September 12th: What's On Today's Show

Republican presidential candidates former Massachusetts Gov, Mitt Romney, left, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry shake hands at the finish of a Republican presidential candidate debate at the Reagan Library Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, in Simi Valley, Calif.

Republican presidential candidates former Massachusetts Gov, Mitt Romney, left, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry shake hands at the finish of a Republican presidential candidate debate at the Reagan Library Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, in Simi Valley, Calif. Jae C. Hong/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

itoggle caption Jae C. Hong/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Tea Party Effect
By now, most people think they have a clear understanding of the Tea Party, and probably a firm opinion of the group, too — for or against. The movement helped Republicans take control of the House in November's elections. But recent reports suggest that we may not understand as much as we think we do about the political force that's playing a very public role in the 2012 elections. Host Neal Conan talks with the co-founder of the Tea Party Express, and also NPR's Ron Elving and Kate Zernike of The New York Times, about the Tea Party: its roots, influence and key role in tonight's GOP debate.

What Makes A Successful Memorial?
The Sept. 11 memorial at the World Trade Center was dedicated yesterday, and the memorial opened this morning to the public. Twin fountains cascade into reflecting pools in a plaza scattered with trees. Victims' names are inscribed in bronze along the edges of the pools. The winning design was chosen from thousands of submissions. Today, on the Opinion Page, Simon Schama explores the purpose of public memorials, and what makes a successful memorial.

A Better Way To Patent
Patenting a new idea in the United States can take nearly three years. Last week, the Senate passed the America Invents Act and if signed, supporters say it will speed the process, spark innovation and create jobs. The act has a two-fold purpose: to curb patent litigation and to encourage inventor innovation. Host Neal Conan talks with Terri Gillis, partner in the Mayer Brown intellectual property practice, about what inventors can expect from the new bill. He also talks with James Bessen, a fellow at Boston University School of Law and Gary Griswold of the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform, about whether the overhaul will unfairly advantage major companies over small inventors.

Manly Men On TV
TV Guide called the new prime-time lineup the season of "the emasculation of men on TV." A half-dozen sitcoms premiere this fall that feature men who are unemployed or underemployed and spend lots of time enthusiastically playing video games. These characters aren't necessarily new, but the twist this season is that they are juxtaposed with women who are running laps around them. Atlantic contributing editor Hanna Rosin, who's piece last summer called the The End of Men may have helped inspire the new plots, talks about the the upcoming crop of sitcoms.

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