Host Ira Glass visits This American Life producer Sarah Koenig at her house in State College PA, a few blocks from Penn State's campus, on a weekend night near one in the morning. They witness all kinds of alcohol-induced mayhem.
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Most of the This American Life production staff spent the weekend at Penn State, and found that drinking is the great unifier at the school. Ira Glass, Sarah Koenig, Lisa Pollak and Jane Feltes report on tailgating parties, frat parties, an article of clothing known as a "fracket," and a surprising and common drunken crime.
Host Ira Glass remembers one of his favorite jobs, as a temp typist working at night in New York City. And we hear from a group of teenagers who create unique fun during the middle of the night when none of their classmates are awake.
A Holiday Inn comes up with a brilliant scheme to increase their roomservice orders. Former room service waiter Cliff Doerksen says there was only one problem with the plan...and it came down to a big, ridiculous, floppy hat.
Ira talks with Jessica Pressler, who writes the Daily Intel blog for NewYork Magazine, about a phenomenon she noticed in the wedding notices in The New York Times. Couples were cheerfully telling—as part of their "meet cute" stories—how their relationships began with one of them cheating on a spouse or long-time partner.
Host Ira Glass talks to Rob Lamberts, a doctor and blogger in Georgia, who describes the crazy world of medical billing, where armies of coders use several contradictory different systems of codes...and none of it makes us healthier.
Host Ira Glass talks with Susan Dentzer, editor of the journal Health Affairs, about what current health reform proposals do to fix the rising costs of healthcare...And points at a surprising, kind of heartening phenomenon happening within the current debate.
Host Ira Glass plays tape of two women who ended up as frenemies.They kept trying to be friends, but couldn't help themselves from fighting. Ira then speaks with psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad who has run scientific studies to answer the question: Why don't we simply end these troubling kinds of friendships? Holt-Lunstad's research also shows that these relationships are much more common than you might think.
Ira talks to a woman about a childhood friend of hers who mysteriously shows up after decades, for reasons that are only revealed as their correspondence unfolds.
Host Ira Glass describes scenes from a rest stop on the New York State Thruway, the Plattekill Travel Plaza, and the kind of people you might meet if you ever stayed long enough to talk with them. These include Robert Woodhill, the general manager, who needs a good sales day so he can beat his friend Andy, who manages a rest stop in Maine, in their weekly competition.
Ira talks to Aziz Huq about whether cases like Lahkani's will continue to be pursued under the Obama administration, and why that's problematic.
Host Ira Glass describes a recent terrorism case in Newburgh, N.Y., in which four men were arrested after planting bombs in front of a synagogue and Jewish community center. Ira discusses the case with Aziz Huq, assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School and co-author of Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror. Huq says the Newburgh case isn't what it seems, because without the help of a government informant, the four men probably wouldn't have been able to organize an act of terrorism.
Ira goes to one of the nation's great manufacturers of fine print: The U.S.Congress. He reports on a recent House subcommittee hearing on a practice in the health insurance industry—buried in that industry's own fine print—called rescission.
Host Ira Glass describes the scene at a courthouse resource center in lower Manhattan where people learn how to represent themselves in civil court. Attorney Ruth Sharfman, who assists at the center, tells Ira that some of the pro se litigants are more prepared for the job than others.
Earlier this year, admitted drug user Jorge Cruz decided to act as his own lawyer in an Albany, New York criminal court. Impossibly, he won.
Stef Willen tells Ira about a time that she took matters into her own hands, even though she was only a lowly production assistant on a reality show.
Host Ira Glass talks to Rich Farrell, writer and former addict, about the code of silence he learned as a kid, and the times he took the fall for his friends' misdeeds.
Ira tells the story of the 1953 U.S. Supreme Court case that formed the basis for the controversial state secret privilege—the precedent that allows the United States government to stop lawsuits by claiming that national security secrets might be revealed in court.
Host Ira Glass talks to business professor Pino Audia and Fast Company magazine columnist Dan Heath about corporate creation myths, and why so many of them involve garages.
Host Ira Glass talks with Michael Perrino, a law professor at St Johns University School of Law in New York, who wrote a book about Ferdinand Pecora called The Hellhound of Wall Street. Pecora was the lead attorney in the Senate Banking Committee hearings in the 1930s looking into wrongdoing in the banking industry.
Ira talks with reporter My Thuan Tran of The Los Angeles Times about how San Jose City Councilwoman Madison Nguyen went from being the "golden child" of the Vietnamese community to someone who faced weekly protests and a hunger striker. Turns out red-baiting is alive and well in the Vietnamese-American community.
Host Ira Glass talks a veteran police officer about a time in his 20s when he gets sent to a car accident—and it turns out the driver at fault was a nicely dressed chimpanzee. The chimp seemed harmless enough until the other police officer on duty tries to arrest the chimp&'s owner.
There's a town in Florida where if you shoplift, and get caught, a judge will send you back to the scene of your crime to stand in front of the store, with a large sign that reads "I stole from this store." Ira and producer Lisa Pollak talk to one such teenager who was caught stealing from a convenience store, the supervisor overseeing her punishment, and the judge who sends her there.
This past Christmas a story swept the internet about a football coach at a Christian high school in Texas who inspired his team's fans to root for the opposition: A team from the local juvenile correctional facility. Among the thousands of emails that the coach received in response to his actions, one stood out to him.