Posts Tagged ‘Podcast’

Song of the Week: Dawn of Midi

This is a little bit different from my typical Song of the Week as it is in fact a podcast discussing music.  That podcast is Radiolab, the show that explores curiosity and science through storytelling.  This episode of Radiolab Shorts explores the music of Dawn of Midi who use an electronic approach to acoustical music that creates a trance-like state.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Tracks from the new album Dysnomia and others are on the Dawn of Midi soundcloud page.


Song of the Week: The Souljazz Orchestra – Cartão Postal

This weeks song by Canada’s The Souljazz Orchestra brightens up a dark and dreary (but still unseasonably warm) day with samba and semba rhythms.  And it’s about postcards, one of my favorite things.

I learned about this song through a podcast from Minnesota Public Radio’s Current Song of the Day.  Other places I hear new music include:

Believe it or not, I even still find good music on the radio, especially thanks to the many college and public radio stations in Boston.  My favorite is WERS, which you can stream online or through an app if you live in environs not accessible to good radio.

Where do you learn of new music?



It’s amazing what a major fiscal crisis can do to you.  I’ve basically have no interest in economics.  In fact I even managed to weasel myself out of the required economics course in High School by taking a special course in Japanese taught by a college professor (that worked out well as I know something like five words in Japanese).

I find it surprising that quite accidentally I find myself reading and listening to economics news pretty much on a daily basis.  Here’s what I’m checking out:

So if you’re trying to figure out what’s going in our global financial system, check these out.

Edit on Sep. 25th:

Hah!  This guy could be me:

Obama’s VP: The Perfect Choice

I was listening to the To the Best of Our Knowledge podcast entitled Sturm and Twang and I had an epiphany on the perfect person to run on the ticket with Barack Obama.

This candidate brings to the table:

  • Extremely popular with backcountry rednecks AND with freewheeling hippies!
  • Would help bring in red states like Texas and Tennessee while also appealing to disenchanted progressives who lost interest when Dennis Kucinich dropped out.
  • Brings the age and wisdom of decades of political activity, yet is still a Washington outsider.
  • Should Obama win the election he’s going to have deal with the massive National Debt. This VP candidate has experience paying off huge debts!
  • Would be greatly entertaining on the campaign trail and totally win any debates.
  • Is pretty much already beloved by Americans.

If you haven’t guessed already, the candidate is none other than the Red Headed Stranger,

Willie Nelson!

I doubt anyone from the Obama campaign will read this, but if you do make sure to tap Willie for VP. Oh do!

Podcasts Always Come in Threes

Three more episodes of podcasts worth listening too:

  • Disgustingly Adorable” – Colonial Williamsburg: Past & Present covers the annual spring lambing, a big event for Phi Pi fans. Previous sheeplore: Fuzzy Pigs and Out Like a Lamb.
  • News from Lake Wobegon” – A Prairie Home Companion is a classic radio show, although it’s a bit tired these days. I’ve heard about all the Guy Noir and Ketchup ads I care to hear. Luckily there’s a podcast just for the best part, Garrison Keillor’s monologue. The one for May 3, 2008 is particularly good with a reflection on why Christianity is hard and the great line, “Gas costs more than beer. Don’t drive, drink.”
  • The Beauty and Challenge of Being Catholic: Hearing the Faithful” – An episode of APM: Speaking the Faith I learned about via Dirty Catholic. This a great selection of interviews from a cross-section of American Catholics. More interviews and transcripts at the website

Three is the magic number (for podcasts)

Here’s another edition of my irregular feature of spotlighting good podcasts I’ve listened to recently:

