Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Best of November 2015 Part 1 - Freakonomics Radio - Food + Science = Victory!


   How often do you cook? Once a week? Twice? There's been a huge push in the last few years to eat local, cook your own food and eat organic and like everyone else who has a connection to the internet I've been trying to figure out how to eat healthier.
   Starting over half a decade ago, first quitting soda (before I quit smoking even) and moving toward cutting out fast food and eventually into creating home cooked meals and shopping at the local farmer's markets, monitoring what goes into my body has become a full time job. I spend almost as much time learning about how a food is good for you as I do cooking it. With so much information available today even when you get some answers there are other sources that claim the exact opposite.
   Take a look at kale! The push for people to start eating kale was huge the past couple years. I wasn't around when the broccoli heads were still a topic of conversation but I'd imagine this recent kale movement rivals even that. But with a big push to do something comes the push from the exact opposite direction and that push came under the name of cancer. That's right, fresh, raw kale is slightly cancerous. Is that true? I don't know, go google it for an hour and let me know what you find below.
   That's why any well put together podisode about food or nutrition really grabs my attention. Any trustworthy knowledge on these topics can only add to your life in a positive way. I don't want to be the guy who repeats the mantra of the current zeitgeist (or do I?) but it has to be said; Cooking your own food will change your life.
   In this podcast you'll here Kenji L√≥pez-Alt, the managing culinary director of www.seriouseats.com and science food writer, will be your guide to the world of food science. Then later at the end Jo Robinson comes out with all sorts of fun facts about the food we eat today. She's part of a group that lobbied against Coca-Cola being sold (like, at all) and were known for being critical of the Agricultural Department for saying we should eat white bread instead of whole-grain. These two give some pretty good insights into the world of food so why not see what you can bring from the Freakonomics universe into your own kitchen?


   Got extra time this week? First of all, HOW!? So many good podcasts have already filled up my queue! However, if you really do want to go back to the beginning of November you should definitely check out the 99% Invisible from the 10th. It's about the first public drinking fountain in London. The date? April 21st, 1859. That's right, not that long ago. Give it a listen!


   As a bonus for the hardcore listeners of podcasts out there wondering how to make a podcast (how to make a FREE podcast) the right way check out The Wisest. Rhonda Olson had an amazing idea for a show and made it happen. The podcast follows her search for the wisest person alive by referral only. I can't really say much else about it except that I'm 3 episodes in and I'm loving it. Everything from the idea to her interview style jives with what I look for in a podcast. Check it out and let me know what you think below!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Good news for the fans of the Serial Podcast!

