Good morning Hank, it’s Tuesday, it’s very
early because I have to go to New York this morning.
So here’s a funny thing that happened, Hank: Time Magazine named me one of the one hundred
most influential people in the world, so I’m going to New York to go to this party.
Now, I am aware – how do I say this without sounding ungrateful – I am aware that this
is an unearned honor. Like I can personally name several thousand people who are more
influential than I am who did not make the Time 100. There’s Liberian President, Ellen
Johnson Sirleaf, the actress and activist Laverne Cox, the artist Ai Weiwei.
Also every single morning French President Francois Hollande wakes up and thinks, “You
know, I think today I won’t use France’s nuclear arsenal to start a war that would end the
human species.” And that is an extremely influential decision.
But that noted, I am delighted and honored to have been included, and now I get to go
to this party with other people on the Time 100. Like, maybe Vladimir Putin and Kim Il
Sung. Probably not Kim Il Sung. However, if he is there, I promise I will take a selfie
with him and then I will make a citizen’s arrest for human rights violations.
One more thing about the Time 100 before I get to the actual topic of today’s video,
they called me a teen whisperer. Which made me think about what if I were an
actual teen whisperer. Like, “Hey teens, where are we gonna go to, like, take drugs and snapchat?”
But it’s true, Hank, I know what the teens love to talk about, Pulitzer Prize winning
non-fiction books about people living in a slum in Mumbai.
Alright, I have to go to the airport, but you should come with me.
Movie magic! So Hank, this summer in the Nerdfighter bookclub we’re reading Behind the Beautiful
Forevers by Katherine Boo, which is just a fascinating book.
But then at first I realized that I didn’t give you a due date, which is just terrible
teachering on my part; I apologize; so, uh, the movie The Fault In Our Stars comes out
on June 6th , things are gonna be a little crazy until then, so June 10th.
You must read this book by June 10th or else nothing is going to happen to you. Also, if
you’re the kind of student who wants extra credit, and let’s face it Nerdfighters, you
probably are, then I think it’s really interesting to read Behind the Beautiful Forevers – we
need an acronym for it, like TFIOS… BtBF. Yes, BtBF – Anyway, I think it’s really interesting
to read BtBF in the context of another book about Mumbai: Maximum City. So that’s your
extra credit assignment. Okay, so no spoilers but I want to talk about
a few things to kinda bear in mind while you’re reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers.
First, I think it’s really important to resist the urge to extrapolate, like this is a book
about a few people living in one community; it’s not a book about slums in general or
India in general. Also, luck. Hank, we like stories that make
sense. I mean that’s part of the reason we tell each other stories, part of the reason
why we read novels and watch movies, and we’re hardwired to like stories that make sense
because human memory itself is narrative, so there’s like a luck-eraser inside the human
mind that tells you that Z happened because of X and Y. But actually, Z happened because
of X and Y and lots of luck. Luck of birth and genetics and circumstance and some editor
at Time Magazine liking your book! So how does our view of the world change when
we incorporate luck into it instead of assuming that human life is like essentially a meritocracy?
Okay a couple other things. The idea of private property, that’s weird, how does land become
owned? Also water. It’s always worth paying attention to water. And lastly, when we talk
about global poverty we usually talk about people who live on the equivalent of less
than $1.25 a day. That’s the case for more than a billion people. But it’s not the case
for the people Katherine Boo writes about, who are living in Annawadi. The people living
in Annawadi live above the global poverty line and they’re participating and – and some
would say benefiting from – global capitalism. But of course what that actually means in
their lives turns out to be very complicated. And Hank, that’s the great thing about Behind
the Beautiful Forevers. Everything is complicated, governments, non-profit organizations, micro
finance, religious organizations, complicated, people, complicated – it’s so good!
Alright my flight is boarding so I gotta go. Hank, I’ll see you on Friday.
Global international poverty – Loudspeaker announcement: May I have your
attention please. J: You can have my attention. Speaker: Transportation security administration
mandates the removal of unattended – J: Does it REALLY?! I’ve never heard that