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February 19, 2020
At least, according to New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty. We talk with him about the affordable housing crisis, local government and his new book “Golden Gates.” Plus, listeners weigh in on BlackRock and the “Internet der Dinge,” and we celebrate our 150th episode.
February 12, 2020
The big buzzwords among the executives and world leaders at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting this year were “stakeholder capitalism,” the idea that a corporation should serve a social and environmental good, not just enrich shareholders. What a concept, right? It comes after those Business Roundtable guidelines on corporate responsibility, and sustainability pledges from big players like Microsoft and BlackRock. But is this really a challenge to Milton Friedman’s 50-year-old treatise on corporations’ purpose? Or just a savvy but cynical PR move? We put that question to Jerry Davis, the associate dean for business and impact at the University of Michigan’s business school. He says it’s harder for a company to be a “successful hypocrite” now.
February 4, 2020
There’s a whole galaxy of connected items you can buy to ostensibly make your life easier: speakers, locks, coffee mugs, even dog collars. The so-called “internet of things” is already big and growing fast. By 2021, the market for all things connected is on track to pass $500 billion. There is no upfront connection or service fee to make these things work; we pay for them with our data. The Economist’s technology editor, Tim Cross, walks us through privacy concerns, security concerns and 5G.
January 28, 2020
But only if we start eating differently, says activist and food expert Frances Moore Lappé. Veganism wasn’t really a thing in 1971 when she wrote “Diet for a Small Planet.” But a plant-based diet is inching its way toward the mainstream, even as the average American consumes a record 220 pounds of meat a year. Lappé talks with us about what’s changed since the 1970s, “regenerative agriculture” and the difference a plant-based diet can make for the planet. Plus, we read your emails about the Equal Rights Amendment and the coronavirus, and Benjamin Walker of the podcast “Theory of Everything” answers the “Make Me Smart” question. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.
January 22, 2020
Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the equal rights amendment to the constitution last week, giving the ERA the support it needs … about three decades after it expired. Many people, some 80% according to one poll, think the U.S. Constitution already includes equal protections for women’s rights, but it doesn’t. On today’s show, we’re going to look more at how we got to this point and what “equal rights” really means for the women’s movement and the economy overall. Here to guide us through is CUNY professor Julie Suk. Her book about the ERA, “We the Women: The Forgotten Mothers of the Equal Rights Amendment,” is out this summer.
January 15, 2020
Remember Cambridge Analytica? You probably wish you could forget. But 10 and a half months from the next presidential election, Brittany Kaiser says there’s still more we all need to know about Big Data and how companies like her former employer are using it to steer democracy. She used to work at CA, and after writing a book and appearing in a documentary about it, she’s publishing a bunch of internal documents showing how the company worked and its reach beyond the United States. For our first episode of the new year, we talk with Kaiser about election interference and her new Own Your Data Foundation. Plus, we’ll catch up on some of your emails and voice memos from the holiday break.
January 8, 2020
The potential for real war in 2020 might make the trade disputes of 2019 seem quaint and distant. But cast your mind back, if you can, to three weeks ago, when the fate of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement seemed to rest in part on a semi-obscure passage of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. It says online platforms are not legally liable for what people say or do in the spaces they run. Trillions of dollars in company valuation and the sharing of content as we know it rests on the rule, which would expand to Mexico and Canada under the trade deal. So is it time to revisit Section 230? If you got rid of it, what kind of rules would replace it? And what platforms would even be left? Last summer, we asked Jeff Kosseff, a professor of cybersecurity law at the U.S. Naval Academy and the author of “The 26 Words That Created the Internet.”
December 31, 2019
Americans face more than $1.3 trillion in student debt, with less and less assurance the job market’s going to provide salaries to cover it. For all the students home for the holiday break (and their parents) we’re revisiting and interview we did last January with Maura Reynolds, a senior editor at Politico. She’s reported extensively on the school-skills-jobs pipeline. Plus, part two of our annual predictions episode: Last year Kai said “Nothing will change”. Was he right? We talk about it and look ahead to 2020. Finally, our end-of-year fundraiser ends today. Don’t wait: Become a Marketplace investor right now at Marketplace.org/donate.
