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Act Two: I Am Curious, Jello

About 20 years ago, a Los Angeles prosecutor named Michael Guarino thought he'd make a name for himself by taking the lead singer of the Dead Kennedys to court for obscenity. He was so sure of success, he didn't even bother to listen to the lyrics.

Act One

News kept coming all week about the National Security Agency collecting data on the phone numbers we dial. Government officials are saying there’s nothing to be alarmed about.

Prologue

Host Alex Blumberg talks about New York City’s long-standing ban on ferrets. And how, after years of forbidding them, the city is now poised to lift the ban.

Prologue

There's a derogatory term in Silicon Valley for companies that amass huge troves of patents and make money by threatening lawsuits: "patent trolls." When Jeff Kelling's Internet company Fototime was sued - along with more than 130 other companies - for violating someone's patent, he wondered if it was a troll (which the company denies), and then settled out of court.

Act One

NPR reporter Laura Sydell and This American Life producer/Planet Money co-host Alex Blumberg tell the story of Intellectual Ventures, which is accused of being the largest of the patent trolls. The investigation takes them to a small town in Texas, where they find a hallway full of empty companies with no employees.

Act Two: The Inevitable

In the 1970s and 1980s, a wave of non-white migration into Cicero begins, this one primarily Mexican-American. The head of the political machine is named Betty Loren-Maltese, whose husband, now deceased, was convicted for mob-related activity.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Yale law professor Jack Balkin about what he calls the Bush Administration's "lawyering style," a tendency to fight as hard as it can, on all fronts, to get what it wants. Ira also plays tape from a news conference with New York Senator Charles Schumer, in which he takes the Justice Department to task for refusing to pay death benefits to the families of two auxiliary policemen who were killed in the line of duty, even though federal law grants those benefits.

Act One: Psycho Dabble

From London, TAL contributor Jon Ronson tells the story of a man who has spent more than a decade trying to convince doctors that he's not mentally ill. But the more he argues his case, the less they believe him.