman</a></em><em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;</em><a href="https://twitter.com/maxnesterak"><em>@maxnesterak</em></a><em>,and</em><em> listen for Hidden Brain stories every week on your local public radio station.</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Dec 2015 15:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/what-drives-holiday-spirit-christmas-investigation-114289 Don't Call it a Christmas Tree: How Russia's 'Yolka' Survived the Revolution http://www.wbez.org/news/dont-call-it-christmas-tree-how-russias-yolka-survived-revolution-114286 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_08123008530_custom-afe980a5d5dddbe2a17af4af876dbee819209592-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res460189011" previewtitle="A New Year tree stands outside the Kremlin in Moscow, in 2008. Shown from right in the background are: the Kremlin's St. Nicholas Tower, the Historical Museum, and the monument to Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A New Year tree stands outside the Kremlin in Moscow, in 2008. Shown from right in the background are: the Kremlin's St. Nicholas Tower, the Historical Museum, and the monument to Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/17/ap_08123008530_custom-afe980a5d5dddbe2a17af4af876dbee819209592-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 384px; width: 620px;" title="A New Year tree stands outside the Kremlin in Moscow, in 2008. Shown from right in the background are: the Kremlin's St. Nicholas Tower, the Historical Museum, and the monument to Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov. (Mikhail Metzel/AP)" /></div><div data-crop-type="">Like a lot of kids in Moscow, Svetlana Shmulyian loved New Year&#39;s Eve.</div></div><p>&quot;If there was once a year that a Soviet kid got to eat red caviar, it was on the night of the New Year!&quot; she says. And one of her favorite traditions (besides the caviar) was the&nbsp;<em>yolka&nbsp;</em>&mdash; the New Year&#39;s tree. &quot;The smell of the tree, the toys, the blinking lights &mdash; it was one day to look forward to for the whole year.&quot;</p><p>If that sounds a lot like Christmas, that&#39;s because it kind of is. A century ago, Christmas in Russia was pretty much like Christmas in the U.S. &mdash; complete with decorated trees, family celebrations.</p><p>But all that changed with the Russian Revolution.</p><p>&quot;The tree comes to be seen as a symbol of both the bourgeois order, which is one class enemy, and of religion in particular, which is another kind of class enemy,&quot; says Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, who teaches Russian history at Wesleyan University.</p><p>&quot;There are very explicit statements that essentially unmask the Christmas tree for the class symbol that it is,&quot; Smolkin-Rothrock continues. &quot;It becomes clear that one does not have Christmas trees without political sympathies and allegiances falling into question.&quot;</p><div id="res460401167" previewtitle="&quot;Away with the bourgeois tree,&quot; reads the illustration, which was originally published in the newspaper &quot;Worker of the Urals,&quot; in December 1930."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="&quot;Away with the bourgeois tree,&quot; reads the illustration, which was originally published in the newspaper &quot;Worker of the Urals,&quot; in December 1930." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/19/away-with-the-bourgeois-tree_custom-8500b7c97f5e95ca08c862080184680abbdd3c26-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 234px; width: 540px;" title="&quot;Away with the bourgeois tree,&quot; reads the illustration, which was originally published in the newspaper &quot;Worker of the Urals,&quot; in December 1930. (Worker of the Urals)" /></div><div><div><p>And in the Soviet era, having your political sympathies questioned could be dangerous. In 1935, though, there was a letter in&nbsp;Pravda, the official paper, saying things had changed.</p></div></div></div><p>Smolkin-Rothrock sums up the argument of one high-ranking Bolshevik: &quot;Here we are, and Socialism has been built, and why would we deprive those children who had never had a Christmas tree of their own of the pleasure of the tree?&quot;</p><p>So, the tree was redeemed. And it moved up the Orthodox calendar, becoming completely secular.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think I even heard that it has something to do with Christmas,&quot; says Victoria Anesh, who grew up in the Soviet Union, in what&#39;s now Ukraine, before immigrating to the U.S. &quot;It&#39;s just a tree for New Year&#39;s. And we had probably, on top of the tree, we had a star ... like the Kremlin red star.&quot;</p><div id="res460400814" previewtitle="A 1966 postcard featuring a yolka — and a little red-clad cosmonaut."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A 1966 postcard featuring a yolka — and a little red-clad cosmonaut." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/19/cosmos-elka-1966_custom-7222ce0b8648797b7b09a878f41ce106220f225d-s300-c85.jpg" style="height: 442px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="A 1966 postcard featuring a yolka — and a little red-clad cosmonaut. (Courtesy of Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock)" /></div><div><div><p>Those Kremlin stars became such common tree-toppers, they were even featured in &#39;60s-era Soviet postcards.</p></div></div></div><p>Anesh, who is Jewish, loved her New Year&#39;s tree &mdash; but then she came to America.</p><p>&quot;We were told that trees here are put on Christmas. And Jews don&#39;t do Christmas.&quot;</p><p>Getting rid of the tree was just one in a long list of things to get used to in America. But when Anesh and her friends started families of their own, they began to rethink it. &quot;You know, why aren&#39;t you doing this? We&#39;re supposed to! What about our heritage?&quot;</p><p>But while Anesh loved the tree as a kid, it&#39;s not something she wants to pass on to her own children.</p><p>&quot;For me, it was kind of a symbol of not having choices,&quot; she says. &quot;I love that I have choices here. They&#39;re very tough &mdash; figuring out what is my moral compass here, what it means to be Jewish. There&#39;s a lot of things that I don&#39;t have answers, and I&#39;m learning with them. But I love it.&quot;</p><p>For other Russians, like Shmulyian, this new freedom of choice means choosing a tree.</p><p>&quot;I am experiencing this and want to create experiences for my kids that link them to the tribe. They&#39;re part of the Jewish tribe. They&#39;re also part of American tribe. They&#39;re also part of Russian tribe,&quot; Shmulyian says. &quot;They&#39;re all these identities that they carry.&quot;</p><p>Just as in the Soviet Union, what makes tradition meaningful isn&#39;t some government edict. It&#39;s how people gather around the tree, or don&#39;t, and decide what it means to be Russian &mdash; and Jewish, and American &mdash; in a new world.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/19/460186573/dont-call-it-a-christmas-tree-how-russias-yolka-survived-the-revolution?ft=nprml&amp;f=460186573" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 24 Dec 2015 13:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/dont-call-it-christmas-tree-how-russias-yolka-survived-revolution-114286 WBEZ Listeners' Favorite Holiday Movies http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-23/wbez-listeners-favorite-holiday-movies-114268 <p><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr%20Kevin%20Dooley.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="(flickr/Kevin Dooley)" /><p dir="ltr">Earlier this week, we took your calls about your favorite holiday movies; the films that you go to every year to get in the spirit.</p><p dir="ltr">We got loads of great calls, and they continue to pour into the hotline. Here are some favorites that aren&rsquo;t as common as you might think.