Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tomorrow on Anne is a Man!

Tomorrow is the first of the month and this when I give my full list of podcasts that were ever reviewed on this blog. By now we have reached 129 podcasts reviewed. The list becomes a bit unmanageably long and so I am on the look out of improving the formula. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear about them.

New additions this month are the following:

Are we alone?. A new science podcast tackling the issue of exterrestrial life. I have found this podcast thanks to the recommendation of a reader.
Global Geopolitics. A new geography and geopolitics and a bit history podcast from Stanford. As usual, this new gem was noted on Open Culture, one of my favorite sources of good quality podcasts.
Speaking of favorites. My all time favorite is History 5. This lecture series from Berkeley I have separated into two entries in my list. Giving credit to the spring lecturer Margaret Lavinia Anderson, and to autumn lecturer Thomas Laqueur, each in their own right.
Language (UCSD). A course in reasoning which I found thanks to a reader's comment. The comment was actually about another podcast, but from one search came another and so the whole list of San Diego podcasts popped up - which incidentally gave more entries than just this one.
MMW 3 (Chamberlain). A history lecture series explaining the middle ages mostly from the perspective of religions.
MMW 3 (Herbst). A parallel series choosing a more traditional perspective, but exceptionally good no less.
Thanks to yet another reader, I started listening to an old Berkeley series about existentialism. This one is a tad different from the new one that runs as we speak and which I have begun to follow.
Philosophy 7 is the current series on existentialism. Berkeley professor Huber Dreyfuss takes you in with a very personalized, almost vulnerable style.
Rhetoric 10 a reader comment on the Word Nerds review suggested looking at this course. A good one, although I have had a bit too much (legal) arguing in my life to fill my free time extensively with it again.
Your History Podcast was actually already reviewed in march, but somehow omitted from the previous list.

Some time tomorrow, or over the weekend, the blog will switch to its new style. I have a couple of tiny picture adjustments and coloring issues I want to take care of. Then the tricky part of the migration will happen. In theory this will be no more than a minute of down time for the blog, but that is a best case theory. In any case, do not despair if you cannot connect for a couple of hours. It'll all be OK. If worst comes to worst I will revert to the old style.

Language - podcast lectures reviewed

Here is short review of two university lecture series on language.

Berkeley: Rhetoric
Daniel Coffeen tries a provocative approach to get you to know rhetoric, not just by learning it, but also by experience. Coffeen is not a regular university professor and the style and form of the course this is tangible and make a refreshing impact. This is not classical rhetoric; he is not going to rely on logic. Coffeen is more of a relativistic persuasion, where the rhetoric is not intended to persuade people to truth, or at least an agreement, but rather one that rhetoric is the goal, which in a way is a celebration of argument, rather than agreement.

Argument Clinic

UC San Diego: Language
An unfortunate start to this series is that the first 7 lectures were not podcast. So we enter the course right in the middle of studying syllogisms. By now we have reached the thirteenth lecture and we are still with reasoning. In comparison to the previous is much more classical. I am not sure whether this course should be identified more as logic than as rhetoric.

Other language and writing reviews:
Getting Published,
King Lear in podcast,
A Rhetorics Series by The Word Nerds,
A funny thing with letters,
What main stream language use won't show.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Descriptive and prescriptive mapping

In Stanford's Global Geopolitics course (feed) professor Martin Lewis makes a remark which reminded me of a very similar one in a language podcast. I wrote about it; one can approach grammar prescriptively and descriptively. The same thing Lewis states about maps. Maps can be made to carefully describe the situation on the ground, also geopolitically, but maybe more often they are prescriptive and represent the area as it ought to be. One may safely assume that any map that attempts to merely describe a geopolitical situation has prescriptive implications.

What we are seldom aware of is that even the simplest standard maps are prescriptive and Lewis tries to bring the point home by giving descriptive maps for example of Somalia (divided up in separately ruled area and just as many unruly, clan-controlled regions) or of the Western Sahara, or of Kashmir (divided up between India, Pakistan and China).

Jammu and Kashmir

The course will successively address the various global regions and thus, by means of maps, give some insight in the major, sometimes even hardly known or forgotten geopolitical contests. A very fascinating course, especially for map lovers and a great successor to the previous Geography of World Cultures (feed). So far we have had three lectures; an introduction and exposes about East-Asia and South-Asia and thus far, we can see it has considerable overlap with the previous course. In many ways that should not surprise us as naturally the geopolitical tensions are rooted in much of the cultural, religious and linguistic divisions in the world.

Relevant other reviews:
Global Geopolitics - Martin Lewis,
A listener's guide to Geography of World Cultures,
Geography of World Cultures by Martin W. Lewis,
The End of Hegemony,
Prescriptive and descriptive grammar.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Hoererij met beleid en politie onder bezetting

Op 27 april heb ik weer eens naar OVT geluisterd. Nadat de serie In Europa zijn mid-eeuwse onderbreking is ingegaan, was ik de draad even kwijt, maar die heb ik nu weer even opgepakt, omdat de onderwerpen me bijzonder aanspraken. In het bijzonder een Amsterdams en een Rotterdams onderwerp - beide met een universeel karakter.

