Monday, January 31, 2011

What is hot on 31 January 2011

Philosophy Bites
Cécile Fabre on Cosmopolitanism and War
There is a long tradition of just war theory, but how does it square with moral cosmopolitanism, the idea that individuals, not nations, should be our prime concern? Cécile Fabre discusses this question with Nigel Warburton in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast.
(review, feed)

North Sea Flood
On the last day of January 1953, a storm combined with high tides to breach the sea defences in the Netherlands. Over 1800 people died in the flooding - we hear from a survivor of that night.
(review, feed)

Mahabharata Podcast
Episode 42 - Vyasa stops by the Pandava camp and tells the story of Mudgala, who turns down the opportunity to go bodily to heaven because it wasn't permanent enough! He chose instead to stay on earth, eking out his miserable existence until his natural death, when he finally attained total extinction. That seems to be Vyasa's only mission, because after the story, he leaves. Soon after, King Jayadratha of Sindh passes by the camp while the brothers are away hunting. He spots Draupadi alone and undefended, so he grabs her and runs off.
(review, feed)

Beyond the Book
France Gets Its E-Book Moment
The world came to the 2011 Digital Book World Conference in late January. At Editis, one of France’s leading publishers, Virginia Clayssen oversees digital development. In an interview with CCC’s Chris Kenneally, she accounts for why France has not yet had its ebook moment, but is about to this year. “We didn’t have in France the Kindle effect, because connected e-readers are just arriving in France. We have one now, but it’s very new.”
(review, feed)

The History of Rome
The Tetrarchs at War
In the mid-to-late 290s the Imperial Tetrarchy was at war on multiple fronts. In the west Constantius undertook the reconquest of Britain, while in the east, Galerius fought a newly hostile Sassanid Empire.
(review, feed)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What is hot on 30 January 2011

Forgotten Classics
Genesis, chapters 13-15
In which Abram goes on the warpath, meets a mysterious priest, and has an out-of-body experience.
(review, feed)

Survival of the Kindest
Mary Hynes talks to Dacher Keltner about his book, Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life.
(review, feed)

More Dacher Keltner:
Dacher Keltner in podcast,
Dacher Keltner on happiness and health.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What is hot on 29 January 2011

The Philosophy Podcast
What Was the Enlightenment?
What Was the Enlightenment? by Professor James Schmidt.
(review, feed)

Philosopher's Zone
The Philosophical Baby - Alison Gopnik
Given that we all begin our lives as children, it is perhaps surprising that philosophy has paid such little attention, relatively speaking, to childhood. This week, we meet the American philosopher and psychologist Alison Gopnik, who argues that in some ways young children are actually smarter, more imaginative, more caring and even more conscious than adults are.
(review, feed)

Center for Near Eastern Studies
Traumatic Memory Discourses in Israel: Holocaust History, Territory and Self-Critique
A lecture by Joseph Rosen, Department of History and Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence, Concordia University, Montreal
(review, feed)

Friday, January 28, 2011

What is hot on 28 January 2011

New Books In History
Catherine Epstein, “Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland”
Greiser believed in the Nazi cause with his heart and soul. He wanted to create a new Germany, and indeed a new Europe dominated by Germans. As the Gauleiter of Wartheland (an area of Western Poland annexed to the Reich), he was given the opportunity to help realize the Nazi nightmare in the conquered Eastern territories. But, as Epstein shows, he was often hindered both by his own personality and the chaos that characterized Nazi occupation of the East. Grieser emerges from Epstein’s book as someone who wanted to be a “model Nazi,” but couldn’t really manage it.
(review, feed)

Shrink Rap Radio
Mindful Sleep, Mindful Dreams with Rubin Naiman PhD
Rubin Naiman, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in integrative sleep and dream medicine. He is director of Circadian Health Associates, an organization that provides information, goods and services in support of sleep health.
(review, feed)

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History
Death Throes of the Republic IV
Sulla returns to Rome to show the Republic what REAL political violence looks like. Civil war and deadly partisan payback will pave the way for reforms pushed at sword point. Lots of heads will roll...literally.
(review, feed)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What is hot on 27 January 2011

Check out this blog post at DIY Scholar:
History of Modern Africa Since 1880
[...] University of California San Diego (UCSD) historian Jeremy Prestholdt narrates Africa’s modern history in a calm and thoughtful manner which makes his indictment of European colonialism and the racial paternalism of the colonial all the more damning. [...]
(feed of the discussed course)

The Memory Palace
Episode 37
Natural curiosity
(review, feed)

In Our Time
Aristotle's Poetics
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the seminal work of literary criticism by Aristotle, his 'Poetics'. Full of advice about how to write and appreciate tragedy and epic poetry, the book had a huge influence on French renaissance drama and beyond. Melvyn is joined by Angie Hobbs, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Warwick; Nick Lowe is Reader in Classical Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London; and Stephen Halliwell, Professor of Greek at the University of St. Andrews.
(review, feed)

