Friday, November 30, 2007

What is Judaism; Chanukkah

For the season I dug up an old podcast, which unfortunately has podfaded: What is Judaism. Journalist Larry Josephson speaks with Rabbi Ismar Schorsch about Jewish Holidays. I returned to the podcast about Channukkah. Dr. Ismar Schorsch is Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Larry Josephson is a veteran public radio host and interviewer, whose programs have been heard in New York, and nationwide for over 35 years. As part of a personal search after his Jewish identity, Larry engaged in this program with his teacher Schorsch.

What makes Chanukkah especially interesting today is that the story of Channukah is a story about tradition versus new influences from outside. One can also see in it the struggle between secularism and old school religiousness. As religious feasts go, religion gets the victory. Schorsch explains though, that the way the victory of the Chasmonaim over the Greeks is remembered is in many ways of a Greek style. The old is preserved by means of borrowing some of the new.

The podcast contains, in addition to Schorsch recounting of the story of Chanukkah, also a discussion about the way it is celebrated today and about its meaning, both in the diaspora as well as in Israel. In addition Schorsch reveals his own personal meanig in Channukah with a very moving personal story. 58 minutes of great radio. Chag Sameach!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

BBC History Magazine (Dec 2007)

In advance of publishing the December issue of BBC History Magazine, the podcast reveals a couple of the subjects that will be in it:

How to capture a castle
From blowing them up to simply asking politely, Julian Humphrys presents 10 methods for seizing a stronghold. The podcast features an interview with Julian Humphrys. It turns out that asking for surrender was in many ways more effective than destroying the bastions.

How the Allies beat Japan
Max Hastings talks to Rob Attar about the dramatic, bloody end of the Second World War and its enduring legacy in Asia. The podcast also features an interview with Rob Attar. There is a lot of emphasis on the Australian side of the war.

Next in the podcast (and in the magazine?): We follow Jim Leary into the earliest history of Britain. Neolithic remains in Silbury Hill.

When Judah recognized Tamar

Once the Torah begins telling about Jacob's sons, the bulk of the stories is about the sibling rivalry towards Joseph. Joseph gets the striped garment. Joseph has the megalomaniac dreams. Eventually the brothers have had enough of it and decide to take it out on him. They throw him in a pit and then sell him into slavery.

Before we continue onwards to Egypt with Joseph a story about Judah is interjected. KMTT's podcast about Parshat Vayeshev delves into the question what this story does here. Judah meets Tamar, gets her pregnant, wants to kill her, but then she makes him turn around and recognize her. Eventually she gives birth to Paretz the forefather of King David. Only them we will return to Joseph and follow his adventures as a slave in Egypt.

To make a long explanation short, the moment Judah recognizes Tamar is a major turn around for Judah. Before he was as rough as his brothers and this we can see in his treatment of Joseph, but as Tamar manages to get him into recognizing her, he says: You are more righteous than me. As of this moment we can see him develop as the leader, the king among his people. I always supposed why Judah turned into the most important brother and not Joseph - surely there is much more to be said about that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Searching podcasts

What you'd really need on the quest for podcasts would be a search engine, such as the known search engines on the web, that can take your keyword and look for it inside audio and video. MIT is developing such an engine and calls it the Lecture Browser.
The Lecture Browser is a web interface to video recordings of lectures and seminars that have been indexed using automatic speech recognition technology. You can search for topics, much like a regular web search engine.

Follow the link to the Lecture Browser and you can experience this search adapted onto the lectures of MIT. I suppose from here it will not take too long and in your search engine, in addition to text search and image search, you will have audio search.

As a side note on image search: for now, the search is with keywords in the text that accompany the pictures, but technology is also being developed to recognize text inside the picture (either captions or captured text) and include that in the search.

Geography of World Cultures by Martin W. Lewis

Stanford's Geography of World Cultures by Martin W. Lewis is not my first enhanced podcast. In the summer of 2006 I followed a World Cup podcast by The Guardian, which was enhanced, but this hardly made a lasting impression on me. It did make clear, though, what enhancement in a podcast entails. The podcast is chopped up in subsections. In your iPod you can navigate from section to section with the next and previous click. And each section carries a different picture, displayed on the screen. With the football show, this was a mere illustration, but in GWC, these are the maps that go along with the lecture.

As a consequence, the screen on my iPod nano is way too small to be of much help, but the sound level is too low for iPod anyway. Enhanced podcasts are not mp3 files and as a consequence, I could not enhance the sound with MP3Gain, on acount of an unsupported format. In front of my PC, the podcast can be enjoyed, for better sound and for larger visuals. The result is enchanting.

GWC engages into a search for the boundaries in the world. Pondering language, religion and political divides and concluding, in advance, these categorizations hardly run along each other and promising for some splendid in depth lectures. And wonderful maps. Not just for map addicts such as myself, but for everybody a great podcast right from the start.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stanford on iTunes U

I have complained in the past about the way Stanford offered their audio. What is still true is that you still have to go to iTunes U, but my main critique has turned obsolete. I do not know when exactly this was changed, but today I found out that in addition to a button 'get tracks', you now also have the possibility to 'subscribe'. So now Stanford content has been syndicated and can truly be called podcasts. As far as content was concerned they always ranked among the best with amazingly good series such as Historical Jesus and Hannibal. Now I am off to listen to my new find: Geography of World Cultures by Martin W. Lewis.

Engaging in the path - zencast

In the latest audio Dharma by Zencast, Gil Fronsdal holds a talk with the title Engaging in the path. Following the path is, according to the Buddha, not for the lazy, ro should that be translated into 'for the industrious'? Fronsdal proposes there are a multitude of paths and wonders how one can have the faith, or the conviction, to engage fully into one, the apparently right one.

There is a certain risk and he reminds his audience of a saying: Ships are safe in the harbor - but they are not built for lying there. Hence, engaging in the path involves taking the leap and embark anyway. While being underway one can and must adjust, choose, to stick or to divert, to deepen or to broaden. There is no one right answer. Fronsdal focuses on one of two views: when going on a mountain trek, what is the right approach to the path? Is it all about the target of the journey, or is it about the process?

He insists one cannot do without the other. When one moves, one must have a sense of goal, one must strive to get somewhere - it is too easy, to diverse to stick with the process alone. Yet, when this is all about goals, what when the goal is reached? Sit back? Or rush to the next? What if it is not? One big failure? One must see what is happening all the time; one must commit to contributing to the journey along the path. Well, that is how I put it in my words.

OVT en 1914

In de serie afleveringen van OVT naar aanleiding van In Europa, was het natuurlijk onvermijdelijk om het over de Eerste Wereldoorlog te hebben. De voorgaande afleveringen, die eigenlijk over de geschiedenis voor 1914 moest gaan, lukte het al niet om aan deze oorlog te ontkomen, maar in de aflevering van afgelopen zondag, die over 1914 ging, moest de kwestie echt centraal komen. De oorlog begon als 'De derde Balkanoorlog', maar loopt al heel snel uit de hand tot een wereldoorlog en de vraag wordt opnieuw gesteld: door wie? Door wat? Behalve de potentiele schuldigen en oorzaken, wordt ook het idee van de onhoudbare ontwikkeling aangestipt.