De WallenHet Amsterdams onderwerp is een historische beschouwing op het beleid van de gemeente Amsterdam inzake de prostitutie in het algemeen en op de Wallen in het bijzonder. Wat de aanwezige gasten daar over zeggen (Parool-journalist Paul Arnoldussen en conservator van het Amsterdams Historisch Museum Annemarie de Wildt, auteurs van het boek ‘Liefde te koop: vier eeuwen prostitutie in Amsterdam: zes wandelingen’) komt hierop neer dat de autoriteiten een soort cycliek doorlopen van strengere en mildere aanpak. De verwijdering en het verbod schoof de prostitutie in de loop der eeuwen alleen maar naar andere uithoeken en sloot verdere regulering uit, terwijl een gedoogbeleid weliswaar de regulering mogelijk maakte maar de problemen leek aan te trekken (misschien alleen meer zichtbaar makend). Het huidige meer strikte beleid lijkt daarom in alle opzichten in die op en neer gang (sic) te passen en je zou er alleen al daarom geen grote veranderingen van verwachten. Amsterdam raakt haar hoeren niet kwijt.

Het Rotterdamse onderwerp is naar aanleiding van het proefschrift dat de agent Frank van Riet schreef over de Rotterdams politie in bezettingstijd. Hoewel de man geen begenadigd spreker is, komt toch heel pregnant het beeld naar voren van een halfhartig collaborerend apparaat. In een poging de collaboratie wat in te perken, worden de NSB agenten en andere sympathisanten in een aparte afdeling gestopt. Het effect was averechts, deze ploeg werd er alleen maar effectiever van. Ze is waarschijnlijk zelfs betrokken geweest bij het fusilleren van collega's die verzet hadden gepleegd.

Eerder van OVT op dit blog (in het kader van In Europa):
1943 - Polen,
1943 - Stalingrad,
1941 - Handlangers,
1940 - Heesters, Petain, Leopold achteraf,
1939 - Patriotten tot landverraders.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

A century of geopolitics - podcast review

Stanford's podcast The History of the International System (feed) is an excellent podcast in contemporary history, but the title may be misleading in a way. As explained in the first lecture and recounted in the first review I posted, it is claimed that among states there is some kind of cohesion and dynamic, hence a system.

When thinking of a system of such sort, one may immediately think of institutions, no matter how weak - at least so did I. I thought of the League of Nations, the United Nations and the EU, but these hardly figure. NATO does slightly more so, but not at all do other international organizations that, it cannot be denied, each in their own field and fashion attempt to order the international world. I am thinking of the OECD, the WTO, the IMF and such. This course however is not so much into legal or economic order. Yet is much more a traditional history lesson in geopolitics, paying attention to the major conflicts and its surrounding phenomena. We go from the origins of the First World War, to the Great War itself, to Versailles, to the interbellum, to the Second World War, to Yalta, Potsdam and the new strategic reality within the Cold War and nuclear arms race, decolonization, the end of the cold war and what came after that.

Iran was declared an Islamic republic, and Khomeini was appointed the leader for lifeAs a matter of fact, no matter how interesting, up to the end of the cold war the course holds hardly any surprises. Much more compelling, innovative (if tentative) is the lecturer, Professor James Sheehan's attempt to analyze the system of the new order with one superpower and the rise of Islamist fundamentalism. I would urge everybody to go through the whole course, but if you want to jump ahead to these cherries on the cake, do not enter too late, as the roots of the new reality are pointed out early on, especially explicit from 1979 on. 1979 the year when Iran became an Islamist republic, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq.

Previous review:
History of the International System.

More geopolitics:
Global Geopolitics - Martin Lewis,
A listener's guide to Geography of World Cultures,
Geography of World Cultures by Martin W. Lewis,
The End of Hegemony.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

World history guided by the religions

UC San Diego's Charles Chamberlain delivers one of the two MMW 3 (Making of the Modern World - The Medieval Heritage) history podcast lectures that I have recently discovered and am enjoying completely. The other is delivered by Matthew Herbst and I have reviewed that series yesterday.

Chamberlain covers roughly the same material as Herbst, but takes a very original perspective. He uses the dominant religions as a starting point. The first 12 lectures thus far, started from Christianity and mixed church history with theological history. He clearly is convinced that this perspective allows the students to get easier access to the history. It certainly works for me and also works very nicely in a complementary fashion towards those areas that are covered by other, more standard, history podcasts, most notably Herbst's.

On a technical note it needs to be pointed out that the first two lectures were not podcast and that what appears as lecture #11 is actually empty. One should not fear missing out on too much, at most some of the visuals referred to, but there are not too many of those. Also some prolonged silences at the beginning and end of the podcasts shouldn't prove to be insurmountable. Around those minor points there is a superb history podcast to be enjoyed.

