Uncommon Sense: the This is True Podcast show

Uncommon Sense: the This is True Podcast

Summary: Uncommon Sense is the podcast for This is True, the oldest Entertainment newsletter on the Internet, starting in early 1994 and running weekly since. TRUE features 'weird news' stories with a purpose: it's Thought-Provoking Entertainment. TRUE is news commentary using rewritten summaries of real news stories as its vehicle. The newsletter is text, but the podcast is decidedly not an audio version of the newsletter, so you may want to try a free subscription to the newsletter, too. Subscribe at https://thisistrue.com/podcast

Join Now to Subscribe to this Podcast


 026: What a Talking Ape Can Teach Humans | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 12:30

In This Episode: It’s easier for young children to learn basic sign language than to speak, and what a head start they can get on learning! Proof of concept: a gorilla, which in part shows that thinking is not limited to humans. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * An interesting article on the history and structure of American Sign Language. * If you haven’t seen it already, check out the fascinating Honorary Unsubscribe for Koko the gorilla, which includes a video of Koko interacting with a special friend: Robin Williams. * Using an online ASL video dictionary, you can see the signs for all and for ball — and note the facial aspect, especially during the former sign. And, you can see they don’t look at all alike. Transcript It’s easier for young children to learn basic sign language than to speak, and what a head start they can get on learning! Proof of concept: a gorilla, which in part shows that thinking is not limited to humans …especially when you compare such animals to some humans who don’t seem to think at all! Welcome to Uncommon Sense, I’m Randy Cassingham. This is a retake on a popular episode from season one, which was prompted by something in the news. And it happens to be something my wife and I coincidentally both have experience with. Plus, it’s a fantastic tool to help kids learn and communicate at a much earlier age than thought possible a generation or two ago. And that’s sign language, specifically in this case, American Sign Language, because yes, different countries have different sign languages. And by the way, there are even different dialects of American Sign Language. You might think, well that sure makes sign language harder to learn. Maybe, but what I call “soda pop,” those in the south call “coke” — you know, like “orange coke” and “root beer coke.” British English is different too: their cars have boots where ours have trunks. French Canadian is a bit different than French in France. So different dialects are clearly a common factor in languages in general, not just sign language. Most people seem to think that sign language is some sort of gestural system for deaf people. But it’s far more complex than that: it is a true language, with its own syntax and grammar that are very different from English, and it’s a very useful tool for hearing people too. That’s what we’ll be exploring a bit here. In college, I majored in Journalism to learn to research and write quickly. But I’ve always been interested in communications in general, so I designed my own minor in non-verbal communications. That was partly to study what most people call “body language,” and I was honored to even study briefly with Professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, one of the pioneers in the study of what he calls “implicit communications,” and he’s the one that got me interested in that topic. Mostly, though, my course of study included a full year of college-level American Sign Language classes, which were not just fun — they were challenging.

 025: Finding Your Purpose and Mission | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 18:04

In This Episode: Some know their life’s purpose and mission. Others don’t know how to apply them to their lives. Here’s how to get clarity on both, even if you’re retired. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * I mention my wife. Her web site is LiveInFocusedEnergy.com. * Star Trek: The Next Generation Executive Producer Michael Piller, who was also EP (and co-creator) for Star Trek: Deep Space 9, died several years later — in 2005, at 57 — from head and neck cancer. * And the photo I mentioned at the end, capturing what I saw just as I was finishing up this episode. The peak on the right is Mt. Sneffels (14,150 ft / 4,312 m), named after the volcano Snæfell in Iceland: Transcript Do you know your Purpose in life? A clear understanding of the core of who you are, your essence as a human being? Or a Mission that will guide what you do in each phase of your life that serves your Purpose? Most of us had some sort of dream as a child, but most of us end up doing what’s expedient to make a living. No matter how old you are, you can still align to your Purpose, and this episode explores one way to make your path crystal clear. Welcome to Uncommon Sense. I’m Randy Cassingham. A few lucky people seem to be born with a clear and compelling Purpose in their lives, and work their Mission to fulfill that Purpose every day. Yet most of us flounder most of the time. And if we do figure out our Purpose, it often feels like it’s “too late”: we’re already busy with a job, a partner, a family — you know, a life! It might seem like your Purpose in life is to work long hours, not get paid enough, come home and try to catch up with cooking, cleaning, and laundry, fall into bed exhausted, and then catch up with email on your phone when you wake up in the middle of the night. And start over again the next day. Weekends? That’s when you catch up with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry you didn’t get done during the week. Doesn’t that seem to describe most people? Almost everyone struggles with this! But a few don’t. So how do they do it? The ones who seem to have it all together, with a clear path in life. We all know, or at least know of, people like that. Are they gifted in a way we are not? I don’t think so. I really do believe it’s a matter of (yeah) Uncommon Sense. Some treat the words Purpose and Mission as the same thing. I don’t, so let’s define our terms. To me, “Purpose” is the core of who we are, your fundamental identity that drives what you do. Purpose may become more focused over time, but it’s generally unchanging. A “Mission” is an ambition, the specific goals and actions that guide your day-to-day work in a way that serves your Purpose. Missions can change: if you reach a goal, satisfying your Mission, you may start an entirely new one. For a quick example, consider NASA: their Purpose is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research to not just serve our country, but humanity as a whole. And they’ve certainly provided good examples of that with a variety of Missions.