December 24, 2019
It’s Christmas Eve and we’re all out of town. But we’re also in your feed today? It’s almost as if we exist in some kind of quantum state … the perfect time to bring you one of our favorite interviews from the past year: UC Berkeley’s Steven Weber on quantum computing. Plus, we’re breaking our annual predictions episode into three parts. Today, we assess Molly’s 2019 predictions and get her take on what’s coming in 2020.
December 18, 2019
In a few short years, artificial “meat” has gone from co-op curio to heavily hyped menu item at giant chains like Dunkin’ and Burger King. America consumes more meat than any other country, but new widespread awareness of meat’s heavy environmental toll has accelerated the race to find a more sustainable alternative. Larisa Rudenko, a research affiliate in the Program on Emerging Technologies at MIT, joins us to talk about Impossible Burger, lab-grown meat and where this exploding industry is headed. Plus: Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood taste test edible insects and answer a holiday listener question. By the way, this is our last show before we go on break for the holidays. But don’t worry — for the next three weeks we’ll be revisiting some of our favorite interviews of the year, revisiting our 2019 predictions and creating new ones for 2020. We’ll have new daily Alexa explainers and email newsletters all through the holidays.
December 11, 2019
Every single day here at Marketplace, Kai Ryssdal “does the numbers,” talking about how the stock market fared at close. When they are up, we play the happy music. Same with monthly jobs numbers and the GDP. We’ve had a few listeners write in to ask: Why? Does the economy always need to get bigger, all the time, forever? Here to help us sort through this kind of existential question and maybe even figure out some better numbers to “do” is Josh Bivens with the Economic Policy Institute. By the way: We’re still looking for your 2020 predictions! Send them to makemesmart@marketplace.org, and we’ll play some on our last episode of the year.
December 4, 2019
Toys R Us, Payless, Brookstone, Sports Authority, Gymboree. Maybe you remember shopping at some of these stores. Maybe you remember reading elegies when they shut down. All of these stores were bought by private equity firms that claimed to see value in a fledgling brand. When that didn’t pan out, there were store closures, bankruptcy filings and a lot of layoffs. Many progressive politicians are now pointing to private equity as “exhibit A” in the case for more Wall Street regulation. Joining us to sort through it all is Marketplace reporter Marielle Segarra. Meanwhile, we’re looking for your 2020 predictions for our annual predictions episode. Send your voice memos to makemesmart@marketplace.org.
November 26, 2019
It’s time for Kai and Molly to face the gauntlet again. Every six(ish) months or so we put them through an Explainathon, where they try to answer as many of your questions as they can with minimal prep in just 30 minutes! This time, you have all kinds of great questions like: What’s a “currency pact”? How does a fair tax work? Is 401(k) matching making inequality worse? And more. By the way, we’re preparing for a new predictions episode! Turn your crystal ball toward 2020 and tell us what you see coming at makemesmart@marketplace.org.
November 20, 2019
About 1.3 billion people are in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.25 a day. Meanwhile, some of the most powerful people in wealthy countries, like the U.S., say they want to help alleviate some of that poverty. Every year, individuals, charities and governments pour billions of dollars into aid, development and a range of causes. But how do you know what’s actually working and what’s a waste of time? Our guest today, MIT economist Esther Duflo, just won a Nobel Prize for using a hard science approach to answer that question.
November 13, 2019
The NCAA has been regulating college sports for more than a century, and its ban on student athletes making money from their playing, name and likeness has ostensibly kept the game more “pure.” But pressure has been mounting for years for the NCAA to share some of its billion-dollar business with the athletes that drive it, and a new California law is poised to challenge the old model of “amateurism” in college sports entirely. Today we’re joined by Katelyn Ohashi, a former UCLA gymnast who went viral this year with a floor routine and is now speaking out against the NCAA for preventing her from capitalizing on it.
November 6, 2019
Native Americans have the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the country. Technology, particularly new financial tech, offers an opportunity for this historically marginalized group to better access the strong economy. But getting online in largely rural, remote reservations is a challenge — to say nothing about access to capital and credit. Tribal sovereignty can also make access, taxes and generally doing business more complicated. To help talk us through the challenges and potential technology offers, we’re joined by Dante Desiderio, executive director of the Native American Finance Officers Association and a member of the Sappony Tribe.
October 29, 2019
Planes are bad for the environment, we know this. Innovation in electric cars has surged in the past decade, so why not electric planes? Today on the show, Aviation Week and Space Technology managing editor Graham Warwick talks us through making the friendly skies a bit friendlier.
October 23, 2019
How does a company lose $39 billion in value in just a few weeks? This week we’re diving into all the unicorn companies that rode a wave of venture capital hype onto the rocky, unforgiving shores of the stock market. It’s not just WeWork either — Uber, Slack, Snap and plenty of other tech darlings have struggled after their splashy IPOs. Is it the exception or the rule? And what’s it say about how investors assess a company’s value? Here to help us sort through it is the New York Times’ Erin Griffith, who reports on startups and the VC world.
October 15, 2019
What happens to our clothes when we’re done with them, they go out of style or just lose a button? Maybe we donate them, or sell them, but too often we throw them away. And that’s to say nothing about how they’re produced — The clothes we wear are tied to climate change as what we eat or how we get around. And in recent years, the impact of clothing on the environment has drastically increased. That’s the argument fashion reporter Dana Thomas makes in her new book “Fashionopolis: the Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes.” She joins us this week to unpack the problems and explore some potential solutions. Programming note: This week was supposed to be our sixth Explainathon, but we had to delay it a couple weeks. The good news is you have more time to submit your questions!
October 8, 2019
It’s been three years, three months and 15 days since the Brits voted to leave the EU. There have been three prime ministers since then, and so far none of them have successfully brokered a Brexit deal. This time, new PM Boris Johnson says it’s gonna happen by the end of the month, no matter what. To help us sort through what’s going on and what it means for the rest of us, we’re joined by Ros Atkins, who hosts “Outside Source” on the BBC.
October 1, 2019
We heard you: After our show on climate change, several listeners wanted to know more about nuclear power and its place in the green energy discussion. Joining us is Suzy Hobbs Baker, the creative director of the Fastest Path to Zero Initiative at the University of Michigan. She’ll walk us through the basics of how nuclear power works, its impact on the environment, its tricky economics and, yes, the image problems it can’t shake. By the way, we have an Explainathon coming up and we need your questions! Send your voice memos to makemesmart@marketplace.org!
September 25, 2019
Used to be, gigs were for musicians, artists, folks who did work that didn’t fit neatly in any traditional notion of “employment.” These days, the “gig economy” means something very different: Nearly a fourth of Americans earn money from freelance work, and 44% said “gigging” was their primary source of income. And while the future of work as we know it is still very murky, a new law in California has thrown the gig economy into a transitional moment. Here to talk us through is Marketplace workplace culture correspondent Meghan McCarty Carino.
September 17, 2019
Tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook are seemingly unafraid to take on huge challenges. So why are they relatively quiet about climate change? Molly has spent several weeks reporting around Silicon Valley about tech companies and VCs’ relationship to the climate. We’ll hear some of her interview with Danny Kennedy, runs a nonprofit startup incubator focused on clean energy. Plus: Your thoughts on our women at work episode and a bit about Marketplace’s fall fundraiser.
September 10, 2019
Between the ’70s and ’90s, women were entering the workforce in droves. Then female workforce participation peaked in 2000. What happened? And why are women’s wages still stagnant? We’re picking up our series on the economics of inequality, trying to figure that out with some help from Emily Bazelon, an author, lecturer at Yale Law School and a staffer for The New York Times Magazine. Plus: Back to the Dark Place on deepfakes, and departing producer Shara Morris answers the Make Me Smart question.
September 3, 2019
Deepfake videos can make for a lot of fun … someone’s face on someone else’s body saying something completely out of context — like Bill Hader doing an impression of Tom Cruise with Cruise’s face superimposed. But the implications of this technology are serious, from disinformation to political upheaval. Here to walk us through it is Berkeley School of Information professor Hany Farid. Plus, professional dogsledder Blair Braverman answers the Make Me Smart question.
August 27, 2019
Talk of a coming recession has only gotten more heated this week, following a meeting of central bankers at Jackson Hole and a bunch of trade back and forth at the G7. Markets rebounded Monday, but the yield curve remains inverted and the global economy is still slowing down. So what now? We called Neil Irwin, senior economics correspondent at “The New York Times,” to help us figure out what we should be watching for, and what happens next
August 20, 2019
Used to be you signed up for cable and voila, you’re watching your favorite shows (as well as a bunch of stuff you don’t care about, for maybe too high a price). Then streaming came along. First Netflix. Then Amazon. Hulu. And now a whole new batch of subscription services are about to launch: Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV Plus. It’s getting more complicated and competitive, with content jumping off some platforms and clustering onto others. What services will survive this battle? And why is this happening now? CNBC media and tech reporter Alex Sherman helps us out. Plus, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman answers the Make Me Smart question.
