Monday, December 31, 2007

SRR - The Psychology Podcast

Shrink Rap Radio, the psychology podcast, has published two more episodes very shortly one after the other. Show #129 is along the traditional style of the interview podcast and show #130 is in the new live format, that is still under development, as you can sense with these episodes.

#129 - Process Work
Dr. Dave is excellent again as an interviewer. He is wonderfully agile at making the podcast sound like a natural conversation, yet at the same time carefully guiding it around so that we naturally get introduced into the subject. In this case it is the interviewed Julia Diamond and her specialty 'Process Work' which I have some to understand as a set of techniques that allow to interpret dreams, conduct therapy and generally enhance awareness. The techniques rely heavily on styles of communications, not just verbal, also non verbal. It reminds Dr. Dave of Dream Work and Gestalt Therapy - similarities that are acknowledged by ms. Diamond.

#130 - Live #5
In the live show we have a conversation between Dr. Dave, Jerry Trumbule and Douglas Davis. On of the most interesting subjects that comes up is about virtual realities such as Second Life. A listener asks from the chat why it is that in spite of the unlimited possibilities to play out fantasy, Second Life turns out to be largely a remake of reality, with sex, violence and capitalism. Far from giving a definitive answer, the show embarks on an fascinating exchange of thoughts.

More Shrinkrapradio on this blog:
Leadership and AI,
Dysfunctional personalities in the workplace,
Adventure Therapy,
Maternal bonding.

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From the Renaissance Until Today

A large portion of the podcasts I blog about (and listen to) are history podcasts. It bothers me a little bit that the blog gives a relative lot of attention to history programs on the BBC and the VPRO (In Our Time and OVT) and much less to great historical lecture series such as handed out by Stanford or Berkeley. The latter are just as good, if not better, but the former give a rounded chapter every week that can easily be blogged about, whereas the latter get me hooked on more than ten or even more than thirty hours of lecturing before I sum it up in a post.

I'd like to change that and begin with one of the very best, if not the best series around: Berkeley's History 5. This lecture series is repeated every semester, that is, twice yearly, and takes the listener through the history of the European Civilization from 1453 to 1989. Mostly the lectures are done by Professor Thomas Laqueur, but in the spring of 2007 he was replaced by Margaret Lavinia Anderson, who did a great job just the same.

In the latest series (and likely again in the spring of 2008), Laqueur starts with a cheeky remark by Gandhi. When he was asked what he thought of Western Civilization, he is supposed to have answered: “Well, I think it would be a good idea.” Notwithstanding the profound truth to this response, it can't be denied that a relative backwater of world history up until the Middle Ages, proceeded to dominate the world as a civilization and it is very worthwhile to follow that process step by step and thus acquire a better understanding of our world and ourselves today.

For example: Why would I blog at all? Why on Google's Blogger? Why in English? I could have been writing a book for a Dutch or an Israeli publisher and the language could have been Russian or Arabic. Summing the course up is nearly impossible, so I thought it might be a good idea when the course is repeated (probably immediately in January 2008), tell about it in weekly installments, like I do with In Our Time and OVT.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Walther Rathenau - OVT in 1922

Eindelijk hebben we de Eerste Wereldoorlog afgesloten, maar nog lang zullen we de demonen van dat cataclysme met ons meedragen. OVT neemt ons naar het tweede station in de reeks monsters (het eerste, Versailles, wordt overgeslagen): de Weimar Republiek.

Het was Duitslands eerste poging tot echte Democratie en zoals ik het ook altijd geleerd heb: het was een poging die gedoemd was te mislukken. Niet alleen de dolkstootlegende maakte dat de republiek een doodgeboren kindje was. Toch benadrukt het aanwezige panel (Hermann von der Dunk, Annette Birschel) dat de sentimenten niet alleen maar vol doem waren. De republiek was niet alleen het decor van de waanzinnige inflatie en de strijdende milities en de aanhoudende politieke moorden. Het was ook het toneel van een ongekende opleving in kunst en cultuur. Het was een tijd van wanhopige ellende en tegelijkertijd van geweldige dromen.

Kan de vraag dan omgedraaid worden? Op welke manier had in Duitsland de rust en eenheid bewaard kunnen worden, zonder in de klauwen van Nazis of wellicht bolsjewieken te vallen? Geert Maks held in dit verband is buitenlandminister Walther Rathenau. Hij had het charisma en de visie om de boel bij elkaar te houden. De andere panelleden wijzen dit af. Volgens Birschel was het een tijd van te grote wanorde en schreeuwlelijkerds - geen fatsoenlijk mens had dat in de hand kunnen houden, zonder bombarie en demagogiek. Von der Dunk vindt dat de persoon van Rathenau, de geassimileerde jood - een mens is met teveel innerlijke tegenstrijdigheden en te weinig representant van de grootste gemene deler der Duitsers. Het moest haast wel fout gaan. Dus toch.

Voorafgaand aan deze aflevering van OVT, in dezelfde serie naar aanleiding van In Europa:
1900 - Het begin,
1906 - Keizers en koningen,
1914 - Het licht gaat uit,
1915 - Een ander soort oorlog,
1916 - Het neutrale Nederland,
1917 - Het oostfront,
1917 - Russische Revoluties.

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The Nicene Creed - IOT

In Our Time had host Melvyn Bragg and the distinguished guests surrounded in order to discuss the Nicene Creed. The creed came in a moment in time, Christianity had been evolving from a small sect to a large and diverse multitude of inspired followers and the next station was to institutionalize the faith.

Part of this was theology, to discuss the various opinions among the churches and part of this was politics. Constantine became the first Christian emperor of Rome and he felt he needed a united church behind him. Thus the council gathered in Niceae and a creed was hammered out that attempted to address both the theology and the politics. It meant to resolve the disputes, throw out the heretics and unite the Roman world around one imperial faith. It seems it was more of an attempt and a first one in a series of such.

It is argued how the creed, apart from not exactly achieving what Constantine had hoped for, did manage to stamp out the diversity from Christendom. How modern is In Our Time when this is worded in the form of a regret. Just as it is so much of our time to see an appraisal of Arius. Arius was the major heretic of the time who'd been exiled after the Nicene Creed was accepted and who might have been the most important target. Arius in any case has been vilified throughout the ages, so it is said.