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 23 Dec 2015 12:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-23/wbez-listeners-favorite-holiday-movies-114268 Need A Last-Minute Gift? Don't Want To Buy Stuff? All Tech Has Ideas http://www.wbez.org/news/science/need-last-minute-gift-dont-want-buy-stuff-all-tech-has-ideas-114249 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/mixed-tape-photo-5839da208bf8bf4439fe15544733e3fde3370a22-s400-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Bummer, you&#39;ve missed the best time to order Christmas gifts online! And now you have these options: pay for same-day delivery or face the dreaded shopping mall (or resort to that end-of-the-line choice of a gift card, but you wouldn&#39;t go there, would you?).</p><p>So what&#39;s the last-minute buy for your plugged-in friend, sister or mom? Do they really need another Internet-connected&nbsp;thing? Nothing against gadgets and gizmos, but if you&#39;re of the philosophy that thoughtful gestures qualify perfectly well as Christmas presents, we&#39;ve got a few ideas for you.</p><p>These are, of course, only a few of the possibilities &mdash; do let us know, in the comments or&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/npralltech" target="_blank">on Twitter</a>, what other suggestions you may have and if you&#39;ve gifted something like this.</p><p>(Note: None of these ideas are meant to be specific to any particular online platform, and you should be able to use whatever website or app you fancy. This is also not meant to be a step-by-step instruction, but a quick Google search should unearth production tips, if you need them.)</p><hr /><div id="res460286141"><p><strong><span style="font-size:20px;">Last-Minute Gifts That Don&#39;t Involve Shopping</span></strong></p><p><strong>The 21st-Century Mixtape</strong></p><h3><img alt="While the days of sharing mixed tapes and audio cassettes may be long gone, exchanging playlists doesn't have to be." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/mixed-tape-photo-5839da208bf8bf4439fe15544733e3fde3370a22-s400-c85.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left; height: 232px; width: 310px;" title="While the days of sharing mixed tapes and audio cassettes may be long gone, exchanging playlists doesn't have to be. (Darren Johnson/Getty Images/EyeEm)" /></h3><ul><li><div id="res460286278"><ul><li>Remember when a mixtape from your high school crush was, like, totally the best? We don&#39;t get those often anymore, and that&#39;s a shame. Bring the mixtape back with a personalized digital music selection. This could be a playlist or station in your favorite music streaming service or a downloadable mix you could give as a gift.</li><li>&nbsp;</li><li>Inspirations: An awesome workout mix, a memory-lane mix, a mix based on a recent music festival or productivity-driving instrumental mix.</li></ul></div></li></ul><div id="res460286312"><h3>&nbsp;</h3><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><strong>The Shared Memory Bank</strong></p><div id="res460313088" previewtitle="Do you and your friends look like these British models from the 1970s? If not, have no fear — you can still capture memories (digitally) in a shared private photo collection."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Do you and your friends look like these British models from the 1970s? If not, have no fear — you can still capture memories (digitally) in a shared private photo collection." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/polaroid-idea-2dfaefed86d66be13adb61a417bc13e350824962-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Do you and your friends look like these British models from the 1970s? If not, have no fear — you can still capture memories (digitally) in a shared private photo collection. (Manchester Daily Express/SSPL/Getty)" /></p><div><div><p>Does your mom or grandma constantly ask you for photos? Do your relatives or friends have endless messaging chains sharing images of weird experiences or accidentally found throwback pics?</p></div></div></div><div><p>You could set everyone up with a private online album &mdash; with shared passwords or access rights &mdash; to deposit all the unfiltered memories of the year. (Your notifications, or lack thereof, will thank you.)</p><p>Technical note: Lots of file-sharing and specifically photo-sharing websites and apps will make this easy.</p><hr /><p><strong>The Perfect Awakening</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286314"><div id="res460320363" previewtitle="Waking up can be hard. Make it easier with a customized alarm clock recording. Pro tip: If this is the recipient's reaction to your gift, you're doing it wrong."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Waking up can be hard. Make it easier with a customized alarm clock recording. Pro tip: If this is the recipient's reaction to your gift, you're doing it wrong." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000062448900_large-1--76188cc2eb7ee35f4705f610cdf264c27d04d73f-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Waking up can be hard. Make it easier with a customized alarm clock recording. Pro tip: If this is the recipient's reaction to your gift, you're doing it wrong. (Serpeblu/iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>You&#39;ll never forget the parental voices that woke you up in the morning as a kid, a combination of nagging and loving depending on the day. Now you can do the same.</p></div></div></div><div><p>If you know someone&nbsp;really&nbsp;well, give them a gift of a personalized phone alarm clock with a selection of recordings of your own voice or other sounds that would get them out of bed.</p><p>The tricky part is the potential of becoming associated with a dreadful part of the day for the night-owl types. But wouldn&#39;t it be awesome to lighten up someone&#39;s first waking moments?</p><p>Non-music sound inspirations: Sizzling bacon, coffee maker, shower, drill sergeant, barking dog, birds, actual parents imploring to wake up.</p><hr /><p><strong>The Constant Reminder</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286316"><div id="res460312899" previewtitle="A generic screensaver background, like this resort in the Maldives, would be so much better if you were in it. Enter: the custom-made screensaver."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="A generic screensaver background, like this resort in the Maldives, would be so much better if you were in it. Enter: the custom-made screensaver." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/screensaver-idea-cff1129d04dd481c7c2c411aac466c9c92d1f44e-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="A generic screensaver background, like this resort in the Maldives, would be so much better if you were in it. Enter: the custom-made screensaver. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP)" /></p><div><div><p>Help your loved one up their screensaver game!</p></div></div></div><div><p>Say no to blurry family pics (unless, you know, they&#39;re into that sort of thing) and give them a selection of visuals for their computer or phone screen that you made, edited or dug up.</p><p>Technical note: Many screens can display slideshows and interactive or &quot;live&quot; images.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><strong>The No-Googling-Required R&amp;R</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286381"><div id="res460319699" previewtitle="Give the gift of a road trip or a weekend jaunt without the confused stares, itinerary indecision and bickering over directions."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="Give the gift of a road trip or a weekend jaunt without the confused stares, itinerary indecision and bickering over directions." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000058434368_large-c696ee608cd12e893cdba58ad662a14a0c04ae54-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Give the gift of a road trip or a weekend jaunt without the confused stares, itinerary indecision and bickering over directions. (Steve Cole, Christie &amp; Cole Studio Inc./iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>This one would take a bit of time, but think of the rewards!