August 14, 2019
Regulators, tech journalists and the most informed consumers have been wringing their hands about “privacy” online for years. But just as more users and regulators start taking notice, heavy hitters like Apple and Facebook are announcing their renewed commitment to “your privacy” … with very different definitions. It’s hard to take control of privacy when you’re not even sure what that means anymore. To help draw some distinctions we’re joined by Laura Moy, associate professor and executive director of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology.
August 7, 2019
We know economic inequality in America is real and keeps growing. We know people of color, especially black people, are hit the hardest. That’s not news. What is new is the wave of politicians, primarily Democrats, who are speaking more candidly about race and inequality than ever before. There’s also new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland into the massive wealth gap between black and white Americans, which has barely changed since the 1960s, thanks, mostly, to unequal pay. Here to help us sort through the numbers is Valerie Wilson, director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute.
July 30, 2019
Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” the meme turned song of the summer, has been the number-one song in country for a record-breaking 17 weeks. It originally took off on TikTok, a video-sharing app you should really be paying attention to. It’s been downloaded a billion times, and Facebook execs flagged it as competition during recent Congressional testimony. It’s also owned by a Chinese company, Bytedance, that was just hit by FTC fines for collecting children’s data. This week, The Wall Street Journal’s Georgia Wells catches us up on everything we need to know about the favorite app of every kid these days.
July 23, 2019
Kai and Molly are reunited at last, and they’re trying something new. We asked the staff here at Marketplace to send in their burning questions they want to get smart about, including the debt ceiling, that Equifax settlement and CBD. All that, plus your thoughts on our recent episode on ~*~*outer space.~*~*~
July 17, 2019
Fifty years ago today, the Saturn V rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying the first men to walk on the moon. Today, we’ll mark that milestone by looking ahead to the exploration, colonization and militarization of space. By some estimates, the current space economy is worth $400 billion, and it could reach $1 trillion by 2040. Here to break it all down with Molly Wood is Marketplace’s de facto space reporter Kimberly Adams and Politico’s Jacqueline Feldscher, who co-writes their space newsletter. Plus, we’ll hear from a “space architect,” which is apparently A Thing.
July 9, 2019
President Donald Trump gave a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last week to mark the Fourth of July. Critics and Democrats went after Trump for politicizing the occasion, though many presidents of both parties have done the same in the past. Do such knee-jerk reactions mean we have lost understanding of the importance of history? It’s personal for Kai Ryssdal, an undergrad history major who often finds the past a useful way to make sense of today. Here to talk with us about what history is and what it’s good for (and what it isn’t) is Brian Rosenwald, editor of the Made by History blog from the Washington Post. Reema Khrais, of the podcast “This Is Uncomfortable,” co-hosts this week, in for Molly Wood. Check out her show for stories about life and how money messes with it here.
July 2, 2019
Kai Ryssdal lived and worked in China during the ’90s, and has made several trips there over the past 20 years. But most of the time he keeps tabs on the world’s second-largest economy the way most of us do: through the news. There are the headlines about the trade war, concerns about government overreach, the candidates stumping about China as an economic enemy, this week’s protests in Hong Kong. That’s a lot of noise that often brings us no closer to understanding what life’s actually like in China. To help us with that is Marketplace China correspondent Jennifer Pak, who works out of Shanghai and has reported on the country since 2006.
June 25, 2019
We’re kicking off a new series focusing on a topic that comes up a lot around here: Is the economy working for everybody? Today we’re talking about CEO pay. Some chief executives make up to 1,000 times more than their average employees. It didn’t used to be this way. Here to talk with us about CEO and worker compensation is Heather Boushey, executive director of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Finally: Time is running out! Support “Make Me Smart” today and get exclusive Marketplace 30th anniversary merchandise.
