This was a surprisingly interesting discussion about urban rats (known as the brown rat, or Norway rat), their behaviors, how little we know about their populations, their speed of adaptation, and why they’re so difficult to study.
Ezra Klein recently hosted Stripe founder Patrick Collison on his podcast for a deep dive into his thinking on progress studies.
Tracking down the origins of what generates progress, and what compels things like substantial breakthroughs in scientific research is a hard problem. Clearly there’s no monocausal explanation. I like Patrick’s idea here that specific attributes of research culture might be key contributors:
If we kind of accept that, and we try to ask ourselves, well, specifically, what are the mechanisms? You know, what’s actually going on? It’s hard for me to say. It...
Last year I switched to Airr as my main podcast app when they launched the beta, and have used it exclusively just about every day since.
Airr’s killer feature is the “AirrQuote”, which lets you clip snippets of podcast audio to share. There’s no other podcast app like it with as many integrations, like highlighting and syncing to your Readwise knowledge management workflow. It also has transcripts for tons of shows, which is a feature I didn’t know I wanted til I tried using Spotify or Overcast again and couldn’t scan through the...
This was the first episode I’ve listened to of Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s new podcast “Business Breakdowns”. He and Alex Rampell dive deep on the history of Visa and its unique business model. Alex saw Visa’s business first-hand after his company TrialPay was acquired in 2015.
So much good background here on how it started as a local credit card program in Fresno and evolved into the network backbone between banks.
They also mentioned a book on the history of the credit card (and other financial innovations of the same era) called ✦
Tyler Cowen hosted Moderna’s co-founder Noubar Afeyan for a conversation on mRNA technology, their COVID vaccine, and what’s going on in the biotech space.
A ton of great insights in this one. Tyler raised the now-famous story of the vaccine being “designed in 2 days”, and I loved this response from Afeyan:
Well, Moderna is a company that was already 10 years old by the time the virus appeared. Unfortunately for the virus, there has been quite a lot of time to get ready with a platform and with a team that was assembled, even though it was still...
This conversation with José Luis Ricón Fernández de la Puente on Erik Torenberg’s podcast was an expansive cover of more topics than I think I’ve ever heard discussed on a single podcast. A brief sampling of the subjects touched: scientific progress, economics, GDP growth, health care, regulations, longevity research.
Also see José’s blog for more in-depth coverage on his research topics.
Basecamp’s Ryan Singer has been doing this solo podcast on a lot of his favored topics, centered around product design. But he also branches into adjacent, related areas of systems, research, user experiences, and more.
I like the solo format as a different approach to your standard conversation or interview shows. I’ve listened to a couple of these, and the best way to describe the content is somewhere between a Twitter thread and a blog post series. You get the good parts about the Twitter medium — the sort of unstructured, “thinking out loud” quality — with more space...
I enjoyed this interview with Stripe co-founder John Collison. The range of topics covered in this discussion is wild. Always impressive to see someone that’s been so objectively successful still maintain the level of curiosity he does, motivated to constantly fill knowledge gaps.
A sampling of the discussion topics:
Value of writing skill and clear internal communication
I’ve been following Gurri’s work closely since I read The Revolt of a Public a couple months back. I think he’s one of the sharpest minds we have right now thinking and writing about what’s going on in politics, media, and public opinion.
He was on this week’s EconTalk talking to Russ Roberts about his book. The show notes for the episode provide excellent additional material on his core ideas.
Stephen Kotkin is a historian that has studied and written mostly about Soviet history and Josef Stalin. This was an excellent interview with him by Lex Fridman — Lex asks simple, broad questions and let’s Kotkin go deep.
Kotkin is incredibly articulate here. I would love to get to a depth of knowledge on a subject to be able to speak uninterrupted about it for an hour and a half.
A couple weeks ago Ben Thompson and John Gruber launched Dithering, a new podcast they’re doing together with a unique model: 15 minutes per episode, 3 times a week, only for paid subscribers. They launched with a dozen or so episodes in the can from over the previous month, so I’ve already gone through the back catalog.
As with the open web and individual creators running their own web properties (versus only creating for other platforms like Twitter or Medium), I love to see certain folks in the podcast space pushing for business models that allow them to...
With the boom in popularity of podcasting, it’s surprising their aren’t more podcast players popping up. I’ve been an Overcast user for years, but there are only a few other big players these days: Stitcher, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Downcast, then what seems like a long tail of small, undifferentiated options. Most of them provide similar functionality, but I’ve stuck with Overcast because of its simplicity and independence. Many of the other alternatives have shifted toward “platform” models where they’re looking to monetize content as well as their software. Overcast has been steady and independent, with no sign of...
