Chicken Treat’s #chickentweet marketing campaign — in which they coax a chicken into pecking and stepping on a keyboard connected to Twitter — calls to mind the University of Plymouth’s experiment to see whether a group of macaques would in fact reproduce classic plays by random chance. According to the BBC:

The six monkeys – Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan – produced five pages of text which consisted mainly of the letter “s”.

But towards the end of the experiment, their output slightly improved, with the letters A, J, L and M also appearing.

However, they failed to come up with anything that remotely resembled a word.

The monkeys’ work was published as Notes Towards the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

It also reminds me of the wild monkey (again a macaque) who took a selfie. Legal experts say he can’t own the copyright — but neither can the owner of the camera. So feel free to plagiarise those chicken tweets.

Yesterday was International Podcast Day, apparently, which reminded me I’d been meaning to post some recommendations. My education has been very anglocentric, and this year I’m trying to improve my understanding of Asian history, culture and politics. Having visited Japan a couple of times, that’s my point of entry:

  • Tokyo on Fire: This is an excellent weekly discussion of Japanese politics, which I particularly like because they provide the historical context necessary to understand the contours of contemporary debate. The panelists are American centrists (economically dry, socially liberal, and slightly hawkish) but they fairly present a range of viewpoints. It’s worth digging in to their old episodes.
  • Japan in Focus: This weekly show from Radio National features interviews with Japanese experts on current political issues, but also covers social trends and lighter news. It has an Australian perspective, which is nice.
  • NHK World Radio Japan: Brief daily news updates from Japan’s national broadcaster, in English. I tend to listen to this when one of the other podcasts flags a current issue that I want to follow — such as the protests by SEALDs against Abe’s unconstitutional war bills.
  • Asia News Weekly: This has a broader focus on southeast Asian news, with a focus on human rights and conflict. The host is a South Korea-based American with unsubtle opinions, but he does present multiple perspectives before declaring his own is correct.