Saturday, October 31, 2009

New podcasts in October 2009 - Anne is a Man

First of all, in October we have had Blog Action Day 2009 during which 31000 blog posts about Climate Change were published all on October 15th. My own contribution can be reread under the #BAD09 tag.

In addition, there were ten podcasts that I reviewed for the first time:

History Podcasts:
Short History of Ireland (BBC) (review, site, feed)
Very charming daily podcast taking the listener through the history of Ulster and Eire in 5 minute issues.

Norman Centuries (review, site, feed)
The comeback of history podcast veteran Lars Brownworth. This series will tell us the history of the Normans.

European Civilization 1648 to 1945 (Yale) (review, site, feed)
General modern western history lecture series by Professor John Merriman.

History of India (UCLA) (review, site, feed)
Lecture series by Professor Vinay Lal taking us through Indian History from Indus Valley civilization to the modern day.

Other podcasts:
Husserl (review, site, feed)
Lecture series by John Drabinsky about Edmund Husserl, put in feed by Anne is a Man.

Political Economic and Social Thought (University of Wisconsin) (review, site, feed)
Political Science introduction from 25 years ago by Professor Charles W. Anderson

Laura Speaks Dutch (review, site, feed)
Straightforward language learning podcast, teaching you Dutch phrases and basic grammar.

Oorsmeer (VPRO) (review, site, feed)
(in Dutch) Satirisch nieuwsprogramma.

Kritisch Denken (review, site, feed)
(in Dutch) Sceptische podcast van de Vlaming Jozef van Giel.

Deutsche Klassiker (Deutsche Welle) (review, site, feed)
(in German) German Classics read to you by excellent readers.

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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

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Friday, October 30, 2009

The binding of Isaac reconstructed

Today, I have decided, I will skip writing a podcast review. This doesn't mean I will take a break - there is actually a long playlist awaiting me and a lot of listening time is planned. The schedule leaves very little room from writing. Frequently I have posts pre-written, but the ones I have now, are not fit for today, but rather later on.

I do not wish to leave you without posts, however and so I want to entertain you with a video from YouTube that was forwarded to me. I hope it will please you as much as it pleased me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Michael Sandel - LSE / UChannel

Have you also enjoyed Michael Sandel on the BBC Reith Lectures 2009? It made me crave being in class when Sandel teaches and it turns out that that is now possible for a brief moment. Albeit after the fact, but still.

Sandel was invited to speak at the London School of Economics on his subject that also was central in the Reith Lectures: The Moral Limits of Markets. This can be heard on the LSE Podcast and has been republished also at the UChannel Podcast. Usually these podcasts are one way lectures, at best with a question and answer session at the end, but Sandel's appearance takes on the character of a class. From the beginning he interacts with the audience and on the spot pushes them to explore moral issues with markets. This is exactly what I had imagined how it would be to study with him.

Just as in the Reith Lectures, Sandel shows how the current market thinking allows for turning anything into a commodity and if we feel something is wrong there, it is hard to get a grip on that intuition. Is it wrong to turn to commodity health services? Prisons? Warfare? Carbon Dioxide emissions? Refugee quota? Could you take options on certain occurrences, such as a celebrity's death or terrorist attacks? Sandel's contribution to the discussion is the analysis of the intuition. He shows that aside from market freedom, also principles of justice and morality play a role.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The weekly treat: In Our Time

I do not expect that readers of this blog really need a reminder of the excellent weekly podcast of the BBC In Our Time. Each week Melvyn Bragg is joined in the studio by three specialist to talk about various subjects in the history of ideas. Since my last review we have heard about the Dreyfus affair, the death of Elizabeth I and the geological formation of Britain. Tomorrow there will be a new podcast. This time about Schopenauer.

In Our Time has been bringing 45 minutes of sheer intellectual pleasure over the past years. And so, what more is to be said? The BBC and Melvyn Bragg understand the asset they have with IOT and have published the In Our Time book. Although the BBC website presents this as a guide to IOT, is merely a set of transcripts of selected chapters.

As is usual with books these day, teasers can be had over the web and so, you can read a transcript of the episode about calendars. Also in print IOT displays here the wonderful quality it offers in podcast.

More In Our Time:
New season of In Our Time,
St. Thomas Aquinas,
Logical Positivism,
The Sunni - Shia split,
Revenge Tragedy.

Het heelal in een kwartier - Kritisch Denken

Een bijzonder geslaagde aflevering van de sceptische podcast Kritisch Denken vertelde de geschiedenis van het heelal binnen vijftien minuten. Kritisch Denken is een nederlandstalige podcast die merkbaar geinspireerd is op Engelse podcasts zoals onder meer The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe (SGU). (feed)

De maker van Kritisch Denken, de Vlaming Jozef van Giel werkt volgens een vastgelegd script dat op de website is terug te lezen (Het heelal in een notedop). Dat werkt in dit specifieke voorbeeld erg goed en levert de beste inleiding in de astronomie die ik me maar wensen kan. In andere gevallen versnippert het de podcast een weinig en brengt het Van Giel aan het hakkelen.

De podcast is begonnen in Februari 2009 en wie de afleveringen van het begin vergelijkt met die van het eind, kan een zeer positieve ontwikkeling waarnemen. Niet alleen heeft Van Giel het podcasten technisch onder de knie gekregen, maar heeft hij ook het drammerige van sommige andere sceptici weten te vermijden en een sfeer gecreeerd waarin we samen met hem soms ook op zoek zijn naar de kritische balans. Zoals bijvoorbeeld in de podcast over IJsland, waarin onverwachte wendingen worden gegeven aan de vraag wat ecologisch verantwoord leven is.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

History of India - UCLA lecture podcast

With great enthusiasm I started a new lecture series at UCLA: History 9A - Introduction to Asian Civilizations: History of India (feed). Not all courses at UCLA are available as free podcasts, but this one is. I call myself lucky.

I have a great interest in the history of India. The fascinations stretches from the earliest of Indus Valley civilizations to modern day India and its neighbors. I have complained in the past that a good history podcast about India was sorely missing and here we are, UCLA meets the challenge. I have gone through the first four or five lectures and so the most I can say is about the early history.

