Business & Education

U.S.
3:52 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Sex Discrimination Trial Puts Silicon Valley Under The Microscope

Ellen Pao, a former partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, says women were excluded from all-male meetings at the company and denied seats on boards. The firm says she was fired for poor performance.
Robert Galbraith Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 7:18 pm

When the venture capital firm that funded Google and Amazon fired Ellen Pao in 2012, it said it let her go because she didn't have what it takes.

Pao disagreed — and sued her former employer, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, for gender bias and retaliation. The trial, now underway in San Francisco, is providing a rare look into allegations of sex discrimination and the world of venture capital.

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The Salt
1:46 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

To Eat Authentically Irish This St. Patrick's Day, Go For The Butter

Butter labels from Irish creameries operating in the 1970s.
Roland Paschhoff Cork Butter Museum

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 1:11 pm

As scholarly buzzkills have long told us, corned beef isn't really Irish. So what to do if you want a taste of the Emerald Isle on St. Patrick's Day? Instead of green, maybe look for yellow — a pat of Irish butter. Although most Americans are familiar with images of Ireland's rolling green hills, few realize that those hills are the secret to a deliciously buttery empire.

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Science
2:17 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Are Humans Really Headed To Mars Anytime Soon?

Mars, anyone? Six researchers from the Mars Society sport their best space duds during this 2014 simulation of the conditions that explorers of the Red Planet might face. (From left) Ian Silversides, Anastasiya Stepanova, Alexandre Mangeot and Claude-Michel Laroche.
Micke Sebastien Paris Match via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 8:15 am

With recent news headlines proclaiming that dozens of people have been selected as finalists for a Martian astronaut corps, it might seem like a trip to this alien world might finally be close at hand.

But let's have a little reality check. What are the chances that we really will see people on the Red Planet in the next couple of decades?

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U.S.
5:25 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

FEMA's Appeals Process Favored Insurance Companies Almost Every Time

Doug Quinn's ranch house in Toms River, N.J., was heavily damaged by flooding during Hurricane Sandy. His insurance company gave him half the value of his home and when he appealed, FEMA sided with the insurance company.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 2:15 pm

FEMA has taken the unprecedented step of reopening all Superstorm Sandy flood claims because thousands of homeowners said insurance companies intentionally lowballed damage estimates.

Similar allegations surfaced in 2004 after Hurricane Isabel struck the Mid-Atlantic. To answer critics then, FEMA formalized an appeals process.

That appeals process has gone against Sandy victims almost every time, statistics show.

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Technology
4:36 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

What Cockroaches With Backpacks Can Do. Ah-mazing

An attempt to build the perfect cockroach cyborg.
Carlos Sanchez, Ph.D. student of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 7:01 pm

Cockroaches are widely despised. They're attracted to filth. They frighten people, even give them nightmares.

But for a team of scientists at Texas A&M University, the roach is a hero: the first animal that humans might successfully transform into a robot, a hybrid of insect and machine that we can send anywhere to be our eyes and ears.

The Perfect Roach

Professor Hong Liang opens the door to a small laboratory with hundreds, maybe thousands, of cockroaches. It's not for the faint of heart.

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Parallels
2:23 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Excitement Over Mexico's Shale Fizzles As Reality Sets In

A platform owned by Mexico's state-run oil company Pemex is seen off the Bay of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico. The country has recently opened up its energy sector to foreign investors.
Victor Ruiz Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 7:01 pm

The prolific shale formation that has made people rich in South Texas doesn't stop at the Rio Grande, as U.S. maps seem to indicate.

"The geology doesn't change when you cross that little 20-foot-deep river," says Brandon Seale, president of San Antonio-based Howard Energy Mexico. "What goes on 10,000 feet under the river is the exact same."

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The Salt
11:24 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Looks Matter: A Century Of Iconic Food Packaging

Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:49 pm

We take the packaging our food comes in for granted. Yet many of the boxes, bags and bottles that protect our edibles were once groundbreaking — both in their design and in how they changed our perception of what's inside. Sometimes, packaging is so distinctive, it transforms food from mere consumer product to cultural icon. As Stephen Heller, author of more than 100 books on design and popular culture, says, "Coca-Cola is not a bottle of soda — it's Coca-Cola."

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All Tech Considered
10:12 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Pew: Nearly One-Third Of Americans Hide Information Online

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 3:30 pm

Almost a third of Americans have taken steps to hide or shield their information online since Edward Snowden publicized National Security Agency surveillance practices.