Perfect additions to this lecture series are In Our Times issue about the Nicene Creed and Thomas Sheehan's The Historical Jesus (Stanford, feed, review). Whereas In Our Time could be a nice preparation or a valuable complement to the lectures 8-12, The Historical Jesus digs much deeper and would be an excellent follow-up from the first handful of lectures.

Relevant other reviews:
The Nicene Creed - IOT,
Historical Jesus - Tom Sheehan, Stanford,
World history outside the European box,
Making of the Modern World - UCSD,
UC San Diego's podcast courses.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

World history outside the European box

There are several things great about UC San Diego's history podcasts, the ones I recently discovered. MMW 3, The Making of the Modern World, section Medieval Heritage contains two versions of World History in the period 100 BCE - 1200 CE, the second of which I will write separately soon; the first of which is being taught by Professor Matthew Herbst.

Since history podcasts are a focus on Anne is a Man!, I can compare to many, many other versions of World History. By all means, Herbst's series is very good; splendid lectures with great many details and delivered in a comprehensive framework. However, it is yet another great quality I would like to pick out here. Not only does Herbst dig into the main stream World History, the direct roots of the Western World, that is, Christianity and the Classics with a touch of Byzantium and Muslim world.

As of this week, he has begun to take on the history of China and India and I understand Buddhism will also feature in the course. Thus the history is broadened and with the extensive attention to China in the latest lectures, he stands rather alone in the history podcast world. There is the podfaded David Kalivas' World History and there are some old issues of History according to Bob that are only available on pay per CD, which have paid attention to the history of China. Therefore Herbst addresses a great need, especially in the light of modern geopolitical shifts.

Other areas in the world Herbst has touched upon were Armenia and Ethiopia. By this he filled a gap in my knowledge and possibly for the large majority of us. And what he taught about Persia, I would not have known anything about, had I not listened to In Our Time on the Sassanid Empire.

In short, UC San Diego's MMW courses are an outstanding addition to the history podcast world.

More about MMW 3 and UC San Diego's lectures on podcast:
Making of the Modern World - UCSD,
UC San Diego's podcast courses.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Romanticism and Bismarck

When you take the History 5 lectures in the pairs that are delivered each week, you may run into subjects that possibly at face value have little in common. Such may be the case with those two in March, one about Romanticism and one about Bismarck. Romanticism and The Search for Wholeness (audio, video) and Bismarck and the Re-Configuration of Europe (audio, video).

I think however, one may find on many levels that these two subjects are very much related. With Romanticism a very dominant style of thinking appears on the European scene and even a Realpolitiker such as Bismarck was affected by it, not to mention that the mere idea of a one German identity which served him to forge and force the German unity has strong roots in Romantic thought.

At this point History 5 becomes even more compelling. As of these two lectures, the world takes on a completely recognizable shape and we can identify most easily with the history. I wonder how much we are still romanticists in this postmodern age...

More History 5:
Capitalism and Socialism,
Enlightenment and French Revolution,
Absolutism and Science,
Witches, plague, war and Hobbes,

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stanford's great podcasts

I am a great lover of the content delivered by Stanford University. Whenever I have had some criticism in the past on how this content was delivered I have usually had to retract my words and this is the case again. The fact that the content is exclusively presented through iTunes U, implies some restraints for some listeners, but again, Stanford has taken steps to take away the biggest of thresholds.

The new feature, and one that I am very happy about, is that the web-site ( these days does more than just push you through to iTunes. It contains several pages of explanation and help, among others a guide how to install and work with iTunes. The best addition is the list of RSS feeds. The best of Stanford's content (not all of it) is available in a feed and thus a veritable podcast and this page lists all of them. The best are there, most notably all of those lecture series from Stanford I have so happily reviewed in the past.

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

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

Geography of World Cultures, (review, site:Stanford on iTunes U, feed).
Although this podcast is mostly about geography, in effect it is filled with history - one cannot talk about the spread of languages and religion, without entering history. The focus is on maps and the maps are added as visuals, which means, this is an enhanced podcast. (Wikipedia on enhanced podcasts)

Global Geopolitics (review, site:Stanford on iTunes U, feed).
The latest addition: an enhanced podcast following up on Geography of World Cultures showing the international relations in geopolitics. Of course with the help of great many maps.

History of the International System, (review, site:Stanford on iTunes U, feed).
This is a course, not just in history, but in a sense also in geopolitics and political science. Starting around 1870, the lecture series takes the audience through global history and observes and explains how the international relations wobbled from stability to disruptiveness back and forth.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Global Geopolitics - Martin Lewis

Stanford has done it again. This is apparently their preferred modus operandi, but it is the one least accessible to podcast listeners. They have a new course available on audio. You cannot find the audio on the Stanford website, it is only on iTunes U. There, you can download the audio as regular audio files, not as podcasts (that is, iTunes will not treat the files as podcast files, which means, they do not show up in the podcast section and they do not operate as podcast files: skip in music shuffle and remember playing position). Finally, you cannot subscribe. Stanford starts out like this with most of its courses. Some, like Hannibal, History of World system, Historical Jesus and more, later on, turn into podcasts.

