Scott Simon

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And part of what makes life go on is the love of sports. Our Tom Goldman joins us on a sad morning. Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.

Millions of people grew up in a time when we had nuclear nightmares. We worried that a few huge bombs might blow up the world, and we rehearsed how we should hide below our school desks if sirens ever sounded.

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It's tempting to make jokes about the demands Republican candidates made of broadcasters for future debates — and believe me, I have.

But I've also squirmed to see reporters bark at presidential candidates to raise their hands, yes or no, to reply to a question, as if they were schoolchildren asking for a bathroom break. And including 30-second long opening and closing statements sounds like the least an audience might have the right to expect in a two-hour debate. Thirty seconds is just a fifth of the time of this essay.

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When is a panhandler a performer? And do nearly naked women perform when they pose for a photo, or are they unclad panhandlers who get tips because people want them to buy a coat?

Jimmy Carter told a press conference he called on the morning of the day he would have the first radiation treatment on the cancer in his brain, "I'd like for the last guinea worm to die before I do."

Mr. Carter was frank, funny and graceful speaking this week about his health, and his faith. But his remark about the guinea worm may have puzzled a few people.

Pluto turns out to be pretty lively.

Not Las Vegas, perhaps, but more vivacious with geologic activity than we've ever known about, and for good reason: Pluto is currently almost 3 billion miles away from Earth, a dwarf planet spinning in the lonely last ring of our solar system.

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American political consultants soar around the world these days to counsel candidates, from Britain to Israel to Panama. But now a Mexican politician has an idea that might interest U.S. politicians and their consultants.

Renato Tronco Gomez, an independent deputy in Veracruz, wants to find a body double. He's holding a contest this month to find someone who will study his speech, walk, and mannerisms so that he can play Mr. Gomez at ceremonies and events that the deputy cannot attend himself.

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A lot of people saw their hopes and dreams fulfilled this week — for just a few hours.

Carnegie Mellon University emailed about 800 people who had applied to graduate school to say, 'Congratulations, you're in.' They were — to quote the message of acceptance — "one of the select few" to be accepted into Carnegie Mellon's prestigious Master of Science in Computer Science program.

A young woman in India who was accepted wrote on Facebook that she quit her job, bolstered by this act of faith in her future. Her boyfriend proposed marriage.

Pope Francis and the Vatican have recognized Oscar Romero as a martyr. This may move the name of the late archbishop of San Salvador a little further in the process that could one day make him a saint.

But being deemed a martyr is also holy. It means the church believes his life can inspire people; Pope Francis has said Romero inspires him.

Romero was considered a kindly, orthodox conservative parish priest when Pope Paul appointed him archbishop in 1977. He did not question El Salvador's ruling regime.

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Every Saturday just before our show begins I get on the public address system here to announce to our crew, "It's a beautiful day for a radio show. Let's do two today!"

It's an admiring imitation of Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame baseball player who died last night at the age of 83. Ernie used to say, especially in the long years of hot summers — including this last one, when the Cubs were stuck in last place — "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let's play two today!"

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Satire is a tricky business. The punch lines quickly get stale. The same people who laugh at one joke can get offended by the next.

But this week, with the targeted killings of the cartoon satirists of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, we were reminded how dangerous people with no sense of humor can be.

The Onion ran a headline: "It is Sadly Unclear Whether This Article Will Put Lives At Risk."

I've always had a good time in Cuba. The people are friendly and funny, the rum is smooth, the music intoxicating and the beaches wide, white and soft.

But you're accompanied everywhere by government minders. They call them responsables. Any Cuban you interview knows your microphone might as well run straight to their government.

If you want to talk to someone with a different view, you have to slip out of your hotel in the middle of the night without your minder — though dissidents say other security people follow you.

Australian cricket player Phillip Hughes died this week in Sydney after he was struck on the back of the neck by a bounced pitch that's an ordinary and routine part of cricket.

Mr. Hughes was 25, an accomplished and admired player. There's been an outpouring of grief in Australia and around the world over his death. Cricket fans from India and Pakistan to New Zealand have observed a minute of silence before a match, and worn black armbands. Cricket fans have put out cricket bats in tribute. Rory McIlroy, the great Irish golfer, played with a black ribbon in his cap.

There are just a few words in the last four minutes of Mike Nichols' 1967 film, The Graduate.

"Elaine! Ben! It's too late! Not for me..."

Everyone has days in which we wonder if much of anything works. Websites crash. Screens blink, go blank, or taunt: I'm sorry. Try later. We have an unusually high volume of calls. Download to update. Click here if you've forgotten your password.

But for a couple of hours on an afternoon this week, people got glimpses of excellence.

I think Ben Bradlee and Frank Mankiewicz knew the news business enough to realize that if two old lions die within a couple days of each other, they'll wind up sharing space in the same recollection on a weekly show.

I knew Frank when he was president of NPR, and became a friend after he left. I met Ben Bradlee just a few times. But it seemed to me they shared a certain swagger of charm, wit and street smarts, even if those streets were in Georgetown.

Dr. Doug Butzier died on duty this week. He was 59 and crashed in his own small plane flying home to Dubuque, Iowa.

Doug Butzier was a former paramedic who put himself through medical school and became chief of the emergency room and medical staff at Mercy Medical Center and the Dubuque Fire Department. An EMS supervisor named Wayne Dow told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, "We adored him ... He appreciated what we did, and he never forgot where he came from."

Dr. Butzier leaves behind his wife, two sons, and three step-children.

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When you think about robots, if you do, you might think of famous images from science fiction, some kind of tin can built to vaguely resemble a human being.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE")

Mahatma Gandhi never won the Nobel Peace Prize. A lot of people who have dropped bombs, launched missiles and made war have won the Nobel, but not the man whose very silhouette — bald-headed, wrapped in cloth, and walking in sandals across a perilous world — is taken to be a symbol of peace across the globe.

Every now and then you can see a short story come to life right in front of you.

We were on a train this week while a man in a seat nearby spoke in a voice loud enough to carry above the whoosh of the rails to a man whose name we have changed to Phil, to tell him that the company had deliberated and decided they had to make "a transition" in his department.

The U.S. may have added jobs to its payroll last month, but the losses are still huge in Atlantic City, N.J., where four casinos have closed this year. A fifth teeters, and more than 7,000 people — dealers, greeters, cooks and maids — have been laid off.

The job losses could mean a future of boarded windows and abandoned buildings.

In the 1970s, Atlantic City had lost the glitter of its golden years — the 1940s and '50s, when it was a favored summer spot with a broad beach, the Boardwalk, pastel resort hotels and the home of the Miss America Pageant.

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