Arts & Life

Goats and Soda
3:33 am
Wed April 15, 2015

From Horses To High-Rises: An Insider 'Unmasks' China's Economic Rise

As China continues its massive economic growth, especially in cities, the government continues to severely limit people's rights. Is that system sustainable?
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 8:11 am

When Henry Paulson first visited Beijing in 1991 as a banker, cars still shared major roads with horses.

"I remember getting into a taxi that drove too fast on a two-lane highway ... [that was] clogged with bicycles and horses pulling carts," says the former secretary of treasury under George W. Bush. "You still saw the hutongs — the old neighborhoods [with narrow streets] — which were very, very colorful and an important part of life."

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The Salt
6:27 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

How AeroPress Fans Are Hacking Their Way To A Better Cup Of Coffee

Twenty-four competitors put their brewing techniques to the test last week at the World AeroPress Competition in Seattle.
Jonathan Vanderweit Courteys of World Aeropress Championship

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 3:14 pm

Perhaps it takes a hacker to lure a hacker.

And Alan Adler, 76, is the ultimate hacker. A serial inventor based in Silicon Valley, Adler has 40 patents to his name. But among coffee aficionados, it's an incredibly simple device that's earned him accolades: the AeroPress.

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Movie Interviews
6:21 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

More Fear Of Human Intelligence Than Artificial Intelligence In 'Ex Machina'

In Ex Machina, the world's first artificial intelligence, played by Alicia Vikander, possesses more emotional intelligence than originally intended.
Courtesy of A24 Films

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 7:45 pm

Unlike most films about artificial intelligence, Ex Machina isn't about technological anxiety. "The anxiety in this film is much more directed at the humans," director Alex Garland tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "It was more in defense of artificial intelligence."

Garland tackled the zombie apocalypse as the writer behind the film 28 Days Later. In Ex Machina — his first film as director — he introduces us to Ava, a creation that is part woman and part machine. There's no hiding that Ava is a machine — but a very, very smart one.

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The Salt
3:59 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: The Evolution Of Tea Sets From Ancient Legend To Modern Biometrics

Ryan Kellman NPR

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 4:19 pm

People have been drinking tea for so long that its origin story is rooted in mythology: More than 4,700 years ago, one popular version of the story goes, a legendary Chinese emperor and cultural hero named Shennong (his name means "divine farmer") discovered how to make a tea infusion when a wind blew leaves from a nearby bush into the water he was boiling.

By the 4th century B.C., as Jamie Shallock writes in his book Tea, the beverage had become part of everyday life in China — though in a very different form than we might recognize today.

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Television
3:05 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Forget Right And Wrong: 'House Of Cards' Is About Pragmatism And Power

In House of Cards, Kevin Spacey plays Frank Underwood, a politician who climbs to power using ruthless manipulation. Underwood's wife is Claire, played by Robin Wright.
David Giesbrecht Courtesy of Netflix

["Spoiler" alert: This interview about House of Cards discusses plot points from first two seasons, as well as themes addressed in the third season.]

In the pilot of the Netflix series House of Cards, politician Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, strangles a dog that was hit by a car. According to creator and showrunner Beau Willimon, there was a big debate among the producers whether to show the dog or not.

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Book Reviews
2:29 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

'The Children's Crusade': A Heavily Plotted Family Saga To Dive Into And Savor

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 5:13 pm

Ann Packer's new novel, The Children's Crusade, opens in California, on a scene that's so bedrock American, it's borderline corny.

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Monkey See
1:18 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

The 'Justified' Finale Brings An End To Another TV Western

Timothy Olyphant plays Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on FX's Justified. The series finale airs tonight.
Prashant Gupta FX

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 5:30 pm

Here's why I'm going to miss FX's modern-day Kentucky Western, Justified, so much.

In last week's episode, our hero, unflinching U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, has ambushed his bitter rival, backwoods Kentucky crime lord Boyd Crowder, shooting at him from across a darkened field on the side of a mountain in hopes of finally putting down the man who is most like his opposite number.

"You've given up everything that you are, so you can murder me," Crowder (Walton Goggins) yells at Givens (Timothy Olyphant) while hunched behind a rock for cover.

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The Record
12:34 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

José González On Finding Light In A Comforting Darkness

"There's always a light at the end of the tunnel" José González says of the songs on his album, Vestiges & Claws, released earlier this year.
Malin Johansson Courtesy of the artist

On his most recent album, Vestiges & Claws, José González treads a familiar musical path, offering listeners the same subdued-but-powerful austerity of his unobtrusive tenor paired with minimal instrumentation that's come to define his remarkable sound since his full-length debut with 2003's Veneer. While those compositional tendencies have thankfully remained undisturbed, Vestiges & Claws is a divergence in theme for González.

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The Two-Way
11:55 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Soul Singer Percy Sledge Dies

Singer Percy Sledge died Tuesday.
Taylor Hill Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 7:06 pm

Singer Percy Sledge, perhaps best known for his hit "When A Man Loves A Woman," has died, Artists International Management Inc., his talent agency, said.

Sledge died of natural causes a little after midnight at a hospice in East Baton Rouge, La., according to a coroner. The coroner said Sledge was 74, though the Encyclopedia of Music as well as his talent agency says Sledge was 73.

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Book Reviews
10:15 am
Tue April 14, 2015

'Cold Silver' Drags Epic Fantasy Through The Mud, Wonderfully

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 3:54 pm

Early in A Crown for Cold Silver — the debut novel by Alex Marshall (a pseudonym for an established author striking off in an epic new direction) — an old woman's battle scars are mistaken for matronly wrinkles. It's a tiny detail, but it speaks volumes. In Marshall's fictional, vaguely medieval world, Cobalt Zosia is a legendary retired general who once led her fearsome Five Villains to victory in a land rife with injustice, mostly of the haves-and-have-nots variety.

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