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10:51 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Portugal's Baby Bust Is A Stark Sign Of Hard Times

Nurse Carina Araujo gives care to a child in the neonatal intensive care unit at Maternidade Doutor Alfredo da Costa Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 6. Portugal's birthrate has dropped 14 percent since the economic crisis hit.
The Washington Post The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 4:11 pm

In Lisbon, the waiting area of Portugal's biggest maternity hospital is empty. You can hear the hum of soda machines across the hall. There's just one expectant father, pacing the room.

Mario Carvalho, 40, has a toddler son and now awaits the birth of his baby girl.

"Today, I hope!" he says with a nervous smile.

The birth of a new baby is a joyous occasion. But in Portugal, it's an increasingly rare one. Since the economic crisis hit, the country's birthrate has dropped 14 percent, to less than 1.3 babies per woman — one of the lowest in the world.

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10:50 am
Thu January 2, 2014

A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet

James Cridland Flickr

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 10:24 am

This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today.

The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called The Population Bomb. It was so popular he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

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10:50 am
Thu January 2, 2014

What's Your #NPResolution for 2014?

NPR

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 8:52 am

At NPR, we constantly strive to be better: as an organization, as storytellers, as individual human beings. It's a year-round gig, yet there's something especially powerful about hanging up a new calendar. It gets us reflecting on the past year – and thinking intentionally about the year ahead.

Enter three dreaded words: New Year's Resolutions.

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2:19 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

Grantland Asks: Which Pop Culture Phenomenon Won 2013?

Beyonce hijacked the pop culture (and feminism) conversations for weeks. Pope Francis went about reorienting his billion-member church to the wider world, via surprise phone calls and selfies. And Miley Cyrus rankled, if only because she made your aunts talk about twerking.
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, Gregorio Borgia/AP, Frank Micelotta/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 12:41 pm

Friend of the blog Rembert Browne and the folks at Grantland put together their annual year-end, winner-take-all tournament bracket to determine just who won pop culture in 2013. Yeah, it's a jokey project, but Grantland is better than just about anyone at considering our popular culture without moralizing didacticism or snarky dilettantism.

Rembert came up with a diverse field full of 32 entities that we had to reckon with this year, including:

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8:57 am
Tue December 31, 2013

2013: The Year of Risk?

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:15 pm

It’s hard to imagine the market collapse of 2008 when looking at today’s numbers.

The S&P 500 is up 29 percent for the year, it’s best since 1997. The NASDAQ has been trading at its highest levels since 2000, and the Dow is up more than 20 percent, it’s best rally since 2003.

Low-rated “junk bonds” have had a record year, and Facebook is worth more than Disney.

How is this possible five years after the financial collapse?

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What's New?
8:57 am
Tue December 31, 2013

2013 Signoffs: Short Stories About A Few Remarkable Lives

Los Angeles poet Wanda Coleman's writing often drew from her struggles as a black woman. She died at age 67 in November.
Chris Felver Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 5:31 pm

Before 2013 ends, the Code Switch team pauses to remember some remarkable individuals who died this year and whose stories you might not have heard.

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8:56 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Is The DVD Box Set Dead? Yes ... And No.

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 7:35 am

Are we witnessing the twilight of DVD and Blu-ray?

Kinda-sorta. With the emergence of various digital distributions systems — streaming and downloading through your laptop, your cable system, your game console — it's easy to see how these discs will be the next physical media formats to fade away. DVD and Blu-ray could well go the way of CDs and vinyl, becoming a niche boutique market for collectors.

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8:56 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Remote Control: It Was Hard To Turn Off The TV In 2013

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 10:00 am

Here's why picking a Top 10 list of best TV shows has become such treacherous work for critics this year: Quite simply, 2013 was the year quality exploded in the television industry.

Thanks to the simultaneous maturing of Netflix, AMC, FX, HBO, Showtime, Amazon, BBC America, Sundance Channel, iTunes and many more media platforms, fans of great television had more options than ever to find high-quality product whenever and wherever they liked.

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2:39 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Science: A Laughing Matter?

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 10:24 am

The Guardian recently published an amusing compilation of science jokes solicited from a variety of scientists. They range from classics you may have come across, like these:

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2:38 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Make It So: Sir Patrick Stewart Moos In Udder Accents

A Jersey cow enjoys the sunshine in Jersey, one of the British Channel Islands.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 7:06 am

Cow-d it really be? Have our ears herd this correctly? (Sorry, I can't help myself.)

Patrick Stewart — ahem, Sir Patrick Stewart — mooed up a storm on the podcast How To Do Everything, impersonating cows from various regions. You might even say Stewart was code-switching.

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