Friday, July 31, 2009

New podcasts in July 2009 - Anne is a Man

Before I summarize the podcasts that were newly reviewed on this blog I want to point out another new thing that from now on you will occasionally find on Anne is a Man. Thanks to a smart comment by one of the readers, I found out how I can use my Google Reader to compile feeds from podcast episodes that I choose. Thus, I have begun compiling already 4 feeds and will continue to add others. You need only subscribe and you will get the podcast episodes from various sources, that I chose for you.

The first three are feeds that channel old episodes of the classic Dutch interview podcast Simek 's Nachts (RVU). These files are still on the RVU server, but not delivered in iTunes. Through my feeds they become available for everybody: AIAM Simek1, AIAM Simek2, AIAM Simek3.

The fourth feed is a composite feed of six podcast episodes from various sources about the current situation in Iran and the historic backdrop: Anne is a Man - Iran

New podcasts this month:

Tolkien Professor (review, site, feed)
A scholarly series into the works of Tolkien by Professor Corey Olsen from Washington College.

History of Medicine (Oxford Brooke University) (review, site, feed)
A podcasts of 'Moments in Medicine'. Issues in the science of Medicine are put in their historic perspective.

Analysis (BBC) (review, site, feed)
A BBC program which attempts to analyze what ideas and powers shape British public policy.

Argos (VPRO) (review, site, feed)
High quality in-depth journalism about current affairs. (Dutch)

Brieftour-pod (review, site, feed)
The mailman takes you on his rounds in Neumuenster. (German)

Elucidations (review, site, feed)
Two graduate students of the University of Chicago interview their professors about assorted subjects in philosophy.

Der Sonntagssoziologe (review, site, feed)
Mildly ironic musings about sociology (German)

Ganz einfach leben (review, site, feed)
Marco Mattheis shares his efforts to down-shift his life. (German)

BILD 18 - Human Impact on the Environment (UDCS) (review, site, feed)
A lecture series digging into the harm humans have caused the environment.

New Humanist (review, site, feed)
Promotional podcast of New Humanist Magazine offering teaser for the current issue.

Fraunhofer Podcast (review, site, feed)
Applied science at the Fraunhofer Institute. (German)

פודקאסט זה לחלשים (review, site, feed)
Conversational podcast by Erez Ronen and Ehud Keinan. (Hebrew)

New York Review of Books podcast (review, site, feed)
Assorted subjects from the New York Review of Books.

Wanhoffs Wunderbare Welt der Wissenschaft (review, site, feed)
The in south-east Asia living German Thomas Wanhoff keeps you updated on science and technology news in a very friendly atmosphere. (German)

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I love to get new podcast recommendations. You can let me know your preferences 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 on Ning.
The Podcast Parlor on Facebook.

Roger Cohen in Tehran - NYRB

New York Times correspondent and columnist Roger Cohen spoke on The New York Review of Books podcast about his experiences in Teheran around the presidential elections on June 12th recently. His is a ery interesting and revealing close up view of what had been going on.

Cohen describes the experience on the streets in Teheran as they erupted in spontaneous demonstrations and the consecutive violence. He brings the sentiments and atmosphere alive. How it was before the elections, how people expected it was going to be a close race between Moussavi and Ahmedinejad. Especially as June 12 got closer, there was a sense that Moussavi could actually stand a chance. And then so shortly after the ballot boxes closed a result was announced that was not just unlikely on the basis of reasonable expectation, but also based upon what logistically could be pulled off in terms of vote counting.

And so, the public, a much wider public than the Moussavi voters felt they were being lied to and were disillusioned by the declared result. This triggered the demonstrations and the authorities showed their weakness by the violence of their reaction and the silencing of media. However, Cohen relates how this worked in practice and an image arises of a community solidarity independent of the official power. Iranian leadership may have averted an elective loss, but it has squandered its legitimacy and that is where things are at.

This podcast comes in a flow of many others that have given good insight in the current and historic situation of Iran today. For the convenience of my readers I have selected six of those from different sources and brought them together in a composite podcast feed, to which you can subscribe: Anne is a Man - Iran. As long as these podcast episodes remain available on the servers of their respective sources, they are polled in this feed that works with any podcatcher you may be using.

More NYRB podcast:
Ronald Dworkin.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Interfaith and Compassion - Karen Armstrong on UChannel

UChannel podcast reproduced a lecture by Karen Armstrong, that originated from the RSA, Why Interfaith? There is whole lot one can learn from, an be inspired by Armstrong's talk. I'll try to pick a few points.

What bothers me daily in institutionalized religious traditions as they come to me, is that they are so vindictively exclusivist. In Armstrong's discovery of religions, they are not exclusive by their nature. The traditions, obviously and inevitably have been co opted by dignitaries with a political agenda. They have squandered the spiritual for the numbing rituals and dogmas. But that is not what religions were made for and not what they support people for. Karen says it better than I do.

Interfaith is a concept of dialog among the religions and in this and in her studies, Karen Armstrong claims to have found a central rule that is shared by all, the good old Golden Rule - not to do unto others what you do want them to do unto you. Or in a positive notion, the value of compassion. She pleads for individuals and communities of all walks of life to tap into this value of compassion and thus reach out to each other. This would create a channel for rapprochement and some chance of beginning to resolve the disrupted relations, to counter fundamentalism and create a collective platform for addressing global issues of peace and the fatal threats to our environment. She plans on having a worldwide action by the end of 2009, where across religions people and communities will sign a Charter For Compassion.

More Karen Armstrong:
Speaking of Faith and TED.

More UChannel Podcast:
Talent is overrated,
Ronald Reagan, a rebel,
Disasters and Peace,
Enclosing the commons of the mind,
Middle East challenges.

Thanks for all the fish - Rear Vision

The program Rear Vision of Australia's ABC is a very good history of current events program. It digs into the necessary background information you need to have in order to get a proper historic grip on what goes on in the news.

