Monday, June 30, 2008

Reviewed this month on Anne is a Man!

Tomorrow I will bring out the updated list of reviewed podcasts, as usual on the first of the month. Before that, I would like to point out the new podcasts that were added this month.

In the category of History Podcasts:
Big Ideas (TVO), (review, site, feed)
TV lectures about various subjects on podcast.

All things Medieval, (review, site, feed)
Podcast on whatever is related to the late Middle Ages - not just dry history.

Church History, (review, site, feed)
Denominational history of the medieval Christian Church

Birth of the Modern (Arizona State University), (review, site, feed)
Podcast course covering elements of history from late Middle Ages to the early modern age.

Things We Forgot To Remember (BBC and Open University), (review, site, feed)
History podcast on how history is construed.

Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean, (review, site, feed)
History of Christianity in the early apostolic phase.

In the category of Science:
Science Friday (NPR), (review, site, feed)
Popular science program

Stem Cells: Policy and Ethics (Stanford), (review, site:Stanford on iTunes U, feed)
Five lectures covering the techniques, the research, the law and the ethical issues of stem cell research.

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What is RSS - Read Anne is a Man automatically

RSS is a technology that is being used by millions of web users around the world to keep track of their favorite websites. RSS delivers the latest posts on my blog directly to you, so that you no longer have to come browsing to Anne is a Man.

Is this better than bookmarking? Yes! If you have a site bookmarked, you do all the work. You have to go to the site to check for updates. You will see the same content over and over again and this for each of your bookmarked sites. And if you forget to check, you may miss out on new updates. In stead, RSS delivers all new updates directly to your page in the form of clickable headlines. It works like a subscription; in stead of going to the shop to buy the latest newspaper, the paper is delivered on your doorstep.

The first thing you need to do is choose an RSS reader. 30-40% of the people who have an RSS subscription to my blog use Google Reader. If you already have a Gmail or other account with Google, you can start using it right away. Setting up a new account is a matter of seconds.

The second thing is to copy the link to my feed from the blog. The link is and you can find it also under the RSS buttons and icons you may run into on blog posts or in the assistance column on the left. Copy from the text above, or click the button and copy the URL or right-click the button and copy shortcut - there are many ways to grab the link.

The next step is to copy the link to your reader. In Google Reader, you choose Add Subscription and paste the link into the field. Click the add button and you are subscribed. Add the rss link to all other sites you regularly visit and you will become much much more effective at surfing the web.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

American Civil Rights Movement

I wanted to point you to two older Berkeley lecture series, that each in their own way pay attention to the American Civil Rights Movement. I like comparative listening and I can recommend it to everybody. There are drawbacks to both series, but I also think each have their quality.

Professor Michael Nagler's lecture series about Nonviolence (PACS 164A and PACS 164B) pay extensive attention to Mahatma Gandhi, but right after that move on to Martin Luther King. Professor Jenifer Burns' History 7B, consecutively rolls through the history of the US since the civil war and allots two lectures towards the end to the civil rights movement.

There were two things new to me. I have no idea how new to Americans, but to me as a non-American even with a legal training (which means I knew both the Plessy case and the Brown case), there was some new insight to gain. First of all, it is the fact that the movement already began in the 1930's and that the building up to the Brown cases was carefully planned and prepared. The famous marches and the profound appearance of Dr. King in the 1960's, which I identified as The movement, was more of a climax. The second aspect is one I could have reconstructed myself, but for which I needed Jennifer Burns to be pointed at. Since the abolition of slavery, under Lincoln, the blacks tended to favor the Republican party (as Lincoln was a Republican) and this also counted for the strength of the Democrats in the south. In the 1960's it is Lyndon Johnson, who moves the Democrats into the principles of Civil Rights, which means a shift of the Black vote towards Democrats, but simultaneously, a losing of ground in the south which is an established fact today.

More American History:
Whittaker Chambers,
Scopes Trial,
American History before 1870,
The American Constitution's British roots - BTHP,
US History - from Civil War to Present.

More Nonviolence:
Non Violence readers,
Non Violence.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Early Christianity - podcasts review

There is a new podcast I can add to the list that gives some insight in the history of early Christianity. I have to thank Dara from DIY Scholar (a great blog about educational podcasts, other audio and other media on the web).

