Scott Simon

Most of the names announced for induction to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame this week are familiar: Guns N' Roses, Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The name Laura Nyro may need some explaining.

She was the daughter of a New York jazz trumpeter, who took her along to his gigs. She sold her first song, And When I Die, to Peter, Paul and Mary for $5,000 when she was just a teenager; left New York's School of Music and Art; and became a star at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival at the age of 20.

So many end-of-the-year lists detail something trivial. But sometimes those lists can help us appreciate something obvious.

BabyCenter.com has just released its list of the most popular names for American babies in 2011.

The most popular girl's names: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia and Ava, which sound like they could be lifted, letter by letter, from 1960s movie marquees. The most popular boy's names: Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Liam and Jacob, which could be the name of a Boston or Chicago law firm.

It's hard not to look at some of the pictures of people surging into stores as they opened at the stroke of midnight for Black Friday sales and see some kind of crass, mindless mob.

The crowds in Cairo's Tahir Square clamor for democracy and free speech. Crowds in American shopping malls seem to clamor for Blu-rays, Xboxes and Wii consoles.

There were even a few reported instances of violence Friday among unruly shoppers, hell-bent for bargains.

It is always tempting for Americans to look at problems in Europe and ask, "What does that have to do with me?"

Well, U.S. banks hold almost $17 billion in Greek debt and billions more bought through European banks. Billions of dollars that Americans have saved for retirement, college — or the rainy days that may be — are now invested in Greece.

But we also might remind ourselves why the euro and the European Union were created.

The problems of Europe led to two world wars in the 20th century, and America got involved in each.

Darryl St. George has served his country both in and out of uniform. He left his high school teaching job on Long Island in 2010 to become a Navy corpsman, a medic for the Marines.

"I loved teaching. It was a great job, but I felt like something was missing. I kind of — I felt compelled to serve," he told NPR's Tom Bowman in July.

At the time, he was at a dusty combat outpost in southern Afghanistan. St. George had one month left in his deployment and said that when he came home, he planned to visit the school where he had taught.

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