David Rakoff tells the story of a contract between a son and his visiting mother. David Rakoff is the author of several books including Don't Get Too Comfortable.
Planet Money correspondent David Kestenbaum investigates the growing popularity of pet insurance, and what it reveals about insurance for people.
Ira talks with David Ellis Dickerson about some of the bait and switch techniques David used when he was an evangelical trying to bring converts to the Church. Then Ira talks with author and evangelical Jim Henderson, who argues that evangelicals should follow Jesus's example not through conversion, but by simply befriending non-believers.
Former Bush Administration official David Frum explains a very surprising fact about Bush's economic failure, as it relates to health care. Frum is a regular contributor to the radio show Marketplace.
David Rakoff demonstrates—in rhyme—how to make a wedding toast for people you never wanted to see married in the first place. Rakoff is the author of several books, most recently Half Empty.
A video put together by David Rakoff and Dave Hill for our Spring 2009 event, "This American Life -- Live!"
Dan Savage, David Rakoff, and Mike Birbiglia. Plus: Joss Whedon sings!
NPR reporter David Kestenbaum tells host Ira Glass about the time, when he was doing graduate work in physics, he and his other single friends decided to figure out the mathematical probability that they'd find girlfriends. They wanted to know what the chances were that there was more than one person in the world for them.
Alex Blumberg and NPR correspondent (and "Planet Money" reporter) Dave Kestenbaum examine what went wrong with the credit ratings agencies. When all these financial instruments that brought down our economy—the mortgage backed securities, the derivatives—were originally issued, the rating agencies (Standard and Poors, Moody's and Fitch) gave many of these things their top rating of triple-A.
Brandon Darby was a radical activist and one of the founders of the incredibly effective relief organization Common Ground. Michael May reports on how Darby changed from a revolutionary who wanted the overthrow of the U.S. government into an informant working with the FBI against his former radical allies.
Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson tackle a very tough subject: Trying to explain exactly what a bank is and does. They talk to a number of experts about what has gone wrong in banking, but not before bringing us all up to speed on some banking basics, like understanding a bank balance sheet, and a bank's assets and liabilities, and the squishy business of what banks say about their balance sheets compared to what they are.Alex and Adam walk us step by step through the complications of the US government buying up bad assets from banks, and explain why, when it comes to footing the bill, the government might just prefer to not be in charge of the very banks it is having taxpayers bailout.
Host Ira Glass talks about the infamous line in the band Van Halen's contract insisting that the groups' dressing room include a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown M&Ms removed. Ira used to think this request was just petulant rock-star behavior.
The newspaper Military Times did a survey of 2000 active duty servicemen and women, asking them about the new president. Presented with the statement, "As president, Barack Obama will have my best interests at heart," 36 percent agreed...43 percent disagreed.
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.
Dan Savage points a finger at the Catholic Church for being the kind of criminal organization that drives him to atheism—despite the fact that he still wants to believe he'll see his mom in heaven someday. Dan writes the sex advice column Savage Love and is the author of several books including The Commitment.
We head to deep inside the natural habitat of frenemies: Reality TV. Rich Juzwiak is a full-time blogger for VH1 and his own pop-culture blog which means he's spent a lot of time watching and dissecting reality TV shows.
When Barack Obama chose Rick Warren of Saddleback Church to give a prayer at his inauguration, gay and lesbian groups cried foul, because of Warren's past remarks about homosexuality and gay marriage. But Rick Warren's constituents—Christian conservatives—also got angry.
A couple in Texas find a seemingly abandoned car and think they've stumbled across a crime scene. And they're right...but not in the way they imagined.
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.