December’s Top 10 Podcast Episodes

It’s the end of 2015, and I’ve got one more list of podcast episodes for you. If you find these posts useful or interesting, let me know!

Here’s the list:

Surprisingly Awesome – Tubthumping

This episode was teased in an earlier StartUp on the editing process, but the depth that this song has, as well as the band Chumbawamba itself, is fascinating. I love how political the conversation gets, almost unapologetically so. I’m also endlessly fascinating by how “being punk” can look like just about anything as long as you’re trying to subvert it, like with “Tubthumping”. Check this one out if you want you mind blown on what you thought was a one-hit wonder.

With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus – Land Of The Danny Freeman

I was raised listening to Rush Limbaugh, so this improv comedy podcast episode which is a nonstop parody of his style of radio was music to my ears. Even when the facade is dropped to play with something else funny it worked. Also Lapkus is a polar bear?

Sawbones – Gunshot Wounds

I’m picking this episode for reasons similar to why I picked the Brock Wilbur episode from last month when he shared his experiences escorting Planned Parenthood patients. This episode manages to be funny while overviewing the history of the treatment of gunshot wounds from bad ideas to amputation to morphine to today. Towards the end, however, Sydnee, the doctor, goes on a mini-rant not even necessarily about gun control (in the wake of constant shootings in the US), but specifically about the ban on researching this subject, which is essentially indefensible. So learn a lot, laugh a little, and be moved by a need to understand this problem.

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GPS – She escaped war in Iraq and Syria; but will she arrive in America?

The Global Public Square is a show I rely on to keep me up-to-date with national and international news. Fareed Zakaria is the host, and while he’s been accused of plagiarism in recent years, I still find his show valuable and worth sharing, perhaps with that asterisk. This episode’s most moving segment features the curator of Humans of New York, who brought the story of a refugee who did everything right yet did not receive asylum in the US, which she shares in her own words. This episode also features a response to Trump’s anti-Muslim remarks at the time in which Zakaria expresses his perspective both in his current secular outlook and with his Muslim upbringing.

Serial – Dustwun

Serial is back and uncovering the story of the American soldier in Afghanistan, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, who left his post and wandered into the desert. He was captured, held for years, and eventually traded, causing a national uproar. This first episode covers the first night until he is captured. This looks to be a very engaging series and one that will have impact on the national level.

The Atheist Experience – A Plug for Secular Student Alliance

This TAE episode no only gave a plug for one of my favorite organizations in the secular movement but also had some really great conversations from callers. One shares his experience of living in Pakistan as an atheist and his worry about backlash going forward where ever he lives. Another opens a discussion about feeling an emotional connection to the suffering of Christ. Finally, there’s a chat about Unitarian Universalist churches, Sunday Assembly (which I’m a fan of), and creating a “landing pad” for people coming down from religious beliefs and needing community.

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Freakonomics – Is Migration a Basic Human Right?

This Freakonomics episode pairs well with the previous GPS entry on this list for its thoughtful treatment of migration, immigration, and refugees. Proponents of the elimination of borders altogether put forth their very interesting case, which has some compelling arguments. Reasonable critiques of this idea and its less extreme versions of accepting more foreign people are also presented. Like in the GPS episode, some tales of personal experience help to humanize the discussion and give it weight.

Nerdist – Quentin Tarantino

I’d never heard an extended interview with this acclaimed director before, so this was a treat for me. Hardwick has a lengthy chat with Tarantino about his career, especially how, in his view, he’s been fortunate to catch a new wave of young people with each new film. He also discusses his writing process, his ventures into other media, and how his works fit together into his style. The Hateful Eight was fantastic, as you’d expect.

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How To Be Amazing – David Sedaris

Linked is part one of this episode, followed by part two. I loved this conversation! Michael Ian Black has become, in my mind, more notable for his interviewing style than for his comedy, which is a compliment to his diverse talents. He asks excellent questions to the brilliant writer Sedaris, known for his both literal and figurative voice and appearing on radio shows like This American Life. A choice moment when MIB asks Sedaris how much money he makes in a year spoke volumes about the environment MID creates in these conversations and how open Sedaris chose to be about his career.

Spawn On Me – How The Swatter Stole Christmas

Swatting is a criminal act that has taken place with alarming frequency in the gaming world, and in this episode of Spawn On Me, the hosts invite the writer of New York Times piece on a serial swatter on to discuss his investigation and its effects on victims and gaming. Hateful gamers out there sometimes find information about where video game streamers they dislike live and report false crimes that cause SWAT teams to barge into unsuspecting people’s homes, live on camera. It’s a deplorable practice that deserves to be made more known, and this episode was an important conversation.

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Honorable mentions:

Freakonomics – The Cheeseburger Diet

This episode is quite a bit of fun. It starts off with the story of a woman searching her town for the best cheeseburger by eating at two places a week for an entire year. Once the results are tallied, the conversation moves into her health and whether our perceptions about what makes a good diet are skewed. Are the latest fads worth it? Do calorie counts help? Learn all that and more in this show.

Cracked Podcast – What We Learned About What We Learned in 2015

538 is a bastion of reasonable, data-driven information, and Cracked teamed up with them to review some big moments in use and misuse of data in 2015. From data spills to fabrication, this episode wisely covered everything you need to know, data-wise, in 2015!

With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus – The North Pod 2 with Santa Claus

I can’t get enough of Paul F. Tompkins as a vulgar Santa with Lapkus as his awful elf Hoho. It was a timely episode, putting me in a laughing mood over this holiday season. I feel like Lapkus’ face should be enough incentive to check this one out…
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Have any favorites this month, or have a suggestion of a show I should try for next time? Let me know!

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