Voordat een definitief antwoord zich begint af te tekenen gaat het over de vaak onderbelichte wreedheden van de oorlog. Het gaat binnen de kortste keren over de loopgravenoorlog, maar voor de verandering worden de moorden van de Duitsers op burgers in Belgie en Frankrijk naar voren geschoven. Die wreedheden werken op het moment zelf als motor van de oorlog, als rechtvaardiging en motivatie voor de geallieerden. Na de oorlog, leeft men in de schok en sloeg om naar pacifisme en wilde de oorlog gaan afschilderen als een grote absurditeit die eigenlijk nergens over ging. In die weergave kregen de verhalen over de wreedheden de smaak van propaganda en hoogstens een opgeblazen versie van werkelijkheid.

Toch blijft de motivatie, vooral de motivatie tot en met 1918 aan toe een merkwaardige kwestie. Zowel de motivatie van de soldaten, maar ook de rationaliseringen van leiders - waarom ging men maar door? Waarom kon men niet stoppen? Over de Eerste Wereldoorlog zijn we nog niet uitgepraat, ook OVT nog niet.

One for the books - On The Media Podcast

A recommendation from Open Culture is always worth following. Contributor Ed Finn pointed to the radio program from New York Public Radio (WNYC) On the Media. On The Media is also published as a podcast. The program is presented by Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield and sits in the taxonomy News & Politics (iTunes Genre), but this episode was about books.

Books are by far the most successful media, but as we publish more and more content digitally, does this mean books will go out of print? The new development of electronic readers (notably the Kindle), will bring books to our hands without paper. And we have already abandoned newspapers, for reading news on line. Besides; wouldn't that be really great for forests, for the environment, if we did away with paper?

However, by offering parts of books (sometimes whole books) digitally and for free, publishers are still managing to sell more books. It is such a great pleasure, and maybe a need, to have a book, the paper, actually in your hands, nobody seems to want to give up on it. Digitally, we can have any book, any time, anywhere, available, but if we still want it in our hands... It turns out, a machine has been developed to supply this need with instant print. Great podcast episode.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Parashot haShavua

KMTT offers nearly every week a 30-45 minute lesson about parashat hashavua. Last week we had parashat vayetze - when Jacob meets Rachel at the well and we understand this is the woman he is supposed to marry. Parallels are seen with Eliezer's quest to find a bride for Isaac, and met Rebecca at a well, as well. There is much emulation going on between the generations as already noted before.

This week's parashat vayishlach, contains the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel and left wounded. He was fleeing from Esau and I had always had a feeling Esau had something to do with this nightly fight. Rabbi Chanoch Waxman points out that some interpretations to the story indeed suggest that this angel is in a way an emissary from Esau. But suppose it is God's angel, what would be the meaning of the struggle? The effect by all means is Jacob cannot flee from Esau and he has to stand up in front of his brother. Another effect is his new name: Israel. In a way Jacob acquires a new identity. One who no longer flees, or wriggles and schemes, but rather a strong man who can stand up before men. Here he becomes the forefather.

Listen to the podcast in order to find out how Waxman construes the argument. I couldn't help savouring the thought of a banality enriched with Greater Meaning. Jacob is afraid of his brother and tries to flee. During the flight he gets injured on his leg and cannot continue, therefore has to face his plight. In order to deal with the question what would be the meaning of all this, the struggle with the angel is invented. It is a way of looking at life. Not taking any banal coincidence as just that, but always searching for a deeper meaning.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Adventure as therapy

A prejudice I easily slide into, and probably many others with me, is to think of psycho-therapy as activity that involves a couch, a comfy chair and a lot of talk. Therapy, even though it must be all about our emotions, working out as a fundamental cerebral activity. Dr. David van Nuys's podcasts can teach us otherwise. We have already had an issue about art therapy to give but one example. On further thought: every therapist, even when taking the talkative approach knows how to tap into the more emotional and intuitive layers of the client, for any kind of success. Art can be such a great method to let people speak their minds, without too much control of their rational brains.

The latest interview on Shrinkrapradio hands yet another example of such an approach: adventure based psycho-therapy. Therapist Jason Holder takes his clients into the outdoors. Fishing, kayaking, climbing and swinging ropes, climbing walls, they can exercise their hearts content. Thus he makes them confident, builds a good relation with the client, with trust and respect and then the setting is right to get the issues out. Especially with children and adolescents, this approach is working really well.

Jason has published on the subject and represents one of the few who has made information about using the outdoors in a therapeutic way available to the public and the profession. I hope his and other material can be combined into some good studies. I recall Dutch therapists having taken problematic youth on survival trips in the Ardennes (Belgium) in the eighties and nineties. Not always with 100% success, but that is not the point; hasn't this been documented? The basis of the approach seems so obviously sound, there has to be ways to work them out.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The writing show getting published with Jean Tennant

The Writing Show continued with a long forgotten rubric 'getting published with ...' The so-called reality show in which aspiring writers are interviewed following up on their progress writing and getting published. One the two writers currently in the spotlight (though issues of the rubric have been scarce of late) is Jean Tennant. Jean has published a series of novels under the name Jean Simon in the late eighties, early nineties, but after a long period of no fictional writing activity she is trying to return with a newly finished novel: Karaoke Nights at the Twilight Lounge. Getting published with this novel, in spite of her experience in the past, proves so difficult, Jean has taken up new projects on the side.

As to the publishing the novel, she still hasn't managed to find an agent, let alone get a publisher interested. In the early reality shows she explained why she felt she needed an agent: publishers tend to ignore unsolicited work and will mostly attend to the material brought to them via agents. Hence, she chose to look for an agent in stead. Now, after a year, no agent has accepted representing her work. Few of them even did not take the time to make a clear rejection.

In the mean time Jean has rewritten the beginning of the book. Writing show listeners who can read the first chapters on the writing show pages, were a bit taken aback, in the previous shows, but in the latest show, the new version wins acclaim. There is still one agent who has not yet rejected the material. The agent's office has requested to see the full novel and has let Tennant know, she must be ready to wait up to a year before receiving an answer. Tennant by then fears, to want to completely rewrite the work. You know, after having not looked at it for such a long time and gained new perspectives.

The Prelude - In Our Time

The poet William Wordsworth is one of the most influential of English poets in the romantic age, mostly mentioned together with Coleridge. BBC's In Our Time discusses Wordsworth, developing the dialog to what is considered the poet's masterpiece: the poem The Prelude. A work the poet continued to revise throughout his life and which was only published afterwards.

By then Romanticism had developed such, the poem was less influential than it could have been. Or such is claimed by Bragg's guests and I wonder why it is still considered Wordsworth's greatest work. From the guests in the studio nothing but acclaim - also from host Melvyn Bragg, who is, after all a writer and shows a certain level of identification with the subject of the show, he doesn't have normally.

