Doing the Dishes with Dinosaurs

... or black holes or gravity waves or Joan d'Arc or Victorian writers. That's how I use the BBC's webcast 'history of ideas' program called In Our Time. Broadcast once a week each Fall and Spring, this 40 minute show features Melvyn Bragg and three guests discussing some topic from the world of religious studies, literature, science, etc.

Sometimes, the shows are densely complicated, as was the one about gravity waves (unlikely beasts at best!). Sometimes they're annoying, as when Lord Bragg (a Governor of the London School of Economics since 1997) pouts over Marx having won the online poll for "most important philosopher". But, always, they're... intriguing. Distracting, while you're getting the dishes done.

You can download a current show, or stream one from the archives (Real Audio format) - which works well even with my dial-up connection and Win98 system. (I use an earlier version of Real which allows me to control the stream speed.) There's also a reading list and comment page.

A precondition to enjoying this show is a willingness to be OK with hearing a discussion you don't understand. Not everybody finds that enjoyable. I can imagine some people becoming bored or defensive around some topics. But, well, I like it. So do Neal Gacich of Canada and Sarah Alder of the UK who commented, respectively:

[E]very Thursday I can expect a new show to be delivered to my MP3 Player and can listen to it at my leisure. ...I love your shows and have absolutely no academic qualifications. I left school at 17.

I thoroughly enjoy In Our Time, it is Adult Education at its best, I don't realise I am being educated, I think I am relaxing.

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