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5 Good Evergreen Podcasts
Baller topics include food, explorers, record labels, Vietnam War films and iconic sounds.
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Today, I have 5 really good podcasts recommendations for you.
Also this week:
What happened to Wirecutter?
And them fire X/tweets (including a hysterical Breaking Bad meme)
I did a lot of driving this summer and made my family listen to long-form podcast series against their will.
While that was bad for them, it’s great for you readers because I have some recommendations for evergreen podcasts (i.e. ones that can be listened to at any time and remain relevant for years regardless of the current news cycle).
I imagine most of you readers are familiar with the best evergreen history (Hardcore History, Revolutions) and business (Founders, Acquired) podcasts out there. So, here are 5 more podcasts that are great for those Fall treadmill gym sessions as you work off all that summer boozing and BBQ potato salad eating:
The Explorers Podcast
Trapital (Record Label Deep Dives)
The history of Vietnam War films
Twenty Thousand Hertz
Each episode of Gastropod looks at a food item and layers on historical context and scientific analysis. Launched in 2014, the hosts — journalists Nicola Twilley and Cynthia Graber — often bring on experts and have now done approximately ~200 shows, each with a run-time of between 30 and 60 minutes.
Fun facts from 3 episodes:
Fish & Chips (Link): Cod is great for trade because 98% of its fat is stored in the liver, making it easier to cure the meat and transport.
Olive Oil (Link): To farm olives economically in California, the trees are planted very close together so they can be harvested by machine.
Eel (Link): I f—king love Unagi sushi. It turns out that eel also has a long history in Europe, where it has been eaten for thousands of years (one of the most expensive fish on a per-pound basis). Randomly, the young Sigmund Freud dedicated a part of his life to finding eel testicles (spoiler alert: he failed).
2. The Explorers Podcast
Nothing beats a good podcast title. With The Explorers Podcast, you get exactly what it pitches: a deeply-researched podcast by Matt Breen about the world’s most famous explorers.
This 11-episode series on Ernest Shackleton and his expeditions to Antartica — including the failed Endurance mission (which is one of the greatest survival stories ever) — is an incredible ride.
3. Trapital (Record Label Breakdowns)
Dan Runcie writes the Trapital newsletter, which breaks down the business of hip-hop. For years, he also had an accompanying interview podcast, but recently pivoted the format to do business breakdowns of the most famous hip-hop record labels (along with Zack O’Malley Greenburg, a former Forbes writer who has written books on Jay-Z and Michael Jackson).
Here are relevant episodes:
Cash Money Records (Link): Baby, Slim, L’il Wayne, Drake, Nikki Minaj, Juvenile etc.
Motown Records (Link): Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye etc.
Roc-A-Fella Records (Link): Jay-Z, Dame Dash, Biggs, Kanye Def Jam etc.
Interscope Records (Link): Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, Death Row Records, Tupac, Eminem, 50 Cent etc.
Bad Boys Records (Link): Diddy, Notorious BIG, Craig Mack, Mase, Mary J. Blige, 112, Faith Evans, Cassie, Sean John, Ciroc
The Bad Boy Records episode gets extra points for surfacing this wild Forbes magazine cover:
4. The history of Vietnam War films
I have dozens of untitled Google Docs full of ideas that I will never do (mostly, because the ideas are awful). One of the good ideas was to do a podcast mini-series covering the history of Hollywood films about the Vietnam War.
Well, it's off the table now. The Big Picture podcast just dropped an 8-part series hosted by Brian Raftery on that exact topic.
The mini-series is called “Do We Get To Win This Time” and the overarching theme is that the public's mood about the Vietnam war has been heavily influenced by Hollywood films.
The films have shifted from propaganda (The Green Beret) to critical (Hearts & Minds, Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter) to perceived as more patriotic (Rambo 2, Missing in Action) to pop-culture phenomenons (Good Morning Vietnam, Platoon) to reflective (Born on the 4th of July).
5. Twenty Thousand Hertz
Each episode of Twenty Thousand Hertz tells the story “behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds.” Think about that. An evergreen podcast show about sounds, like what you’re listening to in your AirPods! It’s genius.
I’d recommend scrolling through the feed and picking the sounds that interest you the most.
My favourite is the episode on slot machine sounds, including these gems:
Winning sounds are “sparkly” or “blingy”
There are never any “losing” sounds (like *womp, womp, womp*)
The cadence of sounds escalates towards a resolution (if you lose, the sound leaves you hanging so you want to play again)
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Links and Memes
Arm IPO. The UK-based semiconductor company doesn’t manufacture chips but creates the chip architecture (instructions for design, programming languages and components). This architecture — most noted for its low power-consumption — is found in 99% of all smartphones. In 2016, Arm was acquired by Japanese investor Masayoshi Son’s Softbank for $32B .