For one, there is the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC). The lecturer, professor Vinay Lal makes it very clear: we have little to go on. We have to rely on archeology, as the script has not been deciphered yet - it is a script Lal assures. The archeological finds are few and far apart and many of those are in Pakistan and this makes for some irony and political contention around everything involved in IVC. And it is not just the Pakistan-India collision that plays in these politics. Also other issues in modern politics are played out in the archeology and interpretation of the Indus Valley Civilizations.

Then, when the IVC leaves the scene, in whatever way, the Aryans arrive and with them the Sanskrit language and the texts that found Hinduism (or should we say Brahmanism?). This, also, is politically laden and so, again, the lectures concentrate very much around the meanings and interpretations of the Sanskrit texts. This is very interesting, but it gives the series, so far, much less the character of a narrative and much more the quality of a lecture on historiography. Nevertheless, those facts that I found so sorely missing in my education, are given and beginning to connect.

Apart from this podcast, I also follow the blog Varnam in order to get a grip on Indian History. Reading Varnam's articles in conjunction with Lal's lectures are a truly enriching experience.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Modern Western History in podcasts

Western civilization in the modern era, that is roughly from the 17th century until the Second World War, is main stream history. There is a lot to be said why other regions and other ages need to be discussed in history in order to understand the world - that goes without saying. However, the most recent history of the most dominant civilization in that history is indispensable for anyone who wants to get a grip on history today. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that this general history is the subject of many podcast series. Here I want to concisely present to you the best university lecture series available.

For a long time, the only and indisputably the best series available was Berkeley's History 5. And this series came in flavors, semesters by different professors, each with their own style, emphasis and qualities for you to choose from. This course takes the history of western civilization from the renaissance until today and you can choose from the series by Thomas Laqueur, Margaret Lavinia Anderson and Carla Hesse. (Laqueur feed), (Anderson feed), (Hesse feed).

Very similar in content and style is UCLA's History 1C which starts in 1750 and also moves on until today. Professor Hunt is just as good as her Berkeley counterparts. (feed)

At UCSD, the era can be taken in the larger series MMW, the Making of the Modern World. What makes MMW decidedly different from others is that it is not exclusively looking at Western Civ. Nevertheless the course MMW 4 by professor Matthew Herbst, which goes from 1200 to 1750 is very good and you might want to take this one to get a head start with the others. I have yet to see MMW 5, but logically this goes on after 1750 and in spite of the added non-Western Civ, this is one to add, as soon as this becomes available. (feed for this semester - will be taken off line by the end of 2009)

A new lecture series comes from Yale by Professor Merriman European Civilization 1648 to 1945 and I am about to take that one on. The introduction is splendid and enhances the appetite. I am also happy this course starts before 1750. Although the Berkeley starting point 1453 (fall of Constantinople) definitely marks the beginning of modern history, the good thing of 1648 is that it is the peace of Westphalia and this results in a map of Western Europe that is very recognizable from today. (feed)

These are the general courses, but there are so many more. There are university podcasts that take on smaller spans of time or theme within this frame. And there are non-university, non-lecture podcasts that are very good.

A new podcast reviewer -

It was just last month when I published a list of podcast reviewers that I know of and whom I follow to keep up. And then, almost simultaneously, a new blog started reviewing podcasts at a rate of at least one podcast a day: The Podcast Review. This blog was already instrumental in letting me find The Short History of Ireland podcast.

The Podcast Review reports on new podcasts on a daily basis. It seems to take on every kind of podcast and then reviews the whole series (not specific episodes, such as I frequently do).

While I am at it, I want to also mention SFF Audio, which is not strictly about podcasts, but rather about audio drama, especially SciFi and Fantasy, whether syndicated or not.

And here is the full list of last month, updated with the two above:

The Podcast Place. A blog that started in December 2008 and tries to review a couple of podcasts per week from all genres.
Daily Podcast Reviews. Is not exactly a daily blog, but every now and then there is a new podcast review. Among the reviewed podcasts are quite a number of the Quick and Dirty series, best known from the podcast Grammar Girl.
The Podcast Review. New podcasts on a daily basis. It seems to take on every kind of podcast and then reviews the whole series (not specific episodes, such as I frequently do).
DIY Scholar. My favorite among these blogs and a recurring source of inspiration is the Do It Yourself Scholar. She reviews many educational podcasts as well as videos, blogs and other free academic content.
Baxter Wood. The re-education of Baxter Wood is the blog of a 62 year old truck driver who takes on academic podcast series and reports about them without links. But he is quite exact in how to google the content.
Marje's favorite history podcasts. A near complete source for history podcast reviews compiled in a bookmarking tool. Marje helped me discover new history podcasts, but it seems, I have helped Marje as well.
Open Culture. The free culture blog by Dan Colman, associate dean of Stanford, which used to bring more podcast reviews than it does today. These days there are more general culture links and many, many videos.
SFF Audio. Not strictly about podcasts, but rather about audio drama, especially SciFi and Fantasy, whether syndicated or not. Apart from a blog, this is also a podcast.

Edgy Reviews (feed). A weekly podcast that rates a wide variety of podcasts in sets of three.
Podwatch (feed). An Australian podcast review show that has recently been revived.
Historyzine (feed). A history podcast that also reviews history podcasts.
Forgotten Classics (feed). A literature podcast that opens every episode with one or several podcast reviews in various genres.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pharisees and Sadducees - From Israelite to Jew

The excellent series From Israelite to Jew has its latest chapter named Jesus and other strange Jews and one must be warned in advance: this issue is mostly about Pharisees and Sadducees with a small addition about followers of charismatic Jews such as Jesus.

At the time, that is during the historic period this podcast is discussing here, the followers of Jesus were a distinct group among Jews, but far from one developing into a different religion nor a stream of social and political importance such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Therefore it is only right that host Michael Satlow delves into these two groups and attempts to juxtapose them and hardly takes on the others. And the subjects according to which the division is made is around theology (the existence of angels, of free will, of fate, of soul, of afterlife and such) as well as around ritual and the authority to interpret the holy script.