   When was the last time a piece of media really changed your life? When was the last time you heard a story that changed how you looked at things? Was that last movie you paid for worth that $12-$20? Did it change your perspective on anything? Has Kim Kardashian ever taught you something over the course of her hour long (42 minute?) show that you took into real life and changed your day to day actions or ideas? 
   Podcasts have been a part of my life for a few years now (and a few before that When I didn't really understand what podcasts were) and over that time I've ingested a lot of useless information. Anyone who thinks every episode of the Joe Rogan Experience is must-hear for all people may just as well be watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Well... Maybe it's not that bad, but it's still a type of fanaticism that would push you to listen to every one of his releases. If I did that I would barely have time for any other podcasts. Certainly not any of the other long-form style podcasts I also listen to. You (and by that I mean, "I") have to look at who the episode is with and maybe listen to the first 10-20 minutes to see if it's going in a direction you'd (I'd) find entertaining/informational/whatever you're (I'm) looking for and make an executive decision as to whether or not you want to push through.  
   For instance, I just stopped an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience with Christopher Ryan after about an hour. Don't get me wrong, I love them both and I especially like when they are together with Duncan Trussell, but I don't have time in my life to listen to Christopher Ryan for 3 hours once or twice a month. That's over a day of my listening life in a year that would go into hearing Joe Rogan and Christopher Ryan bullshitting. Yes, every once in a while they have profound things to talk about but they're fewer and farther in between as time goes on and there is an endless sea of amazing podcasts out there that I want find.  
   Wow, I spent two paragraphs explaining what I didn't want to talk about. None of this was meant to say that Kim and the rest of the Kardashians is useless (though it is what I believe) or that Joe Rogan and Christopher Ryan don't add anything to my life (far from it). What I want to say here, is that some podcasts can change your life. The right person interviewing the right people about the right subject at the right time can change the way people think. Don't believe me? Go listen to The Joe Rogan Experience #670 - Michael A. Wood, Jr. Michael is a retired Baltimore police officer (among other things) and gives his very unique perspective on how the police are part of a system that systematically puts minorities in prison. If you listen to that and don't come out with a very different perspective on the prison system than this is not the blog for you. It's an example of the type of podcast I search for.  
   Now on to my main point. Do you remember my post a few weeks ago about the podcast Serial? If not check it out but for those who don't bother clicking that link the main idea of the podcast is that the interviewer, Sarah Koenig, is delving deep into the murder of Hae Min Lee whose boyfriend Adnan Syed has been in prison for for over a decade. Sarah interviews Adnan, friends of his and Hae's from that time as well as professional investigators and more. The series became immediately one of the most referenced and popular ones out there and for good reason! This real life scenario became an amazing audio drama not just for the characters in the case but for how Sarah Koenig is literally pulled in a million directions as the series went on. You know the type of podcast I told you I search for? Well, every episode of Serial was one of these.  
   I lied. Now onto my point. Check out this article HERE. Normally there's no way I'd ever send you over to Entertainment Weekly unless it was to laugh at how laughable it is but it's worth it. Come back when you're done reading. … … .. . That's right, Adnan is getting a hearing. Turns out that people involved in the case got to hear all the other sides of the story and have spotted multiple discrepancies. Which means, that early next year a judge will hear Adnan's plea to get a new trial.  
   Bam. Proof that podcasts can change the world. I already knew that from the way my thoughts and perception have been altered by listening to fascinating conversations but to see it applied to the real world is a whole 'nother ball game. It made me look at podcasts differently. As if podcasts are more of a tool of social change... 
   Follow me here! The internet revolutionized the way we communicate with one another. It replaced the old world centralized communications in less than 10 years. Next came the Facebook which changed the way we "socialize" digitally as well as curating what information comes to us rather than we hunt it down. Next was Twitter which put the ability share thoughts/images/situations from any person to literally any other person in the world instantly. Now the big thing is Periscope which lets us broadcast our experiences in real time to anyone who bothers to watch. All of these things are tools for society. Facebook to reorganize our more "local" groups of friends as well as communities, Twitter to make anyone on the planet available to you and Periscope to make any injustice (or asshole) visible to the whole world (among other uses I'm sure...).  
   What if podcasts are the next step? I know podcasts aren't exactly new tech but what if we're using it wrong? What if it is another tool we can use for social change? What if we're already using them in that way naturally?  
   Well I know I am. I believe podcasts are the starting of a new way to learn. Instead of waiting to get to high school to learn about astrophysics kids can just listen to StarTalk Radio with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Want to know more about insects? Find an insect podcast. I enjoy etymology so I listen to The Allusionist. Every time I find a new interest I seek podcasts about that subject. Even if I don't find a whole podcast series dedicated to it there's always at least one podisode somewhere with an expert on the topic, even if I have to search weeks to find it.  

   Anyway, I just wanted to share the update with Adnan because a possibly innocent man may get a second chance at freedom. And it's all because of the amazing creators over at the Serial Podcast. Bravo to the people behind the podcast and good luck Adnan. I'll be patiently awaiting the next season to see how your prep goes. 



   PS I will be posting the best podcast of the first half of November soon. A lot of good looking episodes came out in the past few days and I want to be fair. Check back around Monday. Until then let me know what your thoughts are on the Adnan hearing, or about Serial, or even about podcasts in general below! You could also go 
check out who won the best podcasts for October (part 1 & part 2)!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Best of October 2015 Part 2 - The Joe Rogan Experience #712 Wim Hof

   Okay so consistency is not my thing. This is obvious. I'm not going to apologize either. If someone wanted me to post something sooner they would have asked (or bitched about it) but you didn't. So I'm doing this on my time. You know what? I'm not even going to try very hard either. It wasn't the best time for great podcasts anyway so I'm going to give you a brief introduction to the best one I heard and I guess point you in the right direction for some other above average entertainment.