The exciting news is: next week In Our Time will discuss one of my favorite writers, Albert Camus.

Previously on In Our Time:
Four humor medicine,
The Sassanian Empire,
The Fibonacci Sequence.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

מי אוהב את השבת?

Normally I try to post at least once a day, but today I am going to have to disappoint you loyal readers. I have decided to genuinely enjoy my Saturday and take time off off everything including my iPod and blog. I wish you a peaceful Saturday just the same and will be back on Sunday with posts about Berkeley's History 5 (European history from the renaissance until today) and possibly In Our Time about the Nicene Creed.

Sorry to disappoint you today,


Friday, December 28, 2007

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (3)

On September 27, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt were invited to the University of Chicago to speak about their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. On October 8 they were invited to deliver the same speech at Columbia University. On November 26, they arrived at Princeton with the lecture accompanied by Robert Keohane of Princeton University. All three lectures were recorded and published in the University Channel Podcast. (Chicago. Columbia, Princeton) The talk is the same, obviously the questions by the end are different, but I cannot vouch for those in the second (or third) lecture as I couldn't sit through the same lecture again. It needs to be pointed out that audio quality of the second (Columbia) lecture is substandard. I will repost the review I wrote on the first appearance:

The University Channel Podcast published the audio of a lecture by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, about The Israel Lobby in the US, after their book about the same subject. This is a very vivid lecture with a good question round in the end. The authors get to make their point that there is a very effective Israel Lobby. The Lobby is not a lobby of the Jews, neither of the State of Israel, but rather an American interest group, backed by Jews and also Evangelical Christians. They claim that the lobby has a great influence on the US foreign policy and that this influence at times turns out to be neither beneficial to the US nor to Israel.

The Israel Lobby neither reflects the opinion of the vast majority of American Jews, nor, so it seems to me, represent the opinion of the Israeli government or even the majority of Israeli's. The lecture confirms my impression that those who are actively lobbying for Israel in Washington - or claim to do so - tend more to the hawkish, nationalistic side of the spectrum. This goes as well for the Jews involved as well as the Christians. It means for me, as an Israeli in favor of a peaceful Middle-East policy a lose-lose situation. Either one has this hawkish lobby or there is no lobby at all and in both cases my interests are not served. It calls for a lobby inside the lobby.

My stomach turns especially when I hear Mearsheimer and Walt claim that the Lobby was not particularly in favor of the Oslo agreements. They say that the Lobby 'grudgingly' went along. I would expect that an movement that grudgingly goes along with a certain development, will jump of the train at any moment. Was that what happened when Rabin was murdered? How bad was the grudge of the Lobby for the peace process at that turn of events and in how far could it have saved the process afterwards and maybe chose not do so? I would have loved to ask THAT question.

Other posts on Israel:
5 Lessons for Peace,
The greatest threat to Zionism,
Israel, Iran and Terrorism,
The US and the New Middle East.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Popperian Pathway

In a lecture before the London School of Economics, the University Channel Podcast presents Michael Baum, professor emeritus of surgery and visiting professor of medical humanities at University College London. He speaks about the logic of science and alternative medicine. In addition to the philosophy of science he has a passion for the visual arts and consequently he illustrates his lecture with some works of art, two of which I have included in this post.

Baum emphasizes in the lecture the weakness of medicine as far as it can claim to be based on evidence: it is mostly inductive. Which, he proceeds to show (or attempts so) is still better than the alternative medicine, which is not even that. Alternative medicine relies on anecdotal evidence. For example, if life expectancy for a certain type of cancer patient is limited, we must know the curve has an abnormal distribution. The incidental long living patient provides the anecdote. I'd say that is induction no less - evidence based medicine induces from larger figures.

Baum is a specialist on breast cancer and uses this field in an attempt to show how science as laid out by Karl Popper generates a slow advance towards knowledge. For example, when he started out (1965), it was held that the cancer needed to be treated with radical amputation. New evidence showed cancer would have spread by the time it was shown, hence the mastectomy was largely superfluous, or at least too late. Then the disease must be systemic. A 1985 meta analysis showed surgery and chemotherapy to be efficacious together. A steady decrease of mortality was reached when systemic therapy was combined with amputation.

Baum perceives a conceptual revolution. Everything suddenly looks totally different, after the meta-analysis (and he illustrates it with the Dali above). True science is being open to refutation and new conceptual approach. Evidence based medicine allows these revolutions and hence is the way to progress; one allows for proving to be wrong. So when originally you looked at the facts (look at the picture) and it seemed surgery was the way to go (you see nuns walking through a gate), new evidence allows you to see otherwise (discover the bust Voltaire) in the same facts.

It is a very ideal picture Baum paints and it seems to me it gives a little too much credit to Popper (though a lot of credit is due). Lakatos and Kuhn already showed how the Popperian method lacks the standards by which falsifying data, will do anything other than refute hypothesis. It does not indicate when the situation needs this 'conceptual revolution' and more so, doesn't help finding the new concept. If the shift needs to be made from the 'nuns' to the 'bust' a creative leap is needed and the Popperian pathway neither identifies the moment it is needed nor how it can be made.

More UChannel podcast on this blog:
Less Safe, Less Free (Losing the War on Terror),
The Greatest Threat to Zionism,
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
and Multiculturalism in the Netherlands.

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Anne is a Man! -- The podcast sources

This blog is all about podcasts. Not about how to make them or any other technical implication of podcasting. This blog is about the podcasts that are out there. More accurately, this blog is about the podcasts I found and mostly about those I like. Even if you do not agree with my views and even if you have other preferences as far as styles and content is concerned, I still hope this blog can be a source for finding new podcasts to listen to. Please feel free to contact me, if you want to draw my attention to a certain podcast, or anything else.

List of Directories

Great Sources of Great Podcasts

Specific Recommendations

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

KMTT's weekly portions

KMTT's podcasts about the weekly portions continue on schedule, but I have fallen behind a bit. So allow me to catch up by pointing to the last two in one single post.

