Saturday, June 30, 2007

Oy Mendele! - podcast

The moment I discovered Oy Mendele!, the podcast was just releasing its last issues. This is the fate of so many hobby podcasts, no matter how professionally made: they are abandoned, when time runs out to make them.

It is a pity. Oy Mendele! was a very exciting, varied, show with everything that touches American Jews -- or should so. For those who are interested, I encourage them to dig the old shows out of the archives.

Listen, for example to the show about Erik Jan Hanussen, the psychic of Adolf Hitler. The show interviews Dr. Mel Gordon who wrote a book about Hanussen: Hitler's Jewish Clairvoyant.

Dag kleuterschool

Vorige week was al het eindfeest (zie foto's), maar gisteren was het dan echt ook de laatste schooldag. Itamar is nu van de kleuterschool af. In september gaat hij naar klas een.

De kinderen houden letters omhoog - בהצלחה - : "succes!"

Friday, June 29, 2007

Fish with couscous

800 gram codfish - מרלוזה
350 gram couscous (medium size)
olive oil
3 bay leaves
1 red hot pepper
1 green hot pepper
5 stems of celery
5 carrots
3 green paprikas
1 red bell pepper
2 tea spoons sweet paprika
1 tea spoon ground coriander
1 tea spoon ground caraway
1 tea spoon ground cumin
1/2 tea spoon turmeric
4 cloves garlic
1 tea spoon mustard
1 tea spoon squeezed ginger
2 hands of cilantro leaves
2 servings tomato paste
60 ml cream (15%)
1/2 l water
2 glasses white wine

Heat the oil with salt, bay leaves and whole red hot pepper. Let this scorch a bit then add finely cut celery and carrot. Add sweet paprika. Stir. Add the fish and one glass of wine. Add garlic, ginger, spices (but NOT the turmeric), salt, paprikas, mustard and stir. Close the lid, turn to medium heat. Boil 1/2 liter of water then add together with another glass of wine. After 10 minutes, use a ladle to take out 1/2 liter of the 'soup'.

Add the couscous to a glass bowl. Add one spoon of oil and the turmeric, mix by stirring with a fork. Add the soup and stir again. Put in microwave at high power for 3 minutes. (Check the instructions that come with your couscous, I am not entirely sure EVERY couscous can be made like this)

Add tomato paste to the stew, simmer without the lid on and then take it off the fire and add cream.

Mass extinction - In Our Time

250 million years ago, the largest mass extinction in biological history took place. It is what is known as the the Permian-Triassic boundary. In Our Time discusses the details and angleson this extinction.

What do we know of what was life like during the Permian? What was the earth like? And what caused the extinction. Current theory points at vulcanic eruptions from fissures in the large pangaea continent. This and the consecutive greenhouse effect, made life unbearable for more than 90% of the species. In the Triassic, life slowly recovers and a whole new evolutional string is set off.

What helped, specifically, those species that did survive, doesn't seem to to be much of what would generally be evolutionary helpful. In addition, the occurrance of this particular cataclysm, does not have any cyclic quality. Hence it is one unexpected disaster and the survival is by chance. Nobody will call this the Hand of God, but the metaphor jumped to my mind. Yet another podcast from the BBC that had me gripped, even if the subject at firs hand appeared not so promising.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Chicken pesto with moong dal rice

Here I present two recipes. One for the rice and one for the chicken. Actually it is three. One for the rice, one for the chicken and one for the pesto.

1 cup of brown rice
Half a cup of mash (moong dal)
1 large onion
olive oil

Have the mash soak in water for at least an hour before use. Put one spoon of olive oil in the rice pan. Heat it quickly and stir fry the finely cut onion in it. Add salt and the mash and stir fry. Add the rice and stir. Add water (optional: add a glass of white wine) and cook for at least 30 minutes. The mash must be soft and ready to eat -- it usually takes a tad longer than the brown rice.

150 gram of fresh basil
1 green hot pepper
10 cloves of garlic
olive oil

Add the basil, the garlic, one spoon of oil, a tea spoon of salt and the pepper to a blender and blend it into a pesto.

500 gram of boneless chicken (cut in cubes)
2 courgettes
7 chives
1 dry red hot pepper
3 bay leaves
2 tea spoons of fine ground black pepper
2 spoons olive oil
5 celery stalks
60 ml cream (15% fat)

Put one spoon of oil in a pan, heat it quickly with the red pepper (whole) and bay leaves and one tea spoon of ground pepper. After one minute add the chicken and stir fry. While adding the rest of the black pepper and salt. Add celery and chives; stir fry. Add courgette. When this whole is well done, add the pesto. Let it cook for a while and turn off heat. Add cream. Allow standing time.

Introduction to Philosophy - cuny podcast

Last year I took out my old copy of Plato's Politeia and sat down with a podcast from York College, the city university of New York. Together with the class I read along in Plato's book (they call it The Republic, but what's in a name?) and got all the explanations of Professor Howard Ruttenberg.

It is called Introduction to Philosophy, or Philosophy 103 and it was like being back at the werkcolleges in 1986. Ruttenberg has this uncanny attitude that is simultaneously funny, patronizing, patient and condescending but still kept me glued to the pod. It is unfortunate the students most of the time deserved a kick in the behind and it held up the interesting listening when the fumbled with questions and answers or outright showed up late and did not do their homework. Professor Ruttenberg spends a lot of time at educating them at being students, which of course - it goes without saying! hehehe - was wasted on me.

Nevertheless a riveting experience of being back at the university. For anybody into philosophy, go check this podcast out.

Bernard Hinault

A great source to find trivia about past Tour de Frances is "Mémoire du cyclisme". It allows me to go back to what was my first Tour de France I consciously followed: the tour of 1978. It was a heroic battle between Joop Zoetemelk and Bernard Hinault, the young and coming star. Zoetemelk defended and Hinault attacked. By the 20th stage, a 72 kilometer individual time trial from Metz to Nancy, Hinault crushed the competition and finally took the lead over from Zoetemelk.