One of its recent issues addresses a specific problem with the oceans: fish depletion. There is more with the pollution that, according to what I have heard on other podcasts (for example on an LSE Event about the Costs of Climate Change), with climate change make that the ocean are almost beyond salvation. With this in mind the history of fish depletion leaves you bereft of hope. Rear vision doesn't touch upon pollution and the greater climate problems at all; it just maps the way humans have devastated the fish population by over-fishing.

It is not just technology and increased demand that goes to explain this. Rear vision shows also how the developments of industrialization and capital investment created an industry that was impossible to get a grip on. The fact the oceans are vast and nobody's direct property or responsibility, only added to the matter. And this means that when by the 1960's the first signals of depletion became clear and attempts were made by policymakers to counter-act, their efforts were largely ineffective. It is just one more story that shows we have to radically change our perception of our environment and our responsibility for it.

More Rear Vision:
Follow up on Iran and Versailles,
Versailles 1919,
Iran 1953,

Wanhoff's Wonderful World of Wissenschaft

A charming and excellent science news podcast in German is Wanhoffs Wunderbare Welt der Wissenschaft (feed). Host Thomas Wanhoff is a German who lives in Vietnam and manages to stay updated on the latest science and technology developments and produce a weekly podcast on the subjects he chooses.

Wanhofs episodes have an ideal length for monologue podcasts (up to 20 minutes). He covers three or four subjects which he explains in a clear and concise manner. There are music and sounds inserted in a modest and befitting manner; mostly it is just the intro.

His treatment is goes beyond delivering the subjects as news items. When relevant he will relate to the subject. This will consist of his own thoughts, or something about how he found out about the subject and acquired updates. When necessary, he will also follow up and reply to questions. Wanhoff can be followed also on Facebook and Twitter. All of this together makes for a real community feel to the podcast.

More German science podcasts:
Ersatz TV (science vodcast),
Fraunhofer podcast (applied science),
Der Sonntagssoziologe (sociology),
Skythenpodcast (history)
Geschichtspodcast (history).

Ersatz TV from the Underground

The latest from Ersatz TV. Every two weeks a great new video.

More Ersatz TV:
The way of the plants,
The experts love Ersatz TV,
Deja-vu on Ersatz-TV,
The science of Ersatz TV,
Erzatz TV - German Vodcast.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Populism - New Books In History

Calling a politician a 'Populist' has a clear pejorative sense to it. In Europe and the US, I learn from the latest of New Books In History, the exact taste to the word is a bit different though. The historic meaning also. Populism was a serious wave in American politics in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. Marshal Poe interviews Charles Postel about who the Populists were and what their politics was all about.

The populists were the last third party that had a serious role in American politics. They were strongly present in the rural areas of the US. Though one may expect they were rather conservative, they turn out quite modernistic. The reason they were against (certain) great corporations was much more complicated than blatant anti-capitalism that some other political streams are attributed with.

The populists were modern in some socialist and cooperative senses. They were also the stream that was the most favorable to women's emancipation. What more Postel shows us they stood for, made them dissolve into the Democratic Party over the course of the 1920's and 30's.

More NBIH:
Two great shows on New Books In History,
Two old and one New Books In History,
The latest in New Books in History,
Three recommendations,
American Exceptionalism.

Ronald Dworkin - NYRB podcast

I just discovered The New York Review of Books Podcast (feed) and I have already forgotten where. It must be on Twitter, I suppose. I have been clicking a lot of podcast links on Twitter recently. Especially the Twitter feed of Philosophy Bites contains frequent recommendations that are worthwhile following up upon.

From the NYRB feed I immediately took two issues tat were extremely compelling to me. The first was an interview with Ronald Dworkin about the US Supreme Court (mp3). Dworkin reacts to a number of phrases by judge Sonia Sotomayor and the situation in the US Supreme Court where there are more and more 4 to 5 and 3 to 6 decisions with a perceivably consistent split among the Justices. For my American audience it is probably more clear what this is all about, but for me and others from the outside it is also very interesting to listen in, because Dworkin makes a couple of important general points about Law.

He reacts to an apparent tendency among certain judges that they are merely applying the Law (whether statute or also precedent). The judge is in that respect merely the mouthpiece of law - bouche de la loi as the French call that. Dworkin is all against that, and this does not surprise me, since I read his 1986 book 'Law's Empire'. Since then, it appears, his line of thinking has not changed. It is his view that the integrity of law lies herein that the judge must optimally weigh the principles involved in law, which implies interpreting the law, precedent and identifying the underlying values, which can lead to decision reversing law and precedent. All this with good reason and explicit justification.

Necessarily this introduces a political aspect into the application of law, but in Dworkin's mind this is inevitable. Digging through to the basics of law and explicitly basing legal decisions on that is substantially intertwined with the law. In his view this must be made explicit. The discussion about the foundations in law need to be clear, political if it must be. And by shying away from this kind of discourse and suggesting the judge is merely voicing the law, the political aspect of legal decision is merely covered, not taken away. Consequently, if the Supreme Court is politically split into 4 liberals and 4 conservatives, the fifth justice (Justice Kennedy) acquires an extended legal power that is unbefitting the principles of democracy.

Philosophy Bites on this blog:
Fourth Revolution,
Michael Sandel on what cannot be sold,
Aristotle's Ethics,

De Aamnaak - Bommel Hoorspel

Nu dat ik mijn mening herzien heb over het Bommel Hoorspel, is het wel zo aardig om de lezers te attenderen op het feit dat een nieuwe reeks is begonnen: De Amnaak (mp3).

Heer Bommel stuurt Joost eropuit om een almanak te kopen, al gelooft hij dat het toch allemaal maar onzin is. Joost komt met een persoonlijke almanak thuis, zodat de heer er zelf een voor hemzelf zal moeten aanschaffen. Natuurlijk blijkt het hier om een magisch geval te gaan dat zijn voorspellingen meteen ziet uitkomen en bovendien een nauw verband heeft met de wijze waarop de koper zijn zelfbeeld en verwachtingen onder woorden heeft gebracht. Daar kan alleen maar narigheid van komen en er zal een list voor nodig zijn om de kwalijke loop der dingen te verhelpen.