Parashat vayechi
Jacob sets out to bless Ephraim and Menashe and interjects a remark about Rachel. On the journey from Padan-Aram, Rachel died and he buried her in the cave of Machpela. Rabbi Chanoch Waxman lectures about the meaning of this interjection and ponders on a couple of different explanations.

Parashat shemot
Rabbi Chanoch Waxman discusses the story about Moshe as a child. His mother hides him for three months and then she set him adrift on the Nile River in a small craft of bulrushes coated in pitch. He is found by the daughter of the Pharaoh and this saves his life.

Previous parashot: vayigash, miketz, vayeshev, vayishlach, vayetze and vayera.

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Jonathan's birthday

Today, three years ago, means for many a stormy memory of the tsunami. For us a stormy memory of a birth. Now we celebrate three years for Jonathan. Lang zal die leven.
יונתן חמוד שלנו, תהיה מאושר; עד מאה כעשרים

More Jonathan in this blog: Jonathan gaat over and De eerste keer op de pot.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Philosophy Bites: Egalitarianism

In the latest version of Philosophy Bites, Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds speak with G. A. Cohen about egalitarianism. A very interesting subject, especially in general, but somehow this interview is pulled towards an alleged hypocrisy. How can an egalitarian justify that he is rich?

When you see a difference between two people and you can say that the other is objectively better off, and it is not the first's own doing or choice to be worse off, the way he is, that inequality. It is the view of the egalitarian that such is an injustice that needs redress. This is not necessarily about wealth. There are many good things in life and they are not commensurable, especially between different individuals.

Why must the individual egalitarian address this? Of course he can make some difference, but more so the community, alternately the state can. I am thinking of the situation when there is a famine. Individuals can organize charity, but if the general economy is entirely liberal and entrepreneurs are still exporting food away from the struck country, as this is their commercial right - that is a worse injustice.

Earlier Philosophy Bites: Skepticism and Thought experiments (and Avicenna).

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Tony Madrid at Wise Counsel

The latest podcast on Wise Counsel was an interview with Dr. Tony Madrid. This interview is basically a repetition of an interview with the same Tony Madrid and David van Nuys's other podcast Shrinkrapradio. I commented on that one when it came out; see Maternal Bonding.

Tony Madrid is a therapist using hypnosis as one of his tools. He has been influenced by literature about the importance of maternal bonding and what problems arise if the mother did not have proper chance to bond with the newly born baby immediately after birth. He has decided to use hypnosis (and recently also EMDR) as a means to replace bad memories around the birth with good ones in an effort to take away the obstacles for bonding. In cases where children suffer from asthma, Dr. Madrid claims his therapy has considerable success.

I am a bit at a loss, if the effect can be proven to exist as to how this actually works. Or in other words, assuming the applicability of his claims, what general explanation can be offered?

Other guests on Wise Counsel were a.o.: Francine Shapiro, Amy Baker, Marsha Linehan and Deirdre Barrett.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

NRC FM podcast

NRC Handelsblad heeft nu ook een podcast. Het heet NRC FM en is een wekelijks gesprek, opgenomen in Felix Meritis in Amsterdam. De duur is rond de 40 minuten en is redelijk onderhoudend. Een nadeel is dat de plaats van opname nogal nadrukkelijk zijn stempel drukt - er is weinig werk gemaakt van het onderdrukken van het achtergrondgeluid en van het egaliseren van de input uit de verschillende microfoons. Veel geroezemoes dus uit de kantine en wisselende verstaanbaarheidsniveaus van verschillende sprekers. Laten we het houden op kinderziektes - dit kan een heel behoorlijke podcast worden. Twee uitzendingen heb ik beluisterd.

NRC FM 16 november
Mevlana, dat wil zeggen Rumi. De kosmopoliet moslem. De sufi. De dichter uit de middeleeuwen die zo populair is de laatste tijd dat Unesco het afgelopen jaar tot Rumi jaar heeft uitgeroepen. Wie was hij? (Hij kwam al eerder aan de orde in dit blog) Beschreven wordt een vrijzinnigheid die in Turkije, in de oude moslemwereld gewoon was. Nu niet meer, maar heeft dat niet eigenlijk met het westen te maken? De spreker, een afvallige moslem, brengt Rumi voor het voetlicht en als de tegenstelling met de 'moderne Islam wordt opgeworpen, neemt hij het op voor jonge salafisten uit Osdorp. Eigen schuld dikke bult, het westen heeft een fundamentalistische Islam opgeroepen.

NRC FM 21 December
Mannen (het wordt nooit wat). Als de paneldiscussie over de vraag of mannen nog ergens goed voor zijn representatief is voor de vraag en het antwoord, dan zijn de mannen nergens goed voor. De mannen in het gesprek waren slecht voorbereid, warrig en onuitgesproken. De vrouwen kwamen beter beslagen ten ijs, met argumenten, met voorbeelden en analyses. Dus met die onderdrukking van de vrouw door de patriarchale structuren zal het dan ook wel snel gedaan zijn.

PS: Een radiomaker (Ronald van den Boogaard) die mijn blog volgt schreef mij:
Ruim tien minuten heb ik geluisterd naar de NRC-radio. Toen was het wel genoeg. Ze kunnen er niets van.

Nou, daar kan de NRC het mee doen. Ikzelf schreef eerder over de podcasts van de Volkskrant 'lulligheid troef' en als je het daarmee vergelijkt valt het alleszins mee.

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De Russische Revoluties (OVT)

Voor de tweede maal wordt in OVT stilgestaan bij het jaar 1917. Vorige week ging het nog over de Eerste Wereldoorlog, nu gaat het over de Russische Revolutie, meer correct revoluties (meervoud), want er waren er twee. De eerste was in maart en de tweede in november - volgens de Westerse Kalender. Volgens de Russische waren het februari en oktober, maar dat geheel terzijde.

De eerste wordt in OVT voorgesteld als de echte revolutie, de meer sympathieke revolutie. Er zijn demonstraties in St. Petersburg en als de soldaten de kant van de demonstranten kiezen, is het met het oude rijk gedaan. De tsaar treedt af, probeert eerst zijn familieleden nog op de troon te krijgen, maar uiteindelijk komt er een liberale regering. Later nemen de socialisten ook plaats in de regering en lijkt iedereen tevreden, iedereen behalve Lenin. En Duitsland, want de Russen trekken zich niet terug uit de oorlog onder het nieuwe regime.

Lenin zit in ballingschap in Zwitserland, maar de Duitsers begrijpen dat dit de onruststoker is die ze in Rusland nodig hebben en financieren een treinreis naar Helsinki, van waar Lenin kan overspringen naar St. Petersburg. De discussie rijst of de oktoberrevolutie niet eigenlijk een coup van Lenin was. Hoe dan ook, de bolsjewieken komen aan de macht en Rusland sluit vrede. Precies wat de Duitsers wilden en van de vorige regering niet kregen.

Vorige posts: OVT 1917 - Het Oostfront, Neutraal in de Grote Oorlog, OVT en 1915.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Talking Robots Podcast

In the latest LIVE edition of Shrinkrapradio the guest speaker was Tom Barbalet. He makes a couple of podcasts of his own: Biota (which I have commented on before) and Ape Reality. He also turned my attention to the podcast Talking Robots a podcast about robotics and Artificial Intelligence. I have heard and enjoyed the last editions of Talking Robots.

Talking Robots podcasts take around 20-30 minutes and contain interviews, very proficiently conducted by Sabine Hauert with specialist from the field. Last week she spoke with Tandy Tower from Microsoft Robotics Group and this week with José Halloy of the Free University of Brussels, who recently made the news (BBC) with his cockroach robots. Also for the absolute layman, such as myself, these podcasts are intelligible and interesting.

What is the first thing I learned from both Tower and Halloy is that robotics has come much closer to the household than I have thought. The archetypical robot we think of are like Data, Kryten and other androids, and those are still far away. However, when I use the vegetable program of my microwave is adapts its time and power to the size and weight of what I have placed inside. This is an example of robotics: a machine adapting itself to the environment. We should expect our washing machines and dish washers to ascertain the dirt on their contents, adapt temperature and dosage of detergent. As Halloy puts it: Why can't my fridge be responsible for the shopping list? I'd like that.

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Tijs Goldschmidt

De uitzending van Simek 's Nachts van 16 december jl. werd weer eens een ouderwetse juweel; Simek op zijn best en een onbetaalbare gast: Tijs Goldschmidt (audio). Schrijver en bioloog Goldschmidt representeert de individualistische intellectueel, met zijn depressies, hang-ups met zijn ouders en bij wie kunst, cultuur en eventueel wetenschap de religie hebben vervangen.

Met zorgvuldig gekozen woorden en een even zo zorgvuldige dictie, geeft Goldschmidt antwoord op Simeks vragen. Hij kan puntig zijn wetenschappelijk werk samenvatten en maakt met Simek, moeiteloos de overstap naar het persoonlijke. Het gaat over zijn vader, gaat over zijn depressies en over het schrijven. Het mooie is ook dat de relatie met de vader na lange tijd hersteld is en dat de depressies door middel van dans onder controle zijn, waardoor de medicatie niet meer nodig is. En het schrijven is van droom, werkelijkheid geworden; als bioloog is Goldschmidt niet meer actief.

Het is typisch Simek om heel intuitief met Goldschmidt om te gaan en in te gaan juist niet op het intellectuele, rationele, bestudeerde in Tijs Goldschmidt. Wat heeft hij met agressie - wordt op zeker moment de hamvraag. Het siert Goldschmidt hoe eerlijk en open hij erover is. Het antwoord is niet erg gepassioneerd, waardoor bij mij de associatie met depressie makkelijk gemaakt wordt. Als vraag zou ik willen opwerpen of het ook heeft te maken met een andere opmerking die Goldschmidt over zichzelf maakt: hij verklaart geen enkele affiniteit met godsdienst en religie te hebben. De tentatieve gedachte is dat religie ook een kanaal voor passie is.

Tot zover mijn associaties. Luistert allen naar deze aflevering van Simek 's Nachts. Heel erg de moeite waard. Andere goede uitzendingen waar ik over geschreven heb zijn o.a.: Truus Menger, A. C. Baantjer en Ida de Ridder.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dan Carlin's common sense

I like the loose style in which Dan Carlin makes his history podcast (Hardcore History), so decided to give his News and Politics podcast a try 'Common Sense'. I ran into an issue in which Dan Carlin ponders on losers.

The first part of the show he addresses in his monologue the losers of capitalist society, more specifically of the US today. He is in favor of capitalism, but beginning to worry there is a growing class of people failing in the rat race and becoming economically marginalized. He accepts a certain amount will always be there, but fears it is beginning to grow to be too big and will affect society at large.

In his opinion, this can be ascribed to globalization. In the globalized world, the lower class of the US has lost its jobs by means of outsourcing to lower wage countries. I wonder whether this is not the truest capitalism. And whether this is also the ugliest face of it: it must have a destitute mass that can work for hunger wages. I wonder also whether another item Dan discusses has something to do with it: the exaggerated defense spending of the US. The loose style is really nice and refreshing in the history program, but on current affairs I was less taken in by it.

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The authoritarian personality

A sense of humor is present in Shrinkrapradio when so shortly after having discussed the shining examples of leadership it takes on as the next topic: the authoritarian personality. Even if the show about leadership was of regular (great) shrinkrapradio quality, I did feel a wee bit uncomfortable, with the uncritical effort to describe the personalities of great leaders - as if they are just there as Great Men to be emulated. This is entirely compensated by the interview with professor Altemeyer, outstanding specialist on The Authoritarian Personality (not to say the world's authority on the subject).

It is, so it appears, not so easy to capture the authoritarian personality. Easier it turns out to be to capture its complement: the personality of the one seeking to follow the authoritarian. What plays an important role, and it sits in all of us, are tendencies such as lack of flexibility, righteousness, low tolerance of ambiguity and diversity and last but not least aggression.

The latency comes out easily in times of crisis. Dr. Dave and Dr. Bob (Altemeyer) discuss the US in the post 9/11 era. The character of right wing evangelicals and the bad effect the resulting authoritarianism has had. On a side note I wonder what Bob's take would be on the new kind of Evangelicals Krista Tippett picked up on in the podcast of Speaking of Faith (Jim Wallis, The Warrens). Anyway, it was a delight to listen in on Dr. Dave and Dr. Bob; the best among the great stuff Shrinkrapradio has to offer.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

The humours of In Our Time

In a most exciting episode, In Our Time, discussed the medical philosophy of the four humors. It is easy to laugh about it from our modern perspective. The whole approach seems so overly symbolic and detached from physical reality. However, and it fascinates Melvyn Bragg no less: the four humors were already thought of in the era of Hippocrates and if at all stopped to be taken seriously, it was only by the nineteenth century.

His guests analyze the ideas and explain that some of the recommended treatments, actually did, by chance, bring relief - like bloodletting. Apart from some efficacy and the inescapable placebo effect, the four humors delivered also a mode of thought. An order in the universe, a connection between man and his environment; it was altogether a fruitful language which culture has cherished and in many ways still does.

This brings about an altogether awkward feeling we are still connected to this seemingly barbarian medicine. Only in the last minutes a thought is uttered which struck me during the podcast as well. Undoubtedly, four humor medicine is inferior to modern medicine, but the philosophy, the language, the ratio, does have its merits. It shows, more than naturalistic, causality, infection oriented medicine man's relation to his environment. The effect on health of the air we breath, the food we eat, the places where we dwell and the personality we have.

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Epistemological skepticism - Philosophy Bites

Philosophy Bites (PB) invited Barry Stroud to speak about skepticism (they write 'scepticism'). Skepticism, we know from podcasts such a the skeptics' guide to the universe, teaches us to be skeptic towards all sorts of claims of alternative medicine, UFO, conspiracy theories and other outlandish beliefs. But in PB skepticism is taken in a more accurate (philosophical) context; the context of epistemology.

What I learned in university was that epistemology was the philosophical investigation of knowledge and indeed, we are talking knowledge here. Skepticism scrutinizes knowledge: how can you know, what you think you know, to be correct. Even of your senses, you cannot be entirely certain. Ultimate skepticism is questioning even our perception.

For a moment I thought we'd slip into the question of reality: whether there is reality at all. If we can't trust our senses, maybe reality as we experience it is just a dream. But eventually this related issue, is a different one. Stroud, interviewed by Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds, uses the ten minutes of the show to rapidly take us through the intricacies of epistemological skepticism. What fun!

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Truus Menger

Martin Simek had bezoek van Truus Menger (audio) in een uitzending die al bijna een maand geleden plaats had, maar pas deze week in de feed werd gezet. Het werd weer eens een heel erg goede uitzending van Simek 's nachts. Martin klaagt halverwege hardop dat hij niet in vorm is en hij oogst zelfs de openlijke kritiek van Menger, die niet over haar ervaring met het afschieten van verraders in 40-45 wil spreken.

Maar in zijn zoektocht weet Simek toch de menselijkheid naar boven te halen. Het meest aangrijpend is wel Truus' relaas over een mislukte redding van joodse kinderen. Zij moest als 19-jarige meisje, actief in het verzet, met een groep kinderen, varierend in de leeftijd van 3 tot 14 jaar een rivier oversteken. Ze had een bootje en ze lag met de kinderen op de oever. Ze moesten in dekking blijven en ze moesten tot 3 uur 's nachts wachten op het juiste getij. Maar om middernacht hield Truus het niet meer uit en besloot de oversteek te wagen.

Door de sterke stroming en de geluiden over het water werden ze ontdekt. De Duitsers schoten en het bootje sloeg om. De kinderen verdronken; Truus kon er maar een op de wal krijgen. Dit trauma slaat op haar 40e nogmaals toe, tezamen met alle andere tegenslagen in haar leven, maar de oude vrouw laat zich in de studio van af het begin kennen als een vitale en humorvolle vrouw. 84 jaar oud, een lang en kommervol leven achter de rug, maar onverwoestbaar.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

The flight of Wright

WNYC's Radio Lab commemorates the first human flight: Orville and Wilbur Wright's achievement to get their plane off the ground on December 17th 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The program (and the podcast) turns out as a crafty collage of voices, sounds, music and statements. Ten minutes of depicting the achievement, outlining the historical importance and some human interest.

The feat of the Wright brothers speaks to the imagination. I recall learning about them in grade school and I see my son learning about them in grade school as well. The romantic fascination is inevitable and the Radio lab podcast hits that tune full force. For a moment I wanted to resist, if not for a simple thought expressed also in the show.

The Wright brothers in their efforts were about 10 years ahead of their competitors (or fellow researchers). Had they failed, flight may have entered world history ten years later. What is the difference between 1903 and 1913? It is that war we have been writing about so much in this blog lately: The Great War. Not that air force was really significant in this war, but it was widely experimented with, further adding to its rapid development.

The last second thought with regards to the romantic appraisal of the flight of Wright - are we better off with flight becoming real as early as 1903? Any slight alteration with regards to the Great War and whatever It brought about, affects us heavily today. What if...? Bad medicine for historians.

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Times Talks (NYT)

Times Talks is a podcast of the New York Times. It is recording of a talk before a live audience at the Times Center with figures from American Culture. Or as the NYT words it on its podcast web page: Intimate discussions with people of note and New York Times journalists and editors. The editions vary in length from half an hour to over an hour. I have tried two of them. Two issues with people from the film industry that kept on talking while the interviewing journalist kept on laughing.

The most recent is Editor at large Lynn Hirschberg discussing film making with actors-directors-producers-brothers Luke and Andrew Wilson. Owen was supposed to have been there but was reported to be 'under the weather.' (audio)

Another episode was Actor and comedian Bill Murray from Arts and Leisure Weekend 2005. Bill Murray takes over the show, rambles on. It is to be admitted that he is very entertaining, but the way the interviewer must continue to laugh hysterically is too much for my taste. Smacking of being eager to please, rather than being genuinely amused. (audio)

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Rumi - Speaking of Faith

"The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi", is the title of the last issue of Speaking of Faith. Subject is the 13th-century mystic and poet Rumi of whom I had never heard, but who appears to be popular, not only among Muslems, but in recent years also in the West. Krista Tippett speaks about Rumi with Fatemeh Keshavarz professor of Persian and comparative literature at the Washington University.

