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Since calorie labeling on most alcoholic beverages is voluntary, it's often hard to know how many calories are in your favorite brew.

And — perhaps — ignorance is bliss. But ignoring those liquid calories is about to get a lot tougher. Soon, calorie counts may be staring you in the face.

Smack in the middle of this summer of American political and societal turmoil, I'm hearing a lot about how important it is to seek out and listen to people whose ideas diverge from one's own.

None of us should want to dwell in an echo chamber. Taking up this philosophy, today I embark on a series of conversations (to appear about once a month) with people whose ideas diverge significantly from my own.

The goal? To get past hard-and-fast assumptions, to open up a space for dialogue, and see what happens.

First up: hunting.

Two of the biggest beer companies in the world are getting closer to merging. Belgian-based Anheuser-Busch InBev received clearance from the United States Justice Department to take over London-based SABMiller, as long as it meets some specific conditions.

Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with Curt Nickisch of the Harvard Business Review about the merger.

Read more on this story via the Harvard Business Review.

First Watch: River Whyless, 'All Day All Night'

Jul 21, 2016

For consumers, "free" is rarely ever free — especially when it comes to social media and other online platforms. In exchange for utilizing services like Facebook, for example, users allow information about themselves — everything from their ages and zip codes to the particular products, services and companies they like — to be collected, sliced, diced, and sometimes given to other advertisers, who pay for access to that information.

I write novels for a living, and novels are about how characters deal with the intrinsic conflicts that make them who they are — and their efforts to overcome them. Sometimes characters are able to overcome their conflicts and sometimes, in tragedies, they succumb to them, which results in ruin. This is why it troubled me so much to witness recent events unfold like something out of a book.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

So Long, VCR. We Hardly Knew You (Were Still Around)

Jul 21, 2016

The VCR is officially going the way of the Betamax and LaserDisc: into the technology graveyard.

First Watch: Jaala, 'Ticket'

Jul 21, 2016

First Listen: Descendents, 'Hypercaffium Spazzinate'

Jul 21, 2016

Anyone who's seen the recent Descendents documentary Filmage knows how tumultuous and poignant the band's 39-year, on-and-off existence has been. After forming in 1977, the Southern California group helped craft the template for what would become known as American pop-punk — a warp-speed amalgam of adolescent angst, snotty attitude and championship melody. It also began, in just a slightly tongue-in-cheek way, to advocate excessive caffeine consumption as a method of playing faster and living better.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

'To The Secretary' Tries To Unwind The Tangles Of Diplomacy

Jul 21, 2016

Halfway through John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, it's clear who Soviet mole Gerald really is. And for George Smiley, the career spy investigating the conspiracy, it's never really been a secret at all. He unspools the conspiracy web from a sense of duty and a resigned curiosity. And after all the secrets and the human toll, the fallout boils down to a minor exchange of concessions designed to keep two empires moving.

Will The Real RNC Please Stand Up

Jul 21, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

On Sunday, in the hours after the attack on officers in Baton Rouge, La., police reformers were quick to condemn the killings — and there were touching efforts to bridge the divide between the black community and police, such as a cookout in Wichita, Kan. Planned as a protest, it was repurposed as a community barbecue with local police.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Robert Elllis On World Cafe

Jul 20, 2016

Singer-songwriter Robert Ellis released his self-titled fourth album earlier this year. A gorgeous, stylistically diverse roots-country record whose songs are made more real by the human characters in his lyrics, the album was chosen by the NPR Music staff as one of 2016's best so far.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In the Banda district of west-central Ghana, July is the hungry season. This year's sorghum, yams and millet are still young and green in the rain-fed fields, and for most farmers, last year's harvest is long gone.

Zdzisław Beksiński, a Polish artist who was brutally murdered in 2005, surreally captured the darkness of humanity with hellish landscapes and nightmarish figures. His work adorns the cover of Mizmor's second album, Yodh: Two grim creatures float over a fading grey horizon, one with mouth agape, as if to swallow the earth whole. It's a fitting image for the existential dread in Mizmor's looming, blackened doom metal, which is both sublime and mesmerizing.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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