Some Worthwhile Links


Mark Rieke


February 8, 2021

Rather than diving deep into a topic this week, I took a bit of a break to focus on playing catchup with the stats course I’m taking. Instead, I’ve listed out below a number of creators that I follow on various platforms. If you’re interested in data or critical thinking, each is well worth your time and attention.


  • FiveThirtyEight : While it’s not technically a newsletter, the FiveThirtyEight site, created by statistician Nate Silver prior to the 2008 presidential election, is the original source for data-driven news (or, at least, one of the first sites to popularize data as a news resource). Nate created the site specifically because the narrative created by pundits, that the 2008 election was super close, was pretty easily refutable when you looked at the polling data, which showed that Obama was going to win handily. Now, FiveThirtyEight is a powerhouse of data analysis for politics, sports, and science, and often serves as a good reality check against the narratives espoused by talking heads on the major news networks.
  • G. Elliott Morris’ Newsletter : G. Elliott Morris is a data journalist for the Economist and created their forecast for the 2020 presidential election. In addition to regularly writing for the Economist, Elliott also writes a weekly newsletter in which he comments on polls that caught his eye (he also has a subscriber newsletter, for those who want to get his thoughts on even more topics). Elliott is also writing a book on the history of public polls, their limitations, and their future in American politics, which I am looking forward to reading when it releases later this year. As an aside, Elliott and I are the same age, and he was a large part of the inspiration for me to start diving into statistics again (i.e., if he can do it, so can I). Elliot is pretty bearish on the future of American democracy, especially following Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to overturn the overwhelmingly clear and overwhelmingly fair results of the election and the attempted (but, thankfully, woefully unorganized) coup by insurrectionists on Jan. 6th. Despite all this, I’m a bit more hopeful for the future of democracy, and hope to be able to provide a more positive opinion alongside Elliott’s (provided it’s supported by the data!).
  • Infinite Monkeys : Started by a collection of college students who met via #ElectionTwitter, the Infinite Monkeys newsletter (named such from the theory that, an infinite collection of monkeys hitting keys on typewriters will eventually write the entirety of Shakespeare’s work by random chance) take a look at geographical trends and their relation to current political headlines. It’s a relatively recent startup, and I’m looking forward to the development of the newsletter & its coalition of authors over the coming years.
  • Visual in the Noise : The Visual in the Noise is a weekly newsletter focused on data visualization. Most often looking at sports (particularly, NBA) data, the Visual in the Noise is a great touch-point for the importance of visualization and how it can help make data more insightful.


  • The Daily : The Daily is, appropriately, a daily (Mon. - Fri.) podcast hosted by the New York Times, covering important topics in the American landscape. The podcast generally focuses in on individuals, and how national stories can affect people personally (for example, touching base with a bar throughout the pandemic as they wade through the difficulties of diminished business, PPP applications, and unclear direction from the government). On Sundays, a guest reads an older, long form New York Times piece.
  • The Intelligence : The Intelligence, similarly to the Daily, is a daily weekday podcast covering important topics in the news, though typically has a more global focus than the Daily. Rather than following individuals, the Intelligence often brings in subject matter experts and local correspondents.
  • Checks and Balance : This weekly podcast by the Economist takes a deep dive into one big topic shaping American politics each week. Approximately 45 minutes per podcast, the Checks and Balance hosts take care to thoroughly explore each topic.
  • FiveThirtyEight’s Politics Podcast : Every week, the FiveThirtyEight team covers the latest news in politics, utilizing polling data to guide their discussion. During election years, they also host intermittent “Model Talks,” where Nate Silver talks about into some of the intricacies of the site’s forecast models based on questions from listeners.
  • The Rational Reminder : A non-politics podcast, the Rational Reminder is a weekly podcast discussing index investing and rational decision making. Although the podcast is made by and for Canadians, most of the content is widely applicable, and the podcast has garnered an international audience.


  • 3blue1brown : Many concepts in math can feel daunting and teaching methods are often unintuitive. Grant Sanderson’s channel attempts to introduce viewers to the beauty of math through intuitive visualizations and animations. As a fun fact, the animations are run via a python package, manim, developed on-the-fly by Grant himself!
  • Philip DeFranco : One of the original members of the YouTube community, Phil has grown from a weekly commentary on popular videos via a webcam in his bedroom to a daily rundown of the news backed by a full production staff. Phil does an excellent job of presenting the news whilst making it clear where the official reporting stops and his opinion starts.
  • Legal Eagle : Dubbed “YouTube’s Lawyer,” Devin (DJ) Stone provides a perspective on the role the law plays in current events and controversies (as well as more fun videos, like reviewing a Spongebob episode for legal accuracy). I’m not sure how he manages to balance the two full time jobs of running channel with near-daily longform content and being a lawyer with active litigation, but I appreciate that he is able to find time for thoughtful (and often comedic) insight.
  • Common Sense Investing : Ben Felix’s Common Sense Investing investigates the academic research supporting passive, rather than active, portfolio management (in summary: the data shows that passive index investing is overwhelmingly a more effective long term investment strategy than trusting an active portfolio manager with your money).
  • Standup Maths : Mathematician, comedian, and Excel-enthusiast Matt Parker shares the joy that can be found in math by exploring topics in a comedic setting. Matt’s book, Humble Pi, explores some of history’s most famous mathematical blunders, and is coming up soon on my reading list.
  • Numberphile : The Numberphile channel is a collection of interviews of prominent mathematicians explaining interesting historical math problems on trademark brown parchment paper. Grant Sanderson and Matt Parker make appearances on the channel a number of times (the infamous Parker square first made its appearance on Numberphile).
  • MinutePhysics : As Henry Reich, the channel owner, puts it, the channel is simply about “cool physics and other sweet science.” Henry’s videos explain concepts in physics via a whiteboard, expo markers, and a backdrop of jazzy standup bass.

Election Twitter

There are quite a few, so I’ll just highlight a few & link ot the rest

  • Lakshya Jain : Lakshya is a software engineer and self-described amateur elections mapper/analyst. He’s a very vocal (and self-labeled) partisan democrat, so I take his non-analytical posts with a grain of salt, but his analytical posts are very insightful.
  • Jack Kersting : A relative rarity on Election Twitter, Jack is a conservative forecaster. He’s not an ardent twitter user, but developed one of the most complete and thorough election forecasts I’ve seen outside of professional work.
  • Max : A self described mapmaker, shitposter, and ardent supporter of Long Nebraska, Max is known for his oddball posts and lukewarm political takes.
  • Some other folks I follow for election maps/data: Nate Silver, G. Elliott Morris, U Mich Voter, and Sam


BibTeX citation:
  author = {Mark Rieke},
  title = {Some {Worthwhile} {Links}},
  date = {2021-02-08},
  url = {},
  langid = {en}
For attribution, please cite this work as:
Mark Rieke. 2021. “Some Worthwhile Links.” February 8, 2021.

Stay in touch

Support my work with a coffee