Category Archives: Podcasts 2019

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 1-7 November 2019

Russia If You’re Listening (ABC) Series 3 has started! This time Matt Bevan is looking at Putin’s strategy of destabilization in the west- how prescient, given that Ukraine now lies at the heart of the Democrat’s impeachment case.  In Episode 1 (21/10/19) , A Cold Wet Day in Salisbury Matt returns to the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skipral, the event that first drew his attention to Putin and his reach.  Episode 2 From Spymaster to President (28/10/19) looks at Putin’s need to always have an enemy against which to mobilize Russian society.

irish_famine

Source: Wikipedia

In Our Time I’ve just read a bookabout the Irish Famine, and so I finally got round to listening to this episode The Great Irish Famine, dated 4/4/19. Among other things, most of which were covered in the book by Enda Delaney that I read, they do discuss whether the Irish Famine constituted a genocide. One of the historians (they’re often hard to distinguish in this program) argued very strongly that it was not genocide because, despite the disdain for the Irish, there was no intent to kill them off. However, there was a strong determination to implement dramatic social change in Ireland as a way of solving what seemed the intractable problem of poverty.  Instead of seeing migration (especially to America) as a penalty, they argue that there would have been many, many more deaths without that escape valve.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 22-31 October

Empires of History Podcast. The Ottoman Series. I’ve decided to join a class at my U3A on the History of the Ottoman Empire. I missed the first class and am feeling a little out of my depth, so I’ve downloaded this series. It’s American and I’m not sure whether it’s complete or whether he ran out of puff, because the last one was in June this year. Who knows, perhaps it’s a long time between episodes. Even though many of the names are unfamiliar, he doesn’t move so quickly that they all merge into a big muddle. He’s obviously reading it from pages (which you can hear rustling) and the production values are pretty basic, but I’m finding it interesting and useful. However, the special episode with historian John McHugo was pretty ordinary.  I’m up to Episode 8 The Thunderbolt Strikes, Dec. 19, 2018.

In Our Time Another podcast that’s been hanging around on the phone for ages, and first recorded in 2016 is 1816: The Year Without A Summer. During 1815 Mt Tambora erupted in Indonesia, the largest eruption in recorded history. This episode has a volcanologist , a historian and a professor of literature who discuss the world-wide ramifications of this eruption. It caused famines in post-Napoleonic Europe, it might have triggered the west-ward movement of anti-slavery Americans across the mid-west, and the wild weather it provoked kept the Romantics inside their holiday home in Geneva, making up stories like Frankenstein.  It’s an interesting application of big history onto an abrupt environmental intervention.

Earshot (ABC). I must confess that you’re NOT likely to hear “Quick- an emergency!- we need a historian!!”  But in the case of Mosul, when it felt to ISIS, a historian was just what was needed to report the facts of what was happening, on the ground, when journalists could not get there. At great personal danger Omar Mohammed created the Mosul Eye blog (which still operates).  This Earshot Episode Mosul Eye This is his story.

99%Invisible Apparently Toronto has a love/hate relationship with its raccoons. Who knew?- I didn’t even see a raccoon while I was there. In fact, have I EVER seen a raccoon? Anyway, apparently they get into the rubbish and strew it around, so the City authorities contracted a design company to design a raccoon-proof compost bin.  They had to lock securely, so that the raccoons couldn’t get in, but they also had to open automatically because they were collected by a truck with a motorized arm (like the trucks we have here in Melbourne) The resulting bin, described in Raccoon Resistance had a sort of dial-lock, but would it defeat the raccoons??  The website has videos which had me cheering for the raccoon. (The answer is no…)

The Documentary (BBC). Professor Elizabeth Dore conducted the first large-scale oral history project in Cuba in thirty years, and this podcast Cuban Voices is based on some of the interviews she conducted. This episode was put together after the selection of Miguel Diaz-Canel to replace Raoul Castro in 2018. Her respondents talk about the shortages during the Special Period, and some speak with nostalgia of the time before Cuba was opened up to tourism.

