Peder with a D

[plays well with others]

Archive for January, 2010

Music Mix and Podcast Update

Posted by Peder on 30 January 2010

I’ve blogged before about music mixes and podcasts I like.  Here’s a quick update of what I’ve been up to recently.

Music for the Appreciation of Nature

I was running on a wooded trail a few weeks back and realized I didn’t have the right mix for appreciating nature.  Such a mix would be more subtle than other running inspiration I’ve used.  Its dulce tones would foster quiet reflection.  To contrast, a few bombastic, awe-inspiring anthems would enrich the soul with energy and joy … the aural equivalent of the bright sunshine warming my face.  Voilà!

There’s some African stuff in there, southern Asian (Indian), Icelandic … as well as East Asian and electronica sounds.  And a touch of Latin in the second track.  I tried it out on a run last Sunday, and it sounded great.

TaRANtino

A bunch of songs I liked from the movies Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill (did you know they’re making a 3rd?) and Inglourious Basterds.  It’s meant to be shuffled; I don’t have a set play order for these tracks.  Of particular note is that Santa Esmeralda version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”  It’s a 10 minute version, but miraculously never wanes in excitement!

Podcasts (I’ve linked their websites, but it’s probably easiest to grab these feeds through iTunes. Just type the title into the search bar.)

Stuff You Should Know – Hosts Josh and Chuck take on a new topic almost daily on a podcast which is now near the top of the iTunes Most Popular list.  Ranging from totem poles to geocaching to the CIA testing LSD on the public, each episode will teach you something in a fun, informal manner.  Yeah, learning!

All Songs Considered – Ripping the name from All Things Considered, this National Public Radio production looks into the modern music scene with an informed perspective.  The commentators can periodically come off a bit pretentious, but I’ve realized the good aspects of the show more than outweigh the bad.

Live Concerts (from All Songs Considered) – Speaking of NPR, they publish live concerts for free online.  Some short sets are even on video.  ‘Nuff said.

Musicheads – New music album commentary from a local radio station.  Their schtick is to ask if an album is “working” for them.  Unfortunately, over the last six months or so, more and more albums seem to work, meaning the show is becoming something of a promotion vehicle for the music they’re playing on the station.  Also, they repeat shows a little too often for my tastes.  In a perfect world they’d have more shows and use the space to rip on a couple albums once in a while.  Especially the ones I don’t like!

The Dinner Party Download – I just started listening to this one, and it has promise.  Each short episode has a quick joke and some fun stories from the past week.  And a drink recipe.  The idea is to prep you with stories and banter for your next dinner party.  Not a bad angle.

The Five Minute Linguist – Being that I’m a language nerd, this show has really peaked my interest.  But it’s not all grammar rules.  Topics range from how do languages spread, to what’s up with Esperanto, to was German almost the official American language?

That Sucks – This is a video blog that highlights little-known comedians.  Each short episode is centered around the theme of something that sucks.  Very funny.

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Misinterpreting “Isolationist” Sentiment

Posted by Peder on 26 January 2010

A poll of Americans claims most of us want less and less to do with international issues and the affairs of other nations.  That is according to a recent article published in my local paper and written by the McClatchy news service.  It cites a Pew Center report in which about half the respondents agreed with the phrases that America should “mind its own business internationally,” and that as Americans “we should go our own way.”  In 1964, less than 20% of respondents shared this sentiment.  The analysis then went on to describe a new surge in American isolationism, akin to that experienced in the 1920s, spurred by sentiments of the under-30 crowd.  It’s the younger generation, you see, who wants to take its ball and go home.

Eh, hang on a minute there.

I went back and read the actual poll report.  Its focus was on Americans’ perception of their country’s place in the world, and was conducted in preparation for President Obama’s decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.  In essence, many Americans feel the USA plays a less important role internationally than it did 10 years ago.  In contrast, China’s importance is growing.  Unfortunately, the article’s author, Rick Montgomery, “buried the lead” by emphasizing American isolationism.  At best, isolationist sentiment is of tertiary importance, superseded by US global influence and the need for increased troops in Afghanistan.

To quote the survey:

The general public and members of the Council on Foreign Relations are apprehensive and uncertain about America’s place in the world. Growing numbers in both groups see the United States playing a less important role globally, while acknowledging the increasing stature of China. And the general public, which is in a decidedly inward-looking frame of mind when it comes to global affairs, is less supportive of increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan than are CFR members.