A part of the historic background that would complement this depiction, would be a description of the social economic reality of the time and it seems Satlow is about to embark on such a track. However, he will first of all discuss the major source for this period: the historian Josephus. That will be then ext episode of the podcast. I expect that the title will be much more indicative than it was this time.

More FITJ:
The Dead Sea Scrolls,
Herod the Ambiguous,
Jewish varieties,
Jews in the Hasmonean era,
The Maccabee Uprising.

Biological invasions and transformations - EEH

One of the sources for content to the Exploring Environmental History Podcast are the conferences that host Jan Oosthoek attends. Frequently he manages to get several of the presenters on the conferences to sit down with him and do an interview. The recordings then make it to the podcast.

Thus, Oosthoek attended a one-day conference was held at the University of Oxford entitled "Invasions and Transformations" in September this year. The participants of this meeting examined and discussed the histories of alien species and biological invasions in different parts of the world. Oosthoek first interviewed Glenn Sandiford, a postdoc researcher at the University of Illinois about his paper entitled "Nineteenth century narratives on the introduction of carp in America". Then he spoke with Bernadette Hince of the Australian National University on the history and impacts of invasive species on sub-Antarctic islands.

The interviews are framed within an explanation delivered by Jan Oosthoek. This approach works quite well for the podcast. It gives a good feel of what is currently going on in the field. Complementary to these issues are those that define the field of Environmental history. Oosthoek just finished a series addressing the defining questions and they comprise about the last five issues before this very last one.

More Exploring Environmental History:
Environmental history: an applied science,
Defining Environmental History with Marc Hall,
Defining Environmental History - Paul Warde,
Defining Environmental History - Donald Worster,
Natural Disasters.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vaccination fears - Moments in Medicine

The series History of Medicine Podcasts from Oxford Brooke University (School of Arts and Humanities) also called: 'Moments in Medicine', had a fascinating issue about the vaccination debate.

The podcast shows the loaded history of vaccination. Immediately upon the early uses of vaccination (or inoculation) the practice was contested. One almost gets the impression that people are naturally suspicious of vaccination. By all means, no one likes to be injected with alien content and certainly not if it causes disease. Even if the one disease is a mild one to prevent another more problematic one.

In all times, vaccination could only be successful if it was widely applied, enough to cut of the growth of the germ. This, for highly contagious disease, may require up to 95% use. Yet, this leaves a 5% or more section that need not be vaccinated, yet still can benefit from it. This benefit can also lure the false idea that the vaccination is not actually needed. Fed into the natural suspicion this gives root to the debate.

More History of Medicine:
History of Medicine podcasts (Oxford Brookes University),
Medieval Islamic Medicine (University of Warwick),

Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung - LSE podcast

The LSE podcast usually offers lectures on subjects that are laden with meaning in current world affairs. Whatever is hot in politics is discussed with scientific (most of the time) and hence you can find a multitude of talks on Climate Change, Credit Crunch, Middle-East and such. Occasionally much less trodden paths are offered and there is one I would like review here.

Professor Arthur I. Miller revealed the results of his study into the friendship between Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung. Pauli, the tormented yet brilliant physicist went to see Jung for psycho-analysis. Jung found Pauli's dreams so fascinating he paid special attention to the scientist and also when Pauli was declared healed - there are some doubts to cast on that - he and Jung remained in contact and developed a friendship or at least a regular basis to discuss his dreams.

Consequently, this talk is mostly about Pauli; a bit about physics and much about Pauli's troubled private life with bad marriages, illicit affairs, bar room brawling and a lot of excessive drinking. Jung pops up when Pauli seeks help and Jung can apply his ideas of dream interpretation. The richness of Pauli's dreams allow for full application of Jung's interest in alchemy and mythology, which in turn appeals to Pauli. Where Miller leads is that Jung's metaphysics actually may have led to some of Pauli's important conjectures. Whether Jung has really helped Pauli to become a more integrated person though, remains, as said, in doubt.

More LSE Events:
Natural Resource Management,
The Iran power struggle,
In Search of Islam’s Civilization,
Religion and the Market - John Gray on LSE.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Avi Shlaim on Israel and Palestine - The Economist

It is always good to hear a historian about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this case, The Economist podcast offered a short conversation with Israeli historian Avi Shlaim, who is considered as one of the revisionists among Israeli historians.

Shlaim repeats a position that can be seen as one example of what Henry Kissinger is supposed to have generally stipulated: The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The specific tactical mistake Shlaim has in mind is the Palestinian (and broad Arab) rejection of the 1947 UN division plan. Not only would they have been better off than today or at any time in the future if there is ever going to be a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders. He goes on to add that the Jewish state within the 1947 borders would not have been viable.

More from The Economist:
A crisis of authority in Iran,
Comfort with Obama,
Democracy in America - podcast review,
Issues of Race,
The primary system.

Guests of Eire - History of Ireland

The BBC's Short History of Ireland podcast brings short daily episodes that takes us through the history of Ulster and Eire in the most elegant, informative and even entertaining fashion.

Despite a few thematic jumps and slight shifts back and forth, generally this series is chronological. And so, after weeks it has finished speaking of the period of World War II and has begun to discuss the after-war era, kicking off with all the reconstruction needed after the war. Here, as well as with the war-section, Ulster and Eire have a different history, yet, the two, as close as they are, have their histories intertwined.

As far as WW 2 is concerned, this makes for fascinating and unexpected anecdotes. Most unexpected are those of Eire, which was neutral during the war and carefully maintained its neutrality. Despite that, effectively it stood on the allied side in many aspects, whereas at the same time, it had internal forces drawing towards the Germans. But after all, Eire was relatively far away and yet it was still close enough to have fighting men of both parties wind up on its soil. I was surprised to hear their stories. Both Germans and allied soldiers got a royal treatment in Ireland

The episodes that touch on this issue, as well as those about the Americans in Ulster and about the smuggling between Ulster and Eire and those about German spies and collaborators are simply fantastic and worth to dig up and listen to again. All in all, this is a wonderful podcast to give a daily listen to.

More Short history of Ireland:
A short history of Ireland - BBC Podcast.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The first day of LBJ - NBIH

The day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson took over office. At New Books in History Marshall Poe spoke with Steve Gillon, who wrote a book titled The Kennedy Assassination--24 Hours After, but while Kennedy and his assassination are subject of the title, Johnson makes the subheading and for the actual subject of the book: Lyndon B. Johnson's Pivotal First Day as President.

What is both astounding and at the same time completely expectable is the utter confusion around LBJ's succession of JFK. Astounding it is, because Kennedy was not the first president to be murdered and Johnson was not the first vice-president who had had to suddenly step in. Also, the US never have had serious succession contention. Nevertheless, the assassination struck like lightning on a bright day and shook the nation just as much as all the leading individuals, making for the most humanly confusion.

What adds to the picture and makes for the juicy story Gillon has to tell: the president's brother, Robert Kennedy had a disliking of Johnson and seemed to be scheming against the succession. Or at least, Johnson was sufficiently suspicious of the Kennedy clan and schemed, in his turn, to pull in the transition of power and stage it such that it would look swift and smooth. Poe allows Gillon to spell the story out and it makes for a riveting podcast. I wonder how much drama is left for the readers of the book.

More NBIH:
Ayn Rand,
Atlantic History,
Political rationalizations in Nazi-Germany,
Whalen / Rohrbough,
Confronting the bomb.

Political, Economic and Social Thought - 1980 course

A reader of the blog left a very valuable comment at the report a podcast section. He alerted us to a podcast lecture series in political science: Political Economic and Social Thought by Professor Charles Anderson at the University of Wisconsin which was recorded in the early 1980's (feed). This course consists of a full year worth of lectures as it comprises two consecutive courses over two semesters which could also be taken as one.

We occasionally see podcast lecture series that contain recordings from a more distant past. (I recall an Oxford podcast with recordings of Isaiah Berlin from the 1950's.) One must always wonder what special reason there could be to listen to those old recordings. What added value would it have to follow an introductory course to political science from 25 years ago, when you can take a contemporary one in stead? And so I have begun to listen looking for an answer to this question.

The method and substance of the course seems not very different from today, nor is the lecturer's language (as opposed to Isaiah Berlin's). And if Anderson uses president Reagan as an example, you could replace his name with Obama and have the same outcome. So, despite a difference of 25 years, the course is very similar and while this means it is not outdated, it also makes the question more compelling: why take an old course if you can take a new one?

I would say, based on the first lectures, it is very fascinating to see the much more subtle differences. I am not sure whether everybody will hear this, but I was struck by nuances in Anderson's general statements. It seemed to me that relativism, though he tries to neutralize it a bit, nevertheless plays a more dominant role in his frame of reference than it would today. Also, in the dichotomy of nature and nurture, nurture seems much less challenged in his line of thought. And last but not least, he displays a kind of monism in his treatment of modern Western culture. He plainly states our society started in Greece. He brushes other influences to the side, even Judaism. I think today we take our history much less segmented and take our culture to be a product not just of classical tradition, but also of a Judeo-Christian tradition, with a variety of additional influences.

Especially if you care to take comparisons, it can be extremely interesting to take this old course. Also, if you regret the loss of classic approach.

More Political Science:
Poli 113A - East Asian Thought (UCSD)
Political Science 179 (Berkeley)
Political Science 10 (UCLA)
Politics 114b (UCLA)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

History and sociology - Thinking Allowed

BBC Radio Four's Thinking Allowed is a very charming weekly program about social science that is always worth a listen. Today there will be a new program, so be quick to download last week's and if possible the one before.

Host Laurie Taylor has repeatedly revealed he has studied criminology and since I studied the same, I am not surprised by his choice of subjects and lines of questioning. A subject like two weeks ago, about the ever growing amount of inmates in prisons, especially in the US but also in the UK, is typically interesting to criminologists. Be advised to listen and think of this in advance: the size of prison populations says more about policy than about crime rates.

For the average follower of this blog, last week's issue should be even more of interest since the subjects, although sociological in nature, are heavily touching upon history. Taylor spoke about alcohol politics and grave goods. As to the first subject: over the centuries governments have been worried about alcohol abuse and one way or another attempted policies to do something about it. The definitions of what counted as abuse and who were targeted as the prominent abusers are of both historic and sociological significance. The second item was a brief inventory of what goods people choose to bury their deceased loved ones with. Does this seem just social science? An archeologists is in the studio to explain what lessons are in this study for his field.

More Thinking Allowed:
Boffins and WW I,
Richard Hoggart,
Secular vs. Religious,
Renoir and Slumming,
Mizrahi Jews.

Laura speaks Dutch - language learning podcast

One of the most successful and broadly applied genre of educational podcasts are the language learning podcasts. On the website of Open Culture (which is one of the best sources for free educational content) an extensive list of language learning podcasts is available, covering many different languages. So far I have been postponing to review this genre, but I think the time is more than ripe to get started. Please let me know of specific language learning podcasts you would recommend or would like me to review.

I have spent all my life picking up foreign languages. My native is Dutch and from the Dutch culture and educational system I have inherited both extensive learning in English, German and French, as well as the everlasting intention to address people, wherever possible, in their own tongue and therefore to never stop learning languages left and right. Thus I have dabbled in Danish, Arabic, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Turkish, Hindi, Portuguese and last but not least, on account of emigrating to Israel, I have learned Hebrew in its natural environment. It will allow me to evaluate a wide variety of language learning podcasts.

