Jan152010

Gail’s Top 10 Favorite Podcasts for Improving Your Life

In honor of the New Year and all those New Year’s Resolutions that come with it, I am offering up some finds, Gentle Reader, that I am hoping might help you with your endeavors.

1. Make It Green Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for an Earth Friendly Life ~ Resolved to be more green? This podcast will help you out in under 10 minutes a pop. Sadly, now poddead, most of the information (from 2008) is still relevant and applicable. And, look on the bright side, at least you know you can start and finish it. I haven’t made my way through them all yet, but she does answer such pressing questions as: Which is better, plastic or paper bags?

2. Classical Mythology podcast ~ Hoping to appreciate classical art more, visit museums, or improve your understanding of the ancient world? Give this podcast from Learn Out Loud a try. It is comprised of biographical information on the Greek pantheon, 15 mins long or less. That said, if you really want a good basic understanding of Greek mythology you can do no better than to read D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.

3. The History of Rome ~ If you resolved to learn something new in 2010, how about the history of Rome in 20 minute bites? Mike Duncan goes in depth, covering extra details that neither High School nor colleges would have had the time to deal with. As an added bonus, he has a chocolate-smooth voice that is ridiculously easy to listen to. I suggest you spoil yourself by combining this with a marathon watching of the best historical series ever to hit the airways: Rome. Feel like you know enough abotu Rome? Why not try a podcast detailing the history empire that US schools seem to always skip over: 12 Byzantine Rulers: A History of the Byzantine Empire.

4. Friday Night Comedy podcast from BBC Radio 4 ~ Trying to stay abreast of current events but can’t face the depression of actually listening to the news? Try this 30 minute British comedy show. It switches between The Now Show and The News Quiz. Information about world events disseminated through humor, for those who favor the Daily Show over CNN, this is your podcast. If not try . . .

5. Global News from the BBC ~ 25 minutes long, several times a day, it will fill your catcher up fast, but if you want to stay abreast of international news, there is no better podcast out there. Usually covering only three or four stories, you can easily fast forward through the ones that don’t interest you. British reporters have no problem actually reporting on occurrences off their island, and no difficulty asking politicians the hard questions and expecting non-evasive answers. Who knew?

6. Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life ~ Whether or not you resolved to improve your finances this year, you should listen to this podcast. Everyone in the US should listen to this podcast. Like the others in the “Dirty Tips” series it presents information in under 10 minute bites. Laura Adams explains, simply and easily, such things as the difference between and Roth and a regular IRA, how to improve your credit scores, and home office dedications on your taxes. Being a west-coaster I must admit I found her accent a little annoying, but her information is entirely worth it.

7. NPR: Planet Money Podcast ~ One of the few NPR shows produced exclusively for the podcast world, and the only thing from NPR to make my top 10 list. They haven’t quite got that part down yet, but they sure do have a high production values. 20 min or less, 2x a week, this podcast started as a means of explaining the US economic troubles using laymen’s terms and simple analogies that everyone could understand but has become much more than that. No current event is too big, or too small, for these guys to tackle ~ from the recession, to a fruit stall in New York, to the Somalian pirates. The economy is not a topic I would generally follow, but there is something about this podcast I simply adore, and it is one of the first podcasts I listen too. And, most of the time, it isn’t depressing either.

8. The Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous ~ Are you one of the millions of people who resolved to lose weight this year, or get fit? This is your podcast. Weekly tips in under 8 minutes that are easy to understand and well researched. Monica goes into everything from the myths about coffee drinking, to how much vitamin D you should be taking, to overviews of the current fad diets. I love, love, love this podcast. She has a great voice and she talks nice and fast.

9. The Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills ~ The Greeks and the Romans taught oration in school, and (like proper grammar) it is a lost art to the American education system. I teach university classes and the thing that frightens my students the most is not finals, but class presentations. Which is why I always make them present. Public speaking is a real art form that can only help you advance in life professionally or personally. I have used Lisa’s 6 minute tips for class lectures, small talk at company parties, interviews, and discussion panels. No mater how good (or bad) you think you are and talking in front of an audience, this podcast can only help. Invaluable.

10. Savage Love Podcast ~ I dither over which relationship podcast is my favorite, but usually settle on Dan Savage because of his snarky no-holds-barred (literally) attitude. I don’t always agree with him, but it sure is fun to listen to him rant. This is a calls-based advice show, so it is not the place to go if you are looking for specific answers to questions on sexual health, relationships, or sexuality. However, you will learn new things, run into someone with the same problems, and laugh a lot. He co-hosts with experts on occasion, to answer more complicated medical or D/S questions. Dan is gay and open/poly/kink friendly, so if you offend easily this is certainly not the podcast for you. I suggest the intermittent “Speaking of Sex” podcast from Planned Parenthood instead. I also recommend the Polyamory Weekly podcast, whether or not you are poly, for some good relationship and communication tips.

“Now Gail,” I can hear you asking, “What if I resolved to be more fashionable? You, of all people, should be able to help me with this.”

There, I am afraid, the podcasting world falls short. There were a number of excellent video podcasts covering the catwalk shows but they all seem to podfade within a year. You can catch my occasional segment on Brass Needles, but it only covers knitwear. If I were to do a podcast, I’d do a “Quick and Dirty Fashion Tips for Being More Stylish and Better Dressed.” But I’m too busy to start a new project now, so I keep hoping someone else jumps in. The Product Girl faded two years ago, and I’m not interested in pods that focus on makeup. Also, they tend to be large file video, rather than small file audio tips, or they focus on some kind of product promotion and aren’t objective. I’ll keep looking and let you know if I find a good one.

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Posted by Gail Carriger

 

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