Great Claus and Little Claus

Here is a piece of nostalgia - for me at least. When I was young and until today I loved Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales and especially Great Claus and Little Claus. At the podcast Forgotten Classics this tale was integrally read by Joseph in the new subseries Forgotten Tales. Go and listen yourself, especially in case you have never heard this cheeky tale. (feed)

Although Anderson's work is considered to be literary, I have always wondered how much of his tales are based upon regular folk stories. I own a collection of Dutch folk tales that continue a number of tales that contain some or all elements of Great Claus and Little Claus. In some respect the folk version is more cheeky - Little Claus catches the farmer's wife cheating on her husband and in some aspects Anderson is very daring when Great Claus is about to murder Little CLaus. He is weary of dragging him in a sack and decides to rest a bit in the Church. After he has heard some Psalms his spirit is uplifted and he has regained strength to continue with his plan.

More Forgotten Classics:
Flood tales; Noah, Gilgamesh and Manu,
5 podcasts I listened to (Genesis),
The Riddle of the Sands,
The message of Uncle Tom's Cabin,
Cooking with Forgotten Classics.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What is hot on 26 January 2011

Rear Vision
Rear Vision this week tells the story behind the recent referendum in Sudan and explores why the people of southern Sudan are so determine to separate from the north.
(review, feed)

Radio Open Source
David Rohde’s Taliban Captivity
What can Taliban captivity do to a man’s judgment, even to his soul? It made David Rohde root for the CIA’s drone missiles buzzing on the horizon, even when his captors assured him the drones were hunting for them and him, and were going to take his life with theirs
(review, feed)

The Christian Humanist Podcast
The Italian Renaissance
Nathan Gilmour moderates a discussion with David Grubbs and Michial Farmer about the Italian Renaissance and the broad spectrum of intellectual and artistic activity that emerges from that period. On the way we focus on the strong continuities between the concrete continuities between this fascinating time and what people in that moment called "the Dark Ages," and that discussion takes us into the realms of sculpture and politics and philosophy as well as poetry. Among the authors, artists, and others discussed are Dante, Petrarch, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Castiglione, Pico de Mirandola, and the Medicis.
(review, feed)

Conflict in Somalia
It is 20 years since the government of Siad Barre collapsed in Somalia. Since then the country has not had a permanent central authority, and hundreds of thousands of people have died in the fighting and famine.
(review, feed)

TED Talks
Drawing upon humor for change - Liza Donnelly
New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly shares a portfolio of her wise and funny cartoons about modern life -- and talks about how humor can empower women to change the rules.
(review, feed)

Meaning of Life - LSE

At the London School of Economics (LSE Podcast) you can hear a lecture by Robert Rowland Smith about the Meaning of Life. As much as this subject is most interesting and the lecture laudable, it is also barely audible. Rowland Smith walks up and down the stage, causing varying levels in the sound and constantly interacts with his audience, while there are no microphones to catch what feedback he is reacting to. (feed)

Still, what will make it worthwhile to spend an hour and a half struggling with this irregular lecture is that Rowland Smith gives an amazing overview of what is implied in questions about the meaning of life. It is the broadest inventory of relevant issues to the meaning of life I recall to have heard. In stead of being bothered by the lapses in the audio, you can take them as breaks and ponder your own reaction to it, until the next tidbit comes up.

Nice, inspiring I hope, but scattered.

More LSE:
Palestinian perspectives - LSE and CNES,
The impending war,
Quest for meaning,
The plundered planet,
China and India.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What is hot on 25 January 2011

Mahabharata Podcast
The Golden Plough
Episode 41 - This one covers Duryodhana reaction to the humiliation of being captured by the Gandharvas and then released by the valor of his hated cousins the Pandavas.
(review, feed)

On Trust
In the first program of a new series, Edward Stourton interviews the eminent political philosopher, Onora O'Neill, on trust and mistrust, the subject of her 2002 BBC Reith Lectures.
(review, feed)

Entitled Opinions
Commedia dell'Arte
A conversation with actor, teacher and director Mace Perlman, about masks, mime, and the Italian Commedia dell'Arte.
(review, feed)

Ger Harmsen - Marathon Interview

Gisteren heb ik in een ruk drie uur podcast beluisterd: Ronald van den Boogaards interview met Ger Harmsen in 1997 in de serie Marathon Interviews (feed)

Als je de aankondigingen leest of beluistert word je in drie opzichten op het verkeerde been gezet, of althans, dat gebeurde mij. Ger Harmsen wordt aangekondigd als communist, historicus en filosoof. Hoewel er wordt gesproken over Marx, over sociale geschiedenis en Hegel, het gesprek met Harmsen voelt niet als een ontmoeting met een communist, historicus en filosoof of als een gesprek over communisme, geschiedenis en wijsbegeerte, het is vooral een persoonlijk document.