Assignment (BBC)  Genoa’s Broken Bridge. In August 2018 the Morandi bridge in Genoa collapsed. Opened in 1967, it was one of the longest concrete bridges in the world, connecting Genoa with the rest of Italy, and Italy with Northern Europe.  When it collapsed, killing 43, questions began to be asked about its construction methods and the effects of privatizations.

The History Listen (ABC) Historian Ruth Balint talks about her mother’s recipe book in Cooking for Assimilation. Her mother Evi, came to Australia with her husband and baby son in 1938 after Hitler marched into Vienna, before the wave of post-war European immigration from 1945 onwards.  Her recipe book, written first in Hungarian but increasingly in English, documents her mother’s growing network of neighbours and friends in that time-honoured tradition of recipe-swapping.

Letters of Love in World War II. I can’t bear to keep listening because I’m using them up and there’s only two more left after this.  But I can’t bear to not listen because I want to hear what happens next. In Episode 6 Germany: On the Approach, it is 1944 and Cyril is in Europe, going through France and then across to Germany as the German army is in retreat. Interestingly, they start re-numbering their letters to each other from ‘1’ again after Cyril’s short break in England.

Outlook (BBC) I’m quite claustrophobic, and the idea of diving INTO an iceberg makes me feel lightheaded. It might look beautiful, but all that calving and grinding and moving….no thanks. The Diver Trapped Inside an Iceberg tells the story of Jill Heinerth, photographer and explorer who eventually decided that perhaps it was dangerous after all.  30 Oct 2019

 

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 7-21 October 2019

I’ve fallen behind so I’ll compress these into one entry

Letters of love in World War II. In Episode 5 D-Day Visitations we are now in 1944 and Olga is surprised and delighted by Claude’s fleeting visit home to take control of a new tank. The short visit rekindles their relationship which was looking inexplicably rocky in the last episode.  I’m enjoying this so much that I only listen to one episode at a time to make it last longer.

Rough Translation. This podcast seems to have changed direction this season. It used to be about a concept and how it was expressed in different cultures. The episode Mom in Translation is more about how the individual changes when in a different culture. In this episode, an American mother married to a soldier of Filipino background shifts with their young children to Japan, where now she is the odd one out with her blonde hair and pale conmlexion. Her little primary-school-aged son, who never fitted into the American schools on army bases, decided that he wanted to attend a Japanese school, which meant that she had to readjust her ideas about mothering.

Revolutionspodcast. The Tsar might have done the progressive thing by emancipating the serfs (one of those give-with-one-hand-take-with-the-other arrangements whenever some powerful group is threatened by losing an ‘entitlement’) but he was still the No. 1 Assassin Target amongst radicals.  In The Tsar Must Die, we hear about the multiple near misses that man had…. for a while.  In Episode 10.16 The Russian Colony we hear about the different radical groups in the 1870s and 1880s. I found this one a little hard to follow – too many Russian names to listen to!

History Workshop  In Concentration Camps and Historical Analogies, historian Dan Stone unpacks the idea of a ‘concentration camp’, challenging the accusation that Trump’s migrant detention centres qualify as such. His definition has the inmates of a concentration camp removed completely from judicial oversight and any system of justice. He distinguishes between the Nazi extermination camps and concentration camps, arguing that people did not stay for any length of time in the Nazi camps, and that these should not be used as the template for a concentration camp. He demonstrates the wide range of concentration camps across 19th and 20th century history.

Outlook (BBC) Identical twins often have a special bond, and when Alex Lewis lost his memory after a road accident, his identical twin Marcus helped him to rebuild his lost memories.  In The painful secret I hid from my twin, there’s a very textured story of memory, secrets and identity.  It’s difficult listening, but very good. It’s the basis of a documentary released on Netflix and some cinemas called “Tell Me Who I Am”.