Thus he won his first tour and he would continue to win four more. Hinault would moslty conquer when he participated. In 1980, Zoetemelk won, after Hinault had to give up on account of a knee injury. In 1983 he did not participate and Fignon could win. Only in 1984 and 1986, Hinault did not win, but then at least came 2nd. Who won? First Fignon (1984), then Lemond (1986), two other great champions.

Bernard was an impressive rider. He was a fantastic at the time trial, a great climber, but he could also win a sprint. In addition to all that, he was a leader in the peleton. Hinault was the boss - Le Patron. I feel, a champion and a personality such as Bernard Hinault, never has returned to cycling ever.

1978 Hinault,
1979 Hinault,
1980 Zoetemelk,
1981 Hinault ,
1982 Hinault,
1983 Fignon,
1984 Fignon,
1985 Hinault,
1986 Lemond.

Nederlanders in de Armee - OVT podcast

De geschiedenis programma's van de VPRO, OVT, 'het spoor terug' en 'passages, passanten' roepen bij mij nog altijd warme herinneringen op. Zuinig bewaar ik de bandjes uit 1989 die ik bij de VPRO bestelde. Vier afleveringen van Passages Passanten getiteld: Oorlog was Voetbal, waarin Levy Weemoed ons meeneemt naar de eerste wereldoorlog in het algemeen en de slag aan de Somme (1 juli 1916) in het bijzonder. Een incident waarbij een Engelse compagnie de Duitse stellingen bestormde met een bal aan de voet, staat daarbij centraal. Het moet exemplarisch zijn voor de negentiende eeuwse naiviteit waarmee deze eerste twintigste eeuwse oorlog ingegaan werd.

OVT levert wekelijks twee uur radio die vervolgens ook als podcast beschikbaar komt. Helaas ben ik afgehaakt van deze serie. Het is te moeilijk om uit twee uur programmering een interessant element afzonderlijk te beluisteren en de twee uur als geheel is me te versnipperd en over het algemeen te weinig belangwekkend. Er is echter een uitzending die ik als een kostbaar juweel bewaar. Een thema uitzending van 25 december 2005.

In 1812 trok de armee van Napoleon op om Rusland te veroveren. In de gelederen van dit formidabele leger vochten niet weinig Nederlanders mee. Hun geschiedenis wordt gereconstrueerd aan de hand van brieven van betrokkenen waar OVT de hand op heeft weten te leggen. Hetzij uit de archieven van de Armee in Parijs, hetzij van nabestaanden die na een oproep van de VPRO met de epistels van overgrootvaders en achteroudooms kwamen aanzetten. Twee uur adembenemde history podcast. Helaas maken ze bij de VPRO nog maar zelden zulke thema-uitzendingen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

TdF London - podcast

This year, the Tour de France is going to start in London. The prologue will be on July 7th and the next day, on Sunday 8th, the first stage will go from London to Canterbury. That is all TdF is going to see in England as from there it is going continental.

If you are looking for a podcast about the Tour de France, so far, not much is to be found. The British are excited on hosting the start and there is a Tour de France London podcast, but other than that, a search shows casts on last year, or even 2005. Maybe, the cycling podcasters still have to wake up, but last year's experience showed, after many searches nothing of note. Neither in English, nor in French, German or Dutch was there anything worthy of mentioning. Let's hope this year will be better.

The Military History Podcast

On the subject of the Military History Podcast as an educational podcast, I may be only mildly enthusiastic, but as a general podcast story, this is absolutely fabulous. This is the story about a kid named George Hageman who fell in love with military history and, as modern kids do, got all the hardware, software and tech knowledge needed for podcasting and simply started podcasting. He did so in 2005 and and by now, 2007, the podcast is still alive and kicking.

He has maintained the monotonous monologue, but added audio gadgets, sources and, early on, hauled in a sponsor contract. He makes 10 to 20 minute episodes on various subjects or battles in warring history. I am not particularly fond of the subject, neither of the format, but I admire the professionalism. Any historian could do this, but in practice they do not. George, therefore, stands on the forefront of modern history education and most likely, on his own, makes more people interested in history than many studied persons together.

A systematic discussion on Jung

The Jung Podcast is entirely about the psychology of Carl Gustave Jung. It is presented by the psycho-analyst John Betts who is a located in Canada, but received his education in Zürich, Switzerland. Betts gives a systematic introduction into the ideas of Jung and goes on to apply it in the various relevant fields.

I can recommend this podcast as a purely educational one. If you want to learn about Jung, this is an excellent point of start and possibly also a source of listening complementary to your studies. A little less appropriate it is for leisure audio and swift acquaintance with Jung. The casts are lengthy, exhaustive and carefully set up just as if they were university lectures. You have to be ready for the monologue, the low audio level and the studious approach of John Betts. If you are, this will be a great podcast. If you are not, you will be bored pretty soon.

Common Sense -- In Our Time

In Our Time opens with a couple of quotes on how philosophers generally lack common sense. Or so, at least is the common sense opinion, from non-philosophers. When philosophers themselves try to preserve common sense in their work, what comes of such an enterprise?

One such common sense notion that philosophers may want to preserve is what is known in philosophy as realism. This is the idea that there is an external world that we perceive through our senses. In other words: the world is real and we can largely trust our senses. One will want to try to defend this idea and rather not turn into a skeptic, one who is not sure and doubts the trustworthiness of our senses, or turn, god forbid, into an idealist, one who rejects the idea of an external world.

The project to preserve common sense ideas such as realism is, upon close scrutiny quite hazardous and In Our Time, while discussing among others Bacon, Descartes, Hume and Kant, show how even when one sets out to give a firm philosophical base to common sense, runs into much trouble. To find that even Wittgenstein is supposed to be an adherent of common sense philosophy confuses me as my former attempts at reading and understanding Wittgenstein have confused me.

Forty two and a half minutes of quality podcast, on the other hand, are quite the treat and making much amends.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Heeft Renate Dorrestein ook een oplossing?