But as a country, we're deeply divided — nearly 50-50 — over whether to be concerned about massive government surveillance. And while there are signs that privacy is a partisan issue, it's not partisan in the way you might think.

All that is according to the latest privacy study by the Pew Research Center.

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Architecture
2:09 am
Mon March 16, 2015

With Sunny, Modern Homes, Joseph Eichler Built The Suburbs In Style

After World War II, developer Joseph Eichler built well-designed and well-crafted tract homes that dotted California suburbs.
Stephen Schafer

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 8:04 pm

In Palm Springs, Calif., a $1 million home was just built — with plans resurrected from 1951. The original sold for about $15,000, and was called an Eichler, after developer Joseph Eichler, who offered well-designed, well-built tract homes to the masses a half-century ago.

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Business
6:57 am
Sun March 15, 2015

Airlines Are Not The Best At Estimating Flight Times

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 10:03 am

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

Transcript

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Fifty-two.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: 11:53.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Twenty-five.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: 6.115

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Business
4:29 am
Sun March 15, 2015

Smell Something Different At The Gym? It Might Not Be What You Think

The weight training center at Anytime Fitness in Michigan in December. The company started using scent marketing four years ago.
Danielle Duval MLive.com/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 12:06 pm

Eric Spangenberg knows he's too old for Abercrombie and Fitch. He knows as soon as he smells it.

The store's signature fragrance, Fierce, is a mixture of citrus and musk. It's a combination that Spangenberg, 55, says is clearly targeted toward a specific demographic: a young one.

It's called scent marketing — when a business chooses a specific scent to attract customers and boost sales, and it has become widely popular in the last several years, he says.

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The Salt
4:24 am
Sun March 15, 2015

The Fate Of The World's Chocolate Depends On This Spot In Rural England

Rows of potted cocoa plants from around the world. Before a cocoa variety from one country can be planted in another, it first makes a pit stop here, at a quarantine center in rural England.
Courtesy of Dr. Andrew J. Daymond

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:49 pm

Walk into a row of greenhouses in rural Britain, and a late English-winter day transforms to a swampy, humid tropical afternoon. You could be in Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa, which is exactly how cocoa plants like it.

"It's all right this time of year. It gets a bit hot later on in the summer," says greenhouse technician Heather Lake as she fiddles with a tray of seedlings — a platter of delicate, spindly, baby cocoa plants.

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The Seams
6:48 am
Sat March 14, 2015

How The Luxury Fashion Industry Became All Business

Models walk the catwalk in March 2009 during one of Alexander McQueen's last shows, Ready-to-Wear Autumn/Winter 2009, in Paris. McQueen was one of several fashion designers elevated to prominence by Bernard Arnault, the French tycoon who transformed the business of high fashion.
Pascal Le Segretain Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 5:31 am

Fashion Week looks glamorous, but as it drew to a close in Paris last Wednesday — following shows in New York, London and Milan — it became clear that the runway has become a racetrack.

The pace of the multibillion-dollar fashion industry has changed in recent years from luxurious to laborious. Even the seasons have accelerated.

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The Salt
6:48 am
Sat March 14, 2015

The Family Peach Farm That Became A Symbol Of The Food Revolution

Mas Masumoto grew up on his family farm southeast of Fresno, Calif. His 1987 essay "Epitaph for A Peach," in which he bemoaned the loss of heirloom flavors, captured his changing philosophy as a farmer. It also helped turn his farm into a landmark in the local-food movement.
Dan Charles/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:50 pm

In the heart of California's Central Valley, a vast expanse of orchards, vineyards, and vegetable fields, lies a small collection of aging peach trees. Farmer Mas Masumoto's decision to preserve those trees, and then to write about it, became a symbol of resistance to machine-driven food production.

Yet the Masumoto farm's story isn't just one of saving peaches. It's become a father-daughter saga of claiming, abandoning, and then re-claiming a piece of America's agricultural heritage.

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Business
5:39 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Lumber Liquidators Defends Its Products After '60 Minutes' Report

A man walks past a Lumber Liquidators store in Philadelphia. The retailer says it stands by its products and will pay for the safety testing of laminate floors.
Matt Slocum AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 7:00 pm

Earlier this month, the flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators got the kind of attention companies dread. CBS' 60 Minutes did a story saying the company's products have unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

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