Fans of Star Trek long ago noted that anonymous security officers who accompanied the show's stars rarely survived the experience. Shortly after being beamed down, they would be vaporized, stomped or eaten for dramatic effect. It's a plot device so common that these expendable crewmen became known collectively as redshirts.
In his novel Redshirts, science fiction writer John Scalzi follows Andrew Dahl, a similarly expendable ensign as he sorts out this life-expectancy issue.
A day after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke to the nation's oldest civil right organization, Vice President Joe Biden appeared at the NAACP's annual convention. He quickly tackled one issue that drew Romney sustained boos — the 2010 health care overhaul.
Biden appeared in place of President Obama, who made a brief videotaped address thanking the group for its work. He walked out to warm applause, and several of his remarks were interrupted by shouts of agreement.
Lots of people know Woody Guthrie's classic 1940 ballad "This Land Is Your Land," but the story behind the tune may not be as familiar.
Guthrie, who would have turned 100 this week, wrote "This Land" as a response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," a song he felt was overly patriotic and not directed at ordinary Americans like himself.