It is unfortunate that a most widely extending overview, delivered by a historian is no longer available on the web: MMW3 from UCSD. Why UCSD removes their podcasted lectures immediately after the closing of the course is beyond me. Maybe they think only their students are to be served, but in that respect they are alone in the world of academic podcasts. Other institutions offer a formidable backlog for us to browse from.
As to early Christianity, the content is largely delivered by theologians. The first era to discuss would be the life of Jesus, or Yeshua, himself. This is covered in The Historical Jesus, by Thomas Sheehan from Stanford (feed). Not only is this an excellent series, you can also access a lot of the source material on-line, free of charge.

The next phase is the early apostolic period. This is covered by the podcast DIY Dara pointed me to. Canadian professor Philip Harland analyzes Paul's letters, Acts and the Gospels and other sources where available in a historical reconstruction under the title Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. This is a very accessible series. Again there is a lot of theology, but the historical construction stands in the foreground.

The widest range I know of is Covenant Seminar's Church History, which kicks off with the early apostolic period, quickly moves on to the early church years and eventually ending before the Reformation. In this series the theology, doesn't necessarily overshadow the history, but the narrative and lecture carries very noticeably the Presbyterian signature of the producer.

Relevant other reviews:
Church History,
World history guided by the religions,
The Nicene Creed - IOT,
Historical Jesus - Tom Sheehan, Stanford.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

The Ethics of Stem Cell Research

I have discovered an earlier enhanced podcast from Stanford University on Stem Cells, Straight Talk About Stem Cells (feed), but I started with Stem Cells: Policy and Ethics (feed), because it by virtue of its title promised to touch upon the ethics involved - and that is where I want to get at. I have written about the subject before and bumped into a problem that roughly goes as follows: you either have an ethical podcast, that rejects Stem Cell Research on religious grounds and doesn't explain much about the technical side of it, or you have a technical podcast that implicitly approves, but doesn't discuss much in the way of justifications.

Out of the five lectures in this podcast, only the last lecture really attempted to bridge the gap, but also the first four are rather interesting just the same. To have the basic technique explained (with pictures), helps a lot. The lecture on the various regulations also was instructive. The guest lectures of one specialist and one patient who had undergone stem cell therapy, were a very instructive.

Even if there isn't much in depth ethics discussed, at least the concrete examples of techniques, research and therapies, allow for giving a good inventory and some narrowing down into very specific ethical issues. In short, of all the podcasts I have heard in this subject, this one ranks among the very best.

More bioethics:
Human rights and the body,
Life and bio-engineering - podcast review,
Bioethics without Christ, please,
A useful map into Bio-Ethics,
Stem Cell Research: Science, Ethics, and Prospects,
Stem Cells - Biology and Politics.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Arab Conquests - In Our Time review

The latest program of In Our Time talks about the Arab conquests. This is a great listen and goes very well together with a wide range of other podcasts, some of which I have reviewed and listed below.

Arabic was the language of nomadic tribes on the Arabian peninsula. The tribes were never united until the death of Mohamed. Upon their unification, they could start on a conquest, which first of all took from two neighboring empires: the Byzantines and the Persians (Sassanians - also featured in In Our Time). Throughout history, more nomadic peoples have raided into the more urbanized lands, but they either hit and run or they stayed and while ruling the land, became assimilated. Such we see barbarians turn into Romans on one side of the globe and into Chinese on another.

The Arabs, however, maintained their religion and their language and consequently, the people they ruled, adapted to them. At the expense of Christianity and Zoroastrianism, Islam took root in the Arab empire and the language of Greek, which had served as an international language since the days of Alexander was replaced by Arabic. Apart from Spain, all what was conquered remained Muslim and Arab speaking till this very day.

In Our Time brings this history in the usual elegant, accessible and concise style. More time was spent in the MMW3 lecture series by Charles Chamberlain, but unfortunately the University of San Diego has purged the feed.

More on the Arab Conquests:
Bob on Tours - history podcast review,
Europe and the Middle East,
Islam and Europe - LSE podcast review,
World history guided by the religions,
Islam meets Europe.

More In Our Time:
BBC's In Our Time (podcast review),
General review of In Our Time,
Library of Nineveh,
The Brain: A History,
Yeats, Enclosures and Materialism.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Memory and the construction of History

I was discussing Margaret MacMillan's lectures, I wrote about earlier this week, with podcaster Tony Cocks of BTHP. He pointed to another podcast. A co-production of the Open University and BBC's radio four: The Things We Forgot To Remember. Here we have yet another history podcast that is looking into how history is made.

