Hello! This is the first entry in a new blog series titled Podcast Spotlight. Within this series I will be sharing 2 or 3 amazing podcast episodes to keep up with my goal of developing the local podcast scene.

The format will be pretty straightforward, a brief introduction to the podcast and then further discussion about a particular episode. Links will be provided at the bottom of each entry should you want to listen to the full episodes.

If you are new to podcasts then this is for you! Who knows, you might find something worthwhile to listen to. Consider sharing if you think someone else might enjoy the shows!

Podcast Spotlight: The Art of Manliness

Run by husband and wife Brett and Kate Mckay, the Art of Manliness (AoM) is a lifestyle/cultural history podcast. At its core, the show aims to discuss the ideal ways that men should live. Each show features a guest where they talk about a particular topic, be it fashion, fitness, or social interaction.

Furthermore, what I find fascinating is the philosophical or historical aspect about the show. Through this Mckay is able to explore issues on a deeper level, and see its cultural significance evolve over time.

As Brett Mckay describes succinctly,

AoM is a blog about growing up well, aimed at men and their unique challenges and interests. We explore all things manly — from the serious and philosophical to the practical and fun. We seek to uncover how to live with grandpa’s swagger, virtue, and know-how in the present age by wedding the best of the past to the best of the present. The end goal is to create a synergy of tradition and modernity that offers men a way forward and signposts on how to live an excellent, flourishing life.

Ultimately, the Art of Manliness aims to encourage our readers to be better husbands, fathers, brothers, citizens — a new generation of great men.

If you feel lost about your place in the world, or if you are curious about male traditions and its cultural history, definitely give this podcast a listen.

#312-The Costs of Light Pollution and the Benefits of Darkness

The first podcast spotlight episode that I want to feature today is AoM’s interview with author Paul Bogard. Here, Bogard and Mckay lament how modern civilization has progressed towards an era of artificial light and away from natural darkness. This is perhaps most pertinent in urban cities, where streetlamps and office lights are in abundance.

But while artificial light has aided humanity’s progress tremendously, it has also come at a cost of natural darkness. This is as artificial light contributes to light pollution in cities and distorts our perception of the night sky. In actuality, natural darkness is a primal experience, where you are engulfed in pitch blackness and where the night sky is littered with the sparkle of millions of stars. According to Bogard, this experience is what inspired artists, poets, and philosophers for millennia.

Bogard uses Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” as an example

However, Bogard notes that there are further costs to artificial light than the inspirational one mentioned earlier. For instance, light pollution has been to known to disrupt our circadian rhythms, leading us to have poor sleep patterns. Elsewhere, Bogard also mentions how artificial light has disrupted the ecology of nocturnal animals. To this, Mckay even relates the example of newly hatched sea turtles. Where once they were led by starlight from beaches into the ocean, now they are led by artificial light onto streets and oncoming traffic.

Ultimately, Bogard’s proposal is not that we should do away with artificial light during the night time. Rather, he suggests we should be efficient and more mindful with it. To this end, he disapproves of city lighting that are excessive and pointing outwards rather than downwards. More efficient use of lighting would thus help reduce light pollution in urban centers. Perhaps through this way urban civilization can recover some semblance of the natural darkness that our ancestors experienced.

You can check out the full episode and the AoM website here.

P.S thanks to my girlfriend, Effy, for recommending this episode.

Podcast Spotlight: Last King

The next entrant in the podcast spotlight is the Last King Podcast (from Singapore!). In each episode, the group of hosts, Shafique, Mr Toffee, and Eccentric Tom discuss the latest in geekdom, pop culture, and video games.

Perhaps what is most endearing to me about this show is its casual approach. After all, they list on their website that they are “Just a bunch of friends talking bout stuff we love, mostly video games and all things geek.” They don’t pretend to be pretentious or philosophical, which makes them great companions when you want to unwind.

#037-Alien Convoluted
their show picture is hilarious by the way

The episode that I want to share in this podcast spotlight is the Last King’s recent one of the Aliens Franchise. Through it, they share their opinions on the preceding Aliens movies, and how the latest release, Aliens: Covenant, holds up.

What I found particularly entertaining was the hosts’ individual experiences with the Aliens brand and how its changed. Being a fan of the franchise as well, it was reassuring to know that I wasn’t the only one who found Alien 3 a steaming hot mess. Though I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the production difficulties that went into making that movie. Similarly, if you thought that Michael Fassbender killed it in the latest movie but the writers ruined it with the story line, then you’ll be right at home listening to these guys. (Personally, I found the motif of life and creation to be riveting, hope that doesn’t spoil anything)

Fassbender, what a performance

You can check out the full episode and their website here.

And that’s it for today’s entry! I hope you found something that peaked your interest. In the coming weeks, I’ll try to listen to a wider spread of podcasts that meet different interests. Hope to see you then!

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