The first to pay attention to is Laura speaks Dutch by Brenno de Winter (picture). Brenno's friend Laura needed to learn Dutch and this is why he started making the podcast over three years ago. The podcast is still kicking and true to its original format. In short, 5-10 minute lessons Brenno teaches a couple of sentences and some idiom, allows for on the spot practice by leaving a pause to repeat and then he closes off with some trivia about The Netherlands. Although far from impeccable (it could do with some more post-production), this podcast plainly delivers the handy phrase book level which is needed for initial survival on the spot. (feed)

Brenno's pronunciation falls in the main stream of Dutch speakers, which is important, because the pronunciation of the language is rough and being taught from a dialect sample could be very confusing. Some podfaded podcasts I have tested did not evade this pitfall and with the immense variety of dialects this can cause terrible error. Brenno also has chosen a main stream, tending to the polite and slightly outdated, speaking style, which may sound a bit awkward in Dutch ears, but surely offers a safe haven for the dabbling speaker. Better to sound a bit bookish and old-fashioned, than gamble with the subtle mannerisms of everyday language.

For the more advanced in Dutch one may try some Dutch podcasts to listen to:
Argos (research journalism),
Bommel (audio drama),
De Geschiedenis Podcast (history),
Flavius (Jewish culture and history),
Hoor! Geschiedenis (Dutch history),
Hoorspelen (collection of radio plays),
Interview Vrijdag (interviews about current affairs)
Het Marathon Interview (in-depth interviews, 3-5 hours long),
Simek 's Nachts (interviews by Martin Simek),
Sterke Geschiedenis (general history by Tom Tacken),
Veertien Achttien (history of World War I by Tom Tacken),
Voor een nacht (interviews with Marc Stakenburg).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shia theology against Ahmedinejad - BBC Analysis

I was just preparing a review of last week's issue of BBC Analysis, which was a wonderful discussion about small states (states of less than 1.5 million inhabitants), what are their advantages and make for their success, like with Singapore and why can they so miserably go down, like Iceland. Refreshingly inconclusive, was the analysis; there seem to be good arguments why small states are healthy, strong and good and arguments why small states are (always on the brink of) being vassal states at best, failed states at worst.

But then the week was full and BBC analysis came with a new issue and the old one got removed from the podcast feed. I hope you have it stored, otherwise, at least read the transcript. And then, do not despair, the latest Analysis, Ayatollogy, was just as fascinating.

This issue brings us the intricacies of Shia theology and its restrained relation with the idea of an Islamic Republic in general and the regime as such in Iran in particular. In a nutshell, Ahmedinijad could be a heretic, the Islamic Republic an oxymoron and the opposition has more clerics in their rank than the sitting rulers, including Ayatollah Khamenei. If you are not in love with Ahmedinejad, this is a good news bad news sum. The good news is that he has weak support from the clergy the bad news is the kind of heretic he is: an apocalyptic. One that would love to force the coming of the twelfth imam by bringing chaos to the world. What is that man doing with nuclear capabilities?

More BBC Analysis:
The future of Pakistan.

POLI 113A - East Asian Thought

The fate of UCSD podcast lecture series is invariably they disappear from the web by the end of the semester. Also, eventually, most of them, are back in due time. And so, POLI 113A - East Asian Thought, which I followed in the summer of 2008, is back now. (feed) This is formally a political theory course, but it dwells in relevant realms for philosophy, anthropology and is generally recommended to anyone.

Professor Victor Magagna is a very good lecturer, though he does not make any attempts to make the matter easy or entertaining. Magagna delivers a clear and well structured course and this is the stuff for every serious student. He systematically introduces us to East Asian Thought (Confucius, Mencius and others), makes a point how this thought permeates through all cultures in East Asia - China, Japan, Korea, Indo-China etc - even among the Maoists who formally reject Confucianism. He also compares these basic lines of thought about man and social order with fundamental Western thought.

This is the time to pick up this course, and grab all the lectures (we have reached lecture 10 by now) and safely store them. Then, one must take the time and concentration to carefully go through them. This is no leisure listening, but when sufficiently attended, this podcast lecture series is extremely worthwhile.

More POLI 113A:
East Asian Culture.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jennifer Burns about Ayn Rand - NBIH

New Books in History went along with a recommendation I made, of all people. I was alerted to a book written by historian and history podcaster Jennifer Burns (Berkeley's History 7b) and passed this on to Marshall Poe, the host of New Books in History. On the show two weeks ago, he interviewed Jennifer Burns on this book of hers about Ayn Rand and the American Right.

Ayn Rand, was not born in the US and Ayn Rand was not her original name. She actually came from the Soviet Union and Burns and Poe discuss with awe and excitement how Rand managed to become an icon of the American right. Not just any right. These days, the right is mostly associated with strong conservatism, but Rand's was another kind of right. She propagated a life of stark individualism, atheism and libertarianism with a free market and little government.

She also lived that life. Taking on few bonds, being libertarian also about sexuality and drugs - she used amphetamine. Some of her erratic behavior can be ascribed, as Marshall Poe sees it, to her addiction, though Burns seems less inclined to go that road. In any case, Rand seen in this light, I wonder, may in some years' time be viewed as a leftist rather than as a rightist. Or the god-fearing, family values conservatives must have turned left, by then. They won't fit in the same church, that is for sure.

More NBIH:
Atlantic History,
Political rationalizations in Nazi-Germany,
Whalen / Rohrbough,
Confronting the bomb,
Henry Hudson's fatal journey.

More Jennifer Burns:
History 7b - history podcast review,
American Civil Rights Movement,
Whittaker Chambers,
Scopes Trial,
US History - from Civil War to Present.

Petty frustrations - Namaste Stories

The latest story on the fictional podcast Namaste Stories (feed) is full of innuendo. More than ever Dave P plays his magic. As always the podcast is filled with a certain atmosphere that just hangs there and is not made explicit by any one sentence of the tale. And it is not just the music or the fatalistic voice of the narrator - although they undoubtedly add in.

In The Spoiled Brat that aboding presence is woven into the descriptions, the lines and the actions of the characters Melissa and Casper. This is what makes literature powerful: subtext. You will have to look beyond the subject of Capser and Melissa's conversation, the spoiled brat. What really matters is why they discuss him and not what their expressed convictions are, but what they tell us. The more they emphasize the brat is spoiled, the more they are envious of him and the more they reject him, the more they are attracted.

