Sunday, January 31, 2010

New podcasts in January 2010 - Anne is a Man

Yesterday I gave the list of podcasts that were recommended by readers. Today I want to give the list of new podcasts I mentioned in my posts this month - in these yesterday's mentions are not included. Tomorrow I would normally give the full list of podcasts, but that will go differently from now on - more on that tomorrow.

This month I got to mention a couple of podcasts in languages I do not master, Spanish and Swedish. The short reviews were guest reviews as it were, and I would love to publish good guest posts about podcasts in other languages.

En Akademisk Kvart (mention, site, feed). An academic podcast in Swedish delivering concise talks (15 minutes on average) about a wide variety of topics, many of which are historic.

La Rosa de los vientos (mention, site, feed)
A three hours radio program in Spanish, about history, archeology, astronomy, science, secret services and much more.

Pasajes de la historia (mention, site, feed)
History rubric in the Rosa de los Vientos program as a separate podcast in Spanish.

Ciencia y Genios (mention, site, feed)
A podcast in Spanish about geniuses in science

El Bloguipodio (mention, site, feed)
A conversational podcast in Spanish. Two journalists comment the news, politics and more.

In addition to these foreign language podcasts I had a couple of new history podcasts, a literary and a philosophy podcast:

Byzantine Empire (UCSD) (review, site, feed)
History lecture series by Professor Matthew Herbst about the Byzantine Empire.

History of British India (UCLA) (review, site, feed)
History lecture series by Professor Vinay Lal about the history of India under British rule from the 17th to the 20th century.

France since 1871 (Yale) (review, site, feed)
History lecture series by Professor John Merriman about France in modern times.

Letters and Science 140D (Berkeley) (review, site, feed)
Interdisciplinary lecture series by history professor Thomas Laqueur about development and implementation of the idea of human rights.

History of the World in 100 Objects (BBC) (review, site, feed)
Radio program on BBC 4 with the director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor telling man's history by means of the things he made and used.

Classic Poetry Aloud (review, site, feed)
Classic poems from English literature read to the listener

Philosophy: The Classics (review, site, feed)
An introduction to a series of classical works in philosophy. From Plato's Republic to Kierkegaard's either/or.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Reported podcasts in January 2010 - Anne is a Man

As promised in my new Report a Podcast policy (which will get its own page soon), I will sum up the recommendations that you have channeled to me and that I did not get round to to review within the month.

HNI Podcast (feed)
Science podcast by the Honeywell Nobel Interactive Studio. Recommended to me by RKawabata through Twitter: "Hello, we enjoy your blog and would be thrilled if you could review our HNI science podcast! http://bit.ly/6ffGbK "

Living History (feed)
The podcast for the reenacting community. Recommended by Jim through chat. "Jim: btw have you spotted this podcast http://livinghistorypodcast.com/ ?"

Holloway series in poetry (Berkeley) (feed)
Recommended by Sean in a comment: "Berkeley's Holloway Series in Poetry can often be quite good. I felt a particularly good one was with Michael McClure."

Poetry off the shelf (feed)
Recommended by Gaurav in a comment: "The Poetry Off The Shelf podcast by the Poetry Foundation is fantastic. The PF has a bunch of other good podcasts as well, including a poem-of-the-day and a Great American Poets podcast, but Poetry Off The Shelf has a nice mix of poetry readings accompanied by poet interviews, commentary by the excellent host, Curtis Fox, and really good pointers at other online and offline poetry resources. I just can't recommend it highly enough."

Through the mail came the following recommendations:

The same group of guys that brought you the Metal Rules! Magazine in the 90's, now have a radio show. Metal Rules Radio (feed) interviews musicians/personalities in the metal music community, reviews song submissions from up and coming artists, and has fun discussing a variety of topics every show. New episodes are posted every Sunday.

Seeing as there is a chance this comment will go ahead if you don't get a chance to review the podcast I'm going to say that With Cheese (feed) is the world's most direct source of profound knowledge and insight, at absolutely no cost to the listener they are transported on a journey into the minds of four of today's greatest thinkers, only to be shot out into the world an hour or so later fundamentally changed and at least one stop past their chosen destination.
I hope for the sake of those seeking divine inspiration that you can find the time to review "With Cheese" and see that I may have exaggerated the wisdom, but underplayed the humour.
(also available on the UK itunes but i couldn't find a direct link...so much for wise eh?)
we can also be contacted at withcheese@hotmail.co.uk
Thanks very much
The chaps at with cheese

On the Podcast Parlor I got two recommendations for German podcasts from Frank O.

Küchenradio (feed)
Frank writes: "I like kuechenradio.org (interviews etc.), a spare time project of some radio journalists interviewing people in their kitchen (with varying quality, episodes I can recommend are e.g. 239, 116, 127, 47)."

Chaosradio Express (feed)
Frank writes: "Chaosradio Express is very good technical one, focusing on IT topics (as well as privacy and related political topics; there is also a quite interesting episode on coffee."

