Monday, February 19, 2007

Modern Jackass

I've been going through back episodes of This American Life lately, since I lately realized what a travesty it was that I generally am not in a position to be listening to the radio at 6 on a Saturday Night. One of my favorites I've heard since I've been digging through the archives is the recent episode "A Little Bit of Knowledge." Listen to it if you've got a pile of dishes that needs doing.

In the opening of the show, Ira Glass is recalling a time he and his friends were spouting off on a subject about which they actually knew nothing, and one finally says: "We sound like we're from a magazine. A magazine called Modern Jackass."

Talking about this with Andy, he made an excellent point: that would be a fantastic magazine. I would read Modern Jackass. I like the idea because I really think it's interesting the way people will pull strands of information together in a pinch - it can be really revealing. For instance, I have a coworker who grew up in China, and her spelling amazes/amuses me sometimes. At one point, she was asked to label something "B. anthracis," but she wrote it down as "B. antruas." It made me wonder exactly how articulately I am expressing my words, if that's what she heard. She'd obviously not seen the word enough times to simply remember by rote how it's spelled. It made me think about the way she must have pulled together the pieces of information she had - how people sound when they say "B. anthracis," or how one might go about understanding writing with a phonetic alphabet when you'd grown up writing with symbols.

I'd want the first cover feature to be written by Ted Stevens, explaining how the Internet works. I'd be interested to have Dawn Eden explain in detail her theory of the inner workings of the unchase feminist. I would demand that Jeff Wells of Rigorous Intiution be assigned to the MJ Washington bureau.

So many possibilities...

UPDATE: I'd also like to hear the writers of Heroes exaplain exactly what DNA is, what it does, and what the Human Genome Project is for. It'd be their first assignment on the biotech beat.
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