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JoyBinge Ep. 29: A Busted Flush (& Announcement!)

Listen to the episode here or on SoundCloud through the links below! Artwork by James Cole

Listen to the episode here!

Listen to the last episode here!

Hi and welcome to JoyBinge, a podcast where we re-learn that good things are happening in the world and celebrate those good things because we are tired of only hearing about the bad crap. We are Kimmy and Sinow, bringing you some good news to celebrate! We are not journalists or professionals of any sort in the news industry. This week we are covering the dates July 14 - 26, 2019. We just want to spread good news to you! Let’s binge on some joy!

Before we jump into the news, we have an announcement to make. This is our 29th full news episode, which feels like a big accomplishment by itself, but if you add in the non-news episodes we did before, we are at our 36th episode. Sure, these are random numbers to make this point on but we need a break. August 21st will be our 1 year anniversary of doing this podcast and we’ve made a lot of progress and had several big changes from adding Sinow as co-host to changing branding, to adding music and expanding the platforms we post the show on.

The podcast has been a great source of joy and challenge for us in trying to sync our schedules, doing research, posting daily news stories during the work week to keep momentum. The way we are doing things now no longer feels sustainable to maintain our current pace. So during this break, we are going to continue brainstorming ideas of how to revitalize the podcast behind the scenes and look for our blindspots that we need to improve upon. If you have any ideas or thoughts about the show, suggestions for what you would like to hear or see from us, anything you feel like we leave out or don’t focus on enough, let us know! We don’t just want to hear stories from you, we crave feedback. Comment on the episodes, tweet at us, email us, tell us in our Twitch streams. We can’t make the needed changes for what would benefit our audience if we don’t hear from you. So please join us in this journey to better improve JoyBinge!

We might try some things that may not work, we may implement some changes that not everyone will enjoy so please let us know about your impressions moving forward. The break will begin after the 30th episode which is scheduled to post on August 13th. During the break, we plan to continue posting daily stories on social media so if you crave good news be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. As for the return date, we are still trying to figure out what will be best but right now we are thinking between October and November. We will both be travelling a bit during this time and will need to make sure we have an adequate amount of time to think on the show and what can make it stronger moving forward. We will do our best to announce the return date in the 30th episode.

Now, let’s for real binge on some joy!


Can music unite a young nation?

  • Written by Stephen Moss for The Guardian on July 26th

  • Latvia may be a tiny country with just two million citizens but they are alive with culture everywhere

  • And when I say “everywhere” I mean everywhere - they’ve got 120 schools of music where, as the article puts it, “one in 12 children attend” all over the country

  • Nauris Puntulis, Latvia’s new culture minister who has a strong past in a musical career, told The Guardian, “When we founded our state [after the first world war], culture was a central element...more important in a way than political structures. The only way for us to exist was to nurture our culture.”

  • This year, Latvians have a new festival to look forward to celebrating the vibrant music and arts exploding from their country

  • They call it the Riga Jurmala Music Festival for it will take place, “at the capital’s seaside resort, Jūrmala, designed to be more than just a moment of high culture but something of a rallying point for a country with a delicate historical and geo-political backdrop.”

  • Since musical education is so widely spread, the music festival hopes to attract not just adult lovers of classical music, but the youth as well

  • The article reports, “‘The aim is to put Latvia on the map,’ says the festival’s director Zane Čulkstēna, who also founded and still runs the contemporary art centre in Riga. ‘We want to get across the message that music has a special place here, and we are not from forests where we spend all our time picking mushrooms’, although mushrooms are indeed a national obsession in heavily forested Latvia.”

  • To understand why music in particular is such an important part of Latvian culture, we must understand a little bit about Latvia’s history:

  • “Latvia and other Baltic states had spent centuries as playthings of empires - Swedish, Polish, German and Russian. All it had to sustain itself was its language and a Lutheran choral tradition that remains vibrant and culminates every five years in a huge song and dance festival in Riga at which the combined choir numbered 17,000. The Latvian state lasted only 20 years before the country was occupied successively by the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union once again after the second world war. Latvia has only been independent again since 1991. “It was our folk art culture that kept us alive under the Soviet occupation,” says Puntulis.”

  • When our article’s author, Moss, asked the chairman of trustees for the festival, Petr Aven, his reasons for the festival, Aven told Moss, “‘We are doing this for Latvia,’ he tells me during the interval of the second of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra’s two concerts at Riga’s opera house. ‘Latvia is potentially a great country. It lost a lot of people during the second world war and in Soviet times, but it has a great environment and a great musical culture. We wanted to do something to distinguish Latvia from the rest of the world, but at some stage we hope the Latvian state will come in. If you want it to be sustainable, you need the state to participate.’ Aven, eager to get back to the second half of the concert, is coy when I ask him why music matters so much to Latvians. ‘Why do they play football in Brazil? Why in France are there so many painters?’ he says.”

  • This last quote really stuck out to me as I read this article because it got me thinking about the word “culture”. What does culture mean? Why music? Why football? Why paintings? So I looked it up.

  • The dictionary defines culture as “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively,” as well as “the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.”

  • Moss spoke with Egils Levits, Latvia’s new president, who told him, “Culture, he explains, was central to the survival of Latvian identity during the occupation and is just as important now in a digital age that threatens to atomise the population. ‘The choral movement has a big social role,’ he says, ‘especially in the countryside, with people coming together over a period of years to prepare for the song festival.’ The fact that the anti-Soviet movement of 1987-91 that led to the independence of Latvia and the other Baltic states was called the Singing Revolution underlines the social and political importance of the choir tradition.”

  • So celebrating and practicing music isn’t just a fun time to be had by all, but rather a coming together as a nation to celebrate who they are, where they’ve all come from and the importance of sticking together. Many countries have some form of this, many in music form, so I thought it was beautiful to learn about this important tradition to the Latvian people.

