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HOWTO follow FDNY radio scanners in an emergency

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During last night's storm emergency, I monitored the FDNY scanners to try and follow fast-moving and difficult-to-obtain details about what was happening where in NYC. For future reference, radioreference.com is an excellent way to do that (provided you have power and internet access). Along with that, you'll want to have two browser tabs open, for a cheat sheet on the codes the first responders use: Box Codes (find the location of the fire alarm boxes people use to get an FDNY response in an emergency), and FDNY 10 codes (shorthand developed in 1937 for common communication among first responders).

One good thing to keep in mind: not everything you hear on the scanner is confirmed fact. By definition, the first responders are often working with incomplete and unconfirmed calls for help, and chaotic situations. That, combined with the fact that it can be hard to understand what they're saying, make careful listening and sharing essential.

BBC radio documentary on same-sex couple coping with cancer and mortality

BB reader Jane Lowers sends along this beautiful BBC Radio documentary about two men in California who have been together for decades, now facing one's terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis. "I know both of them; Eric was a columnist at a radiology magazine I used to work for," says Jane. "Their house is every inch as insane as described. But the story -- trying to decide how to deal with a diagnosis, how to use the time you have, and how it can affect relationships -- was very well-described, I thought."

India's in the dark, are we next?

670 million people—roughly half of India's population—has been without electricity for two days, following a massive blackout. The United States has a much more modern grid, but only nine years ago a blackout in the Northeast of this country cut power to 45 million. How does a huge blackout like that happen? What are we doing to prevent another one? I'll be on Southern California Public Radio's Madeline Brand Show this morning to talk about how America's electric grid works ... and doesn't work. The show starts at 9:00 Pacific time and I'll be on around the top of the hour. Maggie

Radiolab marathon all day today

Minnesota Public Radio is playing a marathon of the NPR show Radiolab all day today. Hours of good, science-filled, story telling wonderfulness. Right now, at 12:32 central, they're doing a show about epidemiologists tracing the origin of AIDS back to the 1920s. Definitely worth listening to. You can listen to the entire marathon on MPR's live stream from anywhere in the world. Maggie

Catcopter artist explains all

In the event that you were wondering about the motives of the Dutch artist Bart Jansen, who attained notoriety by taxiderming his dead cat and retrofitting its corpse to serve as a quadcopter, wonder no more. The CBC's As It Happens recorded an interview with Mr Jansen, and it is one of the strangest, finest interviews in that show's august history. The producers were kind enough to provide us with an MP3 for your listening pleasure. Cory

Geoengineering and the Fight against Climate Change: Maggie on "To the Point" radio show (audio)

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Two of my favorite people talk about one of my favorite topics, all on the same radio program. Our very own Maggie Koerth-Baker was interviewed by my friend (and former NPR colleague) Alex Chadwick on KCRW's daily show "To the Point" today, to talk about "Geoengineering and the fight against climate change."

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything; and when people repeat that witticism, they make it sound as though someone should. Now, someone may. Geoengineering. Guest host Alex Chadwick explores whether we could use technology to alter the atmosphere and cool the warming planet. What could go wrong with that? There are scientists who think we should start trying to research exactly these questions.

Direct MP3 link, or you can play the program in your web browser here.

Alex has been doing a lot of interesting journalism around energy issues lately, most notably with BURN: An Energy Journal. He was sitting in for host Warren Olney today.

Energy and geo-engineering: Maggie on the radio

I'm going to be on the radio a couple of times today, talking about my book, Before the Lights Go Out, and the future of energy and climate. At 1:00 Eastern/Noon Central, you can listen to an hour-long interview with me on Minnesota Public Radio's Bright Ideas. You don't have to be in Minnesota to listen. It's streaming online. Then, about 2:10 Eastern/1:10 Central, I'll be on "To the Point", talking about climate, energy, and geo-engineering. Climate scientist Ken Caldiera will also be on that show and he's a great speaker. That will be online, as well. Maggie

In Guatemala, pirate Mayan radio connects marginalized indigenous communities

I missed this great read published a few months back by photojournalist Connor Boals in Columbia Journalism Review, but it's worth revisiting now: a story about the indigenous pirate radio stations that connect poor rural Mayan communities throughout Guatemala.

Read the rest

Hunger-striking Bahraini dissident Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja near death; Formula One president still plans to run races in Bahrain


Tuesday night's As It Happens program on CBC radio featured a segment on the terrible human rights situation in Bahrain, opening with an archive interview with Zainab Al-Khawaja, daughter of the dissident Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who was snatched, beaten and indefinitely detained by Bahraini police a year ago. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is now on a hunger-strike and may die soon. As It Happens then interviews his daughter again about her father's situation and the human rights situation in Bahrain. Zainab Al-Khawaja explains that her father is risking his life to draw international attention to Bahrain's awful human rights situation, the hundreds of dissidents rotting in jail, some as young as 12 years old, facing torture and inhumane conditions.

As It Happens then interviewed Bernie Ecclestone, president of Formula One, whose big annual race is to be held in Bahrain this year. Ecclestone is the perfect picture of denial and callousness, as he blithely asserts that Bahrain is a perfectly nice place where protest is tolerated. He's smug about his race for expensive cars in a totalitarian police-state, and blames the media for any negative impression the world may have gotten about Bahrain.

