Podcast 005: Politics, Religion, Oh! And…

In This Episode: Politics and religion can’t be talked about in polite society? Randy in Washington says no, there are three taboo topics: don’t forget sex (eek!) So yeah, let’s go there.

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Show Notes

  • The story of my 2008 visit to the Moonlight Bunny Ranch is still almost always among the most-popular posts in this blog.
  • No Longer Weird: burning your house down while trying to kill insects. The straw that broke the camel’s back came from Michigan’s Flint Journal.
  • If you want to be on the podcast-specific email list mentioned, see the bottom of this page.

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Randy: Welcome to the Uncommon Sense podcast. I’m Randy Cassingham.

Clare: And I’m Clare Angelica.

Randy: So last week the concept was “You’re not supposed to talk about politics or religion in polite company,” and you said…

Clare: We are not polite company.

Randy: Right. So we talked about religion, since we had talked about politics before. On podcast four’s show page we have a comment from Randy in Washington State, who says, “Long ago, I think it was Emily Post, a mannerist, claimed there are three things that are not discussed in polite company: sex, politics, and religion, but what are the most important things in human experience? Sex, politics, and religion. I don’t think I like polite society very much.”

So Randy was right, we needed to look for a good sex story to feature. And just by weird coincidence…

Clare: Utter coincidence!

Randy: Yeah, it’s just the way things happen in the news biz: we have a story that I’ve made the story of the week for this week, about Deborah Thomes, who was arrested in Fort Pierce, Florida. Can you believe this happened in Florida?

Clare: Astounding!

Randy: You know, it’s like Florida is in the news once in a while, or in This Is True once in a while. So undercover cops in Fort Pierce, Florida, were doing an undercover sting operation looking for hookers. And guess what? Deborah Thomes apparently, or allegedly I guess we should say, stepped into one of the undercover police cars, and introduced herself as the “Million Dollar Ho.”

Clare: She must be really good.

Randy: Well I’m not sure how good, because the next thing she said was “$40 and I’ll give you everything you want.” So that would mean to get a million dollars, she would have to turn 25,000 tricks.

Clare: Well, it’s actually more like 50,000.

Randy: Yeah?

Clare: Because it says in there she originally charged $20 what, a month before?

Randy: Oh that’s right, yes. Let’s see. “When she was arrested four months ago they note her quoted fee was $20.”

Clare: Inflation.

Randy: Yeah. That’s pretty steep inflation. Makes you wonder what it was like last year. Well this is kind of a weird news story, and all that, and it certainly fodder for This is True obviously since it’s in This is True. My actual feeling is that prostitution should not be illegal. And I don’t think much of streetwalkers walking up to people’s cars and all that — I think probably they should really be in brothels — but you know my real feeling is it shouldn’t be police business just in general, maybe for streetwalking, but it’s not any of our business what consenting adults do in private.

Clare: I agree. I’m going to go there a little bit.

Randy: Sure go ahead.

Clare: Some of the comments on the, if you see the photo she looked rather mannish.

Randy: Yeah. There is a mugshot of her and she does look pretty square-jawed.

Clare: Regardless it’s none of our business. It shouldn’t matter.

Randy: Right. I think she really is a woman, and I think they would’ve mentioned it if she was a guy in drag. So, I think it’s likely that she’s female, but even if she was male, so what?

Clare: Right, exactly.

Randy: This is kind of driven into the streets, because it’s illegal. If they made it legal, like say in Australia, where they have brothels that are probably pretty well regulated, in Nevada they’re pretty well regulated. I did a blog post about the Moonlight Bunny Ranch, and the girls there are checked by a doctor every week! And in all these years they’ve never had, as far as they know, a case of a customer getting AIDS, or a case of a hooker getting AIDS during a legal brothel transaction. And I think that’s much better than making illegal, making it kind of a backstreet thing where the hookers are out there bothering people. Why not allow brothels to operate — nationwide? I just don’t think it’s a good thing to try to legislate morality.

Clare: Well it’s kind of like the marijuana dilemma the U.S. is having.

Randy: Oh, you’re going right to drugs!

Clare: I am. She might’ve had those too actually. I don’t know — it wasn’t in the story.

Randy: Yeah, they did not note any drugs. Yeah. Colorado was the first state to legalize marijuana, but–

Clare: Well people are going to pay for it regardless in either situation.

Randy: Why not tax it?

Clare: Right! And have it… If it’s regulated you can semi-control it, and the quality, and the quantity, and the safety.

Randy: Especially with prostitution, safety is a big deal. Both for the girls and their customers, or sometimes women that are getting male escorts too.

Clare: Right. We forget about that side of things.

Randy: And why not?

So speaking of women, the other story that I wanted to mention in this issue, was a story about a Air India flight from Mumbai to Kolkata that was running out of fuel for some reason, and they had to make an emergency stop along the way to get more fuel, even though they had a full load when left. What the heck was wrong? One of the things the story noted was the brand new Airbus A320 couldn’t get to altitude, it couldn’t get to speed, it was just dragging along sucking up much more fuel than usual. And this was a little side note in the article. This was all attributed to an unidentified source in India, and the London Telegraph noted that “The source made a point of saying that both pilots were women.”

Which I thought was kind of interesting. I mean, I realize that India is probably a little more patriarchal than the west, but I left that out the story because if it was two men, would that have been remarkable? And I don’t think so.

Clare: I agree.

Randy: So that was just one of the decisions I made when writing the story. I wanted to try to have some background information about stories once in a while in the podcast, and talk about some of these things. There’s all sorts of details that I could add to a story. I’m trying to get it down to about 100 words. Usually [source] stories are a lot more than that. In this case the story was about 6,000 words, according to my little text editor here, and I dropped it down to about 100 words.

So, obviously I have to make choices about what kinds of things I’m going to include in the story, and in this case I just didn’t think that was pertinent. But I wanted to point it out because obviously the source that was talking to the newspaper thought it was really pertinent. I think it’s kind of interesting that the London Telegraph didn’t say, “hey look at this. These two pilots were women.” They said, “The source made a point of saying that both pilots were women.” Which I think is a really subtle dig at the source, and kind of interesting that the newspaper reporter didn’t really want to go there, but he wanted to point out what was going on in this communications with the source. I thought that was interesting.

Clare: I like that. Yeah, he did it in a nice way. Brought attention to that topic.

Randy: Right. That’s just an example of some of the things that we are looking at and making a decision on, whether we need to include it or not. So that “Behind the Scenes” look at how we’re actually writing the stories comes from the results of a survey I did. Those of you who have signed up for the survey email list, there’s about 200 people on there, I asked them to do a quick survey on what they like about the podcast, what they’d want to see changed. That’s why the last two weeks podcasts was a little bit shorter. They want it to be more like 15 or 20 minutes, rather than 20 to 30 minutes, and they wanted us to talk about the stories more. So the number one preference was that we discuss particular stories more, followed by the stories behind the stories.

Clare: Another thing the readers wanted to know about was things that are unweird now? I forget how you phrased it.

Randy: Actually the way I had put that was they’re No Longer Weird!

Clare: They’re normal now!

Randy: Well maybe they’re not normal, but they’re probably just… I see certain things in the stories again, and again, and again. It’s kind of strange. What I decided this week was no longer weird: the headline from the Flint, Michigan Journal is, “Man uses fireworks to take out bees nest, and burns down the garage instead.”

Clare: That is brilliant!

Randy: That was actually a 4th of July story. This guy in Grand Blanc, Michigan “reduced his garage to a pile of ashes this evening after attempting to use fireworks to remove a bee’s nest from the building, fire officials said.” I have seen so many — and I’ve actually done a couple on This is True about somebody like afraid of a spider, so they get a can of hairspray and a lighter, and they use the lighter to ignite the stream from the hairspray can to make a flame thrower! And guess what: they burned down the house! And probably the spider lived.

Clare: Yeah, it’s probably crawling out of the rubble.

Randy: These stories are pretty funny. But when you get down to it it happens a lot. Come on people: THINK!

Clare: Well you know the plus side is he gets to go car shopping.

Randy: Yeah, didn’t say whether or not his car was in there or not, but they did not burn down the house this time. Which made it a little less weird. He didn’t completely make himself homeless, even if the bees were. Kind of unclear. But you know what? If you have bees in your house don’t call an exterminator, call a beekeeper. They probably want the bees; they can probably get the honey out of there, because once you get the bees out, if there’s like 80 gallons of honey in your wall, you’ll probably want to get rid of that too. You probably want to get rid of all that bee’s wax, which is flammable. Guess what?

