Karina Chronicles

How To Stay Smart

Sarah Von Bargen blogs daily at Yes and Yes about life, travel, cheese, and many other awesome things. She also helps small business and entrepreneurs become awesome on the internet. You can follow along with her shenanigans on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve railed on before (um, several times) about how I think that smart is sexy.  And awesome.  And The Best.  If you pressed me to list three favorable adjectives about myself, one of those three would be ‘smart.’ (Along with ‘memorizing-ful’ and ‘cheese-loving.’  What?)

And yet?  If you asked me to name more than 10 American presidents, the capitols of all the states, or explain the situation in the middle east, I would quickly change the conversation to Maru.

I realize that we only retain knowledge about things we discuss or use on a regular basis.  So I can tell you all about refugee resettlement policy, how to use Hootsuite or the different cliques of hipsters in the Twin Cities.  But since nobody’s asked me about John Adams or Trenton, New Jersey lately, I don’t have much to say on those topics.

Unacceptable, self!  Not good enough! 

You guys, I live in fear of becoming one of those people asked on the street to identify a man in a photo.  And then I can identify Donald Trump and The Situation but I can’t identify my state senators.  And then the video goes viral, gets forwarded all over the world and reinforces the stereotype that Americans (and blonds) are dumb as bricks.

It’s a pretty specific fear.

So in attempt to Stave Off The Stupid And Stay Smart, I’ve compiled a list of resources that help me sharpen my mind and decrease the likelihood that I’ll identify Africa as Italy on camera.

Nerd Fighters
They’re smart, they’re funny, they teach you interesting things whilst talking really, really fast.  Imagine how smart you’d get if you watched one of these videos every day over your morning coffee.

Every NPR podcast ever
National Public Radio makes approximately a gajillion great podcasts on approximately a gajillion different topics (Politics!  Science!  Health!) And they cost zero dollars.  Why aren’t we all listening to these on our commutes?  If I’m feeling really ambitious, I listen to a podcast on a topic I know little about (re: the economy) rather than the topic I already know a lot about (re: pop culture.)  That’s me!  Just aiming for mediocrity!

Yale’s Youtube Channel
Few of us can afford tuition to Yale, but we can all watch their youtube channel.

TED talks
Well, dur.

Brain Pickings
This is one of my daily reads and (as you’ve probably noticed) a source for many a Web Time Waster link.  Billing itself as “a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in.” 

Yup.  Correct.

Khan Academy
3,000 videos covering covering topics like math, biology, chemistry, physics, finance and history. And each video is only 10 minutes long so even the short-attention-spanned among us can handle it.

Sociological Images
I am a complete dork for Sociology, so I’m all over this and the articles about race and The Hunger Games, class differences and spending on children and class privilege and parental leave.  The writing can be a bit dry and academic, but none of us ever died from looking up a word, did we?

What do you do to stay sharp?

photo by jd hancock, creative commons liscense

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