Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What I'm Listening To (Podcast Rundown)

Between my daily commute and my work travels, I get a lot of windshield time. That is all made a lot easier now that the world has podcasts. Here is my current subscription list in somewhat my listening preference order. Of course, length, topicality, and my personal mood make that order a moving target--so don't read too much into it.

Podcast Comments
EconTalk If you asked me for the most consistently rewarding podcast, this is where I would point you.
Freakonomics If you were brand new to podcasts, this is where I would have you start.
MRUniversity Bite-sized, very well crafted economics lessons. All are self recommending. Money Skills, Econ Duel, and Everyday Economics are perhaps my top recommendations for newcomers. Macro and Micro are excellent introductory courses. 
Cato Daily Podcast If you asked for the best briefing on political topics, this is the one I'd recommend.
Reason Video Podcast Reason has their stuff together. From humorous, short parodies and commentaries to long-form interviews, this videocast is well worth it. Trigger warning, they often cover topics that will leave you mystified if not down right enraged.
Conversations with Tyler He has a wonderful gift for getting deeply into a deep, impactful thinker's mind. 
The Alton Browncast Would we expect anything less than gold from the most entertaining chef in history? Terrifically it is generally not about food; although, it is often loaded with food. 
Free Thoughts If you wanted to seriously learn about libertarian thought, this would be the best podcast source. Even-toned, intelligent, and accessible.
The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe If you remember the best part of AM radio, you'll be instantly hooked on this one. If you can't, don't worry. You'll still be hooked.
The Libertarian Podcast A well-reasoned, deeply educated, libertarian take on the issues of the day. I find myself in strong agreement 95% of the time. I listen to podcasts now at 2x speed. This one is usually the most difficult in that regard even though I know the topic well. Epstein talks and thinks FAST!
So you can probably pick one of these next three (Ferriss, Altucher, Manliness) finding the one whose style best fits your taste and get most of the same content since the guests tend to overlap so much. However, I find each rewarding in its own right.
The Tim Ferriss Show I like how he has a life-hacking approach to, well, life and how he turns each guest into a teacher revealing the tools they have used for success.
The James Altucher Show His style lends itself to an approachable format. The constant interruptions are a feature in that they provoke a more meaningful conversation.
The Art of Manliness A pretty good way to check up on and improve upon your personal level of grit.
Macro Musings Macro is the most controversial part of economics. It is perhaps not surprisingly also one of the most difficult to understand. David Beckworth does a splendid job illuminating the sources of controversy and reducing the confusion of the subject.
Penn's Sunday School Entertaining first and foremost. I find his support for liberty and libertarianism a strong virtue despite my quibbles here and there with his delivery or details (in his defense he ALWAYS includes the disclaimer that he is "wrong, wrong, wrong!"). The atheism, which is arguably the point of the podcast, can be a good challenge to my own religious beliefs as well as a healthy way to learn from a convicted, intelligent advocate from the other side. 
99% Invisible Weekly they manage to make interesting the details about stuff all around us that we completely ignore.
Reply All This one almost never fails to bring me new information. I have found quite a few of these episodes very surprisingly interesting--even after my expectations were elevated. The only negative is when it makes me feel old. I am basically always in the "No" category of "Yes, Yes, No".
Myths and Legends Recommended by a Fribrarian. This one surprised me with how addictive it is. I swear I'm not this big of a nerd.
TEDTalks (hd) I would guess I make it all the way through about one third of these with one third skipped altogether just based on the topic and description. The ones I do select make the subscription well worth it.
Revisionist History Counter-conventional wisdom from a wise counter conventional. 
50 Things That Made the Modern Economy Tim Harford--so say no more. Dense vignettes about . . .  well, read the title.
Cato Event Podcast Heavy on the wonk factor, but I like to go deep. 
More or Less: Behind the Stats Tim Harford, again. While the circumstances of specific cases in their numbers analyses are compelling, it is the ubiquitous principals at work where the real learning lies.
MinuteEarth Almost always pretty interesting (and if not, it is only 1-3 minutes long), these, like their now podcast dormant forefather MinutePhysics (you can still get it on YouTube (hey, I need to do a post about what I'm watching on YouTube)), are how primary school science should be taught.
Economic Rockstar This one gives me exposure to economists I wouldn't normally be exposed to (getting me outside my bubble).
Surprisingly Awesome They take the mundane and show how it is actually not so bad and sometimes even quite amazing.
StartUp Podcast Like the Serial podcast, there was significant drop off between season 1 and season 2, but I still found season 2 rewarding. Season 3 was a step up, and it has gotten better in season 4.
Tell Me Something I Don't Know Since this one is directly about a common theme in most of my podcasts, it seems obvious that I would follow it. However, it is new. And while results so far have been rewarding, time will tell if it has staying power.
Science Vs Overall, a good concept and good execution. The limits it runs into are symptomatic of the very premise--you can't let "what does the science say" run your life. It is not so simple. Science doesn't allow for normative claims.
The Moment with Brian Koppelman These interviews are an interesting twist on the traditional 'talk to a famous or important person'. He is good at evoking the interviewees' source of their personal success.
StarTalk Radio Another Fribrarian recommendation. Two things about this one make it a draw for me: 1) they cover an area of interest for which I am a only superficially well informed, and 2) they think about problems differently than do I which serves to expand my thought processes. The negative is when they venture into areas they do not know well; namely economics. They can be astonishingly poor at economic reasoning.
Heavyweight This one has been hit and miss. The storytelling is compelling, but the content isn't always so. 
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History From a friend's recommendation. Haven't started it yet, but it looks promising. Episodes are looooonnnnggg.