Het verhaal wordt voorgelezen door Karen van Holst Pellekaan. De stemmen worden als gewoonlijk gebracht door onder meer Mark Rietman (Bommel), Jacob Derwig (Tom Poes) en Krijn ter Braak (Joost). Zie ook de Bommel Hoorspel Website.

Meer Bommel Hoorspel:
Bommel Hoorspel podcast - NPS podcast recensie,
Bommel Hoorspel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Herod the Ambiguous - From Israelite To Jew

The podcast From Israelite to Jew in its historic series about the Jewish culture and ethnic identity, has reached the figure of Herod the Great.

Host Michael Satlow tells how Herod comes to the throne of Judea and comes to replace the last Hasmonean king. It is a story of war, intrigue, court politics and both bold and careful diplomacy towards the hegemony of the time Rome. This is no pleasant story and even as far as the sources are not supporting one single version, Herod's rise to power is no different of that from any ruler elsewhere or in different times. His greatness lie in the astuteness in war, diplomacy and politics.

Once in office, the ugliness continues and Herod, like so many other rulers, develops a paranoia. Greatness lies in his building projects. Most of these are controversial, as they are of Roman character. One of the problems with this is that the adornments contain, frequently, figurative art, which is taboo among the strict Jews. He makes good for this by restoring and extending the second Temple, the supporting wall of which still stands today and is known as the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall. Herod put Judea on the map, like the First Temple builder Solomon and his father David.

More FITJ:
Jewish varieties,
Jews in the Hasmonean era,
The Maccabee Uprising,
Jews of the Persian Empire.

Big in Japan - Podcasting is for the weak

Here is a conversational podcast, I wouldn't have tried, had I not known the guest on the show. פודקאסט זה לחלשים (Podcasting is for the weak - feed) did a show with Oren Ronen who has moved from Israel to Kyoto, Japan. Oren and I used to work for the same company and we have also joined on several social occasions.

I knew he moved to Japan from Facebook and Twitter, but did not know how he was doing. On Twitter he announced having been interviewed on the podcast (גדולים ביפן). What better chance for me to be updated?

Conversational podcasts usually do not attract my liking. I have expressed this in the past about Real Talk, Nilpod (which is, as far as I can see, really outstanding in the genre), Masters of None and I simply turned down the request to review the Bouty Bouty SquadCast and am still not sure about 300 Bucks Damage. However, when someone talked that I knew and I was genuinely curious how he was doing, the experience turned out to be utterly different.

Why then the review? Very few of my readers will know Oren. Well, first of all, he tells in a very captivating style about Japan. He relates how he searched and found a room for rent. He tells about the anime TV series that are running and have caused upheaval among the fans. You get some feel of current day Japan. Second, there is something about Israeli poking conversation that is so much more sophisticated than English, Dutch or German I know.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fraunhofer podcast - German science podcast

The Fraunhofer Institute is a research institute for applied science. It has a very informative podcast that reports about the various research projects that are going on for the institute. In around 5 minutes you are updated with interviews featuring the researchers themselves.

For example, two researchers of the institute have developed an artificial liver for medicine testing. The liver not only replaces the need for animal testing, but it is also a closer representative of the human liver. Where normally the track for introducing new medicines to the users will take about 10 years, the researchers expect that with a fully developed artificial liver, this can be shortened by several years. Other products that are being developed are particle filters for diesel engines in larger vehicles such as trains, shovels and buses. And engraving methods to be used for identifying genuine products from counterfeits.

The podcast episodes are in German (feed), but the English site of Fraunhofer contains a series of English audio files that are not syndicated.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Talent is overrated, the sweat counts - UChannel

What separates top performers from everybody else? Geoff Colvin lectures at the RSA on a UChannel podcast. Colvin studied the top performers in a wide variety of areas like sports, music and business and checked how talent, hard work, intelligence and parents contributed to the various success stories that can be found.

We tend to attribute excellence to talent and Colvin is here to kill that myth. Raw intelligence can be found plentiful among top chess players, but there are great achievers of mediocre intelligence and great intellects with disappointing game records. Musical talent helps, but some prodigies do not make it to great performers and some of the great performers were thought to be of average talent when they were still learning. Great businessmen, academicians and so on show the same record.

Covin goes to show that excellence comes from hard study. From hours and hours of effective practice, where the effort is to push the limits. This is a tough conclusion for all us average people out there in the middle of life: we could have accomplished our high aims, had we spent more time and effort on practice. It also puts a burden on educators and parents: you will have to grab those kids at early ages and let them spend their time on carefully chosen activities. But I found Covin missed one psychological point. It seems those top performers had a talent, or maybe a restriction even, to focus on but one thing. Reaching the top, anywhere in life, I think, takes a kind of monomaniac determination. That possibly is neither talent nor effort; that is choice.

More UChannel Podcast:
Ronald Reagan, a rebel,
Disasters and Peace,
Enclosing the commons of the mind,
Middle East challenges,
Good climate for everyone (global warming).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Byzantine Culture - Entitled Opinions

In a fascinating double edition of Entitled Opinions, Robert Harrison had a two hour conversation with Panagiotis Agapitos, Professor of Byzantine Studies at the University of Cyprus, about the history, literature and culture of Byzantium. For the history I think you'd better check with the podcast 12 Byzantine Rulers and several issues of MMW at UCSD. From there, the addition of Entitled Opinions is that of insight in a forgotten treasure trove of culture.

It is a question that possibly gets a beginning answer on these podcasts why Byzantium is largely ignored in the Western Perspective. In addition from professor Agapitos we learn of the great influence of Byzantine culture on ours. And when you come to think of the high standards it had during the Middle Ages, it is only natural that such is the case. Haven't we all read the romances? But shouldn't we know that the roots go back to Byzantium?

While on the subject of literature, Harrison and Agapitos take us further in an inspiring conversation about literature in general. I was thrilled by their opinion literature is actual three dimensional as opposed to film which is two-dimensional. I tend to agree, but I am sure a whole generation tends to think otherwise. It may seem that film is more immersing and it is very valuable to learn why literature may be more so. If only to be drawn to read Eco's Name of the Rose rather than see the movie - no matter how splendid.

