Podcast Madness: West, Round 3

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

If you’re confused, read the first post here, then come back for the results.

West, Game 1: The Road Back to You vs. Sawbones

First up this time, The Road Back to You, episode 3: Interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber (an 8 on the enneagram). This was an interesting interview with a Colorado pastor on how her strengths and weaknesses work with her vocation. It’s interesting to hear about personality typing in this way that explores deep-seated fears and weaknesses as identifiers.

Thankfully, they discussed strengths as well as weaknesses, but it’s such an interesting approach. I’m not 100% sure what my enneagram type is, and while I find this podcast interesting, it’s a little frustrating to listen to the interviews while trying to simultaneously figure out what my type is. I’d probably enjoy learning about the other types more if I had that question settled. I suspect I may be a 5, but more research is needed.

Next up, Sawbones. I listened to the episode on Fluoride. The topic reminded me of a Parks and Recreation episode in season six:

Ok, now back to the podcast. This was a live episode, which is always interesting. Sydnee and Justin talk about how dentists figured out that fluoride is good for teeth, and how water is a great delivery system. Apparently too much flouride causes teeth to turn brown?! Gross, but interesting.

Their podcast style remains informative and entertaining, and I just now made the connection that Justin McElroy is related to the other podcasting McElroy brothers (of My Brother, My Brother and Me and other podcasts). Yes, it really took me that long. I enjoy this podcast though.

Winner: Sawbones

West, Game 2: The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps vs. Truth’s Table

In the History of Philosophy our host finally got to the famous Ockham’s metaphorical razor! I learned about Ockham’s simplification of entities and I appreciated that he wanted to boil things down from a complicated system to a smaller, more manageable system.

Honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve done heavy philosophical thinking/ lifting, so this podcast requires more attention and focus. I think it would be good to have more challenging educational materials in my roster, but I’ve still got a ways to go in this bracket challenge, so I’m simplifying (sorry, Nathanael). Ockham might approve of simplifying? Ok, this is nothing like what he was doing. He probably would frown on intellectual laziness.

The ladies of Truth’s Table talked about Malcolm X in the episode I listened to, and how his legacy impacted them personally. They also talked about how good he was at diagnosing cultural problems in America, and his towering position in black American culture.

As a white American, I don’t have the same kind of connection or knowledge about Malcolm X, but I like hearing this perspective and learn more about places I know little about.

Winner: Truth’s Table

I’m Back!

Hello, any readers still left. I’ve taken a bit of a break from my podcast posts, mostly because I left the notebook that contained my notes in North Carolina after my cousin’s wedding, and I didn’t have it in me to reconstruct my thoughts (and I didn’t really want to re-listen to the podcasts and try to remember what I thought) for this round.

My mother kept the notebook for me (thanks, Mom!) and now I have it back, so I’ll jump back into the podcast brackets soon. I do kind of miss the frenzied podcast-listening, and I’m looking forward to jumping back in.

After visiting my family a couple weeks ago, I also realized that I’m not the only one who likes to turn things into a bracket competition. One of my brothers asked another one of my brothers to rank his medical school prospects bracket-style. Yes, apparently my family defaults to brackets and competition when trying to decide between things. I’m ok with that.

On a completely different note, I’ve also been thinking a lot this week, as have many, about the nature of public discourse, protests, violence, and media coverage in the wake of the Charlottesville rally and counter-protests last week. It was surreal to see my town name turn into a negative hashtag and in international headlines. I don’t have a lot of coherent things to say, but the events of last week have been stirring around in my mind, making me reevaluate where I’m spending my time and energy.

It is so easy to reduce one another to the aspects we dislike, the political views we disdain, the feelings we abhor. I don’t want to be reductive, but I also don’t want to stay silent while people who look like me lash out at other people who look different, just because they look different. A human being is a human being, and I want to remember that before every interaction, especially online, where it’s so easy to forget that there’s a living, breathing, feeling person behind every comment.

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!



Podcast Madness: South, Round 2.2

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

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

West, Game 3: Ungeniused v. Random Trek

In Ungeniused, Stephen and Myke discuss the deep archives of Wikipedia. In this episode, “Selfie-related Deaths,” they relate tales of ways selfies can go terribly, horribly wrong. Seriously, these deaths could have been avoided (mostly) with the application of common sense and attention to one’s surroundings. Also, just like they tell you in driver’s ed classes, you’re always going to lose when you go up against a train.

Up next, Random Trek, in which host Scott and a guest watch a randomly selected episode of Star Trek and discuss it. This is kind of a different/ fun way to podcast about Star Trek. I listened to episode 127: “Ship in a Bottle,” which is a fun holodeck episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It further cements the idea that the holodeck is dangerous and should be dismantled ASAP, but it’s a fun 45 minutes of watching the crew work their way out of the situation.

The hosts also have some wise words for Captain Picard regarding password security.

Winner: Random Trek


West, Game 4: What Should I Read Next? v. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

I listened to episode 68, “Plot Summaries are the WORST” of the What Should I Read Next? podcast. This podcast format has the host interview a guest about their reading habits, hears 3 books they love (and why) and 1 book they didn’t, and suggests a couple books they may enjoy based on their reading taste. It’s literary matchmaking!

This is a great idea, though in this case the guest’s literary tastes are very unlike my own (she enjoyed Stephen King and tear-jerker memoirs; I’ve never read Stephen King as I’m a little afraid I’d never be able to sleep again, though I hear he’s an excellent writer).

For Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, I listened to episode 2: Loneliness: The Vanishing Glass. Hearing about reading chapter 2 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher/ Sorcerer’s Stone looking for the theme of loneliness was interesting — it’s pervasive in this chapter and a great theme to tease out.

The hosts also discuss Dudley’s complaint that he “only” got 36 birthday presents, and they judged him less harshly for this than I.

I like this podcast, but I feel a little uncomfortable about mapping spiritual practices onto novels. That said, I appreciate their perspective and thoughtfulness and obvious love of the source material. It’s a fresh take on a beloved and oft-discussed series.

This was a close one, but I think I want to broaden my reading horizons….

Winner: What Should I Read Next?

Next time: East, Round 3!