Bookmarked BBC Radio 4 – In Our Time – Downloads (BBC)

Podcast downloads for In Our Time

I remember listening to Melvyn Bragg and In Our Time when I first got into podcasts ten years ago. For some reason I stopped following. I was however reminded of the podcast recently by Bryan Alexander. There is something about Bragg’s ability to carry the conversation and question the experts.
Replied to LAMP Stack History: It’s Everywhere, But Developers Hate It (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

Giving some well-deserved appreciation to the LAMP stack, a key building block of the modern-day internet that you use daily. It’s everywhere. It may never die.

It is both intriguing and disconcerting to consider how much has changed since 2001.
Bookmarked ‘It’s a bit Pompeii-like’: The unexpected ‘buried blocks’ of Melbourne (The Age)

The Heritage Council of Victoria commissioned a study to find answers. It would become, says Jeremy Smith, principal archaeologist with Heritage Victoria, one of the “most significant combinations of historical and archaeological research that’s ever been conducted.”

The report has now been delivered and “It wasn’t what we expected,” Mr Smith says. “It’s going to have implications for the way we do archaeology for the next 50 years.”

The Alliance Archaeology study, Heritage in Ruins: An investigation into Melbourne’s ‘Buried Blocks’ reveals details of a forgotten campaign throughout the 1850 and 1860s by Melbourne’s then-council to raise the levels of swampy Melbourne’s putrid streets.

Hills were flattened and low-lying areas filled, the reason for today’s milder up-and-down cross-town walks.

However, the bombshell in the study was its discovery of a law passed in 1853 requiring those in low-lying areas to bury their homes. If a landowner refused or was too slow, the council was empowered to raise the level of the land itself and charge the costs.

This is a fascinating insight into the development of Melbourne. It has me wanting to go back and read Paul Carter’s book Road to Botany Bay.
Watched The truth about Chernobyl? I saw it with my own eyes… from the Guardian

Kim Willsher reported on the world’s worst nuclear disaster from the Soviet Union. HBO’s TV version only scratches the surface, she says

In reviewing the show, Cameron Williams argues that,

Today, scientists are trying to warn us of an existential threat to our health and safety: climate change. Once again, government drags its feet.

If we take anything from Chernobyl, it should be this: put science before politics.

In 2019, we may have grasped the extreme dangers of radiation, but the war on the truth is ongoing — it’s eternal.

One of the challenges that this show highlights is the challenges associated with telling a clear narrative. Although there is no debate about Chernobyl and the disaster that occurred, making sense of the how and why is a bit more difficult. This was highlighted by the fictional scientist who combined the rolls of a number of scientists who go unmentioned.

Bookmarked Deep Dive: The Presence of the Past in John Coltrane’s Expressive and Searching Music (

Saxophonist John Coltrane was born on Sept. 23, 1926. On what would have been his 93rd birthday, scholar and historian David Tegnell offers this guest

This piece is an intriguing investigation of influence on John Coltrane, as well as American slavery in general.
Liked Unix at 50: How the OS that powered smartphones started from failure (Ars Technica)

Luckily for computer enthusiasts, constraint can at times lead to immense creativity. And so the most influential operating system ever written was not funded by venture capitalists, and the people who wrote it didn’t become billionaires because of it. Unix came about because Bell Labs hired smart people and gave them the freedom to amuse themselves, trusting that their projects would be useful more often than not. Before Unix, researchers at Bell Labs had already invented the transistor and the laser, as well as any number of innovations in computer graphics, speech synthesis, and speech recognition.

Liked Virtual Enigma machine illustrates how signals traveled through its wiring and rotors (Boing Boing)

Check out this lovely interactive version of an Enigma machine coded up by Tom MacWright!

You can type in your plaintext message and then watch an animation simulate how the signal would travel through an Enigma, encrypting it. It’s quite mesmerizing to observe; I almost want to set one of those up to translate a novel, and run it as a screensaver over several months

Liked Bronze age meals in the marshes – seasoned with parasitic worms (the Guardian)

“This is really interesting for us. It’s one of the very few chances we’ve had to look for evidence of parasitic infection in the bronze age,” said Marissa Ledger, a biological anthropologist on the Cambridge team. “It’s possible that a lot of these eggs were passing through the system, but a lot of people would have been infected. In a single coprolite we’re finding eggs from multiple different species.”

Bookmarked How coconut crabs may have absconded with Amelia Earhart’s skeleton (Boing Boing)

Is it possible the crabs devoured the human body and dragged the bones back to their burrows? Back in 1940 when the researcher originally found the site with the 13 bones, he noted that “coconut crabs had scattered many bones.” To test if this crab-theft were possible, a Earhart-hunting expedition that has been exploring the island performed a few experiments:

Clive Thompson discusses the hypothesis that Amelia Earhart crashed in the Pacific and her body was broken up by coconut crabs. This is an interesting resource in regards to the interpretative nature of history.
Listened Stephen Wolfram recounts the entire history of mathematics in 90 minutes from Boing Boing

This is a fascinating lecture, and it also epitomizes Wolfram in that it is a magnificent feat that would have benefited immensely from editorial reflection. Wolfram announces that’s he’s giving the lecture off the top of his head, and as far as that goes, it’s incredibly impressive. And yet…it makes you wonder, if he had actually prepared a detailed crib or even written the speech out, how much more fluid would it have been? Would the transitions be smoother? Would he spend less time fumbling for names or dates, or backtracking?

Stephen Wolfram takes a walk through the history of Mathematics. This is a fascinating ramble through time and a reminder of the way in which the present is built on the discoveries of the past. It is interesting to think of this alongside Joel Speranza’s breakdown of mathematical ideas.
Bookmarked The Hopefulness and Hopelessness of 1619 (The Atlantic)

Marking the 400-year African American struggle to survive and to be free of racism

Remembering the 400 year anniversary of the arrival of African slaves in Northern America, Ibram X Kendi traces the stories of Angela and John Pory.

No one knows when Angela was born. But she was probably young. If she was 19 years old in 1619, she’d have been born in 1600, the year John translated into English and published A Geographical Historie of Africa, a book of racist ideas about Angela’s race. First written in 1526, and popular as late as the 19th century, its racist ideas apparently had to be true since they were written by an African Moor, Leo Africanus (who probably sought favor from the Italian court that had freed and converted him). “The Negroes likewise leade a beastly kinde of life, being utterly destitute of the use of reason, of dexteritie of wit, and of all artes,” Africanus wrote. “Yea they so behave themselves, as if they had continually lived in a forrest among wilde beasts.”

For Kendi, this is both hopeful and hopeless in how far we have and have not progressed. The New York Times has also collected a number of pieces reflecting on the legacy. This includes an alternative history of slavery, the intertwined tale of sugar and slavery and the origins of today’s democracy.

Bookmarked The most popular social media networks each year, gloriously animated (The Next Web)

It’s hard to remember a world without social media, but it existed – as did a lot of other networks. We tracked their evolution.

This is an intriguing representation of social media over time:

It is useful as a provocation for many conversations.