Sunday, August 31, 2008

August 2008 on Anne is a Man - new podcasts

It has been a fascinating month. The report a podcast feature on the blog has started working really well. People report their podcasts and I have begun reviewing upon request. The immediate result is that my attention has been drawn to fictional podcasts. I knew they were around, I had tried it a little bit and then abandoned. The requested reviews have made me listen anew. With precious results; see how many new podcasts reviewed in the Arts section.

Namaste Stories (review, site, feed)
A total immersion podcast. The host makes the music, writes the (very literary) text and reads it, with a restrained passion that is mesmerizing.

New World Orders (review, site, feed)
A thriller and conspiracy plot brought to audio by a team that alternately seem to take the genre seriously and then seem to mock it a bit by using all the cliches of the trade.

Entitled opinions  (review, site, feed)  
From Virgil to the Virgin Mary, from the historical Jesus to Athenian Democracy; Entitled Opinions, with its braggadocious title, earns it.

Behind the Black Mask (review, site, feed)
Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards sit down with Crime/Mystery/Noir authors and dissect their work.

Out of the past (review, site, feed)
An examination of films influenced by the Film Noir movement.

Science Fiction and Politics (review, site, feed)
Political Science course using ideas in SciFi novels as illustration.

Welcome to Mars (review, site, feed)
Creator Ken Hollings collects non-fiction oddments about the fantastic futuristic world of the fifties.

Red Panda (review, site, feed)
Audio drama full of kung-fu and snappy dialog. You will love it most for the wonderful characters and their dialogue.

Night's Knights (review, site, feed)
A gritty piece of fiction effectively working the art of horror.

7th Son (review, site, feed
A thriller trilogy so compelling I couldn't stop listening.

In the category of History Podcasts and Nederlandse Podcasts:
Geschiedewistjedatjes (review, site, feed)
Dutch podcast. Zeer simpele geschiedenis podcast. Kleine weetjes in minder dan twee minuten per podcast.

Sterke Geschiedenis (review, site, feed
Dutch podcast. Kris kras door de wereldgeschiedenis met Tom Tacken, een groot verteltalent.

Veertien Achttien (review, site, feed)
Dutch podcast. Tom Tacken vertelt de eerste wereldoorlog in korte biografietjes

In the category of Science Podcasts:
Replaceable You (Stanford) (review, site, feed)
Stanford's third lecture series about stem cell research and all that is involved in the field. This series concentrates on the subject of regenerative medicine.

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I love to get new podcast recommendations. You can let your preferences  know by commenting on the blog or sending mail to The Man Called Anne at: Anne Frid de Vries (in one word) AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk

Saturday, August 30, 2008

About Anne is a Man!

Anne is a Frisian name for men. The Frisian language is still spoken in the north of the Netherlands and that is where my grandfather came from after whom I was named. Myself, I was born in the east of the country, in a small village with a narrow horizon.The story of my blog is the story of a broadening horizon.

In 1984 I moved to Amsterdam in order to study Law, which soon I enriched with studying some sociology and psychology on the side. Eventually I turned to the philosophy of Law, but failed to finish my PhD. What I did next was rediscover computers. Before 1984, I had done some basic programming on the one computer we had in high school. While engaging in Law, my only work on computer was word processing, but in the late nineties I took up programming again, C++ and Java.

In 1998 I got married and moved with my wife to Israel. I continued to work in computers, but on the side I kept my other interests alive. I made a study of the history of Israel, which fitted neatly on to my previous spare time studies into the history of World War I. I also scoured the internet for good content in Dutch - keeping in touch with my origin.

While looking for Dutch audio, I discovered podcasts. When investigating the iTunes directories, I soon discovered the history and science podcasts I came to like so much. Among the first were Berkeley's History 5, Shrink Rap Radio and the Dutch podcast Simek 's Nachts. After many months of listening, I began this blog and dedicated it to reviewing the majority of podcasts I find.

More about the blog:
Why don't I give ratings to podcasts?,
What to write about a podcast?,
When do I write in my blog?,
When do I listen to podcasts?,
Time to start again.

Like the blog? Publish the PROMO.

Friday, August 29, 2008

History 7b - history podcast review

On a previous review I wrote about Berkeley's History 7B American History after the Civil War, came an anonymous comment criticizing the lecturer, Jennifer Burns, for being so general and so inaccurate in detail. I can see where this critique comes from and I have to admit that many of the lectures in the series were not exatly to my liking. The course did, however, open up American History for me, which previously was largely unknown to me.

Especially good were a couple of lectures about important court cases (see previous reviews in the list below) and also the last lectures, when Burns arrived at my life time, where I had many more references. This started with an excellent (in my humble opinion, but also according to DIY Scholar) lecture about Barry Goldwater. Although Goldwater lost the election to Lyndon B. Johnson and the conservatives he represented seem to be defeated, Burns shows this stream in American politics actually got reaffirmed, even if it took until the Reagan era to really gain power.

This is especially instructive, when you look at Europe, which I know so much better. Also on the old continent the old conservatives had to give way, for some time to a progressive elite, but the sentiments they represent seem to root so much deeper in the populace and eventually they rule most of the time. This goes for all of the countries in Europe I am familiar with. Also in Israel, ever since the rise of Menachem Begin, you can see a conservative nationalistic stream take power. General indeed. In accurate on details? Probably, but I feel I gained a lot of insight.

More History 7b:
American Civil Rights Movement,
Whittaker Chambers,
Scopes Trial,
US History - from Civil War to Present.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

TED Lennart green

Here is the occasional tip from TED. This time illusionist Lennart Green from Sweden. Just for fun, but mark how casual he does his act. Reminds me a bit of Tommy Cooper.

