#431 : April 1, 2011

See No Evil

When things are awkward or uncomfortable or distressing, a lot of times it's easier to not think about it. This week we have stories of people pretending that everything is okay and ignoring the awful stuff that's staring them straight in the face. Including a story of deceit and intrigue involving commemorative spoons from the Kennedy Center.

#430 : March 25, 2011

Very Tough Love

This week: A drug court program that we believe is run differently from every other drug court in the country, doing some things that are contrary to the very philosophy of drug court. The result? People with offenses that would get minimal or no sentences elsewhere sometimes end up in the system five to ten years. (Transcript.)

#429 : March 11, 2011

Will They Know Me Back Home?

Stories of people who've grown so accustomed to wartime that the lives they've left behind no longer make sense. Including a US battalion going home on leave after 15 months of deployment, and an Iraqi translator's story of life after the gig is up.

#428 : March 4, 2011

Oh You Shouldn't Have

Stories about the perils of giving and receiving gifts: Ones that go over spectacularly well in spite of being in poor taste, and ones that flop even with the best intentions. Including what happens when—surprise!—your whole past gets laid out for a live TV audience.

#427 : February 11, 2011

Original Recipe

The formula for Coca-Cola is one of the most jealously guarded trade secrets in the world. Locked in a vault in Atlanta. Supposedly unreplicable. But we think we may have found the original recipe. And to see if the formula actually might be Coke, we made a batch. Or, anyway, we asked the folks at Jones Soda and Sovereign Flavors to whip up some up, to see if it tastes like Coke. The recipe is here.

#426 : February 4, 2011

Tough Room 2011

This week we bring you backstage with comedy writers at The Onion. They start with over 600 potential headlines for their fake-news newspaper each week, and over the course of two days, in the very tough room that is their editorial conference room, they select 16 to go in the paper. Plus other people speaking their minds in very tough rooms.

#425 : January 21, 2011

Slow To React

This week we have stories where people's reactions move very slowly, including the story of a wedding 17 years in the making, and what it's like when you have a terminal illness that's supposed to kill you in a year or two, and it decides to take its time. Note: The story in Act One isn’t suitable for children and we’d like to note a trigger warning to survivors of abuse.

#424 : January 14, 2011

Kid Politics

What if, say, the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada in 1983 had been decided, not by Ronald Reagan, but by a bunch of middle-schoolers? And what if every rule at your high school had been determined, not by teachers and administrators, but entirely by teenagers? This week, stories about whether, when it comes to governing, kids do any better than grown-ups.

#423 : January 7, 2011

The Invention of Money

Five reporters stumbled on what seems like a basic question: What is money? The unsettling answer they found: Money is fiction. Photo: Stone money on the island of Yap.

#422 : December 17, 2010

Comedians of Christmas Comedy Special

The holidays are stressful so we booked a seasonal pick-me-up: an hour of comedy. Including comedians Wyatt Cenac, Mike Birbiglia, Julian McCullough, Jenny Slate, Gabe Liedman and Edith Zimmerman. Musical guests: Dave Hill and Doug Gillard.

#421 : December 3, 2010

Last Man Standing

Is it stubbornness? Tenacity? Survival of the fittest? This week, stories about people who feel compelled to keep going, especially when everyone else has given up.

#420 : November 19, 2010

Neighborhood Watch

It’s amazing just how much drama can take place in the mini-universe of a neighborhood. This week we bring you stories of neighbors watching out for each other, for better and worse, including a story from CBC's WireTap.

#419 : November 12, 2010

Petty Tyrant

In Schenectady, NY, a school maintenance man named Steve Raucci works his way up the ranks for 30 years, until finally he's in charge of the maintenance department. That's when he starts messing with his employees. Teasing them at meetings. Punishing them with crummy work assignments. Or worse things, like secretly slashing their tires in the middle of the night.

#418 : November 5, 2010

Toxie

In January 2010, reporters from Planet Money bought a toxic asset—you know, the things that blew up wall street banks, sank the economy and brought the global financial system to a halt—one of those. And "Toxie" turned out to be an encyclopedia of the financial crisis. Here's an animation about Toxie. And here's an interactive timeline tracking its value.