I have waited for nearly a week. Two lectures have become available. The course has already been reviewed on Open Culture and we are still in the previously described mood. Other than that, the course looks to be great. The predecessor of this course was Geography of World Cultures, also by Martin Lewis. Again this is an enhanced podcast; we get the lectures with the maps as graphics along with the podcast. The advice is therefore to listen on the laptop and enlarge the maps in order to get a good look. For people with average players: the files are not in MP3 format and if you transfer, you will likely lose the graphics, the maps. And the maps are in this course the strawberries on the pudding.

Martin Lewis will, in nine lectures, systematically discuss all areas on the globe and disclose the problems in geopolitics. An example is given in the introduction with the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Pakistani side of the border is a place called Waziristan where Islamabad rules more formally than effectively and this has become relevant globally since this is where the Taliban are hidden. See map.


Relevant other reviews:
The History of the International System,
A listener's guide to Geography of World Cultures,
Geography of World Cultures by Martin W. Lewis,
The End of Hegemony.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Hiroshima Mon Amour

Philosophy 7 featured the French movie Hiroshima Mon Amour, which of course was not available for us podcast listeners. What was available was the analysis afterwards. One that I enjoyed enormously.

I had seen the film. It may be twenty five years ago, but as the lecture on the film proceeded it all came back to me. The love affair and the complicated communication between the lovers. We analyzed it at the time, but that was high school level and it was struggling with the French more than with the literary and philosophical matter. Yet, enough remained to be refreshed and from there the insights came.

I can applaud my French teacher for letting us taste French literature through this work of Marguerite Duras, but I can also appreciate my German teacher who never did such things. You guys are too young to understand he used to explain. I didn't understand half of it indeed. But then again, what I did understand made huge impression and the experience has been reserved for 25 years for Hubert Dreyfus to build on and expand the podcast enjoyment. It is also a very general recommendation into listening to educational podcasts - never mind what you do not understand, cannot pick up. Whatever you do take with you is what makes the listening worthwhile.

Previously on Philosophy 7:
Existentialism - Philosophy 7

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Missing Link with Popper

In this review I am not going to talk too much about the main item in the ninth issue of the Missing Link. It continued the history of the Evolution - Creation divide and delved into the cultural associations with evolution. What is shown is that evolution is either shunned or embraced in the US, for its associations. When it was perceived as something anti-communist, it could be embraced, but when it was perceived as anti-christian, it was shunned. (site, feed, audio)

I'd like to talk about Karl Popper - again. Popper has become part of a consecutive series in this blog, that somehow stirs up many reactions. The Missing Link's host, Elizabeth Green Musselman, begins with Popper. She wishes to elaborate about a remark she made in issue #8 of The Missing Link. Her reaction, for all intents and purposes, addresses what I wrote about it in my review of #8.
Why does Musselman suggest she herself doesn't agree with Popper's views, but does nothing to indicate what her criticism might be? The effect is that the essay is labeled with an alleged naivety before it even starts.

Musselman says she had no intention to denigrate the essays of her students and spends a few words on her criticism to Popper. In her mind, Popper's falsification theory fall short of propelling science as it doesn't deal with paradigms, as shown by Thomas Kuhn. That is a pretty widely held view on Popper and I had it myself, using it in a review I wrote about an issue of the UChannel Podcast. The Popperian Pathway had a lecture of a medical doctor showing the progress in cancer research in the past decades by means of Popper falsification theory. It was here that I myself wrote, that we see a paradigm shift described, but that Popper doesn't address the paradigm shift.

A reader, Rafe Champion from Australia, corrected me on that. He has written several articles and from his website points to a range of sources that intend to show Popper has addressed the issue. Popper is not just about falsification, which is indeed merely an epistemological technique, but extended his writings to the realm of how in more general terms scientific theory and research should be conducted. What seems to be ignored among writers in logic of science are the writings of Popper about MRP's, Metaphysical Research Programs.

So, the last word has not been said. And the subject continues to give rise to heated debate.

Previously about Popper:
An evolved controversy,
The Popperian Pathway,
Researching Bush,
Shrinkrapradio on Freud and Jung,
Gravitational waves.

More about The Missing Link on this blog:
An evolved controversy,
Time's Arrow,
On Time and on Counting - The Missing Link,
Strength in Numbers,
Constant Companions.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Engines of our Ingenuity

Occasionally I pick up an episode of the podcast Engines of Our Ingenuity. This is a series of very short podcasts on the technologies of man. Speakers from the University of Houston in Texas speak their light monologue in issues that last less than 5 minutes.