In the seeming consensus of their dialog, their petty frustrations are played out. Their repressed sexuality, the dissatisfaction in their relation, their failure of accomplishment. And all of this is expressed with utterly unconvincing self-congratulatory self-righteous bourgeois judgmental statements or silently and childishly hidden aggression. What a feat.

More Namaste and Dave P:
Surviving those family dinners on the holidays,
The new direction of Dave P,
New York Coffee Cup,
Namaste Stories, podcast as an art,
Namaste Stories, fiction podcast.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Freemasons - Rear Vision

The history program Rear Vision from Australia's ABC, responded to the media attention to Dan Brown's piece of fiction, Angels and Demons, which predominantly features the society of Freemasons. Rear Vision brought in two historians to demystify the Freemasons

If you read the transcript of the program about Freemasons, you see the discussion in interspersed with lines by a 'Documentary Narrator'. On the podcast these lines sound exalted as if they are from a movie's trailer. As a matter of fact that is what I felt and it bothered me that it was not explained. Between these hefty statements lie the explanations of the historians and in comparison they sound very timid and inconclusive.

It is with the Freemasons as it is with any social system that lies hidden. Whatever facts are available tell little, but leave much to the imagination. Such is it with Freemasons, just is it is with Jesuits, international communism, the Mafia and the CIA or Al-Qaeda. The point is that the hard facts give us so little to go on, yet suggest so much that on the subject of secret organisations the historian cannot win and the fiction writer cannot lose. In Rear Vision this is shown not otherwise.

More Rear Vision:
A history of the Israeli-Arab conflict,
Fish depletion,
Follow up on Iran and Versailles,
Versailles 1919.

The Death of Edgar Allan Poe - The Memory Palace

The wonderful history podcast The Memory Palace (feed) has its strength mainly in its narrative force and in its short episodes. Nate DiMeo takes five minutes to tell small, humane, tales in history. Apart from history drama, one could also call it micro-history.

Micro-history is not necessarily lost in oceanic waves of the larger scheme of history. DiMeo shows this for example in his latest production This Ungainly Fowl. This is the story, as far as it can be reconstructed, of the last 24 hours in the life of Edgar Allan Poe. These hours are unrecorded and utterly unclear. It begins as Poe finds himself on a train to Baltimore and it ends as he is found dying in the street, in some other man's clothes. There are several theories as to what happened and The Memory Palace offers one of them.

Not only does this attempt to give an answer as to what might have happened to the great writer, but also tells a thing or two about daily life in contemporary US in general and in Baltimore specifically. This serves as an illustration and a tale that, no matter how small, touches relevance in the greater seas of history. This, for an otherwise fine history podcast to begin with, serves as a lot of extra credit. This podcast is worth following for everyone.

More The Memory Palace:
A Great Escape,
The Memory Palace,
Ferris Wheel and other historic experiences,
The hollow earth,
The Memory Palace - history narration.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The end of the war - Dan Carlin's Hardcore History

After Stalingrad came Kursk, after the first defeat of the Germans on the Ostfront came many more and the end of the war became a drawn out affair. Germany of the 1940's was not Germany of 1918. When thee decision makers of 1918 saw they could no longer win World War 1, they bargained for peace. When the Nazis began to lose, they chose to go down fighting and let the German people perish in the process, if it had to be so.

The last episode of the four part series about WW2's eastern front at Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, tells this tale of the drawn out end (Ghosts of the Ostfront part iv). Not only the German people had to be grounded over this protracted collapse, the whole of eastern Europe turned into a large scale hell-hole. And one can leave it to Dan Carlin to recount the horrors in the dramatic fashion that will keep you glued to your ear buds.

Many thoughts that came up while listening, were immediately expressed by Carlin as well, like the line I opened this post with: such a difference between the 1918 and 1944 leadership. Also, the observation that civilians suffered for the decisions, not only enemy, but also, the decision makers' own people. One observation however did not come through, though I am sure Carlin had it in mind and would bring it to the listener as well: the population as a whole was made to suffer, was subjected to the revenge and hatred that the soldier brought with them. It means that peoples are taken as wholes. But if you drill down, and this is something Carlin misses, you sea that men are perpetrators and women are the objects of their aggression. For the cruelties committed by a soldier, not he, but his wife, his daughter, his mother, or his neighbor's niece will pay, when she is raped in revenge afterwards.

More Hardcore History:
Ghosts of the Ostfront,
Dan Carlin about the East Front,
Gwynne Dyer Interview.

Oorsmeer - VPRO podcast

Een nieuwe podcast bij de VPRO is Oorsmeer. En behalve podcast is het ook een weblog en daarop werd Oorsmeer meteen al opgemerkt door de populaire website Geen Stijl. De teneur was dat Oorsmeer Geen Stijl zou proberen te imiteren, maar te zeer tot het omroep-establishment zou behoren om erin te slagen. (feed)

Wat Oorsmeer in ieder geval probeert te zijn voor de argeloze podcast luisteraar zoals ondergetekende, die trouwens van Geen Stijl ook nauwelijks kaas gegeten heeft, is een satirisch programma dat de draak steekt met onderwerpen in de actualiteit. Daarbij maakt het gebruik van fragmenten die in andere programma's reeds te beluisteren zijn geweest. In dat opzicht valt het trouw in het genre waarvan er door de jaren heen al zoveel programma's zijn geweest. Niet alleen op radio, maar ook op TV en waarvan er op de nieuwe media ook genoeg te vinden zijn.

De formule werkt eigenlijk altijd heel goed, zolang je maar de fragmenten kent. Het plezier voor mij is vergelijkbaar met wat ik ervaar bij het luisteren naar Volkis Stimme. Ik ken net genoeg de plaatselijke (daar Duitse, hier Nederlandse) actualiteit om het allemaal te kunnen volgen. Qua formule is Oorsmeer nog wat zoekende. Je voelt dat ze wel wat leunt naar het schofferende van Geen Stijl, maar daar toch ook niet helemaal aan wil. Misschien moeten ze hun licht eens opsteken bij Volkis Stimme, die heel bewust in de de oubollige stijl van woordgrappen en brave absurditeiten is gaan zitten en daar nu juist zijn charme aan ontleent.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Richard the Fearless - Norman Centuries

The second episode of Norman Centuries is out - this much expected podcast. Norman Centuries is the next production of Lars Brownworth, who created the legendary series of defining history podcasts: 12 Byzantine Rulers.

