Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New podcasts in march 2009 - Anne is a Man

Podcasts mentioned on this blog for the first time in March 2009. Three history podcasts, three podcasts from the New York Times and a live conversation podcast.

New Books In History (review, site, feed)
A great new podcast in which Marshall Poe interviews historians about their latest book. (This podcast is in fact so outstanding, I have reviewed it already four times)

The Memory Palace (review, site, feed)
An almost poetic history podcast. Short stories, eloquently narrated from history.

Rear Vision (ABC) (review, site, feed)
Program from the Australian broadcaster ABC, which digs into the historic backgrounds of a chosen subject in current affairs.

The Ethicist (NYT) (review, site, feed)
Randy Cohen answers ethical questions from everyday life.

World View (NYT) (review, site, feed)
Podcast from the international section of the New York Times. Short items with international affairs background information.

Science Times (NYT) (review, site, feed)
A good podcast from the science section of the New York Times, with the science news and interviews on assorted scientific subjects and a health column.

Nilpod (review, site, feed)
Live conversation between two Irishmen on subjects like fashion, work, etiquette etc.

Participate in the Anne is a Man - support the blog campaign. At least 15 people from Canada, USA, Sweden, UAE, Israel, Greece, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and New Zealand already did.

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The Podcast Parlor.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Anne is a Man goes viral

Do you like the blog Anne is a Man? Here is a very easy way to show your appreciation. Just click the link to Anne is a Man's campaign and you are done.

What is the meaning of all this? Well, I have around 200 visitors a day, I have over 100 RSS subscribers, but I have no idea how connected you all feel to the blog. By clicking the link, you give me a simple wink meaning: Yes, I like what you are doing and keep doing it. I thank you in advance for clicking.

Now that we are talking, I guess some of you would be happy to do a little bit more and I won't stop you. Please comment on the blog, send links to friends, point to it from your own site, bookmark it, take an RSS subscription (What is RSS? - Help on getting subscription), whatever you feel like. I will try to come up with a new campaign idea ever one or two weeks, to induce you all into some concerted effort to help me keep the blog. I will also report the success of previous campaigns - hoping there will be some to report.



Connect with Anne is a Man on:
The Podcast Parlor.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Uncle Tom's Cabin revisited

The podcast Forgotten Classics reads books to the listener that are either in the public domain or can be read with permission. The idea is to choose those classic works that are more or less forgotten, that host Julie Davis has taken up reading and deemed valuable to present on the show. Her latest project is the entire reading of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Forgotten Classics is far more than giving you an audio-book version of the work. Although Davies is an outstanding reader and one can certainly choose to listen to the book only, there is an added value. Julie embarks in this project on a journey to re-evaluate Uncle Tom's Cabin. She marks the common criticism that the book has racist tendencies itself and is first of all a novel of ideology and less of literature and she tests this on the experience while rereading the book.

We become partial to her thoughts and to her thorough research. The research shows that at the time, the book had been exposed to former slaves and they had acknowledged the authenticity of the work. The fact that the novel is a novel with a political message, still allows plenty room for drama and description. Even though the style is tangibly unmodern, until chapter 9, where we are now, after the latest podcast, the work is coherent and has effectively built the drama. At least Julie and a good number of her listeners are excited.

I must say I am excited myself as well. Not in the least because I have read the book, albeit in Dutch translation (probably abridged), several times when I was very young (between the age 9 and 13). The book then made a huge impression and I was amazed, while listening to the podcast, it all came back to me so strong, to the level of specific sentences. And thus, by all standards this is a very worthy project, even if we will end up with the conclusion that it is a racist work and has not too much literary value, it was worth the exercise.

In chapter eight we run into a couple of sentences that are undeniably racist. It can't be denied Stowe believed in racial traits and her description of the blacks is literally as big children. This is a common perception that I can even remember was still tangible in my youth, hence, Stowe is by all means a product of her time. Davies's effort to downplay this aspect of the work, I find unconvincing. It may indeed be so that Stowe actually saw in the former slaves a people of higher qualities and in their spirituality something more genuine, but that is merely placing the common order on its head. She is doing that throughout anyway, as the white women come out better than white men also and also in this way of being more genuine, if childlike, in their spirituality. It smacks more of a turn around that is not uncommon for devout Christian people such as Stowe and it mimics the Gospels, specific the Mountain Sermon with the meek inheriting the earth and all that.