   It wasn't exactly a competitive half month for podcasts but even if it was this would be in the running. The Iceman himself comes to the JRE to talk to Joe about his breathing technique, life philosophy and many other random things. The most important take away from this is how amazing the human body is and how easy it is to become "superhuman". Wim Hof goes into detail about how his breathing technique works and explains how deep breathing (or over oxygenating your body) literally changes your chemistry. Anyone who has meditated regularly knows this to be true. After a few minutes of deep breaths your entire mindset shifts. Add in the rule in this technique about breathing in more than you're breathing out and you will feel very different in less than a couple minutes. Totally worth your time.
   BONUS! Check out the VICE documentary about the Iceman. It shows his... training camp? Cultist training center? Group meditative ceremony? It's all in how you look at it. Either way it's a very eye opening piece.


   Ready for me to point you to another quality podcast? Well, if you haven't listened to StartUp before, now's a great time to go back and catch up. StartUp is a podcast about what it takes to start a business. More specifically, a media company that produces podcasts for season 1 and a look at what it takes to start a online dating company for season 2. It's hard not to get pulled into the world of Gimlet Media. To be honest I started listening early on because I had the same idea. In fact I'm still working on the same idea over at www.sparkfeedmedia.com, where I slowly work on starting a podcast company. The crew over at Gimlet works very hard to put out high quality and entertaining media and have been one of my main sources of inspiration in my own work. Even here!
   This episode is the start of a mini season interlude between seasons 2 and 3 where we go back to the main focus of season 1; Gimlet Media itself. Between the end of season 1 and the end of season 2 there was a lot left in the air as far as how the company was doing so it's nice to see behind the scenes once more.




Friday, October 16, 2015

Best of October 2015 Part 1 - ReplyAll #42 Blind Spot

   It was another good week in the podisphere. I was worried during the first 7 days. Could I really have a week where there was no podcast that would rise above the rest? I mean, nothing was particularly bad but... at the same time I couldn't honestly recommend any of them. If I can't imagine myself telling anyone in person I can't bring it here so what would I do then?
   Then BAM Radiolab drops a damn entertaining audio. Then a couple days past... And again, BAM ReplyAll comes in snakes the win right out of Jad's hands. Sorry boys over at WNYC, Gimlet takes the win for October.


   Okay, yes. I will admit I have a skewed perspective on a certain aspect of this story. I wont say which because the narrative of the story is much better without knowing.
   It follows the story of Hope. A photographer who has strange migraines that pretty much disable her in the worst of ways and has absolutely zero luck finding out what is happening to her. Doctor after doctor passes it off as nothing while she gets worse and worse. She creates a journal tracking her symptoms and lengths of time in pain/blind only to have it dismissed.
   This story is very well done so I wont spoil anything. But! I will say there is more to this story that I'm not going to go into because they've hinted at having a second part to this podisode. I'm not sure if they're going in the direction I'm thinking but I don't want to jump on them before then.


   Another amazing podisode from Radiolab! In this one the WNYC team goes behind the origins of the phrase "Smile! You're on candid camera!" At this point the newest generations may or may not have ever heard it but I know I did. The 90's were the last time I last heard it used in a hidden camera show and ever since then it's been referenced every once in a while in TV and movies. After you listen to Gimlet's newest release from ReplyAll make sure to go snag this one.



...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Best of September 2015 Part 2 - Love + Radio - A Red Dot

   The end of September 2015 had a podcast that has finally done something I've been waiting for. It's the type of podcast that really pulled me into the world of podcasting. In fact, I'm over a week late because I don't even know how to introduce such a grand piece of art (no, not really), so I decided to would just clumsily spit it out.


   A Red Dot is an interview with a registered citizen. I guess this is the new politically correct term we are supposed to use when referring to a registered sex offender because Frank is a registered sex offender. Now, it's not that I'm particularly interested in sex offenders but with the kind of deep dive interviews podcasts tend to produce it's always been hard to not to imagine what this would be like.
   Now, Frank isn't just going over what his life is like. Well, yes, he's mostly doing this, but he has his own agenda he's pushing forward as well. Frank is an advocate for the for the rights of these registered citizens. It's definitely not what I was imagining in my head but they got the perfect man for the job. He makes the obvious point amount how an 18 year old can sleep with a 17 year old being considered rape even it was consensual. If the parents don't like the situation, the kid, or are just going on a power trip, they can pretty much end the kids life.
   As far as registered citizen rights that's about as far as that goes. It's always been somewhat obvious that each of these cases should be handled on a case by case basis. There's no way that 18 year old needs to be on the list for the rest of his life, but with the problems we have with our unregistered citizens (race, sex, class, religious, etc...) and the complete disdain from a majority of the global population it's hard to see any of that coming soon.
   The best part of this podcast is listening to the interview play out. There's a particularly salty palpable tension in the room you can hear through the headphones. This is consistent even through the long sections that just have Frank talking. You even get to hear him blow his top and take several smoke breaks. It's exactly what I always wanted from this interview.
   In no way can I talk more about this. I've already spilled too much and the way this podisode of Love + Radio plays out is all part of the thrill of it. Head over there now and take a listen to this piece of art.

