What to do while waiting for the next episode of the Game Under podcast?

Pretend to be learning by listening to or watching a lecture on YouTube.

One of the best things about the internet is how easy it has made accessing public lectures. Okay, sure, it's pretty easy to go to public lectures in person (and they're often free, too), but most people under the age of 50 are probably too self-conscious to go, judging by the elderly audiences of public lectures on the internet*. Unless the subject is something controversial, in which case zealots of all ages attend to whinge during questions at the end that the lecture didn't represent their views verbatim.

Anyway, public lectures are great not because they're a particularly good way of learning about a topic, but because they become a meditatively relaxing experience, whereas when attending one in person you are part of an audience, so boredom or excitement is more likely than meditation. Unless you're the type of person to sleep in a cinema, or at the football. Or while driving. Oh, and those zealouts at the end? They're even more insufferable if you're sitting next to them. 

But not all lectures are orrated equal. Unlike lectures designed to sell books (think Ted's sensory overloads of commercial bollocks), some public lectures consist of condensed blocks of information on specialised subjects presented as simply and concisely as possible. When this format is done well, little concentration is required to follow every word; the information presented creates just enough of an inkling of what the subject is really about to pique one's interest in it and, because so little concentration is wasted on comprehension, it allows one to simultaneously listen to the lecturer while forming one's own thoughts on the subject based on the information being presented. This is the perfect balance for entering a semi-meditative state: focusing one's attention on a single subject without preventing one's mind from wandering (into nothingness, if you please).

Here are several lectures to get you started. You can pretend to be smart in no time, and all you need to do is procrastinate on YouTube (something you were probably doing anyway)!

This lecture is something of an anomaly: It's promoting a book, the lecturer is charismatic and regularly makes jokes, yet it nevertheless manages to successfully fulfill the above criteria due to how well he focuses on the most relevant information. Which, I suppose, is easier in archaeology than most subjects, due to the lack of information to base your conclusions on. ;)

Oh, and it's about the end of the world we're apparently facing due to globalisation and climate change but when it occurred (as it has with some regularity throughout history) over a thousand years before Christ may or may not have been born.

And the weirdest thing? It's a lecture at a sceptic's society that isn't designed for a bunch of bellends who like to make fun of people who believe in ghosts because it makes them feel smart.

Sir Geoffrey Nice worked as a prosecutor at the International Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, so it's no surprise that his best lecturers are about war crime law. But don't let that put you off, this particular lecture is about a war crimes tribunal that is less likely to turn you into a nihilist-atheist-hypocrite praying for the above apocalypse to occur than the official ones are. Spoiler: it turns out the best sort of war crimes tribunal for the victims of war crimes is one that has no power. Unless it's run by Russel and Sartre. Then it's as much of a political game of pin the war crime on the war criminal (a game much easier than pin the tail on the donkey, because even blindfolded you're all but guaranteed to win due to the size of humanity's brutal posterior). [My conclusion, not his.]

Given the subject matter, obviously it contains some disturbing images. Incidentally, consider why trigger warnings are offensive to so many, yet warnings before graphic news bulletins, or those stickers that ruin your videogame boxes, are not...

Professor Vernon Bogdanor is a man who loves England, loves history, and has an audience so appreciative that it laughs at every one of his jokes, no matter how silly, as if he's George Carlin**. And the Falklands War (when England defeated a tinpot dictatorship in a fight over an island England didn't actually want, then acted like it had won the 21st Century's Waterlooo) is a very comic subject.

Also, if anyone tells you we'd be living in a peaceful utopia if all politicians were women, just remind them of Margaret Thatcher. Or Angela Merkel in a few years time. 

Christianity, as much as many would like it not to be, is still one of the best ways to understand the feelings, thoughts and political mannerisms we have acted out in the West and continue to act out. This particular lecture is on Protestantism's role in abolitionism in Britain, then Britain and America (when America was no longer Britain). In spite of its conciseness, it's a very broad and complex depiction of its subject. Indeed, such broad and complex depictions are hard to find without a religious context.

*Oddly, the public lectures I've actually attended in person had very diverse audiences, the ages of which ranged from toddlers to geriatrics.

**Who technically made almost no jokes, and rarely got any laughs. So he's actually a more successful comedian than George Carlin. But then, George Carlin is probably a better lecturer.