Scott Simon

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.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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.

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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