</p></div></div></div><div><p>Give a gift of hassle-free adventures by preparing a digital collection of ideas for quick day trips, weekend getaways or local explorations that would require minimal investment from the recipient, with contacts, directions and advice.</p><p>Inspirations: Maps for reference, helpful online reviews, menu tips for restaurants, affordable kid- or pet-friendly activities, calendar of fairs or farmers markets or sports events.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><strong>The Fun-Time Subscription</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286512"><div id="res460324743" previewtitle="What could be better than a year's worth of photos like this? Deliver cuteness and more to an inbox near you."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="What could be better than a year's worth of photos like this? Deliver cuteness and more to an inbox near you." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000010633281_large-1--93913090d1fa3e2ab92ebf62ead7a7d08613a3d0-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="What could be better than a year's worth of photos like this? Deliver cuteness and more to an inbox near you. (DawnPoland /iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>This one is for the committed: It&#39;s like that &quot;word of the day&quot; or horoscope email service, except from you and with memes.</p></div></div></div><div><p>Create a &quot;newsletter&quot; for one with daily or weekly (or, you know, occasional) links to something they would find funny or helpful. There are simple newsletter services you could dig up online, but this could also just be a steady stream of emails, app messages or even texts.</p><p>Inspirations: Recipes, local musicians, obscure histories of words, favorite NPR stories, Harry Potter-themed quizzes, puppies in Santa costumes, cat videos (obviously).</p><hr /><p><strong>The Customized Entertainment</strong></p></div></div><div id="res460286508"><div id="res460320697" previewtitle="With just a little bit of work, your friends' movie night, too, can be just as fun. Cute dog not included."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="With just a little bit of work, your friends' movie night, too, can be just as fun. Cute dog not included." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/istock_000070345639_large-74fc75952c1282c31019a2729b38076278e0b5e7-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="With just a little bit of work, your friends' movie night, too, can be just as fun. Cute dog not included. (Svetikd/iStockphoto)" /></p><div><div><p>It&#39;s a modern-day annoyance: You&#39;ve got an evening free, but what to watch?</p></div></div></div><div><p>Do the leg work for your movie-loving friend or sibling with a curated list of the best flicks to watch online &mdash; for instance, organized by genre, complete with links to trailers, spoiler-free reviews and personal comments.</p><p>Alternative inspirations: A curated list of recommendations for books,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/podcasts/" target="_blank">podcasts</a>&nbsp;(with best episodes), games or online video channels.</p><p>NPR tips: For best&nbsp;<a href="http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2015/" target="_blank">books of 2015</a>&nbsp;and for all&nbsp;<a href="http://earbud.fm/" target="_blank">kinds of podcasts</a>.</p></div></div></div><p><span id="cke_bm_766E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 09:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/science/need-last-minute-gift-dont-want-buy-stuff-all-tech-has-ideas-114249 This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of World Disease http://www.wbez.org/news/holiday-season-give-gift-world-disease-114235 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/pandm.JPG" alt="" /><p><div id="res460306308"><div><div><img alt="Pandemic Legacy board game" src="http://www.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/pandemic-TLv3.gif" style="height: 374px; width: 620px;" title="(Ben de la Cruz/NPR)" /></div><div><p>I&#39;d just wiped out a virus known only as COdA-403a in Miami and Atlanta, boasting, &quot;I just saved North America, okay?&quot; But it resurfaced and caused an epidemic in Paris. The likelihood of the outbreak worsening was high, and I wasn&#39;t going to make it to France in time to prevent it.</p></div></div></div><p>But Parisians shouldn&#39;t get out their face masks. I&#39;m not a real disease fighter, I was just playing one in the board game Pandemic: Legacy, the latest version in the Pandemic series. Like its predecessors, Pandemic: Legacy is a mixture of luck and strategy. And to see just how accurate it was, I played with four real-life scientists who study infectious disease modeling at a&nbsp;<a href="http://bansallab.com/">Georgetown University epidemiology lab</a>.</p><p>In the Pandemic games, players move figurines across a world map crisscrossed by a network of major cities. The goal is to stop killer diseases from ravaging the planet using various game actions to control the epidemic. Every round, players draw from a deck of cards that instruct you to infect a city with a disease &mdash; represented by a cube in the game. Then up to four players work together and scurry around trying to find a cure and treat cities before they get too laden with sickness and suffer an outbreak.</p><p>The twist in Pandemic: Legacy is the timeline. The game&#39;s story unfolds over 12 games, one for each month of the year, and you win each round of play when you complete the month&#39;s objective. That could be something mundane like &quot;eradicate a disease&quot; or it could be &quot;find and apprehend a rogue, paranoid soldier.&quot;</p><p>The game is fairly easy in the beginning. &quot;We&#39;re going to win,&quot; one of our epidemiologists remarked. But things get harder and harder with each subsequent session.</p><p>Halfway through the January session, we flip over the next card in the story deck and it says that the virus COdA-403a has become treatment-resistant. At the start of the next game, February, COdA-403a becomes intractable and incurable. Over the next 12 games, there are deaths and betrayals from different in-game characters and the steady unraveling of a global conspiracy.</p><p>And the actions you take in earlier games cascade into later games. After a city suffers an outbreak, you place a &quot;permanent panic sticker&quot; on the board. Panic can lead to riots that destroy useful research facilities that you need to cure diseases. There are special cards like the experimental vaccine card, which averts an epidemic, but increases panic. Our epidemiologists showed their science stripes when we played the card in our game.</p><p>&quot;Why does science cause panic?&quot; said Ian Carrol, a post-doc who studies animal diseases.</p><p>&quot;Why does it say destroy this card after use?&quot; said Pratha Sah, an epidemiology graduate student.</p><p>&quot;Oh, it doesn&#39;t say discard. It says destroy,&quot; Carrol said.</p><p>&quot;Are you sure you want to do that?&quot; Sah said.</p><p>&quot;Well, we are playing the game,&quot; I said and shredded the card between my fingers. Sah gasped.</p><p>&quot;Jeez,&quot; Carrol said. &quot;I&#39;m kind of sweating. This is a game of real consequence.&quot;</p><p>There are aspects of Pandemic that mimic real epidemics, but the game doesn&#39;t take appear to take the science too seriously. Disease modelers like Ewan Coleman from Georgetown think carefully about how disease can spread and move around the world through road networks or air traffic. &quot;[The game] designed that network, why one city should be connected to another, but I feel they designed it to be entertaining rather than realistic,&quot; Coleman says.</p><p>For instance, one might expect a mega-metropolis like Beijing to be highly connected, but the Pandemic board only connects it to Seoul and Shanghai. The game doesn&#39;t take air traffic into account when diseases spread from city to city.