And last but not least Ronald sent me a link to a German radio station (Multikulti) that gives podcasts in various languages, among others in Russian.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A History of the World in 100 Objects - BBC

Thanks to a post at Open Culture I was alerted to a new podcast at the BBC: A History of the World in 100 Objects. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, narrates 100 programmes that retell humanity's history through the objects we have made. (feed)

So far, nine episodes of about 15 minutes have been released, starting off with the Mummy of Hornedjitef which served in the series as the object to explain the interest of viewing history through objects. Right after that MacGregor got on the chronological track and took us from the earliest stone tools to the first art and religious figurines. At the site you can also view pictures of the objects.
The consecutive subjects for now:
Making Us Human (2,000,000-8,000BC) Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool
Making Us Human (2,000,000-8,000BC) Olduvai Handaxe
Making Us Human (2,000,000-8,000BC) Swimming Reindeer
Making Us Human (2,000,000-8,000BC) Clovis Spear Point
After the Ice Age: Food and Sex (8,000-3,000BC) Bird-shaped Pestle
After the Ice Age: Food and Sex (8,000-3,000BC) Ain Sakri Lovers Figurine
After the Ice Age: Food and Sex (8,000-3,000BC) Egyptian Clay Model of Cattle
After the Ice Age: Food and Sex (8,000-3,000BC) Maya Maize God Statue

Once again I am struck by the magnitude of the agricultural revolution. In a more general sense the series shows how humans in shaping objects, they shaped their world and have continuously been changing their condition. Add to that the element of narrative which can be shaped in a thousand ways, and by each way, shape our history and hence our condition as well. In the art of shaping a story, this BBC series does a fantastic job.

More BBC programs:
In Our Time,
A short History of Ireland,
Thinking Allowed,
Analysis,
A story of India.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How about a new look and feel?

I am toying with the idea of changing the look of this blog. The current template has been in use for a year and a half and it wears me out a bit. I am considering changing back to a standard blogger template for some technical reasons. One of them is the issue of maintenance. The current template is not supported and had to be intensively redone in order to serve my needs.

Now that Blogger templates are offering the functionality I want, I would love to shed the skin I knew wouldn't last forever. Here is an idea what the next look might be. If you find the top navigation bar missing, it sits here on the right, but will move to the top. I would love to hear your feedback.

Anne

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

9 podcasts I enjoyed and cannot all review extensively

Over the past week or two I have accumulated such a long list of podcasts that I have listened to and are candidates for reviewing that I cannot simply spend a post on each of them. Hence, I took nine of them and pack them here together.

Letters and Science 140D (feed), The history and practice of human rights (Berkeley) - I have started this course with great interest. Not only does it give a much broader view on human rights that I have been used to (I remind you I studied and taught law at some point in my life), but it is also a very pleasant renewed encounter with Thomas Laqueur as a lecturer. For a more extensive review I kindly refer you to my colleague DIY Scholar.

Science and the City (NYAS) about the Silk Road - this short science podcast takes us to an exhibit about the Silk Road and its history. In 18 minutes you will not get more than a tip of the iceberg. The subject that struck me most was the description of one of the cities on the central cross roads (the east-west and the north-south connections) Turfan.

Exploring Environmental History - Jan Oosthoek interviewed Vimbai Kwashirai, Lecturer in African History at Durham University, about the debates and processes of woodland exploitation in Zimbabwe during the colonial period (1890-1980).

In Our Time (BBC) - Delved into the Glencoe Massacre in 1692. A sample of war time atrocities.

The Memory Palace - Once again Nate DiMeo knows to capture history, insight and human drama in five minutes of historic narrative.

LSE Podcast - Professor Mark Mazower lectures and answers questions about Europe after the European Age. After it has ruled the world for a couple of centuries, is the old continent on its way to become a backwater again? Or is it reinventing itself and will it continue to play its part on the world stage? History and geopolitics as you can find it frequently at the London School of Econonmics, take for example the last lecture I reviewed about China, the future hegemon.

Podularity - George Miller interviews Stephen Asma on his book On Monsters. This is not about monsters, it is about human fears.

Veertien Achttien - The outstanding Dutch podcast about The Great War, which talked about Henri Barbusse that French writer, who condemned the war in his famous Le Feu and the Italian writer Gabriele D'Annunzio who is portrayed as an early version of Mussolini.

Making History with Ran Levi (עושים היסטוריה! עם רן לוי) - The most entertaining way I have ever been told the history of the internet. Podcast in Hebrew.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Three New Books In History - NBIH

A podcast that I do not miss an episode from is New Books in History (which I have been abbreviating as NBIH, but I saw the maker uses NBH). Each week there is an hour long interview with the author of a new book, in history of course. The host and interviewer, historian Marshall Poe, invariably has read the book and then conducts an interview that is very well tailored to book, subject as well as author. Every week this allows you to get a good insight in some subject of history.

Here are the three latest issues, each of which are definitely worth a listen:

Julian E. Zelizer, “Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security From WWII to the War on Terrorism” - In this interview Marshall Poe prompts Zelizer to take us through all of the recent wars the US was involved in, from Korea to Iraq and let him explain how the internal politics of the US influenced the decision of the President and his government to enter the war. Much to Poe's surprise, without exception, the President got into the war he wanted to get into. There was always some weighing of the power balance between Republicans and Democrats that, if not forced his hand, strongly influenced the move. It reminded me of Henry Kissinger's line about Israeli politics: Israel has no foreign policy, there is only internal policy. Apparently he did not have to look for to get that idea.

Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson, “Natural Experiments of History” - Although the book was edited not by Jared Diamond alone, the guest on the show is Jared Diamond only. Although there is ample talk of what is meant with Natural Experiments and some examples are discussed, the most interesting part of the interview dwells on another subject. Diamond and Poe get to discuss and criticize the current state of affairs in academia as far as the discipline of history is concerned. History is completely compartmentalized. Historians delve solely into one niche subject and stick to one research method - reading primary sources. According to Diamond this is unfortunate and he argues how history could be enriched with broadening subjects, getting historians out of their small fields and have them apply methods of social sciences together with reliance on primary sources.

Alan E. Steinweis, “Kristallnacht 1938″ - While NBIH comes out weekly on the beat, somehow it delivered two episodes this week with a mere two or three day difference. And so we could enjoy a most informative interview with Allan Steinweis about the Kristallnacht. We learn how fine and gradual the distinction were from an organized to a spontaneous pogrom. And this is all set in a historical perspective of the deteriorating position of the Jews since 1933, of a Nazi regime that was all set for this deterioration, but was also aware of its international position and had ample reason to keep the simmering pogroms in check and in the perspective of an incident two days earlier in Paris. At the German embassy a Polish Jew shot a German diplomat and although the whole affair was clearly the doings of an individual, it fitted so neatly with the widely adopted idea of a Jewish conspiracy that it could bring the simmering pogrom to burst.

