At least, that’s how it starts. But soon enough we’re talking about the Battle of Jena and all points between, which include the Franco-Prussian War, the siege(s) of Paris and the Dreyfus Affair.
This is the cartoon I mention:
“Above all, let us not discuss the Dreyfus Affair!”
I am hoping to get back into podcasting some time. But this time round I want to do it using Skype. Recording a conversation down the line means that you can get into editing straight away and vastly increases the number of people you can talk to.
To that end I am phoning up friends on Skype and recording the conversations as a way to get some practice at this. (So, be warned. Well, not really, I will tell you and nothing will be uploaded without your say so.) It is a remarkably difficult thing to get right and up until recently I was beginning to think it was impossible - at least on a Mac.
But it isn’t and a couple of weeks ago I was recording a conversation with Brian Micklethwait. Interesting conversation and Brian and I agree it deserves a wider audience. So, here goes.
It started with us discussing Brian’s then talk-to-be on the rise of Austrian Economics before moving on to free states, the surprising resilience of Western democracy, greenery and Keynesianism.
Sadly, it starts and ends rather abruptly. Hope that doesn’t spoil things too much.
In this podcast we find out:
- that the Premier League is a big deal in Asia
- that it’s really big
- how it got that big
- why the 39th game is going to happen
- and how it might be done fairly
On a technical note, this was another Skype recording. To me it sounds as if we are in the same room rather than at opposite ends of the internet.
Oh, and apologies for the rather abrupt ending.
This podcast was recorded on Friday, 12 February 2010.
Update Michael sends a picture of a Hawker centre (with Premier League game in progress?)
My thoughts about the current economic situation are so jumbled up I thought I’d do another podcast rather than attempt to write it all down. I think it more or less works though at times it’s a bit incoherent. The good thing is that I felt a lot better after recording it.
It cuts off rather dramatically at the end - in mid-sentence in fact. Fortunately, that’s the middle of the very last sentence and the meaning is fairly clear.
There is more to education… than just preparing people to earn lots of money. Education is also something that prepares you to make do with much less money.
Brian’s Education Blog, if not actually back, is about to be. So, what better way to celebrate could there be than to do a podcast on education?
In the podcast we talk about sovietisation, compulsion, discipline, the educational impact of Elvis Presley and how teddy bears will go about teaching quantum physics.
Well, that’s the blurb. Actually, I think it is a bit of a ramble. An interesting ramble but a ramble nevertheless. The lesson is that there is a huge difference between being an interviewer and an interviewee. The last couple of times I have been the interviewee, so I forgot that as interviewer you have to prepare. Preparation doesn’t have to take very long - all that’s really required is to find out what the interviewee wants to say and tell him what questions you want to ask. But it’s essential. Lesson learned. Until it’s forgotten again.
In which we cover the Blackadder school of history, tanks, the German character, whether Britain should have fought or not, why Germany lost and Crozier’s Grand Theory of 20th Century History.
Before we recorded this conversation Brian put up a trailer on Samizdata which reaped a bumper crop of good comments. Sure, there was some wheat in with chaff but a lot of them were first rate. It was an exercise I suspect Brian will repeat in the future.
Field Marshal Haig (as Blackadder would have it) appears in this clip (it’s the second scene in):
This is General Melchett and Haig’s secret plan:
As funny as they are inaccurate.
Belgian neutrality did indeed date back to 1839.
The late Chris Tame was head honcho of the Libertarian Alliance.
The development of the tank was indeed sponsored by the Admiralty and the Landships Committee.
This is the Bloch we mention, the one who predicted how awful the war was going to be.
This is Brian on DUKWs.
I was right that Haig’s conception of the war included four phases. The one I missed was the initial clash.
“I think the counter-terrorist people probably deserve some credit for not topping the IRA leadership.”
“A market among thieves is better than no market at all.”
The continuing ceasefire in Northern Ireland baffles me. Ian Paisley’s decision to share power with Martin McGuinness even more so. Brian thought my befuddlement would make a good topic for a podcast so on Monday we sat down to record our musings on the matter - musings that you can listen to by following the link at the end of this post.
I should point out that I am reasonably well qualified (some will doubtless say uniquely ill-qualified) to address the subject of Northern Ireland as I spent a year as researcher to David Trimble and am the author of a couple of pamphlets on the subject. However, I confess I am rather rusty.
In the podcast we discussed the various theories put forward for this seemingly miraculous peace: the end of the Cold War, the start of the War on Terror, the birth of the Irish Tiger and ageing of the IRA’s leadership.
There were a few things we missed. We forgot to examine the possibility that in fact things are really quite violent - it’s just that many incidents aren’t being reported. And there were a few more things I wanted to say about the British-Irish Treaty.
And what is a “switherer”?
Running time: (47 mins)
Update This is the blog post Brian is referring to in the comments.
I first came across Professor Bruce L Benson when reading his excellent paper on the history of toll roads in England. So, when I learnt that he was to be addressing the Liberty 2007 conference, organised by the Libertarian Alliance, I very much wanted to see if I could get him to agree to do a podcast. Luckily, he did.
We decided to talk about private law enforcement. While we managed to cover areas like how it would work and how you would prevent next door turning into a pub, time prevented us examining some of the other issues, like how the courts would work and what would prevent the re-emergence of the state. But even so, I think it works pretty well.
This was my first attempt to conduct an interview with a handheld mike which accounts for some of the rustles and for the difference in the loudness of our respective voices. I think it’s one of those cases where you live and learn. I just hope it doesn’t spoil the listener’s enjoyment too much.
Particularly “modern” architecture. Hmm, one wonders if that phrase will ever come to mean contemporary architecture rather than architecture from age that sanity and taste forgot.
Main points: Modern architecture was, indeed, awful. It even represented bad economics. Things are starting to get better.
Brian wanted it to be known that he wasn’t coming to this as a complete amateur and so e-mailed me with the following:
At the start of the conversation I forgot to say what got me interested in architecture in the first place. The answer is that for two years around 1970 I was, briefly, a failed architecture student. I confused being interested in architecture with wanting to be an architect. But I had no talent for architecture, and quite lacked the skill of architectural drawing in any way. I should have realised sooner, but did eventually, and carried on simply being an enthusiastic observer of architecture.
But, having been an architecture student I did acquire and insider knowledge of how architecture people thought and felt.
I would add that the process of me working out what was wrong with the thinking behind the Modern Movement in Architecture and the process of becoming a libertarian were one and the same process.
That bit at the end could make a jolly good podcast in and of itself. Some other time perhaps.
In case some listeners were unfamiliar with some of the buildings and structures mentioned here are some photos:
Topics ranged from the continuing glory of Clive Woodward and the origin of the word “try” to why you should never allow your prop forward to go skiing. Best quote: when Brian Ashton gets described as looking like “...an accountant who’s just been fired for being too dull.”
My feeling on panel discussions is that it is vitally important to make it clear who is talking. So, at the outset I had intended to announce the speaker’s name every time and before he opened his mouth. Well, that didn’t work and degenerated into announcing the speaker’s name after he’d already started talking, sometimes. So, I would be interested to know how it sounds to any listeners out there who aren’t familiar with our voices. Is it easy to work out who is talking at any given moment?
There are also some annoying thumps and bumps which I thought I’d worked out how to eliminate.
On the positive side, all our voices are reasonably audible. Not bad considering there was only one mic to play with.
Update 17/10/07. From a ”friend”: “Who needs Ambien with stuff like this on the web?”
A week ago it all seemed so simple: we (or rather Brian) had a grand theory of Conservative Party ungovernability worked out. All we had to do was to watch while the Conservative Party put this grand theory into practice and then podcast about it on the Monday.
Well, that was the plan. All I can say is that a week really is a long time in politics and no plan survives contact with the Enemy Class.
So, our podcast was a bit of a ramble, starting with the Tories and ending up with Shakespeare via junior flunkeys fourth grade and Jim Callaghan.
At one point Brian mentions the growth of the state over the course of the 20th Century. This encouraged me to dig out this graph from here (warning: PDF) which illustrates the point.
Tax as a proportion of GDP
Oh, and to illustrate another point, here’s Theo Spark’s take.
Oddly enough, Peter Briffa’s been getting back onto the podcasting bandwagon too, saying more or less the same thing. I am sure it’s spite.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention. There’s a bit of swearing. On our podcast, not Peter’s who is far too prim and proper to stoop to that kind of thing.
Update Michael Jennings has just rung me up to point out that the podcast seems to end very abruptly and whether it is supposed to or not. To which the reply is that, yes, it does end abruptly and, yes, it is supposed to. We had actually run out of things to say. We had half an idea to come back to it but never did and then I cut out some of our deliberations at the end. This is one of those things we will get better at over time.
Earlier on today, Brian Micklethwait and I sat down to record a podcast about Victor Davis Hanson’s Why The West Has Won: nine landmark battles in the brutal history of Western victory - the result of which you can listen to by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.
Summary: Yes, the West does win, there are reasons why it wins, and it’s none too nice about it.
Just in case you were wondering, the nine battles were:
We also managed (amongst other things) to mention Isandlwana. This was a battle the British managed to lose immediately before Rorke’s Drift.
Brian has referred to Todd many times over the years but it was only recently that he dedicated a number of blog postings to Todd’s works.
At the time it seemed a good subject for a podcast but by the end we both agreed that we’d bitten off more than we could chew. The implications of Todd’s theories about ideology and literacy are as far-reaching as they are controversial and neither of us felt at the time we had come anywhere near to doing them justice.
As it happens, listening to it the whole way through, I was forced to revise that opinion. I thought it was actually quite good.
You can download it here.
When about a year ago Brian first mooted that he was planning to get into podcasting I thought this was definitely something I should have a go at. I’d always rather fancied myself as an interviewer.
Why it has taken a year to equip myself with a microphone is another matter but I’ve finally got around to it and my first interviewee/victim was my good friend and fellow Transport Blogger, Michael Jennings talking about sport in Australia.
As a first stab at a podcast (or should that be padcast?) it’s not too bad. The quality is pretty good, although it could do with a few less thumps and bumps and I need to think a bit about my positioning. I think Michael sounds very good, but I am a bit too far away from the mic and sitting in front of a rather echoey wall. These are the sorts of things that you get better at with practice.
As far as the interviewing itself goes, all I can say is that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. I was lucky in that Michael is a good interviewee who is happy to talk but I may run into trouble with a more taciturn subject. My intention had been to get Michael talking and say as little as possible myself. In the end, I still think I said too much. And there were a few other don’ts to carry over to next time. Such as:
Don’t mumble… or stumble
Don’t go “Uh, huh”
Don’t divert the conversation into irrelevant matters
Actually, the whole mumbling and stumbling business is a bit of an issue. Until I started recording my own voice I had no idea how much I did it. It’s amazing I have any friends at all. It’s certainly something that needs to be addressed pronto.