I email. I search. I shop. I Facebook. I stream. I Skype. Every year I seem to do these things a little bit more. Stroke by stroke, as I slip deeper into the Internet's embrace, I find myself wondering:
"What would happen if the Internet went away?"
Can it? It was famously built to be indestructible, with no center, no hub, no "off" or "on" switch. It is, after all, a creature of the U.S. Defense Department, designed, supposedly, to survive a global war.
Pioneering photographer Wayne Miller, who captured some of the first images of the destruction of Hiroshima, died this week at the age of 94. The Chicago native was renowned for a trailblazing series of postwar portraits of black Americans in Chicago and for co-curating the groundbreaking international photo exhibition "The Family of Man."
"I believe a level of intimacy has been lost," says Paul Berlanga, director of Chicago's Stephen Daiter Gallery, which has mounted an exhibition in memory of Miller.
On today's Planet Money, we meet a single mother who makes $16,000 a year — and who managed to fund a vacation at a Caribbean resort with an interest-free loan from one of the world's largest banks.
Edith Calzado gets credit cards with teaser zero-percent interest rates — then transfers her balance before the rate ticks up. She signs up for store cards to get discounts — then pays off her bill on time. She gets food stamps and lives in subsidized housing. Her son is doing well in school.
If you think all the twitchy rhythms and random shards of melody flashing through Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring sound complicated, consider the poor musicians who have to learn it. And then there's the conductor, who needs to perfectly place every piccolo tweet and bass drum boom.
Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes are an Australian band whose sound is a little bit of soul fused with blues, doo-wop, jazz and R&B. That musical diet, rich in harmony, is the same one lead singer Clairy Browne grew up on.
"My dad had a band in South Africa in the '60s called Browne, and so he really brought that into our home," she says. "We were always around the kitchen table with a guitar and four-part harmonies, playing on late into the night.
In the classic American story, opportunity is always in front of you. You finish school, find a job, buy a home and start a family; it's a rosy dreamscape.
But that world is one-dimensional. Income inequality is just about as American as baseball and apple pie. And though the economy has improved in the past few years, the unemployment rate for black Americans, now 13.2 percent, is about double that for white Americans.
Pearl S. Buck emerged into literary stardom in 1931 when she published a book called The Good Earth. That story of family life in a Chinese village won the novelist international acclaim, the Pulitzer and, eventually, a Nobel Prize. Her upbringing in China as the American daughter of missionaries served as inspiration for that novel and many others; by her death in 1973, Buck had written more than 100 books, including 43 novels.
In his debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra transports readers to Chechnya, a war-torn Russian republic that has long sought independence.
The lyrical and heart-breaking novel begins in 2004 when a doctor watches as Russian soldiers abduct his neighbor, who has been accused of aiding Chechen rebels. He later rescues the neighbor's 8-year-old daughter, then colludes with another doctor to form an unlikely family amid the daily violence.
A massive storm system has dumped more than 10 inches of rain over San Antonio, leaving the Texas city flooded and at a standstill.
Texas Public Radio's Ryan Loyd reports the area is still under a flash flood emergency. Ryan filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"Some people didn't have time to make it to safety in rain-drenched San Antonio. A woman died when raging flood waters swept her away in her car. So much rain fell that it floated a city bus. Major highways are completely submerged.