Stuff You Should Know about the Stuff You Should Know Podcast
I don’t know about you, but if I’m not learning something new or challenging myself (even in the slightest) I start to feel like I’m in a rut – like something is missing and I’m merely going through the motions of day-to-day life. What follows is me getting really, REALLY down on myself for not feeling like I’ve done enough with my day or week, and that I’m not really accomplishing much. Maybe I’m alone on this one, but just in case there are readers identifying with this just know you’re not alone.
What I really wanted to do with this featured article was highlight one of my favorite ways to find out new pieces of information, and no, it’s not the news. Yes, I like to stay as informed as possible with respect to today’s politics, but it’s far too draining – especially in the last few years. Not to mention, I’ve yet to find a single source that fairly covers and criticizes both sides of the aisle. Social media seems to be a time suck built for entertainment and an endless flow of misinformation, so that’s a no-go. I also don’t read nearly as much as I should, and hardly ever have (or debatably make) the time to sit down and read a book. So, I’ve turned to podcasts! Specifically, a podcast titled Stuff You Should Know (or SYSK) made by the creators of a particularly awesome show from way back when, How It’s Made. I have to drive quite a bit for my work, and the combination of spotty radio service and overplayed hits led me to start downloading podcasts to pad my trips. I started out with the occasional murder mystery pod, then became an avid listener to Pod Save America. Side note, that pod is produced by an all-star team – Two of Barack Obama’s former speechwriters, his national security spokesman, and communications director – and they don’t pull any punches when it comes to unpacking and analyzing the playing field of today’s politics. I’d highly recommend it.
Now, back to Stuff You Should Know. I stumbled across this podcast the same way I imagine plenty of new podcast listeners do – by scoping out the most popular podcasts and seeing what looked interesting. Growing up, I LOVED the original show How It’s Made and would absolutely eat up the details and practices implemented to design, create, or produce a certain product that we typically took for granted. With the SYSK pod I’m always learning about things that are so seemingly common or mundane that we never stop to think about “why.” For example, where did the term “honeymoon” originate from? SYSK could tell you! Dating back to the 5th century, honey was widely considered to be an aphrodisiac and just so happens to be a staple ingredient in mead. During the first month of a newlywed’s marriage, the couple would drink copious amounts of mead in order to set the mood and consummate the marriage. Take the fact that one month can be measured as a “moon” (i.e. many moons ago) and pair it with the above tidbit, and viola! You have yourself a “honeymoon.”
As for the roundabout (yes, a really sexy topic, I know) – Did you know that roundabouts were attempted in the U.S. in the 1930’s (formerly called “rotaries”) but were wildly unsuccessful? Well, one instrumental rule in today’s roundabout etiquette was completely turned around (no pun intended) when they were first implemented. During their failed introduction, the right of way was given to the drivers attempting to enter the roundabout, thus causing traffic jams so egregious that it was entirely too common for local law enforcement to have to help direct traffic through the roundabout… talk about a total system failure!
Now, I’m not sure if having a kid makes you start behaving more and more like a dad, but I can tell you that I do far more woodworking, low-cut short wearing, and dad-joke telling than I ever did before my daughter was born. With this podcast, I get to bring a new level of “dad tidbits” (or what I just refer to as INTERESTING STUFF) to a conversation. These little nuggets of wisdom are fun to have in your back pocket, and they’re typically about concepts or topics that you wouldn’t even think about researching. I can guarantee that I would have never sought out a book on roundabouts, but scrolling through the list of pods on SYSK and needing something quick, I figured why not! Now I have a newfound appreciation for these systems that get such a bad rep. For my Wyoming friends who complain about roundabouts – learn to love them! They are far more efficient than a four way stop or stoplight. That being said, how people know how to navigate the ten-lane roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe is far beyond me.
Most topics are light and quick while some can be a little heavy. [Trigger warning] I recently learned that there were so many rape kits backlogged (for years) in the U.S. gone untested that many precincts charged with filing and storing these kits were destroying them just to make room for new, incoming kits. These precincts never reported that they had done so until, like many egregious instances swept under the rug, a handful of investigative journalists uncovered these wrongdoings and brought them to light. My heart sank, and I was filled with rage – especially knowing that a prior kit could have created a profile for someone who could and most likely would offender, but there wouldn’t be a match in the database from the second, third, or twentieth victim that came forward without that initial profile being made. If the first kit wasn’t tested, there was little to no chance that the following ones would be either. Justice was going completely unserved, and there was a complete lack of respect for the courage it took the victim to go through the invasive collection process to begin with. Well, with a light being shone on this gross malpractice and national news outlets picking up the story, there is now new legislation adopted by various states to directly address this issue including mandatory testing timelines, mandatory inventory checks, and increased funding to address the backlog. I’m so glad the pod included this last bit, because I was close to throwing my phone out the window.
With all of that being said, there’s some intriguing topics that the producers unpack. I’d highly recommend giving a few episodes a shot and learning something you may have never known would pique your interest!