<strong>Design Within Reach?</strong> The cool sterility of <em>2001: A Space Odyssey </em>is just one example of how pop culture expresses an anxiety that's seemingly about technology, but may be as old as time.
When Hollywood imagines the future, from Logan's Run to Avatar, it tends to picture living spaces as sterile and characterless, without any cultural clues to the person who lives there. No record library, no DVDs, no Hemingway on bookshelves ... often no bookshelves.
A big reason for the slow recovery has been that the nation's battered banks haven't been able or willing to lend. There are signs that's changing and that bank lending is helping to support stronger growth.
Paul Kasriel, chief economist at Northern Trust, a Chicago-based bank, say his reading of Federal Reserve data has convinced him that banks have finally taken the baton from the Fed and are now making credit more available.
"We've seen a sharp increase in business loans on the books of banks," he says.
In Florida, members of Congress and the state legislature are scrambling to decide what districts they'll run for in this year's election. The legislature recently released maps that redraw the districts. It's a once-in-a-decade process every state goes through to reflect population changes since the last census. Because of its growth, Florida is gaining two seats, but there is bipartisan unhappiness with the maps. And NPR's Greg Allen reports that the battle over how they were drawn may ultimately be decided by the courts.
Bernie Madoff's investment scandal inspired financial analyst Christina Alger to write a novel based on the personal and financial turmoil created by the collapse. It's called The Darlings, and Alan Cheuse — writing professor at George Mason University — has a review.
Oil-rich Venezuela is awash in hundreds of thousands of homeless. Many find places to live where they can — in half-finished shopping malls or under the grandstand at a race track. The huge number of homeless has become an election issue for President Hugo Chavez, who is seeking his fourth, six-year term.
The eurozone crisis has focused attention on debt-burdened Greece spiraling into decline. Meanwhile, Portugal is seen as the international creditors' poster-child for obediently slashing spending and welfare benefits.
Nevertheless, the Portuguese national debt continues to grow, and the country is mired in recession and soaring unemployment.
The Portuguese national character has long been identified with Fado music. Raquel Freire, an activist with the local Occupy movement, says the melancholy style helps explain decades of resignation.
An image captured on Feb. 20, 1962, by NASA shows astronaut John Glenn during his space flight in the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft, weightless and traveling at 17,500 mph. The image was made by an automatic sequence motion picture camera.
Credit NASA / AP
The Two-Way is formally off-duty for the Presidents' Day holiday. But not only does the news not take a holiday — often, holidays are the news. Here's a quick roundup of some of today's important and most-discussed stories:
Syria is reinforcing its military in what seems to be a bid to control Homs. (AP)
Through his many New Yorker covers, Barry Blitt has become one of the pre-eminent satirical cartoonists of America's recent presidents. He is probably best known for his controversial 2008 cover of Michelle and Barack Obama, dressed as a Muslim and a militant with an AK-47, fist-bumping in the Oval Office.