Last night I experienced the insomnia that comes from focus on an interesting set of work challenges. At about 2:30 a.m., I put on headphones, and turned on my shortwave radio.
I understand the argument that conventional shortwave radio is less relevant than in the pre-internet days.
Netaudio and Netradio provides an extensive array of great broadcasting. But for my 2:30 a.m. waking hours, nothing beats shortwave radio. It's got an old-fashioned charm about it. The disk jockeys read post cards from listeners far away. Everything is calm and conversational. The shortwave radio station is the last small town.
As I surfed the airwaves, I heard one station in which a "coming economic collapse" program ran an advertisement for "heritage seeds". The pitch was that "GMO", or "genetically modified seeds", were going to strand people without food in a coming economic collapse. The advertisement touted "heritage seeds" as a commodity likely to jump in value in times of despair. The ad then offered to sell a box of them for sixty dollars. I've read of the Dutch tulip craze a few hundred years back. I suppose the idea is that seeds will bloom like tulips. I was amused, because I remember visiting the Theodore Payne Foundation native plant operation, a wonderful non-profit devoted to California native plants. What I remember most vividly is box after box of native seeds, available very inexpensively, largely unsold. I did not realize I was viewing a hidden bulwark against a food apocalypse. The whole story amuses me, because I support native seeds, mildly deplore granting intellectual property rights to lab-induced corn, and yet the radio station was a bit off kilter.
After surfing past various jeremiads attached to what in my view should be a religion of love, I finally settled on Radio Australia. I love listening to radio stations about domestic issues unfamiliar to me here, where we tend to be a bit myopic (why worry about Europe when you don't even know what is happening in Midland, Texas?).
The program was quite interesting. For one thing, reading laruth's journal all these years had left me wondering just exactly how to pronounce "Canberra". Now I know. One news piece dealt with a politician who had accepted thousands upon thousands of dollars in bribe money in order to build houses for his children. Another article dealt with a new Labour political leader in the Sydney suburbs. I liked a turn of phrase that said that this area was once a "Labour heartland" but was now a "Labour wasteland". Also, I was intrigued that so many of his own party went out of their way to find fault with him. Yet another story discussed how school officials assured parents that Queensland schools are safe, despite one 14 year old stabbing another.
Although I would have wished for a bit more "Canberra has a colorful botanical garden" or "the little penguin lives on Kangaroo Island", I nonetheless thoroughly enjoyed the programming. I love, too, sliding the dial of my Grundig shortwave, knowing, in a way, that I am one of thousands upon thousands, each with her or his own shortwave, trying to listen to the world.