More Entitled Opinions:
Jimi Hendrix,
Sartre's Existentialism,
Five Free Favorites of Jesse Willis.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Humanist podcast review

The New Humanist magazine, has a promotional podcast that gives a flavor of what is to be expected in the coming issue. (feed) New Humanist editor Casper Melville speaks with a couple of contributors to the issue about their articles. Judging from the feed, the podcast faded about half a year ago and has been revived just now.

So the latest issue is a first in what is hopefully coming to be a regular series. It was recommended, if I recall correctly, by the makers of Philosophy Bites through Twitter. In any case I picked it up on Twitter. The subjects are: Genetically Manipulated food, the New Economy hype and internet porn from the perspective of classical theory. The last subject seems to be the most sexy, but in effect it is the first. About porn you will learn just what you already knew; it is plain, superficial, predictable and lacking any form of story.

The question about genetically manipulated food is, what is it? What is good about it and what might be bad? Agricultural products are, already, the outcome of ages of breeding and amelioration. We have always striven to get out of our crops more yield, whether it is more harvest, bigger size, more nutrition or more resistance to disease or other failure. With new genetic technology the same aims are pursued on the molecular level. New Humanist sees no problem with it. The negative ideas about it are contributed to an intuitive revulsion. I hope to find a podcast some time that will shed more light from that angle.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Human Impact on the Environment - UCSD lecture series

An interesting summer course in Biology on the University of California San Diego (UCSD) is BILD 18 - Human Impact on the Environment by professor Milton Saier. (feed, website) As usual with UCSD courses, one is advised to download all lectures as soon as possible as they will be taken off line immediately at the end of the course.

In Saier's course the human impact on the environment is nothing to be proud or happy about. The nut shell example is the history of Easter Island. When humans first set foot on the island, it was a lush place with palm tree forests and a rich variety of fauna. For humans it was a good place to live. Plenty of food was to be had. Not just from the vegetation and animals on the island, but also, with the help of canoes, they could go out fishing and enrich the diet even more, notably with dolphin flesh. The famous statues of Easter Island are a distant memory on how rich life on Easter Island has been once upon a time. Yet, in order to build the canoes and move the statues about, the palm trees were cut. Once they were gone, so was part of the fauna and eventually also new canoes. The inhabitants had destroyed their habitat and fell to war and cannibalism.

In Saier's mind climate change, pollution and the rapid extinction of species on the entire planet are a large scale repetition of Easter Island's fate. So while he teaches the specifics of how humans impacted the environment, the facts speak for a normative conclusion. We bear the full guilt of the planet's impending collapse and radical change is needed to prevent disaster and contain the huge damage done already.

More Human and the Environment:
Defining Environmental History,
Climate Change will make us pay,
Electric Cars,
Good climate for everyone,
Lord Lawson and the alarmists,
Hot, Flat and Crowded,
Stern Review.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Downshifting with Marco Mattheis - German podcast review

Ganz Einfach Leben is a German podcast that takes environmentalism and economizing to the personal level. Host Marco Mattheis allows us to take part in his personal life and his personal strife to simplify his life. Eventually this is an excercise in discovering the good life with the minimum of means. (feed)

The effort to down shift, while obviously inspired by the need to bring down consumption for the sake of environmentalism and the need to simply cut costs, takes on a larger meaning of the good life. How to reduce stress, anxiety, compulsivity and the drive of the rat race by means of reducing the economic volume of ones life. Sticking to the minimum of possessions, to the minimum of credit should actually increase freedom and joy in life. The title of the podcast acquires a double meaning, not just to live simply, but also to simply live.

One can follow Mattheis on his quest to acquire this good life and both on the blog and the podcast see how this boils down to practical life. How decisions are taken what to purchase and why. What to cut away and why. Eventually this is not just an example one may consider to follow and take the podcast as a kind of guide, but it is also a possibility to connect with a community of people of like minds.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The need for Community - RSA podcast

The podcast RSA current audio contains recordings from lectures held at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (in short RSA). Usually these lectures are also compiled into the UChannel Podcast, which makes them to be available in both feeds. And consequently I pick them up, once in the one and then again in the other. This one lecture featuring, among others, Amitai Etzioni, about community, I picked up directly from RSA.

My first encounter with Etzioni, sociology professor at the George Washington University, was through the VPRO program Tegenlicht, where he was featured as an inpsiriation of a new generation of politcians among them Blair, Clinton and Kohl and Dutch Prime Minister J.P. Balkenende. Etzioni's sociology emphasizes values and community. At the RSA he was invited to answer the question whether people need community anymore. Based on my previous knowledge, the reply was expected; of course people do.

The basics of this idea are that the social fabric has gone bad, actually, once you have to 'bring in the lawyers and accountants'. Etzioni argues people need some kind of inner incentive to play by the rules and it is suggested community instills this in the individual. And then the really interesting question is: what is community? Where do you find it? And how does community help the social fabric remain intact? Here you will meet several levels of community and also will find Etzioni point out the darker side of community.

More RSA:
The Public Domain: enclosing the commons of the mind,
Israel and Palestine,
Terror and Martyrdom,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Der Sonntagssoziologe - German Sociology with a wink

I suppose Der Sonntagssoziologe is a word that has a similar meaning in German as a 'Sunday's Sociologist' in Dutch would have; a less than serious sociologist. René Lehnert, the host of Der Sonntagssoziologe, is a sociology student who makes the occasional podcast, usually around a question (Frage den Sonntagssoziologen), in order to quickly clarify an issue from sociology or a sociological perspective. Always with a tongue in cheek. (feed)

Invariably, the question is read by a woman (Tabitha Hammer) with a French accent in her German and the answer can be a short as the one to the question What is Murphy's Law. The podcast breaks down, before the Sunday Sociologist succeeds in speaking. And so, this poking at sociology is apart from parody, also a bit of an audio play.

