Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ron Paul

Ron Paul is kind of an unlikely candidate for President and even more unlikely as a serious candidate. He's 76 years old for starters, two years older than John McCain. He is also a pretty consistent libertarian. Libertarians are kind of like the redheaded stepchildren of the Republican party. The party is happy to have them vote in their block but don't want them to be very influential.

Liberals would probably agree with him on most of his non fiscal views. Ron Paul wants to bring all of our troops home, not just from Iraq and Afghanistan but our military bases all around the globe like Europe and in South Korea and generally stay out of other countries' business. He opposes the Patriot Act, the use of torture, warrantless domestic surveilance, and wants to end the War on Drugs.

They probably won't be quite as happy with his views on the Second Ammendment, wanting to eliminate the Department of Education nationally and he thinks abortion laws should be handled by the state. Those who are fiscally conservative will probably agree with him on fiscal issues. He wants to audit the Federal Reserve, dramatically lower taxes, cut spending and all those things fiscal conservatives like.

Can he actually win the nomination, let alone the Presidency? As of now, Paul is actually polling with the pack of non-Romney candidates and there's an interesting thing with the delegates which could give him a boost as well. This article from Huffington Post explains that Ron Paul has been focusing on delegates more than actual votes in the States which have caucuses. I do think he's going to need to have some "wins" even if they are only symbolic.

It is interesting how far he has come despite the media's snubbing of the guy. Back in August, Jon Stewart did a piece on the lack of acknowledgement towards Ron Paul after the Republican Straw Poll:

The only thing predictable about politics is that its unpredictable. It will be interesting to see what happens. In all likelihood, I think Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee for the Republicans... but don't count your chickens before they're hatched.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dan Carlin- "What if Alexander the Great had a podcast"

What if Alexander the Great had a podcast? This is the question Dan Carlin asks in his intro video on his website found here.

What is podcasting anyway? It's a hard question to answer because it is such a diverse media. I always feel like I'm doing a disservice to the medium when I answer this question to others. One way I try to explain it is that ts kind of like a talk radio show that you get on the internet. That doesn't quite work because of the image "talk radio" invokes. Talk radio is almost always political in nature and political podcasts are at least not the norm. There are history podcasts, philosophy podcasts, religious podcasts, cooking podcasts, even storytelling podcasts. There are podcasts on just about any subject you can think of.

Another difference is that anyone with a microphone and a computer with an internet connection can create a podcast. This is a double edged sword. There are some real gems out there but there is a sea of mediocrity, much like the blogosphere. A podcast is kind of an audio blog. Dan is so good, he has two.

Hardcore History is probably my favorite podcast out there. Definitely my favorite history podcast. Dan is an amateur historian so he often skips the bits from history which are not as interesting but what makes this show so good is that he tells history like a storyteller. Globalization to Death is a good one to start with in which he talks about the first wave of globalization as he follows Magellan around the globe and gets us to use our modern notions of globalization to put us in their shoes. There are some pretty intense long ones as well like the six part series on the fall of the Roman Republic. If you're into history, you should listen to Hardcore History. If you're not into history, you should listen to Hardcore History.

Common Sense has a slightly more focused demographic. If you like politics and current events, Dan always has an interesting take. He often takes the position of an extra terrestrial visitor and how they would view the world without our inherrent biases. He generally sees the two party system as broken and always has a take which you won't hear from the right or the left. You probably won't agree with him always (no matter where you fall politically) but always insightful. He cranks one of these out about every two weeks.

So, in his intro Dan Carlin asks the question, "What if Alexander the Great had a podcast?" He then asks what if lots of the ordinary people from Alexander's time had podcasts as well and how we'd get a very 3 dimensional view of that time in history. "Well, our decendants are going to have a very three dimensional view of ours," he goes on to say, thanks to the new media and the ability of everyone to be able to have a small voice in the world. With greater opportunity comes a greater responsibility since there's a good chance what we put on the virtual space will outlive us.

Here's a list of some of my favorite podcasts:

Memory Palace
Skeptic's Guide to the Universe
History According to Bob
Big Picture Science
Philosophy Bites

Mormon based podcasts:
-Mormon Stories - I covered this one here.
-Mormon Matters - Believer friendly but delves more into the "meat".

A great source for podcast reviews by a Dutch fellow living in Israel named Anne:
-Anne is a Man!