Short version: I regularly listen to podcasts and articles, and this week “Jocko Podcast” entered my regular rotation.
Podcasts and constant stimulation:
The world feels very information dense. From a notepad sized device we still refer to as a “phone” despite rarely using it to make telephone calls, I can access more content than can be physically stored in any library in the world. Anywhere in the developed world where people might be waiting, taking a break, or even simply walking down the street, you can see people turning to this incredible network of information sharing. That creates both a pressure and a desire to consume more information, more stimulation, when performing less intellectually intensive tasks. When performing household chores, routine cleaning in the lab, or taking gentle runs, I tend to put my headphones in and listen to a podcast. This is what I listen to.
The main place I get news and current affairs. Factual, dense, and in a weekly format that prioritises significance over promptness. When I debated in high school and university, The Economist was frequently the recommended reading. Had I gotten into the habit of reading it towards the start rather than end of my debating career, I suspect I would have performed better for it. I particularly enjoy the different levels of coverage, from the one or two sentence summaries in “The world this week”, through the summarised articles in “Leaders”, and then the in depth coverage in regional and topical sections.
Technical, detailed, and yet presented in an entertaining manner, the Nature Podcast has been an enjoyable way to hear about research highlights across the sciences. It is also humanising to hear the actual voices of the authors of scientific papers. It can be easy to forget that those scientists are relatable, mostly normal people.
I enjoyed the books by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, and the podcast follows a similar format. Particularly memorable episodes include:
How to Get More Grit in Your Life (Ep. 246), which led me to read Angela Duckworth’s book, which in turn helped me to overcome my obsession with cleverness and talent and focus more on getting things done.
The Upside of Quitting (Ep. 42), which helps me remember the problems of sunk cost.
Are We in a Mattress-Store Bubble? (Ep. 251), as I have occasionally wondered how there seems to be a proliferation of certain stores, I found this episode particularly amusing.
Should We Really Behave Like Economists Say We Do? (Ep. 207), where producer of the podcast Greg Rosalsky attempts to live an economically rational life, with notably poor consequences.
Since discovering the Jocko Podcast while in Australia, I have binged on the Jocko Podcast, listening to the first 50 episodes at time of writing. I have long aspired to master personal discipline, and Jocko is a fairly accomplished mentor. His daily picture of his watch, rising before 5 am each day to exercise, is inspiring. The historic readings he chooses seen through his personal experience of war give me a strong sense of appreciation for the safety and freedom I enjoy every day.
Other podcasts I listen to sometimes:
BBC Radio 3’s The Essay (my default playlist on the speakers in the lab is a concert from Radio 3). In particular I enjoyed the series on fictional forests and Contagious Cities.
ABC Radio’s Hack is a current affairs program targeted at youth and young adults, that I would often hear on actual FM broadcasts in Australia.
TED Radio Hour on NPR edits TED talks into podcast format, and is an interesting way to be pushed into an area I might not usually interact with.
BBC Newshour before I had access to the Economist podcast, Newshour was my go to news in audio form. Occasionally I still listen to get more up to date news, or to hear from a correspondent.
Savage Lovecast talk back radio format, occasionally with guests, offering advice on sex and love. In a world with a sometimes divisive plurality of sexual identities, it is pleasantly unifying to see the common struggles we all face.
Athletes Unfiltered inspiring stories of (predominantly) runners and cyclists. I find listening while hanging out laundry makes me eager for the next opportunity to get on the bike or into my running shoes.
More Perfect has my favourite episode of any podcast, telling the complex and surprising story of gun law in the United States of America. The more recent episodes have had less of an impact on me.
Joe Rogan Experience I find many of Joe’s guests entertaining, but the tendency towards fringe content makes listening feel more like a guilty pleasure than gaining knowledge.