The Top 25 Educational Podcasts on iTunes — June 22

We haven’t vis­it­ed the list of iTunes’ top edu­ca­tion­al pod­casts since April. So it’s time for anoth­er look…What we’ve got here is pret­ty much a case of “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Or, put dif­fer­ent­ly, even though two months have passed, it is still for­eign lan­guage les­son pod­casts that are rul­ing the day, par­tic­u­lar­ly pod­casts that will teach you Span­ish, French and Ital­ian. Also, the ever pop­u­lar “Gram­mar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Bet­ter Writ­ing” is still hold­ing strong. The one major new addi­tion is a free audio book of Pride and Prej­u­dice. Audio books have almost nev­er appeared on this list, so the #2 posi­tion of this pod­cast tes­ti­fies to the endur­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of this great Jane Austen work. Last­ly, it’s worth men­tion­ing that no audio from uni­ver­si­ties has made it into the top 25. There is some­thing just a lit­tle bit wrong with this pic­ture, would­n’t you say?

#1. Cof­fee Break Span­ish iTunes Feed Web Site

#2. Pride and Prej­u­dice iTunes

#3. Gram­mar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Bet­ter Writ­ing iTunes Feed Web Site

#4. The French Pod Class iTunes Feed Web Site

#5. LearnItalianPod.com iTunes Feed Web Site

#6. Ins­ta Span­ish Lessons iTunes Feed Web Site

#7. Learn Span­ish Sur­vival Guide iTunes Feed

#8. Learn French by Pod­cast iTunes Feed Web Site

#9. MyDai­lyPhrase Ital­ian iTunes Web Site

#10. Let’s Speak Ital­ian iTunes Feed Web Site

#11. Span­ish Suc­cess iTunes Web Site

#12. Chinesepod.com iTunes Feed Web Site

#13. JapanesePod101.com iTunes Feed Web Site

#14. French for Begin­ners iTunes Feed Web Site

#15. Learn French with Dai­ly Pod­casts iTunes Feed Web Site

#16. Just Vocab­u­lary iTunes

#17. Final­ly Learn Span­ish — Beyond the Basics iTunes Feed Web Site

#18. Digital Pho­tog­ra­phy Tips from the Top Floor iTunes Feed Web Site

#19. Span­ish Sense iTunes Feed Web Site

#20. Prince­ton Review Vocab­u­lary Minute iTunes Feed Web Site

#21. Learn Ger­man with German-Podcast.de iTunes Feed Web Site

#22. Ma France iTunes Feed Web Site

#23. TEDTalks (Video) iTunes Feed Web Site

#24. Notes in Span­ish (Advanced) iTunes Feed Web Site

#25. Notes in Span­ish (Inter­me­di­ate) iTunes Feed Web Site

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The Trouble with Judas

The trou­ble with Judas is that if he was car­ry­ing out God’s plan, was he real­ly evil? The point has been made every­where from sem­i­nar­ies to Jesus Christ, Super­star, but it sud­den­ly became more urgent with the redis­cov­ery of a puta­tive Gospel of Judas in 2004. Reli­gious schol­ars Elaine Pagels and Karen King have a new book out on the sub­ject (reviewed this week in the New York Times). Read­ing Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shap­ing of Chris­tian­i­ty seems to take a mid­dle-of-the-road approach, argu­ing that the gospel (writ­ten in the third cen­tu­ry AD, not by Judas him­self) takes a crit­i­cal posi­tion against the hege­mo­ny of the ear­ly Chris­t­ian church. Whether that vin­di­cates the most famous betray­al in nar­ra­tive his­to­ry is a tough one–Pagels and King argue that it all depends on how attached Jesus real­ly felt to his body. To find out more, check out this pod­cast Pagels and King gave at San Fran­cis­co’s Grace Cathe­dral, or lis­ten to their inter­view with Ter­ry Gross on NPR.