The most charming issue, I found, the one that tried to address the definitive question, What is sociology. Here the question doesn't come from the nice French girl, but rather from the Parents. 'Your brother makes machines, and you? You make... sociology?' Yes, I studied sociology at some point in my life, so I commiserate. René takes us down the line of the gruesome jargon of sociologists, deliberately mauling the answer. I hope his parents still love him.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Elucidations - philosophy podcast review

Two graduate students of the University of Chicago have a philosophy podcast named Elucidations (feed). They interview their professors about assorted subjects in philosophy. For listeners familiar with podcasts in the genre, their approach will seem extremely familiar to Philosophy Bites.

As opposed to Philosophy Bites this podcast apparently does not keep old episodes in the feed. The website suggests there were several previous episodes, but the feed delivers only one chapter, a talk with Agnes Callard about human desire and satisfaction. If somebody desires to catch the train to New York and finds he is late. He then runs to catch the train he sees leaving from the platform. He manages to jump on and while catching his breath he finds he has boarded the train to Chicago. Has his desire to catch the train been satisfied?

This case used to analyze the various ways to view desire and satisfaction. He wanted to catch the train and that he has managed, so his desire was satisfied. Or not, because he wanted to get to New York and now he will reach Chicago in stead. Callard proposes a different way of defining desire and satisfaction than either completely reducing or amassing the elements.

Philosophy Bites on this blog:
Michael Sandel,
Aristotle's Ethics,
Alternative Hedonism.

Brieftour-Pod podcast review

On Friday morning, I did exactly the right thing to optimize the experience of listening to the German podcast Brieftour-Pod (feed). I took a walk. Since the podcast is recorded with a 'Kunstkopf' microphone (dummy head recording), which basically means the podcaster (Michael Eggers) is wearing a stereophone microphone on his head and this records sounds exactly the way he experiences it.

Michael Eggers works as a mailman and makes his podcast while he is doing his rounds. Consequently, while I walked the streets in my Mediterranean home town, I was delivered the experience of Michael's Brieftour in the streets of Neumuenster, which is a small town north of Hamburg. It was like making two walks at the same time with undergoing street sounds of my town and his at the same time.

And while he does his round and makes us take in the surrounding soundscape, he talks about various subjects that come up. As to the content, this makes the podcast a personal audioblog. For example, the listener is made partner in the loss of Michael's mother. Also, he relates to the audience the recipes of his cakes and such. Somehow, the Kunstkopf aspect of the podcast gives the whole result a very fresh and impromptu quality.

More German podcasts:
Ersatz TV,
Volkis Stimme,
Schlaflos in Muenchen,
And more.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Origins of The Cold War - Gilder Lehrmann podcast

The Gilder Lehrmann Institute for American History has an excellent podcast with guest lectures about American history in the widest sense. The latest in this series was a lecture about the history of the cold war by John Lewis Gaddis.

I would have expected Gaddis to start in 1945. He eventually makes clear how the cold war indeed starts around that date. However, he makes a point in asking why did it take so long for these two superpowers to eventually wind up in this duality. He notes that by the end of the first world war, basically it is clear that the US and the USSR are the only real great powers left. He suggests one can even go back further and points out that it was already noted at the time. In the nineteenth century the US and Russia were the only great industrialized nations that were rapidly expanding into an ever moving frontier towards a size that extended way beyond the great powers of the time, France and Britain among others.

Hence it was bound to happen and he introduces us to George Kennan (the first, before George Frost Kennan) who marked this evolving reality. And so, already by 1917 the US were eying Russia and after the revolution, the USSR. The US were also weary entering the Great War, feeling that it was not in their interest to 'save the British Empire'. Inevitably, though opposed to the idea of Empire, the US became one. And so did the USSR and Hitler gambled on the polarity between the two. Yet they teamed up to bring the Third Reich down and only then the true duality came to dominate the world. Until 1989.

More Gilder Lehrmann:
A plea for integrated historiography (Thomas Bender),
The Cuban Missile Crisis (Sergei Khrushchev),
African American generations (Ira Berlin),
Theodore Roosevelt (Patrica O'Toole),
Slave Culture (Philip Morgan).

Friday, July 17, 2009

VPRO's Argos - podcast recensie

Uit de verzameling podcasts van de Nederlandse Omroepen besloot ik een aflevering van VPRO's Argos te beluisteren. (feed) Het ging daarbij om de aflevering van 4 Juli jongstleden met en uitgebreid item over gevaarlijke giffen in vliegtuigen.

Om voor de hand liggende redenen zijn in vliegtuigen vele zogenaamde brandremmers verwerkt. Het gaat hierbij om kunststoffen die in geval van brand in de cabine van het vliegtuig de verspreiding van het vuur tegen gaan. Men moet denken aan bijvoorbeeld de vloerbedekking, de bekleding en zelfs de uniformen van het cabinepersoneel. Dit hangt natuurlijk samen met de veiligheid. Argos gaat echter in op verschillende studies en rapportages van toxicologen die waarschuwen voor de gevaren van deze brandremmers voor de gezondheid.

In de brandremmers zitten agressieve broomverbindingen verwerkt die, eenmaal in het bloed opgenomen, pas over zeer lange periodes afgebroken of afgevoerd worden uit het lichaam. Met name voor ongeboren kinderen is dit zeer bezwaarlijk. Op lange vluchten, zullen met name leden van de bemanning een onaanvaardbare hoge dosis van deze stoffen binnenkrijgen.

Argos vraagt om commentaar van luchtvaartmaatschappijen en nadere toelichting of men van zins is hieraan wat te doen. De schoorvoetende reacties zijn natuurlijk te verwachten. Het is een zeer interessant programma. Wie het ook wil belusiteren doet er goed aan om de opname te started, 15 minuten na het begin; dit eerste kwartier maakt geen deel uit van de uitzending maar is een groot nieuwsblok dat niet uit de podcast is weggesneden.

Meer Nederlandse Omroepen podcasts:
Bommel Hoorspel (NPS),
Voor 1 Nacht (KRO),
Simek 's Nachts (RVU),
Flavius (Joodse Omroep),
Marathon Interview (VPRO).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Open Yale Course feeds - Game Theory and Greek Classics

In the past I have reviewed three Open Yale Courses and have needed to emphasize that these courses were not podcast. This has changed. Two of them - and who knows before long, also the third - have been added to iTunes U and consequently been put in a feed. This I found out thanks to Dara of DIY Scholar.