I was surprised to find Hebrew and Yiddish as a subject recently. However, Hebrew is of course a in many ways a constructed language even if it is built on the age old foundations of a natural language. With the addition of Yiddish and an antiquarian find of the speaker, the point was built. His book discovery were two books from the 40s, one teaching Yiddish and the other Hebrew. The connection this essay makes with human constructions (loosely this fits in the technology framework of subjects) is how both languages were kept with the intention to help Jewish survival. One (Yiddish) through its cosmopolitanism and the other with its claim to re-vitalization.

In a 4 minute podcast, this opens up a can of worms, for those who are familiar with the subject. I am currently reading Amos Oz's A Tale of Love and Darkness and he is making this point with considerable irony and a sense of tragedy. The Jews of Europe in the early twentieth century were the first true Europeans, way before the gentile Europeans were to re-invent this idea and build a peaceful Europe and a European Union. The survivors wound up in Israel. Their cosmopolitanism actually opposes the use of Yiddish, as it has a provincial shtetl taste to it and embraced the newly living Hebrew, but got entrenched in a new kind of Israeli provincialism. Many of these old cosmopolitans, like the characters in Oz's book, do not so well in Israel. Not as well as they did in Europe.

There is this constant yearning for Europe. If the new Hebrews do not yearn for Europe, they yearn for the US. The promised land, for many, is not here with the Holy Places. This the Engines of Ingenuity doesn't fathom, but begins to point out, with the simple comparison of Yiddish and Hebrew.

Other recent issues that I recommend are Building Railroads (way before airlines and freeways, the tracks made the world small) and Tour de France (how we reduce man to a machine and what is gained and what may be lost by the example of the Tour de France).

An earlier review, in February, about Engines of our Ingenuity.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Making of the Modern World - UCSD

MMW was my first choice from the various lecture series UC San Diego has put on line as podcasts. MMW stands for Making of the Modern World and it is a lengthy series of history lectures presented at the Roosevelt College. It is cut into numbered consecutive series of which MMW 3 is the current.

MMW 3, is subtitled, Medieval Heritage and it consists of two different series delivered by two different lecturers. One by Matthew Herbst and one by Charles Chamberlain. I am still trying to figure out how they have divided the Medieval Heritage between themselves, but I have heard enough to know we have a great history podcast on our hands. Chamberlain's first two lectures did not make it to the podcast, but with the third lecture we dive head first into the roots of Christianity - viewed from within. Herbst's first lecture I advise to skip as it is too much of an overview and too much of administrative deliberation for the students, but with lecture two, we kick off into the hellenistic world and prepare for the roots of Christianity, but more from a state and religion perspective.

Here we see an approach which surprised me as to what I expected under the title Medieval Heritage. For me, Medieval stands for Middle Ages and I roughly place that between 500 and 1500 AD. The San Diego history course on the other hand, kicks off 100 BC and projects to continue till 1200 AD. Starting this early also shifts geographically the attention to the Middle East. Presumably, attention will shift westwards, as this is the direction in which the Modern World developed.

Apart from this lack of framework, which will keep the listener somewhat at a loss in the beginning, the series kicks off to a very promising start. One of the great advantages for me: it takes on the foundations of Christianity and the political and cultural developments that made Europe into the Renaissance, where Berkeley's History 5 starts.

Previously on UC San Diego's podcast courses.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

UC San Diego - podcasts

Many academic institutions have found their way to iTunes U, but I have an additional appreciation for those who also disclose their content in the straightforward way Berkeley does on their Webcast site. To be a podcast listener, does not have to imply one is an iTunes user. For one, I find browsing iTunes U, or the iTunes podcast directory too bothersome. Too much loading time, too many graphics, too much of what I do not need and that takes up time and other resources. Alternately I can go to the simple list of courses at Berkeley and have it all in one instant, in one glance (or two).

The university which has follow suit, as I discovered this week, is the University of California San Diego (UCSD). Just as Berkeley, they have listed the current courses and you can directly subscribe or listen from the list. A couple of courses have immediately caught my eye: Medieval heritage, Language, The Planets, Twentieth-Century East Asia, Languages & Cultures/America and Introduction to Western Music - to name a handful.

Later this month you will be seeing the first reviews.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Conscious Living

Yet another fascinating issue of Shrink Rap Radio, should not scare you off, if you think it is about death. As a side note, there have been more podcasts in the series about death and they were quite good as well. This particular one, Conscious Living and Dying, is a case in point.

The best lesson to learn is that confrontation with death, not just one's own impending death or a near death experience, can mean a very positive turn for one's life. This is where the title inherits the conscious living element. Shrink Rap Radio's guest Annamaria Hemingway makes an convincing claim to this effect.

In modern life, death is much less near and people are less than ever capable of dealing with it. In fact, however, death can be a positive impulse. Death makes the true important elements in life much more clear, rather than the sometimes imposing, but basically diverting day to day worries and drives.

