Alex Goldmark

Some ideas seem too good to be true. Like this one. It comes from a 13-year-old listener named Amy. She says she knows the government has trouble finding enough money to pay for stuff like schools and hospitals. And she wondered if it has considered just printing more money. She asked us: Can the government do that? Just make more money to pay for stuff?

This podcast sounded a lot different back when it started. Times were different too. In early September, 2008, the housing crisis was underway, but Lehman Brothers was still in business. It was an economy on the brink, fraught with menace and foreboding, but still standing. Nobody knew how bad it would get during that particular week.

Bob Axelrod was teaching political science at the University of Michigan in the 1980s, and he was obsessed with one idea: how to get countries to cooperate. Back then, it looked like the United States and the Soviet Union might be headed towards nuclear war. Axelrod wanted to figure out how to keep that from happening. And he found inspiration in an unlikely place, computers that could play chess, and one of the greatest thought experiments of all time, the prisoner's dilemma.

A bottle of fancy vodka, like Grey Goose, costs about $35. A bottle of the cheap stuff can be under $10. That's a wide range, but, by definition, vodka is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. So, could there really be a difference between vodkas? Or is the difference all in the marketing?

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In 2011, Lariat Alhassan had a business in Abuja, Nigeria. Larclux Paint was the name. She sold house paint. And industrial paint. Textured paint. Paint that fills in cracks in your walls. It was a paint company. But a really small one.

"The employee I had was just me. I was the production manager. I was the marketer. I was delivery person. I was everything," says Alhassan, laughing. "Except the security."

That was the company. A woman in her late 20s and a security guard watching over a factory space she rented to make the paint.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: