Saturday, February 5, 2011

Selected listening for 5 February 2011

New Books In History
Joyce Appleby, “The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism”
Today everybody wants to be a capitalist, even Chinese communists. It would be easy to think, then, that capitalism is “natural,” that there is a little profit-seeker in each one of us just waiting to pop out. There is some truth to this notion: humans are the most cooperative species on earth, and one of the most common ways we cooperate is through trade. Some form of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” lies at the heart of almost every human relationship. We are built for reciprocation, and we do it remarkably well. But, as Joyce Appleby shows in her provocative, readable, and thoroughly entertaining The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism (Norton, 2010), the natural impulse for reciprocal back-scratching did not capitalism make. A set of very unusual historical forces did.
(review, feed)

Big Ideas
Derek Walcott on his life and work
English professor, Christian Campbell, interviews Caribbean poet and playwright, Derek Walcott, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992. Walcott discusses issues of identity, culture, and language in this illuminating conversation.
(review, feed)

Social Innovation Conversations
Bill Gates - Education for the Real World
How do we get the brightest minds to become interested in social enterprise and philanthropy in order to solve the world's most intractable problems? In this audio lecture, sponsored by the Stanford Center for Social Innovation, Bill Gates, co-chair of his now famous foundation, calls on Stanford students to become part of the solution. He talks about his own path, pressing social challenges, and opportunities for addressing them.
(review, feed)

Mr. Deity

Mr. Deity is a video podcast by Brian Dalton in which he plays God as an underachieving character in a sitcom. With his assistant Larry, his son Jesse (Jesus) and the on and off ex-gf Lucy (Lucifer) he barely manages to cope with life as the managing director of the the universe. (feed)

Dalton describes himself as a Formone (a former Mormone) and comes from the angle of the atheist, but even if Mr. Deity is intended to show the absurdities of main stream belief systems in a comical way, the podcast actually manages to rise above that and be a playful prank on the common tenets of Christianity. I can picture a pastor actually use the short issues (3-8 minute video sketches) as a light entry into a serious sermon.