I see no problem in accepting the inevitable and tell it like it is, that Stowe was just as locked in the common way of thinking in her age as anybody else, anywhere else. This still leaves plenty of room, or maybe even more, for appreciating how she took the logic and the principles of her age and reconstructed them such that a revolutionary message came out: one that slavery is totally immoral. And that she succeeded in doing that so well, that it reached the millions and had a considerable effect. It begs the analysis of the composition of the book, rather than the examining the fine tuning and sophistication of its philosophy and world view.

Last but not least, Forgotten Classics does more than immerse itself in this great task of revisiting Uncle Tom's cabin. There is the occasional podcast with another subject and (nearly) every show has host Julie Davies relate to her audience which gives the kind of community feel that works so well for many other podcasts as well. And if that is not all, Julie also gives podcast reviews that deserve attention. I am hooked for the time to come.

More Forgotten Classics:
Cooking with Forgotten Classics,
Forgotten Classics - podcast review.

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Koning George V - veertien achttien recensie

In de eerste Wereldoorlog staan er nog volop monarchen op het toneel. We hebben in de serie Veertien Achttien al de koning van Roemenie gehad, maar de grote drie zijn natuurlijk de neven Wilhelm, Nicolaas en George V. De laatste aflevering gaat over George, maar Wilhelm en Nicolaas komen natuurlijk ook voorbij.

Omdat de drie zo nauw verwant zijn is de Eerste Wereldoorlog wel eens een uit de hand gelopen familieruzie genoemd en Tacken refereert hier ook aan, maar dat lijkt mij volkomen onterecht. Zoals er wel meer negentiende-eeuws vernis over de Grote Oorlog zit, zo staan al die monarchen er ook nog bij, maar wezenlijk is het een oorlog van industriele naties geweest. De koningen speelden geen rol.

Het is veelzeggend dat alleen George van dit drietal na de oorlog nog op de troon zit. Hij is immers degene die van begin af aan al in een constitutie met een machtig parlement gevangen zit. Wilhelm en Nicolaas hebben na revolutie moeten wijken voor volledig twintigste-eeuwse staatsbestellen, met natuurlijk, twintigste-eeuwse gevolgen.

Meer Veertien Achttien:
Colmar von der Goltz,
Sir Ian Hamilton,
H.H. Asquith,
Anton Kröller,
Rosa Luxemburg.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Science Times - NYT podcast review

The New York Times has a number of podcasts, that I had been asked by Erno Mijland of the blog Alles Kan Altijd Beter to review again. So far, I must admit, I have not been tremendously impressed. And it is not the first time, I find that regular media, when engaging in podcasting come out rather poorly. However, the science podcast, is an exception to the better.

Science Times (feed) is a complete science rubric in podcast. It contains science news and one or two interviews about a science subject, interestingly this implies other than natural sciences. The interviews are done professionally and give a complete entry into the subject discussed. This is all the more commendable, since the podcast is relatively short: around 20 minutes. That makes it an excellent podcast to be informed about interesting subjects in science.

As mentioned above, this podcast covers more than just natural sciences. I have heard a couple of economics subjects that were handled pretty effectively as well. Furthermore, the health section deserves special mention. This is not only informative as far as medical science is concerned, it also has a tendency to talking about issues very pertinent to the consumer of health services. In short a valuable and good podcast.

More NYT:
World View,
The Ethicist,
Times Talks.

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Plato and Aristotle - In Our Time

BBC's In Our Time last Thursday came with an issue that had me very excited. In 1509 the painter Rafael painted the library of pope Julius II and produced a panel above the philosophy section. On the panel among other philosophers Plato and Aristotle are depicted and this painting serves as departure for In Our Time to discuss the most intriguing history of the reception of Aristotle and Plato in the West.

By 1509 Aristotle had been broadly received and thanks to Thomas of Aquino effectively incorporated into the Christian main stream of thinking. Plato was just rediscovered. New and complete Greek manuscripts reached the West and were translated. Plato rapidly came to be incorporated into Christianity as well and got to influence western thinking. This double influence of Aristotle and Plato continued also when philosophy became emancipated of Christian dogma.

