Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New podcasts in June 2009 - Anne is a Man

Should I make a podcast of my own? It has been suggested over and over again. I must say I cannot even get done with simple audio promos for this blog. (Who will make a new one? There is only one so far)

But here is another idea. I could set up a feed for podcasts I especially recommend. You could subscribe in iTunes or any other podcatcher you use and get those recommendations in one list. Would you be interested in that? Comment or send mail to let me know.

There are several ways open. I could make a feed for everything I listen to (up to 4 podcasts a day), make one for every podcast I review (around 1 or 2 a day), give special recommendations (1 or 2 per week) or make separate feeds. A history feed, a philosophy feed, a Dutch, German and Hebrew feed etc. Give me your input and some time in July this feed (or these feeds) will come into place. And if you are willing to beta-test, all the better.

In the mean time, let us list the podcasts that have been given a first review this month:

Philosophy:
Isaiah Berlin Centenary (Oxford) (review, Oxford on iTunes, feed)
Series of lectures to commemorate a hundred years since the birth of Isaiah Berlin. One lecture about him, the rest recordings from lectures by Berlin in the 1950s.

Ethics Bites (BBC, Open University) (review, site, feed)
An ethics series by the makers of Philosophy Bites. The feed has not been updated since 2008, but ethics can never be podfaded, can it?

Reith Lectures 2009 (BBC) (review, site, feed)
An excellent series of four lectures by Micheal Sandel about a new citizenship. Fresh insights about morality in market, politics and bio-medical technology.

History:
Early American Social History (Warwick) (review, page in iTunes, feed in iTunes)
Extensive lecture series about US History before 1870. Mind the low audio that comes with live recorded lectures.

Georgian Britain (Warwick) (review, page in iTunes, feed in iTunes)
Series of thematic monologues about Britain during 1714-1830.

Guns and Rubles (Warwick) (review, page in iTunes, feed in iTunes)
A couple of short podcasts about the Soviets and their military industrial complex.

Drinking matters (Warwick) (review, page in iTunes, feed in iTunes)
The history of early modern pubs in Europe and their influence on the history of Europe.

Environmental History Videocast (review, site, feed)
A vodcast that goes along with the audio podcast Exploring Environmental History. The videos are not playable on iPod.

Antisemitism (USHMM) (review, site, feed in iTunes)
Scholarly lectures about antisemitism, held at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Other:
Cat Crave (review, site, feed)
A podcast for fans of the Carolina Panthers - American Football.

Masters of None (review, site, feed)
A conversational podcast in which, among others, comics and movies are discussed

BMS World Mission (review, site, feed)
A show made for the partners of the Baptist Mission world wide. A rather light radio style program with items related to missionary work.

An introduction to Biological Anthropology (Berkeley) (review, site, feed)
University lecture series that takes on human anthropology from the perspective of evolution and genetics.

Psyconoclasm (review, site, feed)
A psychology podcast that explores psychology in as vast as the definition takes and needs to be met with skepticism.

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

Connect with Anne is a Man on
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Fragility and Humanity - Speaking of Faith

At Speaking of Faith Krista Tippett spoke with geo-physicist and thinker Xavier Le Pichon. This is a wonderful podcast that gives but an indication to a fascinating conversation that can also be heard in full (unedited interview with Le Pichon - mp3 download).

If you decide you will listen to the podcast or the complete interview, you may want to take this from my experience: Quite important is the concept of fragility, which, for some reason, is pronounced by Tippett as fergility. It may sound silly, but it took me through half the program to finally figure this out.

The importance of fragility is this. It is Le Pinchon's view (and discovery) that contrary to natural instincts, humanity puts fragility in the center. It doesn't leave the weak behind, but rather makes them important to be treated - provided we talk of the humane side of humanity of course. This is elevating, in his opinion, because by taking in the weak in society, we allow ourselves to learn from the weak. It is his belief we always learn from each other, we can only learn in community. And by not driving away the vulnerable and value only on merit, we actually enrich ourselves. Moreover, it is now that our knowledge and technology has truly made is into one humanity, we have the chance to fully enjoy this togetherness. Provided we take the chance of course.

More Speaking of Faith:
The Sunni-Shia divide and the future of Islam,
Wangari Maathai,
Rumi,
The story and God,
The Buddha in the world.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jews in the Hasmonean era - FITJ

From Israelite to Jew is a podcast series by Michael Satlow, which attempts to lay out the history of the Jewish people in the Second Temple period ( about 500 BCE - 100 CE) and their cultural and religious development during that time. The name of the podcast already gives an insight in what is to be learned: the tribes of Israel turned into a ethnicity of Jews. On the resolution at which Satlow has chosen there is a fascinating history that should be interesting to many.

In the previous review we spoke of the Maccabee Uprising and since there were two new installments of the podcast, Hasmonean Kings and Jewish Sectarianism. These are part of a longer stretch that are meant to make us familiar with the intricacies of the Hasmonean and Roman period. The first part is a complicated history of the dynasty and its relationship with both the Hellenist empires and the with the old Israelite traditions.

The second digs deeper into the developments in the religious and cultural divides. The main sects that are treated are the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes, but one should keep in mind that these are not necessarily religious sects. They could also be seen as political parties. Also, more sects are at play; Zealots and the followers of Jesus are to be considered. The latter goes to show how interesting this Jewish history could be for Christians: the groundwork is revealed of the cultural setting in which Christianity arose. By all means an exciting part of World History.

More FITJ:
The Maccabee Uprising,
Hellenism,
Jews of the Persian Empire,
The fox and the hedgehog,
Looking for a Persian History podcast.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Sunni - Shia split on podcasts

The average listener to BBC radio 4's program In Our Time is not expected to know much about Islam and therefore may barely know about the Sunni Shia divide in that religion. In the latest episode the Sunni-Shia split was the subject and in 43 minutes the bare basics were told.

Much is still missing. Host Melvyn Bragg tried to get through to the eventual religious meaning of the divide, but if at all some tip of the iceberg was revealed, somehow, the foucs went to the Shia beliefs. And I wouldn't be surprised if the listener was left in confusion. The podcast followers have a lot more content at their disposal. Content to either replace or complement this last episode of In Our Time.

