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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

American Public Media

Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.

Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.


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Each weekday, Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood make today make sense. Along with our supersmart listeners, we break down happenings in tech, the economy and culture. Every Tuesday we bring on a guest to dive deeper into one important topic. Because none of us is as smart as all of us.




Let’s do the numbers on those breakthrough COVID cases

A tiny fraction of 1% of vaccinated Americans have tested positive for COVID-19. But if you don’t read beyond the headlines, you might not know that. On this punchy happy hour episode, we’ll talk about why the media need to do better reporting on the delta variant. And speaking of failure … Congress went on summer break without extending the eviction moratorium. We’ll talk about it and play another round of our favorite game, “Half Full/Half Empty.” Here’s everything we talked about...


A different kind of Hollywood superhero fight

It was bound to happen at some point. Scarlett Johansson, who’s played Black Widow in Marvel movies for a decade now, is suing Disney for breach of contract. After delaying it a year for the COVID-19 pandemic, the company released the “Black Widow” movie on Disney+ the same day it hit theaters. We’ll talk about the suit and what it says about the state of the movie industry. Plus: some vaccination history, the Steak-umm Twitter and a few technical difficulties, because why not? Here’s...


You can’t hide from Facebook

Facebook earnings are out, and one our listeners is looking for a little clarity in how exactly the company keeps beating expectations and bringing in tens of billions every quarter. We’ll get into the nuances of ad targeting, locking down your profile and how we create our own filter bubbles. Plus, more answers to your questions about the Congressional Budget Office, Navy planes and unemployment benefits. Here’s everything we talked about today: Did hiring pick up after states ended...


WeWork’s whole bananapants story

Was WeWork a tech company? A trillion-dollar business? A way of life? With the benefit of hindsight it’s easy to say, emphatically, “No.” But looking back at the lofty goals and investor enthusiasm that propelled the We Co. to a $47 billion valuation, we’re left wondering if the people involved have learned anything. Here to talk with us about it is Wall Street Journal reporter Maureen Farrell, who co-wrote the new book “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann and the Great Startup Delusion.”...


We need to think about the unvaccinated differently

There are limits to personal freedom and responsibility — it runs out when you put others at risk. You can’t drive drunk, for example. But are people who aren’t vaccinated for COVID-19 as brazen as a drunk driver? Or are they victims, scammed by bad information? Sociology professor Brooke Harrington has a great thread trying to reconcile all this, and we’re going to unpack it a bit on today’s show. Plus: Olympics highs and lows, the Frito-Lay strike and a sneak peek of tomorrow’s bananapants...


Make Me Sports

We started out this episode talking about the folks who are still unvaccinated for COVID-19, but quickly turned to the way the NFL switched from carrot to stick in response to the delta variant. That’s just one of a few big stories we have to talk about on this oddly sports-centric show. We’ll also talk about why HIPAA doesn’t mean what many people think it means, and play another round of Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: St. Louis, St. Louis County To...


Let’s talk about loneliness

Welcome to the metaverse! It’s run by Facebook. Plus: We cover a wide range of topics on this show and on our other daily news programs. But there’s a big one, a part of the human condition, we don’t often touch. So today we’re going to talk a bit about the proliferation of “ethical non-monogamy” on dating apps, the increase in sex toy sales in the pandemic, and why we don’t talk about those things on air very often. Here’s everything we talked about today: Mark Zuckerberg is betting...


Hey, whatever happened to student loan forgiveness?

Federal student loan forbearance is set to expire at the end of September. There was a lot of talk at the start of the year of the Biden administration forgiving some amount of student loan debt, and one listener wants to know: What happened with all that? We’ll attempt to figure out the answer on this Whadda Ya Wanna Know Wednesday, plus more of your questions about the doctor shortage and the longevity of phone and electric car batteries. Here’s everything we talked about today: Broken...


Our power grid is buckling under the weight of climate change

The power grid isn’t like other infrastructure. It’s a complex system that’s always on, on-demand all over the country. When supply can’t keep up with demand, as in extreme weather, things can go wrong very quickly. Carnegie Mellon assistant professor Destenie Nock studies and helps plan power systems, and on today’s show she’ll tell us about the challenges of maintaining and repairing a power grid in the face of climate change, and the outlook for potential solutions. Here’s everything...


Monday is longreads day

We’re keeping with our What’d We Miss Monday theme and tackling a bunch of the biggest stories that crossed our desks this weekend. There’s the delta variant of COVID-19, the plight of Uyghurs in China and potential new worker safety regulations in the face of climate change. But if that all sounds like too much of a bummer, we have a fun story about gardening in space. Here’s everything we talked about today: Florida man gets 8 months in prison in 1st felony sentence from Capitol...