#417 : October 29, 2010

This Party Sucks

A show for this year's midterm elections. Two best friends in Michigan, both political novices, get tired of yelling at their TVs and take matters into their own hands. They form a Tea Party chapter to effect political change. But when push comes to shove and they have to choose a candidate, their ideologies, their principles and their friendship explode.

#416 : October 15, 2010

Iraq After Us

Operation Iraqi Freedom is over. And the next chapter of Iraq is being written now. But what actually happened there the last seven years? Producer Nancy Updike and reporter Larry Kaplow spent a month in Iraq talking to Iraqis and Americans about the war that tore the country apart, and what's happening as we try to put it back together.

#415 : September 24, 2010

Crybabies

Crybabies are annoying. They whine, they complain, sometimes they ruin it for the rest of us. But being a crybaby can be a really effective tactic. We have stories of crybabies in sports, in politics, on Wall Street, on the streets of California, including a new story by David Sedaris.

#414 : September 10, 2010

Right to Remain Silent

Stories about people who have the right to remain silent... but choose not to exercise that right—including police officer Adrian Schoolcraft, who secretly recorded his supervisors telling officers to manipulate crime statistics and make illegal arrests. The Village Voice series that broke Schoolcraft's story, written by Graham Rayman, is here.

#413 : July 30, 2010

Georgia Rambler

In the 1970s a reporter named Charles Salter wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal called "Georgia Rambler." He'd get into his car, head out to some small town, and ask around until he found a story. This week, nine of us go to Georgia to try it out for ourselves, in small towns all over the state.

#412 : July 16, 2010

Million Dollar Idea

Back in the 1980s Michael Larson made the most money ever on the game show Press Your Luck. And it was no accident—Larson had a plan to get rich that surprised everyone: The home viewers, the show's producers and mostly Larson himself.

#411 : June 25, 2010

First Contact

Stories of first encounters with unknown and distant beings: Girls, foreigners and perhaps even aliens. Including a story by comedian Mike Birbiglia about his first kiss.

#410 : June 18, 2010

Social Contract

Richard Ravitch has helped fix three governmental crises, including when New York City nearly went bankrupt in 1975. What's changed, to make it so much harder for him to solve the state's current financial crisis? (Photo: stress balls in the state budget office.)

#409 : June 4, 2010

Held Hostage

A kidnapping victim in Colombia spends his nights listening to a radio station that plays messages from the families of the kidnapped. That and other stories of people held captive—by criminals, by paperwork, and in one man's case, his own body—and the ways they try to cope.

#408 : May 21, 2010

Island Time

Unprecedented amounts of money have been pledged to Haitian relief in the last few months. American households have given over $1 billion and in March, 120 countries pledged over $9 billion(!) to rebuild. The only problem is that—historically—blanketing a country in aid and money has never really worked so well. Is there a chance this time things could be different?

#407 : May 7, 2010

The Bridge

We bring you stories of bridges from three different countries, including one in China that's famous for its massive size and its high suicide rate. One takes it upon himself to patrol the bridge, looking for jumpers. You can read entries from the watchman's blog here. This and other stories where we stop before getting to the other side.

#406 : April 23, 2010

True Urban Legends

Can a rat crawl through your plumbing and end up in your toilet? Can your cell phone give you a brain tumor? Download a transcript or read much more information about our Steve Poizner story. Christopher Ketcham's GQ cell article is here.

#405 : April 9, 2010

Inside Job

For seven months a team of investigative journalists from ProPublica looked into a story for us, the inside story of one company that made hundreds of millions of dollars for itself while worsening the financial crisis for the rest of us.

#404 : April 2, 2010

Enemy Camp 2010

Living behind enemy lines, among the enemy, it's sometimes hard to remember why you're fighting in the first place.

#403 : March 26, 2010

NUMMI

A car plant in Fremont California that might have saved the U.S. car industry. In 1984, General Motors and Toyota opened NUMMI as a joint venture. Toyota showed GM the secrets of its production system: How it made cars of much higher quality and much lower cost than GM achieved. Frank Langfitt explains why GM didn't learn the lessons—until it was too late.

#402 : March 12, 2010

Save the Day

Stories about one person single-handedly taking charge of a situation gone wrong—including one man's mission to rescue two kids who were kidnapped by alleged murderers and taken to Mexico, and another about a professor's mission to keep the educators of a liberal arts college from extinction.

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