 024: Extending Thinking Beyond Humans | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 14:17

In This Episode: Thinking about thinking that might occur in machines — for the betterment of humanity. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * Notice that the sources which follow are both recent, and in multiple countries. * Shortages in the Healthcare Profession: “New Research Shows Increasing Physician Shortages in Both Primary and Specialty Care” (Association of American Medical Colleges, April 2018) and “Global Health Workforce Shortage to Reach 12.9 Million in Coming Decades” (WHO, November 2013) * Oregon Tetanus Case: “Notes from the Field: Tetanus in an Unvaccinated Child — Oregon, 2017” (Centers for Disease Control, March 2019) * AI in Lung Disease: “AI Improves Doctors’ Ability to Correctly Interpret Tests and Diagnose Lung Disease” (Medical Xpress, September 2018) * AI in Brain Tumors: “China Focus: AI Beats Human Doctors in Neuroimaging Recognition Contest” (Xinhua, June 2018) * Diagnosing by Voice: “Looking to Technology to Avoid Doctors’ Offices and Emergency Rooms” (New York Times, February 2019) * EMPaSchiz: “Towards Artificial Intelligence in Mental Health by Improving Schizophrenia Prediction with Multiple Brain Parcellation Ensemble-learning” (Nature, January 2019) * New AI Research Centers in the U.K.: “How Artificial Intelligence Is Revolutionising Medical Diagnostics” (The Engineer, February 2019) * I thought there should also be a source for “there are six different outbreaks of measles” currently in the U.S., and found out I was wrong! There are now eleven — in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. (CDC, February 28, 2019 [which page is subject to periodic updates].) * No episode next week: I’ll be on travel. Transcript Driving home from the theater with friends Friday night, my wife started a conversation about how difficult it is for modern medicine to diagnose thyroid problems. Both she and her friend in the back seat have that to differing degrees, and neither one of them has received a real diagnosis. And then I, and the friend’s husband, widened it out from there. Welcome to Uncommon Sense, I’m Randy Cassingham. Diagnosis is the first step toward treatment, or even a cure, for any disease, but getting it right takes expertise, experience, and something doctors have precious little of: time. So unless the problem is objectively obvious like, say, a heart attack where the myocardial infarction can be located, measured, and quickly treated with well-established protocols, then it gets complicated fast. How about chronic pain, gut issues, alteration of mental status, and,

 023: Why Uncommon Sense Matters | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 14:20

In This Episode: Whether you “need” a monkey (wait… what?!) or “want” something for nothing, scammers are eager to take your money from you. Here are a few stories of those who fell for it and (more importantly) how you can reduce your chances of being conned. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * Links: the Just How Stupid Are You? story of the foolish Korean man, and then the raid (with photos) in Lagos, Nigeria. * The “bricks” of currency that come out of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, as illustrated here, have 1,000 bills in them. So, in the case of $100 bills, each such bundle would be worth $100,000. * And the pic of the Hawaiian driver’s license the scammer used to paste in a photo and enough details to fake out Mr. Abrego, who is pictured right below that: Transcript You probably have an intuitive feel of what I mean when talking about Uncommon Sense — that it is, essentially, common sense taken to the next level. And since you’re listening, you probably agree that the world needs more of it. There are, of course, others who actually disagree, that there’s something to be said for “dumb and happy” — going through life without having to worry about thinking too much. It seems really appealing. And, in fact, there are lots of people who are looking for the “dumb and happy” types. Welcome to Uncommon Sense, I’m Randy Cassingham. Actually, there are many people actively looking for the dumb and happy types. Let me tell you a story about a guy who was just the sort of person they were looking for, and the kind of people looking for him. It’s from This is True’s newsletter number 1238. I called it “Monkey Business”: “I needed a monkey,” says Don Abrego of Wyoming, Mich. “I needed to be different.” He found one online, and sent $400. Then the seller said he needed more money due to a flight delay, and vaccinations. So Abrego sent more money, then more, then more and more. In all, “About 20 Amazon gift cards ranging from a hundred to $400 and $500,” he said. Clerks where he bought the cards “tried to warn me almost every single time,” he admits. “I would say six times out of eight, they were like ‘you’re being scammed. Whatever you’re doing, you’re being scammed’.” Yet he continued to buy and send the cards anyway. He was being scammed. “I would say between $4,500 and $5,000,” he said, and he stepped forward as a way to warn others. He never got the monkey. And my tagline for the story: “He doesn’t need a monkey: the seller made one out of him already.” There’s a name for people who are looking for folks just like Abrego, who seems to not have common sense, and definitely doesn’t have Uncommon Sense. And the people who really, truly want to know folks like Abrego are called scammers. This kind of con is pretty classic. Offer something of value for a low price. Once the mark sends the money, then have an at-least plausible-sounding reasons that more is needed. And more, and more.