A very good podcast that takes the divide and places it in a contemporary picture is Speaking of Faith's issue in which host Krista Tippett speaks with Vali Nasr. For a more extensive historic background I'd point everyone to the University of California San Diego. An unfortunate circumstance is that UCSD removes the podcast courses at the end of the semester, but recurring courses that are relevant are: UCSD's MMW3 by Chamberlain, UCSD's MMW 3 by Herbst and MMW 4. MMW3 is the course out of which you will find several lectures apply to the origins of Islam and here you will learn extensively about the origins of the Sunni-Shia divide. Professor Chamberlain has a more theological touch to his teachings and this may serve exactly best here, but overall I find the lectures by Professor Herbst more accessible and commendable in general. In MMW4, the Islamic empire is central in the beginning and the Sunni Ulama will be worked out more, as well as the ongoing repression of Shia Islam.

More In Our Time:
Revenge Tragedy,
The Augustan Age,
The trial of king Charles I,
St. Paul,
Whale evolution.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Naomi Klein on Media Matters

The podcast Media Matters with Bob McChesney is political commentary radio program with (frequently) listeners calling in. The most recent edition had Canadian writer and social critic Naomi Klein in the studio.

Klein gets the opportunity to voice her fierce criticism of modern free market criticism. As already pointed out in her book 'The shock doctrine' which describes what she terms 'Disaster Capitalism' - money making thrives with crises. In her book, the disaster caused by hurricane Katrina is used as an example. In the studio, she goes to show how the current financial disaster works just likewise. A private market crisis is being transformed into a public crisis with all the bail out programs.

What this boils down to is that the capitalists do not have to pay for their mistakes, but manage to pass the hot potato through to the government. That means the tax payer, the public budget and eventually the weakest pay the price. And rich speculators can go on taking huge risks. And thus, capitalism, this unrestrained capitalism, thrives by crises. The excitement and expectations about Obama, have obscured this fact in the US, but in other countries, she claims, the injustice is observed more clearly.

More Media Matters:
Noam Chomsky,
Juan Cole,
The Crisis.

More Naomi Klein:
Naomi Klein on Big Ideas.

Alexander Herzen according to Isaiah Berlin

Oxford's podcast of the Isaiah Berlin Centenary (Oxford on iTunesU, iTunes feed, site) contains one lecture about Berlin and several lectures by Berlin himself, recorded in the the 1950's.

One of the lectures is on a Russian writer, Alexander Herzen, about whom I had never heard, I must admit. Berlin turns out to be a great admirer of Herzen and his lecture on the writer is very fascinating. The importance of Herzen is not necessarily as a writer, although Berlin praises his autobiography as one of the great works in Russian literature. Herzen's meaning lies in his vocation as a publicist and political thinker.

Herzen was, according to Berlin, the first to found a liberal newspaper in Russia and as such a pioneer of free press and free speech. This put him in the position to politically choose between the Russian traditional order, the liberalists and the socialists. Herzen swayed back and forth but between liberals and socialists he kept sitting on the fence. And if this is vieed by some as weakness, Berlin praises this as a strength, just as he finds this a strength in the novelist Turgenev. In Turgenev's Fathers and Sons a similar quality is displayed. That is subject for yet another lecture.

More Isaiah Berlin:
Isaiah Berlin on Philosopher's Zone and Oxford,
Moses Hess according to Isaiah Berlin.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Iran in 1953 - Rear Vision

ABC's Rear Vision has dedicated two consecutive programs to Iran because of the unrest that is currently going on. The first was just yesterday with the history of the 1953 coup, which deposed prime minister Mossadegh and made the Shah a puppet of the West.

The program describes in detail how British oil interests were established in Iran. The terms under which the British could dispose of Iran's oil were advantageous to the ridiculous and when Mossadegh was about to nationalize Iran's oil, the Brits came into action. They needed the assistance of the CIA eventually to push Mossadegh out of power, which was not given by Truman at first. Eisenhower became the next president and did approve of the action.

Rear Vision also attempts make clear what came of the success of this coup, making a connection with the revolution in 1979 and the unrest of today. The bottom-line is that the action was a success from the start and backfired in the end. The worst result of it being that the moderate, pro-western stream in Iranian politics was compromised and left the spectrum to be battled between extreme forces such as the Islamists and the communists and possibly also causing the polarization of today.

More Rear Vision:
Coffee,
Fiji.

Spaanse Successie Oorlog - Hoor Geschiedenis

Ik kan onmogelijk elke dag over Hoor! Geschiedenis schrijven, maar ik luister wel trouw naar deze dagelijkse podcast. Maker Feico Houweling verzorgt consequent op elke werkdag vijf minuten met vaderlandse geschiedenis, langzaam maar zeker opstomend naar het heden.

Vaderlandse geschiedenis was een vak op de lagere school dat altijd doortrokken was van nationale trots en ook verteller Houweling is in deze serie voelbaar ingenomen met de Republiek der Verenigde Nederlanden. Dat wil zeggen, daar waar het goed gaat en iets bijzonders op te merken valt, zoals bijvoorbeeld zijn perspecitief van Het Plakkaat van Verlating, waarmee de Nederlanders in zijn ogen de tijd ver vooruit zijn. Daar waar de stadhouder of de raadspensionaris niet in staat zijn om van de Republiek een wereldmacht te maken is zijn spijt voelbaar.

Inmiddels is de podcast aangekomen bij het begin van de achttiende eeuw. De Engelsen en de Nederlanders zullen betrokken raken in de Spaanse Successieoorlog (mp3). Dat was tot voor kort een episode uit de geschiedenis waar ik hoegenaamd niets van wist, maar voordat Houweling bij dit conflict aankwam was ik al een luisteraar van Jim Mowatt's podcast Historyzine, die de Spaanse Successieoorlog als centraal onderwerp heeft. Nu zullen we zien wat Houweling er van maakt en of Houweling net als Jim Mowatt de moderne tijd in dit tijdsgewricht laat beginnen.

Meer Hoor! Geschiedenis:
Plakkaat van Verlating,
Willem van Oranje als Bijbelfiguur,
Dagelijks genoegen: hoor! geschiedenis,
Hoor! Geschiedenis - historische podcast recensie.