Rafael's painting captures Plato pointing to the heavens and Aristotle pointing to the earth and this image, worth a thousand words, sums up how the two Greek giants are received. Plato as the abstractionist and Aristotle the observer of the natural world. Apart from the question whether this perception is correct and genuinely represents an opposition between the two, it tells of the way the two were perceived and continued to be so. And this is very revealing to the history of our thinking, which is exactly what In Our Time is all about. So in this it is at its best.

More In Our Time:
The Boxer Rebellion,
The library of Alexandria,
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot,
The destruction of Carthage,
The brothers Grimm.

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Unexpected Ronald Reagan - New Books in History

The podcast New Books In History is rapidly becoming a huge favorite of mine. There are few history podcasts with this level and NBIH is unique in its format of host Marshall Poe interviewing historians about their books. The result is a very vivid podcast with the best in their field to speak of their subject.

An outstanding sample was last week's interview with James Mann about his biography of Ronald Reagan, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan. Who has ever associated Reagan with rebellion? Even though the facts as presented by Mann are, in my humble opinion, short of rebellion, but certainly show Reagan as a politician with his own views and one to follow them, also against the odds and against the party line. Reagan switched from being Democrat to Republican, but that is not all.

The most astounding fact, for me, was to find that Reagan was much less a belligerent president than perceived by me (and probably many others). He was especially averse of nuclear weapons and therefore, the amazing turn in the cold war, comes to stand in another light. It is not just the merit of Gorbachev, but also of Reagan, who was very receptive, I find out now, for the disarmament initiative. It didn't go smoothly though. Reagan and Gorbachev were very different characters and Reagan was not open to trust a communist, but nevertheless they managed to see eye to eye in the end. How this came about is told very lively by Mann. It makes the podcast apart from rivetingly interesting also very amusing.

More NBIH:
Evolution, genetics and history,
Kees Boterbloem about Jan Struys.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Anne is a Man in the weekend of March 27

This weekend I have little time, but there is the pleasure to write about four podcasts that I have exceptionally enjoyed.

-New Books in History had an episode delving into the political biography of Ronald Reagan

-Forgotten Classics is reading Uncle Tom's Cabin and reevaluating the qualities of the work.

-So far I have not been swept off my feet by the New York Times podcasts. The Science Times podcast, however, is clearly of superior quality in comparison to the other NYT podcasts I have heard.

-BBC's In Our Time had an excellent edition this Thursday about Rafael's famous fresco depicting Plato and Aristotle.

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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 Anne is a Man at: Anne Frid de Vries (in one word) AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk

Connect with Anne is a Man on:
The Podcast Parlor.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The weekly social science stop - BBC's Thinking Allowed

Listening to BBC's Thinking Allowed is slowly beginning to become a weekly delight. In addition to the large variety of social science subjects, there is also a feel of community, as the host Laurie Taylor relates to the subjects personally and takes time each week to report listeners' reactions and respond to them.

A number of interesting subjects have been touched in the past weeks. This week had a coherent feature of the politics of climate change and a new capitalism. The week before that I was surprised how interesting the subjects rugby and magic could be. Then there as a show in which among others the idea of America's Wild West was historically pin-pointed. And last but not least, a show already mentioned earlier this week in my review of a lecture at the RSA. Laurie Taylor spoke with James Boyle about the way intellectual property rules are hurting culture.

As a result of the rapport with the audience there can be unexpected twists in the chain of shows. Laurie told the joke of a white horse entering a bar. The barman exclaimed: what a coincidence, we have a drink named after you. To which the horse replied: "What, Eric?" This joke triggered so many reactions and suggestions, that the origins of the joke and the reason why the horse must be called Eric, became a subject of ongoing interest. To which Taylor added more jokes.

More Thinking Allowed:
Substance and Sociology,
Hole in the Wall,
Moral relativism,
Male Immaturity.

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On Crime - Big Ideas

TVO's podcast Big Ideas brought a lecture by Darryl Davies on crime. This lecture is the fastest introduction into criminology I have ever experienced. The whole thing crammed into 43 minutes.

Once upon a time, I studied criminology and I turned down a PhD project, because I chose to go down the path of theory of law. Hence, going through Davies's lecture was not exactly the experience the average listener will have. Needless to say, when you are familiar with the field you know where corners are cut and insights passed over, but all in all this lecture is very commendable in that it surely covers the whole range of criminology and makes it available to the layman in all its aspects.