Game Theory with Professor Ben Polak is a most accessible and even entertaining at times course into game theory. The principle aim is to teach game theory to economists, but each and every social science interested listener will greatly benefit from these course. Even though the subject is mathematical, Polak pulls off a course that is comprehensible also for the mathematically challenged. (feed)

Introduction to Ancient Greek History with Professor Donald Kagan is your ultimate entry into the history of the Greek Classical world. I would wish to be taught any subject by Kagan. He is capable of telling the narrative and disclose the historiographic problems, theories and reconstructions at the same time. (feed)

Hopefully the outstanding Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) with Professor Christine Hayes will also soon be added to iTunes.

More Open Yale:
The Hebrew Bible - Open Yale,
Introduction to ancient Greek history,
Game Theory.

The way of the plants - Ersatz TV

A new issue of Ersatz TV is available. The three main subjects are Schufa, Pflanzenstrom, Kurzweil. That is, one item about the credit authority, which, it turns out, has been around since the 1920's. One item about research that is aimed at cheaply generating electricity in the same way plants generate their energy: photosynthesis. And an item about Ray Kurzweil that is summarized as: Kurzweil is the opposite of Langweil. Ni Hao bei Erstaz TV.

A real surprise is by the end a new feature: commercial. Not just any commercial, but one by the conservative Bavarian political party CSU, such an unexpected find in Ersatz. The style of the commercial is entirely old TV and its persistent and uniform use of the blue color scheme of CSU completely out of style with internet TV. Their idea is 'we are all the same' where in the world of internet and new media, we are all different. It is almost a parody in itself.

More Ersatz TV:
The experts love Ersatz TV,
Deja-vu on Ersatz-TV,
The science of Ersatz TV,
Erzatz TV - German Vodcast.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The future of Pakistan - BBC Analysis

I have taken up listening to BBC's Analysis (feed), a program which attempts to analyze what ideas and powers shape British public policy. After issues about ecological policy and social science studies into moral choices, there was the last program of the season, which really stuck out and needs to be heard together with the latest podcasts I highlighted about geopolitcs, about Pakistan.

The scare word applied to Pakistan is 'Jihadistan'. The main point of the program is to show how Pakistan is edging dangerously close to becoming a state controlled by Jihadists. This as a result of a two way development, where the more moderate powers and the establishment are having little or a lessening grip on the country and religious fundamentalists are springing up in all regions together, albeit concerted or independently.

There is also a point that as a state Pakistan was never quite capable of controlling all regions and this called, in me, for questions about it being, maybe, a failed state. In that case a Jihadistan does not only mean a threat to Britain, to India and to geopolitical stability, but it would mean a deterioration of internal order, much in the way is already happening in remote areas such as Waziristan or the notorious Swat valley. The description of how jihadist militias recruit young kids are reminiscent of examples of other failed states such as Sudan and Congo.

Sudan and the fallacy of nationhood,
Repairing failed states,
Lakhdar Brahimi about Afghanistan and Iraq,
Global Geopolitics,
Faith based diplomacy.

Henk Spaan - Voor een nacht

KRO's Voor 1 nacht is geen podcast die bol staat van de kwaliteit. De kans op interessante gesprekken wordt veelal gesmoord in formules en in het geval van gast Henk Spaan overdadige aandacht voor de successen met Harry Vermeegen en een ongeneerd pluggen van Henk Spaan's nieuwe boek 'De rapen zijn gaar', waaruit de schrijver enkele stukjes mag voorlezen en je je afvraagt of er werkelijk geen betere fragmenten te kiezen waren.

Kortom, het was een bar slechte uitzending. Marc Stakenburg valt opnieuw als interviewer door de mand. (Of hij mag niets van zijn redactie, maar waar sta je dan eigenlijk nog voor?) De formule met muziekjes en de openingsvragen waarin de gast uit tweetallen een keuze moet maken, bewijst zich opnieuw als obligaat en verwaterend. Waarom is het dan toch nog de moeite waard om te luisteren?

Het is omdat Henk Spaan heel sympathiek en relativerend over zijn werk en over media praat. Zolang het boek niet geplugd wordt en er niet al teveel gedweept wordt met het Harry Vermeegen tijdperk en Spaan gewoon aan het woord wordt gelaten om iets verstandigs te zeggen, dan werkt het gewoon. Ik heb al vaak gezegd dat een goede gast een interviewprogramma kan redden, maar dat het programma en de interviewer de uitzending kan bederven blijkt eveneens een serieus gevaar te zijn. Dat er ten slotte ook veel spannender uit De rapen zijn gaar kan worden voorgelezen, blijkt wel uit de onderstaande video. En dan snap je die titel ook eindelijk.

Meer KRO's voor 1 nacht:
Maarten Ducrot,
Candy Dulfer,
Olga Zuiderhoek en Paul Rosenmoller,
Gijs Wanders en Adjiedj Bakas,
Arnon Grunberg.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lawrence Freedman - Big Ideas

TVO's podcast Big Ideas had a lecture with Lawrence Freedman (audio) in which he comments on his book A choice of enemies; America confronts the Middle East. This is a lecture with a historical perspective on US foreign policy in the Middle East.

In many ways, Freedmans outstanding lecture was an echo of a point also made in the excellent history and political science series from Stanford: The History of the International System. 1979 is a year with a couple of occurrences in the geopolitcs of the Middle East that break away from the Cold War logic of the time and are the harbingers of a new world order that is to come and that we have become familiar with today. The Egypt-Israel peace initiative, The revolution in Iran and (of you wish) the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan.

What makes Freedman's lecture refreshing is the emphasis on history. It gives a much clearer perspective on the geopolitics of the Middle-East and makes many of its feature much less surprising. So much less so that Freedman hardly avoids scolding foreign policy makers for not knowing their history and rerun old policies with old failing over and over again. After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan came the US variety, with equal problematic outcome. After the British failure to dictate state building in Iraq, the US ran into the same conundrum. This lecture is indispensable for the podcast listener who tries to get a grip on the Middle-East.

