Three podcast episodes well worth your time

I listen to a lot of podcasts, on a variety of topics. Here are three individual episodes from recent shows that I found particularly compelling, and thought you might too!

Futility Closet: “The Long Way Home” (Website / Overcast)

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the crew of an American seaplane were caught off guard near New Zealand. Unable to return across the Pacific, they were forced to fly home “the long way” — all the way around the world. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow the adventures of the Pacific Clipper on its 30,000-mile journey through a world engulfed in war.

Futility Closet is a relatively new add to my playlist, but I’ve already come to enjoy it quite a bit.

Hosts Greg and Sharon Ross share weird tidbits from history, as well as try to stump each other with “lateral thinking puzzles”.

I’m a sucker for aviation stories, and this was one I hadn’t heard before.

It’s full of all the drama you’d expect from a high-stakes globe-trotting adventure. (And here’s another recent aviation-themed Futility Closet episode.)

How I Built This: “James Dyson” (Overcast)

In 1979, James Dyson had an idea for a new vacuum cleaner — one that didn’t use bags. It took him five years to perfect the design, building more than 5,000 prototypes in his backyard shed. He then tried to convince the big vacuum brands to license his invention, but most wouldn’t even take his calls. Eventually, he started his own company. Today, Dyson is one of the best-selling vacuum brands in the world, and James Dyson is a billionaire. 

On How I Built This, host Guy Raz interviews founders and entrepreneurs behind some of the world’s most successful companies.

In this particular episode, with vacuum cleaner innovator James Dyson, I really enjoyed hearing about Dyson’s engineering struggles, and how he approached the process of relentlessly perfecting his inventions.

How I Built This has a show website on, but someone tell them to give each episode a permalink, I couldn’t find one (besides the transcript).

The Moth Radio Hour: “The Kindness of Strangers” (Website / Overcast)

In this hour we delve into the goodness of humanity through acts both small and large. A tourist has a major setback while on vacation; a holiday gift exchange is botched; and a nurse in a fertility clinic secretly blesses hopeful couples.

The stories told on The Moth are always interesting, but sometimes they can be melancholy or obscure.

This particular episode is all about kindness, in unusual situations and against all odds. It worked wonders for my mood on the day I heard it.


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