Fortunately there is enough recitation to let Wordsworth speak for himself a bit. It is also analyzed what it was in his work that made him so influential. In the end, it is argued he was the better poet between him and Coleridge and Coleridge is claimed to have known it. But Wordsworth adored Coleridge and The Prelude, was known also, even before publication it was known somewhat, as the poem 'to Coleridge'.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Naar aanleiding van Willem Elsschot

Tegen het eind van het interview vraagt Martin Simek aan Ida de Ridder of haar kinderen ook een boek over haar zullen schrijven en het antwoord luidt: "Neuh, dat denkiknie." Net verschenen is het boek waarin de negentigjarige Ida de Ridder de herinneringen aan haar moeder Fine heeft opgeschreven. In 1994 publiceerde ze al het relaas over haar vader Alfons de Ridder. Pas wanneer ze op het lyceum zit komt ze erachter dat vader Alfons een schrijver is, onder hte pseudoniem Willem Elsschot. In haar optiek rechtvaardigt hij alle geschrijf. Over hem, over zijn vrouw, maar daar houdt het dan kennelijk op. Alles naar aanleiding van Willem Elsschot.

Het mooist in deze podcast op locatie (in Antwerpen bij Ida thuis) zijn de voorgedragen gedichten. Van het scabreuze 'schele vanderlinden' het subtiele protest over de executie van oorlogsmisdadiger Borm en het poetische en hartverscheurende protest over Marinus van der Lubbe. Simek laat het lezen aan Ida over, maar doet het haar niet aan om Schele Vanderlinden uit te dragen, dus dat doet hijzelf.

Als het gaat over het huwelijk van Alfons met Fine en de kinderherinneringen van Ida, dan klinkt in de achtergrond de lach van regisseur Gijs Groenteman. Simek laat hem daarop onvoorbereid het gedicht Het Huwelijk voordragen - een cynische zang op de teloorgang van liefde in treurnis. Ida wil niet weten van betrekking op haar ouders, maar wil wel even iets rechtzetten. Het gedicht spreekt van 'grootse zonde' en niet, zoals Gijs het declameerde: grootste zonde.

V. V. Raman's marriage of ratio and religion

The last edition of Speaking of Faith invited the physicist V. V. Raman to speak of his way of combining science and his Hindu religion. As usual the program offers a transcript and one can acclaim this particular episode with a few wonderful quotes from Mr. Raman.
I have the greatest respect for reason and rationality, but I also think of, you know, from the Ecclesiastics who may say, "To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven," which has been articulated by thinkers through the ages in all the cultures, I would say. When Pascal wrote his famous statement, you know, "Le cour a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point" — "the heart has its reasons which reason doesn't understand" — those are ways by which the enlightened thinkers and visionaries understood that the world is far too complex for us to really rigidly put everything under the straitjacket of reason, as it were.

in the Rig Veda, the most important aphorism or statement is "Truth is one and the people call it by different names." And in Sanskrit, the word "truth" or sat — it's called ekam sat, "there is but one truth." I like to look at it as follows: If we talk about music, how many music are there? Even the question doesn't sound right. However, in order for anybody to understand or appreciate music, one can only do it in terms of a particular song or sonata or concert

Appropriately, you can analyze a poem and this understanding of the structure of the poem is a significant accomplishment but it tells us nothing about the meaning behind the poem or about the inspiration that the poem might give. And the universe, to me, is somewhat like that. Science enables us to understand the laws and principles by which the universe is constructed, its functions, and that is no trivial accomplishment. And I think that's one of the greatest intellectual achievements of the human mind, is what modern science has been able to do.

But there is always the question of meaning. And while it is possible to derive meaning without going beyond the physical world — and many people do it — it is no less inspiring and fulfilling to find meaning within religious framework insofar as it is not irrational. There's a difference between irrationality and transrationality, and, to me, many of the deeper messages of religions, such as the values it does or must inspire us to, such as caring and compassion and respect for others, helping others, love, reverence. These are not rational — these are not irrational, but these are transrational and they have their sources in the many religious frameworks of humankind. They not only carry the weight of centuries, but they also have something deep in them in the human cultural psyche.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kissinger and the pres - NPR Fresh Air

Thanks to Dan Colman's blog Open Culture, I have found the podcasts published by NPR, especially Fresh Air. From Fresh Air I have listened to a rerun of an interview Terry Gross had with Robert Dallek about his book Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power. The Nixon-Kissinger relationship comes to be identified by Terry Gross as a 'bad marriage', where both partners are terribly dependent and at the same time distrust, detest and fear each other. Dallek agrees.

What makes the interview so impressively relevant are the parallels one inescapably sees between the handling of the war and the retreat from Vietnam, with today's situation in Iraq. When Nixon and Kissinger still were feeding the public with rhetoric of impending victory and a glorious retreat from Vietnam, behind closed doors they were totally aware of the hopeless situation the US was in. Yet, their cynicism allowed them to scam their way. The highest good was to limit political losses, keep face and not the interests of the US let alone of the public. In away this also blinded them from the notion in the world at large: every additional minute the US stayed in Vietnam was rubbing off adversely.

Dallek makes the talk all the more actual, when he reveals (to me this was news) the Bush administration is seeking the advice of Mr. Kissinger. Dallek fears that he will instruct Bush to handle Iraq as Nixon and Kissinger handled Vietnam. Again the US administration fails to understand how bad it looks elsewhere anyway and will scheme with propaganda and a protracted retreat in an effort not to lose face. A face lost a long time ago.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

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

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. Both lectures were recorded and published in the University Channel Podcast. (Chicago. Columbia) The talk is the same, obviously the questions by the end are different, but I cannot vouch for those in the second lecture as I couldn't sit through the same lecture twice especially since the second time round sound quality dropped dramatically. 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.

Authentic living - Eric May-Sell

Your Purpose Centered Life diligently goes on teaching lessons in what is called Authentic Living. The unctuous speaker is Eric Maisel accompanied with squeamish sound-effects. I had my misgivings about this podcast and I still agree with much of the content, but the presentational style is too sweet, too evangelic, too much of Jesus speaks to you. Hark hark hark.

And now that I am spilling my gall (is that an expression, or have I been literally translating Dutch again? EDIT: yes it is. RvdB helped me: venting one's spleen), let's talk about Eric Maisel. Who is he anyway?
you may know me from one of my books, shows, or public appearances. My special interests are creativity and creativity coaching, mindfulness and mindfulness training, the art of making personal meaning, existentialism and freethinking, and the psychology of the creative person.
I offer many trainings and workshops and there are special ebooks and MP3 audios available only at this site that may interest you.
So, this is philosopher, psychologist, prophet Maisel, who is mainly in the business selling you his work? My hackles are getting up some more.

By the way, my German language lobe pronounced Maisel not as Maisel proposes on the podcast. Not Meizl, but May Sell, French interpretation. Well whatever Eric may say in the podcast and whatever interesting thoughts he may provoke, it is between the lines mostly about what Eric may sell. Because that is what this is: a promotional podcast. And also if you like what is being promoted, good for you, but promotional it is.

Maternal bonding

Tony Madrid relates an experience of his, that sounds like a near miracle. He was treating a patient with hypnosis in order to add a vision of a pleasant birth, to the memories of the actual birth of her daughter that was wrought with stress, bad circumstances and an eventual long separation from the baby. Madrid speaks on the podcast Shrinkrapradio with Dr. David van Nuys on the subject of repairing maternal relations to their kids. In the related story, the hypnotic treatment had an immediate result. Not only did the mom open up to loving her child, the little girl's asthma, disappeared over night. This experience caused Madrid to study Maternal bonding and the effect on the kids.

