Discover more from Context and Content
My Favorite Podcasts
What I'm listening to and why
How’s it already the middle of August? We are definitely in the doldrums of late summer here. As I write this, I’m going for a long weekend to the beach in a couple of days, so for today, I want to share some unsolicited podcast recommendations with you.
Before I do that, you may have noticed that I have enabled paid subscriptions to this newsletter. I’m not going to start charging for new articles, but I do put a good amount of effort and money into the books, articles, and other sources I use to research these articles, along with getting these pieces edited to make sure they are comprehensible to you. Subscribing is a way you can help me offset some of those costs and to allow me to do even more. If you would like to support me, you can subscribe here for $5/month or $50/year. To be clear, all new articles will remain free to access for six months, and after that, they will be accessible to subscribers only. Please consider how you might help further support this little venture.
I know everyone and their brother has a podcast you should listen to. I am a selective podcast listener; I’ll try many things, but I shamelessly unfollow shows that lose interest. There’s just too much to listen to out there. Most of these I listen to at 2x, as I generally listen for exposure. If something piques my interest, I’ll slow down and listen more intently or flag it for later research. Listening at faster speeds keeps my mind engaged as I tend to get distracted at slower speeds, and with some getting used to it, you would be surprised at how much you can absorb. With that said, here are the shows that hold my attention and a stab at why:
Advisory Opinions: This podcast from The Dispatch has been one of the most helpful to me in making sense of our legal system, which seems to be more in the news these days. Sarah Isgur and David French bring what I think is very helpful conservative legal commentary that gives me a lot of structure to the ambiguous thoughts in my head. I never miss an episode.
Dear Hank & John: I have followed this one from its origins many years ago, where brothers Hank and John Green give dubious advice and all the week’s news from Mars to AFC Wimbledon. This one is currently on hiatus as Hank undergoes treatment for cancer, but the back catalog is not to be missed. I love the earnestness of the show and the way the hosts engage with so many diverse questions.
Plain English: Derek Thompson’s knack for deep dives with individuals who can work through complex subjects is unparalleled. Derek meanders through various subjects in this show, but I appreciate his ability to make complex social trends very approachable.
Nice Try!: This one from Avery Trufelman, formerly of 99% Invisible which I have referenced in my writings, is a short-run show that explores utopias and how they fail. Season 2 was also great, but the Season 1 episode of the origins of the Oneida Company lives rent-free in my head. I love the earnest grappling with the ideal desires and their (mostly) unfortunate outcomes this show does.
FiveThirtyEight Politics: As a surprise to no one, I’m a big fan of numbers. I love the generally data-first approach this podcast takes to politics. While there is the occasional tangential political rant, I love the numbers I get from this show that put some structure to my own thoughts.
Hard Fork: This is a relatively new entry, but I’ve long enjoyed the work of Kevin Roose, a technology reporter with the New York Times. Kevin and his co-host Casey Newton give what I’ve found to be very helpful commentary on the weekly happenings of technology and culture.
History of English Podcast: Call this one aspirational. This podcast is a long-running exploration of the history of the English language. The host goes all the way back to Proto-Indo-European. I don’t listen to this one frequently, but I like to take it in chunks when I’ve burned through the rest of my back catalog.
Articles of Interest: This one is also a bit of a “when I’m done with everything else” listen, but Avery Trufelman’s exploration of clothing and fashion and how culture came to be.
The Anthropocene Reviewed: I love John Green’s audio essays where he reviews Hot Dog Eating Contests, Chemotherapy, Dr. Pepper, and more on a 5-star scale. This one no longer adds new episodes, but the back catalog is not to be missed. You can also find the book that later came from this project.
Alright, thanks for reading today, and happy listening. See you next time.
Context and Content is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.