I enjoy NPR’s “Planet Money” Podcast for it’s style of short (usually <15min per episode), “Explanatory Journalism”, focused on Economics. I followed the whole European Debt Crisis through the podcast a couple of years ago and it was really interesting.
Well, their latest episode (at the time of writing) is #534 – “The History of Light”.
On today’s show: How we got from dim little candles made out of cow fat, to as much light as we want at the flick of a switch.
The history of light explains why the world today is what it is. It explains why we aren’t all subsistence farmers, and why we can afford to have artists and massage therapists and plumbers. (And, yes, people who do radio stories about the history of light.)
The history of light is the history of economic growth — of things getting faster, cheaper, and more efficient.
This episode is 21 minutes, and very interesting. Really puts some things in perspective as far as how hard it used to be to get light for work or play after sunset.
Another fantastic and fascinating episode was #320 – “How Fear Turned a Surplus Into Scarcity”. Described thusly: “In this global caper of good intentions gone wrong, there are shadowy trade deals, corrupt government officials, and warehouses full of rice in a country that didn’t want it.” Really makes you think twice about food prices and just how much artificial manipulation goes into them.