The Reason I Jump

It’s been a while….

What stirred me out of the lazy habit of simply posting on Facebook was ‘The Reason I Jump’ by 13-year old Naoki Higashida. The author is autistic and his struggles with language are very well documented in the book. It was written using a grid of Japanese characters and must have been an enormous ‘labour of love’.

Much of the content takes the form of Q & A and what I felt was well captured in Radio 4’s Book of the Week presentation, was that the questions seemed to be in the voice of a brusque, almost rude teenage peer. What was especially touching in Higashida’s passages was that it was clear that he understood how bewildering and trying it can be for many trying to communicate with an autistic person. Each time he touched upon this there was a plea for those trying not to give up.

In addition to content, the format was very engaging. Preceding each passage was an introductory section by author David Mitchell, co-translator of the book, along with KA Yoshida. He is the father of a autistic child and his insight and experience added a great deal.

You can read more on the Radio 4 Blog.



Toddlers and Telly

There’s much more to this Life Scientific interview than the title of my post suggests, but consideration of the topic is typical of Annette Karmiloff-Smith‘s common sense approach to developmental psychology. She explains lucidly why the problem is less to do with content than the fact that most activity is restricted to the centre of the screen. Bespoke infants’ programmes would encourage more tracking, along with more intelligent use of colour and sound, including music and changes of voice.

Raymond Tallis

It’s interesting to hear a scientist caution against ‘scientism’ but Raymond Tallis puts the case well during this chat on Belief with Joan Bakewell. Of course, he’s much more than a scientist: philosopher, novelist, poet, playwright….

You’ll have to be quick, though. According to the BBC it’ll only be available for 85 years.

The Human Voice

The possibly intertwined origin of music and language is just one of the ideas touched upon in this Start the Week special.

Professor Michael Trimble, author of Why Humans Like to Cry: Tragedy Evolution and the Brain contributes from the scientific side of life while Mary King, Rolando Villazon and composer Mark-Anthony Turnage describe the interaction of emotion and performance.


To which branch of crime-fighting would a musician be best suited? Forensic Phonetics? This programme features the tracking down of Weirside Jack – the Ripper Hoaxer – through recordings he made to taunt the police. There is also something amazing about background electrical hum and a mention of the effect on voices of use (and need) of heroin.

If you consider yourself to have a good ear, try your luck at the ‘voice identity parade’.

Meanwhile, this edition of Word of Mouth touches, amongst other things, upon the effect of alcohol on speech.

The Divided Brain

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share interesting links easily with pals overseas. Countries tend to be less proprietorial about radio than TV. Perhaps it’s a legal thing. Perhaps they simply value it less.

My good friend, Dudley Cole, in Australia returned the favour with a link to this fascinating interview which debunks many myths about left brain-right brain, without throwing out the whole notion.

The interviewee is Dr. Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary.

It is one of many great chats on Late Night Live, which is on Australia’s RadioNational

Dudley also sent me this unusual radio heads’ link

Home, James and don’t spare the horsepower

Would you get in a driverless car? Who would want to own such a thing? Perhaps the man with only 5% vision using the Google Car in this film?

I always fascinated by new tech but had overlooked the uses of this for many people currently forbidden to drive.

Scroll to 35:21 of this episode of Broadcasting House to find out more. The piece features Paul Newman – no the other one…

Civilian Drones

What is the connection between John Napier, Thomas de Quincey, Charles Darwin (the uncle), St. Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh and civilian drones? Scroll to 25.00 of this episode of Material World to find out.

The Self

I was enlightened to discover that David Hume didn’t believe in the self. He thought more in terms of bundles of experience but no constant or continuing self. Heady stuff for 18th century Edinburgh. Nevertheless, ‘the self’ made three radio appearances in as many days.

Biographer Martin Goodman knows all about putting others before himself; or himself in their shoes; or even conjecturing on what historical characters would have made of our times. Where his Free Thinking talk became interesting was his description of time spent studying Zen in Japan. The self he had set out to diminish put up quite a fight. His talk is here.

Low self-esteem can stunt growth and potential. Are there dangers in inflated self-esteem? Scroll to 9:40 of this edition of All in the Mind to hear some opinions.

Can there be any more self-orientated quest than the search for happiness Might there be a better approach to life? Scroll to 1:45:34 of this to hear about recent research.


How important is the survival of foodstuffs grown in the wild to their more factory farmed relations? Quentin Cooper and guests discuss this with regard to the world’s first and now most endangered species of coffee, Arabica.

Scroll forward to 13:30 here.