Listen: Save the sounds

Reading this month’s issue of Wired Magazine, I came across an article on “The Museum of Endangered Sounds“ which is a site that preserves the dying sounds of older technologies like the ringtone of one of the earliest Nokia cellphones, the inching of the fax machine, the clicking of the dial on a rotary phone, the staccato beeps of count downs from movies, the dial up tone from AOL among other various obsolete technologies today. I clicked on all of the thumbnails so they’re now all playing simultaneously; it’s for sure noisy and chaotic, but not disruptive and I don’t think I’m going to get sick of it anytime soon.

The sounds are strangely soothing and comforting and the funny thing is the discovery of this site came only a day after Apple released the iPhone 5. That being said, hearing these sounds doesn’t want to make me go back to the Windows 95 Operating System or revert back to Dial Up (NO,NEVER DIAL UP), but who knew I’d want to hear static again?
Listen to the sounds here: http://savethesounds.info/

A review of Daniel Solove’s article: “I’ve got nothing to hide and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy”

The right to privacy and democracy are intrinsically intertwined in Canada. In fact, privacy is “ a right that is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” (A matter of Trust) and is a symbol of trust between government and Canadians. However, according to the Chief Justice of Canada, the threats of terrorism requires a need to reassess the measures needed to be taken for anti-terrorism. This brings up a key issue or tension, between how government perceives an individual’s right to privacy in respect to state security.

Fittingly, Daniel Solove’s piece, “I’ve got nothing to hide and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy” addresses two pivotal questions when talking about privacy: (1) How do we conceptualize privacy and (2) what is more important, the security of the state or the rights of the individual? Solove starts his piece by illustrating how the September 11 attacks propelled vigorous surveillance programs under the Bush Administration to collect data on people in order to map “suspicious behavior patterns” (Solove 746) to prevent future terrorism. Right away, the importance of state security is illustrated through the examination of the terrorist attack, and the idea is that any argument that is proposed against security is deemed arbitrary. In 2006 the NSA was reported to have collected personal data from telephone call databases and bank records from the “Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions (SWIFT). While many people were concerned with these reports, it was more-or-less silenced and devalued by the government because their case was that an individual need not worry about privacy if you have nothing unlawful to conceal: “Only if people desire to conceal unlawful activity should they be concerned[…][and] people engaged in illegal conduct have no legitimate claim to maintaining the privacy of such activities” (Solove 751). By using such an abrasive and authoritative tone, the government unveils their lack of interest in listening to the American people. Furthermore, the government has twisted the legitimate concerns of the American people by turning the issue of privacy into something sinister and undesirable. Another issue that was illuminated when the news of government surveillance was reported was the ambivalence and blasé attitude from many Americans concerning their privacy with questions like

“ So what? Which is then followed by, “I have nothing to hide [anyways]” (Solove 747). Whether the fear that was evoked by the government influenced how they conceptualize privacy or not, the fact that people felt that they did not have the right to interfere with authoritative bureaucracy illuminates a larger problem within government and how society is governed by it.

But why were some people unconcerned with their privacy? To address the ambivalence, Solove uses two literary references: George Orwell’s 1984 and Franz Kaftka’s The Trial, to better illustrate the different types of government surveillance. While other commentators see 1984 as a useful example of “inhibition and social control” (Solove 756) due to government surveillance, Solove believes that people are not as concerned about keeping their social information such as the type of cars they rent, or which hotel they stayed private because it does not directly interfere with their personal lives. Instead, a better way to think about the harms of surveillance, contends Solove, is to look at NSA surveillance through a Kafkaesque lens. The central issue in The Trail concerns the exclusion of the individual from participating in the process of information collection. The overarching dilemma in The Trial concerns how information is stored, used, and analyzed—“rather than information collection” (Solove 757). The real issue is not what personal data is collected, but what the government intends to do with it and how transparent are their intentions?
Finally, Solove reiterates the difficulty with the nothing to hide argument because “most privacy problems lack dead bodies” (Solove 768), meaning that people tend to focus on issues that viscerally and physically affect them while data mining, and privacy intrusion is something intangible and abstract. However, he emphasizes that privacy invasion is still harmful because it involves how information is processed on a larger political scale; one that deals with federal agencies and third party agencies who may utilize personal data without the individual’s consent. When it comes to talking about privacy, the issue of security interests is always pitted against privacy interests, and ultimately the matter of security is given more merit. Therefore, it is necessary to rethink the issue of privacy is terms of not whether the government is allowed to access an individual’s personal data, but the need for a set of responsibilities that come with data collection and information appropriation.

