In This Episode: A new co-host, an interesting question from a reader, another segment in No Longer Weird, and a story about a political candidate who is …a bit “out there.” WAY out there. And, of course, another segment of No Longer Weird.
- Questions for the podcast can be posted as a comment on this page, via the Contact Page on this site, or by tweeting it to Randy @ThisIsTrue.
- Details on the Best Of True email distribution, which is free for many readers.
- The bio of Joseph de Maistre (1753–1821), a French-speaking Savoyard philosopher, writer, lawyer, and diplomat.
- Kit’s web site is Live in Focused Energy.
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Comments and Questions?
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 unfortunately, I’ve lost my co-host, who has moved on. Filling in this week, my wife:
Kit: Kit Cassingham.
Kit: Hi! Did I surprise you?
Randy: I didn’t know you were there!
Kit: Well here I am.
Randy: This week we’re discussing a story from issue 1219 of the newsletter, which will be included on the Show Page at this is true dot com slash podcast 16, which we’ll get to shortly. In addition to helping make the podcast be more interesting and engaging, the Uncommon Sense co-host has a special function.
Kit: I do?
Randy: You do. You’re the surrogate for the listener and the newsletter readers — to ask the questions that a listener might have as we go over the topics in an episode.
Kit: Oh… I get to act like all your intelligent readers, who aren’t here to ask questions. I love it!
Randy: Boy, you really get it.
Kit: Let’s test me out.
Randy: I love the give and take with readers by email, but they can’t really do that here, so you help play that role in real-time for the podcast.
Kit: So I hope you enjoy the give-and-take with me also.
Randy: Well, I do “off the air,” so why not?
Kit: Let’s try it.
Randy: That doesn’t mean readers can’t write or tweet questions: I do invite that. The thing is, they usually don’t. Certainly not as much as readers write in response to the newsletters. I closed last week by noting we finally do have a question from a listener, Andrew in Texas, and I really like it. First, a little bit of background of background on what he’s asking about. This is True has been running weekly since mid-1994, so it’s developed quite an archive of stories. In March, a new service started that sends one story from the archive early each morning by email. I call it the Best Of True, and I do think it’s the best of the stories since I been going through the archive and hand-picking which stories should be included. March 1 through now is, what, not quite eight months? — about 238 days. A few days ago we finished up the Best Of the first year of stories, and have started into Volume 2. So Andrew’s question is really timely.
He writes, “As you go back and select stories for the ‘Best of True’ mailing, are you ever tempted to hit the Googles and find out what has happened to the subjects in the succeeding 22 years? [And] Have you ever DONE it?”
Well that’s a great question and the answer is: Yes …and no! The no: I’m not particularly doing that for the Best Of series since …I’ve already done it for the book collections. As I edit the books for print, some stories just beg for an update, so yeah: I “hit the Googles” and see what I can find. Often I can’t find any follow-on, but sometimes I do, and I’ll add the details if they’re interesting or illustrative.
The online archive, the Best Of story feed, and the books are all generated out of an SQL data base, and when I first spec’d out that data base years ago, I reserved a spot for comments and updates on the stories. And that field in the data base is included in the Best Of mails, the online archive, and the books. For example, the first-ever Zero Tolerance story, from way back in June 1995. If you look at that story in the archive — which you can see at go.thisistrue.com/zt1 — you’ll see that it has an Author’s Note that says:
This is the first “zero tolerance” story in True that was identified as such. An earlier story called Minty Fresh could be considered ZT, even though those words weren’t used. More on the concept at https://thisistrue.com/zt/
And that’s the beauty of using a data base to generate the archives. There’s one place that has the definitive version of every story, and any special notes that I want on the record with the story. So Andrew was astute to ask the question.
Kit: Well, you’ve answered half of his question. What about the Yes?
Randy: Yeah, I said “Yes or no” and that was the no. What’s the yes part? As I’m going back through the stories again, with a different purpose in mind, yes: I’ll sometimes wonder if there’s an update on one that doesn’t have any extra details, and I’ll look then. Or, sometimes there is an update there, which maybe I added 5 or 10 years ago, and I then wonder, is there anything else readers should know? So I’ll check again. Certainly, for most stories, you read it, you enjoy it, and you move on: it doesn’t really matter what happened later. And some that I really do wonder about, I can’t find an update. Not surprisingly, “what happened” isn’t really news, and it fades away. Plus, the subjects of This is True stories often don’t want mentions of their …you know… antics preserved online, so they’re not exactly anxious for the news to report on what happened anyway.
