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To the Best of Our Knowledge


TTBOOK began as an audio magazine of ideas – two hours of smart, entertaining radio for people with curious minds. It’s sort of journalistic, but it’s never about the President’s speech to the U.N., weapons inspections in Iraq, or yesterday’s stock market disaster. It’s the kind of show that would spend an hour on the future of capitalism, or on the roots of Islamic fundamentalism. It might also spend an hour on hair. Or salt. Or pirates, road trips, psychic phenomena, house cleaning, animal intelligence, high energy physics, or how to say you’re sorry. It’s the kind of show where someone might mention Charlotte Bronte or Anthony Trollope in one segment, U2 or They Might Be Giants in another.

Walking

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Walk long enough and far enough, and you will never be the same.  This week, stories of people who transformed their lives by picking up their feet, blazing trails, and going off-road. "Walking Saved My Life" - Cheryl Strayed; What Makes Werner Walk?; Grandma Gatewood's Walk; Walking England's Coast; Found Films - Manohla Dargis on Boyhood; This Year's Funniest Autobiography - John Cleese's New Memoir.

Fearing the Other

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Are Americans afraid of black men? That's one of the issues at the heart of the national debate over the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice. This hour, we take a closer look at negative stereotypes about African American men, how those biases affect our justice system, and what we might be able to do about it.   Addressing Bias; Condemning Blackness; What Do You Fear?; Not Calling the Police; Reforming the LAPD; Dangerous Idea: Love Your Enemy; On Our Minds: Hip Hop Prophets.

Writing Funny

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we explore the fine art of comedy writing Spoiled Brats - Simon Rich; Bob Odenkirk on Comedy as an Act of Truth and Destruction; Science...for Her! - Megan Amram; The New Yorker Cartoons - Bob Mankoff; Dangerous Idea: Can Too Much Christmas Drive Kids to Kill?; What Do Your Passwords Say About You?.

The Art of Television (Repeat)

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Television used to be formulaic. Today, it’s the best gig around. We examine the explosion of high quality TV, from The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men, and talk with the creator of HBO’s True Detective. TV Revolution - Alan Sepinwall; True Detective - Nic Pizzolatto; "Husbands" - Brad Bell & Jane Espenson; Dangerous Idea: A Different Draft?; On Our Minds: Iraq War Poetry.

Death: After Life

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Does death gives life meaning? You might think so, looking at the prominence of death and the afterlife in so many religions. For millennia, people have dreamed about immortality, and now transhumanists are trying to extend life by merging our selves with machines. Also, with so much of our lives lived online, how do we plan for our digital afterlives? "The Mysteries of Life are More Present"; "Not Knowing Is Itself Liberation"; Death After Dying; Mourning in the Digital Age; Humanity Beyond the Human; Reset: A Digital Afterlife Radio Drama; If the Earth Was Destined to Die ... A Thought Experiment; "Death Doesn't Bother Me, Anyway" Pt. 5; Note from Anne, On Being Haunted by Death.

Alan Turing (Updated)

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In his short life, British mathematician Alan Turing changed the world. He cracked the code that helped defeat the Nazis, dreamed up artificial intelligence, and laid the foundation for the computer age. Patrick Sammon - Turing's Final Years; Andrew Hodges - The Roots of Turing's Genius; Alan Garner - Running With Turing; Mohan Embar - The Turing Test; Brian Christian - The Most Human Human; BookMark: "My Struggle" by Karl Ove Knausgaard; On Our Minds: P.D. James.

The Secret Language of Plants (Repeat)

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The Secret Language of Plants Thinking Like a Forest - Suzanne Simard; What a Plant Knows - Daniel Chamovitz; Sonic Sidebar: Data Garden Quartet; Plant Intelligence - Jeremy Narby; The Grammar of Animacy; Dangerous Idea: Question Your Beliefs; On Our Minds: Ralph Nader .

Death: The Wake

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How do we mark death and celebrate lost lives around the globe? In this hour, we hear stories from inside the funeral industry, and learn about burial and mourning rituals throughout history. Tending to the Body; Ask a Mortician; Ghanaian Coffins are a Fantasy of Life and Dreams [Slideshow]; Does Caring for the Dead Make Us Human?; Coming of Age in a Funeral Home; "Death Doesn't Bother Me Anyway, Pt. 4"; A Poet's Elegy to His Son; On the Music in This Hour [Playlist].

Death: The Last Moment

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In this hour, we explore the medical, spiritual and psychological mysteries of the moment of death. A Buddhist chaplain talks about preparing - now - to meet our final moments mindfully. And, as resuscitation science makes it ever-more possible for us to bring back people whose hearts have stopped, we take a look at the growing scientific debate over near-death experiences.  Being with Death; "Death Doesn't Bother Me, Anyway" Pt. 3; Blurring the Line Between Life and Death [Video]; Can Science Explain Near-Death Experiences? [Video]; Can Hallucinogens Help with End-of-Life Anxiety?; Mindful Dying; Christian Wiman Reads "For D.".