De Nederlandse jeugd schijnt los te zijn. Dat was de jeugd ook toen ik jong was, maar het waren toch meer conservatieve opvoeders die zich daar zorgen over maakten. Nu er echter signalen zijn van excessen met drank, drugs en extreme seksuele uitwassen en met steeds jongere kinderen (lollipopfeestjes met 9-jarigen), komen er ook woorden van zorg uit een andere hoek. De feministe Renate Dorrestein schreef een boek, Echt Sexy, waarin een 13 jarig meisje, Fiebie (Phoebe?) de hoofdpersoon is en waarin ze de ruwe werkelijkheid van het hedendaags opgroeien probeert te schetsen. En de schets geeft aanleiding tot zorg en de vraag rijst: hoe moet het anders en wat kan er gedaan worden?

Je zou zeggen dat met zo'n boek en zo'n gast in Simek 's Nachts de show niet stuk kan. Martin Simek is helaas echter, vind ik, al een aantal weken uit vorm. Dat hoeft niet zozeer een beletsel te zijn als de gast maar goed is -- ik schreef dat al eerder. In deze uitzending daarentegen is hij zo onvoorbereid en bezondigt hij zich aan zulke slechte vragen dat hij het, naar mijn smaak, bederft.

Natuurlijk zou het probleem kunnen zijn dat kinderen te eenzaam, dat wil zeggen, met werkende ouders opgroeien, maar om nou te suggereren dat moeder maar weer met de thee thuis moet zitten, is wel erg achterhaald. Waarom zou het trouwens moeder moeten zijn? Nou, vindt Simek, met vader knuffelen vinden mijn zoontjes minder interessant dan met moeder, dus moeder is toch van nature de persoon die kinderen liever thuis aantreffen. Hoeveel zegt dit van vader Martin en hoe weinig van zijn zoontjes? En waarom moet deze anecdotische troep geextrapoleerd worden tot de natuurlijke rol van de vrouw? Meen je dat nou werkelijk, Martin?

Misschien had Renate wat adequater kunnen reageren, maar de platitudes volgen elkaar in zo'n dramatsch tempo op, dat ik me niet meer kan voorstellen dat er hier met opzet voor een provocerende, reactionaire insteek wordt gekozen. En in haar plaats zou ik ook totaal overdonderd geweest zijn. Kortom, Renate moet zich beperken tot het aanvegen van de scherven van het gezond verstand en het geisoleerd plaatsen van verstandige uitlatingen en dan is de uitzending alweer snel voorbij. Wat een verprutste kans op veel meer, heel veel meer. Of Renate ook een oplossing heeft, daar kan je niet achterkomen op zo'n manier.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Word Nerds Podcast

Such a long time I have had to wait until I could write about my favorite podcast. The wordnerds had been away for months, but finally they are back. Unfortunately, they are not back as they used to. They used to deliver one podcast a week. At least they are back to the one podcast per three weeks -- I hope

The Word Nerds is like a radio show only so much better as it is a podcast and hence can be listened to when and where and at the speed and repetitiousness I like. It has the music, apt jingles, announcements, sound quality and jive a professional radio program has. And it is about words, language and why we say the things we do, which makes it just the right stuff for me.

Three language teachers (Latin, English, German) elegantly take on various subjects from really nerdy linguistic grammar stuff, like modal verbs, to juicy expletives and of course the returning 'rude word of the week'. In light, but to the point, banter they discuss the subject and thus produce 30 to 45 minutes podcasts that are real gems in the field. They are also very apt at using music like adding podsafe work to each edition. A great podcast especially for language lovers, but also for any interested in the sublime craft of podcasting -- what a shining example!

Virginia Oldoini according to Bob

Bob Packett is at his best when he gets to tell the really juicy details of great history. As a matter of fact, he is also at his best when he recounts the sordid affairs in small history. Maybe, Bob is always at his best; no history so small or great, or there are sordid juicy stories to tell about.

There is a whole series in his History according to Bob podcast about famous mistresses. Bob does them with great enthusiasm, that is hard to resist. The latest is about Virginia Oldoini. She roamed the courts of France and Italy in the early nineteenth century and did so, if we can count on Bob, in a very self-conscious and effective way. She strode among the who-is-who among others Napoleon III, Bismarck and Victor Emmanuel. She made heads turn and parties fall silent when she entered and she played them all like musical instruments. But for power wielding magic like this stories have no good endings. Listen to Bob and find out what was the fate of Oldoini when she got old. (if at all)

De jongens van Foppe

Ik mag me dan als internet-intellectueel onledig houden met educatieve podcasts, ik volg ook een paar sporten on-line. Daar komen dan toch een paar primaire driften naar boven en ontdekte ik en passant (zie blog en blog) dat ik heel conservatieve sentimenten heb als het op voetbal aan komt.

Daarbij wil ik wel aantekenen, dat ik meer en meer begin af te haken bij de grote evenementen. Vorig jaar was het WK een deceptie. De Tour de France is een deceptie, eigenlijk al sinds 1998. En als je nu de berichten leest over Riis dan verlies je met terugwerkende kracht nog een jaar. Ik was trouwens altijd een liefhebber van Jan Ulrich, maar die heeft er ook alles aan gedaan om dat te bederven.

Maar goed, ik wilde het over voetbal hebben. Waar het WK en de grote elftallen, elkaar in een verlammende greep hebben, zowel in de Champions League als in de competities voor nationale teams, ontdekte ik vorig jaar al een sprankeling in het U21 gebeuren. En daar werden we ook meteen kampioen. En opnieuw.

De persoon van Foppe de Haan past daar prima bij. Zoals hij prima bij Heerenveen paste, al die jaren en ons de sympathiekste subtopper bracht. Laat Foppe eerst maar eens schitteren op de Olympische Spelen. Maar als hij Oranje naar Zuid Afrika zou nemen. Zou Foppe dan sneuvelen in de waanzin van de verkramping die bij het hoogste podium hoort? Of zou Foppe de verademing zijn en ons een WK brengen om nooit te vergeten?

