Since the middle of July, I've been starting lists of radio links and abandoning them until the shows expire. It's not that there hasn't been good stuff, I've just been doing work that occupies more languagey parts of my brain than usual, so I haven't been able to listen to as much radio, and therefore can't assemble a list of any length worth bothering with.
In recent weeks I've been falling back in love with the CBC, so I thought I'd share some of their most stand-out shows with you, which have the benefit of remaining online for quite a long time ...
A weeknightly documentary series that covers just about anything so long as it makes your brain fizz. You can browse available podcasts
for yourself, but my particular recent favourites as are follows:The Discovery of Human Rights
- In this age of online activism it's easy to assume the idea that all people are entitled to a certain level of respect and legal status is as 'self-evident' as Jefferson stated it to be. But it is a fairly recent development in human culture, and its progress isn't finished yet.Coyotl's Song
- The Coyote has been a part of North American folklore from time immemorial, from a First Nations trickster to the cat-snatching bugbear of modern cities. This episode contains a quick lesson in How To Speak Basic Coyote.Wise Guys
- If you like your urban wildlife of a darker and more airborne variety, this is an excellent documentary on the intelligence, success, and appeal of crows.The Dream of Brother XII
- I came for the name Edward Wilson; I stayed for a fascinating look at utopian initiatives in British Columbia, a peculiar bit of history relating to an area I know quite well, and a broader look at millennial theosophy, which has a longer history than I expected.The Shape of Things to Come
- T.E. Lawrence ("of Arabia") was an Oxford-trained archaeologist who ended up leading an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. His background knowledge of history, experience on the ground with the people and cultures of the Middle East, and relationship with British high command gave him unique insight into the region and what was to follow, and is still following – though would anyone listen to him? Of course not.Undoing Forever
- A look at the prospect – and attempts – of bringing extinct species, from Woolly Mammoths to Passenger Pigeons, back to life.Vestigial Tale
- Evolutionary psychologists take a look at the human propensity for storytelling, from a scientific perspective. Episode 1, linked above, is about the act of constructing and conveying information in narrative form; Episode 2
is about fiction and the value of telling each other things that we know are untrue.The Sorrows of Empire
- The American Empire has been called everything from a "reluctant empire" to "a colossus with attention deficit disorder". The enormous cost of foreign wars and other interventions has led to imperial overstretch. This one's next on my plate and I'm really looking forward to it ...
Speaking of history and tantalising brain porn, check out this year's Massey Lectures: The Return of History
– if you're lucky enough to be in any of the cities where they're recording, it looks like you can still buy tickets; the rest of us will have to wait – somehow – until the end of October.
THIS IS THAT
Sort of like if you crossed a current affairs magazine with The Onion
, but on the radio and with that certain Canadian leg-pulling tongue-in-cheekiness; its only fault is being sometimes a little too close to the truth. You can listen straight through the whole podcast list
, but I'd particularly like to direct your attention to people-smuggling into Canada from the US
. Ahh, satire.
Having lived in the US during two "normal" election years, I can only imagine what a nightmare it is for Americans to follow the news right now. Luckily for you, the CBC covers American news better than any US media outlet I know, and one of the best programmes for insight-to-time-investment ratio is the Saturday magazine show Day 6
. There's not much point linking to past episodes as news doesn't keep, but if you're interested in their interviews and analysis you are welcome to browse the archive
at your leisure. (There is also non-American news on that show, but I promise, it doesn't hurt.)
If you like this taster of CBC goodness, I recommend getting the CBC Radio App for your mobile device – it's available for most common platforms from whatever your OS App Store is. The splash page is a little bewildering if you're looking for something you already have in mind, but you can easily add your favourite shows to a sub-page which saves searching, and browse for new things to listen to.
A good and reliable friend has brought to my attention this week the soundtrack to a musical about the life of Edgar Allan Poe, devised by a bunch of Canucks and mainly performed north of the border (after all, what is more Canadian than Poe?), which is now available to purchase on iTunes
. I've been listening to it on repeat for two days and will likely resume doing so after this next thing I need to concentrate on. Attention to meter and rhyme, with a preponderance of minor-key waltzes, and I'm hooked.