Weekend Edition Saturday for Saturday, October 5, 2013

Even as hundreds of thousands of federal workers stay home, some members of Congress have kept most or all of their own staffs working. With no end to the government shutdown in sight, that's put Republicans on the defensive.

Why Congress Has No Reason To Give In

The problem stems from post-2010 redistricting and a ban on earmarks, says NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving. He discusses the reasons Congress has no incentive to end the government shutdown with host Scott Simon.

Congress, Consider 'Courage' As Shutdown Wears On

With the federal government in the midst of a shutdown, NPR's Scott Simon turns to Profiles In Courage by John F. Kennedy. As he pages through the chapters on politicians who did what they felt was right, in spite of party and constituent pressure, he wonders how similar defiance might play out these days.

Nothing Raises Cash Like A Crisis

Some lawmakers canceled fundraising events with the government shutdown this week. But for outside groups, controversy is always a good reason to ask small donors for cash.

Knocking Wood Could Help Avoid Trouble

Superstitious gestures like knocking on wood and throwing salt might actually help people avoid what they dread, according to researchers at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Host Scott Simon explains.

Teaching Recent History In Egypt

After a turbulent summer, Egyptian students are heading back to school. How do teachers incorporate rapidly unfolding history into a curriculum? Officials tell state media they are in the process of amending textbooks to erase changes that the Muslim Brotherhood government had made earlier.
French philosopher Denis Diderot was the driving force behind one of the first compendiums of human knowledge, but his contributions have been largely lost to history. Now, the anniversary of his birth has prompted calls to reinter his remains in Paris' Pantheon, alongside the likes of Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

A Cold, Wet Trip With Spearfishers In Alaska

One month each fall, residents of interior Alaska don chest waders and splash through the clear, frigid waters of the Chatanika River. With large homemade lanterns hanging from their necks and spears in hand, the fishermen keep their eyes peeled for whitefish.
Acclaimed British author William Boyd was tapped last year to write the latest James Bond novel. The new book, called Solo, takes 007 on his first trip to Africa. Boyd says the Bond of the novels is quite different from the Bond on the screen — and that he sees a definite overlap between spies and novelists.
Back in 1973, Erica Jong was tired of the silent, seething housewife, so she introduced a new kind of female protagonist: one who loved sex and wasn't ashamed to admit it. Jong joins NPR's Susan Stamberg to talk about hook-ups, Fifty Shades of Gray, and of course, the "zipless f - - - ."

Glitches Slow Health Exchange Sign-ups

It's been a bumpy week for the new state health care exchanges. Computer problems and the sheer number of people trying to log in overloaded the system. Despite the technical issues, health care navigators are trying to help people figure out their options.

The Tea Party Makes Sense Of The Shutdown

What do the real grassroots Tea Party groups think about the politics of the government shutdown? Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the group, Tea Party Patriots, says the shutdown gives Americans the chance to speak out against Obamacare — and offer a compromise.
Government workers are convinced that the work they do is crucial for the country, even if they've been deemed "nonessential." They're starting to wonder whether politicians in Washington agree.
An team of experts entered the country on Tuesday to find and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. The Assad regime has agreed to allow access, but the United Nations resolution and the Chemical Weapons Convention also give the country some rights in the process. Weapons expert Amy Smithson fears he will exploit that.

Richard Posner Reflects 'On Judging'

Long-time Appellate Court Judge Richard Posner offers solutions for our judicial system in his new book, Reflections on Judging. He talks to host Scott Simon.
"Starting a conversation about capitalism is like walking up to a stranger and asking, 'Can I talk to you about Jesus?'" says artist Steve Lambert. The best way to talk about the C-word, he says, is to make it personal. His giant art installation in New York challenges passers-by to weigh in.

NYC Cockroaches Stick To Their Neighborhoods

Cockroaches, it just so happens, actually resemble humans, forming distinct groups and neighborhoods. Host Scott Simon talks to Mark Stoeckle of Rockefeller University, whose research uncovered this roach behavior.

Baseball Swings Into Playoffs

Host Scott Simon and Howard Bryant of ESPN talk about baseball playoff winners and losers. Plus Alex Rodriguez files suit against the MLB and commissioner Bud Selig, and the Cincinnati Reds let manager Dusty Baker go.
The new documentary Linsanity retells the unlikely rise of Jeremy Lin as an Asian-American NBA star. Now playing for the Houston Rockets, Lin generated global buzz and a large Asian-American fanbase last year as a high-scoring point guard for the New York Knicks.

Children's Author Takes On The Dreaded Itchy Head

A new book by award-winning illustrator and author David Shannon sheds light on an uncomfortable but universal problem — head lice. He talks to host Scott Simon about Bugs in My Hair.
The Korean-American band from California got a big boost from Honda after the musicians recorded a music video ... in their Hondas.
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