Davies touches upon the questions of the origins of crime. He mentions the aspect of the social labeling of the deviant. He touches upon class justice. He explains why criminologists investigate the official handling of crime. He explains why crime statistics are incomplete and often unreliable. And he talks of white collar crime. And all these subjects wide and far connected into one flowing lecture. That is an achievement in itself. All that you ever needed to know about the study of crime, but didn't know where to get it from.

More Big Ideas:
Why isn't the whole world developed?,
The role and place of the intellectual,
Disaster Capitalism,
The Bad News about Good Work,

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shrink Rap Radio - 200 great podcasts

Shrink Rap Radio is by all standards one of the very best podcasts around. Not only is this the most varied and accessible podcast about psychology, it has such a good atmosphere, it is a treat for also anyone who is not directly interested in psychology. Furthermore, this podcast is a great example for other podcasters.

There is a lot podcasters can learn from host Dr. David van Nuys. First of all, Van Nuys is an excellent interviewer. He manages to make the interviews sound like natural conversations, yet he manages to keep the talk ordered and within the range of 30-45 minutes. In this respect he is frequently better than professionals. In addition, Dr. Dave has been very successful at building a faithful audience, by adding a warm personal atmosphere to the show and a lot of attention to listener input. I am sure this has enhanced his following. Last but not least, Shrink Rap Radio has great quality promo's, slogans and musical additions. This podcast is as complete as it can be.

Shrink Rap Radio exists since 2005 and has produced 200 episodes of pretty persistent quality so far. The whole archive is available for free. Shrink Rap Radio is a must listen for everybody.

More Shrink Rap Radio:
Technology and The Evolving Brain,
Nova Spivack,
Relationships and the brain,
Psychologist writer,
Dana Houck, Prison Psychologist.

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Diamond rain and other phenomena - Ran Levi

How I love the typical Israeli jokes on the podcast Making History with Ran Levi (עושים היסטוריה! עם רן לוי). In the last issue he kicked off with one and closed with it again, but let's first look at the subject.

In this series of history of science, we were taken through the solar system to look at the weather conditions on other planets and their moons. Obviously, the most violent of atmosphere is Jupiter with its profound red spot, the storm that is visible from down here. But what about Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, that has such a high pressure and low temperatures that the methane rains are pressed to drops of diamonds. A fascinating journey that makes you appreciate our own climate.

So where is the joke? You could easily do without, but just for the heck of it, Ran Levi takes us in his tale on a spaceship through the system. And the spaceship, of course, is a leasing vehicle, so that we can take it on the long bumpy trip without bother. And when we return we shrug at the קצין הרכב who points out the numerous scratches on the damn thing. This is another version of the Israeli joke: "You knew they have invented a low budget, medium size off the road car? It's called leasing." But maybe this is universal after all.

More Making History:
Myths and pseudo-knowledge,
What goes up, must come down,
Douglas Adams,
Sophie Germain.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Intellectual Property and the common interest - RSA

Here is one of the most interesting and exciting lectures I have heard in the past months. Speaker James Boyle, who spoke on the same subject on Thinking Allowed earlier this month, made an impressive argument for radically relaxing our concepts and rules about intellectual property, for the benefit of science, culture and economy.

Boyle spoke at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (podcast: RSA Current Events), after his book The Public Domain. He argues that the current rules for intellectual property, that, in the process of international harmonization, are getting more and more rigid are actually harming cultural, scientific and economic life. The rules are shutting too much valuable material out from the common use and thus harms the common interest.

The paradoxical thing is that with the emergence of the internet we are in fact experiencing the wonderful, counterintuitive blessings of openness and common use in open-source software, bottom-up knowledge (wikipedia) and speedy disclosure of information (a.o. with Google), while at the same time raising the thresholds of intellectual property. The internet that originally was set-up to serve science actually stumbles over IP rights and finds scientific material barred, leaving the common use with none, dated or second rate material. Boyle pleads to adapt the open character of the internet to much more material today in order to fully enjoy the wealth of intellectual sources that exist.

More RSA:
Israel and Palestine,
Terror and Martyrdom,

More Thinking Allowed:
Substance and Sociology,
Hole in the Wall,
Moral relativism,
Male Immaturity.

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Colmar von der Goltz - veertien achttien

Bij elke biografie in de podcast Veertien Achttien moet je je afvragen welk aspect van de Eerste Wereldoorlog hier belicht wordt. In de episode over Colmar von der Goltz is dat wellicht het vanzelfsprekende, al te ver doorgevoerde, nationalisme.

