Podcast Madness: Midwest, Round 3

Recap: 40 podcasts, single-elimination brackets — 1 winner will emerge!

For the thesis, read the first post here, then come back for the results.

Midwest, Game 1: More Perfect v. Top 4


First is the Radiolab spinoff, More Perfect. I listened to the episode “The Political Thicket,” covering how much power the court should have, basically. At least, how much political power the Supreme Court ought to have.

It’s about a case that broke two justices because it brought the conflict between liberal and conservative justices to a head. The case in question, Baker v. Carr, a 1962 case was about voting districts, which seems fairly innocuous, right? Well, any case that goes all the way to the Supreme Court isn’t innocuous, and I appreciate about the podcast that they laid out the case from both angles and really brought it to life.

Next we have Top 4, this time, ranking holidays. This was an interesting episode, because it reminded me that if you aren’t a religious person, a religious holiday probably isn’t going to mean a lot to you. I mean, this should be obvious, and of course, everyone is different, so a holiday can still be a special time to people, but it was a reminder that the things I love about my favorite holidays aren’t shared by everyone. Unless you bring some meaning or have something behind a holiday, it can be a hollow day instead. Or it can be a downright anxiety-producing nuisance, bringing family arguments and insecurities to the fore.

The episode made me a little sad for the hosts, because I feel like I have so much to celebrate compared with their characterization of major holidays. I am very thankful to have a faith that includes deep celebration, and a wonderful family who enjoys each other. This is rare, I know, and this episode made me appreciate that and long to extend that to others as well.

Winner: More Perfect

Midwest, Game 2: History Chicks v. Stuff You Missed in History Class

The History Chicks tackled the life of Agrippina the Younger (daughter of Agrippina, which reminds me that I dislike people giving their children the same name — the paperwork is a nightmare, you guys! It’s so hard to keep everyone straight!). Politics in Ancient Rome were not for the faint of heart, or the squeamish. Or those without access to poison. Agrippina didn’t hesitate when it came to ambition for power.

She married several times (the last time to her uncle…who was the emperor at the time), she was the mother of another emperor you may have heard of (Nero), and her life ended in a Greek-tragedy-approved manner.

The hosts were fairly matter-of-fact about all the drama, but yes, Agrippina had a complicated life!

After this, I listened to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast on Copernicus. I knew that Copernicus was an astronomer, but I didn’t know he also studied (and practiced) medicine! Like many who go against popular theories of their day, Copernicus had his work devalued and somewhat ignored during his lifetime, and the church was against his theory that the earth is not the center of the solar system with the sun revolving around us.

So interesting, and science and religion have a complicated history, which is really a shame, as science can help illuminate the amazing universe we live in.

These two podcasts were very close — it was hard to choose between them, but I think Stuff You Missed just edged out the History Chicks, Agrippina’s fascinating life notwithstanding.

Winner: Stuff You Missed in History Class

Next time, West, Round 3!

Podcast Madness: East, Round 3

Recap: 40 podcasts, single-elimination brackets — 1 winner will emerge!

For the thesis, read the first post here, then come back for the results.

East, Game 1: The Tim Ferriss Show v. Crimetown

Thanks for hanging with me thus far, everyone!

In this round, we have first the Tim Ferriss Show. This is an interview show where Tim asks questions of people who are experts in their field or who have accomplished something that interests him.

This podcast (episode 230) was an interview with Debbie Millman. Apparently this was the second interview, and the format was a little different — Tim gave an intro and then she recorded answers to listener questions (and a few Tim Ferriss questions), so it was mostly just her talking. She’s an artist, designer, and teacher, and had interesting things to say about coming “late” to her career path. I enjoyed listening to her talk about that a bit, and especially enjoyed her answer to Tim’s question about what she does immediately after waking up.

Next up, Crimetown. Episode 2 continues to dig into the life of the former mayor of Providence, RI, this time examining the context into which he started his political career. The episode focused on the recruitment (in a maximum security prison) of two of the crime family’s enforcers. The whole thing seems like a movie — the head of the crime family, Raymond Patriarca, basically had a nice apartment in prison with his own tv, telephone, glass glasses and fine scotch…. Apparently the prison was a great recruitment center, and when your reach is long enough, the prison guards let you do what you want.

While both the Tim Ferriss interview and the Crimetown story were interesting, I think I’m more drawn in by the Crimetown story. Sorry, Tim, you had a good run.

Winner: Crimetown

East, Game 2: Criminal v. the TED Radio Hour

In Criminal this week, another story that shows fact is stranger than fiction. This story (episode 66: Bully) is about a man who single-handedly bullied an entire small town into letting him do what he wanted and avoid consequences for about 20 years.

The story shows how isolating fear can be, and how it can break down the justice system if someone is able to intimidate everyone into submission. It’s hard to believe something like that could go on for so long — police, judges, and juries lived in fear of retribution , and it took a long time for anyone to do anything about the town menace.

Next, I listened to the TED Radio Hour episode on the 7 Deadly Sins. Right off the bat, the first presenter says lust isn’t a sin and can be good. Maybe he’s unfamiliar with how much trouble lust has caused throughout history? He claims our ancestors were probably polygamous, and they were more ok with open relationships, but I think there’s a reason lust is on the list of deadly sins.

I agree with the presenter that equating sex with a deadly sin is a problem, but lust unchecked can pull relationships and families apart.

The other 6 talks were ok — just very short treatments on each topic and how they can be destructive, or else interesting stories of people trying to overcome various of the sins.

I thought this was a little meh for a TED talk. I think tackling 7 sins was a little much for one 52-minute episode.

Winner: Criminal

In case you’re interested, here’s a look at the standings:

Next time, the Midwest, Round 3!