 022: The Little Things | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 9:42

In This Episode: The “little things” matter — a lot. Right down to making the world a better place for generations to come, and they’re easy to do. And really: if a 5-year-old is obviously starting to develop Uncommon Sense, anyone who puts their mind to it can develop it too. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * Links for the two studies I mentioned about the benefits of reading: Science Direct and Open Research (abstract only). * Moved to contribute books to Logan’s Little Library? Since he has an overabundance, might I suggest you find a Little Free Library near you instead? Or (gasp!) even consider starting your own! * Wikipedia’s biography of Andrew Carnegie explains his support for libraries. * My own photo of Little Free Library in Colorado: Transcript We’ve heard a lot of examples in prior episodes of little things making a big difference. In this case, we start with a little boy — a very young child. You can see the glimmers of Uncommon Sense that early: you’ll see what I mean. And then I’ll widen out into a bigger picture. Meanwhile, seriously: if a 5-year-old is obviously starting to develop Uncommon Sense, anyone who puts their mind to it can develop it too. Welcome to Uncommon Sense, I’m Randy Cassingham. Logan Brinson’s family moved to Alpha, Illinois, in 2017, “and one of the first things we noticed,” says his father, Brandon, “was the local village didn’t have a library.” Logan may only be 5, and is only in pre-school, but he already loves books. And by the way, books are a great path to developing Uncommon Sense. A study published last month in Social Science Research says a “growing body of evidence supports the contention of scholarly culture theory that immersing children in book-oriented environments benefits their later educational achievement, attainment and occupational standing.” Not just for literacy, they say, but “numeracy” and “technological problem solving.” So much so, they found, that “Bookish adolescents with lower secondary education credentials become as literate, numerate and technologically apt in adulthood as university graduates who grew up with only a few books.” If that sounded like academic gobbly-gook, let me summarize: Just having an affinity for, and being allowed access to, books can actually get kids up to par with non-book-loving college graduates. Now: imagine combining the two. I’ll link to that study on the Show Page. Oh, and notice I’m not saying “textbooks” here. Even literary novels help expand the mind, improve vocabulary and learning, and spark creativity and, yes, achievement. And that study was not any kind of fluke. Another study from 2010 showed that kids who grow up in homes with books get as much advantage from them alone — that is, even if they have uneducated, even illiterate parents — as they would from having educated parents. And not just in the United States: that study looked at kids in 27 different countries, and found, “It holds equally in rich nations and in poor; in the past an...

 021: Uncommon Sense at Work | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 16:30

In This Episode: Uncommon Sense isn’t just for your day-to-day life. The story of a guy who not only runs his life with Uncommon Sense (even if he doesn’t call it that), he does it on the job, too. “Tiny little things” that bring huge financial results. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * Shankman’s web site. * I was on Episode 83 of Peter’s Faster Than Normal podcast, where he interviews CEOs and entrepreneurs with ADD/ADHD. An episode of this podcast has an interview with my own High Performance coach about ADD, and how it’s more of a “superpower” than a disability. * Peter’s recent books include Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity, and Success with the Secrets of the ADHD Brain; Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over — and Collaboration Is In; and, what I’m currently reading on my Kindle, Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans. Transcript I have a friend who is an extraordinary networker. We met years ago when both of us were speaking at some conference somewhere, and we’ve kept in touch since. He runs his business with Uncommon Sense in mind, even though he probably doesn’t call it that, and I’m going to give you some examples of how he does it, because it’s a fascinating lesson in how to get more Uncommon Sense into your own life — and truly benefit from it in relationships …or even a boosted income. I’m Randy Cassingham, welcome to Uncommon Sense. I love telling you about people who operate their lives, personally and professionally, with Uncommon Sense, because their stories can open our minds a little — many of the things they do are easily emulated, and the more you practice Uncommon Sense in your own life, well, the more of it you’re going to have in general. As I said in episode 17 you can learn this stuff, and there’s no better way to learn than by doing. If you’re in business, especially a very online-centric business, you probably know the name Peter Shankman. Like me, he cut his teeth in the very early days of the Internet. He worked at an early online start-up that wanted its own newsroom, and he was hired as a journalist: the Senior Editor. The company: America Online, or AOL. He bit off a big bite: it was his job to coordinate the newsroom’s coverage of the 1996 Democratic and Republican conventions — the first time any online news service covered any major political event. Well, AOL couldn’t keep up the pace, and after a few years Peter was laid off. He got other jobs, of course, but what he really wanted to do was start a Public Relations firm. During one job hiatus, there he was, out of work and out of money: by then, the dream of starting a new business seemed totally out of reach. Well, it was 1998, and he lived in New York City. On September 1st, the video version of an extremely popular film was coming out. You may have heard of it: Titanic. There was plenty of buzz about it in the mainstre...