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James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Free Podcast

This is a book that needs no intro­duc­tion, but we will give it a short one any­way. Pub­lished in ser­i­al for­mat between 1918 and 1920, James Joyce’s Ulysses was ini­tial­ly reviled by many and banned in the US and UK until the 1930s. Today, it’s wide­ly con­sid­ered a clas­sic in mod­ernist lit­er­a­ture, and The Mod­ern Library went so far as to call it the most impor­tant Eng­lish-lan­guage nov­el pub­lished dur­ing the 20th cen­tu­ry. Although chron­i­cling one ordi­nary day in the life of Leopold Bloom in 1904 Dublin, Ulysses is no small work. It sprawls over 750 pages, using over 250,000 words, and takes over 32 hours to read aloud. Or, at least that’s how long it took the folks over at Lib­rivox. In the Blooms­day tra­di­tion, a cast of read­ers par­tic­i­pat­ed in the project, offer­ing cre­ative read­ings with “pub-like back­ground noise.” The audio files can be down­loaded as many indi­vid­ual mp3 files here, or as one big zip file here.This is not the only free audio ver­sion of Ulysses. There is anoth­er not quite tra­di­tion­al ver­sion put out by “Paigerel­la” (iTunesFeed). And, while you’re at it, you might as well check out a read­ing of “Ara­by” (iTunesFeed), a short sto­ry from Joyce’s col­lec­tion, Dublin­ers. It’s pro­vid­ed cour­tesy of Miette’s Bed­time Sto­ry Pod­cast. Next up, we hope is a nice read­ing of Finnegan’s Wake.For more free audio books, includ­ing many good ones from Lib­rivox, see our Audio Book Pod­cast Col­lec­tion.

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The Salman Rusdie Affair: Part II

Almost 20 years ago, Salman Rushdie pub­lished his fourth nov­el, The Satan­ic Vers­es, nev­er real­iz­ing how this lit­er­ary event would change his life. The Aya­tol­lah Khome­i­ni, the spir­i­tu­al leader of Iran’s reli­gious and polit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion, saw in the book “blas­phe­mous” depic­tions of the prophet Muham­mad, and then hand­ed down a fat­wa call­ing for Rushdie’s death. For the next decade, Rushdie was dri­ven under­ground, mak­ing only infre­quent appear­ances in pub­lic. And it wasn’t until the late 90s that things sim­mered down, the death threats sub­sided, and the writer returned to liv­ing a semi-nor­mal life. Then came this past week …Buck­ing­ham Palace announced Queen Elizabeth’s plans to knight Rushdie, mak­ing him Sir Salman, and it all began again. Recall­ing the Dan­ish car­toon con­tro­ver­sy that swept the Mus­lim world in 2005, rank­ing polit­i­cal offi­cials, from Iran to Pak­istan, have revived the threats against the British-Indi­an nov­el­ist as well as Britain, tak­ing the Queen’s knight­ing as an inten­tion­al slight against Islam. The mere fact that Rushdie is a splen­did writer whose body of work goes well beyond The Satan­ic Vers­es nev­er quite fig­ures into the pic­ture, how­ev­er. (Try giv­ing Midnight’s Chil­dren a read to see what I mean.) You can get more on Part II of the Rushdie Affair here and here, and you can also watch Rushdie read­ing from The Satan­ic Vers­es below. 

New Look on WordPress

No, you came to the right site. We’ve sim­ply moved to Word­Press and we’ll be spend­ing the com­ing day doing some last minute fix ups. If you see any big prob­lems, please don’t hes­i­tate to let us know. Thanks for your patience. And a big word of thanks goes out to Eric “Herr Dok­tor” Ober­le for his help on mak­ing this switch hap­pen, and to Emma Hip­kens for her design work.

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Did Tony Get Whacked? (And The First Full Episode of John From Cincinnati)

If you haven’t quite got­ten the last episode of The Sopra­nos out of your head (clear­ly, I haven’t) … if you’re still mulling over what hap­pened dur­ing those clos­ing moments, then you may want to peruse a TV writer’s intrigu­ing and informed take on whether Tony got whacked in the last episode. There’s a lot of good analy­sis and inter­pre­ta­tion here. For an alter­na­tive view, you can also lis­ten to this week’s pod­cast from TV Talk Machine. Here, Tim Good­man, who writes for The San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle, and Joe Garo­foli mull over which inter­pre­ta­tions hold water, and which don’t. Plus, you can also read Good­man’s blog entry — “Sopra­nos” finale: What real­ly hap­pened” — and the many read­er com­ments, reac­tions and the­o­ries at the bot­tom of the page.Now, with this chap­ter of tele­vi­sion his­to­ry closed, HBO is hop­ing to start anoth­er new and impor­tant one with John From Cincin­nati. If you don’t have cable, you can watch the first episode here in its entire­ty. Good think­ing HBO. Have they found anoth­er Sopra­nos? I’m not too opti­mistic. Have a look and see what you think.