We leren Harmsen kennen als de timmermanszoon, het buitenbeentje, het mannetje dat zich ondanks een BVD rapport op weet te werken. We lichten een tipje van de sluier op over drie mislukte huwlijken en verder vastgelopen relaties, maar dat lijkt toch vooral bijzaak voor een man bij wie het om het werk gaat. En als hij er al iets naast doet dan is het botaniseren. Harmsen is in het interview ook vooral over zichzelf aan het woord en het is dankzij een voortreffelijk interviewer als Ronald van den Boogaard dat het interessant is om hierin mee te gaan. Van den Boogaard, zoals gewoonlijk, heeft zich goed ingelezen en weet door te vragen op punten waar ook echt iets onder de gepresenteerde lagen verder te ontdekken valt. Daar mogen andere interviewers in de serie een voorbeeld aan nemen.

Meer Het Marathon Interview:
Het Marathon Interview met Kerst 2010,
Michiel van Erp,
Ger van Elk,
Ileana Melita,
VPRO's Marathon Interview.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What is hot on 24 January 2011

The History of Rome
The Tertrarchy
In 293 AD Diocletian and Maximian invited Constantius and Galerius to share in their Imperial burdens, forming what we today call the Tetrarchy.
(review, feed)

Fazzari on Stimulus and Keynes
Steve Fazzari of Washington University in St. Louis talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of Keynesian stimulus. They discuss the stimulus package passed in February 2009 and whether it improved the economy and created jobs. How should claims about its impact be evaluated? What can we know as economists about causal relationships in a complex world? The conversation includes a discussion of the underlying logic of Keynesian stimulus and the effect of the financial crisis on economic research and teaching.
(review, feed)

TED Talks
Understanding the rise of China - Martin Jacques
Speaking at a TED Salon in London, economist Martin Jacques asks: How do we in the West make sense of China and its phenomenal rise? The author of "When China Rules the World," he examines why the West often puzzles over the growing power of the Chinese economy, and offers three building blocks for understanding what China is and will become.
(review, feed)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What is hot on 23 January 2011

Mavis Staples
Mary Hynes talks to the legendary Mavis Staples. For more than six decades she has used her gift of music to advance civil rights and social justice. With her father and siblings in the Staple Singers, they performed at rallies and the sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King and created what is known as the soundtrack of the civil rights movement.
(review, feed)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What is hot on 22 January 2011

New Books In History
Joyce Salisbury, “The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages”
People in the Middle Ages did not, so far as we know, love their animals. As Joyce points out, they used them, ate them, and even had sex with them. But they do not seem to have loved them, any of them. They did, or at least some of them, think about animals rather deeply. They wanted to know what animals were, really. They knew animals were God’s creatures. But there were nettlesome questions, like whether animals had souls. [...] Thinkers of the Middle Ages had some interesting things to say about all these questions, many of which still have resonance today. Read Joyce’s fine book and learn all about it.
(review, feed)

Big Ideas
Chris Hedges on Death of the Liberal Class
Journalist and author Chris Hedges delivers a lecture based on his book Death of the Liberal Class. Hedges argues that there are five pillars of the liberal establishment - the press, liberal religious institutions, labor unions, universities and the Democratic Party - but that these institutions have failed the constituents they purport to represent.
(review, feed)

More Chris Hedges:
On Open Source,
On Media Matters.

Forgotten Classics
Genesis, chapters 10-12
In which there is babbling and traveling.
(review, feed)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What is hot on 20 January 2011

In Our Time
The Mexican Revolution
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Mexican Revolution of 1910. The revolution last for the next ten years and included the radical peasants’ revolt of Zapata in the south, the warlord banditry of Villa in the north, and a succession of presidents who often tried to put in place remarkably modern constitutions, but usually failed. But was the revolution ultimately successful and how did it actually change things for the people? Melvyn is joined by Alan Knight, Professor of the History of Latin America at the University of Oxford; Paul Garner, Cowdray Professor of Spanish at the University of Leeds; and Patience Schell, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies at the University of Manchester.
(review, feed)

Forum Network
Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates
Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein discuss Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between. Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein achieved bestselling fame with their first book, Plato and a Platypus Walked Into a Bar, a survey of key philosophical concepts through jokes. This newest book is a hilarious take on the philosophy, theology, and psychology of mortality and immortality. That is, Death. Philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre have been wrestling with the meaning of death for as long as they have been wrestling with the meaning of life. Fortunately, humorists have been keeping pace with the major thinkers by creating gags about dying. Death's funny that way--it gets everybody's attention.
(review, feed)