  • Moss also spoke with Levits about concerns regarding the festival, “He [Levits] realises that an emphasis on protecting the nation’s traditions can become nativist if taken too far, but says he is determined to guard against that. ‘It is possible to be introverted, to reflect about ourselves, but at the same time to be open to the world,’ he insists. The ambition is to strike a balance between modernity and tradition, cutting-edge digital technology and vast choirs in national costume, though the number of audience members using their state-of-the-art mobile phones during concerts at the festival’s opening weekend suggests some misunderstand the nature of that balance.”

  • If there is any tradition in modern day technology use, it’s the misunderstand of when and where to use such technology. However, creating the space and time to celebrate old and new traditions together allows us to continue learning and growing as people. What is greater than that?

The rise of ‘happiness coaches’

  • Written by WorklifeIndia for BBC News on July 26th

  • If there is anything that seems like a shared issue across cultures, it’s the pursuit of happiness in workplaces.

  • Many places in India are facing this problem among their workers and some have started an interesting new coaching practice called “happiness coaches”

  • The article starts off by saying, “India's workforce is one of the youngest in the world, and faces high levels of anxiety and depression in large part from work-related stresses.”

  • We’ve all been there. Some of us are there now. Looking for ways to stay consistently motivated and content while working has been a problem probably since the beginning of time.

  • The article goes on to say, “Mental illness is often neglected in India because of social stigma and poor care. Depression is among the top areas of concern and an estimated 57 million Indians are affected by it. So how can India change the discourse on mental health especially at workplaces?”

  • Cue the happiness coaches. Some businesses are now hiring people, Pravin Chaturvedi, who have specifically trained to be happiness coaches to help their employees find balance in happiness at work

  • Pravin first began his journey as a happiness coach by being laid off from work and feeling lost moving forward. So he found the happiness coaching initiative and realized he could be part of the support system workers need

  • The video in the article is informative, showing how the coaching sessions work. The employees gather together to listen and complete tasks together to learn ways to grow as a team in happiness

  • Ways to find happiness in the workplace:

  • Be appreciative - look for reasons to show your appreciation to the people you work with, for those you work for, and the structure in which you work

  • The golden feedback rule - if you need to give negative feedback to someone regarding their work or for a project, be ready with three additional positives to give as well

  • Connect - ask the people you work with about their lives, and not just them but the clients you work with as well

  • If businesses wait until their workforce is burnt out and unmotivated, it will be harder to get people back to a healthy place to stay productive which is usually the case as we all know

  • People are hungry to feel like their work matters. But you can be the one to dig deep and figure out why your work matters, you don’t need someone to prove it to you all the time.

HOMESLICE of Scotland & Texas


Scottish people fume at the ‘new’ Aldi square sausage

  • Written by Jessica Lindsay for the Metro on May 14th

  • Twitter was ablaze for Scotland last May for yet another brand making a blunder

  • Aldi announced a new sausage they claim to have developed called the “sausedge,” i.e. a square shaped sausage patty

  • Scots let their rage fire down on Aldi as they heard the news since square sausages have been around in Scotland for literally hundreds of years, known as Lorne sausages

  • The article reports, “A Lorne sausage is a staple north of the border, and has been for literally hundreds of years. It comes in a breakfast pack from your local butchers, and you can get a ‘roll and Lorne’ from any self respecting bakers or sandwich shop.”

  • In fact, Aldi stores in Scotland have already been selling Lorne sausages before this strange announcement

  • Check the article out for some great tweets included!

  • If you want to check out the history of the Lorne sausage and get a recipe to make it yourself, check out this other article Sinow included: A history of the square sausage, including a recipe for making your own

  • Here is the other article Kimmy spotted while they were reading about the Lorne sausage fiasco: Today is the sexiest day of 2019 (July 27th)


Texas Has Generated More Electricity From Wind Than Coal So Far This Year

Credit Electric Reliability Council of Texas via KUT Article
  • Written by Emily Martin for KUT, Austin’s local NPR station on July 24th

  • Texas has joined the trend of learning how to depend on wind power rather than coal!

  • Martin reports, “Data released this month by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas shows wind created 22 percent of the electricity used in the first half of the year, edging out coal by 1%.”

While this percentage may look small, that’s a pretty big deal!

  • The article goes on to say, “Texas is the largest consumer of coal in the country, according to the Energy Information Administration. But cheap natural gas and renewable energy prices are biting into coal’s market share. Another reason for wind’s competitiveness this year could be the weather.”

  • We have enjoyed much more milder weather during the spring and summer this year which means that electricity has had a lower demand than normal.

  • The graph in the article, while is available to see in the blog, shows that even though wind’s productivity has grown, natural gas is still the winner in electricity production standing at 38%.

  • And besides that, the last several years has seen a large growth in solar farms here in Texas - by double!

  • Daniel Cohan is a civil and environmental engineering professor at Rice University who spoke to Martin about Texas’ energy production and consumption. He told her, “...Texas is really becoming one of the growth areas for solar after a very slow start.”

  • July and August are normally the months with the biggest energy consumption here due to our hot summers so we may see coal-produced energy grow as the year continues. But even if it does, the numbers remain the same for the beginning of the year. Texas is moving in the right direction of utilizing more renewable energy sources!

Thanks for listening to some of the joy found in the world this past week. If you have stories of good people doing good things in your neighborhood or anywhere, send them to us! We’ve got an email, or tweet at us @joybingepodcast or visit our Facebook page and Instagram account. TELL US THE GOOD STUFF!


The music for this podcast is "Industrious Ferret" by Kevin MacLeod. Thanks for listening and have a great week!

"Industrious Ferret" Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


Dallas, TX


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