More NBIH:
The fourth part of the world,
How the Soviet system imploded,
Vietnam War perspectives,
1989 - Padraic Kenney,
The Ossie twilight.

Magnificent Devil - Norman Centuries

While I am listening to UCSD's series about the Byzantine Empire and reading Lars Brownworth's book Lost to the West which can out of his previous podcast series 12 Byzantine Rulers, Lars is continuing his new series Norman Centuries.

Lars has a knack for telling stories. Granted, the Normans are giving him plenty juicy stuff to report about, with their upstart leaders and audacious politicking in Medieval France, but his soothing calm voice and gentle use of language make it an ironic treat. A fine example of such irony is to be found in the fourth episode Magnificent Devil, about Robert I, Duke of Normandy. Robert brazen and risky strive for power earned him the nickname Magnificent Devil, yet his success allow him to safely settle to power and even acquire dignity.

I am looking forward to the next episode, which will be about William the Conqueror, Robert's son. At the current speed at which the episodes come out, it will take a couple of weeks and I will have time to finish Lars's book. As to the book; I have not yet compared the chapters with the text of the Byzantine podcast, but I intend to do that and report to you how close the two products are.

More Norman Centuries:
Richard the Fearless,
Norman Centuries - Lars is back!.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Famous voices at Volkis Stimme

When I last wrote about Volkis Stimme, I already had a feeling the podcast was undergoing a renewal and the way it has begun 2010 certain confirms that impression. In stead of the regular news satire, Volker Klärchen brought us two shows which covered an interview with voice over artist Oliver Rohrbeck. (Oliver Rohrbeck, Teil 1; Oliver Rohrbeck, Teil 2)

Oliver Rohrbeck appeared in many audio plays (for Germans Justus Jonas from Die drei Fragezeichen is very prominent) as well as gave his voice in synchronization to many famous characters in American films and TV series. The result is that his voice is very famous, but his face (or his person) is not. To have one like him on a podcast show is obviously very befitting. And Volker Klärchen proves to be an engaged, enthusiastic and pleasant interviewer, resulting in a fascinating double show.

It was the profound difference between Dutch and German TV, when I grew up, that foreign productions on German TV were synchronized, whereas Dutch TV would bring them with subtitles. The dubbing therefore was no serious industry in Holland, but it was, obviously, in Germany. Consequently, talents such as Rohrbeck's could flourish. We Dutch used to look down upon the synchronization, but through the interview I have come to understand the complexity and artistry in it as well as the thoroughness and seriousness with which this was regularly done. For example, Rohrbeck did the voice of Michael the older brother of Elliott in ET. When ET was rerun with a new cut and additional scenes had to be dubbed. Rohrbeck tells how he was involved in making these new scenes fit with he previous contribution.

More Volkis Stimme:
Advent at Volkis Stimme,
Geburtstag,
Quick recommendation,
Angela Merkel (Angie) in Volkis Stimme,
Volkis Stimme - German podcast review.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Podcasts on Medieval History

I have reported on so many podcasts in the realm of history that I have deemed it necessary to take my history directory and order it into subdivisions. There will be subdivisions into eras, into regions and into themes, to whatever extent the division is useful, accepting the overlap and holes that remain - just to cut up an unwieldy list of over 130 podcasts into reasonable chunks.

The first subset I created was Ancient History.

Here is the second: Podcasts on Medieval History. Strictly, this should go between 500 and 1500 CE, but, to give you one example, you will find here podcasts about Byzantine history, which start earlier. The idea is to incorporate narratives that, irrespective of their starting point, have their main importance in the pre-1500 age. Again it needs to be pointed out that there are general history podcasts that have offered great content about stuff from the Middle Ages, yet will not be here because they give so much else as well.

12 Byzantine Rulers, (review, site, feed).
Sixteen monologues covering the history of the Byzantine Empire from the 8th century to its fall in 1453 and beyond.

All Things Medieval, (review, site, feed)
Podcast on whatever is related to the late Middle Ages - not just dry history.

Ancient and Medieval Podcast, (review, site, feed).
7 charming episodes with befitting music, travel tips (accounts of relevant excursions the hosts did themselves) and more. I especially liked the issues about Robin Hood (Robyn Hode), Charlemagne and Beowulf.

Church History, (review, site, feed)
Denominational history of the medieval Christian Church

German Cultural History  (review, site, feed)
fascinating musings about Medieval German Culture and its earliest roots.

Geschichtspodcast (Chronico) (review, site, feed)
Promotional podcast of Chronico Magazine (German) with general focus on the era from little before until little after the Middle Ages (German Language podcast)

History 2311, (review, site, feed).
The history of Western Civilization up to 1600, by Gretchen Ann Reilly, also known from the podcast American History before 1870. This is a quality monologue style podcast in 15 minute editions. The entry level is high school / college.

HUM 4104 (Virginia Tech) (review, site, feed)
Professor Matthew Gabriele's podcast that accompanies a lecture series about Medieval Heroes. The podcast gives very brief guidance to the texts about the heroes.

Islamic Medicine (review , site, feed)
The University of Warwick's series by Professor Peter Pormann about the Medieval Medicine as it was received from the Greeks, influenced by other cultures and preserved in the Islam world, before it was received by the West.

Medieval & Renaissance Studies Events (Fall 2008), (Virginia Tech) (review, site, feed)
Virginia Tech's lecture series about the Crusades. As far as I can see only one of the lectures is available on podcast.

