A.J. Jacobs, author of a number of excellent books about self-experimentation, is planning on hosting the world's largest family reunion. (The current record is held by by the Porteau-Boileve family in France: 4,514 relatives.) He's inviting as many relatives as he can, including former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who is A.J.'s wife’s great-uncle’s wife’s first cousin once removed’s husband’s uncle’s wife’s son’s wife’s first cousin once removed’s husband’s brother’s wife’s nephew.
He announced his plans on an episode of the Gweek podcast a few weeks ago, and he just shared the news with the readers of the New York Times, too:
My journey started a few months ago. I got an email from a stranger named Jules Feldman who lives on a kibbutz in Israel. He had read one of my books. He wrote: “We have in our database about 80,000 relatives of yours. You are an eighth cousin of my wife who, in my opinion, is a fine lady.” I’m also, he said, related to Karl Marx and several European aristocrats.
The email had a bit of a creepy National Security Agency privacy-invasion vibe. But it was also, in a strange way, profoundly comforting. There I was, alone in my office, connected to 80,000 other humans. In a world where extended families lose touch as they spread across time zones, this seemed remarkable.
But why stop at 80,000? I discovered websites like WikiTree, WeRelate and Geni (which was recently acquired by MyHeritage) that allow you to expand your tree into million-tentacled monsters.
A.J.'s going to host the reunion in 2015 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, NY. I plan to be there to meet my nth cousins nth removed!
A.J.'s new advice column for Esquire. "I post a quandary from a reader on my Facebook page, and then my 100,000 followers weigh in with advice, rants, wisdom, encouragement, condemnations, etc. Then I curate the best/most interesting/funniest advice and put it in a column, along with my own take on the topic. So it's like a stadium-full of Ann Landerses and Dan Savages."
A.J.'s latest article for Esquire. "It was called The Overly Documented Life, and it was about the delights and hazards of video-recording your life 24 hours a day for three months. It’s a peek at what life will be like in the Google Glass era. When I had an argument with my wife, and she said, 'You never told me that!' I could say, 'Well, let’s go to the videotape.'"
My other advice column for mental_floss, Modern Problems. This one is about putting your problems in perspective. Modern life is filled with annoyances and hurt, but compared to yesteryear, most of us live in earthly paradise. Nostalgia can suck it. The past was A mind-bogglingly dirty, painful, fetid, smelly, sickly and boring place. So if my reader complains about the dentist, I very gently tell him/her about what it was like to go to the dentist in the 1700s.