The podcast is styled like BBC's In Our Time, as a panel discussion with specialists, but in stead of digging into an entirely new subject each week, as IOT does, The Things We Forgot to Remember has a detectable linkage between issues. Two of the episodes that are currently in the feed, deal with memories and the question how memories contribute to history. This meta-standpoint vis-a-vis history is maintained as the subject of memory is finished and the series moves on. There is a build up from the individual up to the supra-national. A returning example for analysis is how the history of the Great War was constructed. It is shown how the narratives depend on perspective, how they take on a national meaning. When, for example, a historian dared to describe his own nation as the war-monger, his work turned into the hottest controversy. Here we see what MacMillan also pointed out: where history allegedly is about sources, collecting and ordering data into a narrative, sooner or later it turns into a story with great meaning that acquires a near religious value. Invariably, that is where history as a science perishes.

More on history:
The big idea of History,
BBC's In Our Time (podcast review),
Thinking Outside the European Box,
The battle of Tours,
Islam and Europe - LSE podcast review.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Birth of the Modern - a history lecture podcast

The Arizona State University had a summer course in 2006, The Birth of the Modern, which was published as a podcast and is still available (feed). Dr. Andrew Barnes brought this exclusively as a new media course. The lectures are on podcast alone; not recordings of live lectures.

The object of the course is to take on the transition European culture made through from before the renaissance to the early modern time. It results in a couple of very interesting analyses professor Barnes makes. I have heard only six out of the thirty podcasts and can therefore not entirely assess what he does with what is proposed as a very central theme: how the Europeans deal with 'the other' (and whom they view as such). Obvious candidates in this respect are Jews, Africans, Asians, but there are more than that.

I have dropped out of this course because of two factors one has to take into account before embarking onto the course. For one the audio quality is very low. The course is from 2006 and you can hear it. In addition, despite Barnes's enthusiasm, intelligence and dedication, his monologue is hard to follow. His talk doesn't seem too structured upon initial impression and his speaking style is somewhat faltering. This is not 'infotainment'; this is a course for those who seriously want to study the subject and are ready to embark upon it with full attention.

More history podcast reviews:
History 5 - the end,
The blitz on London - Binge Thinking History,
Whittaker Chambers - History 7B,
The year 1703 - Historyzine,
World history outside the European box - MMW3.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

The big idea of History

The Canadian broadcaster TVO publishes a lecture podcast Big Ideas. If this is basically a TV program, I must say, the visuals are hardly missing, if at all. As a full audio production, it works out very well. Here I want to report one absolutely outstanding lecture by Margaret MacMillan.

MacMillan speaks in two consecutive lectures (two podcasts) about the current use of history. She observes history had less of a meaning during the Cold War, but since we have come back to a less orderly world, people are obsessed with history. We have returned to the understanding that we can and must learn from history. She notices the rise in media attention, to which we can add the fantastic amount of history podcasts around. All nice and well, but there is a catch.

She tries to warn us, we must not turn history into a religion; into a narrative that cannot be questioned and that serves to elate, teach, justify and redeem us. She cringes how history is used by the likes of George Bush, Islamists, Israeli's and Palestinians. She proposes that history should teach us to ask questions. She throws a couple of attempted historical analogues (Munich 1938, Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis etc) and manages to show how what seems to be applicable can be off and a different analogue can point into a wholly other direction.

These two lectures are a must listen to anybody who thinks about history, policy and the world and certainly for you history podcast listeners out there.

Relevant other posts:
Church History - podcast review,
Post-1945 Europe,
The Great Dictators,
Thinking Outside the European Box,
Islam and Europe - LSE podcast review.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Church History - podcast review

Covenant Seminary is a theological institution of the Presbyterian Churches of America (PCA). It delivers a podcast on Church History, which covers the history from the early apostolic period until the reformation. A lot of other podcasts give strains of information on the same subject over the same period, or parts of it, but none has the history of Christianity as its main subject.

The podcast relates that Church History is sometimes called 'the third testament'; less history, more creed. Another remark made is about historiography; in modern times history science is a matter of reconstruction and the idea of being free of value and ideology is abandoned; we need not free ourselves of religious dogma. So, while we ask the question how a small and insignificant sect of Judaism, that had 'nothing going for it', could rise to become the most successful of world religions, the podcast wouldn't want to rule out the supernatural. Other podcasts have suggested that the use of Greek and the opening up to gentiles were factors, but this is hardly considered.

