Questions and Answers: Volume 7

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Podcast Transcript

In June of every year, the sun has its solstice. In the north, the days are long; in the south, the days are short, and we can plan our calendars around this event. 

Just as certain as the sun follows its path in the sky, so too do the listeners of this podcast have questions. 

Just as certain as there are questions, so too do I have answers. 

Stay tuned for volume seven of questions and answers on this episode of Everything Everywhere Daily.

Let’s get right into things. The first question comes from Gavin Wilkinson

He writes: What episode did you dread doing before you researched/recorded, but then actually loved it the more you dove into it?

When I dread writing a particular episode, it isn’t the subject matter that I dread. If I didn’t find it interesting, to begin with, I would never have put it on the list, and I wouldn’t have considered doing the episode in the first place.

The episodes I dread doing are topics that are interesting but can be overwhelming in terms of trying to explain them. 

For example, I’ve been thinking about doing an episode on quantum physics for over two years, but I’m still not sure exactly how I would encapsulate everything into the time limits of the show. I’d probably have to chop the subject up into multiple episodes with an overview episode first. 

Likewise, I’d like to do an episode explaining how blockchains work. It is something people hear about, but most people don’t really know how they work under the hood. In this case, it is trying to figure out just how much detail to go into explaining it.

Other topics are just enormous, and trying to condense them down is more of an exercise in trying to figure out what to omit. I did an episode that gave a brief history of the Mongol Empire, and that was challenging for that reason. 

The episode on how horses arrived in North America was a topic I found really interesting, but I dreaded doing it for a long time because I felt the topic was daunting. 

Preston Smith asked, How do we suggest new topics? How far in advance does the “idea list” go? How do you decide if a topic is too obscure to tackle?

Preston, that is really easy. However, you can communicate with me, works. You can send a message on Facebook, or make a post in the Facebook group, or you can send me a Tweet on Twitter, or you can send me a message on Instagram, or you post something on the Discord server, or you can send me an email. 

Any and all of these are ways that people have given me suggestions for future episodes. 

As for the list, the list was originally 100 ideas that I came up with before I ever published the first episode. Since then, I have added to the list as I have come up with new ideas and taken things off the list as I do them. As of this moment, there are currently 867 episode ideas on the list. They are in no particular order. Some may never get recorded or they might be merged into other episodes.

If you are a supporter on Patreon, you have access to the actual document of future episodes, and you can make suggestions right in the document itself. 

As far as what is too obscure, I guess that is a judgment call. I get a lot of suggestions from people that are really just facts. They aren’t the sort of thing you can develop an entire episode around. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that has an interesting story around it. So long as it is interesting, it really doesn’t matter how obscure it is. 

Oleg Ulogov asks, As a person from the USA traveling all around the world, what do you think people who had never been [there] get the most wrong about USA and people who live there? Do you have stories of funny stereotypes or misconceptions you faced around the world?

This is actually a great question, Oleg. 

The thing with being an American traveling is that everyone you encounter is aware of the United States, at least to some degree. Their knowledge of the United States almost exclusively comes from what they’ve seen in movies or on television. 

As such, most people think they know more about the country than they really do. 

For example, I got into a big argument with a guy from England about how many states there were. I explained to him that there were 50 states, and he was adamant that there were 52 states because Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico were states. 

I tried explaining to him that those were not, in fact, states, and if he wanted to verify the number of states, all he needed to do was to count the number of stars on the flag. 

I’ve met many people who, when I said I was from the United States, would then ask….California? New York? That was all they asked because they didn’t know about anything beyond those two places. Maybe they might be aware of Texas or Florida. 

There are also people who assume that everyone carries guns around and that there are police shootouts and high-speed chases all the time. 

The vast majority of people I met who had been to the United States usually only visited a few places. New York City, Disney World, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Maybe Washington, DC, if they worked for some organization. Very seldom would I meet people who visited the country and actually went beyond major coastal cities. 

I was on the road during four different US presidential elections. I saw local coverage of it pretty much everywhere I went. The problem with everyone paying attention to American politics is that they view everything on reciprocal terms with their country. 

They would say, “I know who the leader of your country is, why don’t you know who the leader of my country is.” That sounds reasonable at first, but that same thing can be said by someone in almost every country. 

My response would be to ask them who the president of South Korea or Switzerland was, to which almost no one had an answer.  Everyone I encountered has a similar level of ignorance once you turned the spotlight to some other third country. 

Many people also don’t realize just how big the United States is. Many US states are on par with many countries in Europe, with economies and populations that are just as large or larger. 

I met one British couple that was planning to fly to New York and then drive to Chicago for the day. I had to explain to them that wasn’t going to work.

There is a stereotype that Americans aren’t that well-traveled. It really depends on how you ask the question. If you ask people how many countries they’ve been to, the average American will have been to fewer countries than the average European. 

However, if you just look at the distance people travel, Europeans and Americans travel about the same distance. The difference is what you can find in that distance.

If you draw a circle with a radius of 1,000 kilometers centered on Prague, within that circle, you will find 32 different countries. 

If you draw a circle with a radius of 1,000 kilometers centered in Kansas City, Missouri, every point in that circle is still within the United States, and it only touches 23 states. 

David Day asks How profitable is the podcast? Is it supplying a full-time income for you yet? And do you have any tips for someone wanting to get into podcasting?

Right now, the show is allowing me to make a living. It is paying for rent and expenses, but I haven’t purchased a new car or anything. Advertising and the support I get from the supporters on Patreon are paying the bills. 

