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!)


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.