Thursday, July 31, 2008

New podcasts reviewed on Anne is a Man in July 2008

Tomorrow I will publish 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:
History Compass Blog (review, site, feed)
Writers are telling in short about what article they have written in the History Compass

Fact or Fiction (review, site, feed)
History stuff for the history buff.

Oxford Biographies (review, site, feed)
Spoken biographies in seven to fifteen minutes, mostly on on lesser known people.

Historicast (review, site, feed)
A short monologue style podcast with inserted audio fragments.

Backstory (review, site, feed)
A panel of historians discuss the background story of an item in the news.

Ancient History - Alternative Theories (review, site, feed)
Esoteric reconstruction of ancient history.

Pope Podcast (review, site, feed)
A one by one, pope by pope history of the papacy.

German Cultural History  (review, site, feed)
Fascinating musings about Medieval German Culture and its earliest roots.

Politics and Warfare (UCSD)  (review, site, feed)
Political science course exploring explanations of the first world war and others.

Podcast history of cooking (review, site, feed)
Jesse Browner's fascinating journey through the history of our diet, from prehistory until today.

In the category of Science:
Straight talk about stem cells (Stanford) (review, site, feed)
Technology, law and ethics around stem cell research.

In the category of Geography Podcasts:
Iran Podcast (review, site, feed)
Three minute installments telling tidbits of Iranian culture, mostly about the festival of Noruz.

In the category of Arts and Culture Podcasts:
Forgotten Classics (review, site, feed)
Listen to Julie reading from her classics and other selected texts.

Naxos Classical Music Spotlight Podcast (review, site, feed)
Promotional podcast for Naxos records.

Schlaflos in Muenchen (review, site, feed)
The legendary audio blog  by Annik Rubens.

In the category of Religion and Spiritualiy Podcasts:
Time Out for Truth (review, site, feed)
New Age philosophy on how to live the good life, by examples of a lot of movies

Escaped from the big list in earlier versions:
Theories of Law and Society (review, site, feed)
A lawyer's encounter with Durkheim, Weber and Marx.

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I love to get new podcast recommendations. You can let your preferences  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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Delenda Carthago - Dan Carlin's Hardcore History review

The latest of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is the first in an apparently two part series about the Punic Wars. In this edition Dan makes it from the early confrontations between Rome and Carthage to the second Punic war after Hannibal has crossed the Alps.

For history podcast listeners this is a real gem. There is a lot of comparative material around in podcast land. (See my post about Roman History in podcasts) One of the best comparisons is Stanford's Patrick Hunt and his Hannibal series (feed) and Dan shows his great knowledge, because he effectively sums up what Hunt needs some 5 hours of lectures for. And Dan does more. He describes the build up to the wars and he projects forward what the outcome and importance will be: Rome will be victorious and emerge as a world power.

As usual Dan improves on regular history podcast with his engaged way of telling the story, revealing the importance and bringing to life the drama. I cannot wait for the next installment to come out.

On a side note: Patrick Hunt may hit the news in the coming months. He spends the summer in the Alps digging for traces of Hannibal's trek over the Alps. If you have followed his series, you know he has a strong case for his hypothesis which pass Hannibal took and you know he finally has the permits to do the archeology. When he has his finds, National Geographic will be the first to know and publish about it. Stand by.

More Dan Carlin:
Under the Influence,
and Dan Carlin praises Anne is a Man!

More Patrick Hunt:
Hannibal in the end,
Ten discoveries that rewrote history,
Patrick Hunt on Hannibal (and more),
Hannibal Barca on the couch,
Where did Hannibal cross the Alps?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Human Trafficking - UChannel podcast review

A lecture at the Council of Foreign Relations about Slavery in the Supply Chain, delivered by Mark Lagon, of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State, was published recently on the UChannel Podcast (also known as University Channel Podcast). The exploitation of people in various forms of labor is of all times and the differences in riches and the demands of economy and in some ways globalization actually encourage slavery and the trafficking of persons. Mark Lagon addresses this problem and talks of the influence of consumers and the industry. If consumers are not ready to buy tuna, when dolphins could have been hurt, the same can go for for example chocolate, when slavery was used somewhere down the supply chain.

In spite of there being laws, slavery exists still and what is needed is what Lagon calls 'good corporate citizenship' in addition to the rule of law. He gives examples from companies such as Gap, Lexus Nexus and Coca Cola and how they are involved in taking action against slavery. His choice of words is very policy-like, I would say; it is about 'monitoring systems' in the private sector and laws and NGO's doing their jobs, about hot-lines and more general examples of instruments that are in place. All is very well, but instruments that are in place are not necessarily being used, or being effective.

