My original blog was Hoses of the Holy (ca. 2003), which ended up being abandoned in the dark days of 2007. I started this one in 2011. Scroll down for the archives!

Podcast Central

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Robot or Not?
Robot or Not?

Time for a regular update on what I’m listening to, podcast wise.

I’m on the cusp of a big cull, because (thank goodness) my days of long commutes are numbered, and in September I’ll be needing about 100 minutes less listening material every day, 500 minutes a week – over 8 hours of podcasts I won’t have time to listen to.

I’ve decided I’ve got too many storytelling podcasts on my list, so a few of those will go. And I probably listen to way too many tech podcasts – given that I’m going to be a bog-standard English teacher next year. I think I’ll probably drop a number of the NPR style shows as well.

As an English teacher, I’m enjoying Helen Zaltzman’s The Allusionist, which is a bi-weekly examination of word origin stories. It tends to be short, which is a blessing, and Ms Zaltzman has a proven track record of sharp wit, evidenced on her other podcast Answer Me This, which you don’t need me to tell you about. It’s been interesting to hear her pop up on The News Quiz a couple of times recently, and you know what? I can see her being a perfect replacement for Sandi Toksvig.

The Incomparable Game Show continues to be great fun. If you like Radio 4 6:30 pm comedies, you’d love this. They tend to be longer (podcasts allow for this) and sometimes stretch to absurd lengths (as when they play Trivial Pursuit and can’t finish even though they reduced it to just 3 wedges per person), but it’s fun. My favourite sub-episode is still “Inconceivable” but I also loved the week when they were answering questions from a 1970s home version of Family Feud, which is called Family Fortunes in the UK. Trying to guess what 100 idiots might have said in answer to questions in the 1970s – so funny.

Live From High Fidelity is great. I don’t always have time for it, I confess, and I usually don’t know who the interview subject is, but this show in which two guys interview a guest about their career and play some vinyl is terrific. I loved the Maria McKee episode, and the Glyn Johns episode was brilliant.

I might stop listening to Radio 4’s The Media Show, because, well, not going to be teaching media. But I’ve started listening to Mair and Peston’s Radio 4 Interview Show, in which they take turns, um, interviewing someone. The high concept is that one of them prepares and the other one doesn’t. The one thing I miss about listening to actual radio is Eddie Mair, so this is a pleasure.

My current favourite podcast is Reconcilable Differences, with Merlin Mann (of 43 Folders fame) and John Siracusa (of Accidental Tech, Hypercritical and long, long Mac OS reviews fame). They sit and discuss their personal biographies and related matters. The tagline is that they ‘try to figure out exactly how they got this way’. Both men are interesting, and to listen to them talk (at length, be warned) is a pleasure.

Finally, John Siracusa also turns up with Jason Snell on a short, short podcast (2-3 minutes per episode) in which they discuss whether something is a Robot or Not. So far, I think, only a Roomba vacuum cleaner is a robot.

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