Here's a recent CNN article on the Al-Khawajas, here's Murtaza Hussain on Salon on the same subject, and here's Democracy Now!'s archive of pieces on the family. Zainab Al-Khawaja tweets as @angryarabiya.

As It Happens's producers were kind enough to supply an MP3 of the segment for us to host (linked below). As It Happens is my favorite news magazine program. I download the previous night's episode every day and listen to it on my waterproof MP3 player on my daily swim.

As It Happens Bahrain dissident segment (MP3, 11 mins, 11MB)

Will the FAA stop prohibiting electronic devices on commercial flights?

As I noted in a Boing Boing post yesterday, there's news of a possible change ahead for in-flight gadget rules in the US.

The Federal Aviation Administration currently prohibits passengers from using electronic devices on commercial flights when the plane is below 10,000 feet in altitude. But the FAA announced this week that after widespread demands to modify restrictions, there may be new efforts to review whether devices like the iPad or phones in "airplane mode" can be permitted safely during takeoff and landing.

Aviation journalist and pilot Miles O'Brien, who uses his iPad for navigation while flying his own plane, joined KPCC's Patt Morrison show today to discuss the news. Here's a direct MP3 link to the radio segment. It's a good listen.

Great Squanderland Roof: funny BBC radio drama about austerity

Julian Gough sez, "I get the feeling you and some of your readers are, um, not entirely unconvinced by austerity as an economic strategy. So you might like the BBC's free Drama of the Week podcast. It's a satire on Eurozone austerity economics called The Great Squanderland Roof, by, er, me. It's free, downloadable worldwide till Friday, and it stars some great actors, like Dermot Crowley who was in Fr. Ted and, er, Return of the Jedi. What can we do but laugh? Hope you like it. Here's the official BBC blurb on it:"

Jude lives in a henhouse with no roof, in the bankrupt Republic of Squanderland. Purchased for ten million euro at the height of the credit bubble, his henhouse has been rated the asset in Europe most likely to default. To solve this small but symbolic problem and restore confidence in the markets, Europe's leaders need a plan. Sadly, putting a roof on Jude's henhouse quickly escalates out of control. Soon they are committed to building a roof over the entire country, half a mile above the startled voters... But what happens when a structure that's too big to fail finally fails? To the horror of Europe's bankers and politicians, Jude comes up with a dramatic (and rather romantic) solution to the Eurozone crisis... 'The Great Squanderland Roof' stars Rory Keenan as the hapless Jude (whose recent credits include 'The Kitchen' at the National, 'A Dublin Carol' at the Donmar and 'Birdsong' on BBC TV) in his debut BBC Radio role, Dermot Crowley as a banker turned government minister, and Stephanie Flanders, the BBC's Economics Editor.

The Great Squanderland Roof 2 Mar 12 (Thanks, Julian!)

Gay porn soundtrack played over Jazz FM broadcast

Listeners tuning into Jazz FM's "Funky Sensations" show were treated Saturday to soft moans, fleshy slapping noises, and the incomparable sax of Sonny Rollins. The station apologized. The mix was recorded for posterity by Radio Fail. Rob

Skeptical take on the Green Revolution

CBC's long-form/big think radio program Ideas recently featured a lecture called "Feeding Ten Billion" from Raj Patel, an Africa development scholar formerly with the World Bank, and author of The Value of Nothing. Patel's perspective on global agriculture and social justice is incisive and contrarian. I've never heard anyone talk about the demerits of the "Green Revolution" in agriculture like this, and it was an eye-opener. A perfect hour-long listen for the weekend's chores. MP3 link Cory

Was American arrested for spying in Iran producing "propaganda games" for CIA?

Dominic Girard from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sez,

It's one thing for Iran to arrest an American and sentence him to death for being a spy. It's a whole other thing when you say the spy made video games as propaganda for the CIA. Yet that's precisely one of the charges Iranian-American Amir Hekmati confessed to on Iranian television in December. (Let's remember that Iran routinely accuses foreigners of being spies, and there's no way of knowing exactly what methods were used to get Hekmati to read out his confession).

Hekmati did once worked with Kuma Games - a New York based game developer. Iran believes Kuma Games are CIA propagandists, that the company makes video games to disseminate a pro-USA message internationally. Some of Kuma Games' offerings are playable scenarios of real-world events. You can be a rebel trying to track down Gadhafi in Libya. You can join Team Six and kill Osama bin Laden. You can also be a soldier inserted in Iran, trying to sabotage their nuclear weapons program. But does that necessarily mean they're a CIA front? This short CBC Radio documentary tries to sort out if the CIA would ever consider such an idea, and if it would even be worth the effort.

Day 6 Documentary: Propaganda Games

PIPA sponsor in the hotseat today at 12:00 Eastern

pziselberger sez, "Senator Lahey, sponsor of PIPA [ed: the Senate version of SOPA], will be on Vermont Public Radio's 'Vermont Edition' January 12 at noon. This is an opportunity to share your outrage over PIPA with the author of the bill." Cory