Earshot. While we’re into some difficult listening, ‘The Call: Inside the Christian Brothers‘ is also very good but challenging. The Christian Brothers have really been brought into disgrace in the Royal Commission against Institutional Sex Abuse, and this program has interviews with two former Christian Brothers who joined as mere pre-adolescent boys.  What a stuffed-up system.

Murchison_meteorite

Carbonaceous chondrite (Murchison Meteorite) by James St John https://www.flickr.com/photos/jsjgeology/14601493358

Off Track When I was in the Atacama Desert in Chile (says she casually), I visited a meteorite museum. In The unlikely tale of the Murchison meteorite, we learn that good old Murchison also has a very rare meteorite that sits in its local historical society. 4.6 BILLION years old. I can’t even think of a number that big. Meteorites from this shower have ended up in museums in many countries.

 

 

I hear with my little ear: 1-7 October 2019

The History Listen   Experiment Street- the true history of a city lane. A mixture of fiction and history, this episode tells the story of the real-life Experiment Street in Pyrmont  Sydney, through the narrative voice of the fictional character Lizzie Absolom.  The information is based on newspapers and law reports, with the occasional comment by Sydney historian Shirley Fitzgerald.  The episode is very much a ‘production’ performance, but an interesting approach. I prefer my history to stay historical, though.

Duolingo. Another Spanish/English podcast, ‘Buscando el Rio Hirviente’ (Looking for the Boiling River) is about a Peruvian geologist who was brought up with his grandfather’s stories of a boiling river deep in the jungle. Knowing professionally that there was no thermal activity near the jungle, he no longer believed in the boiling river until he was taken by an indigenous shaman.  Terrific photos here.  He has sworn not to divulge the location to mining interests…but I wonder how long that will last?

Letters of Love from World War 2. Episode 4 ‘Silence and Roses‘ is so sad. Obviously Cyril is suffering from depression, and somehow they get involved in a silly argument about optimism and pessimism and drift apart – all by mail.  I love this series.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 24 – 30 September 2019

nicholasIRevolutionsPodcast continues on, and Mike Duncan’s project of following through different revolutions across the globe and over time is really bearing fruit as he is able to draw connections between one revolution and the other. In Episode 10.13 Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality he looks at Czar Nicholas I and his repressive response to revolutionary fervour both in the 1820s (when the whole of Europe was nervous) and in 1848 when revolution emerged in many countries. His response of Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality certainly has resonances in Russian history today. Then in Episode 10.14 The Tsar Liberator, the Crimean War exposes the rot at the core of Russian society, and moves on to the new Czar Alexander who finally bites the bullet and deals with the Emancipation of the Serfs. I found lots of parallels between the Emancipation of the Serfs in Russia and the Emancipation of Slaves in the British Empire- the need to ‘buy off’ the property owners and the burdens placed on the ‘liberated’ people.

Duolingo The podcast Autostop en Afghanistán (Hitchhiking in Afghanistan) has been hanging around on my phone for a while. It’s about an Argentinian travel writer who decides to hitchhike through Afghanistan, as a counter-narrative to the rhetoric of the war on terror. Did you know that one of the Spanish terms for ‘hitchhike’ is ‘viajar a dedo’ which literally means ‘travel by finger’? Mixed English and Spanish, with a transcript available – and there’s always Google Translate.

Soul Search.  Simon Schama is one of my favourite narrative historians, and his voice is immediately recognizable in this podcast Simon Schama’s Story of the Jews, recorded in coversation with Paul Holdengraber (never heard of him!) at the Sydney Writers Festival. His second book of a planned trilogy of the story of the Jews, Belonging,  has been released recently.

Background Briefing. Another podcast that’s been on the phone, the podcast Welfare to Worse caused a bit of a fuss when it was released in August of this year. It’s about the Parents Next progam, and the unhealthy relationship between private providers, who are paid for keeping people ‘on the books’ and Centrelink, who are happy to shift onto those providers the onus for deciding whether people (particularly single mothers) need to meet interview, work and training requirements to keep their government payments. Having responsibility for eight children, and homeless is no guarantee that a private company won’t deem you suitable for ‘a program’. Meanwhile, the government keeps parroting “the best form of welfare is a job”.