He rushes to point out the mother is not 'guilty' of whatever adverse health they have (notably asthma). It is his opinion, the occurrences around the birth, have caused the bond to be problematic and this is more an accident than anything else. His findings repeat the reported story: hypnosis can insert a pleasant memory to the birth, thus altering the problematic bonding to the child and consequently affect the child's health in a positive way.

In addition to hypnosis, Madrid has proposed EMDR to work. EMDR is short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a therapeutic approach that is an attempt to allow for proper processing of ugly memories. He is very evocative: This is the most important invention to hit mental health in 50 years. Just when you are getting a little bit itchy. Luckily Dr. Dave comes to the rescue and closes the interview off with a well-balanced perspective.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Materialism and its dragging feet

On issue #118 of Shrinkrapradio David van Nuys interviews Tim Kasser who has done a lot of research on well being for people. His findings are that materialism, exterior life goals he calls them, do not contribute to happiness. In addition, materialism seems to go hand in hand with a less social attitude and with less ecological awareness and readiness to engage in ecologically sound conduct. People who strive for money, stuff, status and power are less emphatic, more polluting, more consuming, more destructive to the environment and after all they are less happy and more prone to depression and anxiety.

The way Kasser sees it, materialism drags people down into striving for what they cannot acquire, or if they can, will not satisfy and in the process, they are less attentive to others. They care less, have fewer long time relationships, more divorce, are competitive and ready to make decisions at the expense of others. Eventually they are less prone to cramp down on their spendings, their pollution and the way their life style affects the environment. They feel worse in comparison to people who do attend to interior goals and who are more social and more ecologically aware.

What is another profound dragging factor of materialism is that people intuitively feel they should care more, spend less, attend to their more personal goals and think of the environment. But they do not know how. The materialist life style seems the only correct one. There is no alternative. At least no genuine one, if you rule out turning Amish or soviet-communist, so to say. Van Nuys gets Kasser to discuss his ideas of alternatives. His thoughts are very interesting.

OVT - Monarchen, Duitsland, revolutie en ballingschap

OVT had op 18 november een keur aan onderwerpen die het allemaal verdienen voor het voetlicht gehaald te worden. Er was de Salon in Europa, waarbij naar aanleiding van het jaartal 1906, gesproken werd over de monarchieen van Europa, waarbij mijn aandacht, zoals gebruikelijk, vooral uitging naar Duitsland, maar waarbij Engeland en natuurlijk het oude Oostenrijk niet vergeten worden. Een charmante column van Cox Habbema, sluit aan bij het monarchenonderwerp.

Daarna gaat het over het Pannerdensch Kanaal, de economische, ecologische en militaire betekenis; over De Bontekoe, van historie, tot jongensboek, tot publieksfilm en ten slotte het tweede deel waarin Francisca Fangiday vertelt over haar leven (deel een was vorige week). Dit is het persoonlijk verhaal van een eenzame vrouw, verscheurd en heen en weer geslingerd in imperialisme, dekolonisatie, koude oorlog, culturele revolutie, asielzoeken en de problematiek van Derde Wereld autocratie. In een notedop.

Internet gevaren - De ochtenden aan tafel

Misschien als je vandaag een abonnement op de podcast neemt, dat hij niet meer 'Interview op Vrijdag' heet. De rubriek van het radioprogramma De Ochtenden dat de VPRO als 'Interview op Vrijdag' in podcastvorm aanbiedt, wordt nu aangekondigd als 'Aan tafel' en dat verklaart dat het niet zozeer een interview is, als wel een gesprek aan tafel over een aantal onderwerpen, met meerdere gasten. Elke gast met zijn eigen onderwerp, maar met de gelegenheid om over het onderwerp van de ander mee te praten.

Aan tafel, afgelopen vrijdag, zaten onder meer Karin Spaink en Kitty Nooij, met hun aan elkaar gewaagde onderwerpen en uitgangspunten. Spaink krijgt de gelegenheid om ons te waarschuwen voor de afkalving van onze burgerrechten met de komst van het internet. (En misschien, al wordt dat niet met name gezegd, niet alleen met de komst van het internet, maar ook de terrorisme-angst.) Ze komt met data om aan te geven hoe gemakkelijk we electronisch te volgen zijn en hoeveel meer en meer zowel overheid als bedrijven deze gegevens opslaan, raadplegen en koppelen.

De andere kant van het verhaal komt van Kitty Nooij die als officier van justitie deze gegevens nodig heeft en meen dat ze het goed met de burgers privacy voorheeft (ze klinkt zo paternalistisch als ik het nu opschrijf). Haar invalshoek is de strijd tegen de kinderporno. De vraag komt aan de orde of virtuele kinderporno ook als zodaig aangemerkt moet worden en strafbaar gesteld. Spaink zet vraagtekens en Nooij wacht op een eerste rechterlijke uitspraak in een aanhangig proefproces.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Parental alienation - Wise Counsel

What is wisdom? Wisdom is the unnecessary identification when you study psychology, or listen to a psychology podcast for that matter. Dr. David van Nuys spoke with Amy Baker on Wise Counsel about parental alienation. I thought I recognized some behavior of my divorced parents, I thought I recognized some of the bad effects of the Parental Alienation Syndrome on myself. Apart from the hypochondriac element, I notice, one has to be careful and not slip into this mode lest one finds yet another exterior phenomenon to blame for certain deficiencies in our lives. Oh how convenient to have some other person, or some syndrome to blame!

But seriously, from my personal observation, parental alienation is a pretty common occurrence. Even if it does not turn into the outright syndrome, the extreme effects Ms. Baker describes, it may help to identify certain behaviors of our parents, the effect they had and to do away with them. Or, alternately, identify the behavior of our spouses (Praise, the lord, none of that I have) and learn some practical pointers to counter.

Hence, Wise Counsel succeeded, once more, to strike a chord. It is a great podcast and Van Nuys is the genius to bring this about. Dr. Dave the psychologist turned podcaster, what contribution to valuable content, and, I hope, the sanity of us all. Please listen.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Oxygen - IOT

BBC's In Our Time dove into the history of Oxygen, or rather the discovery of this gas. Could it be claimed by the English (Priestly) or the French (Lavoisier) - a competition that reminds me of the decoding of the the Rosetta Stone. Or should we, maybe for diplomacy's sake, credit the Swedish (Schelle)? Lavoisier ended with a kiss from madame Guillotine and Priestley went bankrupt and fled to Pennsylvania. The end of Schelle was not mentioned.

A truly interesting aspect of this show was the watershed between two different kinds of chemistry. Chemistry as we know it today is all about compounds and elements and as such is very analytic and I'd say, naturalistic. People like Lavoisier are credited from developing chemistry to this kind of a discipline, but at the time, elements were not known and a thinking style wasn't directed at elements. Priestly serves as an example; he was a man who thought in principles. Principled chemistry is less analytic and much less naturalistic. Priestly ascribed to it near mystic qualities; chemistry could be an agent in identifying the good from evil.

In Our Time is a radio program and it is broadcast live. Again, we felt the consequence of this characteristic by the late arrival of one of the guests. Fortunately for IOT, this guest ably adapted to the program and there was no dragging effect. At times that could be different. It goes to show how the traditional way of communicating audio content (radio) is more vulnerable than through the internet, notably through podcasting.