But Mr. Montgomery begins his article with this:

Is it the economy? The blood spilled in Afghanistan and Iraq? A fear of China, or imported diseases?

It must be a mix of all that bothers us, experts suggest, because never in the history of polling have so many Americans said the nation should take care of its own and stay out of other countries’ affairs.

Just when you thought technology and trade had made the globe as small as it could get, talk of a “new isolationism” is spreading.

Now, I’ll acknowledge his analysis is not completely without merit.  The 44% of Americans who responded that the country should “go our own way” and not worry about whether other countries agree can be interpreted as an increasing desire to address issues in a unilateral fashion.  But the report specifically lists that result next to the result of whether the US should “mind its own business” and let others get along on their own.  It seems more Americans are showing an appreciation for a Live and Let Live approach to internationalism:

Live and Let Live

Isolationist?  I’m not convinced.

Consider the responses from the under-30 crowd.  As Mr. Montgomery writes:

Young adults recall no other world than the one in which the U.S. was the sole superpower. But there is a wrinkle in their worldview: While 59 percent of those younger than 30 told Pew that the country should “mind its own business,” only 39 percent said “we should go our own way.”

That's a Bingo!

Young Americans are not isolationists.  They want to be a part of the world.  In fact, the number of passports issued in recent years still surpasses pre-9/11 numbers; it seems more and more Americans are interested in traveling abroad.  But around 60% of those polled want our government to let others do their own thing.  Being international does not mean being intrusive.  A cosmopolitan is not coercive.

Instead of being concerned that America is involved in international affairs, these numbers represent a growing concern over how the United States is involved in international affairs.  It’s not that Americans don’t want to be involved in the world, it’s that fewer and fewer want to be so heavy-handed about it. We’re not eschewing in a new era of isolationism, we’re just tired of being a bully (or being seen as a bully).  Our increasing military involvement overseas – or threat thereof – at the sake of international diplomacy and multinational solutions to international problems makes us the global equivalent to the bully at recess.

The article acknowledges this idea, but gives it only a scant few of its 4,823 words:

“I think people in general think we should be involved in the world, but not in a domineering way,” said [Steven] Kull, author of [the 1999 book] “Misreading the Public: The Myth of a New Isolationism.”

Tsk, tsk.  If I may speak as a member (for about another week) of the under-30 crowd, I think the younger generations cited in this poll are tired of seeing the world through the military lens and would rather engage in the world in a more even, respectful manner.  Even when the task is to share our more honorable values, such as representative democracy and equal rights, using the military muddles the message.

Posted in Internationalism | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Winteress

Posted by Peder on 25 January 2010

Oh weather, you tart!
Rain yesterday, snow today,
Please make up your mind.

The Winteress, originally uploaded by ancientartizen.

(Click on the photo for another cool winter poem.)

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I ❤ Running

Posted by Peder on 22 January 2010

What can I say, I am hooked.  Line, sinker, done.  I am a born-again massive fan of running.  Specifically, distance running.

My ShoesI first started running in the summer of 2006 after I got sick of the back pains I was getting from sitting in an office chair all day.  I’ll never forget that first jog … I wasn’t gone 10 minutes – had only gotten into the 2nd song on my iPod, and only covered about 8 blocks in the neighborhood – when I returned to my apartment exhausted and mentally beaten up.  My roommate looked up, surprised, and said, “I thought you were going running?”

“I did!” is all I could muster back.  Man that seems like ages ago; last week alone I logged over 28 miles.

I took up the hobby again in earnest last summer.  As it was before, I have a good friend I can hit the pavement with.  It’s nice to have someone else vested in my fitness, and I enjoy the camaraderie and competition that comes from running with a peer.

Let's run!

I also enjoy listening to music.  Running provides a great time to listen to new albums and/or podcasts, both of which I am a massive fan.  And it just so happens that the general length of an album these days is about that of a good, quick run.  Someone planned this, I’m sure!

Exploring running sites has been an awesome way to discover nature around me as well.  It’s amazing how much beauty we miss when we drive by a stand of trees, but taking the time to jog through them really helps replenish an appreciation.

Then there are races.  Man those are a good time — you and a thousand others taking on a course together.  I swear the adrenaline of competition can really put a spring in your step.  Last Thanksgiving I set my personal best on a 10K track (6.22 miles).  I finished in 51:03 and set my personal best, with an average pace of 8:13 per mile.  Setting a PB is just a great feeling, and I look forward to bettering my time this coming spring!

Update:  Running helps beat cabin fever – a great cure for the winter blues!

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