</p><p>And the game doesn&#39;t have a strong rooting in real biology. There are four different diseases in Pandemic. They all behave more or less the same with the exception of the superbug COdA. Real viral, fungal, or bacterial diseases are extremely variable. Measles, for example, doesn&#39;t spread the same way that Ebola does. There&#39;s also no pattern to how cities get infected. &quot;Mostly it was just random, and diseases were popping out of nowhere,&quot; Coleman says.</p><p>Overall, the game is complicated. Coleman turned to the group and asked if they thought they could write an algorithm to optimize a game strategy. The consensus was maybe, but you&#39;d need a supercomputer.</p><p>It&#39;s nice that the game is co-operative. Where family-fun but competitive activities like Monopoly and Spades are relationship-destroying; working together to eradicate disease could be a way to bond. But, Carrol pointed out, disagreement over strategies can bring conflict, too.</p><p>In any case, if you&#39;re looking for a high-stakes game that can get your friends and family thinking about disease modeling (and really, who isn&#39;t these days), Pandemic is it.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/12/19/460281591/this-holiday-season-give-the-gift-of-world-disease?ft=nprml&amp;f=460281591" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Sun, 20 Dec 2015 22:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/holiday-season-give-gift-world-disease-114235 Beyond The Dreidel: The Songs Of Hanukkah — And How They've Changed http://www.wbez.org/news/music/beyond-dreidel-songs-hanukkah-%E2%80%94-and-how-theyve-changed-114067 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-3164579-fee100d1bf8a44431e1bf68ed4f8d3c610dfc8c5.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res458527829" previewtitle="Young Jewish children gather around the piano, circa 1955, to perform songs during the Hanukkah celebrations."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Young Jewish children gather around the piano, circa 1955, to perform songs during the Hanukkah celebrations." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/04/gettyimages-3164579-fee100d1bf8a44431e1bf68ed4f8d3c610dfc8c5-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Young Jewish children gather around the piano, circa 1955, to perform songs during the Hanukkah celebrations. (George Pickow/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Hannukah commemorates the reclaiming of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt. It is not some kind of Jewish Christmas.</p></div></div></div><p>Still, with lights, prayers and gifts in December, Hannukah tends to get wrapped up in the ball of snow and tinsel as Christmas. But Hannukah has its own songs &mdash; though maybe not nearly as many as Christmas.</p><p>On Saturday, the eve of Hanukkah, NPR&#39;s Scott Simon took the opportunity to open up the songbook with Josh Kun, co-founder of the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation. They talk the history of the Hanukkah song &mdash; from its 19th-century rebranding to the rethinking of old standards today.</p><hr /><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Interview Highlights</span></strong></p><p><strong>On what makes a good Hanukkah song</strong></p><p>Well, besides a good Christmas song, a good Hanukkah song has to involve, you know, lots of games &mdash; dreidel, playing dreidel, playing some more dreidel. Maybe music for cooking latkes. A good Hanukkah song, these days, really is about festivity and singing along and having a good time.</p><p><strong>On his favorite Hannukah songs</strong></p><p>It&#39;s funny, you know, my relationship to Hannukah songs really comes through &mdash; I guess what you could say the back door, but maybe it&#39;s the front door &mdash; of Christmas songs. So first, like, my favorite Jewish Hanukkah songs are actually some of the greatest Christmas songs that have been written by Jews ... like kind of, oh, all of them? &quot;[I&#39;m Dreaming of a] White Christmas,&quot; &quot;Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer&quot; &mdash; most of the great English-language pop Christmas songs were written by American Jews. Some of the greatest Christmas albums are, of course, Christmas albums by American Jews like Barbra [Streisand], Neil [Diamond], Barry [Manilow] and the like. But I digress.</p><p>You know, I think the history of Hanukkah songs &mdash; you really actually can&#39;t separate them from the history of the mainstreaming of Christmas as a holiday. When Hanukkah starts to kind of be rebranded in the United States in the late 19th century, a big part of that rebranding was its songbook. What kind of songs could be written that could help popularize Hanukkah among Jews in the United States. One of the earliest steps in that was taking a traditional Hanukkah song that was originally written in Hebrew, &quot;Ma&#39;oz Tzur,&quot; and it becomes &quot;Rock of Ages&quot; in the late 19th century.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/458518956/458528117" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="620"></iframe></p><hr /><p>This is a cantorial recording. This is actually from the incredible archives at&nbsp;<a href="https://www.yivo.org/music">Yivo in New York</a>, and that choral tradition that might not sound so Jewish, that sounds much more Christian or broadly just simply American, is no mistake, I think. There was a conscious effort &mdash; particularly, that was from the late &#39;30s &mdash; but this really builds in the late 1950s, when Hanukkah songs start to really sound like more mainstream American pop.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KX5Z-HpHH9g?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>On Adam Sandler&#39;s &quot;Hanukkah Song&quot;</strong></p><p>When you mention Hannukah songs, that&#39;s probably the first song that anybody wants to talk about &mdash; which is funny because really the song, you know, uses Hanukkah as a way to get people to think about assimilation. It becomes a kind of outing of Jews who people maybe didn&#39;t know were Jewish, and a proud naming &mdash; a roll call &mdash; of American Jewish stars and celebrities.</p><p>So really, again, it&#39;s a kind of example of a Hanukkah song that&#39;s not a Hanukkah song.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wcHFukECvMo?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>On the &quot;Dreidel Song&quot; &mdash; Erran Baron Cohen&#39;s version</strong></p><p>That&#39;s Friday night at the club, Scott, that&#39;s Friday night at the club. I mean ... you know, in recent years there&#39;s been an attempt &mdash; and I think this is a great example of it &mdash; to kind of reinterpret or reclaim some of these songs. And in the spirit of, you know, the definition of Hanukkah itself, of rededicating, rethinking what Hanukkah can sound like.</p><p>I think that&#39;s a great example of, in a way, repopularizing these songs and maybe encouraging younger American Jews to maybe write some of their own.</p><p>&mdash; via NPR</p></p> Mon, 07 Dec 2015 09:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/music/beyond-dreidel-songs-hanukkah-%E2%80%94-and-how-theyve-changed-114067 For Expats In Afghanistan, A Cranberry Dish To Relish Far From Home http://www.wbez.org/news/expats-afghanistan-cranberry-dish-relish-far-home-113932 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/2015-11-19-stamberg-cranberry-0101edit_custom-240b41bdd4ec2945c640e631bf7b0aa429df73e7-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456697268" previewtitle="Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/19/2015-11-19-stamberg-cranberry-0101edit_custom-240b41bdd4ec2945c640e631bf7b0aa429df73e7-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 620px;" title="Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish. (Ariel Zambelich &amp; Emily Bogle/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: For more years than we can remember, the Friday before Thanksgiving has meant that NPR&#39;s Susan Stamberg would try to sneak a notorious and, yes, weird family recipe into NPR&#39;s coverage. And 2015 is no exception. Here&#39;s Susan.