Based on TEDTalks from the world’s most remarkable minds, the TED Radio Hour is a podcast co-produced by NPR and TED that take listeners on a journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, and new ways to think and create. TEDTalks Based on TEDTalks from the world’s most remarkable minds, the TED Radio Hour is a podcast co-produced by NPR and TED that take listeners on a journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, and new ways to think and create.

The TED Radio Hour  was created and is hosted by editorial director Guy Raz, who is similarly involved two other popular NPR programs: How I Built This and Wow In The World. The show is fastest-growing NPR radio program in history and the third most-downloaded podcast in the United States. Common questions asked (and answered) include “Why do we have the capacity to imagine?” “What animates us?” “What does it mean to live in the Anthropocene?”

In this episode, Press Play, TED speakers describe how forms of amusement — from tossing a ball to video games — can make us smarter, saner and more collaborative. It was originally broadcast on March 27, 2015.

Guests include:

  • Neuroscientist Jeff Mogil who reveals how playing a game can make you more empathetic.
  • Comedian Charlie Todd who explains how his group, Improv Everywhere, creates moments of urban whimsy to bring people together.
  • Dr. Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute for Play in California, who says humor, games, roughhousing, and fantasy are more than just fun.
  • Primatologist Isabel Behncke Izquierdo who explains how bonobos learn by constantly playing, and how that play can offer insights into human laughter, creativity and our capacity for wonder and exploration.
  • Researcher Jane McGonigal, a researcher of games and Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute for the Future, who says virtual games can improve our real lives.

A classic proverb states that two heads are better than one, so in that same spirit, two songs must be better than one. Accordingly, today’s Music Monday presents a double header.

David ByrneToday’s first selection is “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads. This was chosen to celebrate the 60th birthday of David Byrne (who co-wrote it with Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth).

Originally released on February 2, 1981 as the first single from the Talking Heads’ fourth studio album Remain in Light (Affiliate Link), the song has since received critical acclaim. Notably, it was named as one of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century by National Public Radio (NPR).

The song is existential in meaning, especially with the main refrain asking “And you may ask yourself / How do I work this? / And you may ask yourself / Where is that large automobile? / And you may tell yourself / This is not my beautiful house! / And you may tell yourself / This is not my beautiful wife!”

I believe this song tells the story of a man finding himself a foreigner in his own life; having having accumulated a certain degree of wealth and comfort, yet feeling fundamentally unfulfilled.

At the same time, it is also a recognition of that discovery and the possibility of progressing towards a positive change it represents.

For quite some time I related to the first part of this song — I felt like that man. But then, after some self discovery, I took responsibility for my choices and changed the direction of my life. As a result, I am now heading positively “into the blue again/after the moneys gone.”

In an unrelated yet equally interesting TEDTalk, Byrne discusses the influence of architecture on musical composition. He offers compelling examples of various types of music throughout history such as African music, classical music, opera, jazz, rock, hip-hop, and nature itself.

Today’s second selection, “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” by The Beatles, celebrates the 28th birthday of Facebook Chairman and Mark ZuckerbergCEO Mark Zuckerberg. The song was featured at the end of  the Facebook-inspired movie The Social Network (Affiliate Link).

Long before Facebook was programmed the song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and recorded on May 11, 1967 (45 years and 3 days ago). It was originally released as the B-side of the single “All You Need Is Love” and was also included later that same year on the US album Magical Mystery Tour (Affiliate Link).

Beyond the convergence of Zuckerberg’s birthday to today’s date, Facebook is representative of my aforementioned change of course and journey into the blue again (see Once in a Lifetime).

Personally, my life has been both challenged and enriched by Facebook (and social media in general). Professionally, now almost all of the courses I teach include elements of social media directly or indirectly.

One course — MGMNT X 460.394, New Media Marketing at UCLA Extension — provides an overview of leading social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.  If you’re interested, an online offering of this course begins on July 5, 2012 — you can enroll online here!

Fittingly, and in thematic accordance with this song, later this week, once Facebook’s IPO takes place, Zuckerberg will need an even bigger brown bag in which to keep all of his money. Netting at least $21 billion in stock might just be the best birthday present ever!

Although Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, whose struggle with Zuckerberg was portrayed in The Social Network (Affiliate Link) and who has renounced his US citizenship, might just get the last financial laugh as his renunciation of his citizenship will likely save him tens of millions of dollars in capital gains taxesor will it?

Baby, those are rich men!