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

May 24, 2015 | NPR · Record rainfall was wreaking havoc across a swath of Texas and the Midwest on Sunday, causing flash floods in normally dry riverbeds, spawning tornadoes and forcing at least 2,000 people to flee.
 

Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab
May 24, 2015 | WESA · In polluted Pittsburgh, a new device from a local university helps residents assess indoor air. It’s not the only monitor on the market — but is the only one available to borrow from a public library.
 

May 24, 2015 | NPR · The great mathematician, whose accomplishments and struggle with schizophrenia were depicted in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, died with his wife, Alice, in a car accident on Saturday. “His suffering, I know, was real,” says University of Chicago economist Roger Myerson. “But he was touched by glory.”
 

Arts & Life

Courtesy of Dutton
May 24, 2015 | NPR · “I’ve never accused myself of being manly,” Offerman says, noting his real-life persona is different from his Parks and Recreation character. His book is a set of essays about people who inspire him.
 

Associated Press
May 24, 2015 | NPR · Meara, who was married to Jerry Stiller and mom to Ben Stiller, had roles on Rhoda, Alf, Sex and the City and The King of Queens.
 

The Kobal Collection
May 24, 2015 | NPR · Actor Kenneth Choi is best known as the boisterous Chester Ming in The Wolf of Wall Street. Growing up in Chicago, acting was his passion, but his dad didn’t approve. So he ran away — to Hollywood.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
May 24, 2015 | NPR · More than three decades after Pancho & Lefty, the country titans pair up again, this time for an album that puts eclecticism front and center.
 

Courtesy of the artist
May 24, 2015 | NPR · The gospel-punk band’s self-titled debut couches its invective in feedback, guitar noise, bruising drum machines and Franklin James Fisher’s guttural howls.
 

Courtesy of the artist
May 24, 2015 | NPR · On its fourth album, Dawes calls from deep inside the feedback loop of love’s aftermath. Throughout All Your Favorite Bands, singer Taylor Goldsmith takes full advantage of the dramatic possibilities.
 

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