Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
By Isabel Wilkerson

NPR Fresh Air: Great Migration: The African-American Exodus North
September 13, 2010

"Between 1915 and 1970, more than 6 million African-Americans moved out of the South to cities across the Northeast, Midwest and West.

This relocation — called the Great Migration — resulted in massive demographic shifts across the United States. Between 1910 and 1930, cities such as New York, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland saw their African-American populations grow by about 40 percent, and the number of African-Americans employed in industrial jobs nearly doubled."

NPR Books: 'Other Suns': When African-Americans Fled North
September 16, 2010

"Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New York Times, has taken what many would consider an indigestible chunk of history — long and sometimes famously written about by earlier historians and sociologists — and given us an extraordinarily palatable narrative."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Race Against the Machine

Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy
By Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook  (WBUR, Boston)
"When Machines do the Work”
November 2, 2011 Compass Summit 2011

Race Against the Machine from Compass Summit on

Monday, November 07, 2011

Knocking on Heaven's Door - Lisa Randall

Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World
By Lisa Randall

Physicist Lisa Randall On Cosmology And The LHC
NPR Talk of the Nation, Science Friday
September 30, 2011

Harvard physicist Lisa Randall talks about her new book, Knocking On Heaven's Door, an examination of the latest findings in cosmology and the history of scientific thought, and discusses a report that suggests neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light.

NOVA: Fabric of the Cosmos

The Fabric of the Cosmos

Acclaimed physicist Brian Greene reveals the reality beneath the surface of our everyday world.
Airing 11/2, 11/9, 11/16 and 11/23, at 9pm on PBS

Watch Online

Episode 1: What is Space?
Episode 2: The Illusion of Time
Episode 3: Quantum Leap
Episode 4: Universe or Multiverse

Brian Greene Explains 'The Fabric Of The Cosmos'
NPR Talk of the Nation, Science Friday
October 28, 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Prohibition by Ken Burns

"PROHIBITION is a three-part, five-and-a-half-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed.

Prohibition was intended to improve, even to ennoble, the lives of all Americans, to protect individuals, families, and society at large from the devastating effects of alcohol abuse. But the enshrining of a faith-driven moral code in the Constitution paradoxically caused millions of Americans to rethink their definition of morality.

Prohibition turned law-abiding citizens into criminals, made a mockery of the justice system, caused illicit drinking to seem glamorous and fun, encouraged neighborhood gangs to become national crime syndicates, permitted government officials to bend and sometimes even break the law, and fostered cynicism and hypocrisy that corroded the social contract all across the country."


Part 1 "A Nation of Drunkards" describes how immigration, alcoholism, women's suffrage and the temperance movements led up to the passing of the 18th Amendment, Prohibition.
Part 2 "A Nation of Scofflaws" addresses how the enforcement of Prohibition was inconsistent and caused unintended consequences, including making criminals of a large portion of the population.
Part 3 "A Nation of Hypocrites" follows the gradual swing towards repeal of Prohibition as the Great Depression focuses attention on other priorities.

Watch Prohibition Sneak Peek on PBS. See more from Ken Burns.

Friday, September 30, 2011

NOVA: Surviving the Tsunami, A film by NHK

Aired September 28, 2011 on PBS

"The earthquake that hit the northern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011 was recorded at magnitude 9.0. It generated an unprecedented tsunami, obliterating coastal villages and towns in a matter of minutes. In some areas, the tsunami climbed over 100 feet in height and traveled miles inland. Amazingly, amateur and professional photographers captured it all on video, including remarkable tales of human survival, as ordinary citizens became heroes in a drama they never could have imagined.
As the waves rush in, a daughter struggles to help her elderly mother ascend their rooftop to safety; a man climbs onto an overpass just as the wave overtakes his car. These never-before-seen stories are captured in video and retold after-the-fact by the survivors who reveal what they were thinking as they made their life-saving decisions. Their stories provide lessons on how we should all act in the face of life-threatening disasters. This unique program was originally produced and broadcast in Japan by NHK, Japan's public broadcaster."
Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

BBC: First Life with David Attenborough

From the fog bound coastline of Newfoundland to the deserts of North Africa and the rainforests of Queensland, in BBC's First Life David Attenborough finds evidence in fossils and living animals of an extraordinary period in Earth’s history, half a billion years ago, when animals first appeared in the oceans. From the first eyes that saw, to the first predators that killed and the first legs that walked on land, these were creatures that evolved the traits and tools that allow all animals, including us, to survive to this day.