Historyzine:
The lines of Brabant,
Historyzine at its best,
The battle of Blenheim,
Reliving the War of Spanish Succession,
The year 1703.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The bioethics concern - Third Reith Lecture

Michael Sandel's third of BBC's Reith Lectures 2009 had me thoroughly excited. Those who have followed this blog over a long period may recall my search into the field of bioethics, looking for a way to bring together the need for cures and for scientific research with the intuitive qualms with us meddling with the building blocks of nature. It never got beyond that dilemma.

Sandel, however, succeeded in his third lecture, Genetics and Morality, to analyze the ethical qualm, this nagging intuition, into its rational components. I was so excited while listening, trains of thought kept springing up, making things clear in my age old search (I have been troubled since 1989 with this), yet making me lose track of the podcast. I have listened to it three times now and still not covered it all. Fortunately there is a transcript (Genetics and Morality - in rtf).

Sandel's method is to strip the intuition from its fears and see if there is something left. So, suppose meddling with genetics is not dangerous for our health, suppose allowing a free market force to be at work does not lead to reduced genetic diversity, suppose the benefits are available for all and elevate the weak and the poor, suppose we can handle the greater responsibility that comes with having greater influence on life, what still seems to be the problem? Applied to having children it looks like we reduce children to commodities. We can design them, order them as we like, we can fully repair whatever looks to be imperfection. This is a loveless meritocracy. We will have lost the quality to work with what we get, to appreciate the contingencies of nature. We will have submitted to a morality in which human being is not good enough unless it meets an ever rising set of standards.

We will abort the child with legs of uneven length, because we wanted a football star. And we will kill Garrincha, a man with several birth defects to become one of the best players next to Pele.

More Reith:
Morality in Politics,
Morality and the Market,
Michael Sandel - Philosophy Bites.

More Bioethics:
Regenerative Medicine - Stanford,
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.

Two old and one New Books In History

It works out well to review three episodes of New Books In History at a time. It keeps me up with the latest and also allows me to slowly catch up with the fascinating backlog.

The oldest edition I picked out of the feed was an interview with Donald Worster about his biography of John Muir, founder of several national parks in the US. Apart from being introduced in the fascinating life of Muir, the Scottish Calvinist with a passion for nature who was ahead of his time with ideas about nature preservation, we also meet Donald Worster who is one of the leading names in Environmental History. As such we have heard him also on the Environmental History Podcast.

Carl Bon Tempo is Marshall Poe's guest to talk about his research on the reception of refugees into the US during the Cold War. The point to take from here is, that no matter how the sentiment in the US was towards specific refugees, the sluggish bureaucracy set the pace.

Giles MacDonogh was the latest guest on the show and he has done research into the atrocities committed by the allies during the occupation of Germany. For me this was only half new. Ever since I read In Europa by Geert Mak, I knew many details of the rapes by Red Army soldiers, but I was not aware of similar occurrences in the British, French and American Zones.

More NBIH:
The latest in New Books in History,
Three recommendations,
American Exceptionalism,
The Great War in short,
How Rome Fell.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Antisemitism in France in the 1930's - USHMM podcast

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is also on iTunes, with a veritable multitude of content. The audio that can be subscribed to over there are among others the scholarly lectures about Antisemitism (feed in iTunes, url to iTunes). Also the papers that go with the lectures are available.

The one I listened in on was by Professor Vicky Caron about the antisemitism in France in the 1930's, which turn out to be a prelude to the racial laws of the Vichy regime. (Caron's paper) Caron describes the connection between the mentality of the Dreyfus trial and the exclusion of the Jews by Vichy in the 1940's. In general the antisemitic sentiments in France go up and down, but there is a persistent stream coming from a public that is most of all upset with the French Third Republic and somehow vent their anger on modernity, that is internationalism, that is foreigners and especially the Jews among them.

But then, Jew becomes similar to foreign and untrustworthy for the French cause. This sentiment is widely held and even affects the French prime minister Leon Blum. Blum is pushed to such an extent he feels he must reply and he does so on the front page of one the French papers. The sheer fact he addresses the issue goes to show how severe the distrust of Jews is. Eventually Blum has to relinquish his political career. And so many Jews had to relinquish their French citizenship. Antisemitism appears with all its faces, the suspicion of foreigners, of internationalism albeit capitalist or socialist, the suspicion about Jewish loyalties and the plethora of methods of exclusion.

More Vichy:
La Resistance,
Heesters, Leopold en Petain achteraf (Dutch).

More antisemitism:
Moses Hess according to Isaiah Berlin,
Antisemitism in Germany before 1919,
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History about Adolf Hitler,
Only in America.

Revenge Tragedy - IOT podcast review

BBC's In Our Time last week contained a discussion about Elizabethan and Jacobean Revenge Tragedy. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James I (1558 - 1625) the motif of revenge was very common in the theater and very popular as well.

The program discusses a number of plays, the most famous among them of course Shakespeare's Hamlet. I was struck however by another one, I think it was The Spanish Tragedy in which the revenge is played out in a play. The revenging character devises a scene in which the object of his revenge is an actor that needs to be stabbed. He replaces the stage dagger with a real one. But of course that real one is a stage dagger in The Spanish Tragedy.

The irony seems to be that revenge as a social phenomenon fits more in the Middle Ages and here, in this era, the State of England is being built and is furnished with a legal system and revenge is worked out of society. It is as if the stage plays represent the public mourning over a way of compensation they have to give up. Later on, revenge continues to be a motif in the theater, but not the only one and not as drawn out and central is in this time.

More In Our Time:
The Augustan Age,
The trial of king Charles I,
St. Paul,
Whale evolution,
Magna Carta.

Walther Rathenau - veertien achttien recensie

In de laatste aflevering van Veertien Achttien gaat het over de Duitse industrieel en politicus Walther Rathenau. Natuurlijk wordt bij hem in de eerste plaats gedacht aan de Weimar Republiek waar hij minister van buitenlandse zaken was. En waar hij het slachtoffer werd van een politieke moord.