University Channel Podcast

The university of Princeton hosts the University Channel Podcast. The podcast delivers on a nearly daily basis lectures and forum discussion about current affairs. It is my impression that the source of the lectures is from all over the (English Speaking) world not just from Princeton itself.

For example, I have just listened to a lecture held at the Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Other lectures I recall were from the London School of Economics and so on. What a wonderful, one point of contact, for your think tank input. The supply is so large, I get to pick and choose from whatever interests me. In the past I have listened to many a lecture or discussion on the Middle East. Another issue of note was a lecture with Philip Zimbardo, who plugged his book The Lucifer Effect (as he also did in Shrinkrapradio #87).

The Vanderbilt lecture was by Douglas Schmidt on Globalization, following mostly the book by Thomas Friedman 'The world is flat'. Friedman describes the world as "flat" as to give a metaphor for the fact that competition between industrial and developing countries are leveling. Schmidt follows this with his own examples. I can connect to it for being an active internet user, a man with dual citizenship, three languages (at least) and a second career man who switched from a traditional field, to the hi-tech.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Alternative Life - Biota Podcast

I would have passed 'Artificial Life' as a nightmarish concept from a bad SciFi novel. As in: "Now that my minions are emerging from the laboratories, there is nothing that can stop me anymore." Dr. Enzymic burst out in a cackling laughter and with a gasp of fear the gorgeous Georgina grabbed my arm. "Not if I can help it," I shouted. Enzymic even smiled. "Jon Halbard, my once worthy but now so pathetic adversary," he cried, "nothing can stop my artificial life, especially not you, with your pounding heart and your stinking sweat." If anything, it taps into negative prejudice.

But here is a quote from Chris G. Langton
Biology is the scientific study of life - in principle, anyway. In practice, biology is the scientific study of life on Earth based on carbon-chain chemistry. There is nothing in its charter that restricts biology to carbon-based life; it is simply that this is the only kind of life that has been available to study. Thus, theoretical biology has long faced the fundamental obstacle that it is impossible to derive general principles from single examples.

Without other examples, it is difficult to distinguish essential properties of life - properties that would be shared by any living system - from properties that may be incidental to life in principle, but which happen to be universal to life on Earth due solely to a combination of local historical accident and common genetic descent.

In order to derive general theories about life, we need an ensemble of instances to generalize over. Since it is quite unlikely that alien lifeforms will present themselves to us for study in the near future, our only option is to try to create alternative life-forms ourselves - Artificial Life - literally ``life made by Man rather than by Nature.''

So, as it appears, Artificial Life is genuine (theoretical) science and it appears there is a podcast as well: Biota. I found it, because they interviewed the familiar Dr. David van Nuys of Shrinkrapradio. As a psychologist, Dr. Dave is asked to dwell (among others) on the subject of self.

Shrinkrapradio on Freud and Jung

On the subject of psycho-analysis, I guess, I have been very much influenced by Karl Popper, who rejected, specifically Freudian theory as unscientific on account of it being irrefutable. Freud was notorious at bending facts to his theories. An example I recall from my studies was that one day supposedly, a client told Freud a dream that Freud couldn't make heads or tails from and consequently Freud interpreted the dream as the client's subconscious subversiveness into dreaming a dream that could not be interpreted.

A more serious fault rather in the theory than in the person of Freud, is the introduction of the idea of a subconsciousness. It is also illustrated by Douglas Davis, who is interviewed on Shrinkrapradio, that once the assumption behavior can be subconsciously motivated is acceptable, a person's conduct can be attributed to any motivation, whether aware or not. Consequently, when two great psycho-analysts - Freud and Jung - became friends, their relationship was subject to the pitfall of interpretation from the subconscious from the git go.

The discussion of the letters between Freud and Jung that Dr. Davis gives on Shrinkrapradio goes much further than touching on this pitfall, but I just can't help but expecting the great falling out between these men, even if I hadn't known about it in advance. Or maybe it is as it goes with passionate relationships: they must end in a dramatic parting.

The contemplation on the podcast, what greatness could have come from an ongoing cooperation between these great minds, is compelling, yet at the same time an almost unthinkable what-if. In any case. Douglas Davis is a great speaker and elegantly recounts the history, admirably stimulated to do so, by the ever praiseworthy Dr. David van Nuys of Shrinkrapradio.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Alexander the Great - crippled by TV

Alexander the Great is a wonderful historic figure to make movies about, whether it is with Richard Burton in 1956 or with Colin Farrell in 2004. Movies are not the best way to get an accurate idea of history, but it sure is a wonderful means to be introduced. Bob Packett of the podcast 'History according to Bob' delivered a series of lectures on the history of Alexander, from his ancestry to his death and including his father, mother, horse and generals. Bob frequently compares the history as to how it was depicted in the 1956 and 2004 movies, so as to give the cinema public some additional reward for their money.

From my part, since I had not seen either movie, this functioned also as a movie review. Bob is least enthusiastic about the more recent feature, so I wasn't exactly searching to go and see it. However, last Friday, my wife and I had a quiet evening and found out that Channel 10 (ערוץ 10) was offering this film. So we sat down and tried to enjoy.

What a disaster that was. I can't say anything about the movie as it was thoroughly crippled by the TV. Every two to five minutes we had ad banners going through the screen for the next generation Uri Geller to bore us and every ten to fifteen minutes we had a sudden disruption with a long block of commercials. All in all this was so intrusive, we couldn't get 'into' the movie and simply abandoned it halfway. (When Alex has conquered Babel) A total and effective way of spoiling the viewers enjoyment, but also urging the question: should the distributor of a movie allow for feature on TV, if he knew the product would be mangled like this? The unexpcetant winner of the situation is likely to be Blockbuster's as we are now intent on getting to see Alexander the Great properly. Once we are at it, we might as well get the 1956 version, I am sure Bob will approve of that.