Here we touch on a serious problem with this podcast. I find it to be less historic and more liturgical. It starts and ends with scripture, it starts with prayer, it doesn't rule out the supernatural, it frequently doesn't even attempt to engage in worldly explanations, but rather emphasizes the spiritual quality of the history. This podcast still touches upon the major elements of the history of Christianity in the given period, but does so with a bias it doesn't even attempt to conceal. This makes it a miss for me. I feel more at ease with great productions like Stanford's 'Historical Jesus' (Thomas Sheehan), UC San Diego's MMW3 (Charles Chamberlain) and the issue of BBC's In Our Time on the Nicene Creed to name but a few.

Relevant other reviews:
World history guided by the religions,
The Nicene Creed - IOT,
Historical Jesus - Tom Sheehan, Stanford,
The genitals of Christ (2),
The genitals of Christ (1).

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

History 5 - the end

Berkeley's History 5, faithfully reported by me this semester, is an excellent lecture series portraying the history of Europe from the renaissance to the present. The arc spans from the early rise of Europe to a point where we cannot say it is the end, but the signs look like a downfall; Europe losing more and more of its importance and weight.

The end, in the lecturer, Professor Anderson's, view shows a definitive decolonization and possibly a reverse. As to colonization, this comes to an end with not just all the European colonial powers having lost their overseas dominions, but also the final retreat of a certain imperial grip the Soviets (and the Americans if you will) have had on Europe. This I suppose, is seen by most people, but where lies the reverse?

The reverse lies herein, as Anderson puts it, after the Europeans had penetrated the rest of the world and then they had retreated, the world has begun to penetrate into Europe. First and foremost this is seen in the widely publicized rise of Islam and Arab and Turkish population in the heart of Europe. More profoundly and generally, since Europe's birth rates are low and the population is declining, Anderson tries to show, that necessarily, the continent even if it turns into an immigration area will be expected to get drained and therefore decline. Europe looks bound to lose the centrality it acquired with the renaissance.

More History 5:
Post-1945 Europe,
The Great Dictators,
New Europe, Old Europe,
Women and Freud,
Romanticism and Bismarck.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

The podcast playlist on Anne is a Man!

I could pick out one choice podcast, listened to, but what about something else? How about sharing my listening schedule with you? I'd like to show you the casts I listen to which may appear reviewed in the blog in the coming days. Provided I find something valuable to write about them.

Big Ideas
A Canadian public Radio production. A new podcast for me to try out.

The Birth of the Modern
A History course from Arizona State University. The course covers the late middle ages and the Renaissance. For those who want to listen along, I have a first tip: skip the first two introductory lectures; they contain nothing but technical and administrative matters for the students of the course.

Church History
This is a new podcast on the try-out list. I have no idea what to expect. The program looks like a thorough outline from the early years until the Middle Ages. Where the line between history and theology will be drawn and how much we are going to get from each, remains to be seen.

History according to Bob about 1000 AD
Bob's journey around the world in a little over two hours.

Existentialism in Literature and Film
Hubert Dreyfus teaching philosophy at Berkeley. I am still digesting the last lecture about Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. I have skipped the Brothers Karamazov and took an initial whiff of Nietzsche's Gay Science.

Stem Cells: Policy and Ethics
An enhanced podcast from Stanford. Part of a quest on this blog: getting some quality input in the ethics around bio-technology.

Podcasts about Euro 2008
The football podcasts are not exactly my taste, but since I am closely following the tournament in Austria and Switzerland, I cannot forgo them. I am missing The Beautiful Game, which was the best in 2006. We make do with The Guardian, the BBC and a couple of others.

On the video: one happy coach...

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jan Vrijman - Marathon Interview

Wat zegt het dat de site van de VPRO, het marathon interview dat Felix Rottenberg met Jan Vrijman (pseudoniem van Jan Hulsebos) had, bedeelt met een beschrijving van slechts een enkele zin? Andere interviews hebben een pagina-lange beschrijving en vaak ook nog een tweede pagina waarop de hoogtepunten van het interview worden vermeld. Wat zegt het? Dat het eigenlijk minder een interview was en meer een gesprek; dat het geen hoogtepunten bevatte, of dat er niet uit gehaald werd wat erin zat? Of dat de vijf uur radio zich niet lieten duiden.

