Podcasts 2016

August 28, 2016

After moving to the big city, I’ve spent a lot more time on foot over the past few years. I eventually picked up another habit that pairs with walking perfectly: podcasts.

As of 2016, here are my favorites:

  • Common Sense: Dan Carlin on the American political system. Dan takes the side of neither party, but comments on them from the outside in a very informed way. He has the incredible gift to be able to speak for hours in a way that’s hugely information-dense. No co-host required.
  • Hardcore History: Dan Carlin’s podcast on history, and maybe the best podcast that’s out there right now. Dan’s impassioned approach to the subject makes every episode great. In particular, check on the series on the fall of the Roman republic and the exploits of Genghis Khan.
  • Road Work: John Roderick (a musician) and Dan Benjamin (a podcaster) talk about things. I know that doesn’t sound very interesting, but Roderick has a way with words and is one of the world’s great story tellers.
  • Waking Up with Sam Harris: Sam Harris is best known for his atheism, but only because that’s his most controversial pursuit. He’s a great thinker in general, and the most articulate person that you’ll ever hear. Topics range from current events, society, or interviews with various intellectuals, and as you’d expect, a healthy dose of criticism on religious radicalism.

And some others that deserve mention:

  • 8-4 Play: Focuses on recent developments in gaming, specifically in Japan. I don’t play many video games anymore, but I still find it fascinating.
  • 99% Invisible: A podcast on architecture and design that manages to drudge up original material that’s as interesting as it is obscure.
  • The Bike Shed: Titled with a concept that every programmer will know well, this one is unsurprisingly about – software. Episode quality is variable, but there’s occasionally some great content on advanced topics like Rust and ORM internals.
  • Planet Money: These guys really have a real knack for making economics interesting. Its major weakness is that it never trackles a subject in depth.
  • Radiolab: Covers scientific subjects and comes with good interviews and some great sound editing. It’s only downside is that the hosts have a bad habit of brushing up against the realm of pseudo-science.
  • Roderick on the Line: A slight variation of Road Work above, this one is John Roderick and Merlin Mann talking about things. Recent episodes have been a little lackluster, but comb through the backlog for some incredible stories.
  • Song Exploder: The best edited podcast on the list; breaks down popular songs and has their composer talk through the thinking and process that went into their creation. For best results, check the back catalog for songs that you like.

Podcasts 2016 was published on August 28, 2016.

Find me on Twitter at @brandur.

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