This is a story that can only be told now because in the last few years, stunning fossil finds at sites across the world have transformed our understanding of the first life forms, and the latest technology allows us to recreate the first animals and their environments with photo-realistic CGI.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Frontline: The Pot Republic

Frontline: The Pot Republic

A timely report from the frontlines of marijuana legalization in California. The bulk of the marijuana consumed in the United States used to come across the border from Mexico, Canada and elsewhere. Now, more than half of it is believed to be home grown in California, where an enormous black market has emerged under the cover of the state's medical marijuana law. With more than a third of all states now experimenting with some form of legalization and decriminalization -- and several California counties attempting to openly regulate pot production -- FRONTLINE and the Center for Investigative Reporting team up to investigate the country's oldest, largest and most wide-open marijuana market. Is the federal government now moving to shut it down?

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Frontline: The Atomic Artists

Frontline: The Atomic Artists
July 26, 2011

How one group of artists is challenging Japan's unusually strong faith in nuclear power

FRONTLINE journeys with Marco Werman of PRI's The World as he meets Chim-Pom, a provocative group of young artists making headlines as they use art to challenge the status quo in Japan.

"Japanese youth had generally been very apolitical and apathetic" before the March 2011 disaster, says The Atomic Artists producer Emily Taguchi. But things have changed dramatically since then. We talked with Taguchi about this shift, and how one group, the art collective Chim-Pom, is challenging the status quo with their controversial installations.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
Bill McKibben 2010

Twenty years ago, with The End of Nature, Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about global warming. Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we've waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way. Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We've created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it Eaarth.

Scientific America Interviews (2 parts):
Scientific American Part 1 April 21, 2010
Scientific American Part 2 April 22, 2010

Dominican University Speech (Youtube):

Bill McKibben Speaks at The New School on Climate Change

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Very Large Telescope (VLT) array - Atacama Desert, Chile

The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is made up of four separate optical telescopes organized in an array formation, built and operated by the European Southern Observatory on Cerro Paranal, a 2,635 meter high mountain in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Each telescope has an 8.2 m aperture. The array is complemented by four movable Auxiliary Telescopes of 1.8 meter aperture. Working together in interferometric mode, the telescopes can achieve an angular resolution of around 1 milliarcsecond, meaning it could distinguish the gap between the headlights of a car located on the Moon.

The video below was shot there. I knew we can't see our Milky Way galaxy from here in the North, still surprised. Would be worth the trip south to see such a true starlit night.

Monday, June 06, 2011

American Experience - We Shall Remain

WE SHALL REMAIN is a groundbreaking mini-series and provocative multi-media project that establishes Native history as an essential part of American history. Five 90-minute documentaries spanning three hundred years tell the story of pivotal moments in U.S. history from the Native American perspective.

At the heart of the project is a five-part television series that shows how Native peoples valiantly resisted expulsion from their lands and fought the extinction of their culture -- from the Wampanoags of New England in the 1600s who used their alliance with the English to weaken rival tribes, to the bold new leaders of the 1970s who harnessed the momentum of the civil rights movement to forge a pan-Indian identity.

Episode 1 After the Mayflower: The First Thanksgiving
Episode 2 Tecumseh's Vision: Here we Shall Remain
Episode 3 Trail of Tears: A Civilized Life
Episode 4 Geronimo: Surround by Enemies
Episode 5 Wounded Knee: The Takeover

American Experience - Freedom Riders

The story behind a courageous band of civil rights activists called the Freedom Riders who in 1961 creatively challenged segregation in the American South. Running time: 1:53:00

FREEDOM RIDERS is the powerful harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Frontline: WikiSecrets

WikiSecrets: The inside story of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and the largest intelligence breach in U.S. history.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nikki Rosa (It is Well)

Nikki Rosa (It is Well)
By Nikki Giovanni
Truth is on Its Way

childhood remembrances are always a drag if you’re Black
you always remember things like living in Woodlawn with no inside toilet
and if you become famous or something they never talk about how happy you were to have your mother all to yourself
and how good the water felt when you got your bath from one of those big tubs that folk in chicago barbecue in
and somehow when you talk about home it never gets across how much you understood their feelings as the whole family attended meetings about Hollydale
and even though you remember your biographers never understand your father’s pain as he sells his stock and another dream goes
And though you’re poor it isn’t poverty that concerns you and though they fought a lot it isn’t your father’s drinking that makes any difference
but only that everybody is together and you and your sister have happy birthdays and very good Christmases
and I really hope no white person ever has cause to write about me because they never understand Black love is Black wealth
and they’ll probably talk about my hard childhood and never understand that all the while I was quite happy

