Radio After last year hick-up with the retraction of Mike Daisey's story about the manufacture of Apple products, This American Life has quickly bounced back with another series of compulsive episodes with a two parter about Chicago's Harper High School, the scene of a mass shooting, an investigation into the federal disability payments system and of course its five hundredth episode. There's also been a noticeable shift back towards a higher proportion of less newsier, more whimsical episodes of which this recent episode is an example. As the synopsis describes, "producer Sarah Koenig's mother lives by a set of rules about conversation. She has an actual list of off-limits topics, including how you slept, your period, your health, your diet and more. You don't talk about these things, she says, "because nobody cares", and the programme sets about finding interesting stories which disprove the items on the list. As ever, it's the thing of This American Life which makes this entertaining, the deference of the producers to Sarah's mother calling her Mrs. Matthiessen and Mrs. Metthiessen herself who sounds like a stereotypical upper middle-class parent from a Disney film. Incidentally, I pretty much agree with everything she says. I hate small talk, mostly because never very good at it.