As a listener I felt the need for explicit talk. There was one example of Gap stopping a contract with a sweat shop in India, because of its involvement in child labor. The larger part of the podcast is dedicated to Lagon's answers to questions and though the questions are good, Lagon just doesn't manage to turn into an engaged and convincing speaker. Is that symptomatic for the fight against exploitation: a lot seems to be undertaken, but it doesn't sound engaged and convincing?

More UChannel:
Iran 2009,
The denials of yesterday,
Nuts and bolts of empire,
Islam meets Europe,
The rise and demise of Palestine.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Giordano Bruno - Het zwijgen opgelegd

OVT's martelaren bespreekt Giordano Bruno (1548 - 1600), de Italiaanse proto-wetenschapper die als ketter door de Romeinse Inquisitie naar de brandstapel wordt gestuurd. Hij zou als ter dood veroordeelde allang vergeten zijn, als hij niet in de negentiende eeuw was herontdekt en het odium kreeg aangemeten als een van de eerste martelaars van de wetenschap. Hoewel je de negentiende eeuwse opvatting van wetenschap maar met moeite kan toepassen op de vrijdenker uit de Renaissance.

Het is weer leuk, net als de aflevering over Socrates. Ondanks de kanttekeningen die gezet worden bij de toepasselijkheid van moderne opvattingen op Bruno, ook in de uitzending raakt hij zijn symbolische waarde niet kwijt. Want in welk vat je het gedachtengoed van Bruno ook giet, zelfs al zou hij niet meer dan een obscure occultist zijn, dan nog blijft hij zijn symboliek behouden. En dat komt door het Katholieke establishment dat er alles aan doet om de eenling en zijn gedachtengoed te onderdrukken.

Het is zelfs niet genoeg dat ze hem na acht jaar inquisitoir proces eindelijk op de brandstapel krijgen. Ook in onze tijd, wanneer hij wordt herontdekt en zijn moderne bewonderaars een standbeeld van hem in Rome plaatsen (met het gezicht naar het Vaticaan), staat de Kerk op zijn achterste benen. Het dreigt de pauselijke zetel uit Rome te verplaatsen, maar vangt bot elders in Europa en blijft in de eeuwige stad achter, aangestaard door de stenen blik van de ketter Giordano Bruno vanaf Campo dei Fiori.

(Photo by Joshua Corey)

Meer OVT:
Maria Stuart,
Jeanne d'Arc,
Hoeren en Agenten.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Out for Truth - Spiritual podcast review

When listening to the Time Out for Truth podcast, I think of a friend who once told me she believed in the infinity of sources. In her opinion, when searching for insight (or wisdom for that matter), anything can be a source. If you can learn something from a book, that is no less than from a poem, or a dream, or a religious tradition, or a tarot session, a horoscope and on and on. In that respect, for her, it didn't matter whether the sources that are used together, do not recognize each other. Or even, if you use a source in way that it doesn't sanction itself.

Time Out for Truth claims to tap into sources in much the same fashion. In its own words: "The Golden Thread of Truth weaves its way throughout the centuries. It flows through books and speakers and systems, yet no one can claim a monopoly -- no one owns it." Host Tom Russell and his book and his site, Super Wisdom, deliver his outlook on life, combining the various sources and applying them to practical life. He uses books, films and psychological and esoteric practices as tangible sources in the podcast. The object is to help the listener to lead a purposeful and fulfilling life. As a source, this podcast goes as well as any other and has a lot of practical and spiritual insights to offer to each one who chooses to give it a try.

Looking into the roots of host Tom Russell and his views, I found out he is a student of the American spiritual teacher Vernon Howard. Howard's sources, as presented by Wikipedia are: Christian and Eastern mysticism, Gurdjieffian Fourth Way teachings, the Gospels of the New Testament, Jungian psychology and American Transcendentalism. In this respect, Russell is very similar to many modern spiritual teachers I have run into. Just like my friend, he taps into any source he can and uses the most readily available, such as Christian traditions, modern psychology, but also other tradition as Gurdjief's that have had their hype once, but are rarely directly referred to these days.

So, what kind of teachings from the wide variety that are available these days are you about to expect? Let's compare it with another podcast: Eric Maisel's Your Purpose Centered Life. Both YPCL as TOFT stand in that modern multiverse of teachings, they show you how to get the best of your life borrowing from the wide variety of sources available to us. Eric Maisel is more tended towards rationalism, atheism and psychology. Tom Russell openly refers to Christ, showing a more believing inclination. His approach is also more mystic than rationalist. Personally I lean in both directions and together with them, I take my pick from standing traditions as well as you can see in the list of Religion and Spirituality Podcasts.