Minced Chicken with pasta

500 gram minced chicken
2 courgettes
1 bell pepper
250 gram chick peas (cooked)
2 table spoons olive oil
4 tea spoons turmeric
3 tea spoons fenegreek
2 tea spoons ground coriander
4 cloves of garlic - sliced
2-4 table spoons whipping cream (15%)

Heat one table spoon of the oil and stir fry the chicken, while adding 2 teaspoons of turmeric, 2 tea spoons of fenegreek and some salt. Put the chicken aside when it is well done. Put in one tablespoon of oil with 2 teaspoons of turmeric, 1 tea spoon of fenegreek and salt over low heat and stir gently. Make sure the spices wil not burn. After two minutes cut and add the onion. Stir fry the onion for about five minutes. Cut the courgette and the pepper and add to the onion. Add salt if needed and stir. Add coriander, garlic and chick peas. When the courgette is nearly done, add the chicken you have put aside. When the vegetables are done turn off the fire and add the cream. Add salt if you think it is needed.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Itamar ook!

Nadat Jonathan poepend op de WC gefotografeerd was, wilde Itamar ook. Zodra hij zat, riep hij Rachel en ze moest een plaatje van hem maken. Goed dan, ere wie ere toekomt en dan komt ook hij on-line te staan.

Help Mark Putnam finish his novel - Writing Show

The writing show had Mark Putnam, a writer who claims to have too many ideas and as a result of always jumping from one new idea to another never finished a novel. He is 29 years old and can't stand the idea not to have finished at least one project by the age of 30 -- so what to do?

He has his own blog at Plotastic, where we, the readers, can influence his writing. First of all, until July first, by voting on the most important elements of the story. For example, do you want the main character to be the priest and not the physics professor? Go vote! And quickly, because the physics professor is in the lead.

On July first, Mark will start writing with the elements that the voters decided upon. I like this. I wouldn't do it his way, but with my own writing in the PBeM, I see how much more enjoyable writing is when you have a direct and in real time connection with your audience.

Do you want to know more. Look at the blog and listen also to the latest edition of the Writing Show.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

De eerste keer op de pot

Wanneer kan je beginnen met zindelijkheidstraining? Ze zeggen, wanneer het kind kan praten en het beste in de zomer. Jonathan is nu tweeenhalf, het is zomer, maar praten doet hij nog niet erg - dat krijg je ook met twee talen.

Maar vanavond had ik door dat hij wilde gaan poepen en ik heb hem snel op de WC gezet. In tegenstelling tot eerdere pogingen bleef hij lekker zitten. Ik moedigde hem aan en zowaar, hij ging zijn best doen om het op de WC te doen. Gauw Rachel geroepen en die heeft het historisch moment meteen op de digitale plaat vastgelegd.

Hij was reuze trots. Al noemde hij het produkt 'pipi' en en geen 'kaki', ach ja, zoals gezegd: praten doet hij nog niet zo.

Alternatief roleplay (2)

Zou roleplay via podcast kunnen? Je kunt in ieder geval je table-top sessie opnemen en er een podcast van maken. Ik heb een zo'n sessie beluisterd, maar vond er niet veel aan. Als je het dan toch audio wilt maken, dan moet het anders.

Misschien moeten de spelers, om te beginnen, niet rond de tafel zitten, maar in een Skype conference call zitten. Dan heb je in ieder geval een gelijk geluidsniveau en je sluit het visuele aspect uit. Dat is toch al het meest frustrerende in een podcast als je er naar luistert en er wordt een referentie gemaakt naar iets dat iedereen behalve de luisteraar kan zien. Dat zou al beter zijn.

Maar misschien moet je meer richting PBeM gaan. In plaats dat de GM een email aan de spelers stuurt, stuurt hij een soundclip en de spelers sturen namens hun character een soundclip terug. En dat wordt gecompileerd tot een podcast. Zo wordt het meer een hoorspel.

Lastig hoor. Ik houd het nog maar even op email. Per email stuur ik mijn spelers de situatie en zij beschrijven de reactie van hun personage in een email terug. En na verloop van tijd assembleert zich dat tot een nieuw hoofdstuk in het verhaal. En dat zet ik on-line op de site van onze PBeM.

Alternatief roleplay (1)

Tjeerd was op een feest waar hij zich verveelde. Een paar bekenden die hij verwacht had, waren niet komen opdagen. Hij stond te twijfelen of hij zou weggaan of toch nog wat langer wachten. Intussen beluisterde hij het gesprek dat naast hem gevoerd werd.

-Heb je 't al gehoord; Ees is getjellist.
-Tering, wat vond Rick ervan?
-Hij deed waanzinnig gefokt.
-Hattie geen lukpoint meer?
-Nee, 't was een verschrikkelijke fumbelparty.
-Weet Angela dat Ees getjellist is?
-Nee, ik was dee-em.

De laatste spreker was een slungelachtige jongen die met zijn rug naar Tjeerd toe zat. Hij had lang vlasblond haar dat met een elastiekje tot een staart gebonden was. Hij schokte lichtjes met zijn schouders wanneer hij sprak. De ander was een kleine donkere jongen met sluik zwart haar. Hij droeg een ronde bril met dikke glazen. De bril kwam aanvankelijk wat studentikoos op Tjeerd over, maar dat kon hij niet rijmen met diens merkwaardige taalgebruik. De donkere jongen lardeerde zijn plat Amsterdams met anglicismen, waar Tjeerd nog nooit van gehoord had.

-Heeft Angela een spel om Ees (of misschien was het wel Ace, bedacht Tjeerd) te untjellissen?
-Weet ik niet. Dit is natuurlijk ontzettend hajki, dan moet ik heel goed gooien.
-Angela is toch best wel een high level character?
-Ho ho, ze is nog maar veteran.