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Black in Latin America

Black in Latin America is the third of a trilogy that began in 1999 with the broadcast of Professor Henry Louis Gates’ first series for public television, Wonders of the African World, an exploration of the relationship between Africa and the New World, a story he continued in 2004 with America Beyond the Color Line, a report on the lives of modern-day African Americans. Black In Latin America, premiering nationally Tuesdays; April 19, 26 and May 3, 10, 2011 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS, examines how Africa and Europe came together to create the rich cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Haiti & The Dominican Republic: An Island Divided
In the Dominican Republic, Professor Gates explores how race has been socially constructed in a society whose people reflect centuries of inter-marriage, and how the country’s troubled history with Haiti informs notions about racial classification. In Haiti, Professor Gates tells the story of the birth of the first-ever black republic, and finds out how the slaves’s hard fought liberation over Napoleon Bonaparte’s French Empire became a double-edged sword.

Cuba: The Next Revolution
In Cuba Professor Gates finds out how the culture, religion, politics and music of this island are inextricably linked to the huge amount of slave labor imported to produce its enormously profitable 19th century sugar industry, and how race and racism have fared since Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution in 1959.

Brazil: A Racial Paradise?
In Brazil, Professor Gates delves behind the fa├žade of Carnival to discover how this ‘rainbow nation’ is waking up to its legacy as the world’s largest slave economy.

Mexico & Peru: A Hidden Race
In Mexico and Peru Professor Gates explores the almost unknown history of the significant numbers of black people—the two countries together received far more slaves than did the United States —brought to these countries as early as the 16th and 17th centuries, and the worlds of culture that their descendants have created in Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico, the Costa Chica region on the Pacific, and in and around Lima, Peru.

NPR Talk of the Nation
Series Explores Being 'Black In Latin America'
April 18, 2011

Excerpt from Transcript:


Oh, it was fundamental. Like many people - remember, I was raised in the '50s and '60s. I'm 60 years old. And like many people my age, I thought that slavery, race, the African experience in the New World, really was about us, about our ancestors here in the Continental United States.

But the most astonishing fact in this whole series, and the most astonishing fact which I think that the Transatlantic Slave Trade database has produced is the following: Between 1502 and 1867, 11.2 million Africans survived the Middle Passage and landed in the New World. And of that 11.2 million, as you said, only 450,000 came to the United States.

All the rest, Neal, went to places, as it were, south of Miami, south of our borders. The real African-American experience, as it were, just in terms of numbers alone, unfolded in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America.

And so I wanted to do a series bringing this lost or hidden black world to light, both to Americans and to many of the black descendents, the Afro descendents, throughout Latin America themselves."

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has information on almost 35,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. It offers researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of peoples in world history.

Overview of Slave Trade 1500-1900
The Voyages website provides the most comprehensive source of data currently available on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Forming its core is the Voyages Database, originally published as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Database -on CD-ROM by Cambridge University Press (1999), and this data-file is provided here in 
an expanded and continually growing form. The Voyages Database contains records of nearly 35,000 separate slaving voyages between 1514 and 1866, gleaned from original documents and historical publications located in archives, libraries, and other institutions throughout the world. Data from these historical records were collected over many decades and will continue to be updated as new documents are discovered. Individuals will be able to contribute their own research to this collaborative resource. Each record in the Voyages Database offers information on a single slaving voyage; some of the details include the country of origin, the individual(s) who sponsored it, the voyage itself (its itinerary, dates of travel, and outcome), captains and crew members, slaves transported, and the sources providing this voyage information.

Volume and Direction of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
from All African to All American Regions

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Artificial Leaves Produce Hydrogen Fuel from Water

A Greener 'Artificial Leaf'
New device offers distinct advantages over previous attempts to improve upon natural photosynthesis.
MIT Technology Review
April 7, 2011

Growing The Technology For Artificial Leaves
NPR Talk of the Nation, Science Friday
April 8, 2011

"Researchers are developing practical, low-cost materials that can use energy from sunlight to break water into oxygen and hydrogen. Daniel Nocera of MIT explains the science of "artificial photosynthesis," and describes his plan to create distributed power generation systems in developing countries."

