Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New York Coffee Cup

Dave went to New York on two missions, each of which was difficult enough to cope with, but to combine them should be deemed impossible at the outset. One mission was to guide thirteen year old daughter Georgette around and let it be her trip, along her rules, the rules of the Apple Store, the ice cream parlor, sleeping in and the vibes of 'you are not going to embarrass me dad, are you?' The other was to confront the past life in New York, from beyond Georgette's time and beyond Georgette's capacity to fathom. This mission was ruled by grief, by guilt and old scares, enough to make an innocent podcast listener cry, terribly confusing and taxing for one to whom these memories and emotions are his own unfinished business.

The New York Coffee Cup podcast is not one of stylish fiction, as is Dave's other podcast Namaste Stories. This time we are reading the dairy, we are listening in on an audio blog, with the confusion as raw, unpolished and direct as real life. Dave reports silently whispering into his recorder as events unfold. He does so in his familiar serene voice, but more naturally and more shaken, than in Namaste Stories. My heart goes out to him, as the hours creep by, he tries to keep control, gives in, gives up and somehow, if weakly, manages to reach out to both goals.

The events are long passed. It happened in August; just a few days in New York, but the podcast hasn't rolled out till the end yet. Now we are at episode #26 and in the middle of one of the cataclysmic confrontations. One of the truly important reasons Dave came to New York after all, with all due respect to Georgette. Unfinished business, stuck up emotions and guilt, but as things go in real life, the solution, if there is one, out of reach and petty frustration dominating. My heart goes out.

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Yale Classical - this is not a podcast review

The Open Courses on Yale are not brought as a podcast. You will have to use other means than a podcatcher to download the episodes. I import them into iTunes as music and then alter the file settings to those of podcasts, which most importantly is setting 'remember playback position'. Many courses this semester and in others, are very interesting on face value. The one that I picked up first and I wish to review here is Donald Kagan's Introduction to Ancient Greek History.

An initial snag in the course is Kagan's throat condition. He coughs and scrapes and rattles so frequently, unable to clear his throat, especially in the first lectures, it nearly put me off. After nine lectures this has either nearly died down, or I have grown so used to it and become so engaged, I am hooked. There is still lots to come, but even at this early stage into the history, I have had so many questions answered and so many new things learned, the course has become extremely rewarding.

Simply irresistible is Kagan's self-acclaimed inclination towards the 'higher naïveté', which means he accepts the factual possibility of anything mentioned in the old sources about Ancient Greek history, as long is it is not supernatural, or falsified by archeology. It turns the story of the Greeks into a narrative full of imagination and wonder. And while wondering, asking for example how the Greeks could have acquired their economic and cultural wealth and how hoplite warfare would have been, Kagan delivers answers. His answers, he credits specifically to Victor Davis Hanson, which is exciting for those who have heard Hanson in other podcasts as well as for the charm of Kagan - both naive, great story-teller as well as modest, who wouldn't love a professor like that?

More Yale:
Game theory - Yale online course review.

More Classics:
Political Science - UCLA Podcast review,
Some things Classical,
Roman History in podcasts,
Berkeley's History 4A.

More Victor Davis Hanson:
Hardcore History.

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Enver Pasha - veertien achttien podcast recensie

In de uiterst verdienstelijke serie over de Eerste Wereldoorlog, de podcast Veertien Achttien, geeft Tom Tacken in de laatste aflevering aandacht aan de Turkse bijdrage in die oorlog. Met alle aandacht voor het Westelijke Front heeft het oosten nogal eens last van onderbelichting. Als het al aan de orde komt, is het in de relevantie van het oostelijke front op het westelijke. Met andere woorden: zolang de Russen de tegenstanders in het oosten nog bezighouden, kunnen ze in het Westen niet domineren.

Dan gaat het vooral over Duitsland. Dat er ook nog meer zuidelijk oorlog werd gevoerd, kwam al aan het licht in de aflevering over Oskar Potiorek, zodat we iets meer over Servie en Oostenrijk te weten komen - daar was het ten slotte allemaal begonnen. De Turken maakten ook deel uit van de centrale alliantie en door middel van een biografie van Enver Pasha komt de rol van het Ottomaanse Rijk in de oorlog ook eens voor het voetlicht.

Het is achteraf bezien vooral een verhaal van een rappe modernisering van de Turkse staat. Het is een vergeten voorloper van de dekolonialisering, waarbij de laatste hand werd gelegd aan de ontmanteling van het Ottomaanse Imperium en het Turkije begint dat we vandaag nog kennen. Enver Pasha is niet de laatste in die ontwikkeling. Hooguit de wat ongemakkelijke brug van Sultanaat, naar Kemal Ataturk's gelatiniseerde democratie.

Meer Veertien Achttien:
Veertien Achttien premium,
Oskar Potiorek,
Kato Takaaki,
Maximilian von Spee.

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