Solove’s argument on privacy provides excellent insight for us to ruminate over, especially how many of us think of our own privacy versus state security. Surely, security should be not be an issue taken lightly, but to what extent is surveillance about protection against terrorist attacks, pedophilia, etc., as opposed to maintaining authoritative hierarchy? This concern is addressed by Evgeny Morozov in his article: “Wither Internet Control” to think about why the arguments put forth by the government should be taken with a grain of salt before being too transparent in favor of security. Because the Internet has become a space where people can gather and organize political/social movements, Morozov argues that it makes “authoritarian rulers uneasy” (Morozov 67) because people are able to engage in civil disobedience more easily than ever.

Another issue that Solove highlights is the way privacy is framed in the media. The problem is that by assuming that people have nothing to hide, privacy is not needed. This not only negates an individual’s right to choose their degree of privacy but it perpetuates anxiety in people for the fear of seemingly hiding something from the government when there is nothing to hide in the first place. It is interesting that even though there are tools available to encrypt personal information, the general population does not seek or take advantage of them. Take for example, Tor—“a browser that blocks ISP addresses and defends network surveillance and traffic analysis” ( Tor). Tor is a browser that provides its users privacy from government surveillance, but why is it that people are hesitant to use it? Of course there may be several factors that may explain why Tor is not widely used, but one of the main reasons is that personal privacy is still something people have yet to come to accept as an individual right even in democratic societies.

Works Cited:

Canada. Privacy Commissioner. “A matter of Trust: Integrating Privacy and Public Safety in the 21st century. [Ottawa, Ontario] : Privacy Commissioner of Canada. 2010. Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Web. 2. Nov 2012

Morozov, Evgeny. “Whither Internet Control?.” Journal of Democracy 22.2 (2011): 62-74.

Solove, Daniel. “‘I’ve Got Nothing to Hide’and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy.” San Diego law review 44 (2007).

Canada ranks 19th for Internet speed and cost


While many people are satisfied with their internet connection speed, the cost of internet might not be so agreeable. Canada has amongst one of the world’s slowest internet speeds and highest costs around the world. According to the OECD Broadband portal infographic, Canada ranks at 19th while Korea* sits in first place with the highest speed and lowest cost of $0.33 per mbps. Comparing the prices of internet in Quebec, the average monthly plan runs from $40-100 depending on the bandwidth provided. The majority of Internet users in Quebec use either Videotron or Bell and pay premium pricing for little broadband usage. Although Canada’s internet speed falls behind many countries it’s not the speed that’s the main problem. Most of us are able to access the information we want fairly quickly. The main problem is not that the internet speed isn’t fast enough, it’s that we are paying astronomical prices for low bandwidth compared to other countries around the world.

While there seems to be more services that offer streaming music like Spotify, Grooveshark, 8tracks, and itunes, it’s important to consider the data usage when streaming and/or downloading music. According to Videotron,60 GB gives you approximately 100 hours of browsing, 200 videos, download 300 songs, playing online for 55 hours, and listen to the radio for 30 hours. For instance, if you stream a 2 hour HD movie on Netflix, that brings you to about 3600MB which converts to about 3.5 GB.*That means if you have a 60 GB data allowance, you can stream around 17 hours worth of movies/songs a month. While that may seem like a fair amount, that doesn’t include regular browsing, uploading, downloading on a day to day basis. Of course if you’re sharing your bandwidth with housemates then the bandwidth limit will be hit much faster.

But why are internet prices so high here in Canada? According to the Berkman Center “regulatory hesitation and an over-reliance on competition between telephone and cable companies are the causes of Canada’s poor performance. While the CRTC did institute open-access rules that require network owners to share their expensive and hard-to-replicate infrastructure with smaller competitors, it has only done so half-heartedly” (CBC). In other words, lack of competition amongst ISP providers cause unfair distribution of broadband infrastructure (favoring large telecommunication companies over smaller independent service providers), and finally little to no interference from the CRTC to regulate prices are some of the fundamental reasons why Canada sits at the bottom in terms of pricing.