More TED
Benjamin Zander,
Jill Bolte Taylor,
Karen Armstrong,
Ben Dunlap. (highly recommended)

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

7th son book 2 - J.C. Hutchins thriller review

Have I said I am not particularly fit for listening to fictional podcasts? Well, be that as it may,  J. C. Hutchins's podnovel and thriller 7th Son was a podcast I could not stop listening to. I have hundreds of podcasts on my playlist, many of which I want to review on this blog. 7th Son was already reviewed, but I simply could not stop listening to it. The thriller had taken me in and I spent a couple of days finishing book 1 and book 2. (legacy feed)(current feed)

It rarely happens anymore, I am so taken in with a podcast, that even when I am done reviewing it, I continue to listen. What is it with 7th son that did it? What makes it all the more a mystery is that neither am I too good at listening to fictional podcasts, I am not much of a fan of the SciFi and thriller genres. The thriller genre, however, works with cliffhangers, and if you are caught, the thriller is working for you. 7th son managed to catch me, surprise me, keep me engaged and what is most important, had me identify with the main characters.

The main characters are the seven men that one day find out they are clones and must set out to stop their original. Hutchins works the thriller masterfully and had me surprised on many instances, but also invested sufficiently in the psychology of the clones, especially the 7th clone. It should not come as a surprise therefore this listening sensation is going to be published as a book soon and a movie should be expected. In the mean time, I am on to book 3.

More narration and fiction podcasts:
7th Son - book 1,
Night's Knights,
New World Orders,
Namaste Stories,
Forgotten Classics,
Celtic Myth Podshow.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Regenerative Medicine - Stanford podcast review

Stanford has released the third podcast lecture series on the subject of Stem Cell Research and it is called: Replaceable You. This will be about regenerative medicine, which is more widely set up than the previous Stem Cells: Policy and Ethics and Straight talk about stem cell. This series consists of four two hour long lectures of which I have heard, so far, the first two. These lectures are given by a new lecturer: Professor Jill Helms.

This series until this point does in one way more and in one way less than the previous. Helms gives, at least until half way, much less attention to ethical and legal issues and seems intent on continuing to do so. She happily tries to assume that her whole audience is in favor of Stem Cell Research and get the normative angle off the table. As if being in favor means you are not interested in addressing ethics. That is a deception

On the other hand, she very effectively explains in a much wider range what Stem Cell Research means and this is where the lecture series is significantly adding to where professor Christopher Scott in the previous series left off. Stem Cell Research and technology are part of the scheme of regenerative medicine. In stead of supplying the maligned body with prostheses, or leaving it to heal itself, which mostly gives useless scar tissue, the goal is to allow man to grow anew, like newts that grow back entire limbs in case they lose them.

More bioethics:
Straight Talk about Stem Cell Research,
The Ethics of Stem Cell Research,
Human rights and the body,
Life and bio-engineering - podcast review,
Bioethics without Christ, please,
A useful map into Bio-Ethics,
Stem Cell Research: Science, Ethics, and Prospects,
Stem Cells - Biology and Politics.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Why don't I give ratings to podcasts?

There are several places where you can go for podcast reviews (directories, podcasts and blogs). A lot of those have a rating system, just as you see with reviews of books, movies and so many other products. On-line reviewing seems to beg for a rating system, yet I feel very uncomfortable to apply such over here. I cannot bring myself to use one and I think I must explain why.

There are enough relatively objective standards one could measure podcasts by. Audio quality can be very easily rated. One could give an indicator to represent the informative and entertainment value, but I think you cannot add these up. One element may compensate for the other. One element may be more important than the other, or so strong in particular situations, it saves (or ruins) the whole thing. Most of the university lectures have rather poor audio and little entertainment value, but they are so good. Most of the radio shows turned podcast, are great on audio levels and entertainment, but yet can be so bland and predictable, I feel they are not so good.

I have noticed, not just with myself, some podcasts do it for you. What is more, whatever podcast does it for me, may not do it for somebody else or even for me at another moment in time. What I am getting at is that podcast quality is fluid and when starting to compare, it becomes more fluidly so. I am so interested in history, I may enjoy a rather poor podcast in history more than an outstanding one about physics - or just the other way round, it may make me more critical of history podcasts and enjoy a rather mediocre on about physics. And for you it may be different in a whole range of other aspects.

However, when you read my impression, you can get a feel of what I like, you get an impression of what the podcast does and you will get an idea, enough idea I suppose, whether it is worthwhile for you to check the reviewed podcast out. And a rating of 4 out of 5, or 3.5 doesn't make any difference. Only, maybe, an extreme rating, but most of the time, you can't give them, otherwise the whole system is moot. So what remains are those that are trumped by the content of the review anyway. Hence, I concentrate on writing about podcasts, say about them what I have to say and leave it at that. That is all you need.

More about the blog:
About Anne is a Man,
What to write about a podcast?,
When do I write in my blog?,
When do I listen to podcasts?,
Time to start again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fear and Trembling - Kierkegaard

Several podcast have, over the last months, enhanced my interest in Kierkegaard's work. His existentialism, in which the individual experience is strongly valued, even if it goes against convention, common sense and; ethics as well, is not so easy to get a handle at, though.

The main source for this work and related stuff, to embed it properly, is Berkeley's lecture series Philosophy 7 (Existentialism in Literature and Film), but also this podcast is not so easy to handle. The lecturer, Hubert Dreyfus, is an adorable man, but he allows tangents to come up in class, strongly interacts with his students, whom we cannot hear and whose remarks he doesn't repeat. Worst of all, no matter how frequent he has delivered this course, he seems to be constantly in search of his quotes, and unable to find them at the right moment. So there is a stretch, in spite of the very rich content.

Other podcasts come to the rescue. I have noticed this many times before. University lecture series demand a certain entry level and proceed at high speed, but with some preparation one can keep up. For this series there is fine support material to be found with BBC's In Our Time (Kierkegaard stream) and also a recent issue from Philosophy Bites (Kierkegaard).