Infinity of sources, yeah, that works for me.

More YPCL:
Authentic Living,
Subjective Meaning,
The purpose centered life.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Schlaflos in Muenchen - podcast review

My native language is Dutch. On a daily basis I constantly switch between my native tongue and English and Hebrew and somehow, I manage not to get them awfully mixed up, although it is a delicate balancing act. I used to be fluent in German, but for lack of use, I do not speak or write it any more and whenever I try, my balancing act with the three other languages get disturbed. I am a three ball juggler. Ask me to juggle four and all of the balls end up on the floor.

My passive mastery of German has remained the same though and this means that for listening to podcasts, German podcasts come in Frage. Occasionally I go for a news or sports podcast in German, if the content is somehow unique and cannot be had otherwise, but nothing serious enough for this blog. I did however, very much want to at least get acquainted with the legendary, much referred to on The Word Nerds, German podcast Schlaflos in München. This podcast deserves a review and consistent with my principle to blog in the podcast's language, I should review Schlaflos in German. But I do not want to make a fool of myself and end up with four balls on the floor and egg on my face. So I chicken out to English. Tut mir Leid.

Schlaflos in München is a witty, paced and entertaining audio blog by host Annick Rubens, a thirty something inhabitant of Munich who makes podcast at night when she cannot sleep, oder so heisst es. In the last episode the major subjects on the show are a book review and an interview, but other than that, she also treats the listeners with a staccato banter and attention to the listening community consisting of answering voice mails. Annick is sharp and funny and that is the major quality of the show. Her qualities as an interviewer were a tad less. Her conversation with a weathered Twitter user, was easy to follow for me, because I know and use Twitter, otherwise I would have been at a loss. Even if the guest says that Twitter cannot be explained and must be experienced, one can still venture into some more description, I guess.

In any case, SiM is a podcast I am going to give an occasional listen to.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

We want Obama - Open Source and Economist

My podcast source for the American elections, The Economist's blog  Democracy in America, which is included in The Economist's podcast, is joined by the podcast Open Source with two issues. Somehow, it is all about Obama. It seems McCain is but a candidate; Obama is a phenomenon, not just a national phenomenon, he is a phenomenon of supranational proportions. He triggers fascination in all worlds and it's who he is and what his person stands for, rather than his politics that make him so.

On The Economist, Bill Barnard addresses this in the most straightforward way: Obama represents a minority and the chances a man from the minorities has in a great democracy to achieve the highest office. If you think this is about race, nobody agrees. This reaches further. On Open Source, Anthony Barnett and Kanishk Taroor, characterize Obama as 'metro-racial', a product of the endless intermingling that is so modern. No matter how you call it, Obama is attributed the magic of hope that appeals to everybody, all over the world, and by virtue of that alone is the most mesmerizing candidate, comparable to John F. Kennedy in 1960.

George Lakoff, continues on Open Source to analyze Obama's strength from the perspective of brain science. He basically explains in terms of the mechanics of our brain what is described in more emotional terms above. But to my taste he goes slightly over the top. I can't go along with his conjecture Obama finally does right what Reagan did right before him and what the Democrats have done wrong for decades. If it were so crude, you can not explain why the last elections were decided by tiny margins rather than land slide victories.

In any case, magic of Barack Obama is so strong, the podcasts cannot hide, even if they try, their profound preference for his election.

More Open Source:
The end of Hegemony,
Go for a walk with Open Source.

More from the Economist:
Getting comfortable with Obama,
Democracy in America - podcast review,
Issues of Race,
The primary system,
The Economist in New Hampshire.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Win, lose or draw - BTHP review

The Binge Thinking History Podcast has reached the concluding episode about the Battle of Britain. After having recounted the history of the battle, host Tony Cocks takes on the compelling questions that come up with the battle. How pivotal was it after all? How much of a serious threat has it been and how much of an effect did it have on the rest of the Second World War?

BTHP shows a very intelligent quality in this episode. All of these questions are taken on and conclusions are drawn and well supported. This is a true history podcast and top notch at that.

So what about the battle? I would not want to give too much away of this podcast, I can only beg you to go and listen. I can disclose the bottom-line though. Even if the Battle of Britain was not too big of a battle and even if the Germans were not hell bent on actually defeating, let alone invade Britain, Cocks argues that the British victory had an important effect. Both tactically as well as symbolically, it kept the western front open and allowed an allied victory in Western Europe in the end. In addition, he makes a point how the importance stretched even beyond the Second World War.