So what are some possible solutions to bring internet prices down? One of the best ways is to stay informed with changes in telecommunication policies. Visit Openmedia.ca and sign up for their updates to keep up with current news and participate in their strategy plans like their current proposed plan. Another similar organization is Openwireless.org, a project by the EFF. (Electronic Frontier Foundation) Other ways include subscribing to independent service providers such as Tekksavvy, or Radioactif who offer lower and more affordable prices for the same amount of bandwidth as other larger competitors.

Alternatively, support and get involved with nonprofit organizations such as Ils Sans Fils “a non-profit organization (NPO) that aims to provide free public wireless Internet access in Montreal”(À PROPOS).

Internet prices of Videotron, Tekksavy, Radioactif and Bell:

Videotron-

At $42.95 you have a 60 GB Bandwidth cap

videotron

Tekksavy-

*At $39.99 you have a 300GB bandwidth cap

teksavvy

Radioactif-radioactif

Bell-bell

*Factual error corrections: (1)In the previous post, it was written that Canada ranks 23rd,but it was outdated. The updated version of  Circa‘s 2013 Factbook for their 2011 infographic is now posted.

(2)In the previous post, it said 2 GB. Thanks to some readers who pointed out the mistake, the post is now updated.

 

The original post for Open Media at Mcgill can be read here.

Lisa Yang

Thrift economy

Let’s talk about second hand computer stores. So my usb cord on my laptop charger suffered from a long and torturous death by fray. My first thought was to get a second hand charger from a shoddy computer shop down the street because there’s tons in my neighborhood. They’re sketchy looking, disorganized and not to be hateful but the owners are rude and look like they don’t get enough sunlight or nutrition (not that that matters, but just an observation y’know.) 

But who cares about the appearance right? For someone who is concerned with excessive technologies being produced and consumed today, I should think twice before buying certain new electronics anyways. Besides, my laptop might not even outlast my charger because it’s starting to show signs of death again.

However, as I stepped in the store, my confidence dwindled on buying used electronics. The store was in disarray and I can’t take a store seriously when they try and sell unrelated products, like sunglasses…(seriously!?) A series of questions and concerns started to form: Where did all these electronics and accessories come from? Are they legitimate? There wont be warranty for my product. He went behind the store and pulled out a charger out of a tupperware bin and told me it was cash only. Oh no, red flag. Cash only and disorganized? 


Fortunately/unfortunately I didn’t have cash with me, so I went to Bureau en Gros instead. The feeling upon stepping in a large business was so different compared to the used computer store. The lights, uniformed sales associates, shiny packaged goods all lined up, options, etc etc. I felt like I would be happy and secure with my new charger here–only it was priced triple times more. (YIKES). 


After buying it, I suffered from buyer’s remorse, as usual, and started to seriously question if this charger was even going to last longer than the used charger. This question will be left unknown but I decided to return it and buy the used charger. 


Used electronics have their own set of problems, I know. But a charger that still works is completely useless if it’s sitting in a bin. Priced at a third of the price of a new one, I felt like I needed to save the charger from obsolescence, and also my bank account. I also want to believe so badly that this used charger will last just as long as a new one. Only time will tell.


I have to admit I would think twice about buying certain products there, but for various accessories like adapters and chargers, it’s kind of important to recirculate them before they’re completely defunct. I think there’s a disconnect when tech stores look outdated because technology is synonymous with progress. When you see a tech store carry both decade old to the latest products, it just seems odd, doesn’t it? The thrift economy is already something that I find necessary but used electronic stores are often marginalized and should be reconsidered even if only for accessories.  

On technological obsolescence

If you’re reading this, I’m amusing that you are reading this on an electronic device. Whether that be a computer, cell phone or reading tablet of some sort. I’m wondering, is the device an updated and new version of your previous one? where is your first, second, third or fourth cellphone? computer? I have to admit that I’m not impervious to riding on the electronic market train. I myself have succumbed to updating  replacing my perfectly good blackberry for an iPhone. I know. I really am ashamed of myself. Here I am talking about technological obsolescence while I just bought myself an unnecessary new phone. I have now two cellphones sitting in their boxes in my closet. Had I not sold out to the new phone craze, I would be talking about about this topic of waste with a critical eye. But seeing that I can’t, I’ll talk about the topic in a “what now?” manner.