</em></p></div></div></div><p>I recently learned about a long ago and faraway Thanksgiving in Kabul, Afghanistan. In 2011, at the height of the military surge, hundreds of Americans &mdash; soldiers and civilians &mdash; were coming into the country. Ann Exline Starr of the U.S. Agency for International Development, was on a team trying to suss out fraud, waste and abuse in government contracts. She says security at the embassy compound was tight.</p><p>&quot;You had to go under the road to get to the USAID offices, and we were actually in a bunker,&quot; Exline Starr says.</p><p>Pretty grim. For Thanksgiving, she organized a potluck dinner in her apartment. With all the Americans in Kabul, Exline Starr says, she was lucky to&nbsp;be&nbsp;in an apartment. She had previously lived in a &quot;hooch&quot; &mdash; a containerized housing unit. It&#39;s literally a tin container &mdash; 10-by-15 &mdash; with a bed, a desk, a chair. &quot;We were thinking about starting a magazine like&nbsp;Better Hooches and Gardens&nbsp;or something,&quot; she jokes.</p><div id="res456712380"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>It was bad enough to be away from home, in a war zone, in a hooch. But at Thanksgiving? &quot;You know, Thanksgiving is such a family holiday that we tried to make it fun,&quot; Exline Starr recalls.</p><p>So she invited about 100 people for dinner. Jonathan Terra was among those who attended. He was in Kabul doing a media campaign about USAID for Afghan radio and television. He hadn&#39;t been there long and didn&#39;t know that many people &mdash; his family was far away.</p><p>&quot;Suddenly, these people you didn&#39;t know very well became your family for a day,&quot; he says.</p><p>And your potluck holiday dinner was as close to the real thing as you could get it. Local markets were too dangerous to visit, so you&#39;d nab carrots and celery from the embassy dining room. Other stuff, too &mdash; cranberry relish, for instance. That came courtesy of Andrew Hyde.</p><p>&quot;Of course, for many years I&#39;ve heard about a certain cranberry relish recipe that I thought about,&quot; Hyde says.</p><div id="res456786660"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>&quot;Wait a minute,&quot; I ask. &quot;You thought about Mama Stamberg&#39;s cranberry relish in Kabul, Afghanistan?&quot;</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s right,&quot; he says.</p><p>Hyde, a Foreign Service officer, was working with provincial governments and living in a hooch surrounded by sandbags for protection against a direct hit. He sets the scene:</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m not in an apartment &mdash; I can&#39;t bake anything. I&#39;m not that great a cook.&quot; But Mama Stamberg&#39;s cranberry relish, he says, &quot;could save the day.&quot; Not everyone was equally enthused.</p><p>&quot;When I mentioned it to somebody, they said, &#39;Is that all you&#39;re going to offer?&#39; &quot; Hyde recalls.</p><p>But, Jonathan Terra vouches, the end result was &quot;very good.&quot;</p><p>Finding the ingredients necessary was somewhat tricky, Hyde says. Sugar was readily available, as were onions. But the three-quarter cups of sour cream? Not so easy &mdash; though eventually he found some in a small convenience store on the embassy compound. The hardest part, Hyde says, was the 2 cups of raw cranberry the recipe calls for.</p><p>&quot;That was actually the single biggest challenge,&quot; he says. Somebody suggested substituting pomegranates. Instead, he found cranberry jelly&nbsp;(groan)&nbsp;in the embassy dining room &mdash; which also came to the rescue with the horseradish. (Someone had suggested substituting curry, Hyde says.)</p><p>The dining room, he says, &quot;actually had a horseradish sauce. So I took a little plastic container and filled up. It wasn&#39;t the way I know Mama Stamberg would appreciate, but it worked.&quot;</p><p>He couldn&#39;t freeze it (the recipe calls for that). So it was served mushy-soupy. And the color was a bit off &mdash; not the traditional bright pink (OK, Pepto Bismol pink, as some cruels have called it.) The Kabul Mama Stamberg&#39;s was more bubble gum pink. But they liked it!</p><p>In Afghanistan, Jonathan Terra says, it was the taste of home. &quot;Because cranberries are difficult to get abroad, when you have them, it&#39;s extra special,&quot; he says. &quot;This is the kind of thing that brings you back to being back home with your family. It&#39;s the sight and smell of cranberries. It just doesn&#39;t exist anywhere else &mdash; cranberry is something that makes us think of being home.&quot;</p><p>This year, in the U.S. or Afghanistan or wherever the holiday finds you, have a great Thanksgiving.</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Mama Stamberg&#39;s Cranberry Relish</span></strong></p><blockquote><p>2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed</p><p>1 small onion</p><p>3/4 cup sour cream</p><p>1/2 cup sugar</p><p>2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar (&quot;red is a bit milder than white&quot;)</p><p>Grind the raw berries and onion together. (&quot;I use an old-fashioned meat grinder,&quot; says Stamberg. &quot;I&#39;m sure there&#39;s a setting on the food processor that will give you a chunky grind &mdash; not a puree.&quot;)</p><p>Add everything else and mix.</p><p>Put in a plastic container and freeze.</p><p>Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. (&quot;It should still have some little icy slivers left.&quot;)</p><p>The relish will be thick, creamy and shocking pink. (&quot;OK, Pepto Bismol pink. It has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. It&#39;s also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.&quot;)</p><p>Makes 1 1/2 pints.</p></blockquote></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/expats-afghanistan-cranberry-dish-relish-far-home-113932 Premium, Young And Natural: The Turkey Labels We Cluck-Cluck Over http://www.wbez.org/news/premium-young-and-natural-turkey-labels-we-cluck-cluck-over-113931 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/turkeylabel1small-20167402ee4463d2d75a28d16c0e95bed248cad0.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res456509177" previewtitle="&quot;Free-range&quot; turkeys at Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton, Md., in November 2014. In some cases, turkeys labeled &quot;free-range&quot; roam freely on a farm. But in the vast majority spend most of their time in crowded houses, consumer advocates say."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="&quot;Free-range&quot; turkeys at Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton, Md., in November 2014. In some cases, turkeys labeled &quot;free-range&quot; roam freely on a farm. But in the vast majority spend most of their time in crowded houses, consumer advocates say." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/18/freerangeturkeys_custom-29a1348c257ac2d6fcb709339028d89cc25928f6-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 409px; width: 620px;" title="&quot;Free-range&quot; turkeys at Maple Lawn Farms in Fulton, Md., in November 2014. In some cases, turkeys labeled &quot;free-range&quot; roam freely on a farm. But in the vast majority spend most of their time in crowded houses, consumer advocates say. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>You&#39;re at the grocery store, shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. You&#39;ve grabbed sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cans of pumpkin. If you&#39;re from the Midwest like I am, you&#39;re also gearing up for green bean casserole.</p></div></div></div><p>But when you approach a refrigerated section of the store piled high with turkeys, you&#39;re suddenly inundated with labels: natural, fresh, no hormones, young, premium and so on. Pretty soon, your head is spinning, so you grab the nearest one. As you head to the checkout line, you wonder if you&#39;ve just made an ethical choice or been duped.