Friday, April 01, 2011

NOVA: Japan's Killer Quake

NOVA: Japan's Killer Quake

An eyewitness account and investigation of the epic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis.
Aired March 30, 2011 on PBS

In its worst crisis since World War II, Japan faces disaster on an epic scale: a death toll likely in the tens of thousands, massive destruction of homes and businesses, shortages of water and power, and the specter of nuclear meltdown. With exclusive footage, NOVA captures the unfolding human drama and offers a clear-headed investigation of what triggered the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear crisis. Can science and technology ever prevent devastation in the face of overwhelmingly powerful forces of nature?

Watch below 53:07 (only available online in the U.S., I had to access it via a U.S. proxy server to view it)

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tohoku earthquake and tsunami

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunam was caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST on Friday, 11 March, 2011. The earthquake triggered extremely destructive tsunami waves of up to 30 m (98 ft) that struck Japan minutes after the quake, in some cases traveling up to 10 km (6 mi) inland, with smaller waves reaching many other countries after several hours.


The nearest major city to the quake was Sendai, Honshu, Japan, 130 km (81 mi) away. The quake occurred 373 km (232 mi) from Tokyo. The main earthquake was preceded by a number of large foreshocks, and multiple aftershocks were reported afterwards. The first major foreshock was a 7.2 MW event on 9 March, approximately 40 km (25 mi) from the location of the 11 March quake, with another three on the same day in excess of 6.0 MW. Following the quake, a 7.0 MW aftershock was reported at 15:06 JST, followed by a 7.4 at 15:15 JST and a 7.2 at 15:26 JST. Over six hundred aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or greater have occurred since the initial quake.

Date/Time Magnitude

Warning Shock
3/9 11:45 M7.2

Major Quake
3/11 14:46 M9.0

Major Aftershocks
3/11 15:06 M7.4
3/11 15:15 M7.4
3/11 15:26 M7.5
3/11 16:29 M6.6
3/11 17:41 M5.8
3/11 20:37 M6.4
3/12 3:59 M6.7
3/12 4:32 M5.8
3/12 5:42 M5.3
3/12 22:15 M6.0
3/12 23:35 M4.4
3/13 8:25 M6.2
3/14 10:02 M6.2
3/15 22:31 M6.4
3/16 12:52 M6.0
3/19 18:56 M6.1
3/23 12:07 M6.0
3/23 7:36 M5.8
3/23 18:55 M4.7
3/24 8:56 M4.9
3/24 21:17 M6.1
3/28 7:24 M6.5


The actual height predicted varied, the greatest being for Miyagi at 10 m (33 ft) high. The tsunami inundated a total area of approximately 470 square kilometers in Japan. The earthquake took place at 14:46 JST around 67 km (42 mi) from the nearest point on Japan's coastline, and initial estimates indicated the tsunami would have taken 10 to 30 minutes to reach the areas first affected, and then areas further north and south based on the geography of the coastline. Just over an hour after the earthquake at 15:55 JST, a tsunami was observed flooding Sendai Airport, which is located near the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, with waves sweeping away cars and planes and flooding various buildings as they traveled inland. The impact of the tsunami in and around Sendai Airport was filmed by an NHK News helicopter, showing a number of vehicles on local roads trying to escape the approaching wave and being engulfed by it. A 4-meter (13 ft)-high tsunami hit Iwate Prefecture. Wakabayashi Ward in Sendai was also particularly hard hit.

Nuclear Crisis

The Fukushima I nuclear accidents  are a series of ongoing equipment failures and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the earthquake and tsunami. The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Reactors 4, 5 and 6 had been shut down prior to the earthquake for planned maintenance. The remaining reactors were shut down automatically after the earthquake, but the subsequent 14 metres (46 ft) tsunami flooded the plant, knocking out emergency generators needed to run pumps which cool and control the reactors. The flooding and earthquake damage prevented assistance being brought from elsewhere.
Reactor Explosion
Evidence arose of partial core meltdown in reactors 1, 2, and 3; hydrogen explosions destroyed the upper cladding of the buildings housing reactors 1, 3, and 4; an explosion damaged the containment inside reactor 2; and multiple fires broke out at reactor 4. In addition, spent fuel rods stored in spent fuel pools of units 1–4 began to overheat as water levels in the pools dropped. Fears of radiation leaks led to a 20 kilometres (12 mi) radius evacuation around the plant. Workers at the plant suffered radiation exposure and were temporarily evacuated at various times. On 18 March, Japanese officials designated the magnitude of the danger at reactors 1, 2 and 3 at level 5 on the 7 point International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). Power was restored to parts of the plant from 20 March, but machinery damaged by floods, fires and explosions remained inoperable.

