Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Environmental History in the Middle Ages

There was an excellent issue of Jan Oosthoek's Exploring Environmental History podcast. In this podcast Oosthoek, who is a historian himself, mainly interviews other historians on topics of environmental history. This is a very good format for podcast as is also shown by New Books in History (another historian interviewing historians) and Shrink Rap Radio (A psychologist interviewing psychologists). Ample time for a conversation between two professionals, one knowing what he is talking about and the other knowing exactly to ask the right questions.

The absolute best podcast chapters of this kind are where the interviewed party is really excited and brings even more life than usual in the conversation. This was the case with Dolly Jørgensen, when she appeared on the EEH podcast. Oosthoek has her first talk about a cooperation initiative for historians in a network of medievalists, but it gets really good when she begins to talk about her own work.

Jørgensen did research into waste management in medieval cities. You'd expect those cities to be unbelievably dirty, but it turns out they were not. She claims that all modern methods of collecting garbage and financing this with taxes stem from this era. Indeed, I thought that to be a 19th century invention. Medieval cities were kept clean and maintained. Perhaps the truly big, polluted, crowded and unhealthy cities come with the heavy urbanization that started right after the Middle Ages and reached a low point as far as crowdedness and pollution is concerned in the first waves of industrialization.

More Exploring Environmental History:
New weeds in Africa,
Biological invasions and transformations,
Environmental history: an applied science,
Defining Environmental History with Marc Hall,
Defining Environmental History - Paul Warde.

Advent at Volkis Stimme

If you follow this blog you know I listen every week to the German Podcast Volkis Stimme. Host Volker Klärchen makes his satire of the weekly news every Saturday night - Sunday morning for me - in a mock news show carrying the slogan Volkis Stimme; da weiß man, was man hört. (feed)

Yet, since the middle of November Klärchen has abandoned the news show format. It started with a splendid interview with Bodo Wartke which was bereft of the regular satire. Then there was a short audio-drama in which Volker allegedly bumps into his post delivery woman. He nicks 24 letters to Father Christmas from her bag and this is what set the format for daily shows that started yesterday.

Every day, up until Christmas, Volkis Stimme will read one of these 24 letters to Father Christmas. Yesterday it was Guido Westerwelle asking the saint for not being laughed at for his haphazard attempts at speaking English. Today it is a plea for company by a lonesome SPD. Evidently, Volkis Stimme continues to be a satire show about German news, but until Christmas in this advent mode. I am wondering whether this is promising more variety in the show for 2010.

More Volkis Stimme:
Quick recommendation,
Angela Merkel (Angie) in Volkis Stimme,
Volkis Stimme - German podcast review.