What the Shed Looks At

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Favorite Podcasts.

1.)Africa: Past and Present - This is a pretty good podcast about Africa. It's a feed from the African Online Digital Library, which is a project from Peter Limb and Peter Alegi, both staffers at Michigan State University. The podcast is subtitled "A podcast about African history, culture, and politics". It offers a nice view that, while not offered by true insiders to the culture, it makes a good attempt to bridge the divide and explain the interior lives of Africans from a European perspective, with great care taken to maintain the integrity of the cultural viewpoint of Africans.

Explaining religious fundamentalism is easy regardless of the nationalistic upbringing of a person because it happens everywhere, no matter how the area is incorporated. What the hosts of this podcast attempt to do, which I believe is a noble thing, is to explain the colloqialisms of African culture in a way that even European chauvinists could understand.

The latest podcast is really good. It's about the history of Sudan and supplies a pretty good historical perspective on the causes of the current atrocities in Darfur.

This episode was one of my favorites. It details heroin addiction and the differences in social conditions between male and female users in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, with a special you usually don't get from podcasts, policy suggestions to solve the problem.

2.) American University In Cairo- The idea of Americans acculturating Egypt apparently wasn't seen as laughable in 1920 as it does now. But the University has a great podcast of lectures given by staff and guest speakers.

The latest episode is a pretty good lecture from Yervant Terzian titled "The Magnificent Universe". He was also the chief editor of this book.

And for my absolute favorite episode of this podcast, it is the on the Israel lobby in America. Stephen Walt, co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, something that should be reqired reading (and most of it is there in Google Books for free) for Americans who would like to know how they are being represented and how the arm of American foreign policy can be twisted to do things that don't really make any strategic or moral sense, but benefit the friends (read: donors) of our representatives.

3)Bill Moyer's Journal- One of my favroites and a must listen every week. The podcast is just the audio feed of the show, which is on WGBH at 9:00 friday nights while everyone is getting drunk. He consistently has amazing interviews with amazing guests. Very left-leaning bent to the news stories chosen, but of course that works for me. Good source also, of information that normally won't be on cable or nightly news.

Another good interview with Simon Johnson and Michael Perino on the economy

Dig through the archives, there are so many more good interviews.

I will leave the Bill Moyers fanboy stuff with one last piece of evidence of how awesome he is.

This is his 1987 documentary about the Iran-Contra scandals and the constitutional crisis created by the actions undertaken by the Reagan administration therein.

4.)Dan Carlin's Hardcore History- This is a really good history podcast where there isn't really a script and Dan just kinda riffs on a historical topic. He is currently doing a series of podcasts on Operation:Barbarossa and the battle between Germany and Russia in World War II. He routinely finds angles in the narratives of historical events that really make you think about what it must have been like to be there. Highly recommended.

His series on the Punic Wars (pts. 1, 2, 3) were awesome. The sacking of Carthage by Scipio Amelianus and his legions at the end of the Third Punic War is a harrowing example of humanity at it's most extreme.

The episode Judgment at Nineveh is also amazing. It is a picture of what the Assyrian kingdom was like as one of the first civilizations to arise out of Mesopotamia.

He also does a couple of interviews. I personally greatly enjoyed his interview with James Burke, creator of the awesome Connections series and The Day the Universe Changed.

5.)The History of Rome- This is one of my favorite podcasts. He traces the history of Rome (duh) from the roots of legend with Romulus and Remus andtwo my favorite legendary stories, The rape of the Sabine women and the secession of the Plebes.

6.) The History of the Constitutional Convention- This is a pretty good podcast detailing who the players were in the forming of the Constitution and what they argued about, what they tied to do to the Constitution and why they did what they did.

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