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In the second hour, Slate.com technology columnist Farhad Manjoo explains why we should hold ourselves accountable for privacy issues in the world of social media. (iStockphoto.com)

December 6th: What's On Today's Show

Dec 6, 2011

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Is The Post Office Obsolete?
Letters sent by first class mail may arrive a day or two later under new cuts unveiled by the United States Postal Service on Monday. The USPS announced it will move forward with plans to close some 250 processing centers and lay off about 28,000 workers. Those cuts would help save $3 billion a year by 2015, and would add a day to the delivery time of many first class shipments, 40% of which currently arrive the next day. Many people get very little in their mailbox other than coupons and ads, but in rural areas the post office serves as a lifeline for payments, mail-order prescription drugs and other items. Neal Conan talks with Elisabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times, Ian Lee of Carleton University in Ottawa, and pharmacist Bill Snodgrass, who owns a pharmacy in North Platte, Nebraska, about whether or not the post office has outlived its usefulness.

Paying Donors For Bone Marrow
A federal appeals court ruled last week that most bone marrow donors can be paid. The ruling overturns part of the 1984 National Organ Transplant Act, which included bone marrow among the organs for which it was illegal to receive compensation. 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. The Justice Department has until the end of February 2012 to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Host Neal Conan speaks with a reporter about the recent ruling and the changing science of bone marrow transplants.

The Value Of Gossip
Gossip is arguably one of humanity's oldest pastimes. It's often entertaining, can be helpful, sometimes salacious 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, Epstein turns his eye on our deep desire to hear — and share — the secrets of others, even if we feel guilty about doing so. Epstein talks with host Neal Conan about why we engage in gossip, what makes a particularly juicy tidbit, and why he says the art of well-told gossip is being lost in our tell-all, celebrity-obsessed digital age.

Why Facebook Can't Be Private
Last week, Facebook agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company deceived consumers with empty promises of privacy, while repeatedly allowing users' information to be shared publicly and with advertisers and developers. In response, Facebook developed a number of new privacy features and agreed to 20 years of independent audits of its privacy practices. Google and Twitter previously settled similar charges with the FTC. In a recent piece for Slate.com, Farhad Manjoo argues that Facebook, or any social network, can never be truly private. "The very idea of making Facebook a more private place borders on the oxymoronic," he wrote. Facebook users underestimate how "leaky" the site can be, he argued, and share some of the blame. Host Neal Conan talks with Manjoo, technology columnist at Slate.com, about the limits of privacy in the world of social media.

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