Kelly McEvers with the story of Zora, a self-made superhero. From the time she was five, Zora had recurring dreams in which she was a 6'5" warrior queen who could fly and shoot lightning from her hands.
Several producers talked about the first stories they ever heard on the show, before they worked here. Former producer Jonathan Goldstein, now host of WireTap, remembers the prologue to episode 27: The Cruelty of Children: Then producer Brian Reed talks about the first time he heard the show, when Ira spoke at his college and played a story by Jack Hitt from episode 188: Kid Logic: Alex Blumberg talks about an early story by Adam Davidson, Alex's current colleague at Planet Money, from episode 94: How To.
Planet Money reporters David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein went to Kenya to see the work of a charity called GiveDirectly in action. Instead of funding schools or wells or livestock, GiveDirectly has decided to just give money directly to the poor people who need it, and let them decide how to spend it.
David Kestenbaum tells Ira 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.
There is a Native American tribe in California called the Chukchansi that’s fighting over the most basic thing any group can fight over — who should be a member? David Ferry explains just how bitter their dispute has become.
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.
When the Academy of Arts and Letters gave Ira a medal for spoken language, he gave this speech.
Ira talks with Jonathan Morris, the amazingly funny and charming editor of the website Gone and Forgotten, an Internet archive of failed comic book characters. Jonathan explains what makes a new superhero succeed, and what makes him tank.
Until almost 10,000 years ago, everyone literally lived in a tribe of a few hundred or a small band of a few dozen people. U.C.L.A. scientist Jared Diamond talks about how back then, you could go your whole life without ever encountering a stranger.
The dramatic conclusion to Laura and Alex's search for information about Intellectual Ventures, and the inventor they claimed they were helping, Chris Crawford. The story turns out to be different than the one Intellectual Ventures originally told.
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. Executives at Intellectual Ventures insist they are not trolls, but rather, promoters of innovation.
Chana Joffe-Walt spent six months reporting on the rise in people on disability. She spends time in Hale County, Alabama, talking to the only general practitioner in town, the main person who okays so many of the county's residents for disability.
Chana Joffe-Walt continues her story about the phenomenal rise in disability payments over the last 30 years, since President Bill Clinton signed legislation pledging to "end welfare as we know it." Turns out, two private sector groups have really contributed to the growing disability roles. One is a group of people you'd probably expect, the other is a shock.
Jack Hitt's Peter Pan story continues. Jack is the author of several books, including Bunch of Amateurs.
Ira speaks with Sharon Snyder. Until recently, Sharon was a clerk for circuit court judge in Missouri.
Producer Ben Calhoun tells the story of a former Congressional Representative from South Carolina, Bob Inglis. Inglis is a conservative Republican who once doubted climate science.