My favorite podcasts - Part 2

In the last blog post, I mentioned quite a few podcasts that I listen to regularly to continue on my path of life-long learning. Let me continue from where we left off in the previous post and discover more podcasts on some specialized themes. I also talk about my favorite podcast apps and I provide an OPML file which you can import to the podcast app of your preference and start listening right away!

Culture: Film, Art, Fashion

While general podcasts such as In Our Time and Entitled Opinions try to cover a wide range of topics, the next few podcasts focus on a particular part of our culture: films, art, food, and fashion.

  1. Unspooled - Unspooled is a podcast about films. Each episode tries to dissect a particular movie that the hosts have watched and place it in its historical context. That’s not all though: for the really curious and passionate, they also provide commentary about iconic scenes, cinematography, and the film production process. If you want to start listening, I would suggest you start in reverse chronological order since the first season was just them watching the best 100 films of the century.
  2. Art Curious - ArtCurious is a podcast that focuses on the history of art. The focus is on particular artworks, but there is enough background information provided that one ends up having a great idea of the oeuvre of the artist. For instance, following the discussion on Georgia O’Keefe from one of the recent episodes, I now have a fairly good idea about her work and can probably distinguish her from other artists.
  3. Burnt Toast - This is a podcast about food. Focusing more on the everyday weird it tries to contextualize a lot of our food choices in the present with a view at the past.
  4. Unravel - Unravel is a fashion podcast. The premise itself was enticing to me and the content is great too. And its not just about high fashion but also talks about everyday clothing and styles as well. I highly recommend this one.

Current Affairs

There are many podcasts out there that have a daily feed if you want to catch up on the latest news. For me personally, such an approach doesn’t work. While I do consume the news, I much rather prefer longer form content be it in the form of articles or podcasts. Here are two of my favorite podcasts discussing in quite some detail about all that is happening in the world.

  1. Talking Politics - Talking Politics as the name suggests talks about… politics. It is produced in partnership with the London Review of Books and each episode discusses the political happenings in the world. The discussion is always very interesting and nuanced. You can start anywhere but I would suggest listening to the latest episode where the political changes in Italy and Germany are discussed. Lots of cool history there too.
  2. The Seen and the Unseen - For the longest time, I was an avid listener to this podcast. Unlike other podcasts, this one focuses specifically on India. While I have been away from the country for 8 years and call Paris home now, I still like to keep up with whatever is happening in India. Amit Verma invites guests for long-winded discussions on the issues of the day in Indian society. Most guests are extremely good and Verma himself is a good interviewer. However, some of the discussion on economics is fairly… well let’s just Verma and I disagree. Great content nonetheless.

Misc

I couldn’t really classify these last few podcasts since they cover a wide-range of some of my own interests.

  1. The Knowledge Project - Hard to classify this one to be honest. I am a long-time reader of the Farnam Street blog and when the podcast came out, I instantly subscribed. Each episode discusses ways of improving oneself, a theme that resonates with me deeply. I would recommend the discussion with Atul Gawande where he talks about the importance of mentors and how he relies upon the humble checklist in his daily job as a surgeon.
  2. The Symbolic World - Another hard to classify podcast. This podcast, along with the website, focuses on symbols in the world. While I am not a semiotician myself, I am deeply interested in the significance of symbols in our world. Symbols are definitely an overlooked part of human communication and this podcast tries to fill in that void.
  3. Spectology - I am an avid science-fiction and fantasy reader and spectology is a great source for finding out about the best in speculative fiction. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in speculative fiction. Some of the best books I have read in the last few years - Gnomon, Exhalation, The Waste Tide, The Killing Moon - were discovered while listening to this podcast.
  4. Omega Tau Science Podcast - This one is for the geeks out there. This is a great podcast focused mainly on engineering. The episodes are fairly long but boy is it fun. To give you an idea of the kinds of episodes this podcast has covered, here is a short list: Flying the F-35 jet, the conception of the ATLAS detector for the LHC, superconductivity, and research in Glaciology!

Podcast apps

Now that we have talked about podcasts, let me briefly mention the podcast apps that I use. I decided upon these two after a long process of use and elimination.

  1. PocketCasts - This is my primary podcast app. It is fairly complete in terms of its search capabilities and the UI is rather intuitive. If you make an account, you can also track your listening history and measure how much time you are spending listening. A killer feature is Trim Silence, which automatically cuts down the pauses in conversations. Over 2 years of usage, I have saved a lot of time: 17hours, 8 minutes and 20 seconds to be precise at the time of writing. There is also a feature to boost volume which comes in especially handy when the podcast is more interview-driven.
  2. Airr.io - This app adds something that I had been looking for a long time. Often times while listening I would pause and note some important information down. This generally required opening something like Notes or some other app. With Airr, this friction to seamlessly taking notes is gone. Within the app, you can take what are called “airr quotes”, where you can highlight certain passages of the episode you are listening to. You can then recover these highlights, similar to how you would do it with your kindle highlights. I don’t use it as my primary app, but if there is a particular episode that really interests me, I listen to it again on Airr.

OPML File

If you want to start listening to all the podcasts discussed here right away, you can download this OPML file and import it in your podcast app.

Conclusion

That was it! 27 podcasts covering many different subjects and themes. These are only a handful of the more than 100 podcasts that I am subscribed to. If you want to get more recommendations, send me a message via email.

Dhruv Sharma
Dhruv Sharma
Researcher - Agent-Based Models, Macroeconomics, Statistical Physics.

Physicist trained economic modeler trying to make sense of the world through ABMs.

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