Rathenau was tijdens de oorlog aangesteld om de Duitse economie aan te passen aan de oorlogstoestand. Podcaster Tom Tacken doet uit de doeken hoe Rathenau op doeltreffende wijze de boel rationaliseert. Daardoor kan er nog jaren doorgevochten worden, terwijl zonder Rathenau Duitsland misschien in 1914 al verslagen was.

Behalve patriot was Rathenau ook joods. Maar net als de Franse premier Leon Blum (over wie ik later vandaag nog meer zal schrijven) speelde zijn joodse identiteit hem toch parten. Hoe verlicht Frankrijk en de Weimar Republiek waren, het antisemitisme achtervolgde en achterhaalde hen. In zekere zin zou je kunnen zeggen dat met de moord op Rathenau de eerste wereldoorlog is afgelopen en de tweede begint.

Meer Veertien Achttien:
Komitas Vardapet,
John Condon,
Koning George V,
Colmar von der Goltz,
Sir Ian Hamilton.

Walther Rathenau in OVT:
1922 - In Europa.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Defining Environmental History (2) - EEH podcast

In the Environmental History Podcast a second interview was produced that addressed the question of how to define the field of environmental history. Host Jan Oosthoek spoke with Paul Warde (mp3) about this.

Warde opposes environmental history to main stream history in such that regular history is more busy with culture and society, that is the humanly constructed world. Environmental history on the other hand is engaged with the physical world. That this implies influence from a wide variety of other disciplines, could be a strength in his eyes. As long is the broad field is not going to bland itself down by sticking to some common denominator.

In his eyes, the variety of methods, data and scientific perspectives have a moral task and this sort of suggests there IS a common denominator. This would be the environmentalist concern. In this sense Warde holds a view different from previous guest, Donald Worster, who wishes to see the field detached from the political agenda, even if the practitioners subscribe to that. I wonder whether the blanding effect Warde sees in a common denominator, may also be at work in a field of environmental history that would represent a branch of social activism.

NB: In the mean time I have found out that Donald Worster was also interviewed on New Books In History. I am listening to that podcast right now and will embody my thoughts in the upcoming combined review of NBIH episodes.

More Environmental History:
Defining Environmental History - Donald Worster,
Natural Disasters,
Canada and New Zealand,
Environmental history,
Climate Change in recent history.

Iran news evaluation - Pods and Blogs

Among all the one-liners on Twitter and the videos on YouTube - how do you weed out the real news from Iran and decide what is reliable and newsworthy and what is not? BBC's Pods and Blogs is the podcast to tackle this question. (feed)

Pods and Blogs is the program about the forefront of modern media. Channels like Twitter and YouTube have proved before that they are the fastest deliverers of news on great confusions such as the Mumbai attacks and the earthquake in China. Especially what facts the authorities try to steer the public away from, can be found on Twitter, blogs, YouTube and Web2.0 on the whole. Pods and Blogs has been reporting on that forever. Now for the selection of news.

Pods and Blogs's Jamilah interviews on-line editors about their methods to select from the unorganized multitude of sources on the web. What struck me was the way a contact is established. Not the first item is taken from one source, but rather a typical social web connection is built and on the basis of developed trust, the material is taken seriously. A bottom-line for Iran appears to be that the uprising is not against the regime, but more so against the style of authority. The protests are against the lies, the repression, the state control, not necessarily against policies.

More Pods and Blogs:
Pods and Blogs podcast review.

Van Iran tot Spa - OVT podcast recensie

Wekelijks kan je de gehele uitzending van VPRO's OVT in twee podcasts van een uur ophalen. In het verleden deed ik dat om de serie In Europa te volgen en ik pik ook af en toe een uitzending mee vanwege een van de onderwerpen, ditmaal was dat Iran. Daarnaast ging het, onder meer, ook over Cornelis Kraijenhof en Spa. Een van de lezers van mijn blog klaagde al eens dat in OVT teveel geleuterd wordt en het gevaar zit er inderdaad in. Ook hier.

Desalniettemin kan de aflevering ons, met twee Iraanse gasten, wel iets meer achtergrond en historisch perspectief op Iran geven dan de gemiddelde media doen. Het beeld dat naar voren komt is dat van twee stromingen binnen de Islamitische revolutie die nu op bloedige wijze om dominantie vechten. Dat daarbij van volkswoede gebruikt wordt gemaakt is in de Iraanse geschiedenis al meer voorgekomen. Het is een verhaal van een eeuw omwentelingen.

Voordat de uitzending eindigt met Het Spoor Terug over de geschiedenis van Spa, is er een interessant item over Cornelis Kraijenhof, dat een aardig inkijkje biedt in de politieke subtiliteiten die de overgang van de achttiende naar de negentiende eeuw vergezelden. Kraijenhof wordt daarin neergezet als politiek misschien wat naief. Hij zou meer een man van leger en wetenschap geweest zijn, maar ik kon wel met hem meegaan. Ik snapte de combinatie wel van waardering voor de Franse revolutie met de wens om zich militair tegen de Franse overheersing te verzetten.

Meer OVT:
Mata Hari en andere executies,
Hoeren en Agenten,
1943 en meer In Europa.

Monday, June 22, 2009

History of Marriage - Wise Counsel

Wise Counsel is a psychology podcast in which Dr. David van Nuys interviews a wide variety of researchers and practitionners in the world of psychology and pyschotherapy. The sponsor of the podcast is Mentalhelp.net a website about mental health education and research. As such the podcast serves as high quality audio content on the web.

The latest edition consists of an interview with Kristin Celello about the history of Marriage. Celello is an exceptional guest on the program since she is a historian and not a psychologisty or psychiatrist. However, her research on marriage, divorce and the emergence of marriage counseling makes her befitting the podcast. Marriage counseling has been
the subject before (Marriage maintenance) and the historical perspective brings a refreshing perspective with new insights.

I recommend anybody who wants to hear Celello, also to listen to her appearance on another interview podcast: New Books in History. Celello's research shows how the definitions of marriage, success in marriage and proper marriage counseling have developed and consequently resulted in shifts within the phenomena of divorce, marriage advice in media and the profession of marriage counselor.

More:
Kristin Celello and others New Books in History,
Self-help with PTSD on Wise Counsel,
Wise Counsel - psychology podcast review,
Irvin Yalom on Wise Counsel,
Getting together and staying together (Wise Counsel).