Professor Keshavarz displays an enchanted affection for Rumi, quoting him and referring to him with loving reverence. What leaps out to the unexpecting listener is a type of both mystic and worldly Islam, which is artful, playful, philosophical and mystical at the same moment. Rumi's lines dance like the whirling dervishes, whose performance he is claimed to have invented as well.
Fatemeh Keshavarz: I think the energy can't go in all directions completely in control and you have to choose because you have one life. You have to spend it wisely. So absolutely, he would say choose, be selective, recognize your own value. At another point he says, 'You are an astrolabe to God, you know, don't use yourself for things that are not worthwhile.'

But I want to linger a little bit on that idea of being scattered because that's a key concept in Sufi thought. And actually it's something that the Buddhists also talk about a lot. And that is our mind just jumps from one thing to the other and, you know, the Sufis call it the onrush of ideas into our minds. And in some ways, if we allow it, it takes us over, you know. You know, what am I going to do about that credit card? You know, how am I going to--what do I do about this student paper, you know, whatever else is that you're concerned with, my family, my kids, my future. So it all invades your life and so in a way you're pulled in all directions. You're scattered. So one of the purposes of his poetry and one of the concepts the Sufis talk about is to collect that scatteredness.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Leadership and Artificial Intelligence

Two new issues of Shrinkrapradio were published shortly one after the other. Dr. Dave is keeping us busy.

#125 - The Psychological Roots of Leadership, brings us an interview with Stephen H. Baum, author of the 2007 book, What Made Jack Welch Jack Welch: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders. Baum analyzed the profiles of successful executives, interviewed them and made an inventory of what characterizes the true leaders among us. In short he found out how people with great leadership qualities were usually pushed by a family member in their youth, generally are willing to take more risks than others. Take the plunge and try to survive. Have fewer self-confidence issues and are of a sincere and transparent moral fiber.

#126 - Artificial Life and Artificial Intelligence is the third live recorded podcast, with Jerry Trumbule and Artificial Life and Artificial Intelligence specialist Tom Barbalet. Barbalet is pushed by Jerry to comment on the capacity of computers; are they about to become smarter than people? Tom thinks this has already happened, he claims there are very few fields computers perform less than human beings.

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OVT 1917 - Het Oostfront

Deze week gaat de aandacht van OVT uit naar het oostfront tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog. Het gaat over de verschillende 'Narrenarmees' die er waren. Legers van malloten, die in de nieuwe twintigste eeuw eerloos ten onder gingen. De Russen krijgen dat predikaat mee, alsmede de Oostenrijkers en minder de Turken.

Er worden twee bijgedachtes ontzenuwd. De eerste gaat over de slag bij Tannenberg in 1914. De Duitsers brengen de Russen een pijnlijke nederlaag toe, maar als de Russen nu eens gewonnen hadden? Ja, wat als? Natuurlijk loopt het dan anders met de Grote Oorlog, natuurlijk loopt het dan anders met Rusland, met Duitsland en misschien heb je dan geen Nazis of Sovjets om de wereld te kwellen. Maar het panel is het er snel over eens: het kon haast niet anders. De Russen hadden geen serieuze kans.

De tweede bijgedachte is dat de Turken aan de Eerste Wereldoorlog begonnen in een alliantie met Duitsland met de verborgen agenda om Turkije van christenen te zuiveren. Daarmee wordt gedoeld op de genocide van de Armenen, als zou die gepland zijn geweest. De agenda kan best bestaan hebben, maar wat de Turken in de armen van Duitsland dreef wordt toch meer op het conto van andere factoren geschreven. Desinteresse van de Britten en een actief in een verbond geinteresseerde Kaiser Wilhelm.

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Zoem - Podcast van Stichting IMET

De stichting IMET is gespecialiseerd in de behandeling van mensen die lijden aan angst-, dwang-, eet- of identiteitsproblemen. In haar instituut voor Mentaal-Emotieve Training worden mensen geholpen volgens de principes van de Canadese eetstoornisspecialist Peggy Claude-Pierre, aangepast aan de mogelijkheden van ambulante behandeling. De stichting brengt ook een podcast uit waarin de methode IMET wordt uitgelegd door ontwikkelaar Rob Zondag.

Deze podcast (genaamd 'zoem') wordt geproduceerd door de veelzijdige podcaster Maurice Zondag (familie van?). In de podcast laat Maurice Rob Zondag aan het woord, die daarbij stelselmatig over methode, praktijk en theorie van de behandeling spreekt. De podcasts komen min of meer maandelijks uit en duren ongeveer 45 minuten.

In zekere zin is Zoem met Wise Counsel te vergelijken, zij het dat de interviewer zelf geen psycholoog is en derhalve in mindere mate de monoloog van spreker Rob Zondag aanstuurt. Vergelijkbaar met de Jung Podcast is dat in elke episode dezelfde psycholoog aan het woord is en een en dezelfde discipline wordt besproken.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Less Safe, Less Free (Losing the War on Terror)

David Cole, Professor of Law at Georgetown University lectures at the University of Chicago about his recent book: Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror (University Channel podcast). He argues the Bush administration's sacrifices in the rule of law, adopted in the name of prevention, have had no successes in the realm of catching terrorists or preventing their attacks. Alternatively, he claims, the war on terror could be conducted in a lawful way and thus would preserve the American international standing, the rights of citizens and foreigners and give no propaganda for anti-American movements.

Professor Cole himself is acting as a litigator on behalf of victims of the legal freedoms the war on terror gave US law enforcement. The case samples as well as the figures he presents are stunning. Tales of terrible injustice and thousands upon thousands of people rounded up, interrogated and questioned, while not one terrorist has been caught (except maybe for the shoe bomber, but he was not caught thanks to the exceptional judicial freedoms). In my words: he shows how the security craze has given leeway for secret, discretionary, unrestricted and unchecked infringement of human rights.

