Guests on Nerdette assign listeners homework, so in honor of summer and the pursuit of meaning in our lives, we collected the best assignments to bring you our near-definitive 2017 Summer Homework Guide.
In this special episode of Nerdette, you’ll get homework from astrophysicists, writers, sex therapists, and even Tom Hanks. It’s bound to keep you occupied through the Fourth of July, the dog days of summer, and maybe even Labor Day, depending on your diligence.
Click ‘play’ above to listen to the entire special broadcast. And do your homework!
Buy a typewriter
Tom Hanks: “The algorithm for old manual typewriters is that none are worth more than $50. Although I have paid more than $50, just because I wanted to have the machine. But in all honesty, I have so many that I am giving a lot of them away.”
“I’m going to tell you [that] if this Underwood Champion that I’m looking at right now was the only typewriter I could have, I would be completely satisfied. Your great-great-grandchildren will type on this machine. So start typing them letters right now, throw them in a shoebox, and hand it over when the time comes.”
Lindy West: “It’s just the most flawless, brilliant, soothing, cinematic, incredible TV [show] ever made about a darling detective who always knows. They think Columbo doesn’t know — they think they’re smarter than Columbo every time — and they’re not. You’re never smarter than Columbo.”
Be an earthling
Jill Tarter: “Go look at all your social media profiles. What’s the first thing you say about yourself? I would like that first thing that you say about yourself [to be] that you’re an earthling. I would like you to try and follow that with an open, larger perspective — a more cosmic perspective — about who you are, where you are, and how you fit into a much larger universe. Because I think it’s that kind of perspective that’s going to allow us to get through these next 100 years, and to find answers to challenges that don’t respect national boundaries — [problems] that have to be worked as global problems.”
Read the Constitution
Carol Moseley-Braun: “What we have is a very, very rare and precious jewel in terms of our governmental structures. The way our system is set up is the envy of the rest of the world. And we really should pay attention to it. …
“Find out about government. Read the Constitution. There’ll be some parts that seem a little bizarre. It’s like reading the Bible — seriously, there’s some parts of it that you’ll go, ‘Huh?’ — but once you’ve done that, then you’re in a better position to actually have a conversation about what it is that we’re doing with our politics.”
Watch ‘Jane the Virgin’ and ‘Ancient Aliens’
Jaime Camil: “Ancient Aliens. It’s about the theory that we have been visited by aliens many times. It’s a very interesting show that I am completely addicted to.”
Peter Sagal: “The body that you have is more useful for things than carrying your head around and pointing it at various screens or pages. And I think it’s really important — especially today, when we have our iPhones and iPads and televisions and computers — to cut all that out. … Exist for a moment. And the way I do that is I go out for a run. Sometimes I take my dog. Also, get a dog.”
Do something sexy
Bat Sheva Marcus: “Every day, if you can find two little tiny, sexy things to your life, you should do it. And then see how that changes the way you feel about yourself and your relationship. So that might be as little as unbuttoning one more button, or holding somebody’s eye contact for an extra 10 seconds, or licking your lips while somebody is watching you, or just staring into the mirror at yourself, or getting a really sexy color of nail polish — anything that makes you feel sexy just for an extra few seconds. Add those into your life maybe twice a day, and see how that changes your reality and your sense of yourself.”
Jessamyn Stanley: “I’ve never met a yoga teacher or a yoga practitioner who is obsessed with it who didn’t get that way because they have anxiety, or depression, or some injury, or something happened to you to make you need this medicine.”
Be a space cadet
Sheyna Gifford: “If going to Mars or travelling in space appeals to you, think of yourself already as this traveler in space. You’re travelling in space, you’re on a very large ship — the size of the Earth — and just like in space, resources are limited. You have only so much food, water, so much air. Begin to look around your world and think of yourself as having only so much of anything. Behave accordingly. Buy only the food you’re going to eat and if you’re not going to eat it or use it, compost it. Turn lights off. Wash dishes in the sink and then use that water to do the floor. Plant something that generates oxygen. And really choose when you buy things — when you purchase things, when you fill your life with stuff — think of it as the thing you want with you on your ship. And if you don’t want it with you on your ship, do you really want it? Fill your life with the people you want with you on your ship. And if you don’t want them with you on your journey to the unknown? Well, maybe choose other people. And most of all, decide who it is you most want to be in life and be that person. Be your boldest, most brilliant, most generous, most patient individual. Because that’s the kind of person that survives in space.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson: “If I were to give homework, the homework would be that there are problems that society faces — civilization faces — that cannot and will not be solved awaiting the next app on your smartphone. We have problems in housing, in food, in health, in poverty, in military conflict — so basically unrest in the world — problems with energy, climate change. There’s got to come a point when we take fewer selfies and step out there and ask, ‘What kind of major industries need to be revamped so that we can assure a peaceful, prosperous future for us all?’ Ask what you can do for civilization.”
Buy a titanium spork
Hanna Rosin: “I carry one everywhere and I never use plastic cutlery.”
Watch a meteor shower
Dr. Carrie Nugent: “Meteor showers are amazing and they’re super easy to do.”
Go see ‘Get Out’
Roxane Gay: “It’s supposed to be really fun and really scary and also really prescient.”
BONUS listener homework:
“Read The Answer Is Never by Jocko Weyland. It’s a general and personal history of skateboarding, starting with surfers in the ’60s and going all the way through to the early-2000s, when the sport became more mainstream. Skateboarders have historically been given a bad reputation, and this book will give you a renewed respect for their commitment to the craft and their sportsmanship and camaraderie.” -Tasha from Chicago, IL
“My homework for you is to read Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. This is a beautifully crafted work of historical fiction that tells the story of Caroline Ferriday, an actress, socialite, and philanthropist during World War II. Go check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.” -Kim from Olympia, WA
Special thanks to all the listeners who submitted their homework for this episode. You are the best.
And one last reminder to subscribe to our OTHER podcast, ‘Nerdette Recaps Game Of Thrones with Peter Sagal.’ You’ll get fresh G.O.T. analysis in your podcast feed every Monday at noon(ish) after each new episode of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones.’ Here’s just a small sample of what’s in store this season: