Linton Weeks

Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.

Weeks is originally from Tennessee, and graduated from Rhodes College in 1976. He was the founding editor of Southern Magazine in 1986. The magazine was bought — and crushed — in 1989 by Time-Warner. In 1990, he was named managing editor of The Washington Post's Sunday magazine. Four years later, he became the first director of the newspaper's website, Washingtonpost.com. From 1995 until 2008, he was a staff writer in the Style section of The Washington Post.

He currently lives in a suburb of Washington with the artist Jan Taylor Weeks. In 2009, they created The Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation to honor their beloved sons.

At the end of the day, it is tougher than a nickel steak to banish from American popular parlance certain phrases such as "at the end of the day."

The word police at Lake Superior State University in Michigan have been trying to strike the phrase from public discourse since 1999. Here are their Banished Words Lists from then and from 2014.

Tons of people responded — thoughtfully, wittily, smartly, poignantly — to NPR's recent request: Tell us the six songs of your life.

Sifting through the more than 1,000 annotated playlists, we came up with a few that seem exemplary of the original idea: People telling the stories of their lives — up to this point — through a half-dozen songs.

We were knocked out by the variety of the selections.

For eons in New England, a First Sign of Spring has been sap oozing from a maple tree. In northwestern Montana, officials at Glacier National Park report that a long understood First Sign of Spring is the appearance of a bear — emerging from hibernation.

Sometimes it feels like all the fancy meteorological machinery and prognostication equipment is actually working. And that the weather folks may finally be able to predict — albeit with constant updates and countless hedge words — what the weather is going to be.

At least for the next day or so.

But is that good enough?

At weddings, guests tweet real-time photos of the festivities to friends far away. At sporting events, fans follow scores of games in other cities. In classrooms, students text with friends in other classes and parents out in the world. At funerals, mourners send out selfies to pals in other places.

If you don't know the meaning of a word, says Mary Caton Lingold, you can look it up in the dictionary, but if you don't know what a particular sound sounds like, where do you go? (Besides NPR, of course.)

For instance: What does tobacco harvesting sound like? Or someone clogging? Or a shotgun?

About college courses, actor Tom Hanks recently told The Star-Ledger: "I had thought, oh, college, you have to take chemistry and stuff and sit there slogging through work in the library. And then it was like, wait, you can go to college and study theater? And act in plays? This is almost a racket."

Check the catalogs at colleges these days and you will see that you can study theater, act in plays and explore a whole lot more.

Through one lens, the National Football League — on the threshold of Super Bowl XLVIII — looks to be at the top of its game. Revenues are ridiculously high: more than $9 billion a year, CNN reports. Television ratings are roof-piercing: 34 of the 35 most-watched TV shows of autumn 2013 were NFL games, according to the NFL.

Icy vortices, trains of snowstorms, treacherous temperatures — many people are having to learn some harsh lessons about harsh weather.

"When the weather is bitter cold," says Dr. Campbell McLaren, "we have to be vigilant — not just to protect ourselves, but those around us."

And we have to watch out for the "umbles."

As an emergency room doctor in northern New Hampshire, McLaren has specialized in hypothermia and other deleterious effects of extreme cold. He speaks in a Scottish brogue — and by telephone and email, he warns against the umbles.

Awards season is upon us. And on top of us. And all over us with red carpets, acceptance speeches and actor antics.

The votes are in, and President Obama — with 40 million followers on Twitter --is the Leader of the Tweet World, according to the Digital Policy Council's recent report on the use of social media by presidents, potentates and other pooh-bahs.

The Top 5 World Leaders With The Most Followers On Twitter:

1) President Barack Obama of the United States

Fifty years ago this month, the landmark U.S. Surgeon General's report linking cigarette smoking and lung cancer was released.

Over the past half-century, America has become more and more inhospitable to people who smoke — and to tobacco companies. In a recent statement, the Department of Health and Human Services declares its desire "to make the next generation tobacco-free."