I’m getting very close to the point where I am going to be able to hire someone to help me with some of the tasks in managing the show. 

As for advice, I could talk about that for hours. The thing I would recommend is not to expect any success immediately. Podcasting isn’t like YouTube or social media, where things can go viral. The vast majority of podcasts never make it to episode 10. 

Don’t just have a subject for your podcast, but actually develop a format. If you’ve listened to this show long enough, you are pretty familiar with the format of the show. I stick to it pretty rigorously and it has worked.

Jeff Loftus has another question about the show and asks,  “Do you have any interesting interactions with the advertising side of this show that you care to share?”

I am not involved in the day-to-day selling of advertising. I work with Glassbox Media out of New York, which handles selling advertising. Producing the show by myself every day takes up a lot of time, and I don’t have the bandwidth or the talent to do advertising sales properly. 

That being said, I can’t say I really have a lot of interesting stories. I have rejected some advertisers because they aren’t a good fit for the show, and I have turned down quite a bit of money because it would have required adding another ad spot. When I started the show, I set a limit of no more than 2 ads per episode, and that is something I’m going to stick to. 

Almost all of the ads you hear me read are written by me. Most advertisers give quite a bit of leeway in letting you say what you want so long as you hit a few key points. 

Bairbre N’Cinneide asked I was rewatching “A Few Good Men” and I was wondering about the obsession with Cuba. Has Cuba ever invaded the US? I seem to remember the US trying to invade Cuba.

I could probably make an entire episode on the relationship between the United States and Cuba. I’d recommend listening to my episode on the Spanish-American War to give an historical background for the movie a Few Good Men. 

Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean by a wide margin. It has more land and people than every other island combined. It also happens to be very close to the United States, although technically, the Bahamas is closer. 

In the 19th century, there was talk of taking Cuba from Spain and making it a US state. 

The US invaded the island when it was still held by Spain in 1898. The US occupied the island for a few years, and when Theodore Roosevelt became president, he was a big supporter of Cuban independence, so they became independent in 1902. 

In 1903, Cuba allowed the US to establish a naval base at Guantánamo Bay for an annual payment. A 1934 treaty established the lease as being perpetual and the annual payment to be $4,085 US dollars. 

The base was actually a large employer for local Cubans up until the commumist revolution in 1958 when the based was sealed off. Guantánamo has been a sore point in US/Cuban relations ever since, and the current Cuban government has refused to cash the annual lease payment checks the US government sends every year. 

Guantánamo Bay is definitely worthy of an episode of its own in the future.

Sara Fredman Aeder asks, What spots in Israel outside of Jerusalem do you think are worth the visit?

The good thing is that Israel is a pretty small country, so you can actually visit quite a bit just by taking day trips outside of Jerusalem. 

The place which is closest is Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park. This is a collection of huge caves which were actually excavated by hand. There are also active archeological digs in the city of Maresha where the public can take part in a dig.  

Normally, archeologists wouldn’t let the public do this, but what they are excavating are actually garbage pits, so there isn’t as much in the way of stratigraphy to worry about. 

Another recommendation would be the Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve. This is located on Mount Carmel and is not far from Haifa. It is one of the most important sites for documenting early humans and human evolution. 

Masada can be visited on a day trip and it will give you an excellent view of the entire Dead Sea.

I’d also recommend visiting one of the tels. A tel is a human settlement that over the course of thousands of years, developed into an artificial hill as people continuously built up on top of the ruins of what came before them. 

There are three in Israel which have UNESCO World Heritage Status: Megiddo, Hazor, and Beer Sheba. Beer Sheba is probably the closest to Jerusalem, but Megiddo is probably the most interesting and best to visit.  I’ve been to all three, and I recommend checking out the ancient water systems that they developed. They were quite sophisticated. 

The final question comes from Sevy, who asks, What are your favorite unorthodox travel hacks?

To be totally honest, I don’t really have any. I’ve never focused on things like travel hacks. I am aware that there is a very large number of people out there who are focused on travel hacks, frequent flyer miles, getting status with airlines, etc.  Some of them are downright obsessed about it. 

I’ve never really cared about those sorts of things. I’ve always been more interested in what I was seeing and where I was going rather than the minutia of getting discounts on flights and hotels

My travel hacks can be summarized as follows: get a credit card that has travel rewards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, use it frequently, show loyalty to a particular airline or hotel chain if you want rewards. 

That’s about it.

That concludes this volume of questions and answers. If you have a question for me, you can ask it for next month’s episode over on the Facebook group or on the Discord server. 

The Executive Producer of Everything Everywhere Daily is Charles Daniel.

The associate producers are Thor Thomsen and Peter Bennett.

Today’s review comes from listener Rivn33 over on Apple Podcasts in the United States. They write:

Great podcast.

Wonderful podcast. I constantly share the info I learn with family and friends, and it’s even helped me when watching Jeopardy! Masters. I will continue to listen to this podcast as long as you make it. However, I have one bit of criticism, and admittedly, it is derived from personal history. I just got done with the Banana Republic episode from 2021, and you pronounced the word potable incorrectly.

Many people have been told a fable that the word means “good enough for a pot,” when in all actuality, it’s pronounced Poh-tuh-buhl.

Keep the episodes coming, and my apologies for the trivial criticism.

Thanks, Rivn!  If I mispronounced the word, then I stand corrected. 

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Remember, if you leave a review or send me a boostagram, you too can have it read on the show.