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April 30, 2007

10 Unexpected Uses of the iPod

Ipodwithclass_2New tech­nolo­gies often have unin­tend­ed uses. Take the Ipod as a case in point. It was devel­oped with the inten­tion of play­ing music (and lat­er videos), but its appli­ca­tions now go well beyond that. Here are 10 rather unfore­seen, even sur­pris­ing, uses:

See Our Pod­cast Col­lec­tionsTell a Friend About Open Cul­tureBuy a New iPod & iPod Gear

1. Train Doc­tors to Save Lives: A new study pre­sent­ed at the annu­al meet­ing of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Car­di­ol­o­gy indi­cates that iPods can dou­ble interns’ abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy heart sounds that are indica­tive of seri­ous heart prob­lems (i.e., aor­tic or mitral steno­sis). By using the iPod to repeat­ed­ly lis­ten to record­ings of nor­mal and abnor­mal heart beat pat­terns, interns can effec­tive­ly hear when some­thing is going awry.

Or how about this for anoth­er med­ical appli­ca­tion: Will Gilbert, who heads up the bioin­for­mat­ics group in the Hub­bard Cen­ter for Genome Stud­ies, stores the entire human genome on his iPod. As you can read in Wired, he has found that the iPod is a great way to store the gene sequence, all 3 bil­lion chem­i­cal let­ters of it, and, com­pared to using a net­work, he can access data more quick­ly with the lit­tle Apple gad­get. [Thanks to one of our read­ers for point­ing this one out.]

2. Bring Crim­i­nals to Jus­tice: On an exper­i­men­tal basis, a Unit­ed States fed­er­al dis­trict court has start­ed using iPods to hold copies of wire­tap trans­mis­sions in a large drug-con­spir­a­cy case. Why? Because it’s eas­i­er than stor­ing the record­ings on cas­sette tapes or CDRoms; the defen­dants and attor­neys can access and work through the record­ings with ease; and it can all be done in a secure envi­ron­ment.

3. Get Your­self Into Seri­ous Shape: Many jog­gers love how their iPods can pro­vide enter­tain­ment that will spice up a monot­o­nous rou­tine. But prob­a­bly few know that you can use the iPod to plan train­ing routes for their runs. Trail­Run­ner lets run­ners do pre­cise­ly that. This free pro­gram helps you plan your route and then loads your iPod with maps, dis­tances, and time goals.

4. Tour Around Great Cities
: iSub­wayMaps lets you down­load sub­way maps from 24 major cities across the globe. They range from New York City, Paris and Berlin to Moscow, Tokyo and Hong Kong. (Get the full list here.) To take advan­tage of these maps, your iPod will need to sup­port pho­tos, but that should­n’t be a prob­lem for most recent iPods.

We’ve also talked recent­ly about a ven­ture called Sound­walk that pro­vides engag­ing, some­what off­beat audio tours of New York and Paris (plus Varanasi in India). In New York, they offer indi­vid­ual tours of Lit­tle Italy, the Low­er East Side, Times Square and the Meat Pack­ing Dis­trict, among oth­er places. In Paris, they take you through the Marais, St. Ger­main, Pigalle, Belleville, and the Palais Roy­al. Each audio tour is nar­rat­ed by a celebri­ty of sorts and can be down­loaded for about $12.

5. Cal­cu­late the Right Tip: If you’re a lit­tle math chal­lenged, you can use your iPod when you’re out to din­ner to cal­cu­late the cor­rect tip. Tip­Kalc helps you fig­ure out both the tip and the grand total on your bill, and it even lets you split your check up to five dif­fer­ent ways.