Dit is een bedachte schets, maar het ontloopt niet ver de werkelijkheid van hoe ik met roleplay in aanraking kwam. Omdat ik me toch verveelde heb ik me in het gesprek gemengd en laten uitleggen waar het nu eigenlijk over ging. Een week later deed ik zelf mee met een roleplay sessie en het zou niet meer ophouden. Al snel werd ik ook een DM (dus niet dee-em) oftwel een spelleider. Ik deed het net een beetje anders -- als altijd op zoek naar een alternatief.

Het werd pas echt zoeken naar een alternatief toen ik in Israel kwam te wonen. Daar kende ik geen spelers en toen ik ze eenmaal kende, ging het spel toch nog moeizaam; roleplay in het Hebreeuws is wel een stukje lastiger dan in je moers taal. Intussen had ik wel een heel goed alternatief gevonden: Roleplay via email.

Ook in het roleplay via email werd ik al snel spelleider. Het spel gaat aanmerkelijk langzamer dan het gewone rond-de-tafel-rollenspel, maar daar staat tegenover dat het meer aandacht voor taal, verhaal en detail heeft. En je speelt het in de verloren minuten; er zijn geen vrije avonden voor lange speelsessies meer nodig. Kortom een ideaal alternatief voor een man met een gezin, een baan en een woonplaats in het buitenland.

Wise Counsel with Steven Shaps

I went into this edition of Wise Counsel with prejudice. I did what I usually do not do and that is reading about the interviewee (Steven Shaps) and studying his website. As a result I was put off by all the 'New Age stuff' and not expecting something solid.

I was wrong. On all accounts it is a very pleasant to follow conversation that Dr. David van Nuys and Steven Shaps have and the pointers on the subject - anger management, are very useful. Moreover, Steven Shaps takes me in completely when he relates about his work in prison. He describes his approach with the detainees and tells about his experiences.

I have done voluntary work in prison for 5 years when I was a criminology student and consequently I have a mindset about such an environment. I have some experience based ideas on how detainees act, converse and generally relate to staff, whether they are wardens, volunteers or counselors. The words of Steven Shaps immediately hit home with me. He describes the reluctance the prisoners have when they meet him (They are usually sent) and how he talks and listens to them. I recognized that as something very realistic and likely to be effective. His description of the reactions and how he then manages to work with the men is impressive and truly wonderful.

I'd rather not giveaway anything he says and would like to encourage everybody to listen. Mind this though, it is not all about prison experience. That is just what really did it for me, but it is only a smal part of the interview. The podcast is mostly about anger and how to deal with it in the most regular examples such as in the family, between partners or dates.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

7 reasons why podcasts are better than radio

1- You cannot miss a podcast. If you weren't around when the radio transmitted, you are lost. But when a program is available as a podcast you can go and find, download and listen in your own time

2- Something comes up, what now? Even if you decide not to miss the radio program, you have been distracted for a moment and missed a couple of seconds. Not chance of going back. Let alone, stop the program, attend to what came up and go back and continue listening -- with podcast you can.

3- Rinse and repeat, or alternatively, skid forward. Do you want to hear that section again? Or do you want to skip the next minutes and move on afterwards? With podcast you can.

4- You think making radio or podcast doesn't differ? Ha! Think again. Listen to In Our Time of BBC's Radio Four. What do you do when a guest on the show is delayed and broadcast is about to start? With podcast you can wait. With Radio the guest arrives in the studio, panting, during the program.

5- Or what about the end of the show? With radio you time is up. The next item will break into the conversation, no matter what. With podcast you can go on. How many times must I read in Melvyn Bragg's letters about the latest In Our Time, what great conversation was there after the broadcast? That is cruel!

6- In fact, I do not need the confirmation from Melvyn (photo). So many times with In Our Time or Simek 's Nachts I feel we are exactly now hitting on something. We are getting past scratching the surface and then? Show is over. But with podcast, one goes on.

7- Even the guests appreciate podcast better than radio. Writer Micheal Mayer expresses his gratitude in Shrinkrapradio #96. This is so much better than radio. "I get the chance to really explain what I have to say."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Carola van Alphen bij Simek 's Nachts

Carola van Alphen is niet schizofreen, zo leren we bij Simek 's Nachts, ze lijdt aan schizofrenie. Je bent ook niet een gebroken been, je hebt een gebroken been. Ze vertelt hoe het is om te leven met de stemmen in haar hoofd, hoe ze eraan gekomen is en hoe ze met behulp van medicijnen en begeleid wonen leeft. En een vriend heeft. En een boek geschreven heeft.

Niet alle stemmen die ze hoort zijn lelijk of naar, sommige zijn ook lief. Toen ze voor het eerst last kreeg van schizofrenie, wilde ze van die lieve stemmen geen afstand doen. Over wat er gebeurde dat aanleiding was voor die eerste psychose, wil ze liever niet praten. Martin Simek, die normal heel delicaat is, wil de details toch horen en dringt op brute wijze aan, zodat Carola haast stilvalt. En vervolgens hij ook, bijna. Rekende hij erop dat hij dat verhaal wel te horen zou krijgen? Of was hij zijn concentratie helemaal kwijt?

Het duurt even voordat het gesprek weer op de rails staat, maar dan is het weer een ouderwetse, geslaagde Simek 's Nachts. Een van de regels met betrekking tot de omgang met schizofrenie patienten is volgens Carola: Je mag geen druk zetten. 'Dat deed je toch, toen je naar de eerste psychose vroeg.' Zo komt de uitglijder terug en Simek is groot genoeg om zijn fout te erkennen.

Ooit interviewde hij Rita Verdonk en ging op dezelfde manier onderuit, maar nog veel erger. Maar Rita Verdonk is geen schizofrenie patiente, naar ik meen, dus die mag je wel pushen. En toen Simek groot genoeg was, om ook toen zijn fout toe te geven, had mevrouw Verdonk hetzelfde mogen doen. Want dat Carola van Alphen niet over haar trauma wil praten kan ik billijken, maar waarom zou een politica in een interviewprogramma waar ze uit vrije wil komt, ontwijkend mogen zijn? De hele uitzending met Verdonk is even tenenkrommend als dat ene moment met Carola van Alphen. De RVU heeft hem dan ook van haar site en uit de podcast feed gehaald. Maar ik bewaar die mp3 als een kleine getuige.