Al aan het begin van de uitzending verklaart Jan dat hij een ontevreden man is. Later vertrouwt hij Felix toe dat hij een heel depressief mens is. Er blinkt een niet mis te verstane getormenteerdheid door. Misschien niet de neerslachtige tobber, maar eerder de verwarde man die eigenlijk niet precies weet waartegen in opstand te komen. Maar die kwetsbaarheid wordt in goed Nederlands weggedrukt, soms haast met geweld, zoals op het eind, wanneer allerlei verdriet naarboven komt. Felix Rottenberg kan niet anders dan het zo laten gaan. En daarbij hij wil het zo graag over linkse politiek wil hebben of andere zaken waarover Vrijman gemakkelijk formuleert. Alsof hij het precies weet, maar dan wordt hij haast boos op zichzelf: "Godverdomme! Ik klink meteen als een communist; praten over de concrete situatie en de structuren.'

Kortom, zo was mijn indruk, zo zeker was hij helemaal niet. Dat zou ook passen bij de zoeker waarmee hij zichzelf aan het begin typeert. Daarmee is het interessantst in het interview wat impliciet blijft. Dat maakt het nog niet een gemiste kans; daar kan wel meer dan een regel over geschreven worden en dat is zeker de moeite van het luisteren waard.

Hieronder een fragment uit een film die over Vrijman werd gemaakt door zijn dochter:

Meer Marathon Interviews:
Maarten van Rossem,
Louis Th. Lehmann,
Marita Mathijsen,
Ruud Lubbers,
Jan Leijten.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

1000 AD according to Bob

The most prolific of history podcasters, Bob Packett, has reached his 1000th podcast (History according to Bob) and to commemorate this milestone he has embarked on a series of shows around on theme. Bob, is big on theme shows, but usually does them interspersed with other themes. This time however, he has decided to stick to his tune and round off the theme in consecutive shows. The theme chosen, with the magic number 1000 in mind: a tour around the world in the year 1000.

One podcast a day Bob, has started Friday and by now, has hammered through five episodes, reaching far, but not yet finishing, though I reckon he will need no more than two or three additional episodes. And then you will be able to listen to more than two hours worth of traveling at break neck speed from Africa, to the Americas through the Pacific, Asia and Europe. As usual, Bob is so fast, I cannot keep up with him, but since podcasts drop out of his feed rather quickly, I have downloaded them all as a preemptive measure.

My first listening experience was the kick off in Africa. In the same episode he goes through the Americas, so there is a huge and rather unknown world of tribal cultures and extinct and nearly forgotten empires to touch upon. So, the attention is brief and each culture on the list deserves more than the mere mention, but having them mentioned at all in podcast is to be treasured. I like the overview and want to see where Bob is going to take it.

More History according to Bob:
The battle of Tours,
The Franks,
Virginia Oldoini
Alexander the Great,
Special acclaim for Bob Packett,
History according to Bob.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

All things Medieval - podcast review

Jim Mowatt of the Historyzine podcast drew my attention to another history podcast named ATM (or: All Things Medieval). As the title suggest; this is a podcast dedicated to the Middle Ages. The host, a Sir Justyn, narrows this down to the period of the eleventh to sixteenth century, what I would call the High Middle Ages, or the Late Middle Ages.

More than a history podcast, I'd characterize this show as a fan, or hobby podcast. This is justified by the name and the content of the show. Sir Justyn speaks of all things related to this period and things could be almost anything, whatever Middle Ages fans and hobbyists would like.

It is my impression, the podcast originated from the middle ages reenactment scene, more specifically in Australia, where Sir Justyn is from, but personally I know these scenes to exist all over the world and have found myself to be a guest in one of them in the Netherlands. Consequently, the areas of interest spill into all corners. Not just the narratives about the Middle Ages (including fiction in books and film), but also specifics like customs, costumes, food, language and on and on.

The result is a varied show with information, not just about history, but also about events, news, museums, expositions, storytelling and also interviews with a range of guests. A similar podcast would be Tudorcast, which is a theme podcast with all items around the Tudor period in English history.

More Historyzine:
The year 1703,
On admirals and more,
18th Century Warfare,
Spanish Succession and History Podcasts.

More Tudorcast:
Tudorcast review.

More Middle Ages:
The Kingdom of Ghana,
Bob on Tours - history podcast review,
Islam and Europe - LSE podcast review,
Gupta History - podcast review,
World history guided by the religions.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

BBC's In Our Time (podcast review)

One of my all time favorite podcasts is BBC's In Our Time. I apologize to readers who hope to see my review during the week the podcast is out. I usually listen then, but not always see what to write and schedule in time. The drawback is that after a week, the podcast is replaced by the next one and the former can only be listened to in stream (see archive).