So what is it with Kierkegaard and his work Fear and Trembling? The main point is delivered with the story of Abraham who has to sacrifice Isaac. His conviction (or choice for that matter) to go out and do what God has asked of him, goes against all generalities of his symbolic universe. Isaac is his only son, so this is great loss. It goes against his family values, it goes against the values of his new religion and it goes against the promise of God, Isaac will be the father of a great people. In short, to have to sacrifice makes no sense at all and it is by all practical means the hardest thing to do. To believe it needs to be done and go and do it, is an act of pure faith. To have such faith requires immense deep conviction. To be able to make such a choice, demands the most intense existential drive. At the same time, this is totally personal, since it is bereft of all interest, logic or even justification.

To have such faith seems to Kierkegaard the greatest of things and I guess any one, would love to live his life with such strength. What, however, distinguishes this faith from sheer folly? How can you be sure that what you deeply and inexplicably feel is not madness. It could be plain psychosis in stead of true conviction, calling, or the voice of God for that matter. That is what makes it problematic. The podcasts won't solve it, but definitely help to grasp the complexity of this work.

More on Philosophy 7:
Hiroshima mon amour,
Existentialism - Philosophy 7

More In Our Time:
John Donne (The Metaphysical Poets),
The Arab Conquests,
BBC's In Our Time (podcast review),
General review of In Our Time

More Philosophy Bites:
Life on the Scales,
David Hume,
Several issues of Philosophy Bites.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

What to write about a podcast?

How do I decide what to write about a podcast? Every podcast I listen to leaves a trace, stuff I remember from the podcast, reactions in the form of associations, comparisons, questions, thoughts, appraisal and critique. Most of the time, some of this is most strong and that is what lay the basis for what I write, but i do try to stick to a couple of criteria.

If I review a podcast for the first time and especially if I expect not to go and follow and review episodes frequently, I will try to describe some general impressions about the podcast. If I intend to focus on episodes, I will be more specific. In any case I want my readers to get some idea of what they can expect. And then, I want to mention at least something what may make them like the podcast.

This is important, I decided, also for podcasts that are not exactly my taste. The aim for this blog is to help you find podcasts you like and it hardly helps you to be told this or that podcast is no good. What is no good in my ears, could very well be good in yours and what I did not like today, may appeal to me some other time. Therefore, any opinion on a podcast can never be definitive, neither good or bad. However, if I mention what is good about the podcast, you can decide for yourself whether that might work for you or not. If I give you only what is bad, you have nothing to go on.

If I have nothing good to say about a podcast, and couldn't even think of any reason why other people than myself may like it, I'd rather not write about it at all. There are millions of podcasts, there are millions of millions of qualifications I can apply to them. Why choose of all those options, the negative ones - I wouldn't see any point. Choosing the positive ones, means it might apply to some reader and it may help somebody to find what he likes.

That doesn't mean I shun being critical. Together with good points, I see no problem to mention some of the weaker aspects; anything that can give you a more complete idea. And if I have written an overall negative review (which I have done occasionally) then it is only for this reason, that the podcast would seem, off hand, to be really good and I felt I should sort of warn you. For example, there is a really good Dutch newspaper, NRC. The NRC podcast, however, is so unbelievably amateurish, you would never anticipate - so this is where I have chosen to write a bad review.

More about the blog:
About Anne is a Man,
Why don't I give ratings to podcasts?,
When do I write in my blog?,
When do I listen to podcasts?,
Time to start again.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Short Story Beginnings - The Writing Show podcast review

The latest episode of the Writing Show pays attention to that universal question of how to start a story. The title suggests it is only about short stories and that is indeed the main subject, but as a couple of side notes the ideas are applied to novels as well. The pointers are the same, but for a short story the beginning is more critical, for want of a context and a longer tolerance span of the reader.

Short stories are seldom introduced, are not delivered with a cover and a 'blurb', such as novels, but rather appear in newspapers and magazines. The reader is much less prepared to get hooked and therefore, the challenge to give a good opening for a short story is bigger. In two sentences or so, the trigger for the story must be settled. The reader must be drawn into the perspective and into the conflict or whatever tension plays a part.

Host Paula B. interviews writers Melissa Palladino and Randall Brown and they refer to couple of lists in other sources, out of which they rapidly mention some tips, not all. Of all these, some are elaborated upon, most are not. So, this podcast is indicative, but can only serve to make a beginning to your search, if you are looking for new ways to being your stories, short or not. As a tip of the iceberg, it is very nicely done.

More Writing Show on this blog:
More Jean Tennant,
Getting Published with Janice Ballenger,
Getting Published with Mark Leslie,
Psychological Aspects of Writing,
Getting published with Jean Tennant.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Old High German

When you are dealing with history, language is never far away. First of all, your sources are texts, so you are dealing with linguistic intricacies anyway. On top of that, most history is cultural and culture is expressed in language. Therefore, as we have seen in previous interviews, the German Cultural History podcast (blog) touches all the time on linguistics.

Host Tom is, I think, a linguist, so his approach is guided even more by analysis of the German language and its earliest sources. He doesn't reveal he is, but it sure speaks from the subtext. All the more this is felt in the latest issue which is mostly about Old High German. Tom tells about the various scraps of sources of old high German there are. No ordered texts, but sentences, word lists and spells, charms and vows.

It marks his character as a linguist, he ventures into actually reading the spells, charms and vows. He makes an effort, so it sounds, to carefully pronounce these utterances and it sounds really convincing. I was also very surprised to find how comprehensible this was. Tom translates most, but largely, I did not need the translation. Maybe this version of German sounds more like Dutch than English, or even modern German.