 020: How to Lose Everything, Instantly | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 22:51

In This Episode: The Hewlett-Packard fire that destroyed early Silicon Valley History is anything but Uncommon Sense, but you can learn from it: it’s a real “Wake-Up Call”. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * This week’s special guest is Leo Notenboom of Ask Leo. Need a place to start for backing up your computer? Here’s Leo’s basic plan, with links to software. * Here’s Leo’s video telling the story of the fire that took away much of his family history. * There is an ongoing project to save and recover the data from old 9 track tapes of data from the pre-Apollo moon probes in the 1960s. NASA wouldn’t do it, so former NASA employees got together and funded it themselves, bringing some spectacular results. That guilted NASA into throwing a few bucks their way to complete the job, which is how the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project became an actual NASA program. The program has pretty much wound down, and their web site is still privately maintained: Moon Views. Wired ran a fascinating article and profile of LOIRP co-founder Keith Cowing; Cowing is a longtime friend of True, and once hosted this web site. * The XKCD cartoon Leo refers to is called Digital Resource Lifespan. The one I thought he was referring to is Digital Data. The idea is indeed a common concern with tech types. Transcript After taking the “first season” of the podcast down for a revamp, there were certain episodes listeners said should still be available, so I’m redoing most of those. This is one of them, because it really fits the new theme, even though it starts with a tragedy, because it really is about Uncommon Sense — or, really, what people with Uncommon Sense realize, and do. I’m Randy Cassingham, welcome to Uncommon Sense. What follows is an interview recorded in early November 2017. One note: I say in the recording that the Show Page is on the web site as Podcast 17. That was then, this is now: the Show Page is thisistrue.com/podcast20, where you can find a transcript, and a place to comment. With that, here we go. —– Randy: Welcome to Uncommon Sense, the Podcast companion to the ThisIsTrue.com newsletter with the mission to promote more thinking in the world. I’m Randy Cassingham, and this week I’m joined by a special guest: my old friend Leo Notenboom of AskLeo.com, which has the tagline “Making technology work for everyone.” Welcome, Leo. Leo: Thanks for having me. Randy: You’ll understand in a moment why I asked Leo to join us this week, because this week we’re discussing a story from issue 1220 of the newsletter, which will be included on the show Page at thisistrue.com/podcast17. It’s called “Wake-Up Call” — and you’ll see why I called it that in a moment, if you don’t already realize why. It’s about the fire storm that burned down 1 in 20 homes in Santa Rosa, Calif., recently, and it also took down a couple of “modular buildings” at ...

 019: How to be Happier | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 14:13

