Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Podcasts I Wish Were Updated More Often

Haven't heard from these entertaining podcasters lately...

image courtesy of photos8.com

Apologia "is a friendly forum for both theists and non-theists to come together in search of some common understanding. Rather than a contentious debate format, Apologia provides a setting in which all participants can discuss without confrontation."  Sometimes I wish there was a little more confrontation, but they are producing new content all too rarely these days.

Brain Science Podcast is "the show for everyone with a brain" by Dr. Ginger Campbell, MD.  We understand Dr. Campbell is taking a break this summer but we hope she returns this fall.

Polyschizmatic Reprobate's Hour is produced by J. Daniel Sawyer, "a hat-wearing, obsessive-compulsive autodidact."  He is also a science fiction writer who offers several of his stories as lavishly produced podcasts.  Sawyer is also one of the non-theists at Apologia.

The Skepchick "podcast appears irregularly with interviews, discussions, and assorted skeptical goodness."  Just not often enough for my taste.  The production values totally eclipse the more casually assembled and still massively entertaining Skeptic's Guide to the Universe and The Skeptic's Guide 5x5 on which head skepchick Rebecca Watson also appears (and more frequently).

Podcasts I No Longer Follow

I have only so much ear time...

image courtesy of wikimedia commons

Bible Geek - "Theology with a twist but without the spin."  Robert M. Price is one smart guy when it comes to interpreting the Bible and a prolific author but the sound quality of many of his early podcasts are excreble and I find his delivery frequently grating.  Price can also be heard, in a more moderate style, as a frequent host on Point of Inquiry.

Irreligiosophy - "The one true podcast."  The unhappy young men behind this atheist podcast were once disaffected Mormons who have since seen the light of reason.  Much as converts make the most fervent religious zealots, disillusioned Christians frequently make the angriest atheists.  Their vitriol might be tolerable if they didn't strive to earn their iTunes [Explicit] rating every time they opened their mouths.  Swearing for it's own sake isn't shocking (except maybe in Utah), it's just boring.

Skeptic Zone - While it's interesting to hear the Australian perspective from the leaders of the skeptical community there something about their conversational tone just doesn't grab me.

[UPDATED TO ADD: As of October 2010 I'm giving Skeptic Zone another try.]

Reality Check - This podcast by the Ottawa Skeptics is nice enough but the topics covered are dealt with in greater detail on other 'casts.

The Infidel Guy Show is the oldest skeptical podcast on the web. It deals with religion as well as the paranormal and pseudo-science. The production values can be a little rough and more than a few podcast debates have raged out of control of the host.  After 11 years the host and producer, Reginald Finley, is taking a break.

All of these can be found at their respective websites and at iTunes.

Shackleton's Way

Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer...

Over the years history has come to regard Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton as an explorer of the first rate, eclipsing both Roald Amundson - who may have made polar exploration look too easy when he achieved the South Pole without incident in 1911, and Robert Falcon Scott - who for reasons only the British can explain, was celebrated for reaching the South Pole in 1912, a month after Amundson, and then dying of scurvy, privation, and exposure with his entire party on the return trip. 

Shackleton made several Antarctic forays.  Shackleton was invalided home after falling ill during Scott's unsuccessful attempt to reach the South Pole in 1903.  Leading his own expedition in 1909 Shackleton turned his team back from the Pole with only 97 miles to go, knowing his party could reach its goal but that they would almost certainly perish on the way home.  Once Amundsen succeeded in his technically adept attack on the Pole, Shackleton set his sights on traveling across Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea.  Before reaching the starting point his ship, the Endurance, was trapped in the pack ice in 1914 and then sunk in 1915.  He led his 27 men onto the ice for several more months, then into the ice-clogged sea in lifeboats, before reaching the relative safety of barren Elephant Island.  Chances of accidental rescue on Elephant Island were nil so Shackleton and a small party sailed the lifeboat "James Caird" 600 miles to South Georgia Island.  Every one of his Endurance team survived this harrowing adventure.

Authors Margaret Morrell and Stephanie Capparell have reimagined Shackleton as an example for corporate leadership.  To do so they gloss over his failures as a businessman between expeditions as well as his shortcomings as a husband.  A ten year old dustcover blurb comparing Shackleton to Jack Welch and Michael Dell is ironic now.

As a leader in challenging circumstances Shackleton did in fact have many admirable traits and the authors do a fine job of illuminating the leadership skills evident in Shackleton's career, particularly during the voyage of the Endurance.  Shackleton was a tough man, a gifted leader, and an interesting character.  Shackleton's Way draws parallels between his short life and our 21st century challenges.  Examples are given of the effect Shackleton's story has had on modern business leaders but the most compelling are those offered by military leaders and Jim Lovell, Commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, another successful failure.

Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who served under both Scott and Shackleton, is most famous for having said "For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organization, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen: and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time".