Medieval & Renaissance Studies Events (Spring 2008), (Virginia Tech) (review, site, feed).
A podcast series with public lectures held at Virginia Tech on historical subjects.

Medieval Podcast, (review, site, feed).
Podfaded show featuring several issues about England in medieval times and about monasticism.

MMW 3, the medieval heritage (Chamberlain) (review, site, feed)
A history lecture series explaining the middle ages mostly from the perspective of religions.

MMW 3, the medieval heritage (Herbst) (review, site, feed)
A parallel series choosing a more traditional perspective, but exceptionally good no less.

Norman Centuries (review, site, feed)
The comeback of history podcast veteran Lars Brownworth. This series will tell us the history of the Normans.

Podcasts on Medieval Texts, (review, site, feed).
Short introductions to certain specific medieval texts like Beowulf and the Malleus Maleficarum. The same series is on iTunes U, Virginia Tech, under the title HUM 1214 - Spring 2008.

Pope Podcast (review, site, feed)
A one by one, pope by pope history of the papacy.

Skythen-Podcast (review, site, feed)
Very extensive promotional podcast for an exhibition on the Scythians. (German Language)

Tudorcast, (review, site, feed).
The approach host Lara Eakins takes, is to bring out a monthly podcast and relate to the listener various tidbits of the history connected to the specific month we are in. She takes from original sources and brings us to the finest details of the history.

Lea Dasberg - Het Marathon Interview

Zojuist verscheen in de nieuwe feed van VPRO's Het Marathoninterview een zeer memorabel gesprek dat Harmke Pijpers Galen in 1989 had met Lea Dasberg. Mijn recensie uit September 2007 daarover gaat als volgt:

Er is een boek van Lea Dasberg, dat ik niet gelezen heb, maar dat me aanspreekt alleen al om de titel: Grootbrengen door kleinhouden. Daar wordt het Nederlands maternalisme zo goed gevangen dat ik me door haar meteen begrepen voel. En dan hebben we ook nog iets gemeen: Nederland achter ons gelaten hebben en onze eindbestemming in Israel gevonden. Genoeg om op voorhand al te genieten van het marathoninterview uit 1989.

Interviewster Harmke Pijpers laat Dasberg lang vertellen over haar kindertijd. Daarna, langs een heel natuurlijke overgang komt ze te spreken over haar pedagogische principes. Daar zitten prachtige gedachtengangen tussen. Zoals bijvoorbeeld: het is te riskant om een toekomst te bouwen op de zelfontplooing. In haar optiek moeten kinderen gestimuleerd worden. Desnoods ook moeten ze hard aangepakt worden - Dasberg gelooft niet in zielig doen. Mensen moeten maar leren dat sommige tegenslagen er in het leven bijhoren. Pech hoeft niet weg, voor haar. Geen recht op een pechvrij bestaan.

Dat had ze zelf ook niet. En zo legt ze zich neer bij de afstand die haar invaliditeit noodzakelijkerwijs tot mannen schept. Maar ze geeft ook aan geboft te hebben, met datgene wat elk kind nodig heeft, maar niet altijd krijgt: ouders die je lief vinden. Die je mooi vinden en die hun verwachtingen en hoop over je koesteren. De mens moet met het basisgevoel opgroeien dat het kostbaar is. Waarna het ook nog over Israel gaat. Voor mij is dat niet minder fascinerend, maar ik kan me voorstellen dat dat gedeelte, juist doordat het zo gedateerd is, de gemiddelde luisteraar wat minder raakt. Het Israel van 1989 is niet meer het Israel van 2007, al kan je versteld staan over hoeveel er nog wel hetzelfde gebleven is.

Meer Het Marathon Interview:
Rudi Kross,
Ina Muller van Ast,
Jan Wolkers,
Henk Hofland (o.a.),
Diepenhorst en andere politici.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

King Lear - Entitled Opinions

If I did not write about each and every issue of the eminent podcast Entitled Opinions it is more likely that the show went over my head and I did not feel qualified to write something about it than that I could not recommend it. This podcast is one of the most exciting, yet challenging offerings around. Each and every subject is taken on with the utmost intellectual seriousness and taken to as deep as host Robert Harrison and his guest can take it.

Similarly, the last show about Shakespeare's King Lear with guest Steven Orgel, is diving straight into the deepest water. From the quality of Shakespeare as a writer in general, using quotes from Wittgenstein, Orgel and Harrison take on the play King Lear as the specific work to discuss. On must know the play and in this respect I was helped by the fact that in the past I have heard two other podcasts about King Lear, one was a 2008 program of BBC's In Our Time, which spent much time on the history (both context and reception) of the play and the underlying folk tale. Next to that I picked out the lectures pertaining to King Lear from a Shakespeare series at Berkeley. In the Berkeley course more talk is spent on the content of the play.

Harrison and Orgel's discussion take the middle ground between these approaches. They do not dig too much in the historical context of the play, though they do refer to it, as well as to the history of its reception. Neither do they go through the play and deliver the tale and the drama - they rather take it for granted one is familiar to that. They go straight for the sheer jewels: the complex characters, their complex relations and the meaning of the tragic ending, with Cordelia's death and Lear's slide into total lunacy. With these three podcasts one can make some real study of King Lear.

More King Lear:
King Lear in Podcast.

More Entitled Opinions:
Albert Camus,
Unabomber world views,
Byzantine Culture,
Jimi Hendrix,
Nietzsche.