  1. Writing the World is a recent episode of the Wisconsin Public Radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge. It features interviews with several prominent and award-winning authors about their craft. What struck me is that while we often talk about a writer having a voice, due to the nature of their medium we rarely hear their actual voices. Toni Morrison’s voice is beautiful while V.S. Naipaul sounds insufferably pompous. Amy Tan is heartbreaking when she impersonates her mother speaking to ghosts. Other writers interviewed include Sherman Alexie, Alice Walker, and Orhan Pamuk.
  2. Pop Music- RadioLab is quickly becoming my favorite radio show podcast and this episode focuses on music getting stuck in our heads (WARNING: If you’re like me, listening to this podcast will leave “Downtown” stuck in your head for days!). Some people are unfortunate enough to get full-orchestrated and loud songs playing in their heads to their detriment (the work of Oliver Sacks is cited in this segment). Song writers on the other hand want to get music in their heads (and then into other people’s heads). While I’m unusual in my generation in that I am not exceedingly nostalgic for School House Rock (in fact I hated it when I was a kid), the interview with the songwriter who created them is pretty interesting. Finally, there’s the story of Ahmad Zahir, the “Afghan Elvis” who welded Western music to local tradition to become a pop sensation.
  3. Can Science Save the Banana? – I love bananas. In fact, I read a book about bananas called Bananas: An American History by Virginia Scott Jenkins. From this Scientific American podcast, I learned that in our grandparents’ generation, people were able to eat a larger, more tasty type of banana which is now extinct due to a fungus. Worse, the banana we’re familiar with now, the Cavendish, is now also suffering from the blight and may be wiped out in the next decade. Genetic engineering and/or switching American tastes to the red banana may be our only options. I’ll have to keep up on the banana news from the Banana Book Blog ( by Dan Koeppel.

Old Sounds

I haven’t promoted it yet, but I added a new page to the links at the top of this blog called “PODCASTS.” It’s basically a list of all the podcasts I (try) to listen to sorted into a few broad categories. Some of the podcasts appear in multiple categories. I probably should also add a simple A-Z list as well as some synopses of each podcast. Anyhow, for now it’s what I listen too, and each is recommended for anyone interested in those topics.

I want to highlight three individual podcast episodes (all radio shows originally) that fall under the them of Old Sounds:

  1. Ultima Thule is an Australian radio show that plays ambient and atmospheric music. A recent episode, UT 702 featured Christian religious music of the past including liturgical chants from the Coptic, Maronite, Melkite and Old Roman traditions. If you’re like me and are familiar with Gregorian Chant, but have not heard these other traditions, you will find it ear-opening. The history of sacred music is rich and diverse.
  2. WNYC’s Radiolab recently did an episode about Orson Welle’s 1938 broadcast of “War of the Worlds“. They play segments from the actual broadcast, including the eerie moment where a report from the field goes silent. They also provide some historical context that helps explain the ensuing hysteria – the brewing war in Europe, radio coverage of the Hindenberg disaster, and the recent innovation of news bulletins interrupting radio programing. They also cover two other occasions in which radio performers perpetrated the same hoax with disastrous results.
  3. Finally, for the oldest sounds of them all, recordings that precede Edison courtesy of the Antique Phonograph Music Program on WFMU. These recordings were made in 1860 not to be played back but as visual representations, however scientists were able to convert the images into sound! This is the earliest known recording of sound. The Antique Phonograph Music Program is always awesome as they play old records on their original equipment, but this episode goes above and beyond as they explain this great discovery.


Friday Sillies: Simulacraceae


I heard about this project on the Scientific American podcast “Science Talk“.  It is no less than exhaustive, six-year project in the taxonomy of artificial plants.  Be warned, the Ethnobotany Journal article (pdf) contains requires knowledge of Pig Latin.  The publication date is interesting as well.

News of the News

Here are some sundry news items of note that I find interesting but can’t otherwise turn into a narrative:

On WBUR’s Here and Now podcast, I heard an interview with Ruben G. Rumbaut of the Immigration Policy Center who has c-written “The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation.” The study find that immigrant populations in the United States — both legal and illegal — commit far fewer crimes than the native born populations. The report is based not only on current research but on data going back one hundred years. Sadly, the research also shows that children and grand-children of immigrants born in the United States do assimilate into criminal behavior. Fascinating stuff. Even a liberal, pro-immigration person like myself always assumed that immigrant populations would be more likely to be drawn into crime.

Scientific American reports that for the first time in 200 years, a wild beaver is living in New York City. The beaver named José is building his damn on the Bronx River in the area of the Bronx Zoo. That José is settling in a relatively wild, protected area like the zoo as opposed to say Astor Place makes the story a little less interesting, but good news all the same.

The New York Times contains a biographical sketch on Stuart Brand, Environmental Heretic. An interesting article on an interesting character.

