In “Public Education’s Silver Bullet” (page 44), Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia talks with school reformer Terry M. Moe about education’s digital future. Dalmia, who went to school in India at a time when “slide rules were high-tech,” thinks technology can help kids learn “by making abstract concepts concrete.” When she learned atomic structure, she says, “all I had to aid my imagination was a black-and-white diagram in a textbook.” She does recall one distinctly low-tech teaching tool that benefited her education: “It was called my mother’s hand. And she used it to very good effect on my backside when I didn’t get my homework done.”
On page 66, Contributing Editor Greg Beato reviews Catalog No. 439, a compendium of humorous devices used in burlesque pranks and gags during the early 20th century. Beato says “pranking has an obvious application to journalism, and thus politics,” in that pranks can help generate “more candid disclosures.” And for that reason, he says, politics “could probably use a lot more practical joking at this point.” More broadly, he thinks of pranks as “a kind of folk art” that allows people to entertain themselves. For example: “For a while I went through a phase of pranking telemarketers who called me.”
Jim Epstein got his first TV gig in 2001 at New York City’s PBS station. He started “at the bottom: stacking tote bags, cleaning Oscar’s trash can, picking up Mr. Rogers’ sweaters from the cleaners.” But he says he had “the good fortune to work in a severely short-staffed unit.” As a result, he soon moved on to producing his own segments. Eventually, he won several local TV Emmys “and met Al Lewis from The Munsters at an award ceremony.” These days, Epstein works full time in Washington, D.C., as a producer for reason.tv. He spends more time editing video now than he did while working in public television. And the political environment is rather different too. There aren’t many libertarians working at PBS, he says. Now I’m in friendly territory every day.