June 22, 2019
Marketplace has a brand-new podcast: “This Is Uncomfortable.” Every Thursday, host Reema Khrais tells stories about life and how money messes with it. This week’s episode is all about the baggage that comes with crying at work, and it features a certain Marketplace host. Listen to that episode here, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
June 18, 2019
San Francisco banned government agencies from using facial recognition last month, citing civil liberty concerns. It’s a baby step in regulating technology that could make some aspects of life safer and more convenient, but comes with a host of unintended consequences for surveillance, profiling, discrimination and so on. But the recognition tech is already out there, in your face and accumulating data being used by the federal government and tech giants like Amazon. Today, BuzzFeed senior tech reporter Ryan Mac tells us what we should be keeping our eyes on. Plus, New York Times food writer Alison Roman shares a lesson learned about writing a cookbook. Don’t forget to support “Make Me Smart” today and get our exclusive Marketplace swag at a discount this week only!
June 11, 2019
You might not know what Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act says, but it affects your life every day. This short passage of the law says online platforms are not legally liable for what people say or do in the spaces they run. Trillions of dollars in company valuation and the sharing of content as we know it rests on the rule. But in the era of deep fakes, election meddling and radicalization by algorithm, is it time to revisit Section 230? If you got rid of it, what kind of rules would replace it? And what platforms would even be left? We asked Jeff Kosseff, a professor of cybersecurity law at the U.S. Naval Academy and the author of “The 26 Words that Created the Internet.”
June 4, 2019
India is the largest democracy in the world, a major American ally and something of a counterpoint to a rising China. The country’s 900 million eligible voters just reelected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’s facing an economic slowdown and the loss of special trade status with the United States. Anu Anand, host of the Marketplace Morning Report from the BBC World Service, is here to talk us through it. She’s spent years reporting in and out of India and just got back from covering the election. Plus: Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood learn all about thermoception.
May 28, 2019
Huawei hasn’t been a household name in the U.S. But that’s changing as the Trump administration proceeds with its ban on American companies doing business with the Chinese tech giant. Industry allegations of Huawei spying and theft date back more than a decade. If relations remain chilly, China could start making more of its own software and components, erecting an “iron curtain” in tech that could be a big part of a total rewiring of the global economy that harkens back to…the Cold War. Steven Overly covers tech policy for Politico, and joins us.
May 21, 2019
Remember when we had Tim Wu on the show to talk about Big Tech parallels to the monopoly-controlled Gilded Age, and what that future might bring? Well, six months later the future has arrived. Kind of. The Supreme Court ruled this month that a huge antitrust lawsuit against Apple and its app store could move forward, and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes wrote a massive New York Times op-ed calling for the company to be broken up. And the conversation among legal thinkers is changing. Here to guide us through it is Vanderbilt law professor Rebecca Haw Allensworth. Plus, get smart about the chocolate-to-peanut-butter ratio in different Reese’s products.
May 14, 2019
It’s time to shift our approach to climate change. The truth is, it may very well be too late to avoid the worst consequences of our warming planet — lost ecosystems, millions of plants and animals going extinct, scarce water and more extreme weather. It may be time to focus more on technology that will help us adapt. That’s the focus of “How We Survive,” the new series from Molly’s other show, “Marketplace Tech.” Here to talk with us about climate adaptation and how it’ll impact the economy and society is Solomon Hsiang, University of California, Berkeley, public policy professor and Stanford visiting scholar. Subscribe to “Marketplace Tech” to hear more from “How We Survive” and check out Vox to get even smarter about Ramadan.
May 7, 2019
The Federal Reserve’s got quite the puzzle on its hands. We’re dealing with one of the longest job growth streaks in modern history. And yet, the economy isn’t working as expected. Interest rates and inflation are simply not behaving according to standard economic models. And it’s the Fed’s job to figure out what’s going on in the name of keeping things stable and growing. New York Times’ senior economics correspondent Neil Irwin returns to break things down for us. Plus, we hear from the ‘Iolani High School economics team (good luck at the finals!) on their favorite Fed chairs. And artist and author Jenny Odell answers the Make Me Smart question. Some links from this week’s episode: Molly Wood’s news fix on UFOs, Kai Ryssdal’s latest on the trade war, how Crispr could help fight climate change and Molly’s secret weapon for today’s economics-focused episode.
