Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Conspiracy trials in Ireland

Here is an old podcast from RTE, that I picked up and enjoyed listening to one of the episodes: Conspiracy Podcast. There are four historical discussions about political trials in Ireland. I picked up the one about the trials after the 1916 Easter Rising. (feed)

Irish separatists knew that what was bad for England was good for Ireland's strive for Independence. In 1916 the British Empire was severely entangled in the Great War and even though Irish separatists had no special love for opponent Germany, there was some flirting with the enemy. One of the trialled men, Roger Casement tried to obtain some help, or promises for support from Germany. Whether German support really mattered or not, during Easter 1916 a half-hearted and destined to fail attempt for a rebellion was started.

Not only did this imply treason for the participants, it also meant that the likes such as Casement had been collaborating with the enemy and this was, in war time, a capital offense. The podcast briefly discusses the rising itself and then pays most of its attention to the way the participants cases were handled, before, during, after and outside the trial. Especially interesting I found the discussion about the publication of Casement's diaries, but in this podcast there is much more to be had.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Liverpool arts and music - Mercy Podcast

Even if you do not live in Liverpool or have missed out on the Biennial over there, the Mercy Podcast is something to listen to. (feed)

The podcast is produced by the arts company Mercy and although there is ample attention to the visual arts, the real treats in the podcast are the attention to performance, music and poetry. The podcast started with the Biennial in Liverpool and has been reporting on the activities while it has been running, but this podcast surely has the potential to go on beyond the activity of the season.

What more is there to say? One should better listen, the taste to the mercy is in the devouring.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the quest against Islam

In June Ayaan Hirsi Ali gave the Donner lecture in Toronto Canada. The lecture was podcast with CBC's Ideas and TVO's Big Ideas. The point of her lecture is to show that Islam is dominated by a destructive ideology, she calls it the ideology of death. Her mission appears to be to warn the west of how fundamentally different this ideology is from its own, she calls it an ideology of life. In addition she hopes to reach as many Muslims as possible and to persuade them to give up the ideology of death, which means to either turn away from Islam or reform it - although she is quite pessimistic about the rational forces within Islam.

I think her strong point lies in showing optimistic multiculturalists that a rational dialog with Islamists is rather impossible. The ideology of death, the irrational readiness to choose sacrifice in death is easily overlooked and as a result the true intentions of the likes of Ahmedinijad are easily misconstrued. A rationalist interpretation of Ahmedinijad's strife for nuclear weapons and his collision course with the west will not be able to see that death and total destruction are an acceptable element in his mind set.

I think her weak point lies the uneven perspective she is taking on Islam and on the West. She is looking at Islam from the downside, fed by her own biographic experience, emphasizing the dogmatism, the oppression and the irrational simplified version of it. The West she views from the upside and here the dogmatism, the oppression and the irrational simplified versions of Christianity, Judaism, Capitalism, Communism, Liberalism and so on, which historically can be shown to show their ugly heads, are pushed to the background. She is so entrenched in framing the competition as the famous clash of cultures that there can only be for and against. It goes so far that during the question and answer session, which can only be heard on Ideas, she calls someone like Tariq Ramadan a 'Closet Islamist'.

More Big Ideas:
Jewish Humor,
JRR Tolkien versus CS Lewis,
Malcolm Gladwell,
The Age of Inequality,
Disappearing cultures.

More Ideas:
Short review.

Friday, October 22, 2010

An excellent history podcast for everybody

Today the BBC delivered the last chapter of A History of the World in 100 Objects (AHOW). This has been a most outstanding production made together with the British museum. In 100 chapters, led by looking at 100 objects, clustered in 20 themes, the director of the British Museum has retold us human history spanning 2 million years. It was effective, entertaining and highly informative in one blow. This history podcast is a delight for the discerning as well as for the occasionally interested.

Usually the BBC stores only a limited amount of podcast episodes in the feed, but AHOW is an exception. You subscribe now and can obtain the full hundred. Do so, I highly recommend it.

More AHOW:
AHOW is back again,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

5 Podcasts I listened to when I was away from the blog

First of all, allow me to apologize for not posting on the blog for such a long time. Off-line life caught up with me. Issues have still to be resolved, but at least I am back to some blogging again. In the mean time I have also not stopped listening to podcasts and here are 5 podcasts I have faithfully followed up to the last episode.