In This Episode: A ‘secret’ to Uncommon Sense used to be passed down from generation to generation… but has started to die out, which explains a lot. Learn it to reduce stress and fear, and increase satisfaction and happiness. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * No links or references this week: this was all dictated out of my own head. Vladimir had dropped me off at my lodgings, and I went right in and wrote down what happened since I knew this was a story I wanted to tell here. Transcript There’s a phrase your grandmother used that is an underlying building block of Uncommon Sense. It has been passed down through generations, but it seems like that passing along of wisdom died out in recent decades. In that phrase, that underpinning of Uncommon Sense, is a primary secret to reducing stress in your life, reducing fear, and increasing satisfaction and happiness. And I’m going to tell you what it is: you can put it to use immediately. Welcome to Uncommon Sense. I’m Randy Cassingham. “They” say that common sense is not only uncommon, it’s less and less common over time. Of course, if that’s true, Uncommon Sense has to be less common these days too. And if it’s true, it’s at least in part because something that used to be passed down from generation to generation has been fading out. If your mother didn’t say it — and it does seem to be passed down more through mothers than fathers, but certainly some fathers gave this advice too — then your grandmother probably did, and your great-grandmother and previous generations almost certainly did. I was in Las Vegas last week for meetings, and while driving in, I noticed my car had developed an issue, so I made an appointment with the local dealer for service the next morning. Nothing huge, but then I was stuck without a car, so to get where I was going I checked my Lyft app, and sure enough, there was something like 8 cars available within a few blocks, so I summoned one, and it pulled up within a minute. “Randy?” the driver asked — he had my name on his screen. I knew his name already too: “Vladimir?” He nodded and I got in next to him. “How are you?” he asked. When I replied “I’m great!” — he almost looked surprised. I wondered about that, but didn’t say anything …yet. As he drove, we chatted. I was trying to figure out where he was from: his accent wasn’t obvious, but he volunteered that he’s multilingual: he speaks Spanish, Russian, Italian, French, and I think a couple more. And, he said, he’s working on English. I asked him if he minded my asking where he was from. Cuba, he said. His turn: he asked me what I do for a living. I told him I’m a writer. “Sorry,” he said, “my English isn’t that good yet. I don’t know that word.” so I used the Spanish word, escritor, which of course gave him instant recognition! “Do you know Spanish?” he asked. “Muy poquito!” I admitted — very little — so he very wisely stuck to English. He wanted to know what I write about. “I write about how it is very important to think,” I told him, “because I believe a lot of the problems in the world are because people react to things, rather than think about them.” He pondered that for a moment, and then said, “May I ask you a question?” Clearly,

 017: Developing Uncommon Sense | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 17:49

In This Episode: Can you really develop Uncommon Sense? From none to some, and from some to more? Yes: it can grow, get stronger, and help you in your life — or even save your life. Here’s how. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * The links to the previous episodes I discuss are in context in the transcript below. Transcript In last week’s episode, I said that part of my message of this entire series is, you can develop Uncommon Sense. That’s right: it can grow, get stronger, and help you in your life. And as we saw last week, it can even save your life. This week, I promised to tell you how. Well… let’s get to it! I’m Randy Cassingham, welcome to Uncommon Sense. This is episode 17. Over the past 16 episodes, we’ve heard about some amazing people — and some ordinary people — who have exhibited Uncommon Sense. Let me very briefly recap them: if you missed any of the episodes, the Show Page has links to each of them: * A lowly book reader who insisted her boss’s rejection of a manuscript was actually a hidden diamond of a book, and she was so emboldened about being right, she went on to be a star editor in the publishing business for over 60 years, helping to polish many more diamonds. The Best of Humanity * Three short stories of people in the medical profession stepping outside their strict protocols to do the right thing, including one I witnessed first hand that had a profound impact on my life — not just as a volunteer medic, but as a writer and a human being. Reverberating for Decades * My inside story of the people behind the robotic spacecraft we send to explore other planets …and beyond, recorded after I went to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory just to be there for the end of the Cassini mission at Saturn. Cassini: The Bigger Picture * A man who admitted he was just a lazy schoolteacher, but ended up being recruited by the biggest of the blue-chip companies, where he became a star inventor because the CEO believed in him — and gave him free reign to just do what he wanted, because that CEO knew Uncommon Sense when he saw it. Full Circle * A fun feel-good story about a woman who was interrupted on one of the most important days of her life, and yet created an unforgettable moment not only for a stranger, and not only for herself, but for all of us who saw the viral story online. The Last Stroke of Midnight * Two people separated by 70 years who realized they could help others step up to change the world in profound, life-enhancing (and live-saving) ways. The X Factor * A woman who was completely fooled by self-deception and, on the brink of death, realized she was doing the wrong thing and started over — and the guy with Uncommon Sense who acted immediately, and thus helped give her that chance at a new life.

 018: Big Brother and the “Online Challenge” | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 12:50

