Why does our culture place value in that which is deemed authentic or original? What happens when we find out that the thing we have enshrined as authentic is determined to be nothing more than a copy? How does our relationship to the ideas of authenticity and originality impact the decisions we make from what [...]

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There are times in our lives when we have no choice but to perform. The stakes are high, the pressure is on, the price of failure immense. It seems natural that most of us would try to minimize the amount of time that we spend in such anxiety-inducing situations. But what of those people who [...]

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In a certain sense, childhood is most acutely experienced in retrospect. As a child, it’s simply life as you know it. But, as an adult, childhood (both one’s own and the developmental category in general) takes on a kind of mythic significance and, perhaps, nostalgic appeal. In this episode of Off Topic we look at [...]

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This week on Off Topic, we take a close and critical look at the institution of marriage. Why do we do it? What do we hope it will be? What is it really? How has it changed?

In this episode:

Professor Stillman battles a pesky woodpecker, and in so doing, comes face to [...]

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The figure of the Genius looms large in our contemporary thinking about art and creativity. Art is a gift given to the masses by those fortunate few who are capable of creating something from nothing, of inventing forms and sounds that the rest of us simply couldn’t imagine. Well, maybe that’s overstating it [...]

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Stream or download this episode in its entirety below.

In this episode of Off Topic:

Professor Stillman confronts the ambiguities inherent in the snake’s side of the story.
Canadian novelist Peter Behrens discusses how the Irish established the template for what it means to be an immigrant in North America.
Duke [...]

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In case you missed the premiere episode of Off Topic on Friday night at 7pm, we’ve posted it here for you to enjoy at your leisure.

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News

August 1, 2014 | NPR · The $694 million Border Security Supplemental Spending Bill was endorsed one day after the House Republican leadership canceled its plan to hold a vote on the legislation.
 

EPA /LANDOV
August 1, 2014 | NPR · Two Americans infected with Ebola in West Africa are flying to Atlanta. They will be the first patients treated for the disease in the U.S. What’s the risk of Ebola spreading during the transport?
 

August 1, 2014 | NPR · Calling the shootings “questionable,” a civil rights attorney in Oakland requested action by the Justice Department. The Salinas police chief said that would be premature.
 

Arts & Life

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August 1, 2014 | NPR · Nearly a dozen notebooks and journals by the author, who fought in the British Army during the war, are being released to coincide with the centenary of the start of the conflict.
 

August 1, 2014 | NPR · The newest Marvel comic adaptation features five motley warriors, including a raccoon and a tree, against an armada of space villains. The big-budget effects-laden movie is light and funny.
 

August 1, 2014 | NPR · Academy Award-winning makeup artist Dick Smith has died at age 92. In a career that spanned more than six decades, Smith was responsible for bringing some of Hollywood’s most iconic characters to life. Ari Shapiro speaks with Sue Cabral-Ebert, the president of the Make Up and Hair Stylists Guild, about Smith’s legendary career.
 

Music

for NPR
August 1, 2014 | NPR · Think opera plots are tough to follow? Try wading through the complicated action offstage at the Metropolitan Opera. Here’s who’s involved — with perspective on disputes that aren’t new.
 

Courtesy of the artist
August 1, 2014 | NPR · Friend shares his love of New Orleans “jass” by playing “Sweet Lorraine” on six-string banjo.
 

August 1, 2014 | NPR · James Brown is featured in the new biopic Get On Up. In ’80s and ’90s, Terry Gross talked with his biographer and two musicians who played in his band. And in 2005, she talked with Brown himself.
 

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