There comes a point in every boy’s life when he realizes that digging a hole to China is impossible. Previous attempts at burrowing a Sino-antipodean tunnel had been foiled not by the inability of the boy’s plastic shovel to withstand earth’s 9,800-degree inner core, but rather by a late-afternoon thunderstorm or his mother’s maddening penchant for whisking him off the beach just as the tip of a chopstick was being exhumed. “If only I didn’t have to take a nap today,” he’d reckon, “I’d be in Hong Kong by supper.” We could all benefit from dusting off that sort of arrogant, boyish ignorance once in a while.
The older we get, the more absurd our childish scheme becomes. As Robert Krulwich explains, China’s antipode, or diametrical opposite, is in fact 150 miles north of Buenos Aires. If you dug a hole from any point in the contiguous 48 states, you’d end up in the South Pacific Ocean somewhere. And that’s not nearly as cool as ending up in China.
The first week’s topics include Norwegian finance and the philosophy of happiness, but it’s all more or less what you’d expect from an issue of Monocle, audio or otherwise. Of course, they’re coming a little late to the party, and we can’t help but feel like the public-radio ambition (right down to the piano jazz!) is inspired by a bit of friendly competition between Monocle’s Tyler Brûlé and Wired’s Kurt Andersen, currently working on NPR’s Radiolab.