Geography C110 (Berkeley)
This is a course in economic geography. It kicks off with a lot of interesting history and slowly fades out of geography into economics. I got a comment at the feedback page from a reader thanking me for pointing at this course which he dubbed 'THE econ class' he had been looking for. In the last lecture (Lecture 15: Class Struggle in the U.S.A.: Neoliberalism and Capital Triumphant) it even moves out of economics and shows professor Richard Walker take the liberty of venting his left wing political views. (feed)

History 5 (Berkeley)
Unfortunately a couple of lectures were not properly recorded in this course. As a result we have had a bit of bumpy road from the Enlightenment to the Industrial Revolution, but whatever we did get had professor Laqueur in full swing. There are a bunch of general history courses that cover the last centuries and give an indispensable insight into modernity, but Berkeley's remains the best of them. (feed)

A brief history of mathematics (BBC)
Here is a podcast that I was directed to by a reader of the blog. In ten easy to digest episodes Marcus du Sautoy (whom we have heard also frequently on In Our Time) introduces us to the history of modern mathematics. (feed)

New Books in History
Here is my weekly treat. Marshall Poe interviews authors of recently published history books. Although one might get the impression this podcast jumps back and forth just as the subjects come up, the regular listener can surely discern a couple of themes that have special interest. The recent issue 'Stalin's genocides' fits into both the recurring them of genocide as well as that of modern Russian history and biographies of important political figures. Similarly, the interview with Fred Spier (Big History and the Future of Humanity) fits into a group of issues about meta- and mega-history. And so on. (feed)

Forgotten Classics
Julie Davies reads to you the books that are classics we might have forgotten about. She has now embarked on a most ambitious and titillating project: reading Genesis. This will be of course in English and this opens the door to a whole lot of preemptive deliberating about translation. The translation she has chosen (Robert Alter's translation of Genesis) contains a whole preface addressing the issues the translator faced and explanations and justifications for how he treated it. Julie has begun by reading that preface. (feed)

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I am going to be away from the blog for a couple of days.
Apologies to you all

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Heads-up for 6 October 2010

Exploring Environmental History
The draining of the East Anglia Fens: social unrest, design flaws and unintended environmental consequences
This episode examines the history of the Fens of East Anglia in England. The Fens originally consisted of wetlands which have been artificially drained since the Middle Ages and continue to be protected from floods by a system of drains, dams and pumps. Much of this work was carried out during the 17th century. With the support of this drainage and coastal protection system and because of its fertility, the Fens have become a major agricultural region in Britain. The story of the reclamation of the fens is one of social unrest, design flaws, money problems and unintended environmental consequences. The guest on this episode of the podcast is Julie Bowring, a PhD candidate at Yale University and she is in the final stages of writing up a dissertation on the so-called Great Level of the Fens in Cambridgeshire, England
(review, feed)

A Short History of Japan
The Heian Era
The Heian Era is sometimes seen as Japan’s classical era. Great works of art, religious thought and crafty politicians make this era fascinating
(review, feed)

Elucidations, A University of Chicago Podcast
Episode 16: Amartya Sen discusses justice
In this episode, Amartya Sen critiques the idea that in order to make our society more just, we have to model it on an ideal.
(review, feed)

Geography C110 - Berkeley

This lecture course is about history, geography and economics all merged into one didactic presentation and it has me very excited. This is the way I like to be taught history, or economics and geography for that matter. Professor Richard Walker is a captivating, outspoken and effective lecturer who gets the job done very well, time and again. We are talking about the course Geography C110, Economic Geography of the Industrial World at Berkeley, which I have praised before and is being taught again this semester. (feed)

In case you have done some following in previous semesters, you still may consider following again as Walker makes numerous references to what is currently going on in politics and economics. He has a wonderful talent to clarify the interactive mechanics of regions (geography), economics, politics and historic developments. Not only does this make for a very integrated and comprehensive course in modern history - from the industrialization until today. It also explains a lot about what is going on today, whether it is the financial crisis, the rise of China and India (or not), the downfall of Europe and its creature the EU (or not) and the stagnating hegemony of the US as well as failing states and developing states.

The only question I have is: how well does this course work for listeners who do not have a clear view on the historical narrative of modern states and economy, of a map of the world and the specifics of its regions and the mechanics of macro-economics? For me, this course is a beautiful welding of these three separate disciplines into one whole picture. If you are fuzzy on some of the elements, will that help explain more, or will it cause you to drop out and fail to follow what Walker is on about? Can I get some comments on that?

By the way, if you want to see the power points, Walker promises in his first lecture to send them to anyone who applies for it by email to him. walker@berkeley.edu

More Geography c110:
Geography C110 - Berkeley Lecture series 2008.

Also recommended in this respect:
Geography of World Cultures, (review, site:Stanford on iTunes U, feed).
Enhanced podcast (maps are added to the audio) about the spread of languages and religions in the world. We see that the political and cultural boundaries are not the same as the boundaries of language and religion.

Global Geopolitics (review, site:Stanford on iTunes U, feed).
Martin Lewis systematically discusses, in nine lectures, all areas on the globe and disclose the problems in geopolitics. Enhanced podcast (maps are added to the audio).

