Here's What a Lunch of Chicken Feet Looks Like

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “Weird Recycling," included a field trip to Golden Unicorn in New York's Chinatown to eat some chicken feet. Our guest was Carlos Ayala of Perdue Farms. Ayala told us that the export of chicken feet, primarily to China and Hong Kong, is such a big part of Perdue's business that the firm might be in trouble if that export market didn't exist. Here are some snaps from Ayala and Stephen Dubner's chicken-feet lunch at Golden Unicorn.

More People Are Quitting Their Jobs. How Good of a Sign Is That?

Fact: in September, we put out an hour-long Freakonomics Radio podcast called "The Upside of Quitting."

Fact: in September, more Americans quit their jobs than in any month since Nov., 2008.

Coincidence?

Actually, it's not even a coincidence. The podcast was out on Sept. 30; the resignations (2 million of them) covered the month of September.

That said, more resignations would seem to indicate an improving economy. From Time:

According to a recent survey by job-search site Snagajob, 44% of respondents who quit in the past year did so believing they would find a better opportunity elsewhere, up from 31% the year before.

Why, you might wonder, is Time citing Snagajob rather than a government source? And should we believe those numbers?

Bring Your Questions for Skeptic-in-Chief Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer is perhaps the world's only professional skeptic. As the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and executive director of the Skeptics Society, Shermer has turned his innate skepticism into a full-time job. In our recent podcast "The Truth Is Out There...Isn't It?" Stephen Dubner talks to Shermer about the evolutionary basis for our tendency toward "magical thinking" and why humans are conditioned to see threats often where none exist. Here's an excerpt:

Risk = Hazard + Outrage: A Conversation with Risk Consultant Peter Sandman

In our recent podcast "The Truth is Out There... Isn't It?," we hear from professional skeptics, former UFO investigators, and "social incompetence" experts. One fascinating interview that didn't make the final cut was with Peter Sandman, a "risk-communication consultant" whose work was also cited in Freakonomics. (Here is how he came to be what he is.)

Sandman breaks his work into three areas: scaring people who are ignoring something that is legitimately dangerous and risky; calming down people who are freaking out over something that's not risky; and guiding people who are freaking out over something that is legitimately risky. To accomplish all this, Sandman came up with a useful equation: Risk = Hazard + Outrage. Here are some excerpts from Stephen Dubner's interview with Sandman, which ranges from the perceived risk of WMD's in Iraq to the debate over climate change.

Artificial Insemination: What About the Other Animals?

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast, “Unnatural Turkeys,” reveals the surprising origins of the 40 million turkeys that Americans are going to eat this Thanksgiving. You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or read the transcript here.

So, 100 percent of commercially raised turkeys in the U.S. (save for heritage turkeys) are born from artificial insemination. But what about other animals? We talked to reproductive experts Dale Coleman at Auburn University, Wayne Singleton from Purdue, and Keith Bramwell at University of Arkansas. The graphic below shows what percentage of each animal is born from artificial insemination:

Bring Your Freakonomics Questions for a Radio FAQ

Once in a while, we do an FAQ podcast (that's FREAK-quently Asked Questions) whereby you send us questions via the comments section and we answer them in a radio program. We're gearing up to do another FAQ, likely to be released on Jan. 4, so fire away. Given the release date, you might consider asking about New Year's resolutions (and the commitment devices we sometimes employ); the dangers of drunk walking; maybe even the reproductive provenance of your holiday meal. Feel free to ask followup questions on radio stuff we've done in the past too, like the "Prius Effect" (conspicuous conservation), the decline of hitchhiking, and whether expensive wines actually taste better. Thanks in advance.

Turkey Sex: The Way It's Done Now

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast, "Unnatural Turkeys," looks at the origins of all those 40 million turkeys that Americans are going to eat this Thanksgiving. We've talked about why this happens; now we bring you the details of how it happens. USDA researcher Julie Long walks us through the process of what a day inseminating turkeys looks like. It's an act that is almost unchanged since turkey insemination became the industry standard in the 1960s.

When you get down to it, artificially inseminating a turkey is a pretty labor-intensive, hands-on process. First, you have to get the "contribution" (semen) from the male. That means that each breeder male, which will weigh between 50 and 70 pounds, gets picked up and placed on the handler’s lap.Then another person helps get him ready to make his contribution to the artificial insemination process.

Photo Gallery: Amateur Night at the Apollo

In our podcast "Boo...Who?" , the Freakonomics Radio team went to the Apollo Theater, where booing is openly encouraged, in Harlem to check out its Amateur Night. The Apollo is credited with launching the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, and The Jackson 5, and is famous for having a very tough crowd. You can hear all the booing from the Apollo on the podcast (download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or read the transcript here) and check out the photos here.

Need Your "Weird Recycling" Stories, Please

We're working on a Freakonomics Radio episode that will probably be called "Weird Recycling" (or, possibly, "What Do Chicken Paws and Tongue Depressors Have in Common?"). It's about people who find or create value from things that are typically thought to be worthless (or worse!).

I'd love to gather a few more examples and I can think of no population in the world better suited for this task than the Freakonomics readership.

What say you?

Thanks in advance.

The Italian Debacle and the "Church of 'Scionology'"

The takeaways from our "Church of 'Scionology'" radio program were as follows:

+ Economists have found that family firms that pass the company down to the next generation perform worse than if they had brought in professional management.

+ Family firms are particularly dominant in less-developed countries, which tend to have weaker markets and rule of law. Here's Vikas Mehrotra on that point:

In the developed world, you have good contracting environments, a good system of law enforcement, and so on. So, in the developed world, you can hire professional managers and expect a certain, you know, sticking to the contract law, and so on. It’s rather more difficult to have the same kind of adherence to the rule of law in emerging economies. So, in emerging economies, family firms sort of provide a second-best solution to this poorly developed institutional problem.