New Year New Tune
I've written a new musical "bump" for podcasts, and I'm putting it out on the web under a "use for whatever you want with attribution" license The song (heh!) is called "4Everything" and you can download an mp3 here. Hope you like it, feedback, especially from more experienced Reason users welcome. I'm one of those people who's fascinated by music though I suffer an odd kind of tone deafness. I can differentiate pitch quite happily, but I cannot remember a tune to save my life. So while I can play along to music on tape on the guitar quite well ask me to pick out a simple tune and it will take me half a day to get it not-quite-right. Does anybody know a good way of treating this affliction? Suggestions welcome.
If Every Day Were Christmas is the product of a group of podsafe musicians. It's a charity record, and the 99 cent download fee goes to UNICEF. In this mp3 Pippa Rogers who performed on the track explains the idea behind the project in the company of Phil Coyne of Bitjobs for the Masses. If you are in any doubt why you should support UNICEF this Christmas remember what happened on Boxing Day last year. UNICEF themselves produce a simply superb range of podcasts, interviews and reports easily as well produced as anything on BBC or NPR - here's a little taster of the kind of voices they feature.
On Monday's segment of pods and blogs we had the wonderful chef/blogger from Waterford Ireland, Martin Dwyer, join us. We were talking about Christmas food and drink with Anne of Eat Feed and Jay of Grape Radio. It emerged that Martin is a big fan of the Patrick O'Brien Aubrey/Maturin novels. The food in those books is often a source of amusement, viz the exploding Digester (pressure cooker) in The Reverse of the Medal (I think). But I wondered outloud what that favourite of the captain's table, lobscouse, is. Well after the show Martin emailed with the answer:
It's almost enough to make me rush out (yes I still support REAL bookstores) and buy this
It is a sort of stew of mixed meats thickened with ships biscuit but the interesting thing about it is, they were so partial to it in Liverpool that they were known as Lobscousers in the 18th century or nowadays shortened to scouse.
I've been researching the tsunami for the pods and blogs segment on Five Live and in the process stumbled across the Radio Economics podcast. There's certainly a touch of the "dismal science" about the style, very dry and quite formal - but it's a first rate listen if you like more thoughtful, analytical content. The topics are inspired, and there are some excellent guests: who wouldn't be interested in subjects like "The Economics of the World Series", or "Should Selfish Businessmen be Shot?"
UK Broadsheet Podcast war heats up
I've noticed that a former Five Live anchor/presenter is now to be The Telegraph's podcast editor
It's good they've got someone who knows radio to oversee the cast. The challenge he faces along with all newspaper podcasters is to turn print into exciting speech broadcasting. With a large network of correspondents and freelancers you'd think it would be easy, but I imagine there must be big cultural battles to be fought first
An interesting account of the virtues of using VOIP in Dubai from AP tech writer Jim Krane. But there's a sting in the tail where Jim worries that the Emitrates government may join the list of those blocking VOIP calls
Etisalat, the Emirates' government-owned telecom and Internet provider, is reported to be interested in buying software that will block all Skype calls on its network -- apparently because free calls are luring away customers who are loath to pay its monopoly prices
In October IEEE Spectrum ran an article that listed Saudi Arabia, and possibly Egypt as countries employing VOIP blocking technology, and telco companies in Germany and France are reportedly considering similar systems (Slashdot also notes China Telecom is doing the same in Shenzen). And the Spectrum article hinted that at least one US broadband supplier may be contemplating using VOIP blocking software. If VOIP blocking does occur in Europe or the US I wonder how long it will be before this behaviour comes to the attention of competition authorities? It would be interesting to see what view they might take of telco's protecting revenues by filtering out the competition. Answers on a postcard please.
Gibson for Governor
Word of the Year..
It's the word of the year
Some nice things..
Some nice things have happened over the past couple of months. Firstly Pocket Planet Radio was, briefly, until they figured out how infrequently new podcasts go up, a staff pick on Yahoo. We've also been given 5 stars by Podspider.net. And Podcastlaunchpad wrote a very kind review of the site. "If you are interested in listening to interviews and reports on varying subjects, this is a great podcast. It's always entertaining and often thought provoking."
Toynbee Narked at Narnia
The Guardian has a very ill-humoured column from Polly Tonybee: "Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion". Polly, we learn, doesn't like the book because it's mythic inspiration is openly and overtly Christian, and not just any old Christianity either, but American Christianity which, as everyone knows, is the worst sort (vis) "Narnia is the perfect
Republican, muscular Christianity for America - that warped, distorted
neo-fascist strain that thinks might is proof of right" I leave the rather cheap anti-Americanism to one side, and say that even as an atheist I find her argument reveals more about her own prejudices than those of C.S Lewis. Does she really believe a Christian message ruins art? She must find the National Gallery a rather threatening place; perhaps she averts her eyes at the Wilton Diptych and it's celebration of Christianity and feudalism.
Feudalism now there's another thing. Tolkien and fellow-traveller Lewis are, according to Polly, guilty of creating "worlds of obedient plebs and inferior folk eager to bend at the knee to any passing superior white persons - even children" Personally I'm not too troubled by the absence of participatory forms of government in fairy tales, because they are, well, fairly tales. Pity the children whose politically correct parents lull them to sleep with tales of Siegfried and the ratification of the Intergovernmental treaty on North Sea herring quotas or something.
What I find particularly closed-minded about Polly's position is that
she clearly doesn't object to books with a message, why else
her praise for Philip Pullman? If Lewis is a propagandist, Pullman is his
modern mirror. One can't damn Lewis for foisting blood and guts
Christianity on unsuspecting children and then praise Pullman for
ladling out a version atheism so powdered in sugary new-age nonsense it might
as well be the infamous Turkish Delight.
It all reminds me of when, as a teenager, I believed atheism was an explosive secret truth that only the intellectually courageous, like me, dared possess. It was rebellious anti-establishment stuff back in those pimply, hormonal days. I'm still an atheist and the pimples have almost subsided but now I find my lack of belief rather depressing and wish the world were otherwise. And perhaps it's for that reason I'm rather fond of fairy tales, but good old fashioned ones like Lewis and Tolkien, not this dreary philosophical stuff. I did that at college and I'm really none the better for it.