A Story of India - BBC television series

Michael Wood's TV documentary The Story of India was suggested as an alternative to the History of India by Vinay Lal at UCLA. Its six parts can be seen on Google video (see links below). I must say that after the fourth episode, which introduced to me the importance of Tamil Nadu, the series went a bit down-hill. One cannot compare video to podcast. The visuals are fantastic, but they are accompanied by a slim narrative. And so I remain with my conclusion: we need more History of India in podcast.



part 1: Beginnings
part 2: The Power of Ideas
part 3: Spice routes and silk roads
part 4: Ages of gold
part 5: The meeting of two oceans
part 6: Freedom

More Story of India:
Trade - A Story of India (3),
The power of ideas - A Story of India (2),
The earliest history - A Story of India (1).

More Vinay Lal's History of India:
History of British India,
History of India - the search goes on,
8 podcasts I listened to,
History of India or Europe?
History of India.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Disappearing cultures - Wade Davis

Anthropologist Wade Davis can be heard on two podcasts with similar, but complementary, lectures on the same subject. While we enter the era of a globalized world and have global problems such as climate change and receding bio-diversity, we tend to think this only hits the eco-sphere, but there is also the ethno-sphere, as Davis calls it, and therein we observe a similar and connected problem: the impending disappearance of languages and cultures. Just as with disappearing species we must ask the complicated question whether it is bad if languages and cultures disappear.

On his talk at TVO's Big Ideas, Davis gives more examples of exotic fading cultures, yet in his speech at SALT (Seminars About Longterm Thinking aka The Long Now podcast) he arrives at the general thought and the bottom-line of his view on the issue. Both lectures are extracted from a series that was broadcast as the Massey Lectures at CBC and as podcast available until December 4th, 2009. It resulted in a book: The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. This is also the title of Wade Davis's lecture at Big Ideas as well as Wade Davis's lecture at The Long Now.

Davis repeatedly says at SALT: Our world is a model of reality. And when he speaks of those small communities and tribes whose languages and cultures are disappearing: Those people are not failed attempts at being us, they are a unique answer to the fundamental question what does it mean to be human and alive. It is important not to take them as savages or as people living in the past, but as real, full fledged human beings who chose to live this way and find here a good life. And when their way of life disappears, a real and sincere version of humanness disappears. It will first of all leave our world poorer, less diverse, but ultimately, possibly, less resilient, less vital.

It is hard to wrap your mind around this issue. And it is hard not to get carried away with the noble savage romantics when you hear the sample stories. I would give you this challenge: listen without judgment. And then wonder about our history. Countless cultures have gone lost. We must have been diversifying, unifying and living and dying forever. If we cannot forcibly preserve what is already moribund, what can we do to keep variation going?

I find it an immensely demanding mind set. And I have experienced this struggle also when listening to other anthropology podcasts. When Tara Carter spoke of the Bambuti people in the Congo, who are hunter gatherers today and seem to love their life and surely seem to have a good life. When James Scott explained why civilizations can't climb hills, which showed how people live in the hills and mountains by choice (and not in the allegedly civilized plains and cities) and how throughout history there has been a migration in both directions. This seems to say that there is no such thing as a progress in human history but rather a varied menu of human conditions existing simultaneously and serving as an object of existential choice for man.

Allowing to appreciate the diversity and allocating value to cultures that are radically different requires a mental distance from one's own culture. In order to see the values of that which is utterly outlandish one must leave for a moment the most fundamental values of one's own culture, which is paramount to thinking without thinking, or being without identity, since we are fully defined within our own cultures. And yet, somehow, sometimes we manage to do this.

More Big Ideas:
Waiting for Godot,
Religion as culture - Camille Paglia,
Christopher Hitchens on the Ten Commandments,
The empire,
Lawrence Freedman - Big Ideas.

More The Long Now:
The Long Now podcast,
Ran Levi about The Long Now.

Podcasts in Spanish?

After having asked you about podcasts in Russian and podcasts in Swedish, I turn to Spanish. Do you know of podcasts in Spanish to recommend?

My reader Jacky wrote to me about the following four:

The first one La Rosa De los Vientos (compass rose) is a three hours radio program broadcast, and podcast from Spain (feed). They talk about history, archeology, astronomy, science, secret services and much more.

In fact, one of the segments of the program Pasajes de la Historia (journeys of history) is a podcast by itself (feed).

Ciencia y Genios (science and genius) is a podcast about the great brains of our history. Their lives and investigations are told in first person (feed).

El Bloguipodio (feed): La Bloguera and Dabloguiman from Washington DC talk about news, politics and more. (It needs to be pointed out that these two are very entertaining, but speak with a microphone on the table in a room which does not have the best of acoustics)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

France since 1871 - Yale lecture podcast

France since 1871 (feed) is history lecture series that has been available for quite some time as a podcast. I knew it was there, but I was not particularly drawn to a modern history of France in particular, more to a more general European perspective. This we got at Yale from the same professor, John Merriman, as you may have seen in earlier reviews (see below). And now that I got acquainted with the lecturer, I decided to give the other course a try.

I have followed by around one third of the course and it sure worth a recommendation. For one who has followed the more general course with Merriman, there is much familiar talk to be encountered, yet the professor has more time to dwell on it. It needs also to be pointed out that this first part of the course is thematic. Merriman takes up a number of issues and treats them freely around 1871, taking us back, frequently as early as the French Revolution and painting the picture until the very beginning of the twentieth century.

Looking at the subjects of the rest of the lectures I expect that a little bit of this thematic approach will remain, but largely it will make place for the chronology. Merriman will carry us from the build-up of the First World War until France by the end of the twentieth century. This looks like a fine addition to the wide menu of podcasts in European history.

More John Merriman:
History of India or Europe?,
Industrial revolutions,
History of Europe.

Benefitting from the labels (and search) on the blog

This blog contains over 1500 posts, 90% are podcast reviews or lists of podcasts that you would want to check out. The question is: how can you find what you are looking for? I try to help you by adding links to relevant other posts whenever I publish a new one. I also add labels, which link up to sets of posts in the same category (or of the same language). But there are more options.