Once again, David van Nuys has pulled off a great show in this lengthy and very wonderful series. Shrink Rap Radio is one of the best podcasts around. It does so much more than bring psychology to an audience that covers professionals as much as interested amateurs. This podcast also shows what podcasts in general have to offer: on-demand talk radio of the very best quality.

All previous reviews of Shrink Rap Radio:
The Happiness Hypothesis,
Sign language for babies,
Doll Work and what with the brain,
Confronting Death (and more),
Process Work,
Leadership and AI,
Shrinkrapradio at the San Francisco Exploratorium,
Dysfunctional personalities in the workplace,
Adventure Therapy,
Maternal bonding,
Materialism and its dragging feet,
Friendship in Shrinkrapradio,
At the New Media Expo,
David van Nuys invited by students,
The Commercialization of Childhood,
Bush on the couch,
David Lukoff,
War and the Soul,
The Dream interview method,
The Bitch, the Crone, and the Harlot,
Jerry and Dave discuss the podcast in its 100th issue,
Dr. Dave and the Zodiac,
Freud and Jung,
Dreaming as a Bridge Between Religion and Science,
Stanley Krippner,
Alan Siegel,
Mark Blagrove,
Curtiss Hoffman,
Dream language,
The Secret Spiritual World of Children.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Islam meets Europe

The University Channel Podcast (or UChannel for short) is one podcast that is near impossible to follow completely as it combines lecture recordings from all over the world, not just from the host Princeton University. The sheer size of the feed alone makes it unmanageable for a single listener - they go on average on one podcast per day. The range of subjects covers all hot issues in regular media, with outstanding speakers also from outside Academia. It is a directory to pick and choose from according to area of interest.

This week I chose to listen to a panel discussion from January 17th, under the title The Encounter of Islam with Europe. (audio) Main speakers were Timothy Garton Ash and the famous Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Timothy is offered to set the stage and challenge in a way Ayaan to a discussion. After the relatively short round of exchange between the two, the public is invited to join with questions and remarks.

No matter how carefully Ayaan chooses her phrases (she even reads her speech rather than ad lib), her view of Islam and Europe appears to be foremost rooted in her experiences and from that onset translated into the language of academia in the vernacular of enlightened rationality. This is radically different from Timothy, who is detached and whether abstractly, theoretically or anthropologically tries to portray Islam as a wide vessel for a multitude of political and philosophical outlooks and tries to veer Ayaan away from addressing it as a monolithic structure. Deep down they do not seem to speak the same language.

More UChannel on this blog:
The rise and demise of Palestine,
Alan Johnston,
Nuclear Terrorism,
Attack Iran (or not),
Less Safe, Less Free (Losing the War on Terror).

More Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
Interview Vrijdag (Dutch)

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Climate Change in recent history

The Environmental History Podcast (or longer: Exploring Environmental History) used to publish at least an issue each month. In the last months however, it went missing and it seems to have gone over to a two-month schedule, skipping January and March. Or at least so it seems. Host Jan Oosthoek doesn't go into explanations.

Jan Oosthoek, just took his recording equipment with him to a conference in Birmingham (UK) titled An End to History? Climate Change, the Past and the Future. He sat down to interview to of the speakers on the conference. (listen) For one, Gill Chitty, Head of Conservation of The Council for British Archaeology, about the important contributions of archeology to the national debate about climate change. Second, Jim Galloway of the Center for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research in London, about the impact of storm surges on the lands bordering the Thames Estuary during the fourteenth century.

Gill Chitty's main point is that climate change has always occurred and archeology can show this. She hopes to alter the mind set that somehow is clinging to the idea that there shouldn't be change. In addition, she surmises climate change can be a concept too large to cope with, but archeology can show this in concrete and local environments. One such example is delivered by Jim Galloway, of how the environment in the Thames Estuary changed with the storm surges in the fourteenth century. Jan Oosthoek goes on to add that also other shores of the North Sea went through this, most notably the Netherlands.

More Environmental History podcast on this blog:
Urban Air Pollution,
Apartheid and Environmental History,
Environmental History and South Africa,
Environmental History.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Getting Published

"The more I write, the more I write," Mark Leslie reveals on The Writing Show. The fact he appears on the podcast and the audience is challenging him to keep up his production, he has achieved major advancement with getting his horror novel A Canadian Werewolf in New York ready. It does have some bad effect on his health. Show Host Paula jokes: this must remain Getting Published with Mark Leslie, and not become Getting a Pneumonia. (part 8, part 7)

So the writing show brings the struggles of writers really up close, especially in the Getting Published series. Recently this series has received yet another new author. Janice Ballenger, who is working as a coroner in Pennsylvania and had decided always she was going to write her memoirs about this exclusive job. So she had some journals, but wasn't turning this into a book, as long as she was still on active duty. This changed however with the Amish School Shooting to which she was called.

