Boing Boing 

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.

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

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."

Occupation in October: beautiful, long-form OWS radio documentary by Alex Chadwick

I've been wondering when the first great radio documentary about Occupy Wall Street would come out, and when I was driving around in LA yesterday doing errands, I tuned into it by accident on KCRW.

Longtime public radio producer, reporter, documentarian and host Alex Chadwick, with whom I worked at the NPR program "Day to Day," produced a beautiful and evocative audio documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement, after embedding at Zucotti Park to hear the stories of the occupiers there. He ended up witnessing history.

Alex is the greatest at this art, and I was so happy to hear new work from the man behind those great radio expeditions, which he produced with his late wife Carolyn. Those acquainted with his "Interviews 50 Cents" series will hear a familiar chord, too. Alex, man, it is so great to hear you back on the air doing what no one else can. Everyone else? You *must* carve out some undistracted time, and just listen. And then when you're done? Make someone else listen. Someone who doesn't understand what the Occupy movement is all about.

This is the story of how Occupy Wall Street finds itself over three days in October. How it faces down the police, the political powers, and its own demons. This is the moment when Occupy Wall Street won.

"Occupation in October," on the KCRW radio documentary series "Unfictional," produced by Bob Carlson.

Photo: A demonstrator from the Occupy Wall Street campaign stands with a dollar taped over his mouth in Zucotti Park near the financial district of New York. Reuters/Lucas Jackson.

A ride on NASA's flying telescope

SOFIA—the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy—is a telescope unlike any other. It's not mounted to the Earth's surface. And it's not floating in space. Instead, SOFIA travels the skies, rigged up to a dedicated 747 flying at 40,000 feet.

The idea is to have a telescope that gets a better view than the ones on the ground, but is easier to fix and update than space-based Hubble. It flies twice a week, on overnight trips. Reporter Lauren Sommer, from radio KQED, San Francisco, got to ride along on a recent flight. You can listen to her story, or read about the experience, at the site for KQED's QUEST science and environment series.

The researchers take advantage of the nighttime sky, so we left at dusk for 10-hour tour flying zigzags across the Pacific Ocean. Each leg of the journey is carefully calculated so the telescope can pinpoint a far away star. The plane interior is packed with computers and equipment. It also lacks insulation since much of it was removed to install the telescope, so it's both cold and loud inside.

At four in the morning, the astronomers are still hard at work. If they're as tired as I am, they certainly aren't showing it.

"For me, this is very exciting," says Ian McLean, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles. He usually works on the ground. "All my career has been ground-based astronomy. So, it's only my second flight."
McLean says there's a good reason to do astronomy in the stratosphere. The atmosphere is thinner, which means it's easier for the telescope to see the stars. "It's almost as good as space," says McLean. "Not quite, but almost."

And unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, this telescope lands everyday, which means the scientists can update and fix the equipment. "By the time you get a mission into orbit, the technology you're using is relatively old. Here we can stay state of the art all the time," says McLean. NASA began developing SOFIA in 1997 and almost cancelled the project at one point. It flew its first science mission in November 2010 and now costs about $80 million a year to operate.