Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Listening ideas for 25 May 2011

New Books In History
Jonathan Steinberg, “Bismarck: A Life”
What is the role of personality in shaping history? Shortly before the beginning of the First World War, the German sociologist Max Weber puzzled over this question. He was sure that there was a kind of authority that drew strength from character itself.
(review, feed)

Oxford Biographies
Olaudah Equiano, author and slavery abolitionist
Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745 – 31 March 1797), also known as Gustavus Vassa, was one of the most prominent Africans involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade.
(review, feed)

TED Talks
How we'll stop polio for good - Bruce Aylward
Polio is almost completely eradicated. But as Bruce Aylward says: Almost isn't good enough with a disease this terrifying. Aylward lays out the plan to continue the scientific miracle that ended polio in most of the world -- and to snuff it out everywhere, forever.
(review, feed)

The Myoclonic Jerk Podcast - WoW

I rarely like a comedy podcast. Somehow forceful attempts to make one laugh are tedious to me, whereas the inadvertent or concealed jest turns me on much more. I feel that to be intentionally funny in an effective way you have to be damn good and even then it can be overdone. Even the best of comedy in podcast wears off rapidly to my humble taste and so I can hardly ever bring myself to review a podcast of the genre. But here is an exception.

There were several qualities that kept me enjoying Daniel Kaufman’s podcast The Myoclonic Jerk. The kind of humor is ironic, mild and self-deprecating. The production is very professional, with excellent audio-quality, a good mix of voices and music and a balanced collection of items. The podcast has a good pace and some informative and documentary value to make it a great podcast even if you are not seeking a laugh. And obviously, in my view, that is when jest works best. (feed)

I would choose episode 4 as the case in point. Daniel takes on the challenge to analyze his addiction to WoW – World of Warcraft, the multi-player on-line fantasy game. My intake was that I know WoW and a good many people who are just as addicted as Dan is, whereas the game has no hold on me as it had me too stunned and too overwhelmed upon first impression. (I like bite-sized orderly stuff) This episode, apart from being very entertaining, also got me a good insight into what WoW is and what it offers to its participants. It also has me wanting more, as there is to be a follow-up episode with more explanation and analysis.