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Act 3: Washington, D.C.

Ira asks Washington-insider Norman Ornstein if we actually need to be paying attention to all of the Fiscal Cliff political news. Or can it wait until next week? Ornstein is the author of the book It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.


Ira admits there is a question he’s wanted to know the answer to since he was a kid in Hebrew school: Why is it that Jews don’t sacrifice animals anymore? Especially since the Old Testament is so clear that God wants it? Ira talks to religious studies scholar Jonathan Klawans to find out. Jonathan is the author of a book covering this subject, Purity, Sacrifice and the Temple.


Host Ira Glass talks about his experiences reporting on education and theunending question of how we can make schools better. He discusses theChicago Teachers strike and an essay by writer Alex Kotlowitz that talksabout how the strike raises questions about the severity of this challenge.

Act 2: Act Two

Our story picks back up with the question of how non-cognitive skills can be taught to older kids who have gone much longer without learning things like self-control, conscientiousness and resilience. Ira returns to the story of Kewauna, the Chicago teenager, who talks about the dramatic ways in which she changed her life.

Act 1: No These Things Will Not Be on the Final Exam

Ira talks with Paul Tough, author of the book How Children Succeed, about the traditional ways we measure ability and intelligence in American schools. They talk about the focus on cognitive abilities and conventional "book smarts." They discuss the current emphasis on these kinds of skills in American education, and the emphasis on standardized testing, and then turn our attention to a growing body of research that suggests we may be on the verge of a new approach to some of the biggest challenges facing American schools today.


In preparing for this show, we started reaching out to Americans living in China and asking for their stories. A shocking amount of the expats came back with stories about different times they were on Chinese television.


Host Ira Glass and producer Robyn Semien get a blackjack lesson from Andy Bloch, who played for the MIT blackjack team. He teaches them the basics of card-counting, the technique that gives players an advantage against the house — enough of an advantage that most casinos will ask you to leave if they catch you doing it.


Ira tells the story of how Oscar Ramirez, a Guatemalan immigrant living near Boston, got a phone call with some very strange news about his past. A public prosecutor from Guatemala told Oscar that when he was three years old, he may have been abducted from a massacre at a village called Dos Erres.

Act 1: Aces are Wild

For a generation of baseball fans, when a pitcher suddenly stops being able to perform, it's known as "Steve Blass Disease" — after an all-star pitcher who inexplicably stopped being able to throw strikes. Ira Glass speaks with Steve Blass and others about this phenomenon.


Host Ira Glass tells listeners we can no longer stand behind the reporting in the recently aired episode "Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory." He explains how Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz tracked down Daisey's interpreter in China — a woman named Cathy Lee — who disputes much of Daisey's story.


In the town of Nowthen, MN, residents held meetings to debate whether a police force is worth the cost. And in Springfield, IL, the state police motorcycle division has been cut, leading to an increase in highway fatalities.

Act 2: Dream Come True

Perhaps the biggest proponent of smaller government in the United States is lobbyist and activist Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. He envisions a government reduced in size by half, and has compelled scores of conservative politicians take pledges to never raise taxes.


Ira speaks with a reality TV producer named Bill Langworthy, who has noticed that people do things in front of the camera that they would never, ever do in their actual lives.

Act 1: Best Laid Plans

Kurt Braunohler and his girlfriend had been together for thirteen years, and they were only 30. They wondered why they had never considered marriage, and realized that they needed to sleep with other people before they tied the knot.


Host Ira Glass speaks with musician Kristy Kruger about the unique way she dealt with a recent breakup.