The nightmare of lice - a history of pandemics

The series עושים היסטוריה! עם רן לוי (Making History with Ran Levi) had yet another excellent edition. For a moment I thought Ran Levi had surpassed his regular level of humorous remarks, by calling the podcast episode about pandemics 'The greatest nightmare of lice'. Like it is bad news for lice when mankind is struck by a lethal pandemic.

Obviously he relates the history of the Black Plague. Interestingly, this podcast came out in the same week cases of plague were reported from Lybia. This germ is not dead yet. Nowadays we know better how to deal with it, but at the time it did in a huge proportion of the early urbanized Europe of the Middle Ages. And so we move on to virus.

Based on sheer numbers, the Spanish Flu of 1919 was more lethal than the Black Plague, yet the Black Plague is engraved in our minds as the pinnacle of pandemics. More so also than Typhus and this is where the louse's nightmare kicks in. Typhus is conveyed by lice and before it hits man, it kills the louse. Even if this undermines a bit of the wit, the narration is excellent as usual. A perfect podcast.

More Making History with Ran Levi:
Surviving the atom bomb,
Robert Heinlein,
Diamond Rain and other phenomena,
Blood,
Myths and pseudo-knowledge.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Morality in Politics - BBC Reith Lectures

On the BBC Reith Lectures 2009, Michael Sandel tries to make a case for allowing morality to be relevant in the political discourse. I find that refreshing. Morality seems to be generally regarded as something to avoid in debate. I think this is the ultimate result of moral relativism: morality is too subjective to be open for discussion. The greatest loss there seems twofold, not only have important, moral, issues - as Sandel also argues - been taken out of the public debate and left undecided, I fear it has also made the whole discussion more difficult than ever. We have lost touch with ways to debate morality, lost the terms, the ways and the language.

And so, it is truly exciting to enter the second in the series of Reith Lectures and find Sandel attempting to show the relevance of morality in politics. Regretfully, this lecture was tad less powerful. The multitude of examples was difficult to cope with. The cognitive leaps, the conceptual construct were harder to grasp.

Nevertheless, the series is of eminent quality and importance. It is a pleasure to listen in and a great good the lectures are available on podcast.

More Michael Sandel:
Reith Lecture one,
Michael Sandel on Philosophy Bites.

The Ferris Wheel and other historic experiences

While we are on the subject of history podcasts that excel in narration, we should not only note the lengthy Hardcore History, but also the remarkably concise Memory Palace (feed)

In The Memory Palace Nate DiMeo delivers five minute histories bringing the data to life, just as Carlin so aptly does. His latest tale was of the Ferris Wheel in Chicago. How the organizers of the world fair in Chicago needed a special attraction that could in some way rival the Eiffel Tower. But Paris was unparallelled, how can Chicago possibly compete? DiMeo portrays the confusion and panic and the solution: The Ferris Wheel. He tells the tale as if we are ON the wheel. And you almost cry when it must come to an end.

This was episode 13 and is entirely representative of this beautiful podcast. Just as with Dan Carlin: you do not have to be in love with history to appreciate this. And if Dan Carlin is prose. Nate DiMeo is poetry.

More The Memory Palace:
The hollow earth,
The Memory Palace - history narration.

Ghosts of the Ostfront - Dan Carlin's Hardcore History

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History has proceeded to the second chapter about the Eastern Front in World War II. Hardcore History is a unique history podcast in that it tells the tales of history in a very dramatic fashion and manages like no other to bring history to life. For this podcast, history is not just the world of data and their chronology, it is the story of people, real people whether it be days long gone or recent history such as in the latest episodes.

My criticism on the first chapter was that maybe here and there the podcast went over the top, that the drama got a little bit melodramatic here and there. This has been made up for in the second chapter. The drama is still the same: autocratic leaders take fatefully unwise decisions and poor souls on the ground pay the price. But this time you are there in the freezing mud with them without exaggeration. The facts are exceptional enough in themselves.

Dan Carlin's podcast has a huge following and it is my experience that dedicated listeners love their favorite podcast to be as long as possible. And Hardcore History is very long. For those who are new and decide to take up this remarkable experience this may be something you want to be prepared for: Dan Carlin takes his time to paint the picture. It is a total immersion podcast.

More Hardcore History:
Dan Carlin about the East Front,
Slavery,
Gwynne Dyer Interview,
Interview with Victor Davis Hanson,
Punic Nightmares III.

Psyconoclasm - Psychology podcast review

A new podcast on science and psychology is Psyconoclasm by David Bradley. In the first episode it kicked off extremely well with an interview with Keith Stanovich on scientific and unscientific approaches in psychology. (feed)

Stanovich calls this subject 'the problem with Freud'. He explains Freud worked with case studies and works hard to show case studies are not enough to draw generalized conclusions from. Yet, it is Freud who people think of, when they think of psychology. Thus they have no idea of what other fields t here are and miss out on proper methodology.

The whole of the interview is dedicated to discussing that second aspect: proper methodologies for psychology as a science. (transcript) An important example to figures in his argument is the case of 'Clever Hans'. This was a German horse that was supposed to have mathematical talent. Stanovich takes the case to show how such a claim (this horse can do arithmetic) can be properly researched. This is not simply by observation, quite to the contrary. He makes a case for the rigors of controlled testing and defends the use of labs in the face of criticism that this can never be applicable to real life situations.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Candy Dulfer - Voor 1 Nacht recensie

KRO's voor 1 nacht lijkt de podcasts twee aan twee in de feed te zetten. Hoewel het programma wekelijks wordt uitgezonden, staan er elke twee weken opeens twee nieuwe afleveringen in de podcast feed. het aardige voor mij is dan dat ik de meest interessante van de twee kies. Of een gecombineerde recensie voorbereid.

Nu heb ik het interview met Candy Dulfer gehoord. Het mooiste vind ik altijd om uitvoerende musici te horen praten over interpretatie en over hun instrument. Gelukkig kwamen deze onderwerpen ook met Dulfer aan bod. Ze legt uit wat het verschil is tussen 'funked up' en 'chilled out' en hoe ze tussen die twee aspecten van haar muziek heen manoevreert. Een verhaal van twee uitersten die elkaar nodig hebben.