So the homeowner named Mike Tingley said, “We were…” [Clare laughs] Yes, Mike Tingley said, “We really weren’t going to celebrate the 4th of July so much as we just have fun in our backyard. We like to have barbecues, we had a patio back there…” and I noticed that the word was had a patio back there. So, his decision to get rid of the bees that were bothering him on the 4th of July when they were having their barbecue was to burn down his garage.

Clare: Maybe that’s just what he said. He might have been roasting the pig in there and things got of hand.

Randy: You never know. He said, “It is depressing losing a place where we had a lot of fun, but everyone is safe and that’s the main thing.” I’m not sure if that’s the main thing, but that is the bright side of this story, that he didn’t kill his family.

Clare: That would’ve been a really bad day.

Randy: Burning down your house or part of it when you’re trying to get rid of an insect, or even a nest of insects, is officially No Longer Weird.

That’s it for this week. The This is True newsletter and the Uncommon Sense podcast are supported by your subscriptions, whether you have the paid edition of our email newsletter, or even the abbreviated free version, which you can get by signing up at ThisIsTrue.com. We would really appreciate your rating our show on your podcast app or on iTunes. A review would really help: rating and reviews help others discover our work. I hope you’ll agree our efforts are worth a 5-star rating.

The Show Notes for this episode with the details and links discussed this week are at ThisIsTrue.com/podcast5 — that’s the digit five. I’m Randy Cassingham, and Clare and I thank you very much for joining us this week on Uncommon Sense. …We’ll talk at you later.

[Easter Egg]

5 thoughts on “Podcast 005: Politics, Religion, Oh! And…

  1. Another enjoyable few minutes. I also read the Bunny Ranch blog post before listening and found it enlightening, and I agree that we are burdened by puritanical “morals” that, more often than not, wind up doing more harm than good.

    I’ll reiterate my response to the survey: Too short. But carry on. You’re in the right place. I do hope you’ll occasionally find it appropriate to have an extended (25-30 minutes), more in-depth, discussion about a few subjects.

    Oh, and let the cat join in. They often have much to add to a conversation.

    I’ll definitely not artificially limit a discussion to 15 minutes should we really have more to say on a topic. -rc

  2. Great podcast, again. As to the rating, I wouldn’t give it 5 stars. I’d give it a *LOT* more than a measly 5 stars. I’ve enjoyed every podcast (so far), just like I’ve thoroughly enjoyed True all these years.

    I’m really glad you’re enjoying them. -rc

  3. Just got caught up on #4 and #5. It *is* tightening up — as expected — with practice and comfort levels. At first I felt the lead in music a little long, but seems shorter now, so maybe just me. Since your audience chooses you rather than waiting for it to be broadcast within a stream of noise, you don’t need much.

    The Dutch had prostitution legalized and medicalized in the 1970s when I was there. They seemed to get some decent tax $$ out of it, too. On top of that, the legal establishments helped turn in the traffickers working illegally.

    And PLEASE, I beg you, leave Agent 99’s meows and Clare’s laugh for the close! It’s wonderful, unique, and no one else has that. Made my day. (Start about 12:43 where you say “We’ll talk at you later”.)

    I’m still not done fine-tuning the music, but the length has always been the same, since that’s what I was wanting: “not much” as you say! Yes, there are many more examples of legal prostitution around the world. Last, the Easter Egg at the end changes each week. I don’t know what it will be until I’m running the audio tune-ups and adding the music, and seeing if there are any screw-ups to remove. Usually there is, and a piece of it gets put back in at the end. -rc

  4. Been enjoying your newsletter (free) for years and now the podcast (again). Was able to subscribe for a short time at the beginning but due to kids going to college, then layoffs and salary reductions, now illness and medical bills can’t but still enjoy the normal(real) stories in newsletter and the podcast (again).

    I’ve never had a podcast before: this is the first time. I did have a video series years ago, though, as noted on the podcast intro page, and suspect that’s what you are referring to. -rc

  5. Seems it’s only in the US where prostitution is “illegal”. I’m originally from Germany and very familiar with the “Reeperbahn”. For many years (closed almost a decade ago now) men (and women) went down the famous street housing the oldest brothel.

    I think you can tie “sex” as a sin anyway to religion.

    Yes, in the U.S. sex is allowed only between men and women who are married (to each other!), or, of course, to sell commercial products. -rc

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