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Making Love in the Kitchen
Tap Your Worries Away
Title: Tap Your Worries Away Guest: Nick Ortner, the founder of Try It Productions and the Producer of "The Tapping Solution." Nick is a "searcher" constantly reading, exploring, experimenting with the incredible information all around that can change lives. When he found Tapping, and was startled by the results, he knew he had to find a way to get this information into the mainstream. He also produced the worldwide online event, "The Tapping World Summit" which has been attended by over 75,000 (all for free!). Check out The Tapping Solution
(review, feed)

Justice according to Michael Sandel - Philosophy Bites

Philosophy Bites just had a show in which they had Michael Sandel explain the ideas of Justice. The best podcast on philosophy with the most clear mind in the field of Justice - what more do you want? (feed)

If you have followed Sandel's vodcast about Justice (at Harvard), what he says is not new. Yet he manages to sum up in twenty minutes what takes hours in the series. The two polar approaches to justice are consequentialist utilitarianism on the one hand, which tries to capture justice by looking at the outcome of behavior and law and the measure to which the outcome is worthy or not. On the other side is the idea of fundamental right and wrong, which tries to find justice in a priori values. Sandel chooses neither side nor makes a suggestion for a third way as the one right approach, but rather comes up with the third approach in order to further inform and balance out the polarity.

The remaining thought then is that the search for Justice continues yet Sandel has enriched our tool box which helps us on the way.

More Philosophy Bites:
Three issues of Philosophy Bites,
The genocide and the trial,
Dirty Hands,
Understanding decisions.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Needham about China

Here is an issue of Big Ideas I do not want to say too much about. I just want to encourage you to go and listen. Not only is the subject very interesting, the speaker also managed to deliver his talk in the most captivating way. (feed)

The podcast description goes:
Journalist, broadcaster, and bestselling author, Simon Winchester, tells the remarkable story of Joseph Needham, an eccentric English chemist who wrote a vast book on Chinese science which remains the longest book about China ever written in the English language. Winchester's lecture on The Man Who Loved China was delivered at the Royal Ontario Museum on October 14, 2010.

This should be enough, but let me add that apart from Joseph Needham coming alive and having us share his fascination with China, also Winchester comes alive. He manages to take you in with his fascination for Needham and has some spectacular tales about the road to his book.

More Big Ideas:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist,
Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the quest against Islam,
Jewish Humor,
JRR Tolkien versus CS Lewis,
Malcolm Gladwell.

The mysteries of whites and of mass

New Books In History is my weekly stop for good history podcast (feed). Apart from some recurring themes in the series, host Marshall Poe frequently comes up, also, with very unusual, sometimes obscure, but invariably hugely interesting unexpected subjects. Take these two:

Massive for example, is a book about the history of the hunt for the Higgs-boson, the sub-atomic particle that is supposed to make up for the lack of mass in the known particles that atoms are comprised of. Marshall Poe speaks with Ian Sample who wrote the book and tells the most fascinating tale of this project in physics. It appears it is not just a project in physics, it is also about huge building projects (the Large Hadron Collider) therefore about money, politics and also about prestige.

Another subject was Poe's interview with Nell Irvin Painter about the history of white people. It is not politically correct and not even fashionable to speak of white or black or colored people anymore, but these ideas about different races among humans did arrive in the collective conscience at some point in time. Painter sought the origins of this racial thinking out and especially the origins of the concept of white people and skin color as the defining element of race.

More NBIH:
A Soviet Memoir,
This I accomplish,
Not your idea of World War II,
When Akkadian was Lingua Franca,
The 1910 Paris flood.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Moby Dick - Entitled Opinions

For the die-hard quality podcast lovers this week is a most splendidly happy one: Entitled Opinions is back. Last Tuesday with a great discussion of Moby Dick with repeat guest Andrea Nightingale. (feed)

Moby Dick is so much more than a novel, or an epic. It is an artful description of man's search for God, meaning and the essence of his being - man's or God's. This is not a claim of my own, but trather what one learns from Robert Harrison and Andrea Nightingale's discussion. For those who have read Moby Dick with Hubert Dreyfus's philosophy course at Berkely (Philosophy 6) this comes as no surprise.

Today Entitled Opinions moves on in full swing with a discussion about Classicism in America.

More Entitled Opinions:
Two issues of Entitled Opinions,
Pink Floyd,
Alexander the Great,
Athanasius Kircher (Giordano Bruno).

More Philosophy 6:
KQED - all things shining,
Heidegger in Podcast - news,
Heidegger in podcast,
Philosophy 6 - Berkeley lecture series.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Patterns of Authoritarianism and Resistance in Iran

Another interesting lecture at the Center for Near Eastern Studies (UCLA) was A panel discussion with Mehdi Khalaji, Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Majid Mohammadi, Writer, moderated by Nayereh Tohidi. (feed)

They speak of the recent history of Iran and try to show how the current 'Green Movement' which resists the establishment has its roots in other resistance movements of the past two centuries in Iran. They also discuss how the clergy from being part of the resisting powers had to reinvent itself as it acquired the regime since 1979.