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

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Through the Stomach - History podcast review

The Podcast History of Cooking is a new and very promising history podcast (feed). Maker Jesse Browner takes on history with the subject that has been with us for ever: preparing our food. Even if not all food preparation is cooking, this history goes way back, much further than written history, as Browner makes a point. Sure, but how to find out what the cooking was? Another direction he takes, is even more ambitious: cooking as a measure of history; he assumes our cooking represents the direction our history takes, sometimes earlier and more accurately than for example politics, economy or war.

When speaking of food in earliest times, we have to rely on supposition. Browner criticizes a widely accepted assumption that the pre-historic diet was bland, monotonous and simple. I find his point very convincing. Man, throughout history, is no less smart, inventive and curious than today and consequently, there is no reason whatsoever to assume anything other than that early man applied all his technologies he had access to, and all the edible stuff he could find, in his cooking. In rich environments such as the Mediterranean and the Middle East, this would have resulted in a varied, tasty and rich diet.

Browner is a novelist and has attended well to his text. In addition he reads it out carefully with good intonation and tempo. The two episodes that are available thus far, take twenty minutes each. This is a very good length for a podcast that consists of a text that is read out. All of this results in a very professional and very effectively produced podcast. I am very excited to find out more about history through the stomach.

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Maria Stuart - OVT's martelaren

Maria (Mary) Stuart werd geboren op de troon van Schotland. Ze was de volgende in lijn om op de Engelse troon te komen. Maar ze was Katholiek. Op een wat rommelige wijze bespreekt OVT hoe het hoofd van Maria onder de bijl kwam.

Er mag iets meer nagedacht worden bij OVT hoe het gesprek geprepareerd en gestroomlijnd wordt. Ik wijs maar weer eens naar In Our Time, waar de BBC een prachtige standaard neerzet. Je kan je gespecialiseerde gasten vrijlaten en tegelijkertijd proberen naar een conclusie te werken. Of een aantal punten die aan het eind duidelijk moeten zijn. In het gesprek over Maria Stuart leek dat te ontbreken.

Natuurlijk wordt er zinvol over de geschiedenis gediscussieerd en er wordt wel wat duidelijk over de intriges, over het proces en de executie en over de persoon Mary Stuart. Maar er werd voor mijn gevoel niets afgerond. En hoewel het humoristisch was om een geluidsfragment van Monty Python te krijgen en het best aardig was om Fik Meijer de vergelijking met Romeinse koningsdrama's te horen trekken, aan de lijn van de discussie droeg het niet bij. OVT blijft een prachtig programma en de serie over beroemde executies is een heel origineel en prikkelend onderwerp, maar zo goed als de eerste uitzending over Socrates is het tot nu toe niet meer geworden.

Meer OVT:
Jeanne d'Arc,
Hoeren en Agenten,

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hildegard von Bingen - Naxos podcast review

Naxos Classical Music Spotlight Podcast is a promotional podcast from Naxos to pay attention to the Classical music albums they release. The podcasts bring great music with explanations on the side which touch upon music and the biographies of the musicians and composers. As a consequence, this can turn into a veritable history podcast, such as the issue about Hildegard von Bingen.

Hildegard von Bingen (1098 - 1179) was what in the Middle Ages would go for 'well versed in the arts' and this meant not only that she composed music, as can be heard on the podcast and the promoted album, but also that she wrote extensively on whatever subject. She was engaged in medicine, science and literature, to name but a few. She turned into an influential spiritual woman in her time in Central Europe. The podcast tries to emphasize how exceptional this was for a woman, but by all means this was exceptional for any person of the time.

Neurologists (among others Oliver Sacks) suppose her 'visions' were actually bouts of migraine and in addition to the religious pertinence, she turned them into creativity. She wrote poetry, invented language and on. Eventually the podcast is not a history podcast and refrains from too much embedding in the history. In stead, the marvels of her life are narrated and must stand on their own. Nevertheless, as a snapshot of the Middle Ages, it serves quite well.

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Bram de Swaan - Marathon Interview

Bram (Abram) de Swaan was te gast in Het Gebouw in 1990. Het marathon interview met hem werd afgenomen door Geert Mak. De twee zijn voornamelijk politiek en maatschappelijk geinteresseerd en daardoor werd het een gesprek over grote onderwerpen, meer dan over het persoonlijke - al probeert de redactie er door middel van Cor Galis wel om te vragen.