In addition you can use the search engine that sits on top of this page. It allows you to "google" through my pages on any keyword or combination of key words.

While looking at the labels on a specific post, you may feel limited to that particular subject. What about other general areas? Look down in the left margin of the blog and find a complete list of labels on the blog. The number between brackets indicate how many posts there are labelled with this category. Here are a few labels you might be interested in:

Ancient History - there are so many history posts, but here is an option to narrow down. I intend to make more of these, just like I intend to add these as directories to the big, big history podcast directory.

Berkeley, UCSD, Yale - Great suppliers of collections of podcasts.

deutsch, Nederlands, עברית - other languages you may want to check out

economics, philosophy, psychology, science - podcasts in the various disciplines

uchannel, New Books In History, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History - great podcasts that I regularly review

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

History of British India - Vinay Lal at UCLA

A lot of action has been going on around the history of India on this blog. The few podcasts on the subject are lecture series by Vinay Lal at UCLA: History of India (feed) and History of British India (feed). The main criticisms on Lal's work are that his lectures are not well organized, his knowledge seems limited and his interpretations are heavily politicized.

This has been voiced in comments and in blogs that refer to the course on the whole history of India. Lal is supposed to be a specialist on British India and hence the new course (History of British India (feed)) is having me listen in closely.

So far the outcome is slightly disappointing. We have had five lectures, the last of which was not podcast (only 1 minute came through) and what Lal has been teaching is almost completely identical to what he has also said during the previous course (History of India (feed)). Also, since he seems to be giving the narrative in a chronological way, but in effect goes on thematic tangents. So we are still presented with material that is not immediately well ordered. As to the politics and the quality of the knowledge, I am looking forward to find what other listeners will write - either in the comments below, or in their blogs.

More Vinay Lal's:
History of India - the search goes on,
8 podcasts I listened to,
History of India or Europe?
History of India.

The China Hegemony - LSE Podcast

The LSE podcast is one to keep an eye on constantly. The London School of Economics publishes here guest lectures on a weekly basis and offer the best on insights on the most compelling issues of the day. Especially in the realm of economics and geopolitics you will have a constant stream of information from the best minds. In addition to their lectures, you will frequently find much interest in the consecutive Q&A sessions. The audience is frequently as knowledgeable as the speaker.

Apart from top academicians, economists, policy makers and diplomats, you occasionally have journalist speakers who have distinguished themselves with noteworthy writings. One such speaker was Martin Jacques who wrote a book and held a talk with the same title: When China Rules the World. The typical way in which this is a work of journalism and not of an academician or a politician - and we have seen this several times at the LSE podcast - is that Jacques has written the book and holds the lecture extrapolating freely from indicators, in this case, as if it is already a given that the world will soon live in a Chinese hegemony. Whereas this free reasoning can sometimes weaken the talk, in this case it works very vitalizing.

His picture of the Chinese hegemony is an analysis of Chinese culture, Chinese history, Chinese strength and the mere application to an assumed future is just the icing on the cake. What is to learn is how one should expect China to act more in accordance with its history rather than as a copy of western hegemony. In this respect Jacques uses the term 'civilization state' as opposed to a nation state, which not only emphasizes the difference between the western way of thinking in nations, but also to show the continuity of the People's Republic within millenniums of Chinese history and culture. Of course China will modernize, but in a Chinese way. It will not colonize like the west, but it will more likely rule according the old Chinese tributary ways.

Did I say that the audience poses interesting questions? Not always, but here it does and draws from the speaker also analysis of the weaknesses of China. In short: what can stop China from ruling the world? And the short answer is: China. Listen in order to find out how.

More LSE:
The myth of work,
Pasts and futures of Christianity,
Global capitalism - the Gray view,
Israeli at the London School of Economics,
Michael Sandel.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fear - Tapestry

CBC's Tapestry had a very interesting show in which Mary Hines spoke with Rabbi Harold Kushner about Fear. Leaving all theology and philosophy aside - Kushner characterizes this theorizing as a kind of Sudoku - and concentrating on what really bothers us in everyday life and cannot be easily set aside by ratio or faith.

One might expect a lot of talk of fear of death, or of disease and disability, but eventually the attention drives to fear of failure, fear of being left behind or leaving others behind, fear of meaningless existence and most of all, what it all seems to boil down to: fear of rejection. Kushner tries to get the message passed that in this life it is not a matter of success or failure (and then, consequently rejection), but a matter of success or forgiveness. But it does require a net around you of people who care, who will forgive. Kushner emphasizes the importance of community.

He also leads us to a kind of leap of faith. He shows that in many situations in life you are so utterly unable to analyze outcomes and reactions, you eventually are presented with a choice between believing in the goodness of people, in a meaningful existence, or not. And if neither has no better or worse arguments and indicators, one might as well allow to belief optimistically. It is an fascinating show and eventually the thought stuck with me: everything Kushner says, one can take to heart and he could have said exactly the same thing had he not be a Jewish religious rabbi, but rather a proponent of any other faith or a secular. And that makes it all the more strong.

More Tapestry:
Karen Armstrong,
Terry Eagleton.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Podcasts on Ancient History

I have reported on so many podcasts in the realm of history that I have deemed it necessary to take my history directory and order it into subdivisions. There will be subdivisions into eras, into regions and into themes, to whatever extent the division is useful, accepting the overlap and holes that remain - just to cut up an unwieldy list of over 130 podcasts into reasonable chunks.

Here is the first subdivision: Ancient History. All history podcasts that purposely are dedicated to some era, place or theme that sit in time between the dawn of times until the early Common Era. Most of these are about Greece and Rome, but also fit into this section are podcasts about other early civilizations such as those in the Nile basin, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and China, the early roots of World Religions as well as the pre-history of man. It needs to be noted that many podcasts that I will stick in the general category, because they cover so much more, will deliver most noteworthy content on ancient history as well.