Exclusion Zone


The latest confirmed toll to date are over 10,000 deaths with 16,361 people missing across eighteen prefectures. These numbers are expected to increase, with casualties estimated to reach tens of thousands.
Prefectural officials and the Kyodo News Agency, quoting local officials, said that 9,500 people from Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture—about a half of the town's population—were unaccounted for. NHK has reported that the death toll in Iwate Prefecture alone may reach 10,000. Save the Children reports that as many as 100,000 children have been uprooted from their homes, some of whom were separated from their families because the earthquake occurred during the school day. On 14 March, Kyodo News Agency reported that some 2,000 bodies were found on two shores in Miyagi Prefecture. It was reported that four passenger trains containing an unknown number of passengers disappeared in a coastal area during the tsunami.

The earthquake caused a large number of displaced people. The number of the evacuees has once passed 300,000. Some earthquake survivors died in the shelters or in the process of evacuation. Many shelters struggle to feed evacuees and are not medically sufficiently equipped. Fuel shortages hampered relief actions. In the first week after the earthquake, supplies of food, water, and medicine had been held up because of a fuel shortage and the weather condition. There is a need for temporary housing, as the Japanese government are trying to remove evacuees from large shelters, where there have been reports of poor sanitary conditions. As of late March, 8,800 temporary units were planned in Iwate, 10,000 in Miyagi, and 19,000 in Fukushima.

The nuclear crisis and recover continues unabated. The Japanese people remain otherwise calm and stoic about the ongoing situation, the disaster across of the Northeastern region of Tohoku, and the overall future of Japan.

Monday, February 28, 2011

This American Life: DIY

This American Life: #282 DIY
Original Broadcast Feb 11, 2005

After four lawyers fail to get an innocent man out of prison, his friend takes on the case himself. He becomes a do-it-yourself investigator. He learns to read court records, he tracks down hard-to-find witnesses, he gets the real murderer to come forward with his story. In the end, he's able to accomplish all sorts of things the police and the professionals can't.

Monday, February 07, 2011

A Change Is Gonna Come

A Change Is Gonna Come
Sam Cooke

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ever since
It's been a long, a long time coming 
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will 

It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die 
Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky 
It's been a long, a long time coming 
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will 

I go to the movie and I go downtown 
somebody keep telling me don't hang around 
It's been a long, a long time coming 
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will 

Then I go to my brother 
And I say brother help me please 
But he winds up knockin' me 
Back down on my knees 

There been times that I thought I couldn't last for long 
But now I think I'm able to carry on 
It's been a long, a long time coming 
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Frontline: The Battle for Haiti

Frontline: Battle For Haiti

Can Haiti be rebuilt without the rule of law? A year after the earthquake, a powerful look at the violence threatenin the country's stability .. and future.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

On the night of the earthquake that devastated Haiti last January, something happened in Port au Prince, the capital city, which would threaten the effectiveness of international aid efforts and undermine the country's political stability: 4,500 of the country's most violent criminals escaped from Haiti's overcrowded National Penitentiary.

Now, on the one-year anniversary of the quake -- and in the aftermath of Haitian presidential elections that threatened further crisis -- FRONTLINE presents Battle for Haiti. FRONTLINE producer Dan Reed films with the beleaguered special police units tasked with apprehending the escaped gangsters. At the same time, Reed captures the daily lives of the despairing inhabitants of the slums and tent cities who are often terrorized by these gangsters.

National Geographic - Population 7 Billion

"Before the 20th century, no human had lived through a doubling of the human population, but there are people alive today who have seen it triple. Sometime in late 2011, according to the UN Population Division, there will be seven billion of us.