6. Record Flight data: Accord­ing to a report in Flight Glob­al, a com­pa­ny called LoPresti Speed Mer­chants has announced plans to use iPods as flight data recorders in light air­craft. The lit­tle white box will serve as the “black box” with­in the air­planes and will have the abil­i­ty to record over 500 hours of flight time data. Does this mean that iPods can sur­vive plane crash­es? Who would have thunk it.

7. Throw a Mean­er Curve­ball: Jason Jen­nings, a pitch­er for the Hous­ton Astros, start­ed using a video iPod last year to review his pitch­ing frame by frame and to improve his over­all tech­nique. He also reviews video of all oppos­ing bat­ters before each game. Since incor­po­rat­ing the iPod into his train­ing, he has since seen his ERA go down, and oth­er teams — notably the Mar­lins and Mariners — have looked into using the iPod in sim­i­lar ways.

8. Learn For­eign Lan­guages: iPods are becom­ing more com­mon­place in uni­ver­si­ty class­rooms, with stu­dents using them to record lec­tures, take notes, and even cre­ate elec­tron­ic flash cards. (See in depth arti­cle here.) The gad­gets are also being used to help stu­dents for­mal­ly study music and learn for­eign lan­guages. Now, if you’re a reg­u­lar Open Cul­ture read­er, you’ll know that you don’t need to be a uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent to learn for­eign lan­guages with the help of an iPod. With the help of our pod­casts col­lec­tion, you can pick up most any lan­guage on your own.

9. Learn to Love and Buy Wine: Here’s a nov­el way to get intro­duced to wine. For $35, you can down­load an audio file called Mark Phillips Wine Guide onto your iPod. This primer will, among oth­er things, teach you how to describe, taste, and buy wine, and you’ll come away with a cer­tain je ne sais quoi.

10. Test Cheat­ing: Yes, unfor­tu­nate­ly tech­nol­o­gy can be used for bad as well as good. It was wide­ly report­ed just this past week that stu­dents are appar­ent­ly using the iPod to cheat on exams. Dur­ing tests, they’ll appar­ent­ly sneak ear­buds into their ears and tap into valu­able for­mu­las, class notes, voic­es record­ings, etc. Oth­ers will even write out crib notes and enmesh them with­in song lyrics.

Bonus: The iPod as Flash­light: Dur­ing the major black­out in 2003, many New York­ers impro­vised after night­fall and used the light gen­er­at­ed by their iPods to get around their apart­ments. It was a makeshift way of doing things. But now there is a more for­mal way of using your iPod to light your way. For about $13, you can pur­chase Griffin’s iBeam, an attach­ment that will quick­ly turn your iPod into a com­bo flash­light and laser point­er. As they say, be pre­pared.

MP3 Music Blogs: For Your Listening Pleasure

Numer­ous MP3 blogs, oth­er­wise called “music blogs” or “audio blogs”, have sprout­ed up since 2003, offer­ing lis­ten­ers the chance to get exposed not only to for­got­ten music and out-of-print albums, but also to new music being put out by new bands and indie labels. Below, we have col­lect­ed some of the more well-regard­ed MP3 blogs across dif­fer­ent musi­cal gen­res. As you will note, many sites will host an MP3 for only a lim­it­ed amount of time, mak­ing it so that you can sam­ple music for free but also giv­ing you an incen­tive to pur­chase music that you like and want to own. Have a look and feel free to let us know if we’re miss­ing some good ones. Mean­while, we’ll add to this list over time. Sub­scribe to Our Feed

