Friday, May 17, 2019

Randy Cassingham Rules

Randy Cassingham produces three of my favorite things on the internet: a newsletter, This is True; a podcast, Uncommon Sense; and a meme email list, Randy's Random.  All three are very thought provoking.  Do not check them out if you are easily offended or simply don't like thinking.

I've been signed up for Randy's newsletter for longer than I can remember.  It was back while I was working in Fort Nelson, BC at Northern Lights College. It was called "This Just In" then and I probably found it using Archie, Veronica or Jughead.  (Not the comic book characters you young pups, the internet's prehistoric Googles without all the gathering of personal data.)  Randy best describes his newsletter,
This is True is a weekly email newsletter with several short bizarre-but-true news items from legitimate news outlets from around the world. Each story ends with a comment — a tagline which is humorous, ironic, or opinionated (or with luck, some combination of the three). True is non-partisan.
What he leaves out is the best the best part, the  Honorary Unsubscribe that normally ends each newsletter.  In it he honours the pasting of someone who has had an amazing life, often touching many, but have lived and died unnoticed by most of the media.

This is True comes in two versions: paid and free.  The paid version has more stories, a monthly contest where the readers try their hand at writing a tagline, and no advertising.  Both are great but I am a paid subscriber because I don't want to miss a single story.  If you're not sure give the free version a spin.

 Uncommon Sense: True’s Podcast
Randy's podcasts started in 2017 and has gone through several format changes.  The current format is 15-20 minutes long and focuses on how people can or have (or haven't) thought before acting.  Like This is True, makes you think while being entertaining.  Frequently the topic comes from one of the stories in the newsletter but not always.

Lastly is Randy's Random which is a daily email link to a meme. (For those of you like me who wondered what a "meme" is, it a picture with words.)  His memes can be thought provoking, entertaining, and often both, as advertised.  You can see the lastest HERE but below are some of my favorites:

Like I said Randy rules.  If you enjoy thinking, these three are for you.  Buy the way, ;-)  Randy also sells stuff including the famous (or infamous) Get Out of Hell Free Cards.  Occasionally Randy offers personalized GOoHF cards to paid subscribers.  I've used mine to great effect at Northern Lights College and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.  I gave them out to my students and they could use them to turn in a late paper, skip a quiz, etc.  I found that I had fewer missed quizzes, late papers, etc.  The students repeatedly told me that the GOoHF cards gave them a feeling of control and respect.  Several went on to use them with their students.  When challenged that they were unprofessional, I just pulled out my student evaluations, and later two very positive research papers based on giving students control of even a small part of the course.  Now I use them to cheer up overworked clerks, frazzled moms, etc.  Here have one on me:

Monday, September 10, 2018

20th Century in (mostly) Real Time - 3 YouTube Channels

For anyone teaching, studying, or just interested in the first half of the 20th century; these three channels are a must.
The Great War: This series is drawing to an end.  It has been the week by week account of Big Mistake #1.  There are also 3 month summaries for those who wish to speed things up a bit as many special episodes that range from Q&A, to in depth looks at weapons, people, tactics, and visits to museums and historic sites.

Between Two Wars: This series is on going and is found on the TimeGhost History channel.  As its name says, it looks at the history between the two world wars.  Each episode covers 3 months, so the pace is a bit quicker than The Great War.

World War Two:  This series is just starting and like The Great War, it is a week by week account of Big Mistake #2.  I expect them to have all sorts of special episodes like the original.  They are still working things out.

There is something about history in real time.  Normally we lose the feel for the flow of time.  We tend to bonce from one major event to the next without a feel how much time was between the two.  There isn't a sense of timing between different parts of the world and minor theaters of action are treated as footnotes if at all.  I knew that the American Army didn't reach the front until 1918 but after watching The Great War I really understand how late in the war that really was and how totally amazing that they got there that early considering the state of the prewar US Army.

The first two have made excellent use of maps and graphics and I expect the same from the third as well as more film clips.  The research has been top notch and Indy Neidell is an outstanding host with a good feel for his material.  As I said at the beginning, if you are interested in the first half of the 20th century, these three are a must.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Rare Earth

Rare Earth is a YouTube channel that takes a different look at the world, often a look that is totally unexpected.  The films are created and narrated by Evan Hadfield who, in his very quiet voice, brings to life issues about wealth [How to Spend a Fortune], economics [The Last Elephants of Cambodia], or politics [The Other North Korea] in clear and balanced thoughts.  You may not agree with him (I sometimes don't) but you do feel that he he has thought long about what he has to say.  You never know where he is going but plan to informed, challenged to think, and learn something new.  Add to this Francesco Petitti's outstanding photography, it is well worth the time.

Just a hint: don't be too quick to move on at the end.  They usually add a little clip after the credits.