</p><p>This scenario has become part of the Thanksgiving experience for many shoppers. If you&#39;re like me, you may have told yourself that, someday, you&#39;ll learn what all those labels actually mean. Well, today is that day. Because this is your guide to the utterly confusing world of turkey labels &mdash; a glossary for the wannabe informed Thanksgiving shopper.

</p><p><strong>Fresh</strong></p><p>

What you might think it means:&nbsp;The turkey was slaughtered this morning (or maybe yesterday) and was rushed to my local grocery store, where consumers like me will taste the difference!

</p><div id="res456504555" previewtitle="A Butterball turkey for sale in November 2014, in Centreville, Va. Terms like &quot;premium&quot; and &quot;raised without hormones&quot; tell you little about the quality of the turkey or how it was raised."><div><div><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;&quot;Fresh&quot; has nothing to do with the time between slaughter and sale. Instead, it means that the turkey has not been cooled to below 26 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, it was never frozen. Above 26 degrees Fahrenheit, the meat can remain pliant &mdash; you can press it in with your thumb.</p></div></div></div><p><strong>Young

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means: This bird was killed at a younger age than most turkeys and is therefore more tender and delicious. Maybe it also suffered less.
</p><p>What it actually means: The bird was likely killed at the same age as most other turkeys. According to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.goodfoodjobs.com/blog/daisy-freund-senior-manager-farm-animal-welfare-american-society-for-the-prevention-of-cruelty-to-animals/">Daisy Freund</a>, an animal welfare certification expert at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, most commercial turkeys are slaughtered at 16 to 18 weeks, compared to the roughly 10 years turkeys live in the wild. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not define &quot;young&quot; for turkeys, but it&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/larc/Policies/Labeling_Policy_Book_082005.pdf">requires</a>&nbsp;that turkeys that lived more than a year be labeled as &quot;yearling&quot; or &quot;mature.&quot;</p><p><strong>Natural

</strong></p><p><img alt="A Butterball turkey for sale in November 2014, in Centreville, Va. Terms like &quot;premium&quot; and &quot;raised without hormones&quot; tell you little about the quality of the turkey or how it was raised." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/18/turkeylabel1small_custom-a25017d6d96cd1be0cb4cb26391a66b3e5c31c7c-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 315px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="A Butterball turkey for sale in November 2014, in Centreville, Va. Terms like &quot;premium&quot; and &quot;raised without hormones&quot; tell you little about the quality of the turkey or how it was raised. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty) " /></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;The turkeys have been raised in a &quot;natural&quot; environment, wandering around in the woods or on a farm, scavenging food and gobble-gobbling their cares away.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/2a9bcae8-ae1e-4248-9ce7-4e752f2f91fc/Turkey_Raised_by_the_Rules.pdf?MOD=AJPERES">U.S. Department of Agriculture</a>, it means no artificial ingredients have been added to the turkey meat, and the meat is only minimally processed. But&nbsp;<a href="http://consumersunion.org/experts/urvashi-rangan/">Urvashi Rangan</a>, director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports, says the term isn&#39;t helpful at all. &quot;It has nothing to do with whether the turkeys got antibiotics every day, were living in filthy conditions or were confined indoors,&quot; she says. Her organization is campaigning against the use of the term, which they feel misleads consumers. The Food and Drug Administration also has admitted it&#39;s a challenge to define the term and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/11/455506222/whats-natural-food-the-government-isnt-sure-and-wants-your-input">just asked</a>&nbsp;the public for help.

</p><div id="res456504590"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>On that note, let&#39;s pause for a minute to answer a basic question &mdash; how exactly are most turkeys in the U.S. raised?

</p><p>&quot;The vast majority of turkeys are living in crowded houses &mdash; football field-sized sheds that are entirely enclosed &mdash; by the tens of thousands,&quot; says the ASPCA&#39;s Freund. 

