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Archive for May, 2011

12 May
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Book Review: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

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I recently listened to the unabridged audio production of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. I can’t say that I really enjoyed this book. If you don’t mind a completely basic run through of how the three subjects have impacted human history you might be okay with this book. I however, thought this book was extremely dry and often found my mind wondering while I listened to it.

I should mention that I am one of the few people who did not enjoy this book. It has a 3.94 out of 5 star rating on Goodreads with 3,186 reviews. It has similar ratings on Amazon.com, 4 stars out of 5, with 1,201 reviews.

Here is the publishers blurb about the book:

Explaining what William McNeill called The Rise of the West has become the central problem in the study of global history. In Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond presents the biologist’s answer: geography, demography, and ecological happenstance. Diamond evenhandedly reviews human history on every continent since the Ice Age at a rate that emphasizes only the broadest movements of peoples and ideas. Yet his survey is binocular: one eye has the rather distant vision of the evolutionary biologist, while the other eye–and his heart–belongs to the people of New Guinea, where he has done field work for more than 30 years.

My final word on this one is to save your money and time, read something else. Like Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II which I am listening to now and enjoying immensely.

Click here to watch a C-SPAN video of Mr. Diamond discussing his book.

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11 May
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Producing a Podcast

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Materials for the podcast

For a long time I have wanted to write a post about what I do to produce a podcast.  For episode 119 The Thirty Years War I first did a lot of research.  I read about the war on wikipedia, then I searched the Internet for other sources.  I found Hank’s History Hour episode on the religious wars, and I found Nathan Barber’s website.  I listened to what Mr. Barber had on his website and I read the materials he had there.  Then I started writing long hand, 10 pages.  I also stopped at my local library to see what they had as far as books.  I borrowed The Thirty Years War: Europe’s Tragedy and Eyewitness Accounts of the Thirty Years War 1618-48.  I took a couple of tid-bits from the latter book, but the first book is huge and I just thumbed through it.

Then it was time to start recording.  Easier said then done though.  There are a few problems to recording.  First finding the time to have a quiet house.  For those who don’t know I have a little girl that is currently 2 and a half.  If you know two and a half year-olds, then you know they are not a quiet group.  Secondly, my microphone is packed up and at my in-laws home, since we have been trying to move for a year now, with no luck.  The housing market in Southern California is less than ideal.  So I had to record on the built in microphone on my laptop.

I went back and started using Audacity to record my podcast with.  It is free and easy to use.  After recording I use another program to normalize the audio so it is not too quiet or too loud anywhere.  That software is called levelator.  Then I import back into Audacity for finishing touches, like adding the intro music.  After which I usually add the tags to the podcast using iTunes, but I think I forgot to do that this last time, so you may notice that.

Then it is already to go and I upload to Libsyn.  After they have it, it is time to update my rss feed for the podcast and post the accompanying blog article.  Thats it.  Well, thats it for the audio portion of the podcast.  For the Thirty Years War I also did a video, a PDF history guide and a timeline.  I haven’t always done all these “extras”.  I probably won’t continue to do them either.  I didn’t get any feedback on any of the extras and I received very little feedback on the actual audio podcast.

There it is.  If there are any questions just post them in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.  Thanks!

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09 May
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Podcast Review: Hank’s History Hour

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Hank’s History Hour is produced by Hank Nelson, who sounds like a high school student.  Don’t let that fool you though.  Hank has done a wonderful job with his podcast.  Although it doesn’t look like it has been updated in a few years.  Hopefully, Hank will pick it up again.  He is probably in college now and doesn’t have much time to do podcasts.  It seems like the podcast’s original purpose was to help his fellow students get thought their history book since he often refers to the chapters in a textbook.

At the time I found Hank’s podcast I was searching for material on the Thirty Years War my last podcast.  So I listened to the podcast episode entitled Chapter 15 Part 1: The Religious Wars, it was about 38 minutes long.  It was originally published on October, 2, 2007.  Hank’s voice comes across as a real surfer dude, although I don’t know where he is located.  The podcast production leaves something to be desired but I had no trouble hearing Hank.  I did hear some pops and breaths a lot.  There was some strong language in the podcast.  For those looking for more information on the Thirty Years war and want to listen you can skip forward to minute 25 where Hank starts talking about Ferdinand.

This was a good podcast and I hope Hank produces more of them in the future.  Hank’s podcast has 112 ratings and they are all 5 stars!  You can find it in iTunes here.  Even though Hank has not put up a podcast since 9/2009 his podcast is still in the top 100 history podcasts.

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06 May
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Learn More About Thor

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You may be into superhero comics, action movies or Norse mythology we will cover it and help you learn more about it in this post. The movie Thor which came out today, May 6, 2011.

You can read the comics in 3 volumes all offered at amazon.com.

So there are the comics and movie, but what about the real mythology? There is a lot to learn there too. Start here with the wikipedia article. If that is not enough you can learn more from these books:

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06 May
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Bragging Rights

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Big thank you to the folks at MakeUseof.com for sending some new listeners and readers our way!  History Podcast was featured on their website today.  If you are new to the site makeuseof readers just browse around and feel free to ask questions in the comments.  I’ll get back to you.  Thanks!

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02 May
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30 Years War Timeline

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This is my first time attaching a PDF in wordpress, so lets hope it works.  This is the last bit of information on the thirty years war.  I think we have covered this topic pretty well.  I’m thinking about the next podcast already.  Hopefully, I will be able to one again soon.

Thirty Years War Timeline PDF

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01 May
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Osama Bin Laden is Dead

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Tonight the President announced that Osama Bin Laden is dead.  This is just a quick post to thank and congratulate the men and women of our armed forces and intelligence community for their exceptional work!

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