Earshot. We’re aware of deep fakes as a political danger, but there’s another form of fakery where an image of a  woman’s head (and its nearly always a woman) is photoshopped onto pornographic material, to make it seem as if she is a porn star. This happened to Noelle Martin in My Fake Naked Body: one woman’s story of image-based abuse. She doesn’t know who is creating these images, and as she has found, it is almost impossible to remove them.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 16-23 September 2019

Letters of Love in World War 2. Have I mentioned that I’m really enjoying this series? In Episode 2 North Africa: Lost Messages, Cyril is sailing off to Egypt, but Olga doesn’t really know quite where he is. The mails are interrupted, and there are whole weeks of silences.  In Episode 3 Siege of Tobruk: Battlefields and Reality,  Cyril writes Olga a long,18 page letter after the battle of Tobruk. It’s surprising that it got through the censors, but I guess the battle was over by then and it didn’t matter what information he gave. His long letter, full of battle, is interwoven with her gentle letters about life back home, shifting house, just getting on with things. I’m not surprised  by their anti-facism, but they are both rather radical and even pro-communist.

RevolutionspodcastEpisode 10.12 The Decembrists led an uprising against the Tsar as part of the revolutionary ferment during the 1820s. But it didn’t go well. Mike Duncan has been doing these Revolutions podcasts for years and years (literally) and now it’s all paying off as the connections between the different revolutions become clear.

Outlook (BBC) A year ago Brazil’s National Museum burnt down.  In Keeping my country’s burned past alive, one of the anthropologists talks about the loss of artefacts relating to the indigenous Wari’ people, although fortunately she had digitized many of the voice recordings that were destroyed. She, and her fellow museum workers, decided to get tattoos to mark their grief at the loss of the museum.

 

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 8-15 September 2019

Letters of Love in WW2  I’ve only just started listening to this, but it’s very touching. After their parents have died, adult children and grandchildren find a cache of letters in the attic. They are the letters that Cyril and Olga sent to each other after Cyril went off to fight WW2, having only been married three months. They are beautifully read, and there’s a short commentary from the family at the end of episode 1. Episode 1 is around July 1941 when Cyril sails towards Egypt. [I didn’t know that women were offered 50% off the cost of joining their husbands at war]. Cyril, in particular, writes beautifully.

Lectures in History. You know- I somehow avoided doing American History the whole way through high school, and I know more about Canadian colonial history than I do about American colonial history. Colonial America before the Revolution seems to me to be a fairly evenhanded explanation.

Money Box (BBC). I’m listening to a money program?? (I’m doing a talk about Work at my UU fellowship- that’s the only reason why.) Universal Basic Income – Can It Work? is a panel discussion about Universal Basic Income- how does it differ from current and historical provision? What have the trials found? Can it work?

Revolutionspodcast  Episode 10.11 War and Peace picks up at the death of Catherine the Great, just before Napoleon came on the scene.  Her son Czar Paul came to a bad end and Czar Alexander enters the picture. The podcast gives a fascinating account of the Napoleonic Wars from Russia’s point of view- did you know that Czar Alexander captured Paris? (I didn’t)

IMG_20190220_094158_smallBBC Assignment. . Colombia’s Kamikaze Cyclists is about young teenagers who career down the steep hills surrounding Medellin in Colombia on specially modified bikes without any safety gear. These kids live in the slums that cling to the sides of the mountains surrounding Medellin.

 

 

Start the Week (BBC) Jared Diamond has a new book out – Upheavals: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change. In it, he argues that there are parallels between an individual facing a crisis, and a nation facing a crisis. As he did in ‘Collapse’, he uses different societies to illustrate his thesis. In this panel discussion of his book, Jared Diamond and national crisis,  there’s quite a bit of talk about Brexit and Trump, but he also talks about Finland and Meiji Japan. And little old Australia gets a look-in too.