Re-Listening to Podcasts from the Dark Times


A good chunk of my job involves standing at a fume hood, mostly by myself, and doing stuff with my hands. Early on in grad school I started listening to podcasts, and they're great for when you're doing extended solo work.

I kind of only listen to two types of podcasts. There's the "two or three friends just talk about stuff" type and the "one person tells you about historical stuff" type. Sometimes the first type has a vague outline but it's better as it becomes more freeform, because the show is really more about the people than the topics. The second type is effectively a history audiobook that is released a chapter at at time. I know I'm weird, because the more popular interview shows and the murder documentaries and public radio essays don't really do it for me.

There aren't really even that many examples of either type that I actually enjoy, so I end up listening back through favorites. Usually this entails downloading episode 1 and just going through it in chronological order. I'm currently going through a Roderick on the Line re-listen, which is a perfect example of the "just some friends talking about stuff" type.

Podcasts are especially nice when the world is terrible and you just want to hear cool people talking about cool stuff. The problem with the more free-form types, though, is when you get to certain points in time. Say, November of 2016, when a little over 50% of Americans just sort of had to sit and blink, or panic, or plan a move to Canada. If I'm doing a podcast re-listen, I sort of have to skip a few months.

The other, obviously, is around mid-March 2020. We all had to start taking the wrong kind of vacation. It's pretty wild to think how (most of us) reacted to a few cases here or there. Compare that to the current, "who cares lol" wave of mid-2022, where there are something like an order and a half magnitude more cases than early 2020 despite a decent vaccination campaign (at least in California) but many people seem to think that everything's fine. But I digress.

It's been more than two years, so the panic at the start of the current unpleasantness is kind of history now. But it's hard to listen to people say "well, we'll get through this eventually" because we really haven't yet.

So, maybe two periods of podcast re-listening time to skip now.