More Big Ideas:
New Learning - Don Tapscott on Big Ideas,
On Crime,
Why isn't the whole world developed?,
The role and place of the intellectual,
Disaster Capitalism.

More History of the International System:
The State in The International System,
A century of geopolitics,
History of the International System.

Jewish varieties - From Israelite To Jew

The podcast From Israelite to Jew studies the cultural development in Judaism from a historical perspective. As explained by the beginning of the series, around the 6th century BCE there were Israelites that adhered to Judaism. Israelites were a rather loose federation of tribes. Over time they developed into an ethnicity called the Jews.

When speaking of THE Jews, the impression may arise that there is some kind of unity and there is one Judaism. The podcast's host, Michael Satlow, turns to what little sources there are and attempts to measure that unity. For one there are the Hebrew bible and apocryphal Hebrew sources, which mostly concentrate on the worship around the Temple in Jerusalem. In addition there are Greek and Latin sources that paint a radically different picture of assimilated Jewry, but does this mean there are these two, the real Judaism and the watered down, bound to disappear Hellenistic Judaism?

Satlow proposes a different idea, one that breaks away from the dichotomy of observant and assimilated Jews. There had been Jewish communities throughout the Greek Empires ever since the second Temple Period (500 BCE - 70 CE) started. if you look at the Temple cult in Jerusalem, the alleged pure Judaism, it would have been impossible for Jews in faraway places to maintain this kind of Judaism. However, this does not necessarily mean, that all these Jews assimilated to disappearance. Satlow suggests a wide variety of ways these Jews must have maintained and developed their Judaism. This is where the shift from Temple to Synagogue may have started, way in advance of the destruction of the Temple and the last diaspora. Satlow's history is a history of a Judaism that is in continuous development driven by many Jewish varieties.

More FITJ:
Jews in the Hasmonean era,
The Maccabee Uprising,
Jews of the Persian Empire,
The fox and the hedgehog.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Two great shows on New Books In History

Just when I was about to write a raving review about Marshal Poe's interview with Mark Bradley about the Vietnamese perspective at the Vietnam War, up along came the interview with Susan Brewer about American war propaganda since the end of the nineteenth century when President McKinley had to sell to the public the war with Spain and on the Philippines. Both are very interesting especially for those who are interested in a new perspective on US foreign policy.

Mark Bradley's book is obviously most needed; after all that has been said and written about the Vietnam War, what was sorely missing was an insight in how this war is perceived among the Vietnamese. After Bradley's book, maybe more should follow. Though Marshall Poe has high praise for the book and based on the interview one certainly gets a really good impression about Bradley as an historian, there still is room left for discovery. The most pronounced reason for this is that Vietnam is still not the open society with accessible archives and an established discourse among historians to allow for a definitive Vietnamese version. But certainly Bradly has paved the way.

Brewer's book raises first of all the question of propaganda. What is propaganda? Is it necessarily a bundle of lies to manipulate the public? Can any government live without it? Since the answer to the last question seems to be no, the government will always need some explanatory policy. Even if propaganda is not be a set of outright lies, it certainly is an information initiative to influence the public. Brewer's book (and the podcast) give some insight into the workings of propaganda, from times when media, probably, could be controlled, to the modern age when there is always plenty room for opposing voices. The bottom line is that propaganda never seems to have lost its efficacy.

More NBIH:
Two old and one New Books In History,
The latest in New Books in History,
Three recommendations,
American Exceptionalism,
The Great War in short.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Royal Navy and the Seven Year War - BTHP

I came out of the last episode of Binge Thinking History Podcast's series about the Royal Navy thinking that the British by the beginning of the 18th century had already begun to rule the waves. Yet the latest episode, around the Seven Years War, takes the narrative further and slightly adjusts this point.

Host Tony Cocks acknowledges the advanced position the navy has. Other important navies in Europe had been pushed off the scene, notably the Dutch and the Spanish. However, this left the British to compete with the French and France with its bigger population and fast growing economy looked to become even more formidable than the British. The covert competition, fast deteriorates from enmity to all out war. The Seven Year War, fought on all sides of the globe, from Canada, to the Channel, the Mediterranean, to India sees the French gain the upper hand.

In an exciting narrative accompanied with wonderfully apt sound effects, Cocks spells out what the positions are, where the key players go and how the tables are turned. Can we say that in the end the British indeed rule the waves? They surely assume that ruling the seas is the key to empire. The French however maintain strength on land and confrontations with the competition on the other side of the channel are still going to come up again. The next chapter will continue from the end of the 18th century I gather.

BTHP is an amateur podcast and the quality it aspires to is extremely demanding for host Tony Cocks as is for many of his colleagues who try to keep up their own history podcasts. What I see with BTHP and its likes, is that these demands are met, but the price across the board is that these good podcasts appear very infrequently. Months between issues are no exception. I think I am not the only one in their public that applauds the maintenance of quality and takes the long stretches as part of the bargain.

More BTHP:
Britannia Rules the Waves,
Royal Navy,
Win, lose or draw,
Blitz on London,
Battle of Britain.

Emmeline Pankhurst - Veertien Achttien

Er is een mooi bruggetje te maken tussen de voorlaatste en de laatste aflevering van Veertien Achttien. Toen de hoofdpersoon van vorige week, Lord Kitchener, de Britse mannen opriep om dienst te nemen het nieuwe vrijwilligerlseger, Kitchener's Army, kreeg hij steun uit een opmerkelijke hoek: van de feministe Emmeline Pankhurst, hoofdpersoon deze week.

De feministes onder Pankhurst deelden witte veren uit aan elke man die nog ongeschonden door Londen rondliep. Waarom? Op het oog betekent de witte veer: lafaard, neem dienst. Maar waarom waren het juist de feministische Suffragettes die opeens de oorlogszaak zo hartstochtelijk oppakten? Twee gedachtes dringen zich op. De beweging voor vrouwenkiesrecht gold als tamelijk radicaal, een opposant van de gevestigde orde en zoals wel vaker met dit soort ideele groeperingen, kunnen zij hartstochtelijk nationalisme aannemen om een zekere legitimiteit te verkrijgen. Patriotisme is in de moderne historie een handig middel om de publieke opinie te bewerken, vooral in tijden van oorlog.