More from the Center of Near Eastern Studies:
Palestinian perspectives - LSE and CNES,
History, linguistics and the downside of society,
Jonathan Mark Kenoyer on Indus Valley Civilization.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Palestinian perspectives - LSE and CNES

Here are two podcasts I heard in the past week which take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Palestinian perspective.

At the London School of Economics (LSE Podcast) spoke Professor Yezid Sayigh about the Palestinian Authority. Much of what he relates confirms what has been said by others in other podcasts before: Palestine is a failed state. Sayigh however does more than just state this, he also elaborates and thus makes clear the lack of political strategy and coherence especially with Fatah. Hamas on the other hand, as it controls Gaza, it has a bit more of a consistent policy, yet remains isolated. In addition, he shows how the foreign policies towards the Palestinian Authority also fails to establish, support or even encourage a coherent polity. (feed)

As the conflict with Israel is fought on many fronts, it is interesting to listen in on the podcast of UCLA's Center for Near Eastern Studies where Basem Ra'ad takes on the conflict of narratives. As the Zionist side relies on main stream interpretations of the Bible and World History, in which God promised the land to the Jews and Arabs invaded as Islam spread. Ra'ad proposes that the Palestinians are not simply Arabs, but rather the descendants of the Canaanites. He connects the Canaanites to the Phoenicians as they are the inventors of the Alphabet that forms the basis for the Hebrew as well as the Arab script (and the Greek, by the way). He also makes a case that God is the god of the Canaanites and Yahweh is his son, who is the god of the Hebrews. It is a rather stretched lecture, but one simply must experience how the Israeli-Palestinian struggle extends as far as the making of narratives. (feed)

More LSE:
The impending war,
Quest for meaning,
The plundered planet,
China and India,
The China Hegemony.

More from the Center of Near Eastern Studies:
History, linguistics and the downside of society,
Jonathan Mark Kenoyer on Indus Valley Civilization.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What is hot on 15 January 2011

The Biography Podcast
Bill Clinton
Chris Gondek interviews Michael Takiff about his new biography, A Complicated Man: The Life of Bill Clinton as Told By Those Who Know Him.
(review, feed)

New Books In History
Nell Irvin Painter, “The History of White People”
We in the West tend to classify people by the color of their skin, or what we casually call “race.” But, as Nell Irvin Painter shows in her fascinating new book The History of White People (Norton, 2010), it wasn’t always so.
(review, feed)

Big Ideas
Jordan Peterson on The Necessity of Virtue
University of Toronto professor and clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson, delivers the 2010 Hancock Lecture entitled The Necessity of Virtue. He discusses virtue from a contemporary perspective that both encompasses and extends beyond moral and religious contexts. Through compelling stories and research, Dr. Peterson illustrates the necessity of virtue both for the individual and for society at large.
(review, feed)

Wise Counsel
Liana Lowenstein, MSW on Play Therapy
Liana Lowenstein, MSW on Play Therapy. Mental Help Net ( presents the Wise Counsel Podcast (, hosted by David Van Nuys, Ph.D. Adult-oriented psychotherapy is talk-focused, making it inappropriate for children who are for developmental reasons less able or inclined to be able to talk about emotional difficulties. Play therapy involves a therapists systematic use of structured games and play activities to bond with, assess and treat children's psychosocial issues. Play activities allow children to approach their issues indirectly and (often) in a physical, primarily non-verbal manner. Play activities are orchestrated by the therapist according to one or more clinical play therapy models (e.g., this is not simply play but instead real therapy). Lowenstein describes several named therapeutic play activities variously designed to elicit discussion of feelings, elicit a ranked list of worries, or to enable children to act out their issues using the sand-tray or dollhouses. The entire family is frequently included in therapy so as to assess family dynamics that may be interfering with healing (such as when children feel the need to protect their parents), and to help parents become more aware of children's issues so that they can act on the information to alter their behavior.
(review, feed)

Friday, January 14, 2011

What is hot on 14 January 2011

Philosophy Bites
Michael Sandel on Justice
Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel discusses 3 different theories of Justice in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast: Bentham's, Kant's and Aristotle's. Philosophy Bites is made in association with the Institute of Philosophy.
(review, feed)

Harvard Business IdeaCast
The Holy Grail of Continuous Growth
Paul Nunes, executive director of research at the Accenture Institute for High Performance and coauthor of the HBR article of "Reinvent Your Business Before It's Too Late."
(review, feed)

London School of Economics: Public lectures and events
The Meaning of Life
From Plato through Monty Python to Terry Eagleton and beyond, the question of the meaning of life has been a source of both mystery and mirth. In this lecture, based on his new book Driving with Plato, Robert Rowland Smith breaks life down into its milestones from cradle to grave: what does it mean not just to be born and to die, but to learn to talk, to lose your virginity or have a mid-life crisis? Robert Rowland Smith began his career as a Prize Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford before becoming a partner in a management consultancy. He now consults independently, has a column on moral dilemmas in the Sunday Times and contributes to BBC television and radio. His last book was Breakfast with Socrates, recently translated into sixteen languages.
(review, feed)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What is hot on 13 January 2011