We’re feeling a little apocalyptic today

You know how in disaster movies, you usually see a montage of news stories as everything falls apart? We can’t help but feel that way about all the climate-related news this week. Good thing it’s happy hour. Plus, Kai and Kimberly disagree on President Joe Biden’s rhetoric around Facebook and play a round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: Biden says platforms like Facebook are ‘killing people’ with Covid misinformationAnd a thread from...


Misinformation is the new smoking

We got the Biden administration’s first advisory from the surgeon general today, and it’s about how mis- and disinformation have put lives at risk in the COVID-19 pandemic. As Los Angeles County gets ready for another mask mandate, we’ll talk about what that advisory could mean for regulations down the line. Also on today’s show: Shohei Ohtani, inflation and a reason to think twice before griping on Slack. Here’s everything we talked about: The text of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s...


Would canceling the Tokyo games bankrupt the Olympics?

Japan has a relatively old population and a relatively low vaccination rate. A listener in Tokyo wants to know: What would have happened if the Olympic Committee had canceled the TV-only Summer Games entirely? On today’s show, we’ll follow the money. Plus, more of your questions about inflation, military service and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Here’s everything we talked about today: Yes. Tokyo Olympics are ‘a go’ despite opposition, pandemicWhere Does The IOC’s Money Go?”Cancel the...


“Right to repair” is about more than DIY

You might not want to crack open your smartphone, but iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens wants you to have the option. His company provides instructions, parts and tools, but there’s a lot more to the “right to repair.” It’s a movement with implications for the environment and the broader economy, and bipartisan support is growing at the state and federal levels. Wiens talks us through it on today’s show. Plus: A listener weighs in with a list of what America does well, and European Union Commissioner...


What’d we miss?

Kai was out on Friday, and there’s a lot to talk about, so we’re taking our listener Andrew’s suggestion and trying out “What’d We Miss Mondays” around here. On the docket: China’s economic recovery, wildfires, Virgin Galactic, Euro Cup, Biden’s executive orders, Burger King and more. Let us know what you think of this grab-bag format for a Monday! Here’s everything we talked about today: China’s Slowing V-Shaped Economic Recovery Sends Global WarningWatch Stephen Colbert Narrate the...


We’re watching a rocket-measuring contest between two billionaires. Why?

This Friday, let’s look at things a bit differently. Take, for example, the Disney classic that’s really about climate change, or why Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson should maybe stick around on Earth. Did we mention this happy hour is sober? All that, plus another round of our favorite game Half Full/Half Empty. Here’s everything we talked about today: New York City warned ‘climate change is here’ as storm floods streets and subwayMonsters Inc. is a metaphor for transitioning from...


Hey look, everything at Facebook is definitely, totally fine!

Billionaires, Big Tech executives and media moguls are rubbing shoulders in Sun Valley, Idaho, this week. Normally, they tend to be a little press shy at the annual event, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg were all smiles during a photo op today … timed conveniently after an excerpt from a dishy, new book about their partnership dropped in The New York Times. We’ll unpack that on today’s show, plus we’ll discuss COVID boosters, the Olympics and New...


What does America do well?

After the long holiday weekend, we have a few Independence Day-themed listener questions to answer. We’ll get into the supply chain for fireworks, as well as that potential stumper from the episode title. And we’ll talk about private equity and the housing market and COVID-19 and the labor force. Here’s everything we talked about today: More about our theme music, “The Informant” The Labor Market May Be Tighter than the Level of Employment SuggestsAnd some more relevant numbers from the...


How downward mobility really feels

A lot’s changed since the last time we saw Annabelle Gurwitch. Since the actress and writer last appeared on our show back in 2017, she’s been living through the same pandemic as the rest of us, of course, but she’s also gotten divorced, lost her health insurance, had her car repossessed, tried out gig work, and then was diagnosed with lung cancer. In her new book “You’re Leaving When?” Gurwitch discusses downward mobility. We’ll talk with her about it, plus her experience sheltering LA...


Let’s follow the money, and the controversy, at the Olympics

The Summer Olympic Games are about three weeks away. This week, there’s been no shortage of controversy around the International Olympic Committee and its treatment of Black athletes. Over drinks today we’ll run it down. Plus: a surprising statement from the defense secretary and a surprise guest joins us for “Half Full/Half Empty.” Here’s everything we talked about today: This Twitter threadU.S. Leaves Its Last Afghan Base, Effectively Ending OperationsSha’Carri Richardson and the...