Thursday, January 10, 2008

The American Constitution's British roots - BTHP

The Binge Thinking History podcast (BTHP) claims to have been inspired by Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. Host Tony Cocks follows Dan Carlin's example in his relatively natural speech. He doesn't read from a piece of paper. Or if he does, he does it really well. He also follows Dan's example in combining history telling with analysis. His first project: showing the British roots of the American constitution.

Tony argues the American Constitution is thoroughly British in its origins and takes us in the first four podcasts through the political history of England and Britain to show this is so. Already before the Magna Carta, in the charter of liberties he finds the starting point for the political thinking and organization that will ultimately lead to the American Constitution as we know it. Hence, he three Brits to be added to the list of founding fathers.

His first nominee is Henry VIII. The king that founded the Anglican Church and thus caused the Americans to be Protestants. The second is Oliver Cromwell, who showed the head of state need not be in a hereditary line. The third and the first to star in the cast is Simon de Montfort (who actually has a plaque at the United States House of Representatives), who made a point that the state need not be lead by a king.

Has Tony succeeded in emulating Dan? In a way he has. He delivers a bit more history and thus founds his points more solidly. He also is an engaging speaker and delivers a good audio quality in his podcast. What is left to be desired is to prevent this cast from turning into a monologue podcasts, such as British History 101 and the podfaded Medieval Podcast. There are many of those and, as shown by the examples, ones that already cover British History. Monologue style is hard to pull off, even for talents like Bob Packett. Tony could invite a female voice on the podcast and dialog with her. He could record in front of an audience. He could try to keep the podcast short - 20 minutes or less.

From Dan Carlin's Hardcore History:
Meeting James Burke,
Succession in Macedon,
The Plague.

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On Time and on Counting - The Missing Link

The monthly podcast of The Missing Link had a bump in its schedule on account of the holiday, but it is back. As usual with two essays. One by host Elizabeth Green Musselman (EGM) and the other by a guest. EGM has been inviting listeners to offer their essays and here we have the first to take on the challenge. Listener Scott Lough talks to us about time. This is the first installment, the second part will come in a consecutive issue of the Missing Link.

Time is hard to understand. Difficult to hook into or get a grip on. Biologically we are in sync with the daily and the lunar cycle, but hardly the yearly. And when we somehow try to fathom at least that, what we could not imagine is time flowing backwards. However, physics allow that. What physics and even astronomy also allow is: the end of time. Also hardly fathomable.

Green Musselman offers an essay about quantities. (A follow-up on the previous program) Our modern culture puts heavy emphasis - EGM explains our quantifications with our economical nature. The homo economicus is a quantifier. Is the homo sapiens, necessarily a homo economicus and thus always counting. EGM takes us to the pastoral cultures of Africa, where economy works entirely differently, or, pot otherwise, culture that is not commercial at all. What is an amazing find is that the African peoples are not counting. The Europeans who arrived in South Africa in the 18th and 19th century found to their astonishment that the Xhosa, Zulu and Botswana did not count. They herded sizable amounts of cattle, but they couldn't tell how many of them they had. Alternately, they were able to tell in an instant, even of a herd hundreds strong, whether individual animals were mssing. They had a way of knowing the individuals, without knowing the numbers.

More Missing Link:
Strength in Numbers,
Constant Companions,
From Berlin,
History of Science.

More Elizabeth Green Musselman:
Environmental History in South Africa (Exploring Environmental History Podcast).

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