The Joe Rogan Experience #702 - Milo Yiannopoulos

   I'm not going to bother writing out a bunch of other podcasts from this time. There are too many new ones to listen to and share to bother going back in time. I will say that this JRE is very much along the same lines but instead of thick heavy tension it's more aggressive. This Milo character is very controversial (as any basic google search will show you) and while I don't agree with everything he says, he does bring up a lot of good points along the lines of radical feminist culture silencing men. That is, before the last 45 minutes where things get weird.



   That's all for now. If I'm keeping track of things correctly I believe I have another post due on Friday. We'll see if the week allows the time for it but I make no promises. Besides, it's not like I have any regular readers to keep happy right?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Special Focus - Serial Podcast

   Don't even pretend to read this. Nobody who listens to podcasts can possibly not know about Serial. Seriously. Stop. Are you reading this ironically? Does irony describe this situation? Probably not. The point is, Serial is an amazing way to spend your podcast listening time.
   How amazing? Imagine a crazy crime drama meets murder mystery in audio form. The show is about a young man, Adnan Syed, who has been in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, while in high school over a decade ago. The show follows the as the host/narrator delves into different people's lives trying to figure out how much actual evidence there is against Adnan. It jumps from his friends, to Hae's friends, to other possible suspects all the way to people who's testimony could have changed Adnan's fate. Not to mention the legal organizations and professionals who weigh in on how well the case was constructed. There are even recordings of the interrogations to really immerse you in the case.
   Looking at this case from all the different angles gets you to think about these cases very differently. I've flipped how I feel not just about the person they have in jail but another person of interest three or four times. Between the unanswered questions, inconsistencies in evidence and prosecutors timeline and the fact that people with key information were not even contacted based on the fact that it "didn't help the prosecutors case" this ongoing story is as frustrating as it is enthralling. It's a must for everyone. Not just people who listen podcasts. Everyone. It's exactly what audio art is. 
   Moral of the story? Listen to the podcast. Head of to the SERIAL website and listen to the first 3 episodes then come back here and let me know what you thought. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Best of September 2015 Part 1 - Radiolab & Harmontown

   Wow, first official post and it's a tie. It's not something I was hoping to do this early but I didn't have much of a choice. One of these podcasts hit a very on point topic that shows how backwards our culture is the other is and the other, while entertaining (if not rambly), is about autism awareness. Both of these topics are a huge part of the world we live in today awareness is key so take a listen and educate yourself!


   In the wake of the Cecil the lion controversy Radiolab has released a very on topic episode (podisode?). The information isn't really new to me, as Cameron Hanes has been on the Joe Rogan Experience to explain this exact situation, but it still lays out the misunderstood nature of hunters that don't just hunt for trophies. His story, especially now, is definitely one people need to hear.
   The idea that hunting can help animals seems extremely paradoxical. People hate hunters because they kill animals, end of story. We've become a bandwagon culture who makes decisions based on the most recent BuzzFeed article or most controversial headline. Actually understanding a topic beyond the surface headlines, even just an hour's worth of research, seems to be enough to be more well read than 95% of the population. "Knowledge is power" has never been more true in this day and age.
   Cameron Hanes' life has become infinitely more difficult since bidding for a tag to hunt a black rhino. A black rhino that was going to have to be killed/removed from the group anyway. A black rhino that could make hundreds of thousands of dollars for the conservation of black rhinos. A black rhino that was going to kill the younger males around him because of his advancing cage. Of course I'm a born and raised Alaskan so fishing/hunting is something I grew up with so most of this is pretty obvious to me but for those of you still confused about the subject must listen to this episode. It's much shorter then the Joe Rogan Experience going over it with all the most information boiled down. Not to mention the glimpse into Cameron's life since placing his his bid which has been... Well, just take a listen.


