Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The best thing going

As you can tell from the sidebar on this blog, I'm a big fan of podcasts. Selecting a favorite among them would be tough -- after all, how do you compare, for example, a comedy podcast to those that focus on soccer, baseball, science, history or movies? -- but if you forced me to pick, I'd go with Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. Why Hardcore History? Here's an example from waaaaaaay back in 2007:

Prescient. That's one of the things I enjoy most about Hardcore History -- Dan goes well beyond reciting dry facts and figures or established narratives and shows listeners how the events of the past tie into our modern world. He also approaches history with what he terms his "Martian" perspective, a great example of which is the episode Logical Insanity, in which he argues that the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan might have been the most humane way of ending World War II. (Remember that the Allies were already firebombing Japanese cities and the other endgame options included a ground invasion that would've made the fight for Okinawa seem tame and starving Japan into surrender via a blockade.)

Give Hardcore History a listen; I think you'll like what you hear. If you prefer your events more current, Dan also does Common Sense, a podcast that focuses more on politics and modern government. Whether your focus is on back then or the here and now, smart, engaging shows such as these demonstrate what the New Media is capable of providing. Look at what passes for programming on the History Channel, Discovery, TLC or National Geographic (excuse me, "NatGeo") and tell me whether something like Hardcore History would ever see the light of day on basic cable. Dan and others like him who produce avant, independent content online need and deserve the support of those of us who expect more from our entertainment than just contrived "reality" television.

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