12 Byzantine Rulers, it now has come to my attention, did not start in 2005, but rather as early as 2004 as downloadable mp3's and only by 2005 it became technically a podcast, when it was finally syndicated. Syndication of Norman Centuries, of course, is immediate. And in its second episode it pays attention to Richard the Fearless.

This is the story of a grandson of Rollo (who was featured in part 1), that started out as a hostage boy, a thirteen year old king, destined to become the puppet of the new king of France. Yet, in an astonishing turn of diplomatic power, Richard managed to grow into one of the most successful Norman Kings. I leave it to Lars Brownworth to tell you the story - the podcast will take less than 10 minutes to listen to.

NB: The Norman Centuries website also offers reading material to go along with the podcast. For this episode there are files downloadable about Robert the Devil and the issue of a lack of sources about the Normans.

More Norman Centuries:
Norman Centuries - Lars is back!.

Electronics, then and now - Ersatz TV

There is more than the item about electronics in this long awaited 11th issue of Ersatz TV. Annik Rubens kicks off with sirens. The old metal pots on German roofs are no longer worth the maintenance and the question rises: what system will replace it? How can we alert the whole population of war and disaster.

Then there are the pictures of Munich's Oktoberfeste, with emphasis on the Ferris Wheel attraction type contraptions. Among others, one hand driven device built in 1924.

But the high-light is Hartmut Grawe's interview with the Physicist Dr. Ernst Hofmeister about the development of micro-electronics in the 1980's. Very nice.

More Ersatz TV:
The last before Summer break,
Ersatz TV from the Underground,
The way of the plants,
The experts love Ersatz TV,
Deja-vu on Ersatz-TV.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change - history (#BAD09)

Last but not least. Today's Climate Change may be unique in that it is the first global and human induced change. Man has, however, caused environmental change throughout history. Also, periods of rapid climate change have also occurred before.

The field of environmental history studies these subjects, how man has affected his environment and how man has adapted to environment, including changing climates. One podcast that pays attention to this throughout is the Exploring Environmental History podcast by Jan Oosthoek. Also on the podcast New Books in History by Marshall Poe we have seen attention to the field of environmental history.

Exploring Environmental History:
An applied science,
Defining Environmental History with Marc Hall,
Defining Environmental History - Paul Warde,
Defining Environmental History - Donald Worster,
Natural Disasters.

More environmental history:
Donald Worster about environmental history (New Books in History),
Environmental History Vodcast.

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - the adaptations (#BAD09)

After we have touched on the terrible dangers implied in climate change, it is time to look at what can be done about averting the fatal disaster.

First of all we have to change our way of life. For the rich parts of the world; we have to change our production, so that we pollute less and extract fewer resources. We have to change our consumption, for the same aims. In the developing parts of the world, also carbon dioxide emissions and other destructive production and consumption methods must be adapted, but also, natural resources must be carefully managed, as to prevent waste, pollution and destruction. Also, the population growth must be controlled. Podcasts that touch upon this are:
Natural Resource Management (LSE podcast)
Downshifting (changing consumption) (Ganz einfach leben),
Population control (UCSD's Human Impact on the Environment),
Electric Cars (TED Talks),
We need energy revolution (LSE podcast),
Wildlife control and poverty (EconTalk),
Waste management (Distillations) (Social Innovations Conversations).

Second of all, and part of changing our way of life, we need to investigate into technical solutions to climate change itself and to its effects. Above I already mentioned electric cars, waste management techniques and we can add techniques to reduce emissions, techniques to deal with sea levels and with changed agricultural circumstances. A very unexpected, to me, approach, are techniques to affect the climate itself and thus mitigate the change. This seems out of reach, but not entirely as one podcasts teaches. Relevant are:
Technological interference with climate (UChannel Podcast),
Organically grown and genetically engineered food (The Long Now podcast),
Population control (UCSD's Human Impact on the Environment)
Electric Cars (TED Talks),
Waste management (Distillations) (Social Innovations Conversations).

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - the implied dangers (#BAD09)

What will go wrong with Climate Change? A multitude of things. Not only are there dangers directly caused by climate change, there are also many that come along within the package and chain of events.

First of all, the kind of climate change that we currently think of is global warming. This will cause the ice caps to melt, the sea level to rise, the ocean currents to change and the warmer places on earth to become uninhabitable. Directly, but also indirectly, it will cause mass extinctions of species which is undoubtedly extremely harmful, although the effects are rather unforeseeable as to the exact outcomes. The climate change is also expected to cause more harmful weather conditions and thus natural disasters. The warming will also enlarge disease areas such as that of malaria. Implied in this is that there will less potable water and less food. In short, life will become cramped, unhealthy, dangerous and undernourished.

Factoring into these problems are pollution and the rise of population. Not only is pollution significantly responsible for global warming, it also speeds up the effects of specie extinctions, unhealthy living conditions and narrowing down of the habitable environment. Similarly, the rise in population will exacerbate the reduction of habitable living space for each individual and the dangers of disease spread as well as the food and water shortages.

Many of the bad effects of climate change, have the quality of a time bomb. A growing deterioration of our planet that heads towards an irretrievable collapse of the environment. The melting of ice caps on mountains will cause rivers to run dry and arable land to go to waste. Extinction of species can cause entire biospheres to disintegrate. And the overall increased tensions on human life and society can result in anarchy and war.

Many of the details of these dangers are discussed in a wide variety of podcasts, many of which I have reviewed:
Bee colonies collapse (Science Talk),
Mass extinctions (Making History with Ran Levi),
Population growth and health (UCSD's Human Impact on the Environment),
Fish Depletion (ABC Rear Vision),
Easter Island example (UCSD's Human Impact on the Environment),
Disasters and war (UChannel Podcast),
Hot, Flat and Crowded - Thomas Friedman (LSE podcast),
The Malthusian trap (Berkeley's Geography 130),
Stern Review (UChannel Podcast).

