Gweek 100: A.J. Jacobs, extreme self-experimenter

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In this episode, I talked to A.J. Jacobs, the author of some of my favorite books. In his 2005 book, The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, A.J. committed himself to read the entire print edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. In 2007 he wrote The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, he lived by the rules of the Bible, and ended up wearing a white robe and a very full beard. And in Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, A.J. followed a bunch of extreme self-improvement techniques, including a raw food diet, the paleo diet, libido boosting techniques, and unusual exercise regimens.

Here's what we talked about:

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.

Update on A.J.'s treadmill desking and other health habits from Drop Dead Healthy.

Mark's experience using a $(removed) Samsung Galaxy Pocket and a local SIM card when he went to Japan instead of buying AT&T's expensive international data plan.

And a whole lot more!


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