Kit: How do people get on the Best Of distribution?
Randy: It’s a paid subscription, but a lot of readers can get it for no extra cost: I actually first created it for the folks who chose higher contribution levels on Patreon — $7/month or more — or who are members of the This is True Community and Forum. So to get all the qualifications, or to pay for it, or whatever, see thisistrue.com/bestof
Randy: The story we’re talking about this week is the lead story from issue 1219, called “Really Out There”. It’s about Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, 59, who says when she was 7 years old, three space aliens picked her up and took her to their space ship. They were blond and “big-bodied beings” who have since “communicated telepathically” with her several times. Rodriguez Aguilera has freely given details of her experiences in TV interviews. You may not be surprised that Rodriguez Aguilera lives in Florida, but you may be surprised that she is seeking the Republican nomination for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. “Miami politics are unusual,” said Rick Yabor, a Miami-based Spanish-language political commentator. “This one takes it to a new level.”And my tagline: “Yeah: somewhere beyond the orbit of Pluto.”
Now, Kit has the most interesting comment on that story, sent in by Anne in Washington state:
I know we are meant to laugh at her, but how does this disqualify her from office? Every day people are elected who believe in a being “out there somewhere” who is telling them what to do, who is supporting their candidacy, who will grant them favors if they use the right words, who supports their favorite football team. We elect people who think the earth is 4,000 years old and the fossil record is faked by a non-human being. We elect people who think someone used a scrying stone to read golden tablets he got from an angel. We elect people who think a man died, then was bodily resurrected, and disappeared in a place called Heaven that no one living has seen or gone to; but people still think it exists.
We don’t only elect these people; many voters insist that their candidates believe in the imaginary beings and that they follow the teachings of a book compiled a couple thousand years ago whether it is relevant or not. (Not too many atheists in office).
So this woman thinks she was abducted by aliens? That doesn’t actually render her any more unfit for office than those who are in there right now.
Randy: That’s a wonderful, thought-provoking letter, but that’s not really my point with the story. While we might laugh a little bit uncomfortably, I’m actually not saying she is, or even should be, disqualified from office. In addition to the good points Anne raised about electing people who believe (if I may) “weird things,” we’ve also elected a guy with no real experience other than a confessed history of “grabbing” women by the genitals — and repeatedly going bankrupt.
It’s an old maxim that we get the politicians we deserve. The story is meant to show that our choices for political office are getting more and more interesting — as in the supposed Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”
I do think that old maxim is interesting, but I’m going to let Kit read original exact quote, since I’m not that good with French:
Kit: It’s been awhile for me, but I’ll give it a whirl: “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.”
Randy: I don’t think I would have done that well! So the English translation has several variations, including “Every country has the government it deserves,” and “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.” The quote is popularly misattributed to better-known commentators such as Alexis de Tocqueville and Abraham Lincoln.
Kit: Abraham Lincoln didn’t say that?
Randy: He did not.
Randy: If they didn’t say it, then who did?
Kit: Joseph de Maistre.
Randy: …who was a Savoy lawyer. I’ll link to his Wikipedia profile on the Show Page.
Finally this week, another segment of No Longer Weird.
This week: gasoline station robbers who flee and are quickly caught …because they ran out of gas. Whether it’s nerves because they know what they’re about to do or what, you wouldn’t believe how many people pull into a gas station when their car is running on fumes, rob the place and take off, without ever thinking that maybe they should have gotten a tank of gas before they pulled a gun on the clerk. Of course, if they were thinking, maybe they’d come up with a better idea than robbing the place.
Kit: You know, if they had driven an electric car, that wouldn’t have been an issue.
Randy: Yeah, but I’ll bet they would have run out of battery!
If you have a question or a comment, you can leave it on the Show Page, at thisistrue.com/podcast16 — or you can tweet me @ThisIsTrue.
If you’re enjoying these podcasts, it would be really helpful if you’d post a rating and maybe a review through whatever service you’re listening on.
I’m Randy Cassingham…
Kit: And I’m Kit Cassingham.
Randy: Thanks so much for joining us this week on Uncommon Sense.
…And we’ll talk at you later.