David Kestenbaum

Episode 685: Larry vs. The IRS

Apr 4, 2018

Note: This episode originally aired in 2016.

A lot of people dream of not paying their taxes. Larry Williams did just that. He scoured the fine print of IRS code, talked to lawyers, settled on a plan, and then...stopped paying taxes.

Today on the show, we tell his story. It starts on a camping trip, winds through a jail cell in Australia and a courtroom in California, and it ends up in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Note: Today's show originally ran in January of 2016.

A few years back, a famous psychologist published a series of studies that found people could predict the future — not all the time, but more often than if they were guessing by chance alone.

The paper left psychologists with two options.

"Either we have to conclude that ESP is true," says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, "or we have to change our beliefs about the right ways to do science."

Note: Today's show originally ran in January 2012.

In 1978, a group of farmers in a Chinese village called Xiaogang wrote a secret contract and hid it in the roof of a mud hut.

They were afraid the document might get them executed. Instead, it wound up completely transforming the Chinese economy.

On today's show, we travel to Xiaogang, and hear the farmers' story.

This episode originally aired on May 13, 2011.

On January 8, 1835, all the big political names in Washington gathered to celebrate what President Andrew Jackson had just accomplished. A senator rose to make the big announcement: "Gentlemen ... the national debt ... is PAID." The huzzahs rose up around the halls of Congress, or something like that.

The Internet Archive and the University of Maryland launch such a library, and it's free to anyone with an Internet connection. Kids helped design the library, and they had final say on the books. NPR's David Kestenbaum reports.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Each summer, as college students prepare to leave campus, they get rid of their textbooks, selling them for cheap. And Bob Peterson and Kenny Jacobson are waiting to buy them, and resell them when school is back in session and demand is high. Their scheme sounds simple, and it is. They've noticed a difference in price, and they're turning it into a quick profit.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

Hernando de Soto's parents always talked about Peru as he was growing up. His family had moved to Switzerland after a coup. They were kicked out of the country, and for many years de Soto thought of Peru as this magical place.

When he was 38, de Soto moved back to Peru. He knew the country was poor, but he didn't really understand the extent of the poverty until he got there.

Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

Spreadsheets used to be actual sheets of paper. Sometimes, a bunch of sheets of paper taped together.

Any calculation made on a spreadsheet was done by hand, and these could take days to complete for an accountant or bookkeeper. It was tedious. One little adjustment to these calculations meant a whole day of erasing and filling the same boxes out again.

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