Elucidations (University of Chicago)
Dan Sperber discusses epistemic vigilance
In this episode, Dan Sperber discusses the psychological habits we develop in order to figure out whether the information we hear from other people is trustworthy.
(review, feed)

London School of Economics: Public lectures and events
Facing Disaster In the Middle East: Do We Have Only Bad Options?
American and European policies toward the Middle East have produced a region immersed in violence, terror, anger and oppression. Yet although new and terrifying threats are emerging from the region, new opportunities also present themselves. To seize on them, the West needs to change policies that were shaped for the Cold War. Kinzer offers ideas for a new approach to the world's most turbulent region. Stephen Kinzer is the author of Reset Middle East(I.B.Tauris), All the Shah's Men and Overthrow among others. An award-winning foreign correspondent, he served as The New York Times bureau chief in Turkey. He teaches international relations at Boston University, contributes to The New York Review of Books and writes a world affairs column for The Guardian.
(review, feed)

In Our Time
Random and Pseudorandom
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss random and pseudorandom numbers. Randomness will be familiar to anybody who’s bought a lottery ticket or shuffled a pack of cards. But there’s also a phenomenon known as pseudo-randomness –numbers which look random but aren’t. So why are these numbers useful and how can they be generated? Melvyn is joined by Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford; Colva Roney-Dougal, Senior Lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews; and Timothy Gowers, Royal Society Research Professor in Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.
(review, feed)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What is hot on 12 January 2011

Entitled Opinions
Moby Dick
A conversation with Stanford Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature Andrea Nightingale about Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick.
(review, feed)

Center for Near Eastern Studies
Patterns of Authoritarianism and Resistance in Iran
A panel discussion with Mehdi Khalaji, Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Majid Mohammadi, Writer, moderated by Nayereh Tohidi.
(review, feed)

Rear Vision
Carbon Tax: a way forward or economic ruin?
This year the Australian government is going to consider putting a price on carbon and one option is a carbon tax. Those who support a carbon tax argue that it would be simpler, cheaper and more efficient than a cap and trade scheme.
(review, feed)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is hot on 11 January 2011

Crossing the Rubicon
When Julius Caesar led his troops across the Rubicon river and into Italy he was effectively declaring war on the Republic in Rome. Afterwards, there was no turning back.
(review, feed)

What is the Stars?
Monday January 10th
The Blue of the Night's resident astronomer Francis McCarthy from Blackrock Observatory in Cork celebrates humankind's ingenuity as the 6th anniversary of the Huygens spacecraft landing on Saturn’s largest moon Titan is marked on 14th January.
(review, feed)

TED Talks
We are all cyborgs now - Amber Case
Technology is evolving us, says Amber Case, as we become a screen-staring, button-clicking new version of homo sapiens. We now rely on "external brains" (cell phones and computers) to communicate, remember, even live out secondary lives. But will these machines ultimately connect or conquer us? Case offers surprising insight into our cyborg selves.
(review, feed)

Monday, January 10, 2011

What is hot on 10 January 2011

Caldwell on Hayek
Bruce Caldwell of Duke University and the General Editor of the Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Hayek, his life, his ideas, his books, and articles. The conversation covers Hayek's intellectual encounters with Keynes, Hayek's role in the socialist calculation debate, Hayek's key ideas, and a discussion of which of Hayek's works are most accessible.
(review, feed)

La Resistance
Herding Lions: Maximizing the Resistance
A technologically superior redo of the long awaited Jean Moulin ep on La Resistance! Tune in to learn more about the man historian Thane Peterson was speaking of when he said ‘If there’s a greater hero of WWII of any nationality, I haven’t read about him.’
(review, feed)

Mahabharata Podcast
The Markandeya Sessions Pt. 3
Episode 39 - Two more stories from the Sage Markandeya. The first is a rousing fight story, where the king of Ayodhya gets super powers from the god Vishnu and defeats a dragon.
I find the second story more interesting. Yuddistira wants to know about the specific problems that women and servants must have in following their dharma. Markandeya replies with a story about a short-tempered Brahmin Kaushika, who encounters a particularly wise peasant woman, whose devotion to her husband grants her great wisdom and insight. Noticing that the brahmin could use some advice on dharma, she sends him to the local butcher, who, it turns out, knows even more about dharma than the woman.
We are nearly through with Markandeya. Next episode we'll get back to the main protagonists, with a tete-a-tete between Draupadi and Krishna's wife Satyabhama.
(review, feed)

