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Novak Djokovic of Serbia serves during the men's singles match against Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 25, 2011 in London, England. In today's first hour, we'll talk about the ideas, people and products that have a good year. (Getty Images)

December 20th: What's On Today's Show

Dec 20, 2011

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'It Was A Good Year For....'
2011 has been a tough year in many ways: the economy is still struggling, unemployment is still high, Europe's dealing with a huge debt crisis, and Japan continues to dig out from the devastating tsunami. But there's been good news, too. From Chrysler to coconut water, there are people, products, and ideas have succeeded. Neal Conan talks with Alexandra Alter of the Wall Street Journal about e-books, NPR's Marilyn Geewax about gold and bonds, Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times about cable TV dramas, and NPR's Richard Knox about HIV treatment and prevention — their "A Good Year" nominees.

'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'
John Le Carre's Cold War espionage novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is experiencing a resurgence of late. Gary Oldman stars in a new film adaptation of the book — often called Le Carre's finest — as master spy George Smiley, recalled from forced retirement to root out a traitor in the top ranks of the British intelligence service. While the new film may be the first introduction to the story for many viewers, others will remember the iconic 1979 BBC mini-series, which slowly unraveled a labyrinthine tale of intrigue, petty rivalries and bureaucracy against a dreary Cold War backdrop. John Irvin, director of the original series, joins host Neal Conan to talk about how he crafted his adaptation, and why the story still resonates today.

Diagnosing Autism
Nearly one percent of children in the U.S. have some form of autism, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a rate that is 20 times higher than in the 1980s. In a four-part series, Alan Zarembo, a staff writer with the Los Angeles Times' Project and Investigative Team, explores whether this spike in autism rates is a result of an epidemic of the disease, or of the discovery and diagnosis of the disorder. As the definition and stigma around the disorder evolve, some parents and clinicians are more likely to seek a diagnosis in order get early treatment, creating tough competition for services and disparities in who receives help. Host Neal Conan talks to Zarembo and Catherine Lord, a clinical psychologist, about the challenges of diagnosis and the parents who fight for services.

Jake Shimabukuro, 'Peace Love Ukulele'
Once known as a kitschy toy, the ukulele has become very popular — a hit with even the hippest musicians. That's why young people all over the world comb through YouTube on the hunt for instructional videos that will teach them to play the now-cool, four-stringed instrument. And to ukulele fans, Jake Shimabukuro is the big kahuna. The master player from Hawaii has a new CD out, Peace Love Ukulele. He visits NPR's Studio 3A to spread a little ukulele aloha for a performance chat with host Neal Conan.

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