Here is a short overview of the last four issues, since the last review I wrote:

The Black Death; the plague reduced the European populace, but what other traces did it leave behind. More on not just the economic effect of the epidemic.

Heads or Tails; an issue for the mathematically inclined. Statistics are a rather new chapter in mathematics and though it grew out of gambling, its seriousness today makes it indispensable.

Trofim Lysenko; Science under Stalin. How a totalitarian regime makes and breaks scientists.

The riddle of the sands; relations between the English and the Germans pre-1914, both politically as well as culturally.

More In Our Time:
General review of In Our Time,
Library of Nineveh,
The Brain: A History,
Yeats, Enclosures and Materialism,
King Lear.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Nirvana and the Brain

Some time ago I reported about the podcast My Three Shrinks. This podcast is linked with a blog named Shrink Rap, so that it gets easily mixed up with Shrink Rap Radio, the psychology podcast by David van Nuys. For a psychiatry podcast and a psychology podcast to exist with such entangled names and range of subjects, they were bound to meet one day and so they did. Van Nuys took the initiative and invited the three psychiatrist onto Shrink Rap Radio show #156. Dinah, Roy and Clink Shrink took their friendly banter with them and the result was likewise.

Another fine issue of Shrink Rap Radio I heard recently was "Nirvana and the Brain", a fascinating interview with brain scientist Dr. Jill Taylor. What makes Taylor and especially interesting guest to speak on the brain, is that she suffered a stroke, which knocked out part of her brain, forcing her into a recovery track that took nearly a decade. Yet, the stroke did not just cause suffering. Taylor relates also the bliss it brought. Van Nuys tracked her through a video on TED that I link up below.

More Shrink Rap Radio
Psychoanalysis - Shrink Rap radio review,
Conscious Living,
The Happiness Hypothesis,
Sign language for babies,
Doll Work and what with the brain,

More My Three Shrinks:
Conversion Therapies,
My Three Shrinks Podcast.

More TED
Karen Armstrong,
Ben Dunlap. (highly recommended)

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

The blitz on London - BTHP review

The Binge Thinking History Podcast suffered a long spell of podblock - writer's block for podcasters. The podcast is intent on bringing an episode a month, but couldn't deliver for two months. Host Tony Cocks managed to overcome his creative blockade and two days ago delivered the next installment.

This is supposed to be the penultimate episode about the Battle of Britain. We were served a last chapter of facts and figures and are expected to analyze and draw conclusions in the next edition. The battle has been coined by Churchill (audio fragment on the show) as the war in which a narrow victory was won and never 'so many owed so much to so few', but the question has been raised and is warranted by all means, how decisive and pivotal the bravery of the air men have been. And how close did they come to defeat?

Cocks's execution this episode is superb. The introductory overview of the battle so far, helps to pick up, where we left off and as usual his great voice and captivating story telling is making for a good listen. His use of sound effects and audio fragments is better than ever and gives for a real radio feel.

Previously about BTHP:
Battle of Britain,
The American Constitution's British roots.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Whittaker Chambers - lecture podcast review

History 7b, the Berkeley lecture series about American History after the Civil War, has its highs and lows. Professor Jennifer Burns lectures with an accompanying Power Point presentation and to the dynamic of the lecture this can be detrimental. There are more lecture podcasts that suffer from this, most notably the National Archives Podcast, where the talk turns into an unstructured droning, punctuated by the visuals unavailable to the podcast listener.

Burns' series has this occasional lapse, but is, contrary to those moments, at times very strong, especially when a large part of the lecture is dedicated to spelling out a case in point to describe the period at hand. An example of such was the lecture about the twenties, illustrated by the Scopes Trial and this is the case again, when Burns wants to paint the picture of the atmosphere and dynamics of the early fifties in the US with its communist scare.

The story she uses as a case in point is that of Whittaker Chambers. Chambers renounced communism in the thirties, testified to having run a spy network, but was left forgotten until the renewed red scare in the fifties. The case came back and his testimony marked the downfall of Alger Hiss and the rise of Richard Nixon. Burns is very effective to make the tormented and uneasy character of Chambers come to life and manages to plug this into the drama with Hiss and Nixon. Very entertaining and very instructive.