Science Fiction: Thinking the Unthinkable

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Reality is catching up to science fiction.  But there are still new science-fiction writers who are thinking the unthinkable and daring to go beyond the limits of our imaginations. The Book of Strange New Things - Michel Faber; Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang; Questionable Practices - Eileen Gunn; BookMark: Edmund White; On Our Minds: Kurt Godel.

Death: Exit Plan

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We live much longer than we used to, thanks to medical advances, but what are the emotional and financial costs of extending life?  Some doctors don't know how to talk with their patients about preparing for death, so there's now a push to have frank conversations about end-of-life care. Also,one family's story of working within Oregon's "Death with Dignity" law. Katy Butler on Heaven's Door; Atul Gawande Advocates Compassionate Medical Care [Video]; One City Talks about Death; A Photographer's Days with His Father; "Death Doesn't Bother Me, Anyway" Pt. 2; Choosing Death With Dignity; "When Death Comes," Read by Mary Oliver.

Our Digital Lives

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The average American spends more time on Facebook than with their pets or exercising -- and that's not counting Twitter, Instagram, or Vine. We're more connected than ever these days, but at what cost? Reclaiming the Internet; Sonic Sidebar: Alone Together; When Everything Happens Now; Who Owns the Future?; Dangerous Idea: Save the Habitat for All Creatures; On Our Minds: Rethinking Our Approach to Climate Change.

The first episode in a five-part series about death and dying

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From death cafes and death dinners, to innovative schools that now talk openly about death with their students, there's a movement afoot to change how we talk about the end of life. In this hour, how do we reckon with our own death and the deaths of our loved ones? If you'd like more information about how to start a conversation about the end of life, check out this resource page. Let's Talk About Death; We Don't Have to Be Alone with Dying and Grief; Living with your Coffin [Slideshow]; The Museum of Death [Slideshow]; "Death Doesn't Bother Me, Anyway" Pt. 1; Muhammad the Mortician Confronts Black-on-Black Violence; Nikki Giovanni Reads a Poem of Remembrance.

Does Fiction Make Us Good?

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Who doesn’t love a good book? We all know a great novel can change the way we see the world, but what about the way we treat each other? Today, we discuss whether reading great literature makes us more moral. And, we celebrate William Shakespeare's 450th birthday. And if you're wondering if movies can make us more caring, we did some digging on that too. Read all about it, here. The Psychology of Fiction - Keith Oatley; Sonic Sidebar: Literature Behind Bars; In Defense of the Sentimental - Leslie Jamison; Fiction and Morality - Joshua Landy; Watch This! "Salinger" & "Shakespeare Uncovered"; On Our Minds: Shakespeare's Influence.

Cinephilia

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In this hour, we explore people's obsessions with movies and talk with legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog. Room 237 - Manohla Dargis; Werner Herzog Strives for the 'Ecstatic Truth'; Frank - Jon Ronson; Found Film: John Waters; On Our Minds: National Novel Writing Month.

Ecotopia (Repeat)

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How we think about the environment will have real-world consequences for our children and grandchildren.  Today, we talk about new environmental paradigms for life after climate change.  And, we remember the great environmentalist Rachel Carson on the 50th anniversary of her death. New Environmental Paradigm - Bill McKibben; Remembering Rachel Carson - Rob Nixon; Living the Ecotopia Dream - Charles Monroe-Kane; Colors of Nature - Lauret Savoy; Dangerous Idea: We Are More Significant Than We Think; On Our Minds: Michael Lewis & Flash Boys.

From philosophy to neuroscience, looking for the truth about beauty.

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Is there anything science won’t tackle? The latest question neuroscientists are taking on is, “What makes something beautiful?” We're checking in with scientists, philosophers and artists in this hour. Beauty & Brains; Sonic Sidebar: Umberto Eco on Beauty; Beauty & Justice - Elaine Scarry; Folksy Beauty; BookMark: Ruth Ozeki; On Our Minds: Russell Brand on Revolutionary Politics.

Do Nations Need States?

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Do nations need states? Do Nations Need States?; Sonic Sidebar: Scotland Votes "No"; Lands in Limbo; The Islamic State; BookMark: Lauren Beukes on “The Three” by Sara Lotz; On Our Minds: Abortion.

Zzz (Sleep) Repeat

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We explore the secret life of sleep in this hour. The Secret Life of Sleep - Kat Duff; The Politics of Sleep - Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer; Sleep Donation - Karen Russell; Sonic Sidebar: Is Sleep Going Extinct?; Dangerous Idea: Life Roller Coaster; On Our Minds: Josh Ruxin.

Political Engagement

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With the elections approaching, candidates and campaigns are working hard to get out the vote. But what would it take to get people politically involved all year round? Making Democracy Fun; Voices From The Internet Underground; Against Voting; Dangerous Idea: Differential Technological Development; On Our Minds: Dataclysm.