Religious Words

In the latest edition of the Word Nerds Dave and Barbara Shepherd discuss religious vocabulary that is featured in profane language. They relate how an evangelist is any bringer of good news, not just the gospel. A bible has become any kind of heavily thumped handbook, or reference guide. Needless to say, the references are mostly Christian, though I could have thought of some others. Next to paradise we could have had Mecca in a similar meaning; some place being the ultimate spot for a certain experience.

The rude word of the week (every three weeks an episode and still a word of the week) section dives in to all the connections with Holy: as in Holy Cow, Holy Moses and so on, till the PG 13 rating is warranted. Holy cannoli!

Just as they pointed out: the use of religiously associated words sort of erodes the load. I can see this especially clear if I literally translate some common Hebrew, rather day-to-day phrases in secular Israel into English or the even more secular Dutch. If you ask someone 'What's up', in Israel, you may get, even from secular people, an answer that is the equivalent of: Praise the Lord, or: God be blessed. It doesn't make you sound half as orthodox and observant as it looks.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ten discoveries that rewrote history

We know Patrick Hunt from his lectures about Hannibal for Stanford on iTunes U. Aside his major investigations on Hannibal and his tenacious quest for identifying the exact route Hannibal took over the Alps, Hunt also serves as a great promoter of archeology in general. He is connected with National Geographic, which will be the first to report any spectacular findings Hunt will make in the Alps between France and Italy.

A great promotion for archeology in general is his latest book Ten Discoveries that Rewrote History, which is aimed at the wide public at large. It takes the reader through ten major archaeological discoveries: the Rosetta Stone, Pompeii, Nineveh, Troy, King Tut's Tomb, Machu Picchu, Thera-Akrotiri, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Olduvai Gorge starting with the Leakey Era and the Tomb of the Ten Thousand Warriors in China. Hunt describes how the discoveries were made and why they had such great impact on our historiography.

Hunt personally sent me a copy of his book, after I mentioned his lectures on this blog. Now that I have read the book, I can recommend it warmly. Especially for those who are not terribly familiar with the related histories.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Radio Lab on morality

Both Elizabeth Green Musselman (from the Missing Link podcast) as well as Dan Colman (from the great Open Culture Blog) point to the radio program and podcast Radiolab by WNYC. On their webpage, I saw them point to a show about morality and needless to say, this had me turned on in a minute. That's it with me and morality.

Radiolab is a science show presented by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich (see biographies), who succeed in making light, informative and entertaining conversation about their topics. So do they on morality, only, it is not about morality. Not in my opinion. They sketch moral dilemmas about whether to save many at the expense of a few, but do not enter the issue how we morally solve those problems (if they are genuine problems at all and not such construed riddles that deliberately place you in an impossible position.)

What they take on is the study of what the brain does, while confronted with such dilemma riddles. This is science, true, and it may help understand us more, especially about psychology. Given some extra credit, it may even hand some pointers in ethics, but certainly, we gain no insight whatsoever in what morality is.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Salon Europa - OVT

De komende 18 weken zal OVT uitgezonden worden vanuit Amsterdam in gezelschap van Geert Mak. Er is een televieserie gemaakt naar aanleiding van Maks onvolprezen boek In Europa - een boek dat ik ook zelf vervuld van diepe indruk gelezen heb. (Mooie aanleiding om het weer eens uit de kast te pakken.) Europa, dat continent van laatbloeiers en de eeuw, de 20e waarin het zichzelf haast om zeep helpt, net overleeft en rijker dan ooit naar het tweede plan schuift.

De eerste aflevering moest natuurlijk over het begin gaan. Er is een discussie over waar de 20e eeuw begint. Hobsbawm's Een eeuw van uitersten (Ook gelezen; ook maar weer eens uit de kast pakken. Gelukkig dat ik ze uit NL heb laten overkomen) laat de eeuw in 1914, bij de eerste wereldoorlog beginnen. Geert Mak, laat zich liever niet tot een discussie verleiden en ziet liever een meetkundige benadering, hoewel je dan weer kan twijfelen tussen 1900 en 1901. Aanwezig is ook de Vlaamse historicus Evert Peeters, die vervolgens voorstelt om meteen maar in 1848 te beginnen. Dat gaat wel heel ver terug.

Uiteindelijk kan toch niemand om de eerste wereldoorlog heen, vooral ook niet doordat de uitzending precies valt op de dag van de wapenstilstand: 11 november. Ik ben geneigd met iedereen mee te gaan die met de eerste wereldoorlog de twintigste eeuw wil laten beginnen. Het waarom, is omdat de 19e eeuwse mentaliteit doodgaat in het industriele oorlogsvernuft. Maar waar gebeurt dat het eerst. Misschien al met de Russisch-Japanse oorlog? Of misschien na de kerst van 1914, wanneer de legerleiding aan beide kanten het spontane bestand verbieden. Of misschien aan de Somme, 1 juli 1916. De oktoberrevolutie, 1917? Als uiteindelijk de vrede begint op 11 november 1918, is er geen twijfel meer mogelijk: we staan met beide benen in de 20e eeuw. De 19e ligt dood in de modder. Ratten knagen aan het kadaver.

De vraag gaat ook worden waar het eindigt. Hobsbawm wist niet beter dan in 1989-1991, met de ineenstorting van het sovjetrijk te eindigen. Maar het zal me niet verbazen als de consensus zal worden dat de 20e eeuw eindigt en de 21e begint, op 9 september 2001. Vandaag staan we zeker met beide benen in de 21e eeuw. De 20e is dood, bedolven onder het puin van ground zero.

Ton Boot: Niet praten over winnen

Voordat we het gaan hebben over een prima aflevering van Simek 's Nachts, even nog iets over de podcast. Waarom hebben we nu al maanden geen Simek gehad? Dat komt door de gasten die muziek meebrengen; die nemen natuurlijk geen podsafe music mee - weten zij veel. En dan ga je prakkizeren over de rechten. Ik kan mij niet voorstellen dat het hier om grote bedragen kan gaan, maar misschien wel administratieve rompslomp. En misschien is het fenomeen podcasting nog zo nieuw dat er nog geen echte conventies zijn. Over de op de radio uitgezonden muziek worden rechten betaald, maar moet je voor een podcast hetzelfde betalen? Of meer? Of juist minder?

De oplossing werd om de muziek er simpelweg uit te knippen. Ton Boot heeft het zwelgnummer van Ramses Shaffy meegenomen: zing, vecht, huil, bid, lach, werk en bewonder. Worden we er slechter van om dat lied niet te horen? Och, hooguit een beetje omdat de heren er vrij aan refereren. Je kan het allemaal probleemloos volgen. En zo'n geweldig stuk muziek is het nu ook weer niet. Of mag ik dat niet zeggen?

