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

November 21, 2014 | NPR · The final report by the House Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA “ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi and… bravely assisted the State Department” on Sept. 11, 2012.
 

Reuters /Landov
November 21, 2014 | NPR · Diplomats are meeting in Vienna ahead of Monday’s deadline to reach an accord on Iran’s nuclear program. NPR’s Peter Kenyon notes that there is speculation over who is offering a last-minute proposal.
 

AP
November 21, 2014 | NPR · The actions do make it easier for people with work visas to move between jobs. But they don’t address something employers have long pushed for: an increase in visas for low- and high-skilled workers.
 

Arts & Life

November 21, 2014 | NPR · President Obama announced an executive action on immigration this week. For an in-depth look at the issue, author Gustavo Arellano recommends two nonfiction collections about Mexican immigrants.
 

Black Bear Pictures
November 21, 2014 | NPR · Cumberbatch stars in The Imitation Game, as the British mathematician who helped break German codes. “It’s a war thriller, it’s a love story and a tragic testament to a genius wronged,” he says.
 

November 21, 2014 | NPR · You don’t have to leave all the cooking for Thursday. We offer tips for getting most of the meal ready in advance so you can sleep in a little later on the big day.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
November 21, 2014 | NPR · Blanton sits down with host Michael Feinstein to discuss what makes a song memorable. Blanton performs her own “Smoke Alarm,” and Feinstein joins in for the standard “Two Sleepy People.”
 

Courtesy of the artist
November 21, 2014 | NPR · Coltrane and host Marian McPartland discuss his family’s musical heritage and his individual approach to music, with performances of “Naima” and Giant Steps,” in a session from 2000.
 

November 21, 2014 | NPR · Our recurring puzzler for careful listeners, this week featuring a selection of drum fills handpicked by All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton. Hear the fill and match it to the song.
 

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