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - the battle of the price (#BAD09)

The majority of podcasts related to climate change dwell about the implications, the dangers that come with the phenomenon (on which next). My previous subject, the battle of the facts, pops up, over and over again, especially on the details, as there are so many conjectures, that little has been decided rather than largely and broadly, that the climate changes and we are responsible.

The seriousness of the implications carry a dimension with it that also explains why the battle of the facts is frequently to vehement, so political and that is simply this: climate change has a price. The price is going to be considerable. How high is hard to determine and if we are at all going to be able to handle the change, we must deal with paying the price. And if the rich of the world are not going to pay it with money, the poor are going to pay it with lives and the whole world with disasters.

I have yet found only one podcast lecture that explicitly took the price of Climate Change and the allocation of the costs as its subject: Controversies in the Economics of Climate Change, at the LSE podast lecture series.

A lecture by Professor Geoffrey Heal held on May 6th: on the economic cost climate change will cause. His starting point is that the scientific question about Climate Change has largely been decided. There is wide consensus the climate is changing. Heal's subject is to take these established facts and evaluate, as well as possible, what the cost of these changes are. He emphasizes that these issues are still widely debated, hence the controversies of climate change, but the way he deals with them is by suggesting that only the size of the cost is debatable. There will be costs and they are enormous.

His analysis range from rather accurate like his esteem that the costs of the rising sea level will go over 1% of GDP, to completely unknown. The damages to the ocean, the warming of the climate are factors that he thinks are hard to enumerate. natural disasters and the disappearance of a multitude of species are impossible to range. On all accounts the costs are gigantic. It is not a happy lecture for the worried. Yet one, I feel, you must have heard.

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - the battle of the facts (#BAD09)

The choice for Climate Change as the subject on Blog Action Day implies there is consensus about climate change, at least that the climate is actually changing to an extent it is affecting our world. There is no full consensus though, nor has there been in the past. There is and has been always, a battle of facts.

A good source for getting informed on the issue, unfortunately, is a podcast lecture series from UCSD, that has been taken off line. It will be back though at some time in the future and therefore I'd advice you to keep your eyes open for it: BILD 18, Human impact on the environment. Last summer, when the course ran and the lectures were available, lecture 10 paid attention to the problems the early believers in climate change had to get their voice heard. Even today, the speaker notes, speaking of climate change and the specifics of fatal pollution, will find politically and ideologically motivated blockades.

Alternately, now that there is a much wider consensus the climate actually IS changing, those who are not so convinced are finding it difficult to be heard. And just as the previous speaker marked how political, ideological and mostly business interests battled the facts, the other side speaks of alarmists. On the UChannel Podcast, one such speaker was Lord Lawson and he not only downplays the actual change of the climate, also he claims that whatever change is there is not human caused change, nor is it as harmful as usually is projected.

Next, I will write about the battle of the price - how much is climate change going to cost and who will pay?

Blog Action Day 2009

Climate Change - Blog Action Day 2009

Today is Blog Action Day 2009. Today we will pay attention to Climate Change.

I will be writing a comprehensive post about the subject and point to the various podcast sources that supply the relevant information. Until I do, you can look around the blog for yourself in search for reviews of podcasts about Climate Change and related subjects. You can use the search field on top of this page, or you could filter posts by using the environment tag.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Atlantic History - NBIH

Here is a quick recommendation about one of the recent episodes of New Books in History. Marshall Poe spoke with Jack Greene and Philip Morgan about the book they edited which is a critical appraisal of a field called Atlantic History.

They explain how at one time the joint histories of Africa, Europe and the Americas was combined into a composite narrative about the exchange that took place between the four continents especially from the age of exploration until the later days of imperialism - though the field could be taken larger than that. What started off as a composite, developed into a field with its various specialties, divisions and opinions.

As part of a series about reinterpreting history, published by the National History Center and Oxford University press, their book came out mapping out this field of Atlantic History. More publications are expcected and they will also be high-lighted in NBIH.

More NBIH:
Political rationalizations in Nazi-Germany,
Whalen / Rohrbough,
Confronting the bomb,
Henry Hudson's fatal journey,
Substance abuse in the midwest.

Edith Cavell - Veertien Achttien

Over de podcast Veertien Achttien (feed) kan ik niet genoeg de loftrompet steken. Inmiddels ben ik wat dat betreft in een steeds ruimer gezelschap. Getuige niet alleen de commentaren op mijn recensies, maar ook de lovende besprekingen bij VPRO's OVT en deze week in het Historisch Nieuwsblad.

De laatste aflevering was ook weer geweldig. Tom Tacken vertelde het verhaal van Edith Cavell, de Britse verpleegster die door de Duitsers werd terechtgesteld op verdenking van spionage. Tacken neemt dze biografie als voorbeeld van nog weer een speciaal fascinerend aspect van de Eerste Wereldoorlog: de propaganda. Meer nog dan ooit was propaganda nodig om de oorlogsmachine draaiende te houden. En het verhaal van Cavell, hoewel ook gebruikt in de Duitse propaganda, speelt toch vooral een betekenisvolle rol in de Britse en Amerikaanse propaganda.

Fascinerend ook zijn uiteindelijk de laatste woorden die van Cavell zijn opgetekend. Juist ook in verband met die propaganda. Daar waar de propaganda juist het middel is om patriottisme te voeden en je onwillekeurig denkt aan analyses die stellen dat nationalisme de nieuwe religie was, stelt Cavell dat patriottisme niet genoeg was. Voor haar werk als verpleegster in oorlogsgebied stelde zij de naastenliefde voorop. En dat roept twee gedachtes op: is de oude religie toch sterker? en ook: Is nationalisme een religie zonder naastenliefde?

Meer Veertien Achttien:
Rudyard Kipling, (speciaal aanbevolen)
Ferdinand I van Bulgarije,
Veertien Achttien in transit,
Pegoud, Grimm - Veertien Achttien,
Emmeline Pankhurst.