Nog veel spannender zijn haar woorden over haar instrument. Het is een oude saxofoon van een geliefd merk. Het klinkt goed, maar het is een heel gevecht om het juiste geluid eruit te krijgen. Dat en haar toewijding aan het publiek, maken haar verhaal buitengewoon fascinerend. Dat interviewer Marc Stakenburg niet zo egr doorvraagt heb ik al vaker geschreven, dat zal wel niet anders meer worden.

Meer KRO's voor 1 nacht:
Olga Zuiderhoek en Paul Rosenmoller,
Gijs Wanders en Adjiedj Bakas,
Arnon Grunberg.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Deja-vu on Ersatz-TV

Ever had a déjà-vu? I have been having them all my life. My favorite vodcast pays attention to them. Scientific approaches to these memory like experiences. I knew what they were going to say in advance... Ni Hao bei Ersatz TV.



More Ersatz TV:
The science of Ersatz TV,
Erzatz TV - German Vodcast.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The latest in New Books in History

I am just barely keeping up with New Books In History. Every week a new interview with authors come out and there is still a considerable backlog I'd love to look in to. At least with the new ones I am done, although I haven't had the time to report on that. So, once more, here is a combined review of three episodes in this fine podcast.

In Becoming Historians Marshal Poe interviews the authors and historians James Banner and John Gillis. They discuss their book about the way the established names became historians. It turns into a comparison game between those historians, including Banner and Gillis and the generation of Marshall Poe and the fundamental differences in atmosphere and environment in which they became historians and mad a career as such (or failed to do so). Inevitably this is also implicitly a talk about how academia has developed, for better or worse, over the past decades.

Rebels Rising is a book by Benjamin Carp about the places where the American Revolution was concocted. This was in bars, but also in churches, markets and even in people's homes. Marshal Poe speaks with Carp.

The Frankfurter Schule surely was an important name when I studied sociology. It never occurred to me though that these people went in exile and after the war only some of them returned to Germany, making this in part American, in part a German phenomenon. Thomas Wheatland wrote a book about the Frankfurt School in Exile and tells Marshal Poe, he actually prefers to speak of the Horkheimer circle. And more: the desertion of Fromm and the misgivings of Marcuse and Adorno. A must listen.

More NBIH:
Three recommendations,
American Exceptionalism,
The Great War in short,
How Rome Fell,
Glancing over the backlog.

Environmental History Vodcast

A visual brother to the Exploring Environmental History Podcast is the Environmental History Videocast (feed) Jan Oosthoek introduces us to the themes of environmental history. And, in the first of the series, an answer to the ever returning question 'What is environmental history'



Source: Environmental History Resources

NOTE: This vodcast is not fit for viewing on iPod.

More Environmental History:
Defining Environmental History,
Natural Disasters,
Canada and New Zealand,
Environmental history,
Climate Change in recent history.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Noam Chomsky on Media Matters

The news podcast Media Matters, with Bob McChesney featured Noam Chomsky and his views that are not exactly middle of the road in the US.

Even though I do not agree with all of what Chomsky says, I find it refreshing to hear him. His cynicism about Israel is something one needs to hear, I think. If one applies a similar kind of cynicism to the Arab world, or to Hamas and Hezbollah the conclusions may be different.

That is where Chomsky, I feel, derails himself. You cannot help but feel in his remarks a subtext of praise for the regimes in Cuba and Venezuela and so the strongest element in his words are those of self-criticism. He rips off the mask of the diplomacy jargon and regular terminology in which the US and Israeli positions are usually portrayed. His words are to be kept in mind as a balance.

More Media Matters:
Juan Cole,
The Crisis.

The Augustan Age - IOT

Here is a quick hint towards BBC's In Our Time before the latest program will be taken out of the feed. I know many of you history podcast listeners out there are interested in Roman History. Well, here is one episode you must download from the feed before tomorrow and listen to: The Augustan Age.

When Octavius became the leader of Rome, he changed his name to Augustus and became the first emperor. This started not only the era of Rome as an Empire it also meant the beginning of immense cultural flourishing. Rome was rebuilt, Rome was reinvented and world history took a definite turn.

More Roman History:
Why did Rome fall?,
Carthage (In Our Time and others),
The Punic Wars (Dan Carlin's hardcore History),
Tacitus (In Our Time),
Roman History in Podcasts.

There is also an Open University vodcast about Roman History, that I have not reviewed (yet).

More In Our Time:
The trial of king Charles I,
St. Paul,
Whale evolution,
Magna Carta,
BBC's In Our Time - always recommended.

A crisis of authority in Iran - The Economist podcast

Ali Ansari speaks on The Economist Podcast about the Iranian Elections and the ensuing unrest.



The bottom-line is: this is not an unrest that is going to throw over the government, but it is a strong signal to the rulers it cannot mess with the people. It tells also the outside world, Iran is much more diverse that usually assumed.

More from The Economist:
Comfort with Obama,
Democracy in America - podcast review,
Issues of Race,
The primary system,
The Economist in New Hampshire.

More Iran:
The Iranian Elections - KQED Forum,
Iran Today - LSE podcast,
Iran in 2009 - UChannel Podcast,
Iran Podcast,
Iran - to strike or not to strike.

Aaf Brandt Corstius - Simek 's Nachts

In Elseviers versie van Simek 's Nachts was de vriendin van Gijs Groenteman te gast. Op de RVU hadden we al de moeder van Gijs gehad. Voor wie het nog niet wist, Gijs Groenteman is een van de langstmeelopende redacteuren van Simek 's Nachts. Het zette Martin in een lastig parket.

Maar Martin Simek, zou Simek niet zijn als hij niet toch nog met Aaf Brandt Corstius een prima gesprek zou hebben. Aan het eind ropet hij dat het te klef wordt en al daarvoor had ik het gevoel dat hij niet goed wist wat te vragen. In wezen komt het er op neer dat hij zijn gaste de resultaten van eerdere interviews voorhoudt en daarop laat reageren.

