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Weekend Edition Saturday
5:00am - 10:00am

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.

Our National Parks

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National Parks rock! National Parks: The Greatest American Invention; No More National Parks!; Cheryl Strayed on her memoir "Wild"; El Capitan Daredevils – The story of the few who have climbed the 3000 foot granite wall of Yosemite National Park.; Listening in on One Square Inch of Silence; The Adventure Gap: Why do so Few African-Americans go to National Parks?.

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].

Reinventing Fiction

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Are you tired of the old way of fiction? Are Japanese cell phone novels just not doing it for you any more? Fear not. Today, we meet writers who are blowing up the novel by inventing new forms of fiction. Blurring The Lines Between Fiction And Reality; Karl Ove Knausgaard on Remembering and Recreating Memories; BookMark: "Mes Amis"; The Novel As Television Series; Long-Lost Country Music Album Finally Released After 40 Years.

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.".

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.

Remembering David Foster Wallace

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David Foster Wallace changed the landscape of American writing. His novels dissect our media-saturated culture in unflinching detail. And his essays are passed around to friends with the words, “You have to read this.” He became a literary rock star in his early thirties for his sprawling novel “Infinite Jest,” which introduced the world to his looping, verbose, cerebral style. And now, there’s a new Hollywood movie about David Foster Wallace, starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg. Today, we celebrate the life and work of David Foster Wallace. How To Live Authentically In An Inauthentic World: Laura Miller on David Foster Wallace; David Foster Wallace Discusses Infinite Jest; The Cult of DFW: How David Foster Wallace Became A Literary Icon; "Life Can Become This Incredibly Funny, Sharp, Alive Thing" - David Lipsky Remembers David Foster Wallace; David Foster Wallace: Our Last Interview ; "He Made You Love The Way Americans Talk" - Lev Grossman Reflects on David Foster Wallace; A Supposedly Fun Thing: Hear David Foster Wallace Deliver An Anti-Cruise Diatribe; "I Can Still Hear His Voice" - Amy Wallace-Havens Remembers Her Brother, David Foster Wallace; David Foster Wallace's Famous Commencement Address, "This is Water".

Summer Music Festivals

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Ah, summer music festivals... beer tents, starry nights, a great lineup of bands. And tens of thousands of strangers. The festival-ization of American music has more of us shelling out for expensive tickets to multi-day, multi-stage festivals. Are they worth it?  And, how did we get here?   Why Do We Love Summer Music Festivals?; Bon Iver Puts Wisconsin Hometown On The Map With Indie Music Fest; Too Young For Woodstock? Here's What You Missed; Groovier Than Woodstock; Why I Hate Summer Music Festivals; Indigo Girls On The Power Of All-Women's Music Festivals.

Death: The Reckoning

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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.

Summer Music Festivals

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The Art of Reading

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It used to be easy to get lost in a good book, but now lots of people say reading is boring. Scientists say all that skimming and surfing on electronic screens is actually rewiring our brains. So we examine the new science of reading, and meet celebrated New Yorker book critic James Wood. Also, Jordanian scientist Rana Dajani tells the remarkable story of how she started a reading program for kids at her local mosque, which has spread to hundreds of libraries across the Middle East. And Princeton historian Tony Grafton uncovers the history of reading by looking in the margins of books. In our last segment, Jonathan Gottschall's dangerous idea is to remove padded gloves from combat sports to reduce the brain damage of fighters. And renowned MMA fighter Ronda Rousey describes her long, hard road to the top. Why it's Hard to Read in the Electronic Age; What Makes a Good Book Critic?; Teaching Kids to Love Books in the Middle East; Reading History from the Margins; Take Off the Gloves; The Toughest Woman in the World.

Mayors (update)

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What if Mayors Rules the World If Mayors Ruled the World; Participatory Budgeting; SONIC SIDEBAR: Mayor Dave; The Mayor of Reykjavik; A DANGEROUS IDEA!; Keija Parssinen on her novel "The Unraveling of Mercy Louis".

74 Is The New 24

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74 is the new 24 Giorgio Moroder—The 75-year-old Father of Disco—is Back; Buffy Sainte-Marie on Her New Album, "Power in the Blood"; The Benefits of Playing Music in Your Vintage Years; Old Masters and Young Geniuses; Philip Glass on his Memoir "Words Without Music".

Power of Play (Updated)

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Remember those carefree summer days you had as a kid, playing tag or pickup softball in the park? Sure, it may just seem like fun and games, but it may also have been invaluable training. A new generation of researchers is discovering that play is how the young brain prepares for adult life. This hour — as if you needed a reason — a reminder to get out and have some fun. Learning Through Play; A Perfect Playground; The Strangest Playground In the World; An Animated Life; Video Games In The Classroom.

Barbecue

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Supersized slabs of juicy ribs cooked over a wood fire until the meat slides right off the bone. Food doesn't get more American than barbecue. It's part of our roots. And it's tangled up in our racial history. In this hour, we celebrate barbecue and explore its secret history. Barbecue: America's National Folk Food; The Queen of Barbecue; Barbecue and Racism; KC BBQ; Man Alive!: Struck by Barbecue.

Future Faces (Updated)

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The Future of the Face: how science, technology and art are transforming our faces The NSA Wants Your Faceprint - Do You Know Why?; Artist Uses Makeup To Fool Surveillance Cameras; Former Model Tells The Story Of Her Face; Meet The Surgeon Behind The World's First Complete Facial Transplant; Photographer Faces His Future.

The Amazing Brain (Update)

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It's hard to wrap your head around the future of the human brain.  Augmented intelligence, memory playback, downloadable skills - it's all coming.  We explore the future of the mind, and hear how a brain injury can transform your life. Struck By Genius - Jason Padgett; Future of the Mind - Michio Kaku; Disharmony; What if America really is exceptional?; Reclaiming the Declaration of Independence .

Healing Trauma

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As terrible as it sounds, most of us will go through something traumatic at some point in our lives. The experience can be deeply isolating and crushing, but it doesn't have to be. Today, researchers are discovering new ways to help people recover. This hour, we explore how to cope with and learn from trauma. A Brief History of PTSD; Secondary Violence and PTSD; The Positive Side Of Pain; Feeling Through Trauma; BookMark: The Argonauts; The Science Of Skin Color.

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.