With the population still growing by about 80 million each year, it’s hard not to be alarmed. Right now on Earth, water tables are falling, soil is eroding, glaciers are melting, and fish stocks are vanishing. Close to a billion people go hungry each day. Decades from now, there will likely be two billion more mouths to feed, mostly in poor countries. There will be billions more people wanting and deserving to boost themselves out of poverty. If they follow the path blazed by wealthy countries—clearing forests, burning coal and oil, freely scattering fertilizers and pesticides—they too will be stepping hard on the planet’s natural resources. How exactly is this going to work?"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BBC - How Earth Made Us

How Earth Made Us
Presented by Professor Iain Stewart describing untold stories of history. Our planet has amazing power, and yet that's rarely mentioned in our history books. This series tells the story of how the Earth has influenced human history, from the dawn of civilization to the modern industrial age. It reveals for the first time on television how geology, geography and climate have been a far more powerful influence on the human story than has previously been acknowledged. A combination of epic story telling, visually stunning camera work, extraordinary locations and passionate presenting combine to form a highly original version of human history.

Discover why societies have succeeded or failed, and how the environment has influenced every aspect of our history from art to industry, religion to war, world domination or collapse. Visiting some of the most iconic places on Earth, How Earth Made Us overturns preconceptions about our civilizations and our cultures to offer a new perspective on who we are today.

1. Deep Earth
2. Water
3. Wind
4. Fire
5. Human Planet

BBC - Earth The Power of the Planet

BBC Earth The Power of the Planet

Dr Iain Stewart tells the story of how Earth works and how, over the course of 4.6 billion years, it came to be the remarkable place it is today.

1. Volcano
2. Atmosphere
3. Ice
4. Oceans
5. Rare Earth

BBC - The Story of India with Michael Wood

The Story of India is a BBC TV documentary series, written and presented by historian Michael Wood, about the 10,000-year history of the Indian subcontinent in six episodes.

Episode 1 - "Beginnings"

Travels through the subcontinent, tracing the richness and diversity of its peoples, cultures and landscapes. Through ancient manuscripts and oral tales Wood charts the first human migrations out of Africa. He travels from the tropical backwaters of South India through lost ancient cities in Pakistan to the vibrant landscapes of the Ganges plain, also attempts to re-create soma, an ancient drink recorded in the Rig Veda.

Episode 2 - "The Power of Ideas"

Episode moves on to the revolutionary years after 500BC - the Age of the Buddha and Mahavira. Travelling by rail to the ancient cities of the Ganges plain, by army convoy through Northern Iraq, and down Pakistan's Khyber Pass, how Alexander the Great’s invasion of India inspired its first major empire in the form of the Maurya kingdom.

Episode 3 - "Spice Routes and Silk Roads"

Episode traces India in the days of the Roman Empire. In Kerala the spice trade opened India to the world, whilst gold and silk bazaars in the ancient city of Madurai were a delight for visiting Greek traders. The Kushan Empire of Northern India that opened up the Silk Route and at Peshawar built a lost Wonder of the World.

Episode 4 - "Ages of Gold"

The achievements of the country’s golden age, including how India discovered zero, calculated the circumference of the Earth and wrote the world’s first sex guide, the Kama Sutra. In the south, the giant temple of Tanjore built by emperor Rajaraja Chola and traditional bronze casters, working as their ancestors did 1,000 years ago are shown. Michael Wood calls Tamil Nadu, "The only surviving 'Classical Civilization' in the world that’s the last living classical Indian language older than any modern European language.

Episode 5 - "The Meeting of Two Oceans"

Charts the coming of Islam to the subcontinent and one of the greatest ages of world civilisation: visits Sufi shrines in Old Delhi, desert fortresses in Rajasthan and the cities of Lahore and Agra, theory on the design of the Taj Mahal.

Episode 6 - "Freedom and Liberation"

South India a global corporation came to control much of the subcontinent, and explores the magical culture of Lucknow, discovering the enigmatic Briton who helped found the freedom movement. He traces the Amritsar massacre, the rise of Gandhi and Nehru, and the events that led to the Partition of India in 1947.

John Adams - Book, Miniseries, National Park

John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams is a 2001 biography of Founding Father and second U.S. President John Adams written by popular historian David McCullough. It won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize (for "Biography or Autobiography"). "Much about John Adams's life will come as a surprise to many readers. His courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778 and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits that few would have dared and that few readers will ever forget.

It is a life encompassing a huge arc -- Adams lived longer than any president. The story ranges from the Boston Massacre to Philadelphia in 1776 to the Versailles of Louis XVI, from Spain to Amsterdam, from the Court of St. James's, where Adams was the first American to stand before King George III as a representative of the new nation, to the raw, half-finished Capital by the Potomac, where Adams was the first President to occupy the White House."