De uitzending is natuurlijk ook gewoon goed dankzij Ton Boot - daar kan Simek zich geen buil aan vallen. De mooiste uitspraak van Boot vond ik wel dat hij het nooit over winnen heeft. Niet met zijn spelers in ieder geval. Zo'n succesvol coach en dan niet praten over winnen? Hoe zit het dan met dat andere gezwelg? Het opgeklopte positieve denken: En We GAAN Winnen! Boot: "Je moet jezelf niet belachelijk maken." De logica is even simpel als dwingend: je kan de condities voor winst creeren. Je moet doen wat je moet doen en dat moet je goed doen - en meestal win je dan ook. Maar daar gaat het dus niet om. Een wijsheid die verder strekt dan sport.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Simek terug als podcast?

Martin Simek heeft weer een nieuw interview in de feed gezet. Een interview met Ton Boot op 4 november jl. De site van de RVU geeft nog steeds aan dat er over podcasts onderhandeld wordt, maar mogen we niettemin (zij het voorzichtig) constateren dat Simek 's Nachts terug is voor de mp3-zwervers?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The pinnacle of antisemitism, in our minds, are the Nazis in the third Reich. Historically, it is interesting to see what preceded them. History 167B, the history podcast about the second Reich, produced a lecture on the subject of antisemitism in the second Reich on October 29. Since then, more lectures followed expanding on the subject, but they have not been published with audio. Hopefully it will still come, but until then, we will do with the one lecture that did come out.

Professor Anderson, as usual gives a great lecture. She manages to combine vivid examples, such as the court case she opens with and sharp analysis. The court case is about a Berlin policeman calling a Jewish cab driver a 'jewboy' and getting a harsh sentence for public insult. The picture arises is that the second Reich was the realm of great Jewish advance, prosperity, immigration and assimilation, whereas antisemitic feelings among the larger populace was hardly noticeable.

At some point it becomes translated into some activism, but apart from a toothless political party, nothing came from it. Jews prospered in their urban niches, also elsewhere in Central Europe and hardly was there any violence or legal/political disadvantaging. Compare this to France with its Dreyfuss affair. Until 1914, the German lands were the place to be, for Jews. Why did it change so drastically after 1919?

Monday, November 12, 2007

US History - from Civil War to Present

I wonder why the lectures on Berkeley's podcast featured History 7B, US History: from Civil War to Present, only once. Maybe the reason is that professor Jennifer Burns has moved on to another institution, otherwise, I'd think, this would be among the podcasts that attracts the most attention for Berkeley. Face it, the majority of internet users is American. It would only be natural for them to go for the American History podcast in great numbers. And they probably do - considering the comments on Jennifer Burns' homepage.

Nevertheless, it is History 5, European Civilization from the Renaissance to the Present, that caught my attention first and which I continued to follow. Only now, I have turned to American History, in order to fill the gaps that lay in that area.

After the first lectures I am so happy, as usual with Berkeley. Professor Burns is a careful and patient lecturer. She is, on top of that, professionally aware of being on air, and makes sure the audio is always evenly effectuated. So far, we have little visuals to miss out on. Hence, After three lectures, which are intended to merely get us started, I have already learned more about the American Civil War than ever before and am eager to continue.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hans Galjaard

Het marathoninterview met Hans Galjaard wordt overschaduwd door de televisieserie van Wim Kayzer Beter dan God. Hans Galjaard werd in die serie geinterviewd en dat bracht zoveel teweeg dat er twee jaar later in het marathoninterview opnieuw voortdurend aan gerefereerd wordt. In 2005 werd er in Holland Doc over nagepraat (video-stream) en ik heb er ook even naar gekeken om na te gaan hoe actueel het oude marathon interview nog was.

Eigenlijk ten overvloede, omdat het interview hoe dan ook fascinered was. Galjaard geeft aan dat hij het als onderzoeker veel te druk heeft om zich in alle ethische aspecten van zijn werk te verdiepen. Hij spreekt ook zijn zorg uit, dat bij de ethische hetze van die in de media steeds opsteekt, als bijgevolg zal hebben, dat de onderzoeker niet meer openheid van zaken zal geven. Anno 2007 kennen we de hetze nog steeds. Anno 2007 is noodzakelijkerwijs te technolgie razendsnel voortgegaan en men zal mogen geloven wat Galjaard al in 1989 ervoer: de technoloog heeft zich met ethiek niet beziggehouden. Hoe erg zijn de ethiek en de technologie nog verder uit elkaar gedreven?

Ikzie hoe moeilijk het is om achter de stand van de techniek te komen. In podcasts kom je wel eens technologen tegen en die vertellen dan wat er mogelijk is en niet meer. Toen ik op zoek ging naar podcasts die de ethiek bespraken, kwam ik niet verder dan de zwaar aangezette Christelijke podcast Bioethical Podcast. Als dat representatief is, dan is de realiteit waar Galjaard voor vreesde. De ethici in dit beeld, zijn fundamentalistische Christenen die op voorhand hun mening al klaar hebben en dus meer aan hetze dan dialoog doen. En de techneut, kent de taal van ethiek niet. En wat is er terechtgekomen van het sociaal-wetenschappelijke onderzoek waar Galjaard om vroeg, daar kom ik niet achter.

Hoe hard de ontwikkelingen ook gegaan zijn, het gesprek lijkt na 18 jaar nog zeer relevant.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Avicenna - IOT

In Our Time discussed the 9th century physician and philosopher Avicenna. I had heard of his name, but knew hardly more than that through his writings Aristotle made it to the West in the Renaissance. What I did not know, was that he wrote comments on Aristotle, so influential, that until his age, one commented on Aristotle and after him, one commented on Avicenna's works, among which, his comments on Aristotle.

Should one think influential philosophers are isolated and ascetic figures such as Kant, with Avicenna the picture turns out completely different. He was flamboyant, traveled extensively and indulged in wine and sex. Where his student and biographer praises Avicenna's prowess in carnal activities, Avicenna himself, so it turns out in the beginning of the show, praises himself for his genius. He seems to be able to pull the inflated ego off and is considered among the most influential thinkers of the Middle Ages.

In fact, he is the first thinker of whom I know he has put his mark on Islam (directly) as well as Judaism and Christianity. It is said his works were an inspiration for Maimonides (Rambam) and for Thomas Aquinas. Listen to Melvyn Bragg's guests explain this feat.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Stanford travel lectures - Africa (Morocco)

In iTunes U / Stanford, under the rubric 'Travel', Stanford's David Abernethy has two sets of lectures, one titled Africa and one Asia. These lecture series are preparations to organized journeys for Stanford Alumni. The Africa series adresses a travel to Morocco. There have been and will be more travels to other countries in Africa. I hope there will be more lecture series too.

This particular one, gives a great introduction to Morocco, its history, its culture, its religion - whatever you need to know. Abernethy is a good speaker and even if the podcast listener cannot see the slides that accompany the talk, there is still much to be learned and one will not lose focus. Great audio by Stanford as usual.

As usual, also, it is such a pity this content is only available through iTunes and is not syndicated. Is the university willingly closing part of the public off, or has Apple, through iTunes, managed to monopolize the audio content the university delivers? How inappropriate for this day and age.

EDIT: this last point has been repaired. The audio is now syndicated as well

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

KMTT - Isaac emulating Abraham

The KMTT podcasts about the weekly Torah portions are not delivered on a weekly basis. Parashat Chayeh Sarah was not in the series last week, though now this week, we do have parashat toldot.