The company made $2.7B in the past year (revenue comes from an upfront licensing fee and a royalty on each unit sold). Son is now eye-ing an IPO valuation of $60-70B (many believe this is expensive because Arm’s main market — smartphones — is saturated while the company is only now getting into AI). Either way, Arm is an important company and a great way for finance writers to use the pun “cost an arm and a leg”.
The IPO will be the biggest of 2023 and you can read more from CNBC (quick overview) and Tanay Jaipuria (which other private companies will follow Arm’s IPO lead? Instacart just dropped an S-1. Reddit next? Stripe?).
What happened to Wirecutter? Founded in 2011, the deep-dive product review site was acquired by the New York Times for ~$30m in 2016. Wirecutter’s business model took off because it monetized millions of eyeballs through affiliate product links rather than display ads.
However, the site's power users are annoyed amid questions about the quality of the reviews. The Atlantic’s Charlie Warzel offers some theories as to why the site’s perceived usefulness has declined:
Too many products: NYT made Wirecutter double its output (it’s hard to maintain the same deep dive standard with so much more volume).
Changing pay structure: Freelance reviewers used to get paid on an hourly rate but NYT changed it to a flat fee (which disincentives deep research).
Amazon: Product categories are now flooded with options and most that you find on Amazon are “good enough”.
Competitors: There are so many more reviewers now, which have kind of commoditized Wirecutter’s services (think of TikTok influencers or The Strategist review publication).
Is Wirecutter too good? Many power users don’t even bother reading the entire review and just buy the site’s top option.
I don’t use Wirecutter much but if they ever do a deep dive on banana-shaped banana slicers, then sign me up.
Other baller links:
The case for sabbaticals: The last year I lived in Vietnam was 2012. During that period, I sponged off my wife’s corporate earnings and spent 10 months doing nothing but reading books and swimming at a Sheraton pool. It was glorious (again, thanks to my wife). Anyways, Rohit Krishnan wrote a very good article on the underrated value of sabbaticals and taking time off (including cameos from Einstein, Newton, Charles Darwin and JK Rowling).
Did Hollywood finally figure out video game? The Ringer explains why there have been so many succesful video-game adaptations in the past year (The Last of Us, Super Mario Bros, Twisted Metals). One big reason: unlike previous generations, the current film and TV talent grew up obsessed playing the games and are very familiar with the source material. All I know is this: Nintendo needs to make Super Smash Brothers into a movie already.
Crazy building in Japan: There’s a 16-storey office building in Osaka which has a highway running through the middle of it (floors 5-7). The wild structure is a compromise from the 1980s between land developers (who wanted to rebuild the area) and the local government (who wanted to complete a 150-mile highway) The YouTube Channel “Only in Japan” has a cool on-the-ground explainer on the building. And I definitely need to write about Japan's land use policies in the future.
…and here them fire X/Tweets:
At this point, you probably saw the mugshot of Donald Trump. He tweeted the image out (his first post in over two years). And the memes have been wild:
Big news in the professional services world: Microsoft Excel has announced a full integration with the Python coding language (I actually have no idea what that last sentence means but here is a blog post about it).
Anyways, I’m waiting for this feature.
Finally, one of the funniest X/Twitter interactions I’ve ever seen (and something that can truly only happen on X/Twitter).
The setup: In the show Breaking Bad, there are twins that play cartel hitmen. The actors are brothers in real life (Daniel Moncada, Luis Moncada). They both have profiles on Cameo, the platform where users pay celebrities for shoutouts. Someone on Twitter found their profiles and posted this:
That post was followed by two responses:
@meanunclejack writes, “Luis has made $45,320 and Daniel has made $15,000. just goes to show the hard grinder with low prices can make more than the man who doesn't know his worth”
@TVsGeorgePrax replies, “See I think they’re in on this together. Daniel sets his price high so people buy Luis’s thinking it’s a deal. They do half the cameos each since no one would be able to tell the difference and split the money. The perfect scam.”
Of course, what these two users are describing is the negotiating tactic of “anchoring” (you set a price high so that the buyer is “anchored” to the higher number and it looks likes an incredible deal when you lower the price).
The payoff: Back to Breaking Bad. It is one of the greatest TV shows ever and also one of the greatest sources of internet memes, which leads to an amazing finale: Daniel Moncada — one of the twin brothers — replies to the thread with a meme from the show that confirms that the brothers are colluding and using the concept of “anchoring” to great effect (the first time I read the thread, I legit LOL'd).