April 30, 2019
You might remember the story from last fall: A scientist in China claimed to use the gene editing tool CRISPR to make twin babies resistant to HIV. That specific type of eye-popping genetic experimenting is illegal in the United States, but make no mistake, we are in the middle of a gene-editing gold rush. Big Pharma, agriculture and manufacturing are all clamoring to get in the game. Today we hear from a listener who’s already using the tool in his work, then turn to Wired staff writer Megan Molteni to give us the long view on how CRISPR could affect all of us. Plus, a little “Avengers” talk. Some links from this week’s episode: Molly’s news fix on Facebook and elections, Kai’s news fix on the Fed and that Politico piece on health care pay we mentioned.
April 23, 2019
“Medicare for all” was a fringe idea just a couple years ago, but it’s moved front and center in the political conversation ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Democratic candidates are getting asked about Medicare for all or announcing plans to implement it, and health care stocks are sliding at the suggestion of it. Now, we’re still a long way off from this kind of seismic change to the way Americans get their health care, but in the meantime, Vox senior editor Sarah Kliff is here to talk us through what Medicare for all is, exactly, and how it might change the economy.
April 17, 2019
We’re headed for the biggest year of IPOs since the ’90s dot-com boom. Lyft just went public, valued at $26 billion, with Postmates and Uber set to follow. Vested employees will become overnight millionaires, but what about the millions of independent contractors who deliver the food and drive the passengers? Lyft relies on its 1.4 million freelance drivers who earn, on average, $17.50 per hour with no benefits or organizing power. What’s that mean for the U.S. workforce? We get smart on the gig economy with Kristin Sharp, executive director of the Shift Commission at New America, a nonpartisan think tank. She leads a project on the future of work. Here’s a link to Molly Wood’s news fix on living with a foldable phone. By the way, our fundraising drive for Make Me Smart ends this Thursday! Because we’re all in this together, right now you can get a Make Me Smart sticker with a donation in any amount. Don’t wait, donate today! This week’s episode is brought to you by Triplebyte and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.
April 9, 2019
It’s our the fifth Explainathon, the semi-biannual challenge when Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood try to answer as many of your questions as possible. This one has everything: Privacy regulation! Social Security! 5G! The college admissions scandal! The dark web! We tackle it all. Plus, we have some very exciting news for fans of public media and merch: When you donate $5 a month or $60 to Marketplace, you can get an exclusive Make Me Smart notebook! Hurry, this offer’s only good until April 10.
April 2, 2019
Taxes are due in less than two weeks, and some of us have extra stress around that … because things are different this year. It’s the first time most people are feeling the 2017 tax overhaul, the biggest change in the tax code for three decades. It raised the standard deduction and gave most folks a small tax cut. Refunds are generally lower, which is technically good news, but might feel like bad news for people who rely on that spring windfall. Taxes are the beat for Marketplace reporter Marielle Segarra, and she gets us smart this week. (She still files her returns by snail mail!) Here are links to the articles in Vox and The Guardian we talked about this week, and don’t forget you can watch this and other episodes of Make Me Smart on our YouTube channel. Today’s show is sponsored by Panopto, Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage and Cort.
March 26, 2019
Opioid overdoses are killing about 50,000 Americans a year, more than car accidents and guns. Marketplace’s documentary podcast, The Uncertain Hour, is digging into drug epidemics in its latest season: why people buy and sell drugs, how law enforcement tries to stop them and how an epidemic eventually ends. Reporter and producer Caitlin Esch spoke with Kai and Molly about going back to Wise County, Virginia, a sort of ground zero of the current opioid epidemic, and about how the stories told by some of her sources speak to wider issues in the crisis. Just a note: there is one swear word in this episode, around 8 minutes in. You can subscribe to The Uncertain Hour here, and don’t forget you can watch this and other episodes of Make Me Smart on our YouTube channel. Today’s show is sponsored by Panopto, Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage, Alliance for Lifetime Income  and Mailchimp
March 19, 2019
The United Kingdom voted for Brexit almost three years ago, but there’s still no deal in place to politically and economically untangle itself from Europe. The official deadline is next week. Maybe you’ve heard a bit about how messy this process has been, but you’d be forgiven for finding it hard to follow and harder to care. Brexit truly does have huge implications on both sides of the pond, so this week Ros Atkins, host of BBC’s “Outside Source,” is here to help us sort it all out. Here’s a link to Molly’s “Marketplace Tech” podcast about online radicalization and Rep. Devin Nunes’ lawsuit against Twitter. Today’s show is sponsored by Panopto, Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage and “The Good Fight” on CBS All Access.