“My trend has been toward more rational and less romantic as the decades go by,” he says. “I keep seeing the harm done by religious romanticism, the terrible conservatism of romanticism, the ingrained pessimism of romanticism. It builds in a certain immunity to the scientific frame of mind.”

I personally have never been able to figure out how to properly make words that end in “s” possessive. For example, Jesus’s always looks right to me but most people write it Jesus’. Now Arkansas wants to make it law that “Arkansas’s” is the proper possessive punctuation for the state. It’s good to see Arkansas take the lead on important issues of punctuation. Linguist David Crystal sums up the causes of the problem:

The trouble is, he explains, that “we are trying to make punctuation do two jobs at once. Two incompatible jobs. We are using it to reflect the sound of the voice; and we are using it to organize grammar.”

That is, punctuation is not simply a tool for marking grammatical relationships, as some language neatniks seem to believe. It also represents — in varying degrees — the rhythms and stresses of spoken language, even in prose we’ll probably “hear” only inside our heads.

Finally, two things that aren’t news but made me laugh.

I think I may have just set a record for the most tags I’ve applied to one post, and I could probably add more, but I won’t.

My Favorite Podcasts

Not so long ago, I was under the impression that I would never need a mp3 player. After all, who needs to have 1000+ songs at once? After I received an iPod as a gift my opinion swiftly changed, and found that listening to a shuffle of a 1000+ songs was a good way to discover the depth of my music collection and make new discoveries. Another thing I never thought I’d like is podcasts, but once I tried them I was hooked. So with no further ado…

My Favorite Podcasts

Battlestar Galactica — show producer Ron Moore offers commentary for each episode. It’s meant to be listened to synchronized with watching the episode but I can’t listen to someone talking over people talking so I generally listen to the podcast after watching the episode (usually while watching the dishes).
Busted Halo — A (usually) weekly show answering questions from young adults on Catholicism as well as Church Search and Day By Day an intriguing almanac. The show has lost some of it’s luster now that Fr. Dave is not a regular, but it’s still a fun listen.
Colonial Williamsburg Past & Present — Lloyd Dobyns (who I used to watch on the NBC Overnight news show with Linda Ellerbee) interviews historical interpreters for the behind the scenes story from Colonial Williamsburg.
Folkways Collection — This series of 24 one-hour programs explores the remarkable collection of music, spoken word, and sound recordings that make up Folkways Records (now at the Smithsonian as Smithsonian Folkways Recordings).
Pray As You Go — a daily prayer session, designed for use on portable MP3 players, to help you pray whilst travelling to and from work, study, etc.
Provoke Radio — a social justice show from a faith perspective.

Rare Frequency
— – a radio show, podcast, and website devoted to experimental, electronic, improv, noise, and quasi-pop music, with the occasional non sequitur thrown in for good measure.
Science Talk — Join host Steve Mirsky each week as he explores the latest developments in science and technology through interviews with leading scientists and journalists.
Soccer Shout — Phil and Tony talk about English football several days a week. Like Car Talk it is fun to listen to even if you’re not really interested in the topic just because the host are so funny.

Public Radio Broadcasts on Podcast

Most of the podcasts I listen to regularly are actually public radio shows that I never have the presence of mind to listen to on the radio.

All Songs Considered
Global Hit
NPR Shuffle

Only a Game
Present at the Creation
This American Life
Travel With Rick Steves
Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
WBUR Here and Now
World Cafe

Writer’s Almanac

New Blogs

Since I’m already in metapost mode, here are some new additions to the blogroll.

Commute By Bike is another resource for folks like myself who go to work on two wheels.
Information about volunteering in Greater Boston is available from BostonCares.
Reviews of movies, especially those on screen at the Brattle Theatre at Wuzzon?
Cool articles for the independent traveler on Brave New Traveler.
Finally, two new Catholic blogs: LAMLand and Martha, Martha

Favorite Search Terms

Here are more of my favorite search terms which somehow led to Panorama of the Mountains.

why dogs lick human toes
primal thumb fear
who was killed in the movie the departed (I posted the answer in a comment)
pictures of ancient eygyptian glass (4 times!)
mets search engine cultural artifacts


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