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Act Two: I'd Like To Spank The Academy

For the last 13 years, the University of Montevallo in Alabama has held an event called The Life Raft Debate, where several professors take the stage and each tries to convince the students that his or her discipline—chemistry, say, or communications—is the most essential field of study. But in 2007, a professor named Jon Smith decided that the debate itself needed saving.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to Jonathan Gold about the bully in high school who knocked Jonathan and his cello down the stairs one day as he was walking to history class—and why Jonathan felt a sudden surge of satisfaction about this almost three decades later.

Act One: 29

This American Life contributor David Rakoff, who swore off TV in college, returns to it in dramatic fashion: He attempts to watch the same amount of television as the average American—29 hours in one week. David is author, most recently, of the book Don't Get Too Comfortable.