Culture Podcasts

The History of Vagrant Records

The Washed Up Emo Podcast published a great 2 part interview with the co-founder of Vagrant Records. If you were ever in to the first batch of Vagrant bands, I’d highly recommend listening to these to episodes.

#70 – Part 1 of 2 – The History of Vagrant Records with co-founder Rich Egan

#71 – Part 2 of 2 – The History of Vagrant Records with co-founder Rich Egan

I just discovered the podcast and these episodes are a few years old at this point, still well worth the listen.

Podcasts Review

2017 Podcast Picks

I haven’t done one of these lists in a few years, looking back through my archives I found my first list from 2008. Many of those podcasts have faded out of existence and I no longer listen to any of the others — with the exception of Daily Tech News Show, a spiritual successor to Buzz Out Loud. If you’re curious, here are my lists from: 2009, 2011 and 2012.

I subscribe to a lot of podcast, so I’ll just highlight a few shows I added to my subscriptions in the past year or two.

99% Invisible

Hosted by smooth voiced Roman Mars, this weekly show is ostensibly about architecture and design. Almost every week I find myself learning a bit of trivial or a little behind-the-scenes information that changes how I think about the way the world is constructed.


Episodes to check out:

Oyster-techture — Surprising importance of Oyster’s in NYC’s past and future.
Coal Hogs Work Safe — How stickers promote workplace safety in mining.
Half Measures — The history of metrification in the USA.

Reply All

Reply All is kind of like a cross between “behind-the-music” and Encyclopedia Brown for the internet. I previously highlighted their episode covering the history of Livejournal in Russia and the real possibility that it’s now an FSB spy tool.


Episodes to check out:

Long Distance – Part I & Part II — Host Alex Goldman receives a call from a telephone scammer, befriends him and travels to India to investigate their operation.
Antifa Supersolider Spectacular — Hosts discuss the origin of “Milkshake Duck” and other twitter weirdness.
The Case of the Phantom Caller — A woman in New Jersey is getting strange phone calls to her office from unknown numbers. The hosts investigate and uncover an interesting scam.

Stuff You Should Know

This show has been around since 2008, I’m really surprised I have not heard of it until this year. Twice per week the hosts spend about 45 minutes doing a deep dive on a pretty-much-random topic. I’m not sure how else to describe it.



Episodes to check out:

Cake: So Great. So, So Great — The history of cake is more interesting than I would have guessed.
Who Committed the 1912 Villisca Ax Murders — A murder mystery from 1912 and possibly the origin of the Ax murder trope.
How Multiple Sclerosis Works — The title says it all.

Culture Podcasts

Is shadow work ruining the job market?

A recent episode of the Every Little Thing podcast discusses the rise of self-checkout machines. It’s a fascinating tale, one that I would have never guessed started over 100 years ago with the opening of the Piggly Wiggly chain.

Self-checkout is a commonly used example of the impending threat of automation. I know I personally worry that robots in the form of advanced self-checkout machines are robbing my kids of the future first jobs they’ll be searching for in the next 5 or so years.

Well the episode ends with an interview with author Craig Lambert who has a totally unique take on the self-checkout process. He believes that the self-service economy is a system wherein we are performing unpaid work.

When we use a self-checkout, robots haven’t replaced a worker, we are replacing the workers ourselves. He’s completely correct! A self-checkout at the grocery store is effectively a complicated cash register, it doesn’t do much more than a regular cash register would do. As the self-checkers, we do all the work ourselves. We scan. We bag. We move the money.

It’s incredible, my mind has been blown!

I’ve embedded the episode here:

The show full show is here.


Culture Podcasts Websites

All your emo are belong to Russia

Remember Livejournal? All your angst posts about poignant Vagrant Records band lyrics? Selfies (before we called them that) of your pixie cut? Or crucial fades? Stupid surveys…  It’s safe to say that it played a major role in my social life as young adult years and I have most fond memories of that place.

I’d always known that Livejournal became super popular in Russia sometime after I stopped frequenting the site regularly. I sort of left it at that, assuming it was one of those quirky Russian internet things. Turns out it might be a lot more sinister.

The latest episode of – the excellent podcast – ReplyAll tells an interesting story of what happened with Livejournal and Russia.

Spoiler alert: nearly 10 years after its purchase by a Russian company, Livejournal’s servers finally relocated to Russian soil. It’s not much of a stretch to assume that the FSB and friends have direct access to any of your old content that might still be living there….

Podcasts Review

My 2012 Podcast Recommendations

This morning I wrote an email to a good friend who’s finally taking a real interest in podcasts, after years me trying to convince him to start listening to something, anything. The email ended up being fairly comprehensive, so I’m going to repost it here.

He already listens to No Agenda, Industrial Strength Nightmares and Planet Money based on my recommendation, I won’t be covering those here.

The 404 Show – They kind of cover tech news. The show reminds me a lot of Diggnation. If you’re going to listen to back episodes, I wouldn’t suggest anything old than about 3 years. If I recall, that’s when the show really started to get good.
Sound Opinions – They talk about music, interview artists and review new albums. Often they cover music I’m not terribly interested in, but I (almost) always find the show entertaining regardless.
Tech News Today – Daily Tech News. I’ve been listening to the main host of the show (Tom Merritt) for on his various tech news shows for around 6 years. Sarah Lane from TechTV is a co-host. I have mixed feelings about recommending this show, I’m not really a fan of the other regular hosts and am kind of looking for a replacement. I don’t recommend listening to back episodes, I think that’d be a little like watching re-runs of the evening news.
There are various shows from FrogPants Studios that I’ve listened to over the years. The network was started by Scott Johnson a web cartoonist all the shows are “humour-based.” The shows are sort of hit and miss and the overall production quality of their shows has really improved over the past year or so. I’d recommend listening to the latest episode of a show before deciding whether you listen to back episodes. A couple of shows I’d recommend from that network specifically are:
The Instance – I don’t understand how you play World of Warcraft without listening to this podcast. I haven’t listened since I quit WoW, but I assume it’s still good.
The Movielicious– A french guy, an Englishman and an American woman review (American) movies. It’s funny.
Hypothetical Help – The hosts help listeners with their personal problems, using wit and humour.
Film Sack – Typically the four hosts review terrible movies. I don’t actually enjoy their weekly episodes as much as their “Bonus Sack” commentary tracks. They record commentary tracks for movies (you play the movie on your TV and listen to their audio on your device).  Their ST:TNG episode commentary is especially good.