Special Note: This episode is running out of order since it’s very timely, and becoming a news story. It was recorded yesterday, after Episode 17 was recorded (as promised, that one is about how to develop Uncommon Sense). So I’m swapping the order, putting #18 out not only before #17, but on Thursday instead of next Monday. Episode 17 will come out at the “regular time” on January 28. In This Episode: The “challenges” we see on Facebook: just a bit of fun? A way to share of yourself to your friends? But when you “challenge” the challenge by applying some Uncommon Sense, you might not want to play along. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * The New York Times on the 2011 Facebook/FTC settlement. * Tech Republic outlines various Facebook privacy scandals. * Kate O’Neill’s Wired article, Facebook’s ‘10 Year Challenge’ Is Just a Harmless Meme — Right? * O’Neill’s book, Tech Humanist: How you can make technology better for business and better for humans. * Update: on January 18, the Washington Post reported that the Federal Trade Commission is “discussing” imposing a “record-setting fine” on Facebook. The previous record was a paltry $22.5 million against another Big Brother — the one I talked about at the end: Google, in 2012. Transcript The “challenges” we see on Facebook: just a bit of fun? A way to share of yourself to your friends? As I record this, the latest “challenge” on Facebook is sweeping the social platform: post your photo from 10 years ago next to one from now to show how you’ve changed in a decade. Sounds like fun: “everybody” is doing it! But when you “challenge” the challenge by applying some Uncommon Sense, you might not want to play along. Welcome to Uncommon Sense, I’m Randy Cassingham. We never know where these things start: someone gets an idea, posts it, and it resonates with their friends: they post it too, and — with the “seven degrees of separation” concept fully engaged — before long “everyone” sees it. At least, everyone on that particular social platform. Although, such challenges can spread between platforms too: this one seems to be running on Instagram too, which is a subsidiary of Facebook, and Twitter, which isn’t a subsidiary of Facebook …yet. No, I’m not talking about the incredibly obliviotic “Bird Box Challenge” that’s also been going on lately: that’s based on the horror film Bird Box, a “Netflix Original” released in December about people driven to suicide by seeing …something!, so the characters blindfold themselves as they move around — a cinematic exploration of the blind leading the blind. Great: in our “monkey see, monkey do” culture?! Indeed: the bird-brained online “challenge” is to do it in real lif...

 016: Barking Up the Right Tree | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 9:30

In This Episode: Dogs may or may not have Uncommon Sense, but how its owner reacts to a dog might be an interesting indicator of their thinking ability. A really cool story. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * For a general article on cancer stages, Wikipedia is pretty good. * And for a good overview of ovarian cancer, too: Wikipedia. * Click the chart to the right to see it larger. * See below for other photos. Transcript This is a story about a dog. Dogs may or may not have Uncommon Sense, but how its owner reacts to a dog might be an interesting indicator of their thinking ability. You’ll get what I mean pretty quickly. I’m Randy Cassingham, welcome to Uncommon Sense. Stephanie Herfel is a dog lover. That alone doesn’t mean she has Uncommon Sense, but maybe it’s a start. Her dog, Sierra, is a Siberian husky. Herfel, a former Marine who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, got Sierra from her son. He’s in the Air Force, and dropped the 9-month-old pup off with her in 2013 when he was deployed overseas. And now Herfel and her son, Sean, are really, really glad he did. “She put her nose on my lower belly and sniffed so intently that I thought I spilled something on my clothes,” Herfel said. “She did it a second and then a third time. After the third time, Sierra went and hid. I mean hid!” Herfel found her curled up in a closet. Here’s where Herfel’s Uncommon Sense kicked in. This is a pretty unusual thing for a dog to do. Rather than assume her new dog was some kind of freak, she thought about it for a bit, and then wondered: is what the dog did in any way related to the pain she had been feeling in that same area for awhile? She had already seen a doctor, in the emergency room. The doctor said she had an ovarian cyst, declared it benign, gave her some opioid [pain] pills, and sent her home. But the dog got Herfel’s attention. “To see her become so afraid was spooky in its own right,” she said, “so I made an appointment with a gynecologist, and in a matter of weeks and some blood work with an ultrasound, on November 13, 2013, I was sitting in the gynecology oncologist room in shock that I had cancer.” Stage 3C cancer. Now, I didn’t know what Stage 3C really meant. I’ve heard of Stage I, Stage II, etc. cancers, and knew the higher the number, the more advanced it is. But I didn’t know what the C might mean, so I looked it up (I’m guessing some of you already know all of this by heart). There are multiple cancer Staging schemes, and adding a letter breaks down each Stage a little more specifically. Depending on the scheme, which relates to what type of cancer is being evaluated, the Stages can be refined with A, B, and usually C. Going up the letters also means more serious, so C is worst for that Stage. For ovarian cancer, the Staging classification was set up by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and is based on the size of the tumor, how deeply the tumor has invaded tissues in and around the ovaries, and the cancer’s spread to other areas of the body, called metastasis.