Now she had to write the book, simply had to. And these feelings become very tangible in the emotional interview Paula has with her on the show. Despite the effects of the shooting and its aftermath still lingering, she has set out to write the book. Writing it was relatively easy, but getting all the technical additional stuff right, less so. This podcast is an absolute must listen for every aspiring writer.

More Writing Show on this blog:
Getting Published with Mark Leslie,
Psychological Aspects of Writing,
Getting published with Jean Tennant,
The art of coherence.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Questing for Happiness - Shrink Rap Radio

For some time I had not been listening to Shrink Rap Radio, the psychology interview podcast by Dr. David van Nuys. The benefit turned out to be, I could choose from the backlog and chose to listen to an interview with the promising title The Happiness Hypothesis.

Guest in this program is Jonathan Haidt, who has done a lengthy literature analysis in which he compared the wisdom of a wide range of cultural traditions on what they had to say about morality, human feeling and happiness. Out of this research he has distilled a 'happiness hypothesis', an idea of how one could effectively quest for happiness. In the interview he systematically reveals his study, his steps and his conclusions. I was surprised to find Haidt managed to find something beyond the teachings of Buddhism, which is the most psychological of traditions and has - in my experience - the most effective handle on inner well-being. Somehow I always feel though, there is some element missing. There is too much detachment in Buddhism to my taste. The construction of Haidt looks very promising and inspiring. What a ravishing interview.

Needless to say, no such great interview could have been achieved without the incomparable host of Shrink Rap Radio, Dr. Dave. In addition to being a great podcaster, blessed with a voice naturally fit for broadcast and the necessary knowledge in the field, Dr. Dave is impeccable as an interviewer. Always keeping the natural atmosphere of free conversation, yet managing to guide the process to sufficient depth and to satisfying conclusion within the arch of 30-45 minutes. Surely one of the best podcasts around and not only great for listeners interested in psychology.

More Shrink Rap Radio on this blog:
Sign language for babies,
Doll Work and what with the brain,
Confronting Death (and more),
Process Work,

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Friday, April 11, 2008

The story of Mad Jack

As I wrote before about Your History Podcast, this podcast attempts to tell history by means of stories. The podcast has started only recently , but also in the latest edition we can see it remains true to this approach. As far as history is concerned, I wonder how much you can learn from this, unless you know exactly in what context to place the story. However, the story as such is delivered as a narrative that works very well.

The latest episode is about a nobleman named John Mytton, but who is better known as Mad Jack. Your History Podcast's host Dan Brown very aptly tells the story. He succeeds in taking the listener in and pass the narrative on in a way that is both informative and entertaining. For me, as a non-native English speaker, it takes a little bit of getting used to Dan's accent and diction, but apart from that his performance is very effective and professional. (transcript)

I can recommend this podcast to everyone who loves funny, illustrious and charming stories that take place in the past. Assuming that nearly everybody is sensitive to a good story, this means the podcast is fit for all audience. In addition I could say, that the stories, since they dig into one specific set of data, will serve as an illustration more than an explanation of history.

Previously on Your History Podcast:
The story of Spring Heeled Jack

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

A new year, a new style

Dear Readers,

I started my blog a year ago and when in November, I restyled for the first time, I decided I was not going to take on such a painful effort again before the end of the first year. Now that the end is near, I took it upon me to leave the standard templates Google offers with Blogspot and choose one from the - allegedly - better templates on the web. It is good I have set up a development environment, because with all the rewriting and rebuilding I had to do, I have come to appreciate the standard templates a lot more. Not because they are especially good, but because they work and they merge into the customizations done in the previous template.

Nevertheless, the advantage of having a development environment and the advantage of having started in time (a month ahead of the migration), has allowed me to get acquainted with what templates looked fit and adapt them to the requirements I have. Now I really believe I am heading to a design that looks much more professional and will be much easier to use - for you. So take a look.

Blog 1
This was the first template I liked and for a long time, I felt it was my favorite. It has stopped being the favorite because of a number of problems, some of which you can witness yourself. For one, the right hand side of the page will disappear with a combination of FireFox 1.5 and a small screen. With a large screen, on the other hand, the blog title will not outline along the text block, but rather, way to the left. What you do not see, is that I struggled with very unexpected behavior upon editing. Whole sections would go lost, with totally unrelated changes in the code. So this style is probably going to be discarded.

Blog 2
Another template I liked from the start was this colorful lay-out. Just as with the previous one, the code turns out to be not very robust and the behavior is unpredictable in some browsers (for example: the about sections turns invisible in some IE configurations). Over time, the bright colors began to put me off. The attention is drawn to the bright red middle of the screen and not to the content (either the text or the relevant items in the sidebars).

Blog 3
I don't recall why I started developing this template at all. I wanted a 3 column look in the first place and a search button and this one had neither. Somehow the fresh simplicity made me keep it and by now I have figured a way to add a search and have also come to understand the disadvantages of three columns, basically this has turned from the worst to the best candidate for the final design since it turned out to be easily changeable as well.