Maar dankzij Tom Tacken wordt nog een idee geopperd: hoe meer mannen dienst nemen, hoe meer het Home Front door vrouwen gerund moet worden. Hoe meer vrouwen aan het roer staan, hoe meer invloed in de samenleving, hoe meer de actieve participatie in politiek door vrouwen dichterbij komt. Het wordt vaak verondersteld dat de Eerste Wereldoorlog het algemeen kiesrecht versneld dichterbij heeft gebracht. Tacken suggereert dit ook, maar in dit verband is het wel aardig om de luisteraars te wijzen op een aflevering van BBC's In Our Time (Suffragism) dat iets anders oppert: het vrouwenkiesrecht was er al bijna en de oorlog heeft de boel alleen maar vertraagd.

Meer Veertien Achttien:
Lord Kitchener,
Walther Rathenau,
Komitas Vardapet,
John Condon,
Koning George V.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

History of Medicine podcasts - Oxford Brookes University

Each episode in the series History of Medicine Podcasts from Oxford Brooke University (School of Arts and Humanities) begins with calling itself: Another podcast of 'Moments in Medicine'. What does this mean? Have the makers inherited recordings of another podcast? Have they changed the name in the process? Whatever the final decision is going to be about the proper name, both names carry an indication onto what kind of podcast this is: Brief historic moments that marked the science and profession of medicine are being discussed. And they are more Medicine with a History backdrop, than chapters in the history of Medicine. On that account I'd personally prefer Moments in Medicine.

Thus far this podcast has seven short chapters in its feed which cover interesting subjects such as: Why do human beings have a tendency to obesity? Medicinal clothing. Pandemics. Sickle Cell disease. And Eugenics. The last one was highlighted on Twitter by the tweets of the Reith Lectures 2009 and this is how I found the podcast. As said, the focal point is medicine. The subjects are addressed by and to those interested in medicine and have a historic perspective for better understanding.

For the purpose of identifying the category for this podcast, I am therefore inclined to put it both in history and science (or medicine). In comparison with other podcasts, I want to recommend this one as it is very professionally made and very informative.

More Medical History:
Medieval Islamic Medicine (University of Warwick),
Pain in paradigm (Missing Link),
Medicalhistory - podcast review,
Four Humor Medicine (BBC - In Our Time),
Avicenna (BBC - In Our Time).

More about BBC Reith Lectures 2009:
A new politics of the common good,
The bioethics concern,
Morality in Politics,
Morality and the Market,
Michael Sandel - Philosophy Bites.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rear Vision sequels to Iran and Versailles

It was promised at the start of the two last programs of Rear Vision I reviewed: both would be part of a double show, yet it took some time for the second of each to appear in the feed. Today I listened to these two follow-ups and I want to warmly recommend both, but also want to add: don't listen to them in the order I did.

I first listened to the first installment about Iran, which gave the background to the coup of 1953 and then I listened to the first installment on the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Both were great, but their sequels proceed so neatly from where the first chapters ended, it is really best to listen to the couple in one fell swoop.

The Iran show (Iranian Revolution) will take the narrative further from the 1953 coup and describe the regime of the Shah, how it could stay in place for over 25 years. It was a regime of terror and intricate division of the opposition. Yet, when somehow Khomeini managed to become the focal point for opposition unity, the Shah's regime crumbled in little time.

The show about the Peace conference (Impact of Versailles) will highlight and discuss all the alleged bad effects on specific nations. Not just the question whether it was Versailles that brought Hitler to power, but also about Yugoslavia, other parts of Eastern Europe and importantly the Middle East. It is said that especially in the Middle East the effects of 1919 are still felt and the invented nations (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) and overlooked nations (Palestinians, Armenians and probably also Kurds though they are not mentioned) are still troubled by the artificial terms set in that time.

More Rear Vision:
Versailles 1919,
Iran 1953,

Nico Frijda - Simek 's Nachts

We hebben ze wel eens vaker meegemaakt, gasten in Simek 's Nachts, of het nu bij de RVU of bij Elsevier was, die over bepaalde dingen niet willen praten. Het meest fascinerende is dan hoe Martin Simek naar de grens gaat, tot waar de gast zich nog veilig voelt, en er dan toch overheen probeert te gaan. Soms krijg je dan toch nog iets meer te horen dan de afbakening toeliet. Zo ook bij het laatste interview.

Al bij de inleiding vertelt Simek dat zijn gast, Nico Frijda niet graag over zijn oorlogservaringen spreekt. Je voelt dat hij daarnaartoe zal gaan werken en dat maakt het meteen al spannend. Maar behalve dat gaat het ook over Frijda's werk, over liefde en trouw en over sommege van zijn kinderen. En ook in die prive-sfeer die niet met de oorlog te maken heeft zijn er zaken niet bespreekbaar. Frijda zegt simpelweg: hier wil ik niet over praten.

En zo gaat het gesprek ook expliciet over die grenzen, over die afgesloten aspecten van de mens Frijda en waarom daar niet over gesproken kan worden. Het is het dilemma van het trauma onderdrukken of oprakelen; hij is er niet een die onverkort gelooft dat erover praten oplucht. En terwijl we bezig zijn krijg je toch nog onverwacht veel te weten. En er vallen een paar stiltes waarvan ik vermoed dat Frijda zijn tranen verbijt. Het maakt de uitzending hier en daar spannend, interessant en teglijkertijd een klein beetje ongemakkelijk, maar dat hoort erbij.

EXCLUSIEF via dit blog, drie feeds waarin oude Simek interviews zijn op te halen, die niet meer door de RVU rechtstreeks aangeleverd worden.

Meer Simek 's Nachts:
Aaf Brandt Corstius,
Freek de Jonge,
Kees van Kooten,
Connie Palmen,
Dhyan Sutorius (RVU).