Skeptics and Legality - SGU #99

Slowly I have been recovering from my dip regarding The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. A couple of months ago I was a great fan of SGU and made a considerable effort to backtrack all previous issues and at some point, I gather, I got a little too much of it. So I left the cast for some time and now I am back to listening on a weekly basis, keeping track of the newest episodes, leaving the backlog untouched.

Finally, this week, I was thrilled again. More significantly, I was thrilled during the panel section, not just during the interview, which is the more usual highlight. The discussion on news items, stopped on two subjects that not only are important, but were also exciting and for me, thought provoking. They both touched law, now that's a chuckle.

If I were to write about a certain quack that he is a quack, about his quackery to be quackery and his sectarian faith to be a sectarian faith, I might as well the be threatened with a law suit. Mostly if this comes to litigation I am likely to win, but SGU points out that the threat of legal action is used as a weapon. And cases are discussed where this succeeds. This reminds me of a former colleague of mine who wrote her dissertation about the collision between freedom of speech and slander. She found, if I recall correctly, that the court had more or less resolved this by grappling onto 'truth'. Whatever could be shown as truth, can not be slander and whatever is untrue, is easily presumed to be libel, hence forbidden. Show host Steven Novella (photo) would probably like such an approach and his concern is mainly with the issue of who is to prove. He makes a point against, alleged UK legal practice, where the accused of slander, must prove to have spoken truthfully. That is indeed unjust, but still, making law subject to material truth, seems like a sub-optimal legal solution to me.

Material truth is also at stake in the next issue of science and legality. The SGU panel voice their concern that class action suits can be decided in favor of plaintiffs even when there is no scientific evidence for causality. Specifically, litigation on the issue of vaccines that may have caused autism, may succeed even while there is no scientific evidence to that effect (if at all, to the contrary). Indeed, causation for the law, would be stretched incomprehensibly if it were detached altogether from factual causation. Still, if scientific causality were to define causation for the law, hardly any case could be decided. Panel member Perry voices hope for a wise judge. Indeed Perry.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shrinkrapradio meets Kelly Bulkeley

Edition 93 of shrinkrapradio, is once again a most exciting and inspirational podcast. For anyone who intends to listen, a small word of warning: the sound quality is not good this time around. It is the price many podcasts pay, from time to time, as they are actually recorded phone conversations via phone applications such as Skype. The connection sometimes is less than favorable. Nevertheless, Dr. David van Nuys is at his best again in this interview with Kelly Bulkeley.

I'll give a few teasers of what is discussed in the podcast. Dreams of terminal patients and surrounding issues on the end of life. The question whether persons of different political persuasion or different religions have different dreams. And my favorite: what do the great advances in neuro-science mean for 'soft' areas such as dream research (or psychology in general). Kelley Bulkeley is an exciting speaker on these subjects and first off he inspires the interviewer Dr. Dave to come up with some very alert and to the point questions.

The result is a jewel for the listener. In spite of the bad audio, the best podcast in its kind.

Chicken and vegetables (2)

You know the challenge? There is very little stock in the fridge, it is late and suddenly you must cook a meal as fast as you can with whatever you have. An additional challenge I got: the meal is for a family whom I know quite well, but I have no idea about their eating habits.

So, what did I have? Frozen chicken and minced meat, frozen vegetables, 1 onion, 5 carrots, 4 paprikas, 1 eggplant, lots of potatoes, garlic and tomatoes and regular spices and dried goods. Not everybody likes eggplant, so that is out. Go easy on the garlic and the spices of course. I decided to go for the cookie bag. Half an hour of preparations and one hour in the oven.

4 chicken legs (separated drum sticks and thighs; skin removed)
2 table spoons soy sauce
1 tea spoon squeezed ginger
2 table spoons tomato paste (1 serving)
2 tea spoons sweet paprika
1 tea spoon turmeric
1 tea spoon ground cumin
1 onion
5 cloves garlic (squeezed)
5 potatoes
5 carrots
200 grams thin green beans (defrosted / slightly cooked)
2 green paprikas
1 large cookie bag

Defrost frozen chicken in the microwave (20 minutes). Rinse frozen green beans and allow them to stand for 20 minutes (simultaneous) in a sieve. Peel and cut carrots and potatoes (10 minutes, simultaneous to defrosting). Clean and cut onion, ginger, paprikas and garlic (10 minutes, after cutting vegetables, simultaneous to defrosting). Preheat oven at 190 degrees.
Fill cookie bag with soy sauce, spices, tomato paste. Squeeze garlic and ginger and add to the bag; mix well, by closing and shaking the bag. Add chicken, potatoes, carrots and paprika; mix well, by closing and shaking the bag. Shake the beans in order to remove as much water as possible then add to the bag and shake well.
Seal bag, make 4-8 holes with a tooth pick and place in the oven. Ready after 50-60 minutes.

Sorry no picture. The photograph is of the previous cookie bag meal I posted.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Karaoke nights at the Twilight Lounge - Writing Show podcast

Jean Tennant (photo right) wrote a novel (Karaoke nights at the Twilight Lounge) and is now trying to get her work published. How to go about that task? Send the manuscript to publishers? Get an agent? And another thing, while waiting for answers and receiving initial critiques: Should she rewrite some of the novel upon reconsidering?

Jean Tennant arrives as a regular guest on the podcast The Writing Show to report the progress or lack thereof with getting Karaoke nights at the Twilight Lounge published. She is supported by the show's audience, with good critiques and acclaim. Show host Paula B (photo left) interviews her very emphatically and together they discuss Jean's options. Paula calls this the reality show, as opposed to other editions of the podcast where she interviews writers about their end-products.