Isaac takes his wife Rebecca on a visit through the region of another ruler in Canaan. He announces on this trip that Rebecca is his sister and doesn't admit she is his wife. There are two similar stories in the Torah - here it is Isaac's father Abraham, who journey's with his wife (and Isaac's mother) Sarah and also he doesn't admit she is his wife, but claims she is his sister. The podcast by Rabbi Chanoch Waxman then explains how Isaac is repeating all that his father has done and goes on to point out how this emulation is meaningful.

A thought that arose with me, already on the previous stories, especially where it took place in Egypt was that historically - so i have read somewhere, or heard in another podcast - it was customary among Egyptians to refer to their wives as their sisters. Maybe this started as a simple misunderstanding; or an attempt by Abraham to adapt to local customs has taken on an entirely different meaning? Poor Isaac, having to repeat all that nonsense...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

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.

Subjective meaning - relativity of values

The podcast is called Your Purpose Centered Life and carries the pretentious subtitle: A Plan for Authentic Living. Speaker Eric Maisel, philosopher psychologist and author of books on coaching, uses the podcast to build up an argument about the meaning of life. Intentionally he detaches the meaning of life from religion and also from the idea meaning is something outside of the individual that needs to be discovered or acquired. In his opinion, meaning needs to be made. One decides, personally on the meaning of ones life.

The 5th episode works out the character of meaning and profoundly places it in the individual, making it entirely personal and subjective. Maisel places it entirely in the psychology and personal philosophy and ethical evaluations of the individual. This makes sense and coherently fits with the whole idea that meaning is the result of a personal choice. He disconnects it from objective, or intersubjective meaning. He makes no mention of how the individual can arrive to an understanding of the quality of various options. The socialization, the connection with the values of peers seems to play no role. At least it is not mentioned. Maisel takes it even this far: If someone takes the freedom as carte blanche for selfish objects as meaning, he is free to do so; you will have no ground to say he is wrong. "We cannot hold him to standards that do not exist."

I disagree here. Standards do exist. If not objectively, then at least socially. There is value in what society tries to learn us through religion and other value systems, how fallible, limited and abused they frequently are. Also, it is my opinion, we are not capable to think (completely) outside the box we were raised with. Most of all, we are no gods or animals that we can live outside the polis, that is society. We stand a better chance of choosing meaning and satisfyingly live by it, if it resonates with those of our peers. If we take the total relativism of values Maisel seems to propose, for one I cannot understand how man can rationally arrive at meaning, but secondly and more importantly, how such a view brings us anywhere else but to the war of everybody against everybody. Where there is no objectivity or at least intersubjectivity, there can be no dialog. When meaning can by essence not be shared, there can be no talk and any conflict of interest immediately involves a threat of life.

In coming episodes we will see if Maisel addresses this threat in any way.

Reinhold Niebuhr rediscovered - SOF podcast

The Speaking of Faith podcast observes that the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr resurfaces in thinking and influences both progressives and conservatives. The podcast shows Niebuhr to have been a very careful thinker. He was aware of the aspiration of man to be a moral actor, but simultaneously to the fallibility translating this personal level to the societal. Show host Krista Tippett interviews Paul Elie who says:
The very idealism that has animated so many good things in the history of this country also lead us to be arrogant, lead us to be insensitive to the cultures of other peoples, lead us to overestimate the ability to get things to go our way.

The program shows how Niebuhr's views made him take a position for worker's rights, against segregation and the war in Vietnam, yet also in favor of American involvement in the Second World War as well as the Cold War. His book Moral Man and Immoral Society has influenced not just human right activists such as Martin Luther King, but also conservative thinkers and politicians.

The program, as well as current thinkers try to apply Niebuhr's thoughts to current issues such as the war in Iraq, on Terror, Gay Marriage and more. A definitive answer cannot be given, but Niebuhr does not seem to invite that but rather to put borders, pointers and safeguards in our politics. In addition to what was aired on the radio and in the podcast, the website offers a transcript and extended versions of the interviews and other material pertaining the issue.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A dog and flies on The Missing Link

The fourth episode of The Missing Link podcast, delivers two essays as usual. One is about an explorer in Africa, writing praise to his faithful dog, quaintly called wantrouw - distrust in Afrikaans. The other essay is about flies and how gradually science discovered flies were carriers of diseases.

The love expressed for the dog is unraveled by show host Elizabeth Green Musselman to the loneliness of the explorer. In addition, this expression has some ardent colonialist if racist elements. This is also part of the history of science: the arrogance of superiority the West has displayed towards other peoples.

How many other peoples, especially those considered primitive and according to Darwinist Ethonology were deemed near atavistic. Nearer to beast than men, but nevertheless would have known way in advance of western observers that flies carry diseases? Many I think

Friendship in Shrinkrapradio

There is a distinct quality to podcasts that allows you to listen in on the natural conversation of people who genuinely connect. It is one of the wisdoms podcasters have discovered that it is best to have a buddy on your podcast, make various voices appear together on the show, but the banter between panelists and co-hosts and interviewers is not always smooth, or sometimes too smooth in directed or scripted way. It proves, apparently, to be no trivial task to have real natural conversation to listen in on.

Here we see the quality of The Word Nerds, but even more so of Dr. David van Nuys (Shrinkrapradio, Wise Counsel). These podcasts offer conversation that invariably is pleasant to listen to and as such contribute greatly to what is already an interesting topic. Dr. Dave stands out, as he manages to arrive at this intimacy in most of his interviews. He does not have the advantage the Word Nerds have to speak with their long time friends and relatives, yet with professionals in the field of psychology and still he succeeds.

On the occasion Dr. Dave speaks with a friend like with Jerry Trumbule on show #100 or with Charles Merril on the latest show (#117) listening is a real treat. A treat in subject (in this case about Self Disclosure, Friendship. Touching on Carl Rogers and Martin Buber, in the process) and a treat in experience.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Anne is a new Style

Dear readers,

I was tired of the previous blog style. It had served me well for half a year, but now I felt it was time to try something new. Currently you are looking at a blogspot template, without any modifications. In the coming days I am going to figure out how I can adapt it to my needs and appreciations. Feel free to give me your input.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sex History Podcast

The Sex History Podcast. Allie, John and Randal speak of history as it is related to sex, that is, birth control and sexual liberation and more. Man is a sexual animal and has engaged in sex and therefore it is wholly possible and relevant to look at sex in history. As a matter of fact Professor Thomas Laqueur of History 5, the Berkeley lecture series on European History which is also a podcast has written a lot on the subject.

The Sex History Podcast is less serious, if less heavy handed. In a staged banter the three show hosts go over the subjects. The podcast is supplied in short, light issues. This is not your academic podcast. This is the kind of approach you'd love to have had in high school. Sex education not just in biology class, but also in history class. Makes a lot of sense.

Will this podcast make it to the class rooms? Well, it is labeled explicit, so, can we expect that?

