This is Irish Dave. He has apparently decided on his own that he wants to be called that; I didn’t come up with the name. He’s the new morning DJ on the radio station that I usually listen to on my way in to work. (Left aside for now: why I bother listening to terrestrial radio. I have reasons; I don’t know that they’re any good.)
Anyway, he’s the new morning DJ, and they’ve completely redone the show now that he’s on it. It’s called the New Fun Way to have Fun Fun in the Morning while You’re Having Fun and Waking Up To Have Fun, or something ridiculous like that, and Irish Dave is the host. The previous morning show had a stupid trivia question segment that happened to coincide with my morning drive in to work; they’d basically quote a statistic (“40% of women say this never happens to them… but it does!”) and challenge the viewers to come up with the answer and give away some stupid prize.
On Irish Dave’s show, they’ve done something similar, and in the same time slot, except it’s appreciably dumber. He calls it the Whiz Kid segment, but the ads and promos call it Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader, because god help us if we want to be original ever and the best thing to do is to steal other people’s dumb ideas. Here’s the problem: there’s no actual being smarter than the fifth grader; it’s just a kid reading the question, and frankly she’s reading it poorly– her delivery is syllable-by-syllable and halting as hell, and as a teacher I think she really needs to work on her fluency. It’s awful. But she’s not competing at all, they’ve just got a little kid asking the question for some entirely unclear reason. Occasionally Irish Dave pretends she’s calling in live. This is obviously not true at all and I don’t understand why he bothers.
This was this morning’s question, rendered word-for-word:
“Between 1845 and 1847, three fourths of one million people and hundreds of thousands of others emigrated to the United States. What caused this tragedy?”
A couple things about this. First, the style of the questions now make this shit much less fun. I knew right away it was the potato famine, but it’s not fun guessing if you don’t immediately know. That was the fun thing about the previous segment– the stats were always ridiculously generic and the answers could really be just about anything. This is a history question. You either know it or you don’t.
And it’s a horribly phrased trivia question. First of all, the kid’s reading the question badly, because no one ever says “three fourths of one million.” It sounds weird, but it’s written as a fraction on the sheet of paper she’s reading from and she’s a fifth grader so she doesn’t know to say quarters. Second, what the fuck is the deal about “3/4 of a million people” and “hundreds of thousands of others“? What the hell are these “others”? Are they people? Horses? Lice?
Finally, the actual emigration isn’t the actual tragedy. The famine was the tragedy. The famine didn’t cause the tragedy of emigration, the famine was the tragedy that caused the emigration. Did the fifth-grader write the question?
On an entirely unrelated note, all of my books for the signing have shown up. I don’t know that I ever officially announced this, but I redid the cover and the interior for Skylights before printing the 30 copies that I’ll have with me for the signing. Here’s what the new cover looks like:
Pretty, innit? So if you order the print edition of Skylights (or buy it at the signing) it’ll look a bit better than the earlier version did.