The Age of American Decline
With American power in decline, who will fill the vacuum? China? India? For many, this may be good news, but be careful what you wish for, says Richard Haass, a prominent American foreign policy analyst.
(review, feed)

TED Talks
A realistic vision for world peace - Jody Williams
Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams brings tough love to the dream of world peace, with her razor-sharp take on what "peace" really means, and a set of profound stories that zero in on the creative struggle -- and sacrifice -- of those who work for it.
(review, feed)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What is hot on 9 January 2011

Office Hours
Shamus Khan on Inequality and the Elite
This week we talk with Shamus Khan about his new book Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School. One the one hand, elite social institutions—such as St. Paul’s—have opened up to women and minorities in recent decades, but on the other hand, inequality has increased and wealth is more concentrated now than since the 1920s. What explains this apparent contradiction between increasing openness yet rising inequality? Khan draws on his experiences as a student and then researcher at St. Paul’s to help answer this question.
(review, feed)

Veertien Achttien
Sir Stanley Maude en de vergeten koffer (zondag 7 januari 1917)
De man die de Turken in Mesopotamië op de hielen zat, deed eerst op Gallipoli met een stiff upper lip de deur voor de Britten dicht. Hop into the lighter Maude!
(review, feed)

Historical Jesus methodologies

Here is a nice review to open a Sunday; let's talk the historical Jesus. The first podcast to go to for input in the historical Jesus is Stanford's Historical Jesus by Thomas Sheehan* (feed). There is some brief discussion at Yale, in Dale B. Martin's course Introduction to New Testament History and Literature (feed), but Martin keeps it short as he reveals that he teaches an independent course on the subject - when will that one come out in podcast?

Right now a series is running as part of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean by Philip Harland (feed). Whereas Sheehan pushes towards a very specific conclusion and uses mostly literary interpretation, Harland is more tentative and uses a wider spectrum of methods. Sheehan comes off as more of a Theology professor and Harland as a historian in comparison. By all means both of them are very interesting, yet for the historical effort, I am very much charmed by Harland's course and would like to draw your attention to the issue of methodology.

First of all Harland explains the various methodologies at the beginning of the section. In addition to the literary approach, he adds the few pieces of data that arise from there and puts them in a wider historical context, using other sources historical and archeological. For example, in the last issue, he takes the indications that Jesus was a healer and exorcist and digs into sources about other healers and exorcists around the same place and time. He tells about Hanina Ben Dosa and Honi haM'agel in order to extrapolate what might have been the facts with the historical Jesus.

* Be aware that Sheehan's course has some very low audio and the lectures are coming out of the feed in correct order. A syllabus comes along that will guide you to the correct sequence.

More Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean:
6 more podcasts I listened to when I was away from the blog,
Jesus - Egalitarian or Apocalyptic,
Historical Jesus (2) - Philip Harland,
Historical Jesus (1) - Philip Harland,
Early Christianity podcasts.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What is hot on 8 January 2011

Science Friday
Paul Offit On The Anti-Vaccine Movement
In his new book, vaccine researcher Paul Offit contends that some parents' decisions not to vaccinate their kids are harming others. Offit discusses the anti-vaccine movement, and weighs in on a new report calling a 1998 study linking autism and vaccines an "elaborate fraud."
(review, feed)

The Memory Palace
Episode 36
Six scenes in the life of William J. Sidis, wonderful boy
(review, feed)

New Books In History
Ian Sample, “Massive: The Missing Particle that Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science”
You’ve probably read about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It’s the biggest (17 miles around!), most expensive (9 billion dollars!) scientific instrument in history. What’s it do? It accelerates beams of tiny particles (protons) to nearly the speed of light and then smashes them into one another. That’s cool, you say, why all the smashing?
(review, feed)

Philosopher's Zone
Nietzsche and the will to power
Friedrich Nietzsche was the son of a preacher who came to despise Christianity. He was a scholar of the Greek and Roman classics who became better known as a philosopher. And he was a philosopher whose ideas -- rejecting the idea of pity, embracing the will to power and the ideal of the superman -- cast long shadows over the twentieth century. This week, we take a sympathetic look at this troubling, and troubled, thinker.
(review, feed)

KQED's Forum
Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise. A new report says emergency room visits due to prescription drug abuse have doubled over the last five years, while the number of people seeking treatment for prescription drug use is also on the rise. We examine what some are calling the nation's fastest growing drug problem.
(review, feed)

Friday, January 7, 2011

What is hot on 7 January 2011

Words That Shimmer
Poetry is something many of us seem to be hungry for these days. We're hungry for fresh ways to tell hard truths and redemptive stories, for language that would elevate and embolden rather than demean and alienate. Elizabeth Alexander shares her sense of what poetry works in us -- and in our children -- and why it may become more relevant, not less so, in hard and complicated times.
(review, feed)

Clinton impeachment
On January 7 1999 the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton began in the US senate. His press secretary at the time, tells Witness about the politics behind the Lewinsky scandal.
(review, feed)

Nuclear Power
In this episode we learn about the history and future of nuclear power, in the U.S. and abroad.
(review, feed)

KQED - all things shining

Three days ago the radio program KQED Forum with Michael Krasny had a conversation with Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly about their book All Things Shining; Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age.