Historically, he shows this is not exceptional. Roosevelt interned hundreds of thousands Americans of Japanese descent. The McCarthy era saw the communist paranoia, create veritable witch hunts. In neither eras there were human rights organization standing up against the government. Today there are.

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Simek Staal

Simek 's Nachts heeft het motto opnieuw verwoord: blijf je verwonderen. Ik verwonder me over de interviewstijl van Simek, waar ik eerst zo hartstochtelijk gek op was en die me de laatste tijd is gaan storen. In het interview met Eva Maria Staal (stream) ben ik me gaan realiseren dat datgene wat ik als een gemis aan scherpte ervaren heb, duidt op een andere dynamiek bij Simek. Anders dan die van de interviewer in mij. Ik wil me vastzetten in een vraag, de impliciete kritiek in de vraag is bedoeld.

Simek stelt vragen aan Staal en zij bespeurt er een onderliggende kritiek in. Dat is ook niet zo vreemd. Haar business was het om in wapens te handelen. Haar boek gaat over illegale wapenhandel en je vermoedt wel de zekere mate van autobiografie. We zouden geen moralisten zijn als we daarbij niet tenminste een beetje zouden steigeren. Dat verwacht Staal dus ook, maar dat blijkt Simek niet te bedoelen.

Ten slotte nog een opmerking voor Gijs Groenteman. Hij leidt sinds de terugkeer van Simek 's nachts als podcast, de mp3 in met een uitleg over het ontbreken van de muziek. Deze uitleg begint met de volzin: "Beste luisteraars van de Simek 's nachts." DE? Niet: 'Beste luisteraars van het programma...'? Niet: 'Beste luisteraars van Simek 's Nachts.'? Laat dat lidwoord maar weg, maker van de podcast.

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Inspired Minds - Karlheinz Stockhausen

Inspired Minds, the Deutsche Welle cultural podcast, pays homage to the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who recently passed away. In a recorded interview Breandáin O’Shea asks him about modern media.

Stockhausen is very positive about modern media. His music is electronic mostly and these days, all of that uses modern media and he goes on to emphasize the great advantages of the modern media. The public is wider and the variety of music becomes larger.

About commercialism he is very realistic. He feels he himself has been able to make a living thanks to commercial music. He doesn't expect the regular listener, to engage in 'Stockhausen'. Maybe he can do that occasionally, but not all the time.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Apartheid and Environmental History

The Environmental History podcast continues directing its attention to South Africa. In the latest episode Jan Oosthoek speaks with Phia Steyn about the effects of apartheid on environmental issues in South-Africa, also in the post-apartheid era.

There are still lingering problems around infrastructure, that is sewage systems and waste management, but there are also specific issues some remaining today. Apartheid caused South Africa's isolation and allowed a lot of leeway for the industry that brought in some money to continue its production even if it were hurting the environment. In addition, the apartheid regime engaged in the wars in Namibia and Angola, causing the pollution that comes with modern warfare.

From the pre-apartheid era, we see how the racist world view, that later would feed apartheid, already in the 19th century gave rise to environmental problems. During the great rinderpest, it was unthinkable the disease could spread by way of whites' activities. Almost naturally the blacks were accused and faced restrictions.

Eventually Oosthoek asks whether the environment, or more specifically environmental issues influnence history. According to Steyn it is more complicated than that. There is some effect, but in conjunction with other factors.

UCLA Israel studies

UCLA has an Israel Studies program which delivers a podcast which has around 6 issues in its feed. The latest in the series is a lecture by Shimon Shamir about the peace process in the Middle-East. Shimon Shamir was an envoy to Egypt for Israel during the days of the Peres/Shamir unity government. In his lecture he uses the two peace models that are working (more or less)- the peace with Egypt and the peace with Jordan - and analyzes how these models can be helpful for peace with Syria, the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab World.

Shimon Shamir summarizes 5 lessons from the peace with Egypt and Jordan:

1- It is problematic to have peace with one Arab country and not the other. Conflicts can spill over. Therefore peace must be comprehensive, that is: with the whole Arab World.

2- Israel expects normalization upon peace, but this is not always realistic and can in fact be damaging. The Arabs are afraid of some kind of immaterial domination. So one must not try to achieve normal relations where there is no genuine interest. It can be peace when there is just no fighting.

3- One must be realistic about the security that can be achieved in return for a peace agreement. Most of the security was already achieved with Jordan and Egypt. Syria and the PA have very little extra to offer, even reduction of terrorism, since it is mostly out of their hands. However, what is important to have also peace with Syria and the Palestinians, is to have a comprehensive peace with the whole Arab World. The symbolic effect of that should be valued and if anything, this can offer the maximum of security in return.

4- There is great importance in joint interest. One must make sure to have joint interest with for example Syria, even if that is rather complicated.

5- One must adopt the existing models to the appropriate players. The Egyptian model should be followed with Syria and the Jordanian with the Palestinians. The real effort will be to adapt these properly for there are specific problems with Syria and the Palestinians that do not exist with Egypt and Jordan.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dan Carlin on the Assyrians

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is an extremely original history podcast in that it takes the listener through the facts and engages in analysis, comparative narration and as such makes a unique attempt to connect us with history, which is especially rewarding and laudable, when Dan addresses ancient history. He calls it: very very old world.

It just so happens I have been engaged in history podcasts recently that also address the very, very old history and also make remarks about the area of Mesopotamia. For one there is the Berkeley lecture series of Isabelle Pafford: The Ancient Mediterranean World (History 4A) In addition there is the newly revived World History podcast by David Kalivas. They do not pick out one of the Mesopotamian civilizations and concentrate, like Dan does with the Assyrians. And if they mention the Assyrians, they are not specifically identified from the Babylonians, the Medes or whoever, let alone they can be called: the Nazis of the ancient world.

Dan brings the Assyrians to life, compares them to the Germans for good measure and goes over there rise and sudden fall. He touches upon the Huns, the Medes, the Babylonians, the Israelites and so on. This podcast brings the history alive.