Onze verteller, Tom Tacken, begint het verhaal met een weergave van een van de aangeklaagde Nazis in de Neurenberg processen. Zoals zoveel excessen van de Eerste Wereldoorlog, is ook het nationalisme nog verder en nog ellendiger doorgevoerd in de Tweede. Maar juist dit citaat geeft aanwijzing dat het nationalisme geen monopolie van de Duitsers is. En daarmee gaan we kijken naar Colmar von der Goltz.

Wat Von der Goltz begreep en ook neerschreef, was dat in de moderne verhoudingen oorlog een zaak van de gehele staat was geworden. Nationalisme was een gevoel dat het gehele volk moest bijgebracht worden, voor het moment dat het onder de wapenen moest worden geroepen. De tragiek van deze oorlog is wellicht dat deze boodschap wat al te goed begrepen is en al te grondig doorgevoerd werd. En zo konden de soldaten in loopgraven geofferd blijven voor vier jaar lang.

Meer Veertien Achttien:
Sir Ian Hamilton,
H.H. Asquith,
Anton Kröller,
Rosa Luxemburg,
Marie Curie.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

NYT - World View podcast

Erno Mijland of the blog Alles kan altijd beter reminded me of the assorted podcasts by the New York Times. Among these is the podcast World View (feed) which is delivered by the international staff of the newspaper.

This is a weekly podcast of around ten minutes that each time takes on one subject and has one or several experts give brief answers to the most important questions. For example, last week's issue was about drones, unmanned aircraft that are being used in modern warfare. The week before that, delved into Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his recent efforts to take a leading role in Africa and to revalue the country's status in the west. Of the old podcasts, only four are kept in the feed, so it is not a fit podcast to pick and choose subjects. It is more of the kind to stay subscribed and get quickly informed on whatever the editors choose to deliver.

Once you find a subject you want to delve into some more, the UChannel Podcast offers the length and backlog that allows for pick and choose. Taking one of the above examples, UChannel has a full length lecture about robotics in war (which is about more than just Drones). NYT gives the quick update and if their choice of subjects meets your interest, it works like a newspaper indeed. It helps you to stay generally informed. A pity this doesn't come out daily.

More NYT:
The Ethicist,
Times Talks.

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Anne is a Man in the week of March 23

Here is a schedule of reviews I am planning to write this week (Monday-Thursday)

-The New York Times podcast World View with among others talk about drones in war.

-The Dutch podcast about World War I, veertien achttien delivered a biography of Colmar von der Goltz

-BBC's Thinking Allowed discusses research in social sciences and by chance also a joke about a horse named Eric.

-Making History with Ran Levi took us on a journey through our solar system, observing the weather on other planets.

-The fabulous psychology podcast Shrink Rap Radio has delivered its 200th episode.

-Ontario TV's Big Ideas ventures into crime.

-A lecture at the RSA spoke about the Public Domain or The Commons of the Mind

Subscribe in a reader
Paste the link
into the RSS reader of your preference. (What is RSS?  - Help on getting subscription)

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

Connect with Anne is a Man on:
The Podcast Parlor.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The EU and the Middle East - LSE Events

On LSE Events the French Islam Scholar Jean-Pierre Filiu spoke on the question whether the EU cam make a difference in the Middle-East, particularly in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

A large part of the lecture is a rather tedious summary of what European nations (not necessarily the EU) have contributed and are contributing to the peace-process and and to all sorts of development programs in the region. It sounds like an apology for a large body (the EU) that hardly has any foreign policy, to make as much of what the eventually do. And it is almost unfair a scholar must go this road and not a diplomat or politician.

The fact is, as comes out by the end in the Q&A round: the Israelis distrust the Europeans and the Arabs view them as second rate Americans. And so, apart from the question whether the EU can make difference of its own accord, there is the issue whether the EU has enough credibility to be accepted as anything but a monetary power. Asking the question is giving the answer. The Filiu lecture is hardly worth listening to unless you really want to hear some details about what the EU is doing towards the region.

More LSE Events:
The British Mandate in Palestine,
Iran Today,
Science and Religion,
The crisis,
Desiring walls.

