Listen upward

Radio Garden allows you to drag a circle around a world map and tune into live radio from the selected area - a neat interface for discovering different stations outside your normal listening area. While apps like TuneIn offer much more selection from foreign radio markets (I often use it to listen to familiar stations in places where I once lived), Radio Garden offers a more exploratory environment that led me to more serendipitous discoveries. 

You want to see something really scary?

I love old time radio. I listen to an old radio program of some sort almost every night. We often think of fiction from the mid-20th century as predictable and hackneyed, but there are some terrific characters and plots to be found in those old episodes of Gunsmoke and X-1.

The Thing on the Fourble Board is an old episode of Quiet, Please. Looking for some pre-Halloween creepiness? Turn down the lights and have a listen.

But she's got a great personality

In case you missed this episode of the ubiquitous public radio flagship This American Life, the episode Tell Me I'm Fat is one of the best I've heard in years. 

I like to think of myself as a person who tries to be aware of his own biases and works to mitigate them. This episode more clearly illustrated the human cost my bias against fat people helps produce than anything I've read or listened to before. 

This isn't a comprehensive deep-dive into all the medical and social aspects of obesity; that would consume far more than an hour. It's a collage of voices, speaking from experience. If you have only a few minutes, listen to Elna Baker's piece (starting around 24:45) about how her life changed when she lost a lot of weight. It starts out rather light hearted, but by the end her honesty is searing and painful. 


The brilliant Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in this piece from Tyson's series "StarTalk Radio." Snowden on the right to privacy:

"You don't have to justify why you need your rights. That's not how they work... Saying that 'I don't care about the right to privacy because I've nothing to hide' is no different than saying 'I don't care about freedom of speech because I have nothing to say.' ...Rights don't have to be used by you individually to be valuable to a society. You can't have a free press without freedom of speech, and you can't have a free society without the right to privacy." 

Rise and rise

A Shepard tone is an audio illusion that sounds as if it's constantly rising in pitch. Play it for ten minutes and it appears to your befuddled brain as if the frequency is getting higher and higher, without ever leaving audible range. Check it out:

The illusion works because there are actually multiple tones all playing at once, and as the highest go out of range of your hearing, they're faded out, while others fade in at low (but also rising) pitch. It's the auditory equivalent of the visual illusion created by a rotating barber's pole. For those of you who remember barber's poles.

More about this phenomenon from The Atlantic.