Vanuit het perspectief van professionaliteit en originaliteit is daar natuurlijk van alles op aan te merken, maar Aaf Brandt Corstius gaat vrolijk mee en praat gemoedelijk en openhartig. Zo wordt het een leuke uitzending met de nodige primeurs. Simek zal het er moeilijk mee gehad hebben, maar het resultaat zal de luisteraar bevallen en daar gaat het ten slotte om niet waar?

Overigens, Simek heeft een afvloeiïngsregeling bij de RVU gekregen. Er moest wel een rechter aan te pas komen. En passant leren we dat hij 1000 Euro per interview ontving. Niet slecht zou ik zeggen. (bron: Volkskrant)

Meer Simek 's Nachts:
Freek de Jonge,
Kees van Kooten,
Connie Palmen,
Dhyan Sutorius (RVU),
Louis Tas (RVU).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Reith Lectures 2009 - Michael Sandel on new Citizenship

For those who have heard Michael Sandel on Philosophy Bites will recognize a lot in the first of four lectures Michael Sandel held at the BBC. These are the Reith Lectures of 2009. The Reith Lectures are held each year and have had illustrious speakers such as Bertrand Russell, Robert Oppenheimer and Jonathan Sacks. (feed)

Michael Sandel speaks and will speak in three more lectures (the second was published today) about a new kind of citizenship. This is going to be about the common good and about morality in politics. Yet, as in Philosophy Bites, his entry point is to speak of Markets. The reason for this is that modern political system holds the market in great esteem. Market seems to be believed in as the best road to the common good.

Sandel disagrees. The market does not automatically serve the common good and doesn't automatically lead to good outcomes. He argues that some of the market should be held out of certain public and private spheres. He shows this with schooling, refugees, warfare, the prison system and more. The questions from the audience are a very good addition. This podcast is an exciting experience.

Media revolution and the effect on power - Clay Shirky on TED

This video was recorded before the Iran elections and doesn't use it as an example. The examples are from Nigeria, the US and China, but you can think of any place else in the world. Twitter, SMS; Web2.0 is changing the world. It changed how the message is conveyed, it is changing the power of the state to control the message, it is bringing a new kind of democracy. Hopefully for the better.



More TED:
Shay Agassi's visionary plan to bring electric cars to the world,
Elizabeth Gilbert,
Bill Gates,
Stephen Petranek,
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

The Iranian Elections - KQED Forum

The radio program KQED Forum with Michael Krasny has paid attention yesterday to the Iranian elections . Thanks to podcast, you can all hear it.



What is exciting about this cast are the presence of both specialists (Scott Peterson, Juan Cole and Abbas Milani) as well as live callers with good questions ad remarks and live updates of the protests in Teheran as they occur. I was especially impressed by Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University, who gave much more background information than I had ever picked up from regular media so far, including what clear indicators there are for fraud. In the words of Milani: "They operated so clumsily, it was obvious." And then he gives a number of facts, such as the immense speed at which the results were announced.

More KQED Forum:
Irvin Yalom,
Susan Jacoby,
Christopher Hitchins.

More Juan Cole:
Juan Cole on Media Matters.

More Iran:
Iran Today - LSE podcast,
Iran in 2009 - UChannel Podcast,
Iran Podcast,
Iran - to strike or not to strike.

The power of an atom bomb - Ran Levi

A fascinating and unusual podcast came in the series עושים היסטוריה! עם רן לוי (Making History with Ran Levi). Ran Levi interviewed Dr. Yehosha Sokol of the Academic Forum for Nuclear Awareness (AFNA) about the actual dangers involved in a nuclear strike.

Dr. Sokol delivered a couple of facts about nuclear arms that are simply not spread and are probably not even considered as nuclear arms seem about the grimmest in our arsenal and are surrounded by a mindscape of hell on earth. The facts show that in actuality, a nuclear strike, though by no means small and insignificant, is far from the world's end as we tend to think.

For those who know Hebrew this is about the warmest recommendation I can give for a podcast ever. Here is everything you needed to know on the subject, especially if you live in Israel and worry about the threat from Iran. If you don't know Hebrew, at least get on the website of AFNA which contains information also in English and Russian. And find out what Dr. Sokol's comparison in the end: an atom bomb is as destructive as the 9/11 attack with additional radiation for about 48 hours. That's bad, but it is certainly not as lethal as I thought it would be.

More Making History with Ran Levi:
Robert Heinlein,
Diamond Rain and other phenomena,
Blood,
Myths and pseudo-knowledge,
What goes up, must come down.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Roald Dahl - Oxford Biographies

Oxford University Press has a Dictionary of National Biographies which probably is also available in print, but can be accessed on-line at a premium. It contains biographies of some sixty thousand people in British history, from 400 BC to today. For promotion they have a podcast every fortnight Oxford Biographies that delivers spoken biographies in seven to fifteen minutes. (feed)

By now a wide variety of free audio biographies have accumulated and if they not appear all in the feed, you can find them in thematic sections on the website.

The most recent of the biographies was a very interesting one about Roald Dahl. I loved reading Roald Dahl all my life, but knew next to nothing about his life. The biography serves that purpose and makes connections between the facts of his life and his work. Dahl emerges with an expected contrary nature, but with a few unexpected opinions and remarks.

More Oxford Biographies:
Biography Podcasts,
Oxford Biographies podcast review.

Bubbe teaches Eggplant

The latest video on the vodcast Feed Me Bubbe shows how to make an eggplant lasagna (episode #30). I am not sure if I am going to make the lasagna, but I am definitely going to experiment with what I learnt from Bubbe about eggplant. I like cooking with eggplant a lot, but have struggled with getting it right.

First off, Bubbe tells what aubergine to choose: not too big - those contain a lot of seeds. The seeds, if not bitter, they are a less pleasant look in your dish, so it helps to have fewer. Then, she gives the most interesting idea to get rid of the bitterness of the vegetable. She peels it - I would never do that, unless for a sour eggplant soup - and then puts the pieces in a colander (new English word to learn!) under a dish with a weight on it. Thus she presses some of the juice out. It is the juice, she claims that is bitter.