We komen natuurlijk wel wat te weten. Bijvoorbeeld dat de familie De Swaan de oorlog overleefde in de onderduik. Kleine Bram werd in de oorlog geboren en als tien maanden oude baby in een gastgezin ondergebracht. Over zijn onderduikouders zegt hij niet al te veel, maar wel dit: 'waarschijnlijk konden ze op het kritieke moment geen smoes verzinnen waarom niet en dus toen zaten ze met die baby opgescheept.' Let op het woord waarschijnlijk. Hij heeft het ze niet gevraagd, of hij wil niets specifieks over hen zeggen.

Waar het hem om gaat is de banaliteit van het goede: goede mensen zijn niet degenen die het goede zoeken, of heldhaftig op zich nemen, maar die er niet onderuit konden komen en vooruit dan maar met de geit. Nee, als er al een held in het verhaal is, is het het achtjarige pleegzusje dat de hele oorlog met de grote mensen heeft moeten meeliegen en dat feilloos gedaan heeft.

Dit soort algemeenheden en veilig op afstand praten kenmerken het gesprek. Minder intiem dan andere interviews, maar door de thematiek wel heel interessant.

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

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Forgotten Classics - podcast review

I am not a good audience for audiobooks, I guess. I have tried my ears on a couple of stories and books read on podcast and it never really worked for me. It could be because of the fact I had to listen to prose read in a non-native language to me (I tried English and German), but it could also be, I am more a listener to lectures after all. I have a couple of good reasons to review a listen-to-prose podcast anyway: Forgotten Classics. (feed)

I think the reading was done quite well, so if you are in to this kind of podcast, here is one I can recommend. In addition, the podcast contains an introductory and closing section in which the host, Julie, addresses her audience with whatever is on her mind. This gives for a very warm, community feel to the podcast, just as David van Nuys establishes on Shrink Rap Radio. Like Dr. Dave, Julie is very good at creating the intimate atmosphere that makes you feel at home in her show.

The most important reason to attend to Forgotten Classics, is that Julie gives listening tips for the podcast addicts such as you and me. She picks from the widest range of podcasts possible and seems to fulfill the reviewer and advisory role, not just also for her listeners, but also for her family members. So, there is some to find for everyone. More than that, also on the blog that goes along with the podcast, she reports on her findings in podcasts. So, this podcast and blog is a treasure trove for new podcast finds, even if it points you back to Anne is a Man. (Thanks Julie!)

More listen to stories/books/poetry podcasts:
Celtic Myth Podshow,
Sonic Society,
Irving Poetry,

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Brigitte Kaandorp - Simek podcast recensie

Ik had mijn verwachtingen van Simeks interview met Sieto en Marijke Hoving (audio), de eminences grises van het Nederlandse Cabaret. Ik merk vrijwel altijd dat juist de oudere gasten in interview programma's het goed doen. Maar de Hovings spreken in algemeenheden en maken in Simek een drammer los, die bijna schreeuwt om anecdotes, maar ze in de eerste twintig minuten niet krijgt en langer dan dat kon ik het niet volhouden.

Leuker was dan het interview met Brigitte Kaandorp (audio) en dat juist tegen de verwachtingen in. Het gaat om een opname die gemaakt is voor publiek en daar gaat het met cabaretiers juist vaak mis, Kaandorp niet in de laatste plaats. Ook zonder publiek, maar zeker met publiek komt onverbiddelijk de komiek naar boven en ontaardt het interview in een conferance. Zo gaat het vaak althans.

Met Kaandorp gaat het eigenlijk ook die kant op, maar op de een of andere manier weet de Simek magie, met zijn intuitieve directheid er toch een luisterevenement van te maken. Hij is toch de enige Nederlandse interviewer die met openlijk flirten weg kan komen. En Kaandorp, ook al windt ze hem om haar vinger, laat toch ook wel het een en ander van zichzelf zien in dit ongebreidelde experiment op radiogebied.

Meer Simek op dit blog:
Heleen Mees, Maarten van Roozendaal,
Barbara van Beukering, Gert Dumbar,
Jaap van der Zwan,
Lucie Stepanova,
Olaf Tempelman.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Indus Valley Civ - Engines of Our Ingenuity

The Engines of Our Ingenuity podcast usually touches upon technology. It looked rather strange and out of style it would pay attention to the Indus Valley Civilization. Nevertheless, I was inclined irresistibly to listen. The Indus Valley Civ is one of my favorite mysteries. One of those blind spots in my history knowledge I feel I must learn more about.

How much can you learn from a three minute podcast? It is a surprise how much indeed. And this befits the profound quality of this podcast series: every issue takes less than five minutes and every issue takes up a new subject, but every issue Lienhard and the other hosts prove again they can condense a subject into those three, four minutes and pass on a whole lot of knowledge and stir up some profound questions.

