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Can you ever fully adjust to life on the overnight shift? In our second hour, guests talk about working the graveyard shift and fighting the Sandman. (iStockphoto.com)

April 26th Show

by Gwen Outen
Apr 26, 2011

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Gwen Outen

America's Energy Options
Relatively affordable energy comes at the flip of a switch for most Americans. Electricity is a crucial commodity; Americans demand access to it, rarely think about how they get it and don't want to pay too much for it. But each of the major sources of energy — coal, nuclear and oil — carry risks and costs. Host Neal Conan explores the risks and benefits of America's most widely used energy options with James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic and Ellen Vancko, Nuclear Energy and Climate Change Project Manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Marriage Equality
Seven in ten African American voters supported Prop 8 — California's 2008 ban on same-sex marriage — according to exit polls. While gay marriage is a clear civil rights issue to many gay rights' advocates, many black Americans disagree. Massachusetts representative Byron Rushing hopes to bridge that divide. In a new documentary short, director Thomas Allen Harris tells the story of Rushing — a straight, black, democratic politician who fought for civil rights in the 1960's and now fights for gay rights and same-sex marriage. Host Neal Conan talks with Harris about his film, Marriage Equality.

Getting Enough Sleep
Air traffic controllers have been caught napping on the job in recent weeks, but they are hardly the only people who struggle to stay awake during the graveyard shift. Sleep researchers say that humans are not designed to be nocturnal. The human body is generally alert during the day and requires sleep at night. For those who regularly work the overnight shift, scientific studies show that short naps can help avoid fatigue — and some mistakes. But the body's clock never fully adjusts. Neal Conan talks with NPR's Joe Palca and Jeanne Duffy of Harvard Medical School about getting enough sleep on the night shift.

Punching Out
Few people have endured the thrill, adrenaline, fear and unadulterated speed that comes with "punching out" — the Air Force term for high-speed ejections. Air Force veteran James Cross compiled stories from the small fraternity of pilots who've ejected, including Gen. Chuck Yeager, the first human to break the sound barrier, and Lt. Gary Bain, who ejected three different times. James Cross joins host Neal Conan to share stories from his new book, Punching Out, Stories of High Speed Ejections.

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