Geography 130 (Berkeley) Natural Resources and Population (review, site, feed)
Lecture series that explains how our earth is populated, why it is populated the way it is, how we use our resources and in the process we come to understand how the system is strained.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Heads-up for 5 October 2010

Radio Lab (WNYC)
The Walls of Jericho
In this podcast, Jad and Robert throw some physics at a bible story. We find out just how many trumpeters you'd actually need to blow down the walls of Jericho.
(review, feed)

Inspired Minds
One-to-One with author Stuart MacBride
The Scotsman Stuart MacBride has successfully put the city of Aberdeen on the map of crime-writing. His first crime novel with Detective Sergeant Logan McRae and his slightly clumsy yet most endearing unorthodox superior, Detective Inspector Roberta Steel, came out in 2005, and he has been publishing a book a year ever since. In this week’s Inspired Minds Ulrike Sárkány talks to the author about his Aberdeen inspiration, the surprise of his success on the highly competitive crime fiction market and how he likes the reader to decide for themselves just what Detective Sergeant Logan McRae looks like.
(review, feed)

KQED's Forum
Deepak Chopra
Alternative medicine and spirituality advocate Dr. Deepak Chopra has written more than 50 books, including novels about Jesus and Buddha. He joins us to discuss his newest fictional biography, "Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet."
(review, feed)

Volkis Stimme
Nicht in Frankfurt
Eine kurze Theaterkritik mit Hilmar, dem Zauberbruder. Ausserdem eine unserer gefürchteten Impro-Einlagen.
(review, feed)

Silent Spring

We have seen a diametrical change of mindset in our life time. We started off by thinking that Nature was huge, robust and inexhaustible, but today many people view Nature as fragile, sensitive, nearly exhausted and in need of protection. We can replace nature in the the previous sentence with Earth or Eco-System, if you like, and improve the accuracy of what has happened, but I think you see what I am driving at. And I recall it from my youth: if you protested against throwing garbage in the river next to our village and said something about pollution, you were laughed at. The whole idea seemed ridiculous, but today there are cleaning systems at work, huge fines for polluting and tremendous social control. It is the same river and it may even be cleaner than thirty years ago, but it is treated fundamentally differently.

Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring is frequently credited to have set this major shift in motion, or at least profoundly contributed to it. If you listen to Witness (BBC), you can hear one of last week's issues (that will soon be taken out of the feed, so hurry with download) that talks with Carson's adopted son and discusses the conception and reception of the work. Carson was among the first to warn the world for fatal pollution of the environment. She was ridiculed and attacked. Today nobody doubts that the environment can be fatally polluted and many think we are very close to doing so and in some realms already have passed that point.

If you look for 'Silent Spring' in iTunes you will find a number of lectures that bear that name and even though they do not directly relate to Carson or her book, they do relate to the subject of it: how pesticides cause irreversible damage to flora and fauna. You can find an old issue of Science & The City that reports how DDT (which Carson warned about) is returning to the scene in 2007 (feed). And in iTunesU is a series from Carnegie Mellon University called Interdisciplinary Collaboration Audio which contains a fine lecture by Tyrone Hayes about the devastating effect of pesticides on amphibians which is a very captivating listen. (feed)

More Witness:
Oslo Accords,
Witness BBC.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Heads-up for 4 October 2010

The History of Rome
111- Phase One Complete
After the Battle of Abrittus, Trebonianus Gallus was proclaimed Emperor. After reigning for two years he was ousted by Aemilianus, who lasted less than a month on the throne before being ousted by Valerian.
(review, feed)

Here is a tip that has also been put forward by the DIY Scholar: check out the content of the UChannel podcast. This is a podcast that aggregates academic lecture from a wide series of institutions. Almost invariably you get here excellent content from the best people in their fields that share their insight. Unfortunately this podcast is going to podfade on November 3rd. So this is the time to pull up its great content while you still can.
(review, feed)

A History of the World in 100 Objects (BBC)
AHOW: 086 Asante Drum 4 Oct 2010
An 18th century drum from Africa. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, examines an African drum that was taken to America during the slave trade and later brought to England by the physician and collector Hans Sloane. He looks at how these African drums were to profoundly influence American culture. With contributions by historian Anthony Appiah and writer Bonnie Greer.
(review, feed)

In Our Time is back again

In case you had not noticed yet, here is to let you know that BBC's In Our Time is back. This is a podcast that is universally regarded as one of the most interesting and worth to follow productions around. Melvyn Bragg speaks every week for 45 minutes with assorted specialists on a subject in the history of ideas. There is hardly a better way thinkable to get a handle on an important topic than getting it on a silver platter through In Our Time. (feed)

The listener needs to be warned though: issues of In Our Time are only available as a podcast in the week immediately after its publication. After that it will only be available on line as a stream. It is therefore my advice to take a subscription, download each issue as it comes out and keep it for listening.