Music. It's been there with us from the beginning — sometimes in the background, sometimes centerstage. We listen. We sing. We play along. We compose. We remember.

We are a species deep into music. And the music is deep into us — especially those of us at NPR, where music is an essential element of everyday existence.

Look. Up in the sky — and in that little package with the A-to-Z logo. It's a bird. It's a plane.

Maybe it all started with ugly Christmas sweaters. Or with cheesy inflatable Santas. Or hideously inappropriate tree ornaments. But Christmastime – at least its visible trappings and accoutrements – seems to be getting tackier.

Created by a British-American wordsmith, the very first Word-Cross appeared in the New York World on Dec. 21, 1913.

"America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room," observed British historian Arnold J. Toynbee. "Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair."

You are an American living in another country. Are you a tourist? An expatriate? An immigrant?

When does a visitor morph into something more? When does your home-away-from-home become your home?

Blocks grow with you — from basic alphabet blocks and geometric building blocks, to Tinker Toys and Legos and girder and panel sets, to bricks and

Resolved: That blocks are the best toys ever.

Just in the past few days:

  • In Baton Rouge, La., joggers concerned about a recent attack on a runner are carrying pepper spray.
  • In Missoula, Mont., a woman files a complaint against a man for pepper-spraying her golden retriever.

When American expatriate Charles Trueheart was young, he lived all over the world — in Ankara, London, Saigon and Paris. His father was an American diplomat.

When Charlie was older, he moved back to the U.S. He went to college at Amherst. Eventually, he and his wife, Anne Swardson, became international correspondents for The Washington Post.

I was Charlie's editor at the Post for several stories. He is a lovely writer and a good friend.

Cyber Monday. The phrase seems so quaint. Like floppy disk. Or information superhighway.

But the idea of making a big deal about everybody shopping online on a given day seems even more quaint.

So quick question: Is the notion of Cyber Monday passe?

Thanksgiving — like the universe — is expanding.

Traditionally a time for Americans to pause and give thanks to a Supreme Being — for health or harvest or happenstance, Thanksgiving is evolving before our very eyes into a holiday where we give thanks to each other as well.

Just this week we received Thanksgiving-themed thank-you notes from a doctor's office, a lawyers' association, a New Jersey congressman and others. Can Thanksgiving-themed gift cards be far behind?

It's not a bad idea. Saying thank you to more people.

Thanking members of the U.S. military for their service is an American tradition – throughout the year. But what do those who are on the receiving end of our thanks have to be thankful for at Thanksgiving?

From somewhere in Southwest Asia, American expat Sarah Kinzer writes: "We are U.S. Air Force overseas... Due to host nation sensitivities I can't tell you a city — or country — but you can say we are stationed with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing."

For some expatriates there comes a point of surrender. Keeping the back-home traditions becomes too much trouble. Or the allures of the host country become too strong. Call it Thanksgiving Up.

Such is the case for Susan Partington who lives with her family in Gisborne, New Zealand. "After seven years down under, I've completely given up on the traditional foods. Spending a Thursday cooking lots of hot food during summer is absurd."

If you can't be with the holiday you love, love the holiday you're with.

Sarita Fae Jarmack, 25, who grew up in the United States, has already traveled to some 30 countries. Roaming the wide world over, she has discovered that it can sometimes be quite difficult — even on this interconnected planet — to touch base with her childhood traditions.

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is more about people than pumpkin pie.

And for many Americans observing the special day in other countries — since pumpkin pie can be hard to come by — the people around them play a more prominent role.

Here in the States, many folks play American-made football — touch, not tackle — on Thanksgiving Day after the megameal.

But in other parts of the world, no one will be the wiser if you make a substitution — and play American-made baseball. Turkey Ball instead of Turkey Bowl, perhaps?

Recipes, like memories, transcend place and time. Wherever American Kelly Crutchlow lives, she brings along remembrances of her family and their ways of observing Thanksgiving.

Today Kelly, who is originally from Iowa, is living near Coventry, England, with her British husband, Adam, and their two children, Rowan, 4, and Ewan, 2.

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