It is great stuff and very original to get, but it sure would help if Tom were to improve his sound quality and bring a wee bit of order in his tangents. This way it is just so hard to stay attentive. And this last episode took a good 50 minutes, as what happens to so many podcasters who get excited about there subjects: the issues grow longer and longer.

Previously about GCH podcast:
Sound Shifts and Umlauts,
Why Iceland,
German Cultural History - Podcast Review.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reparing Failed States (2) - UChannel podcast review

Earlier I reported this lecture as it was posted by the LSE podcast. Now it has been released within the framework of UChannel. Fixing Failed States by Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart. Here is a repost of the review I made last June.

What we look for as the unity we live in, the law-giver, the protector of rights and obligations, the sovereignty to rule economy, organize infrastructure and education and the agent in foreign relations is that flailing fiction the state. No matter how unrealistically imagined, the state is still what we look for and if we want to have national and international order, we'd better have functioning states.

Too many states are failing though. It has been the topic of many other podcasts, also reviewed below, and it came up again at LSE, where Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart were invited to speak. The subject was the repair of failing states, as was the subject of their recently published book: Fixing Failed States; A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World. Ghani and Lockhart are claimed specialists on the nuts and bolts of state - what makes states succeed. From that insight they have drawn conclusions as to what are the recipes for repairing failed states.

The lecture is not terribly accessible, if not for the slightly dull speakers' tone than for the rather technical nature of the subject. The bottom-line is, what make states succeed is healthy finances and proper infrastructure and the way states can be helped is by programs that build these, but not any which way - the change must be sustainable. The importance is huge though, needless to say.

More UChannel:
The Collapse (Republicans and America),
New Map for the Pentagon,
Slavery and the Supply Chain,
Iran 2009,
The denials of yesterday.

More on states and international politics:
The Post-American World,
Nuts and bolts of empire,
The State in The International System,
A century of geopolitics,
History of the International System.

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Martin Simek - Marathon Interview

Hier is een marathon interview waar ik heel lang op heb zitten wachten totdat hij eindelijk in de feed zou komen. In 1991 sprak Djoeke Veninga met Martin Simek. Daarmee zit Simek aan de andere kant, die van de geinterviewde, want als interviewer ken ik hem al zo lang van de podcast Simek 's Nachts, wat de allereerste podcast is waar ik ooit mee begon. (label: Simek)

Martin Simek in 1991, de 43 jarige, is merkbaar jonger dan de man op leeftijd die interviewt bij de RVU. En met je kennis van de podcast Simek 's Nachts in het achterhoofd weet je dat deze ongebonden man, uiteindelijk toch zal trouwen en kinderen krijgen. Dus als hij beweert dat hij zich kan binden, al heeft hij het nooit langer dan 5 jaar gedaan, dan voel je de scepsis bij Veninga en weet je als luisteraar dat het waar is wat Simek zegt.

Gelukkig laat Simek zich niet teveel afleiden door Veninga, want ik weet niet of ze hem wel zo sympathiek vond. Het schaadt enigszins haar kracht als interviewer, maar Simek gaat lekker zijn eigen gang. En dus krijg je in iets meer geuren en kleuren te horen wat er in kleine brokjes al uit hem gekomen is in zijn eigen podcast. En je kan iets langer meevaren op zijn gevoelsmatige stijl. En dan kan je ontdekken dat hij wel degelijk altijd naar een pointe gaat. Ook al laat hij zich ogenschijnlijk door zijn eigen gedachtes weer wel afleiden.

Halverwege is er de emotie, als Martin over het heeft over het afscheid van zijn vader - 1968 in de trein, 1981 aan het sterfbed. Aan het eind komt er plotseling ook wrevel. Veninga verklaart dat Simek uitgesproken reacties oproept; of de mensen houden van hem, of ze moeten hem niet. Vervolgens geeft ze citaten die overwegend negatief, en nogal klein zijn. Simek laat zich niet verleiden tot al te zeer tegensputteren, al gebruikt hij zijn eigen typische jargon om terug te slaan (dit verveelt me). Uiteindelijk begint hij abrupt uit eigen werk te citeren. En daarmee is het interview afgelopen.

Het grote verschil tussen Simek zoals ik hem van de podcast ken en dit interview is dat hij hier veel meer woede ten opzichte van Nederland, Nederlanders en de Nederlandse cultuur heeft. De latere Simek is milder.

Meer Marathon Interviews:
Abram de Swaan,
Jan Vrijman,
Maarten van Rossem,
Louis Th. Lehmann,
Marita Mathijsen.

Meer Simek 's Nachts op dit blog:
Marjan Berk en Johnny Kraaykamp jr.,
Brigitte Kaandorp,
Heleen Mees, Maarten van Roozendaal,
Barbara van Beukering, Gert Dumbar,
Jaap van der Zwan.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The humane working place - SRR podcast review

I used to listen to every chapter of Shrink Rap Radio, but this podcast publishes at least weekly and I manage to squeeze in only a monthly listen. The backlog grows larger and large and as a consequence, the episode I have picked up to review today, stems from a long time ago: #151 - Relationships in The Workplace (May 2nd, 2008)

Dr. David van Nuys interviews Bob Murray and Alicia Fortinberry about their work with corporations dealing with good relations at the workplace. The title was originally misinterpreted by me; I thought they would speak about people getting privately involved with one another at the workplace. I was expecting issues of abuse of power and mixed interests, but the issue was much more general: all relationships in the working place. That is, the professional relationships and as a consequence how to make and keep them good. In my own words I'd say, Murray and Fortinberry help companies build a healthy working environment.

They are hired by all sorts of companies, including such consulting giants as PWC. What they seem to propagate sounds like the basis for a truly humane atmosphere at work. What surprises me a bit, is how clear they see the working place easily slides into a nasty jungle of kicking down and kissing up, of office politics and divide and conquer management. I have experienced this myself in a couple of working environments and I hear most of my acquaintances complain about it. So what is happening here? Are we all naggers, or do so few companies really listen to the likes of Murray and Fortinberry and implement what they teach?