John Adams Mini Series

John Adams is a 2008 American television miniseries chronicling most of President John Adams's political life and his role in the founding of the United States. Paul Giamatti portrays John Adams. Kirk Ellis wrote the screenplay based on the book John Adams by David McCullough. The biopic of John Adams and the story of the first fifty years of the United States was broadcast in seven parts by HBO. As of 2009, the show has won more Emmy awards than any other miniseries, and four Golden Globe awards.

Adams National Historical Park, Quincy Massachusetts

"Adams National Historical Park was the home of two American presidents and subsequent generations of their descendants from 1720 to 1927.  The family's experience represented, shaped, and mirrored significant events in the social, cultural, political, and intellectual history of the nation.  The purpose of the park is to preserve and protect the grounds, homes, and personal property of four generations of the Adams family and to use these resources to interpret the history they represent and to educate and inspire current and future generations.

John Adams, 1735-1826, Second President of the United States
Called the Atlas of Independence, Adams was a force that led us toward the Declaration of Independence in 1776. As a diplomat, Adams made peace with Great Britain and established the foundations of our foreign relations; as first vice-president, Adams helped forge the fledgling government; as second President, Adams kept us out of war and ensured the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next; as a respected lawyer, he crafted the Massachusetts Constitution, the longest-lived constitution in continuous use in the world today, and a model for the federal Constitution. As a person, Adams displayed a passion for learning and the outdoors, a love of family, and an enduring sense of humor.

Abigail Adams, 1744-1818 
Abigail Adams brought more intellect and ability to the position of United States First Lady than any other woman. President Harry Truman once noted that Abigail Adams "would have been a better President than her husband."

John Quincy Adams, 1767-1848, Sixth President of the United States
No American who ever entered the presidency was better prepared to fill that office than John Quincy Adams. Born on July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts, he was the son of two fervent revolutionary patriots, John and Abigail Adams, whose ancestors had lived in New England for five generations. Adams died thinking his career a failure, but it was only so by the impossibly high standards that he set for himself.

Access by Public Transportation To the Visitor Center via the MBTA Subway:

From Boston: Take the Red Line train to the Quincy Center Station. Turn right upon exiting the train and at the top of the stairs, turn left and exit the station to Hancock Street. Walk across Hancock Street to 1250 Hancock Street. The National Park Service Visitor Center is located in the Galleria at President's place.

PBS Napoleon

NAPOLEON premiered on PBS in November 2000, narrated by David Mccullough.

1. To Destiny

Episode I recounts the story of Napoleon's extraordinary rise from Corsican obscurity to the victories in Italy that made him a hero to the French people and convinced him that he was destined for greatness. It also tells of his love for Josephine Beauharnais, a woman of extravagant habits and tastes, who did not at first return his passionate affection.

2. Mastering Luck

Episode II charts Napoleon's ascent to absolute power, from victorious General to first Consul to Emperor of France. It describes his extraordinary achievements – from the Napoleonic Code and the Bank of France, to bridges, roads, and canals – as well as the tyrannical nature of his rule and the violent opposition of most of Europe.

3. The Summit of Ambition

Episode III witnesses Napoleon conquer most of Europe in a series of brilliant triumphs, including his legendary victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. To sustain his rule, he must keep fighting. But when he invades Spain, he has begun to reach too far.

4. The End

Episode IV describes Napoleon's downfall, including the invasion and subsequent retreat from Russia, and his final battles, in which all of Europe is arrayed against him. Exiled to Elba, he returns to France after just ten months, only to be defeated for the last time at Waterloo. Napoleon spends his final days exiled on an island far out in the Atlantic, where he writes his memoirs and reinvents his legend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bill Bryson - At Home: A Short History of Private Life

AT HOME: A Short History of Private Life 

Random House

[Houses aren't refuges from history. They are where history ends up.]

"Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to "write a history of the world without leaving home." The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has figured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture."

At Bryson's House, 'Home' Is Where The History Is
NPR Morning Edition, October 5, 2010

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Sandman - Vertigo Comics

The Sandman is a comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and published by DC Comics. Beginning with issue #47, it was placed under the imprint Vertigo. It chronicles the adventures of Dream of The Endless, who rules over the world of dreams, in 75 issues. It was published from 1989 until 1996. Gaiman's contract stipulated that the series would end when he left it.