A discussion among physicians on how oncology is changing and will likely continue to evolve in the wake of the coronavirus. Testing, chemo, and other treatment steps currently considered to be standards of care will change, and things like telemedicine will change what options doctors have in working with patients.
I’ve got a set of scans and a follow up this week, so will see how Mayo Clinic has adapted their approach in response to this crisis.
This was a fascinating interview with Dr. Michele Gelfand from Jonah Goldberg’s The Remnant podcast. It mostly covers the subject of her book Rule Makers, Rule Breakers, on the differences between “tight” vs. “loose” cultures — think Singapore or China vs. Spain or Italy. It’s a timely subject in this time of global response to a pandemic, seeing how different cultures respond to the crisis.
If you’re holed up in quarantine and have some extra time, Russ Roberts’s website has a nice browsable list of all the EconTalk episodes in the archives. So many timeless interviews in here, which is unique for podcasts, many of which are timely and outdated after a couple of years.
Ben Thompson’s Stratechery is one of the must-read newsletters out there. I’ve been a subscriber and avid reader for 4 years now, and I think I’ve read every post he’s published since then. Lately I’m finding I get behind on keeping up with his pace of output on the members-only Daily Update feed. So it was exciting to see the launch of this new channel where he’s creating a podcast version of the Daily Update for subscribers.
For the past week I’ve been listening to the posts rather than reading, which has made it much easier to content...
A discussion between economist Arnold Kling and author Martin Gurri about the erosion of institutions and what that means for polarization and cultural instability.
Martin Gurri doesn’t like to make predictions. But if you were lucky enough to read his groundbreaking 2014 book, The Revolt of the Public, when it was first published, you’d have an excellent guide for understanding much of what subsequently happened in the United States and around the world. Gurri’s thesis—that information technology, particularly social media, has helped to dramatically widen the distance between ordinary people and elites—has proven invaluable in explaining not only the...
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.
I enjoyed a couple of notes from this interview with Atlassian President Jay Simons. They’ve famously built a business with bottom-up adoption dynamics, allowing them to hit the $1bn revenue milestone without a traditional sales-led model. It’s especially impressive how they’ve been able to do that while also successfully going upmarket to larger and larger customers, who are typically high-touch by default.
My favorite comment:
“We think of the funnel as a product. Potentially when a customer raises their hand, when they actually need to talk to you, that’s...
This is a great conversation from EconTalk with advertising exec Rory Sutherland on his new book Alchemy. He’s got interesting ideas on the role of psychology and human emotion when it comes to decision making, markets, choice, and governance. A very entertaining and humorous discussion, as well.
“Waldenponding” is a phrase coined by Rao to describe the growing backlash movement against hyperconnectedness, driving people to disconnect completely and long for a life of lower information overload and deeper meaning — a reincarnation of Thoreau’s idea from Walden. This podcast interview is about an essay Rao wrote last year that argues against this idea, a contrarian viewpoint considering the “right” or “intelligent” thing to do is considered to be disconnecting from the vapid, toxic environments of Twitter and Facebook. He makes a compelling case about a continuum of information-light vs. information-dense sources of data, and...
Through a Twitter thread I ran across this running catalog of resources on the history of the tech industry — books, articles, movies, and more. A definitive list of content. There are some great recommendations here that I’d never heard of, especially in the books and podcasts sections.
I thought this was a fantastic interview on EconTalk. David Deppner is a listener of the podcast that sent Russ a thought-provoking email question on the subject of leadership and what traits make for “good” qualities in a leader — whether a CEO, presidential candidate, or parent.
Anyone in a form of leadership role like this (which likely includes everyone in some context) struggles with this question. Do those you lead that look to you for guidance really want the truth? The truth is that no leader really has it all figured...
This is a new notes app from Brett Terpstra (creator of nvALT) and Fletcher Penney (creator of MultiMarkdown). I used nvALT for years for note taking on my Mac. This new version looks like a slick reboot of that with some more power features. In private beta right now, but hopefully dropping soon.
Dr. Keith Flaherty is an oncologist specializing in targeted therapy treatments, with a background in studying and treating varieties of melanoma. I listened to this extended interview with him on Peter Attia’s The Drive podcast, which was an excellent deep dive into lots of oncology subjects.
Keith dives into the topic of immunotherapy, probably the most exciting recent development in cancer therapy, and also provides us a rundown of his notion of a different approach to cancer that attacks all the essential pillars of cancer growth and survival.
Lance Armstrong’s been doing THEMOVE podcast on the Tour for 3 years now, the first being the 2017 Tour when I spent so much time watching both the Tour itself and the podcast (then known as STAGES). On the show they do a stage-by-stage breakdown each day, with segments on the best rider of the stage, recap the days major changes, analyze the sprint finishes and mountain attacks, and make predictions on future team tactics. It’s a fun show, but also gives insight from two guys who rode in the Tour many times...
Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind was one of my favorite recent nonfiction books I’ve read in the last few years. It’s one of the most objective, deep analyses of a question that’s interested me for years: why do people have such fundamental and deep disagreements on how the world works or should work? Why are political left and right seemingly so far apart from one another on such fundamental levels? Haidt’s perspective as an expert in moral psychology provides insights into the foundations of how we’re different and how we’re the same.
Marco Arment just shipped a new update to Overcast (the best iOS podcast app) with an awesome new feature that allows you to clip sections to share. Since its early days you’ve been able to share a podcast episode with an anchor link to a timestamp, but this new clip sharing ability is a major improvement that should make podcast content easier to point people to and recommend.
This doesn’t just allow you to create a clip to share, it even generates a nice embeddable video (landscape, square, or portrait) for posting through social...
This is an excellent 3-part interview with Dr. Matthew Walker on Peter Attia’s podcast. Walker is a sleep scientist and professor of neuroscience, and this series with him dives extremely deep on sleep — sleep stages, effects on cancer, heart disease, metabolism, and how things like caffiene negatively impact sleep patterns. I’ve been bad lately about focusing on a good sleep schedule and need to get reset on a committed pattern to put in the 8 hours a night. I’ve been too frequently at 6 or less hours a night which I know isn’t healthy, but since I can still...
The latest episode of Shane Parrish’s Knowledge Project podcast is an interview with investor Howard Marks. There’s a ton here on how he thinks about opportunity and risk. I loved the sound beliefs on cycles — people commit excesses to the upside which have to be corrected, leading to overshooting to the downside. And the reason these things happen is because companies and customers, producers and consumers, are all people with emotions:
There’s no such thing as a market… All there is, is people. And people have feelings. And so the emotions tend to get people to buy, buy, buy...
I’ve listened to a few of Peter Attia’s The Drive podcast episodes. This one was a stand-out conversation between him and Dr. Zubin Damania. It’s a wide-ranging discussion about the health care system, diet, creativity, and meditation (among other things).
I’ve spent a lot of time right in the thick of the health care system the last couple of years (thankfully with a good experience). Insightful thoughts on what’s wrong inside that ecosystem that ring true from first-hand exposure.
I enjoyed this interview with robotics professor Rodney Brooks on EconTalk. The conversation around AI and automation in the popular conversation is so charged, it’s good to hear a perspective that brings some reason into the discussion. The collective conversation on the subject of AI, driverless vehicles, and other forms of automation leans toward “it’ll be here tomorrow” or “we’ll never have any automation.” I think there’s too much pessimism in the former view, and too little optimism in the latter.
Brooks (who has spent his entire career on robotics and intelligence, currently at MIT) brings some reason to the...
In going through the backlog of Sam Harris’s Waking Up podcast, I put on this not-too-recent episode with Bret Weinstein, evolutionary biologist, free thinker, and polymath that I’ve heard in a number of other interviews before. This one in particular was fascinating since it went fairly deep on his area of expertise in biology, evolution, adaptation, and genetics.
Weinstein talks about human advancement through the lens of what is and isn’t a biological adaptation. I love the idea that the reason humans have progressed to such an advanced state is the shift in adaptation from the...
Containers is an audio documentary on global trade and container shipping. Alexis Madrigal dives into the processes that bring things like coffee from a farm in Ethiopia to your local hipster coffee shop.
If you’re a podcast listener and an iOS user of productivity apps, you should subscribe to the Canvas podcast. Hosted by Federico Vittici (of MacStories) and Fraser Spiers, these guys know all there is about making the iPad into a tool for getting real work done.
They’ve been doing a series on Workflow, the powerful app for iOS task automation. I love this app and use it a ton for a few simple, yet repetitive everyday tasks from my phone.
My podcast subscription library keeps growing. It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything about what I’m listening to regularly in my rotation. If I’m not listening to audiobooks, I’m keeping up with my podcast stream. Writing down this update of what I subscribe to is actually eye-opening. If I’d have guessed ahead of time, I’d have said I have about half this many subscriptions.
Here’s my current library as of early 2016, 36 feeds strong. I’ve broken it up by category, roughly organized in terms of my listening priority. For anyone wondering, there are only a handful I listen...
The latest episode of Debug had a great discussion with Don Melton and Jim Ray on Safari’s development, web standards, and the state of web advertising.
A brand new podcast player for iPhone built by Marco Arment.
I’ve switched to using Overcast full time from a couple of years on Instacast. It’s got the basics covered so far, and the addition of Overcast’s “smart speed” feature is fantastic. It dynamically adjusts playback speed based on the properties of the audio.