For an aspiring, forever aspiring, writer such as myself, The Writing Show is both an inspiration as well as a cold shower. The intricacies of writing and moreover of getting published and what more, that is involved in the writing process makes me discouraged. The example of Jean as a particularly discouraging case in point. I mean sofar, I couldn't push myself to finish an entire novel and she has. But then she mostly gets ignored and if at all rejected it is after more than half a year. In the mean time she has begun rewriting the novel and is still alive and kicking. I'd have come to a grinding halt with a broken heart.

The show is lovely though. Paula Berinstein is an absolute dear and I recommend this podcast warmly, especially for writers.

Not knowing - Zencast 102

One of the podcasts in my playlist that I haven't come round listening to for some time is Zencast. I love the dharma teachings, especially by Gil Fronsdal, but I have to be in the right mood. Zencast puts out podcasts that last between 30 and 90 minutes out every week, so it is easy to build up a backlog -- as I have.

I do not listen to all of them. I am particularly fond of Gil Fronsdal, like I wrote above, unlike some of the other speakers. In view of the backlog, I also revert to selective listening, based upon the subject. Hence, the issue #102 of April 29th had a compelling title: Not knowing.

I like counter-intuitive things. Like here, I am so much into knowing, I try to learn all the time, not for nothing i spend almost all of my free time listening to educational podcasts. Not knowing, stated like that, sounds like some imperative, or at least preferred attitude, and I couldn't possibly relate to the good side of that. Well, only superficially. You can't be very much into knowing, without finding out how little you know. And what is more, how much of what you thought you knew, turns out to be prejudice. In that respect, an attitude of not knowing, could mean letting go of prejudice, and there is a lot to say for that.

Dharma teaching is not like ordinary teaching. Not even like philosophy teaching. So you have to tag along and appreciate the associations and conjectural path of the speaker. That is why speakers I do not like can be so off putting. But not Gil, he has never let me down. And what is more, part of Not Knowing, means, indeed, letting go of prejudice. Fine, sofar, it would be just as good as a philosophy session, but the dharma always implies some exercise and the exercise is to practice not knowing. To study all assumptions and approach all question with an I don't know. See where it gets you. Where? I don't know.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Another one of Anne's makloobas

If I am not mistaken ma'aluba or maqluba is Arabic for upside down. The idea is to cook the rice, the spices and the vegetables with the pieces of meat, poultry or fish on top in one big pot and when it is ready, you serve this on a broad dish. How to pass the stew onto the dish? Well, you put the dish, facing down, on top of the pan and turn the whole thing upside down. Thus the dish will be put on the table with the meat buried under a pile of rice and vegetables.

I don't mess around with this way of serving, but I do like to cook all of these types of ingredients in one pan, for it gives a very tasty stew. I like to vary with all types of ingredients. A large variety of vegetables and spices are at my disposal and I choose regarding the season. In stead of rice, or together with rice one can add lentils or other legumes, one can take couscous, qinoa and so on. Mostly I cook with chicken, but all sorts of meat, poultry and fish are fit for the stew. Here is how I made my maklooba today:

5 drum sticks with the skin removed
1 table spoon of olive oil
3 tea spoons turmeric
1 tea spoon ground cumin
1 tea spoon ground coriander
half a tea spoon cinnamon
8 stems of blanched celery
half a teaspoon squeezed ginger
5 cloves of garlic
two hands of fresh parsley
1 cup of rice
1 table spoon qinoa
half a cup of red lentils
2 courgettes

Put in the oil, the cumin and one teaspoon of turmeric on low heat. Stir fry until the oil gets the color of the spices and then add the celery. Stir. Add Chicken with 1 tea spoon turmeric and ginger. Stir. Add rice and garlic and salt. Stir. Add, courgette, qinoa and lentils. Stir. Add three cups of hot water, turmeric, coriander and cinnamon and parsley. Cook until the rice is ready. Add a bit of hot water if the stew turns too dry and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Itamar ate the stew in a pita.

Astrology - In Our Time

This week's In Our Time started with an elegant quote from Shakespeare:
In Act I Scene II of King Lear, the ne’er do well Edmund steps forward and rails at the weakness and cynicism of his fellow men:
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, - often the surfeit of our own behaviour, - we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity.

The effort was supposed to be to map the rise and fall of astrology. Its rise during the renaissance, with the works of Ptolemy and Abu Ma’shar and its fall -- when? This is where the shows turns really funny. Melvyn Bragg is intent on letting astrology fall. Surely it was after Copernicus? No! With Newton? No! Guest Lauren Kassell seemed to be defending astrology as a system until today. But surely astrology is no longer a subject at the university? Still it is being studied and reworked.

Were there secret believers among the guests? What a pity, once more, this podcast cannot go on for twice the time span.

Friday, June 15, 2007

From nukes , to plague, to hiv and to Spanish flu

The latest edition of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast is titled 'bubonic nukes' and it discusses the effects the black death had on Europe in the late Middle Ages.

I want to be fair to Dan. After my last review, in which I complained he is too winding in introducing his point, he wrote me two emails. I'll give you a quote from each one:

My job [...] is to try to interest as many people as I can in the subject matter, and oftentimes that mean we must deal with elements that are too basic for an "advanced user" like yourself.

There are other good programs that deal with the narrative history. I want to bring back the oral history idea that our species used in earlier times to convey the events of the past as long as we have inhabited this planet. That is, of course, storytelling. There are, as you no doubt well understand, rules to storytelling...and building up to the drama and climax are standard tools in the storytellers arsenal.

I would like to add something to this. I think we must take the podcast not as a pure history podcast. The monologue borrows of history a lot, but the central and contemporary point is a thought Dan wants to pass, not a historic one, let alone a set of historic facts. So, if the latest edition is about the plague, it is not intent to inform you about the plague as it hit the world starting the fourteenth century, but rather to contemplate on the effect this had on society and compare this to what we once viewed as the pinnacle of disaster: nuclear aftermath. Eventually, nuclear disaster seems less disastrous and Dan points out that the possibility of pandemics such as the black death are still possible.