Hodgman (and Obama) on Geeks, Jocks & Nerds

All cred­it to Jason Kot­tke on this one. Per­fect for our read­ers. From the 2009 Radio and TV Cor­re­spon­dents’ Din­ner. Give it a lit­tle time. Here it goes:

Relat­ed Video:

John Hodgman@Google

The Back Story in Iran

If you’re look­ing to get more con­text for what’s hap­pen­ing right now in Iran, let me direct you to two pieces of media. First, you’ll find above a talk by Abbas Milani, the direc­tor of the Iran­ian Stud­ies Pro­gram at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty. It was giv­en last August at Google’s HQ in Moun­tain View, CA, and it overviews how pow­er is struc­tured in Iran and what dri­ves Pres­i­dent Ahmadine­jad and the rul­ing cler­ics. Then, about 15 min­utes into the talk, Milani address­es the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and under­scores Ahmadine­jad’s declin­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty and poor elec­toral chances. Milani also reflects on the emerg­ing demo­c­ra­t­ic move­ment and its abil­i­ty to get trac­tion. As you’ll see, many of his com­ments (democ­ra­cy will come on its own — if we don’t start a war over nukes) are start­ing to look rather prophet­ic. But let’s not get too far ahead of our­selves.

Next, you can lis­ten to a talk record­ed this morn­ing, which brings togeth­er Milani, Juan Cole (the his­to­ri­an of the Mid­dle East who writes the Informed Com­ment blog) and Scott Peter­son (Istan­bul bureau chief for The Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor). This hour long con­ver­sa­tion (MP3iTunes) delves into the elec­tion and its after­math and exam­ines what’s at stake for Iran, the Mid­dle East and the US.

James Joyce Reading from Finnegans Wake

On Blooms­day (June 16), Boing­Bo­ing fea­tured a rare audio record­ing of James Joyce read­ing from Finnegans Wake (mp3). It’s a bit intrigu­ing to hear his voice and accent. Also, we came across anoth­er Joyce record­ing, where, this time, he’s read­ing Anna Livia Plura­belle, anoth­er sec­tion of the same nov­el. For kicks, you can catch an ani­mat­ed ver­sion of the same record­ing on YouTube here.

via Pratham Books

Curb Your Enthusiasm With Hair

Bike Tricks Courtesy of Thomas Edison

Voila, the 1899 pre­cur­sor to this amaz­ing 2009 bike stunt video orig­i­nal­ly found on the @courosa Twit­ter stream. And who can doubt that we’re mak­ing progress?

via Andrew Sul­li­van

The American Founders and Their World

Through­out this year, my pro­gram at Stan­ford has been cel­e­brat­ing its 20th anniver­sary, and we’ve put togeth­er some spe­cial cours­es for the occa­sion. This spring, we offered a class fea­tur­ing some of the finest Amer­i­can his­to­ri­ans in the coun­try, and togeth­er, they looked back at “The Amer­i­can Founders and Their World.” (Get it free on iTunes here; sor­ry that it’s not also avail­able via oth­er means.) Direct­ed by Jack Rakove (the Stan­ford his­to­ri­an who won the Pulitzer Prize for his book Orig­i­nal Mean­ings), this short course brought to cam­pus Gor­don Wood (who received the Pulitzer Prize for The Rad­i­cal­ism of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion); Annette Gor­don-Reed (who won the Nation­al Book Award for The Hem­ingses of Mon­ti­cel­lo); and Alan Tay­lor, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning William Coop­er’s Town.

You can find this course list­ed in our large col­lec­tion of Free Uni­ver­si­ty Cours­es, and below I have includ­ed a fuller course descrip­tion that ran in our cat­a­logues. Enjoy learn­ing more about Jef­fer­son, Madi­son, Hamil­ton, Wash­ing­ton, the Fed­er­al­ists, anti-Fed­er­al­ists and the rest:

By all accounts, pop­u­lar inter­est in the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion­ary era has nev­er been high­er. Books on Wash­ing­ton, Jef­fer­son, Adams, Hamil­ton, and oth­er founders roll off the press­es, make the best­seller lists, and pro­vide clear evi­dence that Amer­i­cans remain deeply fas­ci­nat­ed by the remark­able gen­er­a­tion that secured inde­pen­dence, formed a nation­al union, cre­at­ed the first mod­ern sys­tem of polit­i­cal parties—and espoused ideals of lib­er­ty and equal­i­ty while main­tain­ing a sys­tem of racial slav­ery.

How should we think about the Founders and their lega­cy? How can we account for the emer­gence of this group of lead­ers in the provin­cial iso­la­tion of 18th-cen­tu­ry British North Amer­i­ca? To answer these ques­tions, Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies invit­ed Jack Rakove, Pulitzer Prize–winning his­to­ri­an and W.R. Coe Pro­fes­sor of His­to­ry and Amer­i­can Stud­ies at Stan­ford, to recruit an “A Team” of fel­low schol­ars from across the coun­try to dis­cuss the indi­vid­ual lives and col­lec­tive acts that turned the thir­teen colonies into a nation­al repub­lic. Pre­sen­ters will not lec­ture for­mal­ly; instead, in each class meet­ing Pro­fes­sor Rakove will engage in con­ver­sa­tion with his guests to explore their sub­ject in dia­logue.

Hard Words in The New York Times

When you’re read­ing The New York Times and stum­ble upon a word you don’t know, you can high­light it and the Times will give you the def­i­n­i­tion. Nat­u­ral­ly, the Times keeps track of the def­i­n­i­tions it pro­vides. So what are the most com­mon­ly looked up words? You can find the top ten below. (Get a longer list here.) So, smart read­ers, did you know all of them?

  1. sui gener­is
  2. solip­sis­tic
  3. louche
  4. lacon­ic
  5. sat­ur­nine
  6. ante­dilu­vian
  7. epis­te­mo­log­i­cal
  8. shib­bo­leths
  9. penury
  10. sump­tu­ary

via @aknopf

How to Build Your Online Author Fan Base (in One Minute!)

snapshot-2009-06-16-22-17-50

Thanks to George Smyth of the One Minute How-To Pod­cast, I bring you this quick dis­cus­sion of how to build an online author fan base. This is a quick break­down of the method that’s worked for me. If you’re look­ing for more quick how-to’s, vis­it: www.oneminutehowto.com

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.