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Prokofiev's life - New Books in History

The podcast New Books In History is a fabulous new find that has come to be on my playlist all the time. The latest issue I picked up (not the latest in the feed) was an interview host Marshall Poe had with Simon Morrison, who wrote a biography of the Russian composer Prokofiev.

Morrison had access to some of the old Soviet archives that had been opened up to him and this allowed him to tell much more about Prokofiev's personal life than before. It is a story of constant traveling in and out of Russia, of the acceptance of becoming part of the Soviet system and of marriage divorce and such. During the podcast there is a lot of talk about these mundane sides of his life, but of course, there is also time for the musical genius and even, to my delight, for the wonderful cellist Mstislav Rostropovich's part in Prokofiev's life.

I have already been saying how great this new podcast is and it is worth writing it again. NBIH is a great podcast with a great formula and a unique content that is a great addition to the menu of history podcasts out there. There is one point in which the podcast needs to improve and that is the audio quality. In general the audio is good, but host Marshall Poe keeps his mic open while his guest speaks and as a result we are offered the background noise of his presence. This is not so much of a problem when he hums in acknowledgment or laughs or gives some other kind of reactive sign of his presence, but it also results in a lot of heavy breathing into the microphone, which I find very disturbing.

More NBIH:
Evolution, genetics and history,
Kees Boterbloem about Jan Struys.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fiji - Rear Vision podcast review

Thanks to a comment on this blog I tried a new podcast: ABC's Rear Vision. (feed) The comment was made at a post about another program from ABC, which is the Australian Broadcast Corporation.

Rear Vision is a contemporary history program on ABC radio that is, luckily for us, also published as a weekly podcast. In 30 minutes hosts Annabelle Quince and Keri Phillips allow us to dig into the backgrounds of one subject and get the full historic picture we need in order to understand the news. The first subject I picked out was Fiji; coup country. I make out Fiji on a map, I had heard about the occasional military coup in the country. I had wondered about that, but knew absolutely nothing to say about it, until Rear Vision came along.

On Rear Vision I learned has become ethnically diverse with the British rule starting in the 19th century. People were hauled over from India to work the plantations and so, when Fiji gained independence in 1970 it had two majorities of indigenous Fijians and Indian Fijians each making up about half of the population. Furthermore these and other ethnic groups had different plans with the independent land and had a different representation in the army. The relatively large army, too big for the geopolitical position of Fiji it is argued, is the culprit of the coups and of the ensuing instability. The instability in turn has wrecked the tourist industry which is very important for Fiji and has caused emigration in an uneven proportion by Indians, which in turn has redrawn the ethnic balance. In a nutshell.

Also by ABC, The Philosopher's Zone:
Philosopher's Zone - ABC podcast review,
Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.

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Plakkaat van Verlating - Hoor Geschiedenis recensie

In de podcast Hoor! Geschiedenis, van Feico Houweling zitten we midden in de wordingsgeschiedenis van de Nederlandse Staat. Deze week werd het document besproken waarmee de Nederlandse Staten zich formeel van het gezag van de Spaanse koning Filips de tweede probeerde los te maken.

Het document waar het om gaat is het Plakkaat van Verlating. In 1581 tekenden de Nederlandse edelen dit document waarbij de soeverijn Filips het gezag over de Nederlanden wordt ontnomen. In de weergave van Houweling is dit mede daarom zo'n historisch moment omdat het om een juridische constructie gaat. Er wordt niet zomaar eigenhandig besloten om zich aan het gezag van de koning te onttrekken, maar er wordt een rechtsgeldige reden voor geformuleerd.

Het deed mij denken aan de manier waarop de Berkeley serie History 5 de afzetting (en onthoofding) van Jacobus de tweede van Engeland in 1688 behandelt. Ook daar wordt benadrukt dat niet zomaar de koning van zijn troon wordt gestoten, als in een revolutie of een staatsgreep, maar dat er een rechtsgang wordt doorlopen. In beide gevallen (en in het Nederlandse honderd jaar eerder) wordt op unieke wijze met het koningsschap omgesprongen; niet langer is het een onwrikbaar van God gegeven orde, maar een constitutionele instantie een in het recht gewortelde figuur, die dus ook met het recht in de hand kan worden weggezet. Hier onstaan dus niet alleen staten als Nederland en Engeland, maar ook staten in de moderne politiek-juridische zin.