As usual a great and interesting podcast by Dr. Dave. Check out his site, there are hundreds of splendid others to be found.

More Shrink Rap Radio
Nirvana and the Brain,
Psychoanalysis - Shrink Rap radio review,
Conscious Living,
The Happiness Hypothesis,
Sign language for babies.

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Alexander Samsonov - veertien achttien recensie

In zijn serie Veertien Achttien besteedt Tom Tacken ook aandacht aan het oostfront. Je bent geneigd vooral aan het westelijk front te denken, met de spreekwoordelijke loopgraven. Daarbij komt dan hooguit nog Gallipoli ter sprake, maar dan heb je het zo ongeveer gehad. De Russen worden vaak slechts genoemd aan het begin, wanneer ze - eerder en sneller dan het Von Schlieffen Plan berekend had - zich mobiliseerden, waardoor de oorlog sneller begint. Dan is het een tijd stil en komen de Russen pas weer op het toneel met de vrede van Brest-Litovsk, waarmee ze de oorlog vroegtijdig verlaten, waardoor die weer langer doordrijft in het westen.

Wat er allemaal gebeurde aan het oostfront blijft in zo'n constellatie nogal summier en je gaat al gauw denken dat de Duitsers het redelijk makkelijk hadden daar. En de Dubbelmonarchie? En de Ottomanen? Je moet het me niet vragen. Wat ik helemaal niet verwacht had, was dat de Duitsers in het begin bijna het onderspit delfden en snel meer troepen naar het Oosten moesten zenden. En dat daar de regie werd gevoerd door Von Hindenburg en een carriere werd begonnen door Ludendorf.

Het komt allemaal aan de orde in de laatste aflevering bij Tom Tacken als hij stil staat bij de Russische generaal Samsonov. De tragiek van Samsonov is dat zijn voordeel teniet wordt gedaan door een slechte samenwerking met een andere generaal (Rennenkampf). Een herhaling van de voorgaande oorlog, de desastreus verlopen confrontatie met Japan. En zo verspelen de Russen een kans op snel succes en weten de Duitsers het tij te keren. Al levert het ze niet meer dan een spagaat op waarin ze de snelle overwinning ook niet meer kunnen halen en terechtkomen in de stellingenoorlog waar ze niet op berekend waren.

Ook van Tom Tacken:
Dicke Bertha; Bertha Krupp,
Veertien Achttien - recensie,
Sterke Geschiedenis.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

7th son - Fictional podcast review

Since I started digging into fictional podcasts I ran frequently into the name J. C. Hutchins. I had heard of Hutchins before and now that I began to understand what a name he had made for himself in the world of fictional podcasts, I decided to investigate on his podcast novel, 7th Son. Then I found out this series has reached beyond its third book and its first cycle. (legacy feed)(current feed)

I should have listened back in 2006 when the novel began and quickly developed into a success. Hutchins has made a very effective and professional novel weaving together elements of SciFi, conspiracy and thriller genres. Apart from great story telling and a podcast worked out to the finest details, Hutchins also shows the ability to work his audience, create a community and let it take and active part in the podcast's success. But let's give a hint to the story.

Picture this: One day you are abducted and taken to an ultra-secret facility where you find out you are not the real you, but a clone, enriched with the childhood memories of the original. And there are six more sods like yourself. Of course, conform the genres, this part of a big conspiracy, is a global plot and a pretext to some hefty action, but what sets Hutchins apart is that he has worked out the characters and psychology of the seven clones very well and apart from the regular thriller stuff makes us partake in what they go through which greatly enriches the drama.

More narration and fiction podcasts:
Night's Knights,
New World Orders,
Namaste Stories,
Forgotten Classics,
Celtic Myth Podshow.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Historicast - podcast review

What is podcast if not audio? Silly question? Well, many history podcasts are no more than monologues or lectures. The use of audio is an exception. An example and a good one for such an exception is Historicast.(feed)

In its latest issue, it reviews the HBO mini-series about John Adams. Needless to say, sound bytes from the promos give a good feel of the work. The host, Jordan, speaks with acclaim of the series. He claims it serves well to refresh your basic knowledge of US History. (Well for me there is little, so it will probably tell me news) In addition he found a couple of new facts and especially liked the angles of the series. John Adams comes to life. Moreover, John Adams is a little less than Jefferson or Washington, a hero of the era and Jordan appreciates this relatively unlikely choice of hero for the story.

Historicast doesn't publish very frequently, but each time it does it is a pleasure on the pod.

More Historicast:
Hindenburg disaster.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

When do I write in my blog?

Right now I am on vacation and have a series of posts that are regularly coming out while I am away. But normally pieces are written within the 24 hours preceding the publication date. With the occasional backpost, you may have noticed. I try to post at least once a day and that usually works out.

Normally I write in the early morning. I get up at 6 am, wake my kids and then have about 30-45 minutes to sit down and flesh out a post, while they are having a cereal, get dressed and ready for their respective school and daycare. Around seven I bring one of them to their place for the day and proceed to work. While I have a breakfast at work, I review the post and click the button to publish. Hence, you see, most posts are stamped between 6 and 7 in the morning, Jerusalem Time (GMT+2).

When I sit down to write, I have the ideas more or less ready in my head. They mostly present themselves while I am listening and I make a mental note of them. If there is nothing specific, I write some general impression that was left on me. What I always try to do is write something positive. I do not believe in negative reviews of podcasts. There may have been an exception or two to the rule and I will not completely rule it out, but in principle I write what is good about a podcast. I try to figure what reason one (if not me, then anybody) might have, to want to listen to this podcast and enjoy it.