Blog 4
The last design appealed to me for its professional look. Though I had to thoroughly strip it from advertisements. Once that was done,what remained is a very good look. If I can repair the scripting errors and easily adapt colors and such, it is the best competitor for blog 3.

As I see it, the work is now down to resizing and recoloring. Wherever the resizing works out best and is easiest to be done;that is the template that will remain.

Please let me know what you think. Especially if you run into some issues viewing the blogs - I must know what to fix. Comment on this post or write me a mail (Anne Frid de Vries -in one word- at yahoo dot co dot uk). Thanks in advance.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This weekend on Anne is a Man!

While I am working on the new design, I have figured out how to add a search box to the blog. I felt this was much needed, even though the Blogger strip on top delivers the same functionality. The standard search, however, is easily overlooked, and so I have put it right over the posting area.

An update about the development of the new designs. The four candidates are getting into shape. No decision has been taken which one is going to be the future design. Your feedback is still very much appreciated.

Previously about the designs:
Anne is a Man! will be having a face lift

Friday till Sunday:
- The Missing Link Podcast (What is it with Popper?)
- Shrink Rap Radio (Long time no see)
- The Writing Show (Getting published with ... )
- Your History Podcast (An eccentric appearance)

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You can let your preferences (I'd love get new podcast recommendations) know by commenting on the blog or sending mail to The Man Called Anne at: Anne Frid de Vries (in one word) AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Existentialism - Philosophy 7

A long time ago, one of the readers of this blog alerted me to a 2006 course on Berkeley in existentialism (Phil 7). Hubert Dreyfus speaks about Existentialism in Literature and Film, touches on Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. As many would, I was expecting Sartre and I was not so keen on getting Kierkegaard. Not that I knew much of Kierkegaard, but I had him pegged as a Romanticist sufferer with a heavy, heavy Christian inclination.

I took the introduction lecture and even though I recognized it as a good lecture, it didn't connect. This semester the course has returned (now called Philosophy 7), but that was not what triggered me to try again. It was BBC's In Our Time. A university course sometimes needs some preparation, some previous disclosure of the subject field, in order to make one feel comfortable with the somewhat detached position of listening in on the lectures through podcast. You could take it up really seriously and read along with the students, but who has time for that? Besides, you do not have to pass the exam. The question is whether, with some general knowledge, listening in is going to deliver some education and entertainment.

It does. Actually existentialism is really fit for that. It is much more about experience and much less dry theory and abstraction as philosophy tends to be. Still I needed some entry. After having heard In Our Time's issue about Kierkegaard, I had a sufficient grip on him (and less objection) and suddenly Philosophy 7 opened up for me.

Unlike the university courses, In Our Time hardly has any entry level and thus it served as a great preparation and I would recommend this to everybody. First take Kierkegaard in In Our Time and then proceed to Huber Dreyfus's course at Berkeley.

More Berkeley:
The Making of Europe,
Non Violence,
Berkeley Spring 2008 has kicked off,
US History - from Civil War to Present.

More philosophy:
Philosophy Bites,
The Popperian Pathway,
Introduction to Philosophy - cuny podcast.

More In Our Time:
The Fisher King,
Albert Camus,
Victorian Pessimism.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

In Our Time

BBC's podcast In Our Time releases on a weekly basis panel discussions on a wide variety of subjects exploring the history of ideas (or the history of thought as it was termed in previous seasons). Each and every issue is very much worthwhile listening to. Host Melvyn Bragg does an absolutely superb job of leading the discussion and the program makes sure he is always accompanied by three of the best academicians in the relevant fields.

Recent episodes paid attention to Kierkegaard, portraying the philosopher and giving an excellent overview over his thinking laying the foundation to existentialism. To the Dissolution of the Monasteries, bringing us close to the era when Henry VIII disconnected the Church of England from Rome and as a part of that process managed to dismantle hundreds of monasteries all over the land, thus removing an element of the culture which was so important until the end of the Middle Ages and needed to be replaced afterwards. Lastly to Newton's Laws of Motion; how Sir Isaac took an original approach in natural philosophy while he actually wanted to engage in theology and lay the basis for physics that still serves today.

In Our Time is regularly reviewed on this blog. It can be tracked with the label In Our Time. The podcast is one of the best that is around and fit to almost all audiences. Here is a list of past reviews:

General podcast review,
King Lear,
Ada Lovelace,
The Social Contract,
Plate Tectonics,
The Fisher King,
The Charge of the Light Brigade,
Albert Camus,
The Nicene Creed,
Four humor medicine,
The Sassanian Empire,
The Fibonacci Sequence,
The Prelude,
Arabian Nights,
The Divine Right of Kings,
Mass Extinction,
Common Sense,
Siegfried Sassoon,
William of Ockham,
Joan of Arc,
Gravitational Waves,
Victorian Pessimism.

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