The Indus Valley Civ remains a mystery of course, but the EOI podcast manages to point out in three minutes why this is such a huge mystery and why there could be some very crucial information hidden from us in the soils of Pakistan and India and in the script of the Harappan and Mohenjo Daro cultures, that has not been cracked until today. So far, the civ looks like an extinct branch of humanity, but who knows what we may unveil how indirectly it has touched us, through Mesopotamia, maybe, Africa, China, Egypt, Crete or the steppes of Asia.

EOI - Hebrew and Yiddish,
Engines of Our Ingenuity,
Indus Valley Civ on David Kalivas's podcast.

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The politics of War - UCSD lecture podcast review

Lectures do not always go well on podcast, but when the content is good enough, the drawbacks are sufficiently compensated for. The lectures UCSD puts in podcast come with additional disadvantages, that you have to take, in case you want to enjoy the quality of content. For one, get them quickly; as soon as the course is over, the podcasts will be discarded. Second: UCSD records the podcasts (apparently) automatically, which is maybe easy on the lecturer, but the system records if the lecturer doesn't speak, or starts and stops when programmed to do so, even if the lecturer operates in another window. You will find substantial pauses, sudden starts, empty podcasts and lengthy silences at the beginning and end of the podcast. So be it.

In spite of it all, I find myself persistently listening to the course Politics and Warfare by professor Victor Magagna (feed). This is a political science course which discusses various political theories of war and evaluates their strength in explaning how war starts, how it develops and what decides its outcome. Magagna distinguishes institutional theories on the one hand and structural, realist and neo-realist of the other. To put it very simply, institutional theories carry among their assumptions that war is basically never the best option whereas the other theories claim that there can be situations where war is the rational way to go.

I was drawn in, by the lengthy analysis of these theories adapted onto historic examples, most notably World War I (with the ever returning question who started it), but also the American War of Independence and the wars between the France of Louis XIV and the Dutch. This links in with the knowledge I acquired from history podcasts such as Berkeley's History 5, Stanford's The History of the International System, American History before 1870 and Historyzine. Because I felt familiar with the historic facts, I could get deeply engaged in the evaluation of political theory.

Relevant other posts:
History 5 on World War I,
The History of the International System,
A century of geopolitics - podcast review,
American History before 1870,

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Anne is a Man! - Small but growing

Dear Readers,

There are not terribly many of you. A hundred on a good day, but from what I see, your numbers are gradually increasing and you generally seem to appreciate what I am doing. I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and satisfaction you keep coming here.

The below graph shows the visitor statistics for Anne is a Man! (thanks to Statcounter):

I'll keep on blogging and hope to keep you reading. Thanks,


Friday, July 18, 2008

Why Iceland - history podcast review

The German Cultural History podcast (aka German Medieval Cultural History) has a short word for this blog, reporting I reviewed him and imperturbable goes on to his subject: Iceland. Why Iceland? This was supposed to be podcast about German Culture.

The point is that what we know about Germanic gods, culture and mythology of the pre-Christian age, has been reported in Iceland. Snorri Sturluson's writings about Norse mythology from the late middle ages are the closest approximation that we can get to the Gods the German tribes in the early Middle Ages may have worshiped, before they got turned into Christians. You cannot say that this IS the German Culture of the early Middle Ages, but it surely is related and it gives the best material for reconstruction.

I like this podcast and am very curious how it is going to proceed. This detour to Iceland was a surprise, though well understood and expected. I wonder what is going to come next.

German Cultural History - Podcast Review.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Iran in 2009 - UC podcast review

University Channel Podcast (aka UChannel podcast) had professor Bulliet to commemorate the third decade of the Islamist Republic of Iran. Bulliet is the one who also arranged the controversial visit of Ahmedinijad to Columbia University last year. So, this promised to be a podcast one must listen to.

Professor Richard W. Bulliet turns out to be not the gifted speaker we regularly meet in this series. With faltering sentences, he seems a lecturer lost for words and uncertain of what to say. The only reason I persisted in listening was because of the subject. It is not so easy to hear about Iran and get it from a westerner with an unconventional perspective such as Bulliet's.

The point to take home is this: the stability of Iran is possibly in question and the key moment is likely to become the elections in 2009.