More American History:
Scopes Trial,
American History before 1870,
The American Constitution's British roots - BTHP,
US History - from Civil War to Present.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Guantanamo Bay - Global Geopolitics podcast review

Now that the US Supreme Court has decided that the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their detention in federal court, our attention is, for a moment at least, back on this piece of Cuba. It always bothered me: how can the US have a naval base on Cuba - they are enemies, or at least not the best of friends. From a quick look at Wikipedia I learn, the base has been there, ever since 1903 or so. How did that work during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

I always pictured Guantanamo as something in Cuba's periphery. An island off the coast - even if it is called a bay. But in the Global Geopolitics podcast (feed) Professor Martin Lewis shows a map of Guantanamo Bay. The bay is on the main land of Cuba. And the US base, doesn't even surround the entire bay; it is on the entrance to the bay. A deeper section of the bay is Cuban, Bahia de Guantánamo. The case gets more and more peculiar.

The map of the bay is only a tiny section of the lecture, which deals with the geopolitical situation in entire Latin America.

More Global Geopolitics:
Descriptive and prescriptive mapping,
Global Geopolitics - Martin Lewis.

More Martin Lewis:
A listener's guide to Geography of World Cultures,
Geography of World Cultures by Martin W. Lewis.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Vrolijk voortmopperen

In het marathon interview dat Djoeke Veninga op oudejaarsavond opnam, maakt de geinterviewde Maarten van Rossem een fascinerende relativerende opmerking over zijn eigen ironische inslag. Het zoeken naar de ironische toon, kan ook inhouden dat je probeert je er met een grapje van af te maken. Dat is ook een manier van niet tot de kern doordringen. Impliciet zit daarin verborgen dat de ironie naar voren halen ook een manier kan zijn om juist wel te verdiepen. Maar je kan het dus overdrijven.

Vlak na het nieuwe jaar werd het gesprek uitgezonden en nog veel langer duurde het voor het als podcast beschikbaar werd. De marathon interviews van de VPRO vormen prachtig materiaal, maar de feed wordt op onregelmatige tijden gevuld. Het is een kwestie van regelmatig kijken of er al weer wat nieuws is. Het interview met Van Rossem maakt deel uit van de serie van 2008.

Ik had toevallig niet zo lang geleden een opname (CD, geen podcast) van een paar hoorcolleges van Van Rossem gehoord. Hij gaf les over Amerika en maakte daar een opmerking die een voorbeeld is van wat hij bedoelt; hoe je je er met een grap af kan maken. Hij gebruikte de Scopes rechtszaak, waarin een biologieleraar wordt aangeklaagd omdat hij evolutie leert, om de religiositeit van de Amerikanen te typeren en ook een beetje belachelijk te maken. Maar wie zich verdiept in de Scopes zaak, ontdekt dat het gewraakte leerboek ook een onversneden eugenetica propageerde. Dus Amerikanen zijn niet alleen maar dom als ze zich daar over opwinden.

In veel opzichten is het interview een uitbouw van de hoorcolleges. Van Rossem is vooral op dreef als historicus. Minder genegen is hij om over zichzelf en zijn persoonlijk leven te spreken. Al komt het wel aan de orde en daar blijkt dat hij uit een familie komt die dezelfde soort van praters zijn als hij. Die houden van vrolijk voortmopperen. Zo is het hoorcollege ook en zo gaat het interview eveneens. Heel onderhoudend, zolang de ironie geen vlucht wordt.

Meer Marathon Interviews:
Louis Th. Lehmann,
Marita Mathijsen,
Ruud Lubbers,
Jan Leijten,
Bertus Hendriks.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Post-1945 Europe

Our next phase in History 5 is the second world war and the resulting redefinition of Europe but first, and again, Munich 1938. In the previously mentioned lectures, Anderson ended with a short apology about Munich 1938. In the first we comment on here, she makes her case more solidly and the apology comes out more mixed. 1938 had the world in a conundrum. The fix was not easily found. Not found after all and the largest war ever erupted.

By the end of the war, Europe was in shambles. Not only that, Europe had lost central power in the world. If it was still center-stage, it was because the new powers flexed their muscles here. Europe was carved up in Soviet and American spheres of influence and in many ways, Europe turned from colonizers to colonies, two sets of colonies with Germany firmly stuck in the split middle, cut in two itself.