 015: Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 12:25

In This Episode: Do you have a big, overriding goal in life? Most really haven’t thought about it. Those who did often gave up after awhile, and maybe led a fine life, but never reached their big goal, their dream, their aspiration. But every few months, I hear of some humble person who kept their focus on their goal, and succeeded so well, their story goes viral. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this episode is about charity: I already covered that. No, this is the story of achieving a big goal — and how Uncommon Sense played a role. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * Read about PICC on their website. * And Treehouse on theirs. * Boys Town is here, and their parenting help is here. * Disabled American Veterans is here. * See the transcript below for a couple of photos of Naiman. Transcript Do you have a big, overriding goal in life? Most really haven’t thought about it. Those who did often gave up after awhile, and maybe led a fine life, but never reached their big goal, their dream, their aspiration. But every few months, I hear of some humble person who kept their focus on their goal, and succeeded so well, their story goes viral. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this episode is about charity: I already covered that. No, this is the story of achieving a big goal — and how Uncommon Sense played a role. Welcome to Uncommon Sense, I’m Randy Cassingham. You may have seen in the news at the end of the year a story about Alan Naiman of Seattle, Washington. He died about a year before, but recently portions of his Last Will and Testament were made public, because he funded some charities he loved. For instance, the Pediatric Interim Care Center in Kent, Washington. PICC is the nation’s first “interim care nursery.” They take in about 200 newborn babies every year who were exposed to drugs before they were born. They don’t really need hospital care anymore, but aren’t quite ready to go home to their family yet — so, interim care. If the baby is addicted to drugs that the mother took during pregnancy, once stabilized in a hospital, PICC is available to provide the medical care they need before going home. That benefits society not just because they help babies improve their start in life, but the kind of care they provide is a lot cheaper than hospital stays, saving taxpayers significant amounts of money. It’s something health insurance should cover, just because it is so much cheaper — but they probably don’t. And PICC doesn’t just help the babies and be done. They train the families to do continuing care to, as they say, “help ensure long-term success.” And Naiman gave PICC … the biggest donation they have ever received. I’ll tell you how much in a moment. There were other children’s charities in his will, such as the Make-A-Wish foundation, which helps grant the wishes of children diagnosed with critical illnesses. And Boys Town in Nebraska, founded 100 years ago as an orphanage for boys. Today it not only cares for girls, too, but their parenting and child behavior experts publish material online to help parents … be better parents.

 014: Expect the Unexpected | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 14:59

In This Episode: Just how much impact one person can have by refusing to be stymied by those who don’t have it. Because he did that, you might owe this guy your life. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * Much of my research on Dr. Blumberg is from a 2015 paper for the journal Astrobiology by Dr. Carl Pilcher, who was the Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute from 2006 to 2016. * There are several photos in the transcript, below. Transcript I’d like to tell you another story of Uncommon Sense that shows just how much impact one person can have by refusing to be stymied by those who don’t have it. The hero of this story is named Barry Blumberg, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1925. … And you may very well owe him your life. Welcome to Uncommon Sense, I’m Randy Cassingham. In college, Baruch Samuel Blumberg, who preferred to be called Barry, was interested in math and physics. But World War II interrupted his studies: he served in the U.S. Navy, eventually rising to be the captain of his own small amphibious ship. In the Navy, Blumberg learned responsibility, logistics and infrastructure, and planning — and not just planning but, it being wartime and all, always having a contingency plan ready too. Which came in handy: His motto: “Expect the unexpected,” and indeed you can expect that what Blumberg did was quite unexpected. After his discharge, he used his G.I. Bill benefits to attend Union College in Schenectady, where he graduated with honors in 1946. But he had learned that he wasn’t quite suited for physics, so he moved on to Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he received his doctorate in medicine in 1951. He stayed in New York to get through his internship and residency, during which time he went on medical research missions to Dutch Guiana (now known as Suriname), the Basque region of Spain, Nigeria, Greece, islands in the Pacific, Mexico, South America, and the American arctic. These experiences were giving him an idea. He was intrigued by “questions of diversity in relation to disease stimulated by my [internship] experiences at Bellevue [Hospital] and in the jungle hospital in Suriname,” he wrote years later. “Of particular interest are inherited differences among individuals and populations that result in differential disease susceptibility,” he continued, “because these can often be detected before the person is exposed to [a] disease hazard. It was this notion that became the driving force in our research. If we could precisely identify the susceptibility factors before a person became sick, then we might be able to intervene to prevent the illness. The idea of a disease-free life — or, to be more realistic, a life with less disease — might be possible.” This was decades before “preventative medicine” took the prominence it has today, so he’s already a forward, outside-the-box thinker, one of the markers of Uncommon Sense. To further his research ideas, Blumberg studied at Balliol College of Oxford University in England, and earned his Ph.D in biochemistry in 1957. Dr. Blumberg had a lot of interests, as you might be starting to gather. He liked to think of himself as an explorer: his heroes included evolutionary biologist Charles Darw...