   Do vaccines cause autism? Does the rise in adult autism diagnosis have anything to do with our diet? Are kids being inappropriately diagnosed by parents who don't have time to pay attention to their kids and just went them to be on meds all the time?
   The answer to these questions are no, probably not and sometimes. Actually, I'm no professional so don't take my word for it, go out and buy Steven Silberman's new book NeuroTribes. As someone who has an autistic brother all I can say is this guy has the right idea. Autism is such a casually tossed around term (like GMO) that hasn't really been  defined clearly for the culture. A lot of people still think if your child is autistic that they are considered abnormal and something to grieve over which is utter nonsense. Steven goes over some common misconceptions about the history of autism and how the mind of these individuals work. The book is in my queue. A must hear for all. 


   For my posts I believe I mentioned (too lazy to look at my last post) that I would put "runner up" podisodes so here we go! If you have extra time after checking out these awesome podcasts then take a gander below. 



   Another podisode focusing on concussions or injuries of the brain and how to combat them. This should all be common knowledge for humans as a whole. We, as a nation, average 12 deaths in high school and college football a year and I'm betting that repetitive brain trauma might have something to do with it. She even gives you a technique to help reduce psychological trauma which could prevent PTSD or flashbacks in general. If you have any extra time this week, please stop by the JRE Youtube or download it from the podcast player of your choice. 



   Ever get a call from you cable company wanting to have you take a survey? How about ask you how your customer service experience was? Well, did they ever ask you to take down a tweet from your personal Twitter account? Well, this is the story of a man who got just such a call from someone over at ComCast! Reply All doesn't have very long episodes so you should definitely take some time to check out this episode. It's quite a rabbit hole to trip down...



   Have a splendid couple weeks! I might release a post next week with a focus on a particular podcast that deserves a full listen through. That's right, from beginning to end. Should I give a hint? Would you even try and guess? Hm... I guess I could start a bi-weekly post to take a special focus on previous podisodes or podcasts that I feel deserve a listen through and have hints for people to guess? How about the winner gets to write a guest post on here putting your own top podcasts for the bi-week? There we go. So here's your hint: From the creators of the one of the most famous podcasts on the planet. Comment your answer here or tweet me at @ChrisGibson_17 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Idea...

   If you're anything like me you listen to nearly 5 hours of podcasts a day at work. No? I'm the only one? Well then, good thing I'm here! A lot of my work is desk work. Fax this, schedule that, make sure the billing is correct for that insurance company, etc... In other words, I do a lot of mind numbing activities that don't stimulate me very much. That's where podcasts come in. I mean, I don't listen all day because there is a good amount of time I am talking with clients or co-workers but a good 4-6 hours of my time is desk jockey stuff.
   With all this time poured into podcasts I've started to look back at the end of my week and see which ones really nailed it. Which ones struck an emotional cord or hit all the right buttons to really get me thinking. A lot of them have me telling my co-workers's ear's off because they're all I can think about. These are the types of podcasts worth sharing.
   This is where the idea for this little blog comes from. Don't expect me to try and make you laugh, don't come on here looking for some grand analysis of Duncan Trussell's most recent spiritual rant or a hate filled post about how that one episode of StarTalk with a Christian Scientist was just so infuriating. No. What I plan to do is give an overview of some of the better podcasts from my roster with some highlights of the best moments and maybe a few other honorable mentions for those of you with extra time in your week.
   My goal in all of this is to give those who don't have as much free time as me the ability to see at a glance which podcasts I thought were exceptional. That's all. I toyed around with the idea of having the "worst podcast of the week" as part of my regular posts but I can't do that to such hard working people. Sometimes podcasts wont resonate with you. That's how it is and I'm not going to punish any of them for not hitting a home run every week.
   The other part of this blog is to (hopefully) bring other podcast listeners in to hear some outside commentary! I'd love to know what you people out there in the interwebs are listening to! Heck, I'd also be looking for anyone willing to contribute to the blog. You can build your own roster of regular podcasts and set up a rotation of postings every week. That way we can have different points of view and a whole new list of podcasts to pick from! My goal is to have a post every Thursday or Friday. Haven't picked yet. If you're interested get in contact with me!

   I think that's enough for my first post. Got the idea of what I've got going on? I sure hope so... I'll be posting my first recommendations soon so check back soon!