More UChannel:
The denials of yesterday,
Nuts and bolts of empire,
Islam meets Europe,
The rise and demise of Palestine,
Alan Johnston.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Relive the Spanish war of succession - Historyzine

Normally Historyzine is a podcast which publishes a new episode every two to six weeks, but just now, it delivered two issues within three days. The first contains a review of  Marlborough: England's Fragile Genius, Richard Holmes' biography of the first Duke of Marlborough the commander of the allied forces in the Spanish War of Succession, which is the main subject in Historyzine. The second is actually also a review. Host Jim Mowatt traveled this summer to Oudenaarde in Belgium for the reenactment of the battle of Oudenaarde which in 1708 was the key battle in the Spanish War of Succession. Mowatt tells about his experiences over there.

Mowatt has a lot of praise for Holmes' biography. In his opinion, this is not just a thorough work of history, it is also well written like a novel. As a result, Holmes allows the broad public to access Marlborough and with him the history of the Spanish War of Succession. The only thing that escapes Historyzine's host is why Holmes had to label the duke as fragile. There are various vulnarabilities that Marlborough bore with him, but none of them seem to be a major point in the biography. So what about Marlborough, after Mowatt has studied both Holmes and Winston Churchill's major work on the same, I wonder what he has to say about Marlborough, both as a leader as well as a person. The remains implicit and I hope we will get to see a little bit more of this in episodes to come.

Praise also befalls the reenactment in Oudenaarde and the town, for the way it hosted the event. Mowatt has had an utterly good time and his enthusiasm is contagious. The listener would have wanted to be there.

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

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Straight talk about stem cells - Stanford lecture series review

Christopher Scott is a professor at Stanford and one of the very few in podcasts whom you can hear touch upon stem cell research and talk about both the technical as well as the legal and ethical side. Recently I reviewed his latest lecture series, which Stanford has put on line as an enhanced podcast. (Stem Cells: Policy and Ethics - feed)

Already in that review I wrote there is an earlier enhanced podcast, also by Chris Scott and also about stem cells called Straight Talk About Stem Cells (feed). I promised a review, which I give here, although it will be a short one. Straight Talk About Stem Cells is the predecessor of Stem Cells: Policy and Ethics and suffers from two traits that make it rapidly redundant. On the field of ethics and politics (law), there has not been much news and what little there is is added in the new series. The technical advances go very rapidly though. Here is where the two series are radically different.

For information on the techniques, I'd gladly point at Straight Talk as well, however, I wonder how much is still relevant. If I paid proper attention, which I did as much as my very limited biological skills allow, there was information in the first series that suggested certain lines of research to be with little chance of success, or facing too much of technical difficulties or any of such inhibitions that sort of suggested the conclusion that this was not a realistic prospect, whereas the second series comes after soem major breakthroughs and paints a radically different picture. Hence, if you want to know if for example so-called adult stem cells are a way to go, you may find conclusions differ. If next year there is going to be a third version, who knows what we will get by then.

And the law? And the ethics? Most of the slides are reused, and probably will be again. That alone tells us a whole lot.

More bioethics:
The Ethics of Stem Cell Research,
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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Jeanne d'Arc - OVT podcast recensie

BBC's In Our Time had ook een uitzending over Jeanne d'Arc en ook daar kwamen ze er niet goed uit. Klaarblijkelijk is de historie rondom de maagd van Orleans zo gecompliceerd dat je er niet even een half uurtje of drie kwartier radio aan kunt wijden. Zomin als het de BBC lukte, luke het de VPRO.

De feiten komen wel enigszins op een rijtje in OVT's derde deel over beroemde executies. Een meisje van negentien die stemmen hoort, steunt een van de Franse troonpretendenten in de honderdjarige oorlog en helpt hem op de troon. Maar in de volgende consolidatie-oorlog, weten zijn tegenstanders haar te grijpen en zorgen ervoor dat ze op de brandstapel komt. Wat al snel volgt is een rehabilitatieproces en vervolgens duurt het nog tot de negentiende eeuw voordat ze een heilige wordt.

Hoe kan dat nou allemaal? Met enige moeite haalt ook de VPRO het een en ander aan motieven, motivaties en politieke en kerkelijke machinaties boven tafel, maar net als de BBC, blijft ook hier de geschiedenis in raadselen gehuld. Het meest raadselachtig blijft de persoon van Jeanne bovenal. Het is bijna niet haalbaar om een realistisch midden tussen licht gestoorde boerentrien en gezante van God te vinden.

Meer OVT:
Hoeren en Agenten,

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Tacitus - In Our Time review

The widely acclaimed BBC radio program and podcast In Our Time is going to have its summer recess. Until the end of September we will have to make do with what can be cherished in the streams of the on-line archive. There is much to be found there.