Shame and Guilt without remorse - In Our Time

BBC's In Our Time took on the subject of guilt. In order to explain guilt, the major part of the show was used to distinguish guilt and shame. Show host Melvyn Bragg writes in his show notes:
The distinction between shame and guilt was well made. I wish we’d had more time to drive down to the burdensomeness, the pathology of guilt, which so many people I know claim. My Jewish friends say that there’s no guilt like Jewish guilt. My Protestant friends say there’s no guilt like Protestant guilt. My Roman Catholic friends say you know nothing about guilt until you have been a Roman Catholic. And so it goes. The burdensomeness of guilt is a subject that I would have liked to have gone into much, much further. Maybe I’m talking about this in a confessional way, i.e.: I would have liked In Our Time to act as a confession box. I’ve always rather envied Catholics having a confession box.

When the program ended, Miranda said “but we didn’t get to remorse”. Thank God!
After establishing the Classical world as one of a shame culture and ascribing guilt as a Christian (not Jewish?) invention, it is claimed that guilt in the individual, voluntary and social responsible sense is kicked off with the Reformation. Then we go through Luther, Kant, Hume, Freud and end up with Nietzsche. Nietzsche apparently points back to shame and the value we have lost there.

Wise Counsel talking to the client

Dr. David van Nuys has been interviewing many therapists on the Wise Counsel podcast, but always wanted talk to the client as well. In the 18th edition he does so. He speaks with the Dutch Laris MacPherson, who has benefited from therapy overcoming dysfunctional family, a bad marriage, eating disorder and ADHD and feels today better than ever.

The podcast takes the listener swiftly through the biography and series of treatments and developments Laris went through. Van Nuys manages to keep this organized and MacPherson succeeds in relating the tough stuff in a way that is pleasant to hear. The strength she has developed seems to shine through. I can feel with Laris, as I know both the eastern Netherlands as well as the underground Amsterdam atmosphere in which she struggled to survive. And I know from my own experience that that is no small feat.

I liked the change of perspective in Wise Counsel and hope that this is going to be a regular element in the series.

Environmental History

Exploring Environmental History is the podcast about human societies and the environment in the past. This is more than a history podcast, as, naturally, environmental history is an interdisciplinary field. This is already pointed out in the introductory issue. There is, also almost by necessity, another additional aspect that needs to be taken into account. I am not sure whether this will be admitted by the makers, but I distinguish their ideological stand. Their concern about the environment and inclination toward ecology politics.

I share the concern and the inclination, it is just I am very anxious about the effects of ideology. I do not want my history podcast to be colored by one side of issues. I think, when ideology is stronger than the inclination towards neutral fact finding, one is prone to slide into pseudo-science. In the end, ideology, thus, can draw you to shoot in your own foot. I am not saying the Environmental History podcast does that. I haven't heard enough even to begin draw conclusions, but I am alert in advance.

BBC History Magazine

The BBC History Magazine is for sale all over Britain and in certain shops in North America. It is not available for poor sods in The Netherlands or Israel, to name but a few. Well, maybe it is, but it is certainly hard to come by. What IS easy to get, is the monthly, 30 minutes, podcast, the BBC History Magazine puts out as a promotional feature for the magazine.

I wasn't aware of this podcast, but luckily found it linked from another (new) history podcast: The Missing Link. The Missing Link's host Elizabeth Green Musselman wrote to me in an email:
I agree that it's hard to find good ones. With many of the history podcasts, I find the hosts trying too hard to be taken seriously, and they end up sounding like encyclopedias being read aloud.
I have called this the monologue style and claimed few manage to pull that off, but Elizabeth's characterization puts it more accurately.

The November issue is all about aviation. The podcast avoids the monologue/encyclopedia aloud style by using the interview approach. Three interviews with writer's on features in the actual magazine, make up the show. Interestingly, the two first interviews touch upon the famous Battle of Britain. The first interviewee tells how Britain had nearly fumbled in having the extremely important Spitfire fighter planes ready for the Battle and the second interviewee relates how the Battle of Britain was not even won, or in a way, the aviation war was not as decisive as it usually thought to have been.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Germany (Berkeley History 167B)

We are still not at the end of the lecture series about Germany's Second Reich, that Germany of the 19th century, but it is already a good moment to write acclaim and recommend this podcast series warmly to our readers. Berkeley history Professor Margaret Anderson (to some also known as Peggy) delivers this lecture series, whereof the majority has come out as podcasts. Note that some have not and there are even some that are not fit to listen to due to bad sound. So, for the podcast history buff, it is a journey with a lot of holes in the road, yet the journey is very rewarding. As we have seen with the previous semester's History 5 course, where she delivered a very inspiring own version, in the series that is normally delivered by Professor Thomas Laqueur.

Picture this. At the beginning of the nineteenth century there was no Germany, only a multitude of lands, hardly unified, if at all, living in a style more resembling the Middle Ages than modernity. Even in the middle of the nineteenth century this was roughly so. The unification came about through war and was mostly forced upon the Germans. If I forget for a moment that this is the history of a country we know, my impression is that this forced unity is going to go down in civil war. It is amazing to find this country becomes the champion of education and of the second part of the industrial revolution.

Margaret Anderson does a great job portraying and explaining the developments and I trust that in the lectures to come, we will also get to understand how this elated country, could start two World Wars and engage in destruction and the killing of millions.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Šimek 's Nachts - nooit meer luisteren

In 1998 ben ik naar Israël gekomen en snel ben ik een Israeli geworden, maar tegelijk ben ik een beetje Nederlander gebleven. Ik heb de Nederlandse taal nog; ik draag mijn geschiedenis met me mee. Ik ben vanaf het begin van mijn verblijf in Israël aansluiting blijven zoeken met Nederland. Er zijn genoeg dingen die ik geprobeerd heb en waar ik mee opgehouden ben. Ik kijk wel eens op uitzendinggemist maar de TV kan me uiteindelijk gestolen worden. Waar blijf ik dan wel terugkeren?

Op een van de vele omzwervingen op het internet ontdekte ik de archieven van Simek 's Nachts en daar ben ik naar blijven luisteren. Op die manier ontdekte ik podcasting en naast vele Engelstalige podcasts, luister ik trouw naar Simek op podcast en verder de nodige VPRO programma's. Dat is het Nederland in mij. Ik heb altijd van goede radio gehouden, maar als de smaak zich ontwikkeld heeft, niet in het minst onder invloed van het Israëlische, dan komt dat vooral tot uitdrukking in mijn voorliefde voor Martin Simek. Er is iets dat ik in hem herken en dat hij in zijn interviews ook vaak uitdraagt. Dat is het hybride, de drager van de meervoudige identiteit, Nederlands, Tsjechisch en een vleugje Italiaans. Ik voel mee met dat beurtelings zich identificeren met Nederland en de Nederlandse cultuur en er meteen weer als een buitenstaander naar kijken.

Wat nu? Het programma bestaat nog steeds en is ook via het internet te beluisteren, maar sinds een aantal maanden wordt het gestreamd en niet meer als podcast gepubliceerd. De RVU legt uit dat er discussie is (over geld natturlijk!) of er nog wel doorgegaan moet worden met podcasting. Mij zijn ze als luisteraar hierdoor kwijt. Ik luister niet, gekluisterd aan de PC, de hele clou van radio en podcast is juist dat je intussen wat anders kunt doen. Autorijden, boodschappen, de tuin aanharken en de WC schoonmaken.

Vinden jullie ook dat Simek als podcast moet terugkomen? Mail