The Sandman was one of Vertigo's flagship titles, and is available as a series of ten trade paperbacks. It has also been reprinted in a recolored four-volume Absolute hardcover edition with slipcase. Critically acclaimed, The Sandman was the only comic to ever win the World Fantasy Award, and is one of the few comic books ever to be on the New York Times Best Seller list, along with Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. It was one of five comics to make Entertainment Weekly's "100 best reads from 1983 to 2008", ranking at 46. Norman Mailer described the series as "a comic book for intellectuals."

The Sandman's main character is Dream, the Lord of Dreams, who is essentially the anthropomorphic personification of dreams. The storylines primarily take place in the Dreaming, Morpheus's realm, and the waking world, with occasional visits to other domains, such as Hell, Faerie, Asgard, and the domains of the other Endless. 

The Sandman was initially published as a monthly serial, in 32-page comic books (with some exceptions to this pattern). As the series quickly increased in popularity, DC Comics began to reprint them in hardcover and paperback editions, each representing either a complete novel or a collection of related short stories.

DC first published "The Doll's House" storyline in a collection called simply The Sandman. Shortly thereafter, the first three volumes were published and named independently and also collected in an eponymous boxed set.

Seasons of Mists

The issues in the collection first appeared in 1990 and 1991. The collection first appeared in paperback and hardback in 1992. The title is the opening phrase of John Keats' "Ode to Autumn".

It introduces Endless siblings Destiny and Delirium, and features Thor, Odin and Loki from Norse mythology; Anubis and Bast from Egyptian mythology; Susanoo-no-mikoto from Japanese mythology; Lucifer and the Angels Duma and Remiel from Christianity; Shivering Jemmy, a Lord of Chaos with the body of a child and the mind of a monster; Kilderkin, a Lord of Order who takes the form of a cardboard box, and the fairies Cluracan and Nuala, who will play important roles in later stories. Season of Mists marks the introduction of the Norse gods for the first time in the series.

Season of Mists is the first appearance of one of the central themes of the series, that of rules and responsibilities and whether we can lay them down. The gathering of the Endless family which opens the book makes the second reference to the "prodigal", an Endless sibling who abandoned his realm and responsibilities. The family gathering leads to Dream deciding that he must return to the underworld to right a wrong he committed, an event which triggers a major plot arc throughout the series.

Morpheus leaves his realm to travel to the underworld, where he imprisoned his former lover Nada, to release her. Having previously departed the realm with it very angry with him (in the first collection, Preludes and Nocturnes), Morpheus is apprehensive about the task. He sets about it, wanting to do what is right, but prepared for a confrontation which he knows he may lose.

Vertigo - DC Comics

Vertigo is an imprint of the American comic-book publisher DC Comics. Its books are marketed to a late-teen and adult audience, and may contain graphic violence, substance abuse, frank (but not explicit) depictions of sexuality, profanity, and controversial subjects. Although many of its releases are in the horror and fantasy genres, it also publishes works dealing with crime, social satire, speculative fiction, and biography. Each issue's cover carries the advisory label "Suggested for mature readers" (regardless of a specific issue's content). As of 2010, Karen Berger is the executive editor of the imprint, and has overseen it since its inception in 1993.

Vertigo comics series have won the comics industry's Eisner Award, including the Best Continuing Series of various years (Sandman, Preacher, 100 Bullets and Fables). Several of its publications have been adapted to film, including Hellblazer, A History of Violence, Stardust, and V for Vendetta.


Long-running titles

Hellblazer (274 issues to date)
Swamp Thing Vol.2 (171 issues)
100 Bullets (100 issues)
Fables (100 issues to date)
Animal Man (89 issues)
Doom Patrol Vol.2 (87 issues)
The Sandman (75 issues)
The Books of Magic (75 issues plus sequel series)
Lucifer (75 issues)
Sandman Mystery Theatre (70 issues)
Shade, the Changing Man (70 issues)
Preacher (66 issues plus tie-ins)
Transmetropolitan (60 issues)
The Dreaming (60 issues)
Y: The Last Man (60 issues)
DMZ (comics) (60 issues)
The Invisibles (59 issues over three volumes)

"I'm not blessed, or merciful. I'm just me. I've got a job to do, and I do it. Listen: even as we're talking, I'm there for old and young, innocent and guilty, those who die together and those who die alone. I'm in cars and boats and planes; in hospitals and forests and abbatoirs. For some folks death is a release, and for others death is an abomination, a terrible thing. But in the end, I'm there for all of them."
Death, talking about herself, in Dream Country.