Afbeelding van het Nationaal Archief

Meer Hoor! Geschiedenis:
Willem van Oranje als Bijbelfiguur,
Dagelijks genoegen: hoor! geschiedenis,
Hoor! Geschiedenis - historische podcast recensie.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Boxer Rebellion - In Our Time

BBC's In Our Time discussed the Boxer Rebellion an uprising in China in which an unorganized, popular front took on the forces of modernity on their land. They were against the railways, against Christianity and although they threatened foreigners, they made the most victims among Chinese. The foreigners then united and defeated the Boxers.

Isn't it amazing that Japan, Russia, Germany, France and Great Britain could unite internationally in 1901? Just before they whirled into large scale devastating war among themselves? How deep must they have felt the threat of those country bumpkins way back in the Chinese Hinterland. And alternately, how did those Chinese manage to feel that the western influence was their problem, when they had starvation, floods and bad Chinese rulers on their hands?

Pondering about this, I was suddenly struck by the similarities with Al-Queida. Also an unorganized popular uprising, instilling the greatest fears in the West and who have serious practical issues to confront, but see fit to blame western influence. And who eventually take more local than western victims, although the west is ready to overcome all its differences to overcome this nuisance. Could there be a lesson? The spirit of the Boxers never died. China was humiliated again and the Boxer spirit found its way to Mao and on.

More In Our Time:
The library of Alexandria,
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot,
The destruction of Carthage,
The brothers Grimm,
The modest proposal.

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Anne is a Man in the weekend of March 20

Here is a list of reviews I am planning to publish over the weekend (Friday - Sunday).

- BBC's In Our Time made their last program about the Boxer Rebellion. How a revolt within China was defeated by an international alliance.

- Hoor! Geschiedenis continues to excite me with its history of the Netherlands. This time some thoughts about the Plakkaat van Verlatinghe. (Dutch)

- I know how to find Fiji on a world map. Other than that I know next to nothing about this country. ABC's Rear Vision had a program about Fiji's recent history with a series of military coups.

- New Books in History spoke with Simon Morrison about the biography of Prokofiev

- On LSE Events, Jean-Pierre Filiu tries to make a point about how the EU can make a difference in the Middle East.

I had wanted to review a podcast on UChannel where Sam Gardiner (retired colonel from the US) gave a military assessment of Iran and went over the military options against the country. The audio of this podcast, however, is so extremely bad, it was impossible to make out enough of the lecture for a review.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Robots and War - UChannel Podcast review

It is an age-old wisdom countries are always prepared for the last war. In the next war we will be confronted however with what new developments have revolutionized war and changed the rules of the game. The current revolution is that of robots in war. On UChannel Podcast a lecture delivered at Princeton had P.W. Singer (21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution) address the subject.

Singer emphasizes that robotics and war is not a revolution that is about to happen, it is already happening. Robots are being used in war today and he mentions many examples. He also delves into the various ways robots change the character of combat, altering the dynamics and logic of war. What also becomes clear is that robots are not going to replace humans in combat; humans and robots will be complementing each other.

Although there will still be humans on the ground, in broad terms the introduction of robots in warfare enlarge the distance between humans and the dangers of combat. It raises issues of responsibility, of more or less autonomy for the robot and of the effect in perception. If a robot makes a mistake, who will be responsible? To what extent should the robots be autonomous? What impression do the robotics make in the home-front and with the enemy? The home-front can be just as happy as uncomfortable. The enemy can be just as afraid as indignant - feeling the robots are sent by a cowardly and therefore weak opponent.

Singer is not the most engaging speaker and robotics and war not very appealing subjects for talk, certainly not in combination. However, the notion that Singer is not talking what might happen, but rather what is already reality, makes the podcast very compelling.

More UChannel Podcast:
Sudan and the fallacy of nationhood,
Against intervention,
Lakhdar Brahimi on Afghanistan and Iraq,
Europe versus Islam,
Power of Cities.

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Jan Montyn - Marathon Interview

Op het Marathoninterview dat Chirs Kijne in 1992 had met Jan Montyn begon ik totaal onvoorbereid. Ik had nog nooit van hem gehoord en een vlugge blik op de VPRO site gaf me het idee dat er een gesprek met een kunstenaar zou volgen. Maar over Jans kunst werd nauwelijks gesproken. Het interview gaat van begin tot eind over oorlog.