So was its capital Berlin and here the Cold War was played out in mere square kilometers. The Soviets blockaded West-Berlin, to no avail. They built the wall, with slightly more avail. And while we began to think the wall would last our life times, it crumbled, almost suddenly. Thus ended the three wars that tore Europe down, the cataclysms that reduced the center of the world to periphery. For now.

Lectures Circles of Hell (mp3) and The Colonialization of Europe (mp3).

More History 5:
The Great Dictators,
New Europe, Old Europe,
Women and Freud,
Romanticism and Bismarck,
Capitalism and Socialism.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Louis Th. Lehmann - Marathon Interview

Een aaneenschakeling van aforismen en intellectueel op het verkeerde been gezet worden. Ik kan het wel waarderen, kan ervan genieten, maar kan het geen 5 uur aan een stuk uithouden. Het Marathon Interview met Louis Lehmann is er een om in stukjes te genieten - niet in een gehele, lange zit.

"Als dit een interview was," verklaart Lehmann in de uitzending, "dan zat ik hier niet." Wat is er dan mis met een interview? Lehmann legt de vinger op de pijnlijke plek. Interviewers kennen hun subject niet, hebben geen boeken gelezen en verder is het interview toch alleen maar om ongezonde nieuwsgierighied te bevredigen. Waarom zit hij dan toch hier? De interviewer Wim Noordhoek is een bekende, dus die heeft wel weet van de man tegenover hem en komt niet met de obligate nieuwsgierighied, mag je hopen. Het is merkbaar dat Noordhoek en Lehmann goede bekenden zijn, maar het draagt niet overal bij tot de kwaliteit van het interview, want dat is het uiteindelijk toch wel.

Verder verklaart Lehmann dat hij niet is opgevoed, maar 'neergevoed' en omschrijft hij zijn huis als de verschrikkelijkste plek van zijn leven -- of iets dergelijks. Je wordt er een beetje duizelig van, ik wel. Het is ontegenzeggelijk prikkelend en komisch en bij tijd en wijle verrassend diep, of verrassend raak. Wat te denken bijvoorbeeld van Lehmann's haast terloopse opmerking dat de grootste bedreiging voor de mensheid het moslemfundamentalisme is. Let wel, het is 1990. Hoe dan ook, dit is een terzijde in weer een ironie. Ironische terzijdes te over.

Meer Marathon Interviews:
Marita Mathijsen,
Ruud Lubbers,
Jan Leijten,
Bertus Hendriks,
Gerrit Wagner.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Podcast listening for Beginners (4)

In the first post in this series, I gave the shortest way to listening to a podcast: clicking on it in the web and playing it in your browser or media player.
In the second, I explained how you can download and store podcast files.
In the third, you were guided through downloading and installing iTunes - the easiest and most wildely used all-round application for finding, downloading and listening to podcasts.

Now that you have iTunes installed on your computer, behind the scenes something very important has happened: this application can be called any time. This helps you when you find a podcast on-line. You may notice a button that allows to 'subscribe through iTunes'. This means, by clicking the button, you will call iTunes and you will automatically be subscribed to the podcast. As of that moment, iTunes will know when there are new episodes of this podcast and will automatically download the latest (or do something else, according to the preferences you set).
The buttons look like this:
or this:

Alternatively, you may find a link that says 'iTunes', 'subscribe through iTunes' or 'direct subscription'. Clicking these will have the very same effect: iTunes is called and the takes care, automatically of subscription.

If you hover over these links or buttons, you will come to recognize the link, which is that they link to Other subscribe links will look different and only in exceptional circumstances call iTunes. More likeley are they going to link you through to an XML file, or to feedburner. However, also these subscription links can be used with iTunes, only not automatically. Nevertheless, after having applied them manually in iTunes, the effect will be the same as described before: you will be subscribed and iTunes will download the latest episode, when it comes in.

Here is how you subscribe manually to a podcast in iTunes: right-click the subscription link and copy it (in Internet Explorer choose copy shortcut and in FireFox copy link location). Then open iTunes and choose Advanced | subscribe to podcast... from the menu. In the next dialog, paste the link and click OK. Thus, you have manually subscribed to a podcast.

Once you have experienced this way of getting to podcasts, you will not bother with the previously described approaches. As an additional advantage, podcasts arrived at this way, will be organized by iTunes, in the podcast folder, giving you a very friendly and accessible overview.

Downloading and installing iTunes,
Downloading audio files from the web,
Listening on line.

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