I must check that, but there is another advantage she acquires by her handling of the pieces. She treats them with salt and rinses them afterward and claims that thanks to this procedure, the pieces will soak up less oil when fried. That is also very important. Eggplant is a sponge that has few calories by itself, but can take in so much oil when frying, you have to keep adding and wind up with a fatty, saturated dish.



Show #30 is not (yet) available for embedding, so this is another video from the makers of Feed Me Bubbe.

More Feed Me Bubbe:
Jewish Food and Culture.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Isaiah Berlin - Philosopher's Zone and Oxford

Oxford University is commemorating a hundred years since the birth of the philosopher and historian of ideas Isaiah Berlin. For the occasion there is a special podcast which contains a number of lectures by Berlin. I have reviewed one on Moses Hess and here I would like to point to DIY Scholar, who has reviewed one on Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Also the Australian broadcaster ABC paid attention to the centenary and aired a conversation with Isaiah Berlin on Philosopher's Zone, which was also podcast. Before this they had invited John Gray to speak about Isaiah Berlin, which was also a great listen.

Back to the Oxford series. That series closed with a lecture by Alan Ryan who did a wonderful job in trying to capture Isaiah Berlin. (Oxford on iTunesU, iTunes feed)

More Philosopher's Zone:
Philosopher's Zone,
Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.

More John Gray:
Religion and the Market,
Gray's Anatomy.

Ethics Bites - BBC, open university, open2.net

Occasionally I have run into the cooperation between the BBC and The Open University at Open2.net. I should engage one day in a systematic search for the podcasts over there. Until then, here is one among them I discovered when I researched my review of Michael Sandel's appearance at Philosophy Bites. As it turns out, Dave Edmonds and Nigel Warburton have made a podcast for Open2.net under the name Ethics Bites (feed). Ethics Bites seems to have podfaded, but the feed is still accessible and full of great content.

I have listened to the last two episodes, Free Speech and The ethics of Climate Change. These interviews are conducted along the same lines as Philosophy Bites, where Nigel Warburton interviews the guest and in around a quarter they summon up the field. James Garvey's remarks on climate change, gives a good inventory of what the dilemmas are and this is ethics that is immediately relevant for politics. Garvey, in this respect, is very outspoken and even if you think prejudiced, the podcast forces us to ponder.

The talk with Tim Scanlon about Free Speech was especially useful for me, because of the added attention I have given lately to podcasts with Michael Sandel, John Gray and Isaiah Berlin. The subject of freedom and the evaluation of John Stuart Mill has turned out to be a returning subject in all of these. Tim Scanlon's appearance on Ethics Bites touched on Mill and Freedom as well, thus greatly contributing to the overall picture.

More Open2.net:
Things We Forgot to Remember.

More Philosophy Bites:
Aristotle's Ethics,
Sartre,
Idealism,
Alternative Hedonism,
Non-realism of God.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Learning - Don Tapscott on Big Ideas

TVO's podcast Big Ideas had a fantastic lecture by Don Tapscott in which he laid out how learning has drastically changed since we entered the digital era. The generation of people born as of 1978 have grown up with computers and the internet and developed a radical different approach to knowledge, learning and intellectual exchange in general.

The essence of Tapscott's message is though that this is not necessarily bad. Quite to the contrary, he shows a lot of admiration for the new learners and expresses the hope that this new generation is actually better at handling the challenges of the day. In his mind, the former learners were too passive for this. Growing up with TV, frontal education and information gathered in books, made earlier generations wait for knowledge to arrive and take it at face value. Modern learners immediately compare and actively collect information.

His favorite example is that of an excellent student who admits he never reads books and thus on the face of it symbolizes how our intellectual world goes down the drain. Yet, Tapscott follows up on this and shows what the student is capable of and extracts from him how he does acquire knowledge and even knows what is in the books he did not read. This is the lecture for all those who fear our youth goes down the drain and feels guilty for wasting ones time on the internet in stead of learning the good old fashioned way.

More Big Ideas:
On Crime,
Why isn't the whole world developed?,
The role and place of the intellectual,
Disaster Capitalism,
The Bad News about Good Work.

Biological Anthropology - Berkeley

In my days as a student I have learned a little bit of cultural anthropology. Thanks to a course on Berkeley I have learned much of the missing component in my knowledge, that of biology. Aptly, the course is called An introduction to Biological Anthropology, or simply anthropology 1. As in number 1, the course to kick anthropology off. (feed)

So it is really the basics that I lacked and were added here. The importance of evolution for the human beings and their social behavior. The way in which human evolved and what all of this means for humanity today. It is something that I completely overlooked, that the rural habitat seems an eternity for man in comparison with industrial and urban modernity. However, in terms of evolution, these are a blip on the human clock and this essentially means, man is physically shaped to be a hunter gatherer.

Nevertheless, and this is the strength of the course and I recommend especially the last lectures for this subject, the recent developments of agriculture and industrialization are still significant biologically. They imply a radical change of the habitat and consequently completely different constraints on genetic developments. So even if our history is too recent and almost too short for out biology, there is an effect. All of this leads to better understanding of human beings and their society.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Michael Sandel - Philosophy Bites

Philosophy Bites had an exquisite guest in Michael Sandel. On a side note, Sandel will be giving the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures and they will be podcast as well. So there will be more Sandel soon.

The interview on Philosophy Bites delivers us the concise and comprehensive thing you must know about Sandel's thinking: about morality and the market. It is the best preparation for the more extensive lectures on the BBC.

Sandel basically responds to the capitalist notion that is hardly challenged these days, that market forces are good and it is best to leave as much regulation as possible to the market. Essentially this means that anything is open for trade and Sandel asks the question whether there are things that cannot be sold. The exemplary subject is surely slavery. The strength of Sandel, and he is challenged by Nigel Warburton, is to show non-utilitarian reasons for this. Another example is that of war. It turns out, warfare, these days, is largely outsourced and the US have discovered they fight in Iraq with mostly mercenaries. Sandel points out, that here the market has brought about a policy that was never debated in public. So, not only is the market not necessarily as far as results is concerned, it can also be of dubious morality and eventually replaces public policy and political conscious debate, if completely free.

More Philosophy Bites
Aristotle's Ethics,
Sartre,
Idealism,
Alternative Hedonism,
Non-realism of God.