NPR logo April 17th: What's On Today's Show

April 17th: What's On Today's Show

In today's first hour, Sam Anderson joins us to talk about his piece from the New York Times Magazine on the "great stupid games" we play. hide caption

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In today's first hour, Sam Anderson joins us to talk about his piece from the New York Times Magazine on the "great stupid games" we play.

Secret Service
After alleged misbehavior that involved prostitution, the U.S. Secret Service revoked top security clearances of 11 agents who have been put on administrative leave and remain under investigation. The agents were part of the advance team that traveled to Colombia before President Barack Obama arrived to attend the Summit of the Americas. Host Neal Conan talks about the training and standards typically upheld by the Secret Service with Jeffrey Robinson, co-author (with Joseph Petro) of Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service, and Ronald Kessler, chief Washington correspondent of and author of In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.

Stupid Games We Play
Angry birds — a mobile phone game in which players use a slingshot to propel birds at tiny little green pigs — has been a runaway hit since its 2009 release, with more than 700 million downloads, a TV show and a feature film in the works. And Angry Birds isn't the only mobile phone game that has become a phenomenon. In a piece for the New York Times Magazine, Sam Anderson looks at our fascination with — and addiction to — what he calls, stupid games. In it, he says they hold us "in a place between conscious problem solving and pure intoxication ... the cognitive signature of all the great stupid games." Host Neal Conan talks with Sam Anderson about the secret genius of stupid games and the mobile "gamification" of America.

Domestic Drones
Congress recently passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which — along with funding the Federal Aviation Administration's budget through 2015 — encourages the acceleration of unmanned aircraft programs in U.S. airspace. Drones have taken on a large role in military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The new legislation could make the technology more prevalent in several arenas, from local police departments to farmers monitoring crops. Host Neal Conan talks with John Villasenor, nonresident senior fellow in the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, about what drones are, how they're being used in the U.S. now and the possibilities that lie ahead. Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, discusses the free speech and privacy concerns associated with the technology.

French Election
The economy, foreign policy, and immigration: these aren't just the big topics in the U.S. elections, they're also the top issues facing the presidential candidates in the upcoming French elections. The first round of the French presidential elections take place on Sunday, which will shrink the roster of presidential hopefuls from the current ten down to two candidates. Socialist candidate Francois Hollande and current president Nicolas Sarkozy are expected to face-off in the final round of French elections, which take place on May 6. Though the issues the candidates are addressing are similar to the ones in America, the election system differs greatly, from campaign financing to debate format. NPR's Neal Conan speaks with Ted Koppel about the upcoming election — the issues, the players, the politics — and how it compares with elections in the United States.