Before the blogosphere, there was the ionosphere. Actually, it's still there (image: NOAA), greenhouse effect or not. And thanks to the ionosphere, you could listen in to the world of shortwave radio.
Thanks to the Taiwanese, who seem to be the only ones making SW radios, you still can - if you want to fool around with frequencies. There is a certain adventure in zapping around and landing up in Cairo, Moscow, or Rio de Janeiro, even if you can't understand a word they're saying. I know you can do the same thing with live streaming on the internet, but you might miss the crackle of the radio waves.
But from the comfort of your computer, you can discover a whole world out there - in English. You and I already know that, but how many of us stick to our favorite sites, bookmarking our way through the usual suspects? So let me propose a tour of the world, a random journey across time zones that I'll make up as we go along.
First stop, Burma, and the Irrawaddy News Magazine. The Irrawaddy, based in Thailand and named after Burma's main river, is written by exiled Burmese journalists. How often do you get an objective (well, anti-regime) glimpse inside one of the world's most secretive societies?
Staying on in Asia, wander over to Pakistan - rather important to know how things are developing there, n'est-ce pas? No better place than The Dawn, where yesterday's editorial on "Secularism vs. Islamism" described a very outspoken debate on Pakistani TV.
You'll note how random this is: our next stop is the landlocked African country of Uganda, where the Daily Monitor has an interesting story about Fort Patiko, which dates back to the time of Arab slave traders. Ugandans speak several languages among their ethnic groups and tribes, but the national language is English.
English is widely spoken in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, so it is not surprising that Al-Ahram has an English-language weekly, where you can read a report about "Fatah-gate," a developing scandal over corruption in Palestinian Authority circles in Ramallah.
Europe has scads of English-language media resources, so I'll cite a very unrepresentative sample of one: "A Fistful of Euros," a memorably-named blog by 15 writers. Good stuff, and despite its name, not entirely devoted to economics.
Skipping over to Latin America, the Buenos Aires Herald is a 124 year old English-language daily, as befits a country of immigrants, a good number of whom hailed from England, Scotland, and Wales.
If all of my channel-hopping has been too demanding, you might just try WorldFocus TV's "Blogwatch," which has a changing blog roll of worldwide scribblers (including me).
American expats wanting to stay in touch with the "homeland" have a multitude of resources, and podcasts from Democracy Now and NPR are much appreciated. But tonight, if I'm feeling a bit insomniac, I just might reach for that shortwave dial...