More about the blog:
About Anne is a Man,
Why don't I give ratings to podcasts?,
What to write about a podcast?,
When do I listen to podcasts?,
Time to start again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Night's Knights - fictional podcast review

I have read and liked Stephen King, but generally I am not partial to horror. Horror writer Emerian Rich figured that when she wrote me a request to review here horror podnovel Night's Knights. Nevertheless I took up listening to the first chapters of this fictional podcast.

Horror is a genre of effect, or at least that is the way I see it. It really doesn't matter too much how the effect of horror is established, certainly not whether it is logical or believable in any way. When it works, it is good horror. Emerian's novel does exactly that: it works the effects. To the extent I have listened to it, this much I can say: the story stands in its genre. Should you like it, it may well serve your taste.

Take for example the main character Jespa. She is a young girl living in San Francisco, working in a bar, being cheated upon by her boyfriend (and her best friend - of course) and she looks for a place to stay other than home. A place to 'crash' obviously. The atmosphere reminds me of Shadowrun roleplay, gritty, sleazy urban society. The sexual morality reminds me of Pohl's Gateway: bi-sexual across the board - and sex is a major issue. Jespa is walking sex, she is supposed to drive everybody's hormones crazy ("man or woman, from age 5 to 95"), yet she is cheated upon. And yet, she couldn't stand to be without a partner for the night. It really doesn't matter how coherent this is, it works like hell. Gritty, sleazy, down and out, that is where Jespa is at. The effect is completed with the music that is mixed in. The chorus is a hefty beat going: 'run, run, go and get yer gun' - which takes on very different meaning among the various scenes.

Here is the scene where vampires can appear and what have you. I trust it goes on just as well. The fact that I was not looking for this effect does not make it bad. As far as I can see it, it is well done, it sticks to the genre, it sticks to its tone, it rides at the proper pace. This is a podcast that does aptly what it promises to do.

More narration and fiction podcasts:
New World Orders,
Namaste Stories,
Forgotten Classics,
Celtic Myth Podshow.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Collapse - UChannel podcast review

Here are two podcast issues from the compiled archives of UChannel Podcast. Both address US internal political, societal and economic situation. Both speak of collapse. The first just of the Republican Party, the second of the US as a whole.

The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party; Sydney Blumenthal claims the Republicans are losing ground and they have themselves to blame. The party has been taken over by its radicals and is scaring away the moderates. The atmosphere he projects is one of incompetence within the party. Sentiments rule and the leaders have been ignoring what is really important for their electorate.

Beyond the Bush Years: the tough challenges facing the US in the early 21st century; also on the larger level, as Bob Herbert sees it. The sentiments ruled and the really important issues were ignored. Thus the US has been going down the drain. Its peak was around 1973 and generations ever since are having tougher and tougher lives. Though the American dream has been betrayed, he thinks it is not squandered - but people must wake up and take America in their hands.

What strikes me with these lectures are two things. One is how many people (not just these two speakers - see also The End of Hegemony) struggle with the loss of American dominance in the world. Trying to explain it and trying to see a trajectory for the future. Another is how deeply important in this election year are the questions of what kind of America the Americans want to have. Above all, there seems to be a crisis in American identity.

More UChannel:
New Map for the Pentagon,
Slavery and the Supply Chain,
Iran 2009,
The denials of yesterday,
Nuts and bolts of empire.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When do I listen to podcasts?

Keeping this blog involves quite some time and since I have a full time job and a family, people naturally ask how I manage to get so much listening done. The answer is that I squeeze listening to podcast in, into every spare moment I can and there turn out to be quite a lot.

I listen during my commuting, which half an hour back and forth, five days a week. Then, I listen during some menial tasks: a weekly two hour (at least) regular shopping at the supermarket, more time during additional shopping, during cooking, laundry and other car rides. Every fortnight we clean our apartment, which takes us about five hours. In addition, every month there is a day I spend around the house doing repairs, maintenance - what have you. I reckon I put in about 15 hours of listening each week, at the minimum.

On average podcast episodes last around 45 minutes (though some considerably less), which means that I manage to listen to around 20 issues a week. This would give material for up to 20 blog posts, though I hardly ever reach that. I post a little over one post per day. Many posts address more than one podcast episode, and here and there I decide not to write about an episode that I heard, at all.

More about the blog:
About Anne is a Man,
Why don't I give ratings to podcasts?,
What to write about a podcast?,
When do I write in my blog?,
Time to start again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sustainable health care - Social Innovations Conversations

Can we have a sustainable health care system? Can we serve the broader population at low cost, offering public health across the board and still operate without a huge deficit? Social Innovations Conversations speaks with Thulasiraj Ravilla who is part of a successful chain of hospitals in India that started with supplying basic medical services to prevent or treat blindness among the poor and grew into a wide system of general hospitals serving the rich and the poor together.

Ravilla relates the tale of learning on the job, applying to circumstances and eventually, by large scale and meticulous resource management how the chain could turn to such a booming success. So much so, the world comes by to learn and among those visitors, interested parties from richer countries no less. It appears the whole world can learn from this example of efficiency.

There is a point of worry Ravilla expresses, that in my humble opinion, is not only going to prove to be a major problem the scene in India as it develops, but elsewhere may be exactly the reason why the model can't easily be copied. He worries, whether he will be able to continue to employ the staff he has, especially the low skill, low pay staff. That seems to me to be the critical issue. The efficiency in India is that no task is done by anybody overqualified, but delegated down the chain as much as possible. India has the low skill, low wages employment market, exactly because of its poverty. But as soon as development starts to kick in, that is where workers become scarce. That is where health care will turn expensive, too expensive to be sociable and sustainable at the same time, I fear. Or at least so, this conversation gives no answer to that thought.