Die confrontatie met oorlog is via Jan Montyn is zo intensief, niet alleen doordat ik onvoorbereid was, maar ook doordat hij de directe ooggetuige is. Om het modern te zeggen: al op zijn zestiende krijgt hij zijn PTSD in dienst van de Kriegsmarine in de Oostzee en daarna houdt het niet meer op. Ook als hij na Korea niet meer vecht in oorlog. Hij blijft aan de zelfkant van de maatschappij in chaos leven. En als medewerker van Amnesty, Artsen zonder Grenzen of de VN komt hij in oorlogsgebieden in Zuidoost Azië, waar hij vermist opspoort, kinderen redt en wat dies meer zij.

De wezenloze onrust die bij deze man hoort, bij zijn perspectief op de wereld, bij zijn inzichten en bij het haast compulsieve handelen, komt direct tot je via zijn stem. Het komt door de grimmige verhalen en misschien nog wel sterker door de spreekstijl die kort en hortend is, vol met onafgemaakte zinnen en gemompelde woorden. Op kwesties van goed en fout in oorlogen, in internationale politiek en in dictatoriale staten, krijg je een nieuw perspectief. Het is weliswaar onaf, Montyn weet zijn inzichten niet in mooie coherente algemeenheden weet te vatten, maar legt wel de vinger bij de paradoxen en dilemma's die in het meer bekende goed-fout denken helemaal weggelaten worden. Dat maakt het beluisteren van deze vijf uur podcast tot een veeleisende bezigheid, maar wel zeer de moeite waard.

Meer Marathon Interviews:
Arthur Japin, Johannes van Dam,
Mr. G.B.J. Hiltermann,
James Kennedy,
Dick Berlijn,
Ward Ruyslinck.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Harmonious dialogs - The Word Nerds

Common advice for podcasters is to have more than one voice on the show. When podcasts contain conversations, they are easier to follow. As much as this is true, there is, in my opinion, also a trap: making the dialog work. If the participants are completely free, they may start rambling and the conversation becomes tedious. What many podcasts with more than one host do is to script the dialog between the hosts. This more often than not is so artificial, it does more harm than good.

TWNHere I wish to highlight the podcast The Word Nerds that has always more than one host (sometimes up to four) and has perfect dialogs. I have always been wondering whether these dialogs were scripted. The speakers collaborate so well, that some scripting must be at work, but then again it also sounds so natural, it can't be entirely acted. Then, in the last show (about Writing) a real discussion arose. For the first time it really appeared that the dialog was not scripted at all. The hosts just have a splendid rapport and in this harmony an excellent podcast emerges.

The Word Nerds is more than a light show about 'language and why we say the things we do'. It is also an example of a good amateur podcast. Apart from the excellent dialog the show is an example of good balance between sections, between talk and music, good audio quality and an altogether pleasant atmosphere that makes one connect to a show.

Previous reviews of The Word Nerds on this blog:
Word Nerds on Facebook,
Abrrev & txt,
Stories and Story Telling,
Ambiguity and linguistic tics,

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The Ethicist - a New York Times podcast

Erno Mijland of the blog Alles kan altijd beter reminded me of the assorted podcasts by the New York Times. I had reviewed Times Talks in the past - and not liked it very well - but took Erno's reminder as an incentive to look once again. Thank you Erno!

The first podcast I began to listen to was The Ethicist (feed). This is a short (5 minutes) weekly podcast in which one or two letters, allegedly from NYT readers, are read by one of the NYT employees. Each letter presents a moral issue of day to day life and writer Randy Cohen responds with the ethical solution. The letters and cases as presented, occasionally made the impression they were a bit stylized, but seemed largely authentic. The reading varies in quality as does the delivered advice. As to the bottom-line of the advice, I could agree with all of the ones I heard (a dozen or so), but the tone was frequently a tad paternalistic, rhetorical and pedantic. This exaggeration is not persistent, otherwise I had taken the whole show as satire.

Though it is a nice, practical and accessible podcast, even if satirical, it can be putting off at times. The whole thing is a little bit over the top. It starts with applying a huge word, ethics, to what ultimately is pretty common sense advise. The handling of the alleged letters, when not read in an authentic fashion and stylized to a more interesting (for whatever reason) case gives rise to suspicion of collusion towards the pedantic answer. Only when the case seemed authentic and the issue a tough dilemma, I found myself truly excited and wondering how Randy would solve it and only then the pedantic set up was overcome.

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