In Our Time also gives fantastic complementary listening to academic or other podcasts that cover the same topic. For example, next week the subject will be the Spanish Armada and in case we may expect that the focus will be either on Spain or England, it will be nice to also listen to the Irish perspective as can be found in the podcast Hidden Heritage.

More In Our Time:
The Indian Rebellion of 1857,
Frankfurt School,
The history of the Royal Society,
The weekly treat,
New season of In Our Time.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Heads-up for 3 October 2010

Tapestry (CBC)
Jill Bolte Taylor
Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist who had a stroke at the age of 37. The injury to her brain caused her to temporarily lose the ability to talk, read and write. But it gave her a new understanding of human consciousness, and of her own place in the universe. Today, Taylor has fully recovered. She tells her story in the book, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, and in a much-watched video.
(review, feed and Jill Bolte Taylor on Anne is a Man!)

Wise Counsel Podcast
Sharon Rivkin - Arguments
Sharon Rivkin, a Marriage and Family Therapist and author of Breaking the Argument Cycle, argues that in most cases, repetitive conflict within a relationship occurs when partners' deep-seated family-of-origin issues cause them to misinterpret one another's behavior as more of a personal attack than it really is. Ms. Rivkin's central insight is that a couple's first argument, usually still vividly remembered but distant enough in time to be objective about, is a fertile laboratory for unpacking and identifying what the core issues driving conflict are. To break out of a repetitive argument cycle, partners must become aware of their individual root issues underlying their arguments and then use this knowledge to become more compassionate towards themselves and their partner.
(review, feed)

Radio Open Source
John Mearsheimer: Why does a smart country act so stupid?
When Barack Obama delivered his defining “dumb war” denunciation of war against Iraq in October, 2002, he was a state senator standing in at Chicago’s first big anti-war rally for the invited keynoter, John Mearsheimer, who’d been booked elsewhere.
(review, feed)

Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean
Jesus and his Mentor, John the Baptizer
Here I consider evidence from Josephus and the Gospels regarding John the Baptist and his importance for studying the historical Jesus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
(review, feed)

Roma History - Rear Vision

Rear Vision is always a good source for short informative programs about recent history. In the past month it reported about the history of the Roma and it gave some beginning of an understanding about the gypsy people's history recent as well as longer ago.  (feed)

It left also some questions open. When you learn from the program that the origins of the Roma apparently lie in India and they manage to track their migration from India, through Turkey to Europe in time, it made me wonder about their own version of their history. And also about their language, customs and religion. How much of the origins remained and how much was picked up through the migratory ages?

What became somewhat more clear is how this migrating populace, while moving into new territory remained separate and were pushed into a segregated existence. It also made clear how this segregation continued in recent history even if it took on a different form in Eastern from Western Europe.

More Rear Vision:
History of Pakistan,
Israel's Nuclear Program,
UK Elections - recommended podcasts,
Two podcast issues on the history of Haiti.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tony Blair - Forum Network

Maybe I should start by explaining I follow a great deal more podcasts than I listen to. I like to be subscribed in my RSS reader of choice and simply browse through the titles in order to know what is going on in the feed. I will give a quick listen left or right, but that kind of browsing does not frequently lead to reviewing. And so, it could happen, that I had been following the podcast Forum-Network for years without ever reviewed it. So here is a first. (feed)

I would want to recommend to you, listening to the issue of 16 September, in which Tina Brown interviews Tony Blair about his political life, which is also the title of the book Blair recently published: My Political Life. Brown seems to be off with too much praise for a good interview. And for a moment I felt this podcast would, yet again, not be reviewed as it could not manage to keep me engaged. Yet, soon enough, Brown drops the sweetening up and builds some challenging interrogation for the former prime minister.

Blair, in turn, avoids that common pitfall for politicians in interviews to just cough up standardized, evasive and non-committal answers that make politician interviews frequently so irritatingly tedious and unimaginative. Maybe it is his elevated skill and maybe it is the circumstance of his retirement from British politics that he can simply afford to be more candid about his career as a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. By all means, I was fascinated and listened in suspense while he told about the details of how his politics worked and especially about his cooperation with Clinton and with Bush afterwards.

Note that on the site, you can even watch the interview. I listened of course to the audio which is podcast.

Friday, October 1, 2010

432 podcasts reviewed on Anne is a Man

Today I will be updating my podcast list. Here you can find all the podcast titles that were reviewed on this blog with a link to the latest review. There are 432 in total.

I am still not at the two posts a day rhythm I want to achieve. The Jewish High Holidays very much came in the way. In the coming month my day job is bound to draw me away from the blog, but I keep on trying.