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All Things Considered
3:30pm - 6:30pm

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.

Finding Nirvana

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As the Dalai Lama turns 80, we reflect on his legacy and remarkable personal history. Also, how various Eastern spiritual traditions have taken root in the West - from yoga to meditation. And the legacy of California's famous utopian experiment at Esalen and its "religion of no religion." The Happy Buddhist; Can a Video Game Teach Kids to Meditate?; Meditation on Death Row; The Religion of No Religion; A Rapper's Homage to Ganesh.

Everyday Data

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So much of our daily lives gets turned into data -- our online shopping purchases, phone calls, family photos. We're all surrounded by data, and learning how to harness it could be more transformative than we realize. This week, a look at the new data specialists using their knowledge of numbers to change everything, from music to baseball to health. Can Tracking Your Period Change Women's Health?; Runs, Hits, and Algorithms: How Data is Changing Baseball; By Transforming Data into Music, New York's Income Inequality Gets Amplified; A Novelist Assesses the Beauty of Computer Code; The Box of a Trillion Souls: Stephen Wolfram on the Distant Future; Their Lovely Bones: The Decorated Skeletons of Europe.

Split Identities (Repeat)

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Who are you? White or black, Muslim or Christian, working class or wealthy? Most of us rotate through many different cultural identities, at work and at home. And sometimes, reconciling them is hard. Becoming Biracial; Mixed Feelings; Hybrid Identities; Sonic Sidebar: Richard Rodriguez on "Brown"; Culture Clash; BookMark: Stoner; On Our Minds: Public Higher Education.

How to Love Your Body

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When did "fat" become a four-letter word?  Leaders of the body acceptance movement say we've become a fat-phobic nation, and it's time to stop shaming fat people.  In this hour, curvy girls and plus-size women talk about the emotional and physical costs of America's toxic obsession with weight and body image.  Brittany Gibbons on Fat Shaming; The Science and Politics of Weight Obsession; A Reading from Dietland; Sarai Walker on Dietland; The History of the Gym; Ruth Reichl on Food Culture.

Japanese Cool

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American children grow up playing Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh.  As adults, they line up for the latest anime movies and hang out in karaoke bars.  In other words -- Japanese culture is serious business.  So serious that Japan's Prime Minister appointed a "Cool Japan" minister to oversee a multi-million-dollar "Cool Japan" campaign.  The goal -- to make Japan one of the world's leading cultural forces.  But wait...Isn't it already?  In this hour, we explore why we crave Japanese pop culture as we delve into Japan's G.N.C. -- Gross National Cool. Japan's G.N.C. -- Gross National Cool; Osamu Tezuka, God of Manga; Sonic Sidebar: Godzilla; Karaoke Fascism; Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter; BookMark: James Wood on "Effi Briest"; On Our Minds: Dean Bakopoulos' New Novel.

Invisible Workers

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If you think about it, every day we receive countless services from complete strangers — the newspaper delivered to your door, the trash picked up at the crack of dawn, the fresh fruit for sale at the supermarket. There's a whole army of invisible workers powering our economy who we rarely get to hear about. From the warehouse workers who fill out our online orders, to the migrant laborers who pick our food, even down to the unpaid office intern, this hour we're talking about the hidden workers who make it all happen. True Stories Of A Warehouse Worker; A Day In The Life Of A Migrant Worker; Questioning The Ethics Of Unpaid Internships; The Hidden Jobs That Fill Your Day; Dangerous Idea: Embrace Laziness; Christie Watson on her novel 'Where Women Are Kings'.

Skill vs Luck

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skill versus luck Gambling with 100% Skill; Is there an Equation for Success?; Choreographer Bill T. Jones on the Randomness of Musician John Cage; Poker Legend Annie Duke on Luck; BookMark: Julie Schumacher recommends Saramago's "Elephant's Journey"; On Our Minds: The Eurozone Crisis.

Philosophy in the Streets

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Philosophers get a bad rap - they're written off as too academic, too detached from daily life. But we're seeing a philosophy revival, from philosophy cafes to philosophers as therapists.  From the Stoics to Spinoza, an argument for why philosophy still matters. Philosopher and Wolf - Mark Rowlands; Sonic Sidebar: Rebecca Goldstein on Plato; Philosophy as Therapy - Jules Evans; Spinoza's Heresy - Steve Nadler; BookMark: Eric Jarosinski; On Our Minds: The Perfect Peach.

Dangerous Ideas

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The atom bomb's ability to kill people makes it a literal dangerous idea.  But there are other kinds of dangerous ideas -- ideas that are contrary, counterintutive and just plain unconventional.  It's that kind of dangerous idea that we explore in this hour. Anatomy of a Dangerous Idea; Listener Dangerous Idea on Black Education; The Harm of Coming Into Existence; Dangerous Idea: Your Child is Not a Special Snowflake; Listener Dangerous Idea on Mythmaking; Chuck Palahniuk Talks Dangerous Writing; Listener Dangerous Idea on Teaching.

