A man-made island in South China Sea about 1,000 miles off the Chinese mainland built atop coral reefs to support airstrips, barracks, lighthouses, and other infrastructure

What’s behind Beijing’s Drive to Control the South China Sea?

Podcast on China’s idea of its rightful place in the world – which, most Chinese would say, they were robbed of first by European and then by an American imperialism. “In 10 years, our GDP will be bigger than the US, in 20 years our military spending will be equal to the US,” claims Shen Dingli, one of China’s most prominent international relations scholars, “Thirty to 40 years from now, our armed forces will be better than the US. Why would the US defend those rocks? When you have power, the world has to accept. The US is a superpower today, and it can do whatever it wants. When China is a superpower, the world will also have to accept.” The rest follows from this. As it happens, the perceived future determines the lived present. Supposedly simple logic wrapped in a carefully crafted story.
Written by Howard W French, Read by Andrew McGregor and Produced by Stuart Silver

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads


We are often told that we can be happy if we try hard enough. By shifting our mindset, changing our lifestyles, or even writing a gratitude journal – happiness is waiting for all of us! But, what does science say? To find out, science journalist Wendy Zukerman speaks to Prof. Paul Frijters, Ass. Prof. Dianne Vella Brodrick and Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas. We’re also joined by the author of “The Happiness Myth”, Jennifer Michael Hecht, as well as comedian Gen Fricker.

Science Vs

The East India Company: the Original Corporate Raiders

How East India Company headquartered in one small office, in London, subjugaed and plundered vast tracts of south Asia. In many ways the EIC was a model of corporate efficiency: 100 years into its history, it had only 35 permanent employees in its head office. Nevertheless, that skeleton staff executed a corporate coup unparalleled in history. 
Written by William Dalrymple , read by Andrew McGregor and produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

The Bookie, the Phone Booth, and the FBI

The Fourth Amendment doesn’t mention privacy once. But those 54 little words, written more than 200 years ago, are a crucial battleground in today’s fight over digital rights in the United States. That one sentence is why the government can’t listen to phone calls without a warrant. And it’s why they don’t need one to find out who the citizens of the United States are calling.

But now, we share our deepest thoughts with Google, through what we search for and what we email. And we share our most intimate conversations with Alexa, when we talk in its vicinity. So how does the Fourth Amendment apply when we’re surrounded by technology the Founding Fathers could never dream of?

Stories of bookies on the Sunset Strip, microphones taped to phone booths, and a 1975 Monte Carlo. And where the Fourth Amendment needs to go.

With Laura Donohue, director of Georgetown’s Center on Privacy and Technology. Supreme Court audio from the wonderful Oyez.org, under a Creative Commons license.

Note to Self


In Praise Of Mess: Why Disorder May Be Good For Us

in-praise-of-mess“To many of us, the desire to bring order to chaos – to tidy up our kids’ toys, organize an overstuffed closet, or rake the leaves covering the lawn – can be nearly irresistible. And it’s a desire that extends to other aspects of our lives: Managers tell employees to get organized; politicians are elected on promises to clean up Washington. And so on.”

But economist and writer Tim Harford thinks we’re underestimating the value of disorder. In this episode he talks about the main ideas from his new book, Messy, and how an embrace of chaos is beneficial to musicians, speechmakers, politicians – and the rest of us.

Hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Maggie Penman, Jennifer Schmidt and Renee Klahr. Supervising producer is Tara Boyle.

Hidden Brain | 29th November 2016

Offshore in Central London: the Curious Case of 29 Harley Street

The house No 29 on Harley Street is currently home to 2,159 companies, for which it operates as a large, ornate and prestigiously located postbox and answerphone. A company named Formations House, which, since it was founded in 2001, has made a business out of conjuring corporate vehicles from the West End air. Why has this prestigious address been used so many times as a centre for elaborate international fraud?
Written and read by Oliver Bullough, produced by Simon Barnard.
Illustration by Michael Kirkham.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 6th May 2016

Open Office

How a vision on a mountaintop led to the birth of the open office. We meet the stylish man that brought that idea to life and, probably, to a workplace near you.
“Walls, doors, privacy—if you work a desk job, you probably do not have these luxuries anymore. When we tell the story of the open office, we often begin with tech startups. Open offices feel nimble, informal, and social—just like startups, right? And then older companies saw the results from Silicon Valley, and they wanted in. To grow like a tech company, why not look like one? So the open office spread. Now, seventy percent of American offices are open plan. That’s how the story goes. But the idea to tear down the walls did not come from Silicon Valley.”

Planet Money

Collective Intelligence

If you wanted to build a team in such a way that you maximized its overall intelligence, how would you do it? Would you stack it with high-IQ brainiacs? Would you populate it with natural leaders? Would you find experts on a wide range of topics? Well, those all sound like great ideas, but the latest research into collective intelligence suggests that none of them would work. In this episode we will discuss what factors constitute the best solution.

You Are Not So Smart