June 26, 2015

Captain's Log

A captain’s log is a simple thing: the date, the time, maybe the weather — and the current status of a long journey. You wouldn’t know from the cryptic notations what weird worlds lurk beneath. On this week's show, stories behind those cryptic notations — including a concentration camp in China that housed groups of Girl Scouts. Also, Aziz Ansari explains the significance of a Thanksgiving text message, and Etgar Keret destroys a marriage piece by piece.

NOTE: The Internet version of this episode contains a story that was not on the radio. It's Act Four, a short story by writer Etgar Keret.


Erik Larson has read lots of captain’s logs while researching big historical events. When he found the log of Captain Walther Schwieger, the guy who headed the U-boat that sank the Lusitania, he knew something didn’t sound right. (7 1/2 minutes)
Act One

Cookies and Monsters

PJ Vogt’s friend plays a trick on some girl scouts. The trick doesn’t work. The girl scouts don’t realize they’re being pranked. And in trying to figure out why, PJ comes across a logbook that tells him a secret history about the power of the girl scouts’ unrelenting cheerfulness. PJ co-hosts the podcast Reply All. (21 1/2 minutes)

Act Two

Romancing the Phone

Comedian Aziz Ansari has been touring the country collecting people’s text messages from when they first say hi, and ask each other out. Sociologist Eric Klinenberg wanted to study this raw data of the initial approach a man makes to a woman over text. So the two of them did a focus group at a comedy club in New York. Jonathan Menjivar tells what happened. Aziz and Eric co-wrote a book called Modern Romance. (12 1/2 minutes)

Act Three

On A Quiet Street in Richmond

We bring you this very matter-of-fact article from 1853, about something profoundly troubling: a slave auction in Virginia. (12 minutes)