Gossip is arguably one of humanity's oldest pastimes. It can be entertaining, it's occasionally helpful, it's often salacious and even, at times, vicious.
What it's not, argues Joseph Epstein, is trivial.
The author and essayist has already traced the history and practice of two other human weaknesses, snobbery and envy. In his new book, Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit, he turns his eye on our deep desire to hear — and share — the secrets of others, even if we feel guilty about doing so.
Larry Levan, who made the highlight of a new collection of DJ mixes recorded at London superclub Ministry of Sound. Levan's work at New York club Paradise Garage was the inspiration for the London club.
The audio link above is a radio story for All Things Considered about the late Larry Levan, the producer and DJ whose residency at New York's Paradise Garage between 1977 and 1987 remains the most storied in clubland.
This piece of news is perhaps a testament to the mystery that was Apple's late CEO Steve Jobs: Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Jobs, a 656-page epic that has been well received critically, has just taken the top spot on Amazon's 2011 best-seller list.
It's that time of year when media organizations, consultants and marketers try their hands at summarizing and forecasting the past year and the coming year's food trends. It's a tricky business, because it really depends who you're talking about and where they actually eat (home, work, out?).
It has become a new and depressing holiday tradition. Every year on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, thousands of human beings stampede into big-box stores searching for "deals." And, every year, by days-end the horror stories emerge on the newsfeed: fights break out among frenzied shoppers or worse, someone gets trampled to death. This year's award goes to the woman who pepper sprayed a crowd of fellow shoppers who were scrambling to get cheap Xbox consoles.
Days after angry Iranian students overran the British embassy in Tehran, The U.S. has opened its new "embassy" for Iranian citizens. Senior U.S. diplomats haven't returned to Tehran after more than 30 years - this department is web only.
The front page features a welcome video from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the seal of the State Department, with the banner "Virtual Embassy of the United States, Tehran - Iran" set at the very top.
The U.S. Postal Service has announced it will move forward with plans to close some 250 processing centers and lay off workers. The cuts may help save $3 billion a year by 2015, and could add a day to the delivery time of many shipments. The USPS is also reviewing post offices for possible closures.
A federal appeals court ruled that most bone marrow donors can be paid. The decision has sparked debate among advocates who believe compensation will create incentives for people to donate bone marrow, and the Justice Department, which argues compensation may compromise patient safety.
NPR's Neal Conan reads from Talk of the Nation listener comments on previous show topics, including advice for NPR's new CEO, Gary Knell, and the moments when a writer realizes he or she has become a poet.
Facebook has developed new privacy features and agreed to 20 years of independent audits of its privacy practices. Google and Twitter previously settled similar cases with the Federal Trade Commission. Farhad Manjoo argues that Facebook, or any social network, can never be truly private.