 013: How ADD Made TRUE Possible | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35:41

In This Episode: Is ADD/ADHD a curse? No: when properly managed, it provides “superpowers” that are an absolute gift! It actually helped me in my job at NASA, and then in going solo as an entrepreneur. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * Both of us mention Dr. Ed Hallowell, who specializes in ADD (particularly in adults), in part because he has significant ADD issues himself. His best-known book is Driven to Distraction, but we think his later Delivered from Distraction is a better introduction to the topic. * I also mention that I was recently at JPL before recording this. That story is also an episode here: Podcast 003: Cassini: The Bigger Picture. * Kit briefly brings up the theory of “hunter vs farmer” types. That’s the theory that ADD is actually both natural and advantageous: that there are people who have the predisposition to be hunters to help get protein for their tribe; their acute focus combined with easy distractibility makes them excellent hunters — which we now call ADD or ADHD. If you’re interested, there’s an entire book based on this, The Drummer and the Great Mountain (apparently not available via Amazon). The book argues simply that ADD/ADHD is a neurological type, not a disorder. Kit was later on their podcast too. * I mention these sites, so here are links if needed: Stella Awards, HeroicStories (which I no longer publish), Honorary Unsubscribe. And there are others that are no longer online, including Jumbo Joke. I think I forgot to mention Randy’s Random (my meme site). * Kit mentioned the exercise band we use: it’s the Vivofit 2, which we like because it’s waterproof (so much you don’t have to take it off when you swim or shower), and it runs for at least a year on a set of cheap, and replaceable, batteries. * L-Tyrosine (or 4-hydroxyphenylalanine) is one of the 20 standard amino acids that are used by cells to synthesize proteins — and the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline, the lack of which is what is behind ADD/ADHD in the first place. (Example source: Wikipedia) * Kit’s web site is LiveInFocusedEnergy.com — she’s a High-Performance Coach who specializes in entrepreneurs with ADD/ADHD. * See below for a photo of us. Transcript Society seems to think AD(H)D is some sort of curse. Yet when properly managed, it provides “superpowers” that are an absolute gift — and enable great things. This week I bring in a special guest — my high performance coach (who specializes in entrepreneurs with ADD/ADHD like me) — to talk about why that is,

 012: Dreaming Big | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 11:27

In This Episode: I like to make fun of the lottery, but if you are going to play, here’s how to apply some Uncommon Sense to the mix, whether you win or not. Tweet Jump to Transcript How to Subscribe and List of All Episodes Show Notes * It’s lore that most lottery winners are actually unhappy or, worse, quickly worse off financially than when they started. But those conclusions are based on small sample sizes of people who typically don’t want to be found, or (if found) don’t want to talk about their personal finances …just like most others. (The Atlantic) * I argue it’s fine to play with what you can afford to lose (e.g., a portion of your entertainment budget), but some vehemently disagree, such as this response to the above article, and the author argues it well, including this tweet from a PhD student in machine learning: “My hobby: watching underpaid, overworked engineers sacrificing their 20s to an early stage startup ridicule people who buy lottery tickets.” Transcript I like to make fun of the lottery; a common joke is, it’s “a tax on people who are bad at math.” But if you are going to play, here’s how to apply some Uncommon Sense to the mix, whether you win or not. Welcome to Uncommon Sense. I’m Randy Cassingham. It’s a common news staple: groups of people who work together, and pool their money to buy lottery tickets. It’s often in the news because when they win, they all quit their jobs en masse or, worse, one tries to steal the winnings, saying the group tickets didn’t win, but the one they bought “with their own money” just happened to be the one that brought in the big cash! That doesn’t seem to be a worry for a group of about 140 nurses who work together in the NICU — the neonatal intensive care unit — at Mercy Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. “We have a very stressful job,” acknowledges nurse Gretchen Post, who has worked at Mercy’s NICU for 28 years, “so it’s just something fun that keeps us going.” The group has been pooling their money for years, and only played when the jackpot got into the hundreds of millions. But in all those years, they had never won more than $20 — to get back to the math part! This past October, there was a frenzy when the Mega Millions Lottery, a multi-jurisdictional game that pools tickets from 44 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, grew to the point where the estimated jackpot was 1.6 billion dollars — that’s billion with a B. To put it another way, that’s sixteen hundred million dollars. Once all the dust settled, the final jackpot for that drawing was one billion, 537 million dollars, if paid over 30 years. Most take the lump-sum cash value, which in this case was $878 million. Of course, that’s reduced further by taxes. And I’ll admit it: I put a $10 bill into the pot for a few chances at that. And decided up front that in the unlikely event that I did win, I’d put 90 percent of it into a foundation so that I could give it all away. On the night of the huge drawing, nurse Stephanie Brinkman, the group’s pool organizer, stayed up late to watch the numbers come in. Before she could even check all the tickets herself,


Login or signup comment.