She says the 30-pound birds typically have their beaks cut to prevent them from injuring or killing one another, and are allotted an average of two square feet of space. &quot;It&#39;s like living your entire life in Times Square on New Year&#39;s Eve,&quot; she says.</p><p>Meanwhile, Freund says, manure often piles up beneath the birds, and ammonia hangs thick in the air. Many turkeys are routinely given&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/11/26/247377377/did-your-thanksgiving-turkey-take-any-antibiotics">antibiotics</a>&nbsp;to prevent them from getting sick. Plus, modern turkeys have been selectively bred to mature quickly and have extremely large breasts (for more white meat). Many have trouble standing and are incapable of having sex &mdash; their large chests get in the way, Freund says.</p><p>To be clear, turkey producers must still meet basic safety standards and the meat should be safe. But terms like &quot;natural&quot; may be misleading consumers about how the birds are actually raised.</p><p>Let&#39;s look at a few more dubious labels.

</p><p><strong>Free-Range

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;These turkeys roam freely on a farm, pecking at the lush grass and getting more exercise than I do.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;In some cases (on some small farms), it does mean what you&#39;re picturing. But Rangan says in the vast majority of cases, &quot;free-range&quot; turkeys are raised in the standard, crowded houses. The only difference, she says, is that these birds must have &quot;access to the outdoors.&quot;</p><p>But the word &quot;access&quot; is broadly used. &quot;If the animal never even went outdoors, but you sort of opened and closed the door every day, that would suffice to label the bird as &#39;free-range,&#39; &quot; she says.</p><p><strong>Cage</strong>-<strong>Free

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;This turkey had a better life than most, because at least it wasn&#39;t stuffed into a tiny cage.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;This turkey&#39;s life was probably the same as most, because turkeys are not raised in cages. The conventional practice &mdash; which accounts for well over 95 percent of all commercial turkeys, according to ASPCA &mdash; is to raise them in open houses. So, calling a turkey cage-free is sort of like calling a cantaloupe cage-free.

</p><p><strong>Premium</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;This turkey is a higher grade of meat, and is more delicious and healthy.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;Basically, nothing. The USDA grades beef cuts with words like &quot;prime,&quot; &quot;choice&quot; and &quot;select,&quot; but premium is not one of their designations and these graded terms are not used for poultry anyway.

 A company can label any kind of turkey as &quot;premium.&quot;</p><p><strong>No Hormones Added</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;This bird is healthier than most because it wasn&#39;t pumped full of the hormones that turn some turkeys into the Incredible Hulk.
</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;Once again, this term is misleading. By USDA law, turkeys (and other poultry) are not allowed to be given growth hormones.</p><p><strong>Humane/Non-Certified Humane

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;Finally, a bird that has been raised according to an ethical set of principles. It was probably treated fairly and lived a decent life. Maybe it even got to kiss its loved ones goodbye.

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;If there is no certifying agency, which there isn&#39;t for this term, the label is probably meaningless, says Rangan from Consumer Reports. That&#39;s because the USDA allows companies to come up with their own definition of &quot;humane&quot; and it gives its seal of approval if the company meets its own standards. In these cases, &quot;it probably just means they met the conventional baseline,&quot; says Rangan.</p><p>That&#39;s most of the virtually meaningless terms. Let&#39;s move on to some labels that have at least some significance.</p><p><strong>Kosher

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;The turkey was raised according to a stricter set of hygiene standards. It was probably kept cleaner and healthier. 

</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;The turkey was probably raised in the same crowded house conditions as most turkeys. The only difference is that it was slaughtered according to a set of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.growandbehold.com/index.php?page=Kosher">kosher principles</a>.</p><p><strong>Vegetarian-Fed/Grain-Fed

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;This turkey enjoyed a lush supply of greens and grains, replicating its natural diet.

</p><div id="res456504560"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;The bird probably ate what most turkeys eat: corn. But these birds have not had their diets supplemented with animal byproducts, which does happen in some settings. The irony, though, is that turkeys are not natural vegetarians. In the wild, they eat a variety of bugs and worms, along with grass and other plants.

</p><p><strong>Raised Without Antibiotics/No Antibiotics Administered</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;These birds were never given any antibiotics of any kind.</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;These birds were given drugs only if they were sick, but not for growth promotion, feed efficiency or to prevent disease.&nbsp;That means their producers are contributing less to the risk of antibiotic resistance and to &quot;superbugs&quot;&mdash; a serious health concern. However, Rangan suggests that consumers look for the USDA label with this term, to verify that the companies have been inspected. And she points out that the label does not mean the birds were raised in more sanitary conditions &mdash; only that they were not given routine antibiotics.</p><p><strong>Organic

</strong></p><p>What you might think it means:&nbsp;These turkeys were raised on a steady diet of organic vegetables, green smoothies and Bikram yoga.</p><p>What it actually means:&nbsp;To meet the requirements for the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ams.usda.gov/about-ams/programs-offices/national-organic-program">USDA&#39;s Certified Organic program</a>, animals must have some access to the outdoors (though there&#39;s debate about whether or not most organic turkeys actually go outdoors), be fed only organic feed (non-GMO and grown without chemical pesticides) and must not be given antibiotic drugs on a routine basis. Rangan says organic conditions are &quot;significantly different&quot; from conventional conditions. And yet, she says, organic lags behind the conditions enjoyed by humanely raised birds.</p><p>Which brings us to the final section.</p><p>

There are three main organizations that have publicly available standards for &quot;humane&quot; treatment. Birds bearing these labels typically are granted real access to the outdoors, eat a diverse diet and have the opportunity to behave as they would in the wild. You can read more about the specific criteria by clicking on each name.</p><p><strong><a href="http://animalwelfareapproved.org/">Animal Welfare Approved

</a></strong></p><p>Turkeys with this label come from farms that have been audited at least once a year, and have met criteria for animal welfare, environmental protection and community well-being. According to its website, &quot;Provisions are made to ensure [the animals&#39;] social interaction, comfort, and physical and psychological well-being.&quot;

</p><p><strong><a href="http://certifiedhumane.org/">Certified Humane

</a></strong></p><p>This is also a label with clearly defined parameters for animal and environmental care. Its website says, &quot;The goal of the program is to improve the lives of farm animals by driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices.&quot;

</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.globalanimalpartnership.org/">Global Animal Partnership, or GAP
</a></strong></p><p>This is a rating system with six different levels, ranging from less crowding (level one) to animals without clipped beaks spending their entire life on the same farm, with enhanced access to the outdoors
 (level five-plus).</p><p>To summarize, here&#39;s a cheat sheet:

</p><p>Labels that mean very little:&nbsp;Fresh, Young, Natural, Premium, Cage-Free, Free-Range, No Hormones Added, Humane (not certified or USDA certified)
</p><p>Labels that mean something specific:&nbsp;Kosher, Raised Without Antibiotics/No Antibiotics Administered, Vegetarian-Fed/Grain-Fed, Organic

</p><p>Labels that mean the birds were raised humanely: Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, GAP</p><p><em>Want more info? Check out Farm Forward&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://buyingpoultry.com/">poultry buying guide</a>&nbsp;released Nov. 18. Enjoy this story? Check out our&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/12/23/370377902/farm-fresh-natural-eggs-not-always-what-they-re-cracked-up-to-be">guide to egg labels</a>.</em></p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/18/456414257/premium-young-and-natural-the-turkey-labels-we-cluck-cluck-over?ft=nprml&amp;f=456414257" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/premium-young-and-natural-turkey-labels-we-cluck-cluck-over-113931 We Tried A Futuristic Cranberry. It Was Fresh And Naturally Sweet http://www.wbez.org/news/we-tried-futuristic-cranberry-it-was-fresh-and-naturally-sweet-113930 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/12287209_2489610403104_1228556333_o-a3a75413f95eaa79b7fc27f33a803b95ea66656d-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res457267637" previewtitle="A bowl of Sweeties, an experimental cranberry variety that likely won't come to market for several years, if ever at all."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="A bowl of Sweeties, an experimental cranberry variety that likely won't come to market for several years, if ever at all." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/12287209_2489610403104_1228556333_o-a3a75413f95eaa79b7fc27f33a803b95ea66656d-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="A bowl of Sweeties, an experimental cranberry variety that likely won't come to market for several years, if ever at all. (Angus Chen/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The last time you ate cranberry &ndash; perhaps as a dried snack, in a glass of juice or as a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/20/456696688/for-ex-pats-in-afghanistan-a-cranberry-dish-to-relish-far-from-home">saucy condiment</a>&nbsp;with the Thanksgiving turkey &ndash; it was likely paired with sugar, and a lot of it. A cup of cranberry juice may be packed with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/11/28/247574168/why-we-give-thanks-for-the-health-benefits-of-cranberries">antioxidants</a>, but it has about 30 grams (or 7.5 teaspoons) of sugar. You&#39;ll get about 26 grams (or 6.5 teaspoons) of sugar in a cup of dried, sweetened cranberries.</p></div></div></div><p>Why are cranberries and sugar a seemingly inseparable pair? The typical fresh cranberry is an acrid thing to put on the tongue without sugar to balance it out.</p><p>But maybe it doesn&#39;t have to be that way. Cranberry breeders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed an experimental variety that&#39;s naturally sweet. It&#39;s called the &quot;Sweetie.&quot;</p><p>The cranberry breeding program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was created in the early 1990s to help growers produce better berries.&nbsp;<a href="http://experts.news.wisc.edu/experts/189">Brent McCown</a>, a biologist who helped found the program, says growers want berries that are larger, have a consistent red color and produce a reliable crop year after year. Flavor &mdash; and sweetness, in particular &mdash; have generally been an afterthought.</p><div id="res457271130">Nicole Hansen, a Wisconsin cranberry grower working with the university&#39;s breeders, says she wasn&#39;t expecting a sweet variety to come along. &quot;As a cranberry grower, you always hope that you&#39;ll find that [sweet] variety, but you&#39;re thinking cranberries are just too tart,&quot; she says. Then a few years ago, she was taste-testing experimental varieties grown by the university with another grower. &quot;And they said, &#39;You gotta taste this,&#39;&quot; Hansen says.</div><p>The berry handed to her was the Sweetie. &quot;I was excited ... it had a milder taste than most fresh cranberries,&quot; she says. It was so enticing that Hansen says she and other growers started dreaming of the day when they could grow the Sweetie or other similar varieties that people could eat fresh &ndash; like cherries.</p><div id="res457249623" previewtitle="Farmers harvest cranberries born from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's breeding program. The program has created a couple commercial varieties since it's inception."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Farmers harvest cranberries born from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's breeding program. The program has created a couple commercial varieties since it's inception." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/24/cranberry-jeff-miller-6afd03bb81e13de9e1f784e4edc699a193968e0c-s800-c85.jpg" title="Farmers harvest cranberries born from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's breeding program. The program has created a couple commercial varieties since it's inception. (Jeff Miller/University of Wisconsin-Madison)" /></div><div><div><p>We at <em>The Salt</em> had to try this mythical sweet cranberry. So we asked Hansen to send us some from the small batch she&#39;d grown.</p></div></div></div><p>The Sweetie is about half an inch wide and white on the inside. The skin is the color of red wine, and pops open when you bite in. The flavor is tart and faintly sweet, like a Granny Smith apple. It shares some of the aromas of a Granny Smith, too.</p><div id="res457277662"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>At NPR, the Sweetie received some mixed responses. One editor at the Science Desk ate one and then regarded the bowl of berries with disdain. &quot;It&#39;s supposed to be like a munching snack, like table grapes?&quot; he asked.</p><p>&quot;I think so,&quot; I said.</p><p>&quot;Never going to happen,&quot; he said.</p><p>Another editor lifted some Sweeties, skeptically, to his mouth. &quot;Wow. Yeah,&quot; he said and nodded in approval.</p><p>The jury may still be out in this office. But while the idea of snacking on fresh cranberries once seemed unimaginable, the Sweetie offers that with mild tartness and crisp texture. When there&#39;s nothing else to snack on, I&#39;ve been reaching for that bag of cranberries by my desk.</p><p>For McCown and&nbsp;<a href="http://horticulture.wisc.edu/faculty-and-staff-2/faculty-and-staff/name/juan-zalapa/">Juan Zalapa</a>, a geneticist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison&#39;s cranberry breeding program, the promise of a cranberry as sweet as a blueberry might lie somewhere in the cranberry genome. And if they can find it, breeding could move to develop a fresh cranberry that people would actually buy. &quot;It&#39;s just a matter of increasing that sugar level,&quot; Zalapa says.</p><p>For now, though, the researchers say the Sweetie isn&#39;t ready to leave the test beds. It&#39;s still in an experimental phase, and it might not ever go into production. But one of its descendants might one day be a fresh cranberry that you&#39;ll be snacking on at your desk &mdash; no sugar added.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/24/457247226/cranberry-you-could-eat-without-sugar?ft=nprml&amp;f=457247226" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/we-tried-futuristic-cranberry-it-was-fresh-and-naturally-sweet-113930