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Supernova in the East

If you haven’t already heard me raving about Hardcore History and Dan Carlin then you’re about to :)

Hardcore History is the world’s slowest podcast. The Accidental Tech Podcast, a topical weekly Apple news podcast that i listen to, started in 2013 and as of today, 16th January, 2019 is now on episode 308. Hardcore History, on the other hand, began its run in 2005 and is now on episode 65. I just checked the feed and Dan averages a measly two episodes a year.

In truth however, it makes very little sense to look at them as podcast episodes. Think of them as books. Medium length audiobooks. And then it suddenly makes sense. A book a year. An engaging history book, a year. For free!

Not that you’ll want to just stick to free anyhoo. Dan is superengaging and like so many folks say he makes history come alive.

After a few episodes, you’ll be begging to give him your money. The man is that good. And if you are so inclined, the entire back catalogue is available for purchase. My favourite is the Wrath of the Khans. 1

And why all this raving now? Because it’s time for “Supernova in the East II”, the first Hardcore History episode of 2019. Find Supernova in the East I here.

From the episode’s description:

The Asia-Pacific War of 1937-1945 has deep roots. It also involves a Japanese society that’s been called one of the most distinctive on Earth. If there were a Japanese version of Captain America, this would be his origin story.

Intrigued? Then go listen. And subscribe to all future episodes in your podcast player of choice, using this link.

You can thank me later.

P.S. The pic below is a glimpse of the research that goes into one, single episode.



  1. This link goes to a seperate compilation download just for this series. 

The Nicest Thank You Note, Ever

Thank you notes like these only make you fall in love with the folks who do the work.
And make you want to support them even more!

Thank you, Dan Carlin.
For all you do.

Brittany Durbin britt@dancarlin.com
5:26 AM (4 hours ago)
to me

Mario,

When people ask us how we fund our operations around here, I usually tell them about our “global street performer” business model.
A long time ago I realized that there's probably not a whole lot of meaningful difference between what I do and what a violin player who finds a nice location on a street corner somewhere, opens up his/her violin case and begins playing does.
We are both relying on “passers-by” throwing a few coins into the instrument case (or baseball cap as the case may be, haha) to keep us going.
Of course, I work a very busy, global “street corner” (virtually speaking, right?).

I want to thank you for taking the time to both listen to the work that we do, and to contribute to our ability to keep doing it. It's a cliché, but we really WOULDN'T be able to do this without the audience's help and support.
Not just in terms of finances, but also by telling others about the shows and spreading the word to help us grow the listenership. You all have been awesome.

So thank you from all of us (and from the other listeners who enjoy the work as well, but can't afford to help right now).
If everyone did as you did, we'd never have to stop doing this.

So, a thousand thanks. I hope we always live up to your expectations.

Warmly as Heck,

-Dan

P.S. If you enjoy what I write, go subscribe


The Final Word on Building Habits – Atomic Habits

If you want to build a habit, this is the definitive book on the topic. 1 You could read about habits in other books, to learn more, but if you actually want to be building them, look no further.

This was the first book in a long time that moved me to actually take action. Succint, pithy and packed with advice, there isn’t a wasted word in its 300 odd pages. And unlike other, it does not feel like three-hundred-pages. Moving from introduction to positing its arguments to tactical advice to conclusion, this feels more like a fast paced novel.

On we go to the things that moved me.

Read more…

English is a “Phunnny” language (or When I Fell in Love with English and Reading)

As a kid, I read a lot of books above my level of comprehension.
More to show off and show folks my “smartness” and give off that snooty “I am a well read boy” air1 than from any sense of love or learning.

I know better now (I hope, I do) :)

But two books from those days will always stay with me.

One was my father’s science textbook, which I no longer have or remember the title of. I used it for four years in high school to understand what I was learning. The book was my secret weapon :)
The language in that old textbook was far more engaging and lively than the teachers in class. And it was beautiful with all those black and white line drawings, and anecdotes of the folks who made those amazing discoveries. (Faraday and Tesla and Watts and Madam Curie). It actually was a textbook from before science became “Science”; when it was Natural Philosophy
Despite years of searching, I haven’t found it again.
The closest textbook of that style I could point you to, would be Thompson’s Calculus.

The other book was a tattered copy of The Complete Yes Minister.2 I thought then, that the book was the real deal, an actual tell all, with its newspaper clippings and copies of memos. It took me a couple more years to realise what satire was. And it was a line in there, a really obtuse, verbose line that took my young brain a couple of days to “get”, that made me realise that reading was a dialogue, that a good book was not something to be just “read”. A good book is friend telling you jokes, a prankster scaring you, a father figure consoling you, a friend giving you advice and in this case a master exposing that language in general (and English in particular) was not something to be scared of, but just tools of expression, toys to be played with and enjoyed, and tools that could be expertly wielded.

It was this line and the delight I got in deciphering it, that turned me into a lifelong bookworm. You can see Nigel Hawthorne’s brilliant rendition, here.

This is what he said. “The identity of this official whose alleged responsibility for this hypothetical oversight has been the subject of recent speculation is not shrouded in quite such impenetrable obscurity as certain previous disclosures may have led you to assume, and, in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, the individual in question was, it may surprise you to learn, the one to whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of identifying by means of the perpendicular pronoun.”

“I beg your pardon?’ I said.
There was an anguished pause.
‘It was I,’ he said.”

Like our grand old thespian says, “English is a very phunnny language.”


  1. Aah, vanity! :) 

  2. Yes, I read the book first and discovered the show much later.