Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Economist in New Hampshire

Christopher Hitchens pondered on the American caucus in KQED forum (I blogged about this yesterday). He argued as follows: the system in Iowa works such that there is a tendency towards the extreme. That is how Huckabee could win there. For New Hampshire he predicted a more moderate result, implying what nobody expected: Hillary Clinton would win for the Democrats.

The Economist's blog and podcast Democracy in America put a podcast this morning in the feed where the New Hampshire independet voters were interviewed. No indication for a win in any direction. Maybe it was clear that Huckabee was not going to be a factor, but that was to be expected. The Republican leaning voter was in doubt between McCain and Ron Paul. The one to vote for a Democrat was undecided between Obama and Clinton. I detected a slight preference for Clinton, I must say.

I wonder why The Economist didn't wait yet another couple of hours with that podcast. What news agent would deliver before the dead line? Who'd be interested in the cast now? However, between you and me, the interviews were fascinating and possibly representative for more Americans - this is not necessarily about New Hampshire alone. I'd say, listen anyway.

More from the Economist and about the 2008 elections:
A biography for Barack Obama and one for Hillary Clinton,
The Economist podcast,
Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton (UC Podcast),
Religiousness of American Presidents (UC Podcast).

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Philosophy Bites on Wittgenstein

I love philosophy and at the same time, very frequently, when I read or hear philosophers or about them, I seriously lose track. When I wrote my masters and finished a good deal of the work, my mentor threw a book at me about the effect of Wittgensteinian thought on sociology. See if I could incorporate that in my thesis, to top it off. I couldn't. Wittgenstein had me baffled and I obtained my masters without him.

So Wittgenstein has become the symbol of where I feel I need philosophy, but fail to wrap my mind around it. Hence, with a mixed sense of urgency and intimidation, I set out to listen to the latest Philosophy Bites podcast. Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds speak with Barry Smith about Wittgenstein.

Early Wittgenstein is briefly discussed. Already Wittgenstein is heavily interested in language, but still uses what is named a picture theory of language; our language in one way or another tries to picture our world. This is the approach that investigates how we can improve the accuracy of language in order to picture the world more effectively. Wittgenstein takes it to logic: how logic will allow us to analyze the arguments (essentially the pictures of the world) and thus find the limits of what could be. What is logically incorrect cannot be. What is correct could - though need not be.

By 1929 he returns to England and sets out to radically alter this approach. No matter how inaccurate our language is, we seem to do well with it. What is more, we cannot start thinking, unless we have language, hence language is not the instrument to picture the world, but rather what ties us to it. This makes it very difficult to catch the essence of language. Here is where we are not even half way the podcast and I am in my third run of listening to it. Very fascinating and catching, but unbelievably hard to really deeply dig into.

More Philosophy Bites:
Skepticism ,
Thought experiments (and Avicenna).

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

How to optimally record a Skype conversation

Podcast listeners like myself will witness many podcasters struggle with audio that represents a conversation conducted over the phone. As far as content is concerned, these sections give some of the greatest input, but the audio quality can seriously ruin the product. At the same time I know of several podcasts (for example The Word Nerds and the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe) that manage tremendously well. Most podcasters use Skype, but among those, quality still varies.

Recently I came across the below presentation from on the Conversations Network, that seems to offer a very complete and effective guide to make the recording succeed as best as it can. So here is the show...

For more info and discussion, visit The Conversations Network’s forums.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button