More Social Innovation Conversations:
Waste Management,
Social Innovation Conversations - podcast review.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Missing Link in Devon - history podcast review

The Missing Link Podcast always takes on a particular additional charm when it is on location. Last year's excursion to Berlin was great. This year we are addressed from the lovely countryside of Devonshire in south-west England.

Devon was the place of the health resorts as early back as the eighteenth century. City life was disastrously unhealthy, so getting out to pastoral horizons was a good idea anyway, but the county of Devonshire was supposed to sport the right air and seaside environment that as especially supposed to be healthy. So, Devon developed seaside resorts, before this was even conceived to be anything near a tourist attraction. One went there because one had to on account of convalescence, not entertainment.

Apart from the physical health centers, Devon also developed, very early on, institution for psychological health. These were the Victorian insanity asylums. Host Elizabeth Green Musselman reveals the details of two mental cases in those asylums. Two children. A fascinating podcast once again.

More about The Missing Link on this blog:
Curious and curiouser,
Domestic Science,
Missing Link with monotheists,
Missing Link with Popper,
An evolved controversy.

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Die dicke Bertha schoss bis Paris - veertien achttien

Bertha Krupp kon er ook niets aan doen dat haar naam aan de enorme houwitzer werd gegeven. En dik was ze ook niet. Tom Tacken vertelt het verhaal van het legendarische Duitse kanon uit de eerste wereldoorlog

De podcast valt uiteen in twee onderwerpen. Het kanon en de echte Bertha. De artillerie uit Wereldoorlog Een en de lotgevallen van de Krupp familie, verder tot in Wereldoorlog Twee. Het ene verhaal misschien nog wranger dan de andere. Of omgekeerd, dat hangt een beetje van je persoonlijke inschatting af. Maar zoals gebruikelijk bij Tacken, uiterst vaardig verteld.

Dit is een van de weinige Nederlandstalige geschiedenis podcasts, maar het is er een die zich qua niveau op internationaal niveau kan handhaven. Invloeden van Bob Packett en Dan Carlin zijn merkbaar, maar Tom Tacken werkt dit zeer goed op een eigen manier uit.

Ook van Tom Tacken:
Veertien Achttien - recensie,
Sterke Geschiedenis.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Disaster Capitalism - Naomi Klein on Big Ideas

Naomi Klein spoke on Big Ideas (TVO) in January and I was alerted by a reader to this speech. Klein builds a flaming argument against Capitalism for her Canadian audience, pointing to the neighbor south as where it all happens first and the images are at the ugliest. She also wrote a book about this: The Shock Doctrine; the rise of disaster capitalism.

Look at the Katrina disaster. It just so happened she was in the disaster area and had to be taken to a hospital and in stead of finding herself in an over-crowded, messy public place, she woke up in a crisp and empty private clinic. This shows her point: capitalism divides the world in the haves and the have-nots. And the have-nots have no access to normal services. This is not just true during disaster, this is true all the time.

I'd like to add, this has always been true throughout history, capitalist societies or not. Being richer means being healthier, safer, more certain regarding the future and so on. Richer people can more easily get out of harms way and if they didn't manage to do so, they have the means to recover faster and more completely.

The point is: Disaster Capitalism has no problem with that. The ideology of the US is that you should invest in the proper means to protect yourself and if you didn't then that is your problem - it is not a public issue. And it goes further: disaster, is not a problem, it is a business opportunity. It allows for new commercial possibilities. Klein shows how this regime is closely intertwined with fear. We are ready to buy away our fears, but receive an ugly society in the bargain. She cries out to stop. She begs her audience not to let this happen in Canada.

The lecture is very invigorating, but the thought remains: although this is important, how much of this is accusing what has always been so in the history of mankind.

Previously on Big Ideas:
The bad news about good work,

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sound shifts and umlauts - German Cultural History

The (Medieval) German Cultural History Podcast (related blog, feed) is not an easy listen. Tom, the host, allows himself to get carried away from the script and talk about a tangent that catches his mind. It is never irrelevant, but you have to be able to bear with him. It is frequently about linguistic aspects of Germanic languages. Apparently, for getting German Culture in sight, you have to grasp the basic recognizable elements of the language.

So, in the latest edition (German Medieval Cultural History VII: Merovingians, Carolingians and what makes German distinct) the impression you get is that you are going to get some insight in Frankish history and their leader dynasties, first the Merovingian Kings and then, after Charles Martell, the Carolingians. But we stumble into the technicalities of identifying the German linguistic roots. What almost stays as an aside, but surely must surprise many listeners: the Franks were a Germanic tribe. They gave their name to modern day France, which speaks French, which is not a Germanic language. That is because the Franks turned Roman Catholics, and thus got their cultural influence so heavily from Latin, they latinized.

Other Germanics, if they were Christians, were not Roman Catholics, but Arians, a forgotten style of Christianity, but important enough for the Nicene Creed to be kicked off side. In previous editions, Tom has shed some light on this, for which I am very grateful. Before he got off on linguistics. As this time when he tries to explain about umlauts and sound shifts. I am getting the impression Tom is a linguist, an academic of German Language, I guess. Maybe he should dedicate one issue about systematically dealing with the language, so that his history is not interrupted in such a rambling fashion.

Recently, when I wrote somebody what I liked about this podcast, I summed it up like this. He does everything wrong, but he tells what I want to know and that is why I think he is great.

Why Iceland,
German Cultural History - Podcast Review.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Five Free Favorites of Jesse Willis (SFF audio)

SFF Audio, the blog about podcasts and other audio that is available about SciFi and Fantasy, invited me to write a couple of guest posts on their blog. This weekend, there will be the first. It will be part of their guest blogger series in which the bloggers tell about their Five Favorite podcasts.