In podcast we know Dreyfus and Kelly from their philosophy lecture series on Heidegger. The work they have done at UC Berkeley in teaching a course, year in year out, about the meaning of being and how this can be learned from reading classical literature has found its way to this book. Dreyfus and Kelly count as the leading existentialist philosophers today and this, obviously, is the framework in which this book should be understood.

Here is a tiny hint I can give: the question of the meaning of life can also be framed as: what makes life worthwhile, or what is the good life. Dreyfus and Kelly draw our attention to peak experiences that we have from time to time. When what we do or undergo is especially elevated in some way, when our lives acquire an additional shine - hence the title 'all things shining'. They want to argue that this shining is what counts and that our intent in life, as well as our dedication should be directed to it. Yet, in a modern age things seem to shine less. As if the shining is more of a thing of magic, or sacredness, or non-repeatable singularity which apparently is less accessible in the secular, demystified and rational world, or at least within the framework of monotheism.

I find it not so easy to catch the idea, but I was very inspired by the show on KQED and can tell it is at least much more accessible than the courses Dreyfus and Kelly teach. I feel like buying and close reading the book after this as well.

More KQED Forum:
The Iranian Elections,
Irvin Yalom,
Susan Jacoby,
Christopher Hitchins.

See also:
Heidegger in podcast - news

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What is hot on 6 January 2011

In Our Time
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
Melvyn Bragg and guests consider the poem which allegedly made the Romantic English poet, Lord Byron, famous. 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage' was a thinly veiled autobiographical poem recounting Byron's travels through the Mediterranean, the tales of the first and archetypal 'Byronic Hero'. Melvyn is joined by Jonathan Bate, Professor of English Literature at the University of Warwick; Jane Stabler, Reader in Romanticism at the University of St Andrews; and Emily Bernhard Jackson, Assistant Professor in Nineteenth-Century English Literature at the University of Arkansas.
(review, feed)

Documentary on One
Searching for Answers
In 1975 and 1976 two fishing trawlers sank at the exact same spot off the coast of Donegal with the loss of 11 lives - over 35 yrs later, a daughter goes in search of answers.
(review, feed)

The Economist
Confronting the public-sector unions
As austerity measures bite, our correspondents discuss a looming clash between governments and their unionised workers
(review, feed)

MMW5 - Revolution, Industry & Empire

UCSD's MMW series is the most complete history lecture collection you could want to follow. MMW stands for Making of the Modern World and in six series they offer the history from the earliest of times to the modern. The fifth in the series covers the period 1750 - 1914 CE and is likely the most accessible of the series. In addition MMW5 has many comparable series: History 5 from Berkeley, History 1c from UCLA, European Civilization from Yale. They all give this tale of Revolution, Industry & Empire and Europe that comes to dominate the world.

MMW5 is running again this semester with Professor Heidi Keller-Lapp as the lecturer. The first two lectures have been published already so now is the best time to join in. You won't miss much if you start listening from the second lecture. The first half of the first lecture is entirely dedicated to administrative details of the course and can be skipped by the podcast listener. Then Keller-Lapp proceeds to give a general intro to the course, boiling down to this: how is it that Europe in this period suddenly became the center of the world? (feed)

This question, either explicitly or implicitly also stars in the other courses as well as many other podcasts. Keller-Lapp gives a brief mention of a view that suggests that even if it seemed that the focus of the world moved from China to Europe, this was in fact not the case. Europe just briefly profited from the fact that China wanted to buy its goods and services. China was still the motor of things. And what is tangible in all of these debates obviously is also: China is back and Europe is about to lose its centrality again.

More MMW5:
Two podcast issues on the History of Haiti,
Revolution, Industry & Empire - UCSD.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What is hot on 5 January 2011

Witness (BBC)
When the Taleban took power in Afghanistan.
(review, feed)

Forgotten Classic
Forgotten Tales 1: Great Claus and Little Claus
In which Hans Christian Andersen tells us about two Clauses who belong on Santa's naughty list.
(review, feed)

Big Ideas
Camille Paglia on The Future of Education
Educator and author, Camille Paglia, discusses The Future of Education at the 2010 Globe and Mail Open House Festival in Toronto. The event moderator is broadcaster, Valerie Pringle.
(review, feed)

Thinking Allowed
Softer Masculinities and Dr Who
New research shows secondary school boys to be more relaxed about their gender identity than was expected, Mark McCormack discusses with Laurie. Also it Dr Who a leftish, anti-American, radical polemic? Marc DiPaolo and Matthew Sweet debate.
(review, feed)