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Act One: Sleepless In Seattle

What if you asked people for advice and actually took all the advice that everyone gave you? As an experiment, writer Sarah Vowell tried exactly that, when she recently solicited advice from many different people about insomnia.


When Brigid starting going blind, she tried to hire someone to drive her around. Only problem was, the guy she hired wanted to carry her groceries, hold her arm as she walked to the curb...he tried to help her in too many ways.

Act One: Biblical Thinking In A Digital World

Reporter Hanna Rosen did an investigation of those new antibacterial products—the antibacterial soaps and lotions, the antibacterial pizza cutter and linen and underwear. In her article, she mocked these products as ineffective.

Act Two: 20th Century Germ

Germs were first understood at the turn of the 20th century and it turns out that the aesthetics of everyday life during this century—the way we dress, the way we groom ourselves, the way we make our homes—are all partly a response to this newfangled idea of germs.

Act Three: Ladies And Germs

The burden of keeping germs from hurting us in our everyday lives has fallen mostly on women, from the time science fully understood about the existence of germs. After all, women had to keep the home clean, had to prepare food safely.

Act Four: You Gonna Eat That?

Reporter, author and apple farmer Frank Browning on how irrational fear of germs means that you aren't going to get good apple cider in your local supermarket this fall.

Act Five: The Conqueror Germ

Sean Collins on the germs within us, the germs that can kill us, and the germs that do kill us. He tells the story of the battle with germs that his friend Christopher lost, and contemplates what the germ won when it defeated his friend.

Act One: Road Trip

Photographer Joel Meyerowitz decided to go on a last big trip with his father, Hy, who has Alzheimer's. Joel also brought his own son.

Act Three: Iron Man

Mark O'Brien is a writer in California, who lives most of each day in an iron lung, thanks to a childhood case of polio. It's an excerpt from Jessica Yu's Oscar-winning documentary.

Act Two: Guinea Pig Zero

Ira interviews Bob Helms, creator of the zine Guinea Pig Zero, which is about people who make their living by donating their bodies to science for medical experiments. Bob says he wouldn't do spinal tap studies or psychoactive drugs (he calls the people who do the latter "brain sluts").