One of my favourite podcasts is Witness by the BBC World Service. In each episode they talk to people who were there at moments in history. There are some amazing stories in their archive. Each episode is an easy to digest twelve to fourteen minutes long.
In the latest episode Gibbie Fraser talks about his time on a whale catcher in the Antarctic in the 1950s and 60s.
Dan’s coverage of the Manchurian Incident reminded me I have to re-read the Tintin story, “The Blue Lotus“. Hergé definitely applied his imagination when recounting how the train track was blown up but I’d never have known about that period of time if I had never read that book.
And similarly, I wouldn’t have known the railway track was barely damaged if I hadn’t listened to Hardcore History!
When I find myself stopping a podcast a minute or so before the end because I want to be reminded to share it, I know I’ve found something that others will enjoy.
When I find that it happens more than once I know I should just write a blog post about the podcast and encourage anyone reading to go subscribe.
This happened recently with The Ezra Klein Show. I loved his interviews with Andrew Sullivan on his Catholic faith, why he gave up blogging and Donald Trump. There’s also the one with Arianna Huffington who talked about sleep, death and social media.
There was also the one a while back with Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, that did not turn out the way I thought it would.
I started listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast after Matt Mullenweg was interviewed by him and I’ve been hooked since.
Since then he’s had a really interesting life and the interview covers many subjects like hacking online dating and opening locked cars by hacking their key fobs. Nice to see he’s a Vim user too! 🙂
“It seems like such an odd bargain. If you have no fear, more terrible things will happen to you, but you don’t personally experience them as terrible. If you have a lot of fear, fewer bad things are likely to happen, but it’s very probable that your life is more painful to you. So is it better to be fearful or fearless? Which side of the continuum do you choose?”
NPR’s Serial podcast was the hottest thing last year in the podcast world. People started listening to podcasts who had never done so before to follow the story. I hated it. They dragged things out and I got bored and unsubscribed after 3 or 4 episodes. Invisibilia is NPR back on form. It’ll blow your mind. Great show.
It’s still weird to me that Bill Gates is one of the good guys now. As head of Microsoft he was a ruthless business man who ran a monopoly that every Linux user despised. Since then Microsoft has faltered, or at least the computing arena has changed since the nineties and they’re still catching up.
Anyway, he and his wife now head the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that do amazing work combating disease and helping projects all over the world. For a taste of what they do here are two podcasts worth listening to:
Bill Gates on the Nerdist Podcast. I loved hearing his anecdotes from the early days of computing but what was more interesting was hearing about the fight against polio.
Scientific American have a two part show here and here that I’m listening to now.
This is an amazing podcast by the BBC about how ordinary men and women experienced World War One. Stories are brought to life by dramatizing what happened using sound effects and actors.
If you’re a fan of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast you may remember in Blueprint for Armageddon IV Captain Charles May’s story was told. He wrote a touching letter to his wife before he was due to “go over the top”. You can find it and other stories in this Independent post.
Captain Charles “Charlie” May, 27, thinking of his wife, Bessie, and baby daughter, showed none of his comrades’ enthusiasm to go into battle.
A member of the 22nd Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, 7th Division, he wrote to his wife on 17 June, a fortnight before the bloody first day of battle of the Somme: “I do not want to die. Not that I mind for myself. If it be that I am to go, I am ready. But the thought that I may never see you or our darling baby again turns my bowels to water. I cannot think of it with even the semblance of equanimity.”
Over the months his attitude changed to resigned fatalism. May’s final diary entry at 5.45am on 1 July, reproduced from Malcolm Brown’s history of the Somme, was among the last testaments to be written by the 19,240 Britons who would die on the Somme that day. “No Man’s land is a tangled desert,” he wrote. “We do not yet seem to have stopped his machine guns. These are popping off all along our parapet as I write. I trust they will not claim too many of our lads before the day is over.”
Suspecting he might not return, he asked his friend, Captain FJ Earles, if he would look after his wife and daughter. May led his men over the top at 7.30am that day. The 22nd Manchesters made progress across No Man’s Land, but the machine guns he wrote of cut down many of the battalion – and May was among the dead. Earles kept his promise, and later married May’s widow.
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