March 12, 2019
Do you use social media? Or does social media use you? That’s a question we all had to confront last year when it came out that Cambridge Analytica had harvested personal information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts, using the data to target political ads in the 2016 election. What’s changed a year after the biggest leak in Facebook’s history? Here to help us sort through the data mining we live with and what comes next is Shoshana Zuboff. She’s a professor emerita at Harvard Business School and the author of the book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.” This episode is sponsored by Mailchimp, Molekule, Panopto and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.
March 5, 2019
We’re taking a break from politics and the culture wars to get into some weird science: quantum computing. It’s not super easy to explain, but going quantum allows computers to operate by a totally different set of rules that could change some major things, like national security and medical breakthroughs. President Donald Trump recently signed the National Quantum Initiative Act, calling for a $1.2 billion investment in quantum computing. What’s that mean for Big Tech, the economy or the regular consumer? UC Berkeley’s Steven Weber breaks it down. Links from today’s show: Both studies about who’s really paying tariffs and The New York Times Magazine story about mondegreens. This episode was brought to you by Mailchimp, Care/of, Indeed and “The Good Fight” on CBS.
February 26, 2019
No mainline American politician would touch socialism a decade ago. Now, a Gallup poll shows young people are more positive about that term than they are about capitalism. President Donald Trump will likely make socialism a villain in his 2020 campaign, while democratic socialists have gained a popular figurehead in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in addition to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who plans another presidential run. This week, we zoom out to discuss the many faces of socialism and how they might show up in the election. Joining us is Sam Sanders, host of NPR’s podcast “It’s Been a Minute.” He spent much of 2015 and 2016 embedded in the Bernie Sanders campaign. This episode is brought to you by Mailchimp and Bill.com. Here’s a link to the teacher pay study Molly Wood mentioned and the study on millennials and climate change.
February 20, 2019
The Senate is set to bring the Green New Deal to a vote as early as this week. Crafted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, it’s an ambitious plan to de-carbonize the American economy while adding new jobs in infrastructure and alternative energy. Environmental reporter and podcaster Amy Westervelt tells us what’s in the Green New Deal and how it’s faring in the climate of Washington, D.C. Plus, an important clarification on some Toto lyrics. Don’t forget to check out this behind-the-scenes look at how we got our theme music, plus video of our conversation with Wesley Morris. It’s all on our YouTube channel. This episode is brought to you by the Alliance For Lifetime Income and Bill.com.
February 12, 2019
Between controversy over best picture nominees, changes to which awards are handed out during commercials and ever-plummeting ratings, this year’s Academy Awards are a hostless mess. That’s to say nothing of Hollywood’s ongoing problems with representation and harassment. And what about the Grammys? New York Times critic-at-large Wesley Morris helps us sort through the awards noise and see if there are lessons to learn. Plus: It’s our 100th episode! We have cake in the studio and surprise treat for all of you!
February 5, 2019
Folks, it’s time to talk about memes. It’s time to talk about the Dancing Baby and Bird Box Challenge and, yes, The Egg. If none of that makes sense to you, don’t worry. We get you up to speed on memes before we ask the money question: Where is the profit when they go viral? And who owns memes, since they’re often based on copyrighted material? Matt Schimkowitz sets us straight. He’s senior editor at Know Your Meme, a site devoted to cataloging and canonizing all the weird, wonderful internet memes you love and hate. Plus, more of your thoughts on assumptions about college. And in our Make Me Smart question: A medical diagnosis helps one listener understand his experience of the world. This week’s show is brought to you by TripleByte, Bill.com and the The University of Utah David Eccles School of Business.
January 29, 2019
The federal government might be reopened, but many Americans are still reeling. And, of course, it could close again in a few weeks. At 35 days, this was the longest shutdown in history, and we’re still learning how the effects will ripple across the economy, politics and society. We get smart about how the shutdown is affecting one college administrator and then zoom out to the big question: How did closing the government even become a thing you can do, much less a bargaining chip for Congress and the White House? Joining us to explain is Roy Meyers, a political science professor at the University of Maryland. Plus, your super-smart insights on everything from how class and culture impact our thinking about higher education to a lifetime of delusional spelling. This episode is brought to you by Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage, MailChimp and Triple Byte.
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