Monday, December 22, 2014

My favourite Podcasts

I've been listening to various podcasts while commuting to and fro from work for last couple of months, and I couldn't be happier.

Before I discovered podcasts, my options of utilizing a considerable amount of my daily waking life were limited to music from FM radio station or music from my USB stick. Former were annoyance due to abundant number of advertisements, which are often repeated, and limited selection of latest songs, which were also repeated, and which were less of musical delight but more driven by latest movie marketing. Later was considerably preferred, but became boring due to my inability to update my collection often and hence repeating same collection. I tried audio-books few times but quickly discarded the option for they required too much concentration detrimental to safe driving.

Enter world of podcasts! Podcasts are best described as audio blogs. They are delight because they are almost inexhaustive, being updated weekly, and are not as distracting in effect being similar to listening to radio news, and are wildly interesting, entertaining, educational and useful. In some way, I feel they have made my driven less stressful since I am no hurry to reach my destination, instead preferring continuation of my favourite show.

Below is collection of some of my favourite podcasts, in decreasing order of my preference, and my commentary on the same:

Very Good:
  • Freakonomics Radio — Logic and data driven look at almost everything in world around us. Built from book of the same name, this is absolutely wonderful podcasts which brings out best practices in various fields from all over the world. Intelligent and stupid questions, all are honored.
  • Radiolab from WNYC — Interesting informative stories about various themes, primary around science and technology.
  • Futility Closet — Extremely affable narratives from history of world telling history of minor things and incidents. As they describe themselves, will suit you if your mind is curious about oddities and find pleasure in information for sake of it.
  • 99% Invisible — Short stories about man-made things that shape the world, and design consideration there of.
  • The Intersection — Melting pot of Science, History, and Culture in this Indian quality podcast.
  • Planet Money — Stories of past and present things that make modern economy.
  • The Allusionist — Etymology of words explained in saucier language.
  • Every Little Thing — is discussion on minor topics and histories of science.
  • The History of India Podcast — No one told story of ancient India sourced from ancient text better than this! Making history informative and fun.
  • The Data Skeptic Podcast — This just fits into my groove of analytic science, so I love it for its discussion and references. Will work if you have interest in the science of data driven decision making.
  • EconTalk (Library of Economics and Liberty) — This isn't very entertaining but if you want your mental horizon to be stretched with very deep fundamental concepts, this it it. Falls into a category of podcast you should listen to but probably you won't.
  • What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law — Show talks about various topics in US Constitution Law and how they are interpreted in the current environment, their history, their usefulness, key cases, etc. and ties them back to US President's Trump's actions.
  • More Perfect — This show goes into the story behind pivotal cases in front of US Supreme Court, past and present, and how law and precedent and arguments are shaping the legal opinion.
  • Science Vs — This is one the best show to learn about the scientific basis of many common conceptions and misconceptions. Each episode looks at academic literature and tries to synthesize positive, neutral, or negative decision on key questions. Examples of questions explored are the effectiveness of vaccines, diets, multi-vitamins, political questions on abortions, gun control, etc.
  • Undiscovered — Backstories of scientific failures, and how things happened the way did, or didn't.
Good:
  • Hidden Brain — Anecdotes from behaviour science and psychology.
  • Criminal — Stories of crimes, laws, and their history from USA
  • This American Life — Interesting, emotional and amusing stories from various walks of life, on varying theme
  • The Economist — Weekly round of world new and explanations on money, market and science. Useful for getting critical international news, and free! Content is heavily biased towards US and UK with bit of Japan, China and Europe but then one can assume it's driven by where money is.
  • HBR IdeaCast — Management gyaan isn't my cup of tea, but listening to key stories of Harvard Business Review is still worthwhile.
  • 60-Second Science — Quick bites into latest scientific research. Mildly interesting.
  • Inside Forbes India — India related stories from business world.
  • Stuff You Should Know — This is 'how things work' of podcasts. It's mildly entertaining but content is too low key and slow for my taste.
  • A Skeptics Guide to Conspiracy — This is very good in content but not so much in editing. I think they could say that same in half the time as there is a lot of repetation in conversation. However, this discusses latest research in science, with few good puzzles thrown in.
  • StarTalk Radio — This has decent enough content on astronomy, astrophysics, and anything Universe related, but there is lot of banter and chit chat which makes it inefficient for me.
  • The Infinite Monkey Cage — This is general discussion, with some comedic input, on scientific concept done in live stage setting.
  • Reply All — This is discussion on internet, technology and social issue surrounding them. Fairly humour, creative, except for its 'Yes-Yes-No' segment where conversation on dissecting an viral tweet.
  • Science Friday — Interviews on cutting edge research or latest discovery in world of Science.
Good but Defunct:
  • Dissecting Love — Science and biology of relationship and sex. Need I say more?
  • Serial — This is a serialized radio show with one story. First season presented a true murder mystery thriller. Very gripping.
  • It's Your Universe — Journey into Solar System. It's only one season though!
  • Invisibilia — Bit verbose and emotion insight into hidden psychological narrative governing current world and human life.
  • 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy — Stories of small things and their impact on world.

If you can recommend any other, I will be really thankful!

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