I will write about my favorite history podcasts, which, by the way, is a shifting phenomenon. I'll give a you a different list any other day, but that is not what I wanted to get into. What I wanted to point out is that SFF audio covers intensively a field that I have just touched recently: fictional podcasts.

The main writer on SFF audio, is Jesse Willis. He was kind enough to reveal some of his favorites (five as it happens) in a guest blog over here. Thank you, Jesse!

Hi! I'm Jesse Willis, guest blogging on Anne is a Man. Today I'm going to tell you about some of the cool stuff I listen to. Sure, like Anne I listen to a lot of non-fiction podcasts. And like Anne I'm a big fan of some of the best listens out there. I'm a Dan Carlin's Hard Core History convert. I've been listening to Professor Bob of History According To Bob for years. But I figure you've heard the praises of these terrific shows from Anne before. So let me tell you about some similar shows, shows that will strike you as cool, but which Anne hasn't yet covered:

1. Entitled Opinions is a podcast radio program hosted by Professor Robert Harrison. Harrison teaches in the department of French and Italian at Stanford University. He interviews guests, often other Stanford profs, about literature, history, politics, philosophy and even sports. His shows are deep, cultured and highly literate. Having been born in Turkey as the son of American diplomats, Harrison has an immense knowledge about that country, his interview with historian Aron Rodrigue is enlightening. Similar-wise, Harrision's talks with René Girard on the subject of mimetic desire are perhaps the most fascinating ever podcast. From Virgil to the Virgin Mary, from the historical Jesus to Athenian Democracy; Entitled Opinions, with its braggadocious title, earns it.

2. Two programmes by Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards have obsessed me since they first launched. (blog)

Behind The Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed sits down with Crime/Mystery/Noir authors and dissects their work. Clute and Edwards approach each author's work as if it was their doctoral thesis.There has never been an interview series like this. The inteviewees often come away with a new sense of their own work. And The listener comes away with a strong desire to read the books they talk about. I'm hoping that soon they'll be able to interview Donald E. Westlake and Lawrence Block (my two favorite living crime authors). Check out their talks with Christa Faust, Seth Harwood and Charles Ardai.

Out Of The Past: Investigating Film Noir, on the other hand is an examination of films influenced by the Film Noir movement. Most DVD commentaries suck, if Clute and Edwards did film commentaries I'd buy the DVDs just to hear their shot by shot examinations. These are two highly literate Crime/Noir/Mystery fans. Check out their talks about: Body Heat, Kiss Me Deadly and the immortal Pickup on South Street.

3. Professor Courtney Brown's course at Emory University (it's archived) is a Political Science course entitled Science Fiction and Politics (Political Science 190). Brown's lectures are from two semesters of teaching this course and feature incisive political insights found in more than a dozen Science Fiction novels. Science Fiction is the most important of all modern literature because it engages the present with philosophical ideas. Let Courtney Brown illustrate just a few of the political ideas found in SF and you'll stick around for the whole course.

4. Welcome To Mars (1947-1959), is an odd series broadcast on Resonance FM. Creator Ken Hollings collects non-fiction oddments about the fantastic futuristic world of the fifties. This was a live-broadcast twelve-part series - kind of a one man show, with the subtitle The fantasy of science in the early years of the American Century. Hollings: "Between 1947 and 1959, the future was written about, discussed and analyzed with such confidence that it became a tangible presence. This is a story of weird science, strange events and even stranger beliefs, set in an age when the possibilities for human development seemed almost limitless." The show is hypnotic. I'm not sure I learned as much as I unlearned, if that makes any sense.

5 Finally, here's one you'd probably never otherwise see on Anne Is A Man:

Three years into it and I'm still in love with The Red Panda Adventures! (feed) This is an old-style radio drama (along the lines of The Green Hornet) but with modern storytelling and action. Full of kung-fu and snappy dialog you'll love it most for the wonderful characters and their dialogue. If you don't like Red Panda there's something broken in your heart!

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

New World Orders - fictional podcast review

More and more people use the report a podcast feature on this blog. Thus, I also found New World Orders, a fictional podcast telling a tale of world wide conspiracy. It is an entertaining ride, but I kept wondering whether this is intended to be a thriller or not. The story is so full of cliches, it could be a satire, but then again, that is not so clear either. The funny thing is, it is exactly this ambiguity that kept me listening.

For one, I was caught enough by the thriller, to want to know what was going to happen next. I wanted to know how the conspiracy works and I wanted to see the lonely hero succeed in his quest against it. Although, he seems so puny in comparison to the invisible enemy and he couldn't brush his teeth without them knowing. And they do not refrain from bribes, threat and murder to get their way.

But secondly, there was the thrill of observing the story and figuring out what the writers and performers are thinking. Are they deliberately going over the top a bit, in order to satirize the genre? And what about this hitman of Austrian descent - he sounds exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Are they thinking of specific movies and actors for their characters? And what of this impersonation of George Bush, the father - that surely is more comical than tensely thriller-like.

So, eventually, this is a great podcast where everybody can have his own preferences served. If you want straightforward entertainment - there is the thriller with the evil schemer and his hidden agendas, with the silenced witnesses, the bribed ones and the lonely few who catch a whiff of something suspicious in the air and who investigate and then find themselves facing the invincible Moloch. If you like conspiracies, there is the question: who would want to cover up global warming? If it is not the big industry that wants to go on polluting, then somebody with long term vision. But what could he gain with a planet going sick? And who is behind the JFK assassination and the blowing up of the Space Shuttle? If you like Hollywood thriller movies, you can play the game of who is who in the story. The coldblooded killer is Schwarzenegger, but who are the rest? If you are struck by the cliches, you can observe the satire, the subtle poking at the over-construed genre.

More narration and fiction podcasts:
Namaste Stories,
Forgotten Classics,
Celtic Myth Podshow,
Sonic Society.

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