Doing the Math (Updated)

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Why do Americans suck at math?  And why do so many claim to hate math?  In a recent survey, a third of respondents said they'd rather clean the bathroom than solve an equation.  In today's show, mathematicians tell us what we're missing. How Not To Be Wrong; The Calculus Diaries; Russian Postal System Puzzle; The Magician of Mathematics; The Magic of Pi; Neal Stephenson Blows Up The Moon.

Food for Thought (Updated)

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What we eat can often say a lot about us. But why do we consider certain foods more appealing than others? In this hour, we look a the trends and tastemakers who shape our feelings about food. The Buzz Behind Food Trends; Sonic Sidebar: Food Preferences; Julia Child and the Love of Cooking; Food As Religion; BookMark: Michelle Wildgen on "Crossing to Safety"; 1971 - An FBI break-in that rocked the nation.

Inside Cuba

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As Cuba and the U.S. restore diplomatic relations, what's in store for Americans who want to visit Cuba? And for Cubans wanting more prosperity? Steve Paulson recently traveled to Cuba and brought back new stories about our island neighbor. From diplomacy to culture, we tackle jazz, baseball and politics. Life as a Cuban Tour Guide; Why the Opening Between Cuba and the U.S.?; Rainforest Remedies; American Expat Finds His Home in Cuban Jazz; Cuban Rhythms; Baseball Diplomacy.

Amusement Parks

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It doesn't matter whether you grew up going to Coney Island, Six Flags, or Pacific Park -- to a kid, all amusement parks are magical. This hour we take a trip to the land of funnel cake, freak shows and fast rides.  How Amusement Parks Modernized America; Coney Island A Century Ago; Behind the Scenes of a Sideshow; The Most Unusual Roller Coaster in the World; Getting High At Disney World; Walt Disney and the Cultural Significance of the Theme Park.

Life, Art, and Therapy

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Whatever happened to psychoanalysis?  It used to be the most influential science of the mind, but today its founder, Sigmund Freud, just looks like a sex-obsessed old man.  Analyst Adam Phillips says we got Freud all wrong; he remains a radical thinker if we know how to read him.  This hour explores the connections between therapy and art. Rethinking Freud - Adam Phillips; Growing Up Freudian - Erin Clune; Cartooning & Psychotherapy - Alison Bechdel; Art as Therapy - Alain de Botton; BookMark: Nic Pizzolatto on Absalom, Absalom!; On Our Minds: James McBride .

Hitchhiking (Updated)

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Does anyone still hitchhike?  Cult film director John Waters does.  At the age of 66, he hitchhiked 2,800 miles, from Baltimore to San Francisco.  He tells us about the people who picked him up, along with some who didn't.  And did the America Interstate System pave the way for fear and violence on the highways? Killer on the Road - Ginger Strand; Carsick: Hitchhiking Across America - John Waters; Anywhere - Mishy Harman; PEN World Voices Festival Chairman on Charlie Hebdo Controversy; Colm Toibin on Poet Elizabeth Bishop; BONUS SEGMENT -- Sonic Sidebar: John Waters' Hitchhiking Playlist.

Going Wild

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Looking for wildness, inside and out. Kids Go Wild; How To Reclaim Your Sense of Wonder; The Adventure Gap: Diversity In Outdoor Recreation; "More Hawk Than Human": Helen Macdonald Battles Grief With a Goshawk; BookMark: Werner Herzog on "The Peregrine"; The Dead Lands - Ben Percy's Post-Apocalyptic Wilderness Thriller.

The Thrill of the Fight

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Forget baseball. Boxing just might be our national sport. After all, the highest paid athlete in the country is a fighter. And a long awauted superfight between this generation's best boxers has earned millions in ticket sales. This hour, we explore the popularity and enduring appeal of combat sports.  The Ecstasy of the Fight; Inside the Mind of a Fighter; The Professor Who Became a Cage Fighter; The Toughest Teen in the World; Dangerous Idea: Can Real Life Superheroes Fight Crime?; 'The Hunger Games' Meets Ancient Rome in 'An Ember in the Ashes'.

Remembering the Vietnam War

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Forty years ago, the U.S. ended its war in Vietnam, but we're still fighting over its legacy - in foreign policy and military strategy, and also in books and movies. But there's one question Americans rarely ask: what does the war mean to the Vietnamese themselves?  Taking Revenge Against Coppola's "Apocalypse Now"; A Vietnamese Doctor's Unforgettable Diary; How Soldiers Cope with Killing; War Criminal?; BookMark: Paul Beatty on "The Nazi and the Barber"; The Man Who Invented Chemical Weapons.

Building Stories (Update)

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Building Stories Stories from Cabrini Green; Ever Wonder About the Sounds a Building Makes?; Chris Ware on his graphic novel "Building Stories"; Meat Houses. Yes, Houses Made Out of Meat; Ken "The Voice" Nordine reads his jazz poem "Yellow"; Here, Bullet - War Poetry by Flashlight ; Poet Rae Armantrout on Reading Poetry Out Loud.

The Quantified Self

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Can the self actually be quantified? This hour, we examine the growth of personal data collection. From Bites to Bytes - Quantifying the Everyday; Does Data Give Life Meaning?; The Sonified Self - Transforming Data Into Music; Our Automated Future; Chronicling, then Letting Go.