ICT Update - Maurice Zondag

Soms kan je van ellendige verbazing van je stoel vallen. Podcasting in het Nederlands, zou je verwachten, moet de beste content bieden via omroep en kranten, maar behalve over de VPRO ben ik reuze ontevreden. Zodoende dacht ik, en stelde ik ook de hele tijd, dat podcasting in het Nederlands niets voorstelt. Misschien beter dan het Hebreeuws, maar toch. Recentelijk echter werd mijn blog ontdekt door een actieve Nederlandse podcaster: Maurice Zondag.

Maurice heeft een aantal eigen podcasts en als je de podcasts meerekent waaraan hij meewerkt dan kom je al op vijf (en dan hoop ik dat ik niets gemist heb). Veelzeggend is dat Zondag een zelfstandige podcaster is. Geen krant of omroep komt aan zijn producties te pas. Misschien is er toch meer podcasting gaande in Nederland dan ik dacht. Ik hoop in de komende tijd aandacht te besteden aan Maurices podcasts alsmede een profiel van hem als podcaster te brengen. Afwachten.

Laten we nu meteen beginnen met een nieuws podcast waar hij aan meewerkt. ICT-update NL. Dit is een panel stijl cast die min of meer wekelijks uitkomt met een klein uur gesprek over allerlei nieuwsfeiten in de ICT (high tech noemen we dat in Israel) die in Nederland de koppen hebben gehaald. Uitzending 14, de laatste tot nu, gaat over het succes van TomTom, over google, over in de file staan, rechten over CD's, muziek en meer.

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Economist on elections 2008

On the Economist blog and podcast Democracy in America there is an interview with professor Brian Balogh (University of Virginia and Miller Center of Public Affairs). The idea is to look at the presidential candidates' biographies and evaluate inasmuch these life stories contribute to their chances of being elected. Most of the attention is given to Clinton and Obama.

It has been said in other podcast that try to analyze the upcoming elections. The Democrats are bound to win and among the Democrats Hillary Clinton looks like the most potent candidate. Only Barack Obama seems to stand a chance of faltering her. Hence the assumption is made that either she or he will be the next American president.

In either case there will the an exceptional new thing; either the first woman or the first African American to be president. Balogh is invited to think about constructing a written biography and ponder where to take the narrative.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hot and sour - very mild version

When we were in India, high up in the Himalaya in Himachal Pradesh, we ate a hot and sour soup that I have tried to emulate ever since. Especially with chicken, my wife loves it. My kids, I know from experience, love sour soup, but less so, hot food. Hence I tend to make milder versions of my hot recipes these days. Here is the hot and sour soup with chicken and less hot and sour.

1 onion
1 red paprika (bell pepper)
1 green paprika
1 carrot (grated)
1 tea spoon ginger
juice of 1 lemon
2 table spoons olive oil
1 tea spoon sweet paprika
2 tea spoons ground caraway
1 tea spoon ground cumin
1 table spoon ground fenegreek
2 tea spoons soy sauce
10 drum sticks
1 tea spoon rock salt

Heat the oil with the sweet paprika, caraway and cumin. Simmer in it the onion (finely cut) and the grated carrot. Grate the ginger and finely cut the paprikas and add them to the soup. Heat well and add the drumsticks. Keep stirring; the vegetables and spices should not scorch. When the meat turns white, add garlic, salt, soy sauce, lemon juice and fenegreek and cover. After a couple of minutes add 1.5 liter of boiling water. Turn the fire low and let the soup boil slowly for 15 minutes. If you like, you can take out the chicken and mash the vegetables further with a hand blender.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Sassanian Empire - IOT

In Our Time turned its attention to the Sassanian Empire, a Persian empire lasting from the third to the seventh century CE. This empire was ruled by Zoroastrians, it traded with the Romans as well as the Chinese and at times defeated the Romans. Eventually it was brought down by the Muslems. It was an wonderful In Our Time again, as so often. I want to take two points that stuck with me - notnecessarily the main line of discussion.

The speakers emphasize the separation of East and West, of China and the Eurasian continent. These two power centers do not influence each other politically or militarily. What on the other hand does exist and the Western looking Sassanids take part in this actively is trade. Goods and by nature also ideas travel between the Mediterranean and China, but somehow China remains untouched by the west, even by the Sassanids, even if they traded with the Chinese themselves.

When Huns appear in history, they attack and even occupy for a moment, China first, but then, after being kicked out, they move west. The Sassanids anf the Romans face the Huns together. So far are the East and West apart that the invaders of China around 311 CE were not identified as the same as the Huns for a long time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A. C. Baantjer bij Martin Simek

Voormalig agent van bureau Warmoesstraat Appie Baantjer, werd schrijver en oogstte miljoenensucces met zijn thrillers. De inmiddels 85 jarige Baantjer is op bezoek in het radioprogramma Simek 's Nachts, dat (onregelmatig) ook op podcast wordt uitgebracht. Interviewer Simek is nog steeds een beetje uit vorm - vind ik. Ook met Baantjer weet hij zichn iet zo een houding te geven, maar de oude schrijver is zo geweldig innemend dat tussen de vragen door dit een prachtig mooie podcast is geworden.

Baantjer leren we kennen als een krasse tachtiger en een man van bescheiden meningen en eenvoudige genoegens en een milde, maar toch recht voor zijn raap spreekstijl. Hij hield er niet van zijn pistool te dragen. Hij wilde dat de inspecteur in zijn boeken nooit vloekte, nooit sloeg en nooit zou schieten. Hij houdt van modeltreinen. Hij hield van zijn overleden vrouw en hij heeft er vrde mee dat ze geen kinderen hadden. Het sympathiekste is wel dat hij onthult dat hioj geen zaken aankon, als hij voor de verdachte geen gevoel kon opbrengen.

Wat dan? Nou, ik heb oplichters gekend die heel charmant waren. Simek grijpt zich aan het charmante van Baantjer vast en probeert in de bescheiden versie iets groots te vinden. Hoe komt het dat je geen charmeur van vrouwen was, net zoals je vader? Appie laat zich niet uit het veld slaan, maar waarom kan die Simek niet ophouden als hij ziet dat het niet past?