  • An Aquar­i­um Drunk­ard: Based in Los Ange­les, this eclec­tic audio blog “bridges the gap between con­tem­po­rary indie and vin­tage garage, psych-folk, coun­try, New Orleans funk, R&B, soul and every­thing that falls in between.”
  • Brook­lyn Veg­an: Here you get a New York City-cen­tric, most­ly-music blog that focus­es on report­ing music news, live show reviews, tour dates, and, yes, MP3’s.
  • Cacoph­o­nous: A clas­si­cal music MP3 blog.
  • Chrome­waves: Along with the rumi­na­tions of a self-con­fessed indie rock geek, you get an “MP3 of the Week” that fea­tures a ran­dom or not-so-ran­dom cov­er song.
  • Daytrot­ter: Gives you “exclu­sive, re-worked, alter­nate ver­sions of old songs and unre­leased tracks by some of your favorite bands and by a lot of your next favorite bands.”
  • Des­ti­na­tion: Out: A jazz blog focus­ing on rare or out-of-print music. Typ­i­cal­ly pub­lish­es twice a week, and leaves songs avail­able for about two weeks.
  • Dis­co­belle: A Swe­den-based music blog that posts sin­gle tracks and remix­es and occa­sion­al­ly exclu­sive mix­es from DJs all around the world.
  • Done Wait­ing: Part film, part music with MP3s.
  • Elbows: A meta col­lec­tion of great music blog posts, which col­lec­tive­ly pro­vides you a snap­shot of what’s going on in the new genre of audio/music blog­ging.
  • Fluxblog: One of the old­est and most com­mon­ly cit­ed MP3 blogs, this site posts two MP3s every week­day along with more relat­ed infor­ma­tion.
  • Goril­la vs. Bear: One of the big­gies worth check­ing out.
  • I Guess I’m Float­ing: A good music blog with a good sprin­kling of MP3s.
  • Idol­a­tor: Maybe this sum­ma­ry will help: “When the inter­net came, we over­threw the pasty white tastemak­ers, the duplic­i­tous music mar­keters and the man­u­fac­tured pop idols. And then they all came back. This is Idol­a­tor. We’re so dis­ap­point­ed.”
  • La Blo­gotheque: A well-regard­ed French lan­guage MP3 blog.
  • Large­heart­ed Boy: A “music blog fea­tur­ing dai­ly free and legal music down­loads as well as news from the worlds of music, lit­er­a­ture, and pop cul­ture.”
  • Marathon Packs: Writes about and lets you lis­ten to inter­est­ing songs, to para­phrase the sites self-descrip­tion. Keeps audio files post­ed for two weeks.
  • Moist­works: An audio blog start­ed in April 2004 (mean­ing it has a track record) that gets updat­ed Mon­day through Fri­day.
  • Motel De Moka: A dai­ly blog post­ing eclec­tic playlists, includ­ing indie rock, acoustics and ambi­ent.
  • My Old Ken­tucky Blog: What’s new and hot in indie rock, pop, folk and hip-hop.
  • Noth­ing But Green Lights: An MP3 blog that keeps track of indie, elec­tro, folk & pop, all from the UK. The site only posts tracks that the inter­net is giv­ing away for free, or ones that have been grant­ed per­mis­sion.
  • Prod­uct Shop NYC: Although not exclu­sive­ly an MP3 blog, you do get some MP3s worth your time here.
  • Said the Gramo­phone: Launched in 2003, the site is among the first MP3 blogs and it offers a dai­ly sam­pler of “real­ly good songs,” although all songs are removed with­in a week or two of post­ing. The blog comes out of Cana­da.
  • Six Eyes: An MP3 blog by Alan Williamson.
  • Skat­ter Brain: A most­ly indiepop music blog.
  • So Much Silence: MP3s a plen­ty.
  • Soul Crates: Your home for soul MP3s.
  • Stere­ogum: A pop­u­lar gos­sipy blog about the indie music scene. The site often posts MP3s of new music, plus offers record reviews, announces tour dates, and cov­ers music fes­ti­vals.
  • The Hype Machine: The Hype Machine tracks and aggre­gates a vari­ety of MP3 blogs. Anoth­er meta approach.
  • The Music Slut: A com­pre­hen­sive music blog with oodles of MP3s.
  • Trrill: Anoth­er good clas­si­cal music audio blog.
  • WFMU Beware of the Blog: An MP3 blog run by WFMU, an inde­pen­dent freeform radio sta­tion broad­cast­ing out of NYC.
  • Who Needs Radio?: We believe in music, not mon­ey. We’re here to keep your ears alive.
  • You Ain’t No Picas­so: A good music blog with a very nice blogroll and MP3s too.

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