This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. We're in the worst drought since the 1950s, according to NOAA, and while we associated extended dry spells with summer, conditions out west have remained unchanged since the warm weather ended.
2012 has been a very jittery year — what with the presidential election, extreme weather events and the looming "fiscal cliff." In response to these tense times, some readers seek out escape; others look to literature that directly confronts the atmospheric uncertainty of the age. I guess I'm in the latter camp, because many of my favorite books this year told stories, imagined and real, about ordinary people who felt like they didn't have a clue what hit 'em.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 4:50 pm
Here's an experiment you can try. But please be the scientist and not the test subject.
Watch people cross the street and note whether they're yakking on the phone, texting or bopping to tunes while they do it. If you're really ambitious, time how long it takes them to cross.
This past summer researchers from the University of Washington did it. They watched more than 1,100 pedestrians at the 20 intersections in Seattle that racked up the most pedestrian injuries over the last three years.