Podcast Rotation — January 2020

January 15, 2020 • #

I’ve fallen off listening to so many different shows as I have in the past. During last year I found more enjoyment in audiobooks for much of my listening. On the podcast front, I spent more time diving into the archives of a handful of shows than in keeping up with new ones. Here are a handful of those that are must-listens for me lately.

The Fifth Column

I discovered The Fifth Column a little over a year ago after following the crew on Twitter for a while. It’s a (now weekly) discussion show on journalism, politics, culture, history, foreign policy, and whatever else is of interest in the news. It’s the only podcast I currently support on Patreon, I enjoy it that much.


I’ve linked numerous times to episodes of EconTalk over the past couple years, easily my favorite all around. Host Russ Roberts is a phenomenal interviewer that to me brings a great combination of interesting questions and his own perspective. Over the last couple of years of the archives, the show has branched out pretty far from its original core topic of economics, which is an excellent thing. Check out the recent episodes with Rory Sutherland, Gerd Gigerenzer, or Venkatesh Rao.

Conversations with Tyler

Tyler Cowen is one of the most thought-provoking thinkers. He’s a prolific author of books, writes one of the best websites at Marginal Revolution, and puts on this interview show that’s always got a cast of interesting guests. No one can argue contrarian viewpoints like Tyler.

The Portal

The eclectic series of guests that Eric Weinstein includes in his podcast is top notch. I’m glad he launched his own show so he has a platform to roam into the weird territories he likes to explore, with the likes of Peter Thiel, Werner Herzog, and (my favorite so far) Timur Kuran.

The Remnant

This is my only pure politics show, but host Jonah Goldberg has many interests in political philosophy, history, culture, and other things that go deeper than just another politics show full of hot takes.

Wernher von Braun and the Moon Landing

January 13, 2020 • #

This is a neat clip from Walt Disney’s Disneyland TV series. Wernher von Braun explains the future technology that’ll take us to the Moon, in 1955, several years before the Mercury program even began.

Weekend Reading: Soleimani, Prosperous Universe, and Roam

January 11, 2020 • #

🇮🇷 The Shadow Commander

This 2013 piece from Dexter Filkins gives an excellent background on Qasem Soleimani, an important figure now well known after his killing a couple of weeks ago, but prior to that hardly known by anyone other than experts, even with his massive influence in the region.

🌌 Prosperous Universe

I’m always intrigued by complicated simulation games. I remember a few of these “real-time” MMO games being popular in the early days of online gaming. Glad to see the genre still kicking in an era of low-attention-span gaming largely taking over. From the Prosperous Universe website:

At the heart of our vision lies the concept of a closed economic loop. There have been thousands of browser-based sci-fi strategy games before that emphasize military conflict. By contrast, Prosperous Universe is all about the economy and complex player-driven supply chains in which every material has to be either produced or purchased from other player-run companies.

🔗 Roam Research

Roam is an interesting note-taking tool that’s like a hybrid graph database and wiki. I tinkered with it a little bit. Seems attractive as a way to take meeting notes to try it out.

The Magic of Hong Kong

January 10, 2020 • #

This footage really makes Hong Kong feel like it’s from the future:

Reading Metrics

January 9, 2020 • #

Since I began tracking my books in a spreadsheet in 2018, I’ve got a bunch of data I can now look at on my reading habits.

One thing I took a stab at was a “duration chart” that could show the reading patterns over time, based on when I started and finished each book.

Book reading durations

Using this stacked bar chart style, you can see which books I stalled out on and put down for long periods. Not a judgment on those books’ respective merits, more of a criticism of my dodgy reading habits. The Federalist had probably a full 6 month fallow period where I forgot about it.

Some other fun-but-meaningless statistics:

Total Pages



  • Fiction: 24%
  • Nonfiction 76%


  • Audiobook: 57%
  • Kindle: 13%
  • Real Book: 30%

Authors I read more than one from

  • Nassim Taleb
  • Cixin Liu
  • HP Lovecraft
  • Jonathan Haidt

Oldest book

Top 5 genres (from tags)

  1. History
  2. Philosophy
  3. Psychology
  4. Science
  5. Business
  1. Page counts are, of course, a very rough estimate. But fun to see the quantity and calculate pages per day on average (about 50!).