Ancient History - Alternative Theories (review, site, feed)
Esoteric reconstruction of ancient history.

From Israelite to Jew (review, site, feed)
Bible Scholar and religious Jew Michael Satlow in a podcast series revealing the history of the Jewish people in the pivotal transitional post-exilic period in which they transformed from being a nation (Israelites) to a religious ethnic group (Jews). There is also a very loosely related episode about the Talmud in this series.

Hannibal, (review, site:Stanford on iTunes U, feed).
Stanford University delivers some phenomenal audio, but you have to have iTunes in order to get there. This lecture series about Hannibal gives insight in the history of Hannibal, his trip over the Alps and Professor Patrick Hunt's efforts to reconstruct Hannibal's route over the Alps.

Historical Jesus, (review, site:Stanford on iTunes U, feed).
The very best of Stanford is a lecture series, including syllabus and link to the central book, by theology professor Thomas Sheehan about the Historical Jesus. Sheehan carefully takes the listener through the intricacies of dissecting Scripture to the most authentic sources to Yeshua of Nazareth himself.

History 106B, (Berkeley) The Roman Empire, (review, site, feed).
Professor Isabelle Pafford deals in a few lectures with early Roman history and dedicates the bulk to the history of Rome as of the moment it becomes an Empire.

History 4A (Berkeley) The Ancient Mediterranean World, (review, site, feed).
Professor Isabelle Pafford's lecture series, rapidly taking the listener through the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations and then landing in detail on the Greeks and Romans.

History of Rome, (review, site, feed).
This podcast is entirely dedicated to Roman History. It goes through Roman history in chronological stages, by means of weekly 20-30 minute podcasts, monologue style.

Introduction to Ancient Greek History (Yale) (review, site, no feed)
Open Course on Yale delivering the history of the Ancient Greeks tracing the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period.

Introduction to the Old Testament / the Hebrew Bible (Yale) (review, site, feed)
Excellent course about the Bible by professor Christina Hayes - now also syndicated!

MMW 1 by Tara Carter (UCSD) (review, site, feed)
Inspired course at UCSD in human evolution, anthropology and prehistory.

MMW 2 - The Great Classical Traditions, (UCSD) (review, site, feed)
History of the classical era covering not just the west. Professor Charles Chamberlain

Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean, (review, site, feed)
History of Christianity in the early apostolic phase.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Frankfurt School - IOT

Last week BBC's In Our Time delivered a four part series about the history of the Royal Society which, I have to admit, I abandoned in the middle. Somehow it didn't take me in as the single part, 40 minute, concise and too short, regular episodes do. And as did the latest show, which was a normal one again.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discussed the Frankfurt School and it was good to hear this history again. In addition to the history, it was a challenge to engage in the kind of critical thought the School propagated. I appreciated the idea of being critical of all systems, not only the leading system, but also the alleged alternatives. This was not cheap, cynical criticism but a thrust to think further and beyond, in eternal search for a better place. No wonder such School (of Sociology? Political Science? Philosophy? Art?) had to pass out of existence, but I was a little surprised by one suggestions the best had already been over when the School went into its American Exile.

I thought it had had its heyday in America and an additional heyday in its second period back in Germany. Surely there were several versions of the Frankfurt School. There are not many podcasts that pay attention to them. The only I know of was one issue of New Books In History about The Frankfurt School in Exile, that is, the American part of the story.

More In Our Time:
The history of the Royal Society,
The weekly treat,
New season of In Our Time,
St. Thomas Aquinas,
Logical Positivism.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Trade - A Story of India (3)

Michael Wood's video series The Story of India (BBC) is beginning to take me in completely. I tremendously enjoyed the third chapter, which you will find below. As I explained before, the series goes chronologically through the history of India and this chapter covers, roughly the first centuries CE. What is added, again, is a theme and the theme is trade. Trade made foreigners come to India since forever. The examples that receive much attention in part 3 are for one the Romans and the Greeks, who figure out how to use the monsoon winds to cross the Indian ocean and the Kushan, a people from Central Asia that controlled the silk road and planted an empire that stretched from north east China until the Deccan plains, from Bengal to Afghanistan.



This series I compare with Vinay Lal's lecture series at UCLA. The advice is to take the BBC before UCLA - although I got them in the reverse order. The story of the Kushan did not stick so well after I had heard Lal. Now, after seeing Wood, I feel like trying again. However, Lal has just started a new series, a podcast lecture course on the History of British India. (feed)

More Story of India:
The power of ideas - A Story of India (2),
The earliest history - A Story of India (1).

More Vinay Lal's History of India:
History of India - the search goes on,
8 podcasts I listened to,
History of India or Europe?
History of India.

Where are my files?

In my recent post Useful tools for podcast listeners, I introduced to you three tools that allow you to alter your podcast files to your needs and liking. This assumes that you know where to find your files, but this needs not be an easy task.

If you download your podcasts manually, you should be aware where the files end up. If however you use a download client such as iTunes, Juice or gPodder, the files are stuck in a place that the client designates and then it can be worry where they end up. It is useful to know in general how these clients work. Both iTunes and gPodder stick the files in their own directory. Under gPodder you will find a folder downloads and inside, under the podcast names, the files. For iTunes there is a folder iTunes Music, under which is a subfolder podcasts. Juice makes a folder in My Documents named Received Podcasts.

Juice and iTunes also give a quick and individual way to the file. If you right click a podcast, iTunes allows you to choose 'Get Info' and on the bottom of the first tab you will see the path to this podcast file. Juice even offers the option to open the file's folder and you then will be directed to the place where the file sits.

