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What did I ever do without Podcasts?

23rd May 2012

Over the past 5 or 6 years (largely prompted by having many hours to kill on trains, planes and automobiles) I have been a rabid consumer of podcasts.

For the un-initiated (I am not sure how many are left), a “podcast” is a recorded radio programme, usually talk, that is available on the Internet for download. Typically a podcast is free and it can be downloaded and played on your, iPod, iPad, or other MP3 player when you have time to listen to it.

I tend to download podcasts and listen to them in the car when driving to work.

I am going to maintain here a list of Podcasts that I would recommend to anyone interested. So here goes:

Anita Heiss (Australian author). The cover blurb says: Am I Black Enough For You? is one woman’s story of being Aboriginal. Of not speaking her traditional language, of not wearing ochre, and hating sleeping outdoors. Anita Heiss challenges the stereotype of what it is to be black in Australia. She’s known for—together with a number of other Aborigines—taking columnist Andrew Bolt and his publishers to court, and winning. But there’s more to her than that.

I say: She is vivacious, brilliantly expressive and the story is one of courage and determination that I would highly recommend to anyone who is despairing of our slow progress in Australia toward recognising and celebrating our original-Australian heritage.

Geoffrey Robertson: International Law and Unresolved Issues (Australian Lawyer and Queen’s Counsel) The blurb says: Leading international human rights lawyer and advocate Geoffrey Robertson QC raises three pressing issues that have yet to be resolved by international law: the use of drones and targeted killings, how terrorists should be dealt with by the law and how to allow a country to utilise nuclear power yet prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. He also discusses Julian Assange, hacked phones, the UK press and the issue of privacy.

I say: OK, he overbearing and has a ghastly pompous way of speaking but the guy is very very bright and although, in his mind there is only one right way, the GR way, this is an interesting podcast.

Jonathan Sacks and Dr Norman Swann, God, Science and the Search for Meaning. The blurb says: Are science and religion parallel activities? Can they ever come together?  Today’s guest, the Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth Lord Jonathan Sacks, believes that science is one thing, religion is another and they are like the twin hemispheres of the brain. Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean. Tonight he is in conversation with Dr Norman Swan at the Great Synagogue in Sydney.

I say: This is a fascinating discussion regarding left and right brain thinking, science, life, the universe, and everything. Absolutely riveting. If you have ever really thought about how scientists could also express profound faith then this is for you.

Angus Roxburgh – The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the struggle for Russia. The blurb says: What’s Vladimir Putin’s relationship with the West and where does his descent into authoritarianism lead Russia? Former BBC correspondent Angus Roxburgh explains at the London School of Economics how the West failed to understand the fears and aspirations following the collapse of communism.

I say: Wow! This is a beautifully told tale that demonstrates why international diplomacy is so difficult and how our assumptions and predefined ideas befuddle our understanding.

Ray Kurzweil (Inventor). The blurb says: From heavy brick-sized mobile phones to multi-functional smart phones – technology has developed with an astonishing pace and one of the modern drivers of this race is Ray Kurzweil, one of America’s greatest thinkers and entrepreneurs. He is the inventor of optical character recognition, text-to-speech recognition technology and electronic keyboard instruments. At the Creative Innovation Conference in November last year, Ray Kurzweil talked about how creativity and innovation grow at an increasing pace and that in the not so far future medicine, biology, economy and social relationships will be subject to information technology and the law of exponential return.

I say: Inspiring, uplifting and stimulating. You can’t buck the trend. So why aren’t we more clever at learning from history?

Gunter Pauli: towards the blue economy The blurb says: Free thinker Gunter Pauli takes green and sustainable practices a step further and outlines his vision for a Blue economy. It’s an approach that draws heavily on both natural systems and the market place. The starting point, says Pauli, is to use what you’ve got then apply a bit of creative thinking and build on it with smart, appropriate technology. His goal is to achieve multiple benefits, create jobs and add value to underperforming assets. All with zero emissions and zero waste.

I say: Why do we think that doing less bad is OK? If we are serious about consuming resources needlessly why do we use only one side of a photo-voltaic sheet? Why do we heat water beyond what our skin can tolerate and then cool it down to use it? Lets get real.

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