What is left as a podcast, is the latest edition, which is about Tacitus. Host Melvyn Bragg writes in his newsletter: "I fear I’ll be accused of being the man who asked three women scholars to talk about the finer, or rather the grosser, details of Roman sexuality. I’m sure you’ll accept that I simply did it in the interests of a fuller description of what Tacitus was meaning! And that’s true (no exclamation mark)." However, this is a very minor detail in the program and the guests storm through it admirably.

What remains is the historian who delivers us the template for Gibbon's Decline and Fall, the first sources about the tribes in Central Europe and the intricacies of being a senator in Rome. Even if Rome is eternally in decline, it never seems to fade and stop standing as a measure for western civilization.

More In Our Time:
John Donne (The Metaphysical Poets),
The Arab Conquests,
BBC's In Our Time (podcast review),
General review of In Our Time,
Library of Nineveh.

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Canada and New Zealand - EH podcast review

The Environmental History Podcast has, in its 19th edition, two interviews about two more environments and how they were changed by man: New Zealand and Canada.

Once upon a time, New Zealand was covered by rain forest, but then came the Maori, who began to take down the forests and after them the Europeans (a lot of Scots and Irish among them) who continued with the deforestation. They turned the islands into pastures for especially sheep, acquiring a stronghold in the market for wool and mutton.

Also in Canada the Irish and Scots arrived to find forests to the size Europe had not had until centuries ago. The scale of for example forest fires was something they could hardly grasp. The podcast tells of the great forest fires in the 19th century and how they made headlines back in Britain. As a side note, there is also mention of the eruption of the Tambora in 1815 in Indonesia and its effect on the climate in Canada.

After this, host Jan Oosthoek projects what is ahead for the 20th edition and announces he is going to address the general question what environmental history is. It turns out that this choice of subject is a reaction to this blog, where it was stated that this definition remains somewhat unclear. In passing Oosthoek pays a compliment to Anne is a Man. You can hear it in the closing minutes of the podcast where he says this blog is
one of the sharpest and smartest podcast reviewers on the web.

More Environmental History:
Environmental history,
Climate Change in recent history,
Urban Air Pollution,
Apartheid and Environmental History,
Environmental History and South Africa.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rousseau - Philosophy Bites

Sometimes philosophers, culture bearers and educators make this assumption explicit: that there is progress in history. That the herders were better off than the hunter gatherers, the farmers better off than the herders and that urbanized society is basically a kind of evolutionary pinnacle. Implicitly, this belief is very strongly embedded in our view of the world. Yet, there has always been a counter position as well. Philosophy Bites pays attention to one philosopher of this nostalgia or this critique of civilization: Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Hosts Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds invited Melissa Lane to speak on Rousseau in last week's issue of their podcast. He thinks our psychology and morals have been corrupted by civilization, because of both a dependence of others and a competition with others, not just materially, but also in pride, esteem and such. Once man is engaged in dealing with this dependence and competition, he loses his inner autarkic quality and his pure strive for personal survival deteriorates in an unbounded necessity for expansion. He did not idealize the toughness of the state of nature, but he deplores the unhealthy, unnatural development.

Even though we persist to think in terms of the superiority of civilization and persist to believe in progress, critics such as Rousseau have a profound effect and we see this return in thinkers such as Marx and Freud and in lines of thought in Feminism, Ecologism, Conservatism and on and on.

More Philosophy Bites:
Life on the Scales,
David Hume,
Several issues of Philosophy Bites,
Free rider problem,

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Prosody -TWN podcast review

For a long time I haven't paid attention to The Word Nerds, the language podcast. It doesn't come out so frequently, less than a month and I have been concentrating on history podcasts in the past months. The Word Nerds, however, is one of my all time favorite podcasts. The makers have turned really nerdy language subjects into wonderfully entertaining shows of radio quality.

This happened again in the last edition with the subject prosody. That word, to begin with, is for me a term I have to look up, but did not need to as it was so well explained on the show. Prosody is about how we 'sing' our language; how we make pauses, emphasis, intonations and all such methods that make natural language sound natural, as opposed to computer voices, for example, that even today, still, sound very artificial.

It is also with prosody, that show hosts Dave and Barbara discussed the metrum and various rhythmic schemes in poetry. I remember this stuff from high school and at the time it sounded all so artificial, over the top and far out. I have grown up by now and I got the sympathetic and less threatening introduction by Dave, and this allowed me to open up and not only get stuff like iambic verse, but also recognize and appreciate it. Now that is The Word Nerds for you!

Previous reviews of TWN on this blog:
Silence and Speechlessness,
Religious Words,
Public Speaking.

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