More instructions:
Other podcatchers than iTunes (1),
Useful tools for podcast listeners,
Devising your own podcast feed - Huffduffer,
iTunes 9 - help for the podcast listener,
put feeds in iTunes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Philosophy, The Classics - Nigel Warburton

Here is a book I would like to have: Philosophy, The Classics by Nigel Warburton. Philosopher Warburton gives us an entry point to philosophy by means of an introduction to a series of classical works in philosophy. From Plato's Republic to Kierkegaard's either/or.

Does the name Nigel Warburton ring a bell? Yes, he gave us also the podcasts Philosophy Bites, Ethics Bites and Prospect Magazine. True to his podcasting nature, he has made a promotional podcast for his book, a podcast by the same name: Philosophy: The Classics. (feed) Here we can enjoy the material, bite sized, as usual.

Be prepared though that Warburton is conducting a monologue here. What makes Philosophy Bites so easily accessible, is in part the format of interview, which is so much easier, so much more natural to listen in to. On The Classics, Warburton reads a summarized version from his book, complete with paragraph titles. This works less well on podcast and if Nigel is considering to continue this series I would want to suggest to him to find a way of livening the podcast up a bit. Nevertheless, for the prepared listener, these are veritable jewels to collect and to listen to at least twice.

Historical Jesus - Philip Harland

Several podcast series can be had that deal with the history of Early Christianity. A subset of that history is the quest for the Historical Jesus. Apart from the gospels there are few and little references to either Jesus or the Jesus movement. Two are mentioned by Canadian professor Philip Harland: Tacitus and Josephus.

Philip Harland has been conducting a very interesting podcast series on Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (feed). He has been successively going through the stages of Christianity and treated the history and theology and sources. By now he has reached the 5th section of the series which went off on a promising start and which intends to tackle the specific issue of the Historical Jesus.

Another series on the historical Jesus is a veritable classic from Stanford, The Historical Jesus by Thomas Sheehan (feed), which is very thorough (some 14 hours solely on this subject). More in passing Dale Martin's course Introduction to New Testament History and Literature at Yale (feed). Martin tells in this course he also teaches a course on the Historical Jesus and we hope this one will one day be podcast as well.

More on Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean:
New Testament, history and literature,
Da Vinci Code,
Early Christianity podcasts.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The power of ideas - A Story of India (2)

You know I have been asking for podcasts about the history of India and since there is so little around and since one of the comments on my History of India posts recommended Michael Wood's BBC documentary The Story of India, I am going over that one for you too. And here is part two of that series.



This chapter takes off where the previous one, that dealt with the earliest history, left off. But in addition to carrying along the chronology it also applies a theme The Power of Ideas. What is special in the history of India is that ideas have not only played an important role in it, India also produced many ideas and in turn influenced the rest of the world. In this chapter there is a lot of attention for the Buddha and after an Intermission about the Greeks, Chandra Gupta with a passing hint at Jainism, to the Mauryan Empire with its powerful leader Ashoka, who turned back to the Buddha.

An important reason why I am reviewing a series of non-syndicated videos is because of the criticism at UCLA's podcast about the History of India. In this podcast Professor Vinay Lal is so heavily entrenched in dealing with the political implications of views on India's history, that one easily loses track of the narrative, of whatever interpretation. I would recommend to go through the BBC documentary first and that will make you better prepared for Lal's course. With regards to the theme touched upon here, the power of ideas, Lal and Wood make a fine complement. For example, Jainism is only briefly mentioned on the BBC, where at UCLA Jainism's origins and content are expanded upon.

More History of India:
The earliest history - A Story of India (1),
History of India - the search goes on,
8 podcasts I listened to,
History of India or Europe?
History of India.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Who listens to Swedish podcasts?

One of the blog's readers turned to me quite some time ago recommending a podcast from the Göteborg University in Sweden, En akademisk kvart från Göteborgs universitet, in short En Akademisk Kvart (feed). Ever since, I have been on the look out for a Swedish reader who'd be able to tell some more about this podcast. I'd love to host a guest blog containing a review of En Akademisk Kvart or any other intellectual Swedish podcast for that matter.

En Akademisk Kvart is part of the popular science effort at the university and contains short podcasts (around 15 minutes, a 'kvart') about mostly historic issues. From what I can figure out from the titles, among others, there is a talk about early globalization, looking at the trade in sugar and slaves as an example. Another is about the Swedish migration to the US (over the centuries, I presume). This is the kind of podcast that would fit in this blog and considering the amount of Swedish hits on the blog, there should be enough readers who'd appreciate to be informed about it.

The reason I do not do the reviews myself, in case you had not yet guessed: I do not understand Swedish. I can figure some basic stuff out when reading it, but that is really not worth mentioning.

More:
Who knows Russian podcasts?

Classic Poetry Aloud

I asked for recommendations to podcasts with poetry and got them immediately. The most simple and straightforward of those is Classic Poetry Aloud (feed). In this podcast each episode consists of a classic poem from English literature read to the listener.

The podcast description of each episode contains the name of the poet, the year of his birth and death (or hers for that matter), the name of the poem and the text of the poem. The episodes will also, usually carry the portrait of the poet. And so, one can look, listen and read and contemplate. The choice is tasteful and the reading done quite well, although a tad too fast for this non-native speaker. I also felt that the reader had a better connection with some poems more than with others, but it surely is far from easy to read poetry.

This formula in its simplicity seems complete and evident (though I'd appreciate if the date of the poem could be added). Nevertheless I entertained thoughts of additional material. Why not add an introduction to the poem, why not let some discussion of the poem follow? But that would alter the nature of the show from pure poetry experience to a cerebral literature show. So what about music, just to get you in the mood? Same problem actually; it would influence the listener's reception of the work. And so, as pure as it is, it should stay. And the listener should be aware, should prepare for listening. And perhaps loop the episode. All in all this is quite the podcast experience.