I think the most important thing you can do is reduce. Meaning do not do what I did. But who am I to lecture? There are also times when you have no choice but to replace your device prematurely because your electronic device breaks down due to planned obsolescence. So, that being said, whether it’s your VHS player, your DVD player (that you have now decided to replace with a blu-ray player), your old (functional/defunct) laptop, Walkman, phone (and the list goes on), here’s what you can do instead of throwing it away to sit in a landfill.

  1. “RRR” Reduce.Reuse.Recyle. As mentioned before, the best thing one can do is reduce. The term can can be appropriated in different ways depending on the lifestyle of the individual. No judgement here. But reduce whenever possible.
  • ReuseI recommend storing your electronics in a safe, dry and room temperature space when you no longer need it. You never know when your new device will break down, drown in the toilet or be forgotten on a bus. You’ll be happy that you have a back up.
    • Often times the chargers can be used for your new devices as well so that saves you having to spend more money
    • You can help a friend out if they are also encounter the same problems
    • If your device fails to turn on, try again in a few months ( I know this may be unrealistic for many) but in my case, after about 9 months of leaving it in the closet, it resurrected from its temporary grave. After some research, it turns out the CPU fan overheated and after cooling down the wires re-surged
    • Vinyl record players are becoming a desirable commodity (again). Perhaps other electronics will too.
    • Trade in/Swap: For some electronic companies, you can trade in your gadgets for credit or a new phone( I know, this is part marketing ploy, but if you need/ really want a new phone it’s better than throwing it out)
    • Recycle: If you must, always recycle rather than throwing it out in the garbage or your curbside. Be informed about the recycling process though. Just because you think you’re doing a good deed, doesn’t mean the material will be taken care of properly. Read here to find out where e-waste ends up.
  •  Find your local electronic recycling depot, here are just a few:
  • Canada,The United States and UK: ERA
  • Canada: Encrop PacificStaples, Ontario ( OES )
  • Next, learn about their recycling procedures: Incerated? Reused? Exported? ( In many developing countries, the recycling processes are not in a purpose-built plant and releases harmful toxins)

Finally, just be informed. It’s not a crime to love new gadgets, but just search “e-waste” or “electronic landfill” and look at the images. I’ll end off with a video from GOOD magazine about e-waste.

Long live The Simpsons

The Simpsons is the longest American sitcom with 529 episodes under its belt. The show has its share of high praise and nasty criticism. Some say that the show has lost its appeal as a fresh cartoon sitcom that has abandoned the focus on character-driven plots and instead has monetized on pop-culture references and sold itself out for popular celebrity guest appearances. Regardless, the show is still on air so they must be doing something right.

Like many good shows, sometimes jumping ship before the show drowns to its tragic death is the smart and respectable choice; however, this is not the case for The Simpsons as it seems to just ride over the waves of criticism as it comes. Despite some discontent for the show, The Simpsons continues to produce new content and in my personal opinion, still leaves me in awe of the shows creativity. The longevity of the show deserves applause, and I feel that cartoons especially have a difficult time keeping the audiences’ interest once they grow up and move on from the show. Some cartoons for example were appropriate for its time: For example: Rugrats, Hey Arnold! Pokemon, Digimon. There is only one cartoon /animation that has been able to capture its viewer’s hearts and was kept alive after years of hiatus: Pixar films’s Toy Story 1,2 and 3. The first Toy Story is the most significant because as a child of the nineties, it was, and has become such an iconic pop cultural phenomena. I’ll skip the second because well, let’s just say it didn’t resonate with me-but the third and final Toy Story, as I’m sure many would agree left a warm and fuzzy feeling in our hearts, despite the fifteen year gap.

The Simpsons is somewhat like Toy Story. Despite its age in production, it also affects the viewers on a similar level and has done it tastefully. Debuting its first pilot in 1989, the show manages to stay alive–still as witty, humorous and endearing as I can remember watching them when I was about six years old. After all this time, I can tune into the Simpsons at any time and it never seizes to make me laugh. Their predictable behaviors, and character sketches are not tiring but rather endearing. The change in plot formation seems to be some form of media-Darwinism, adapting to current trends and observing the trends in pop culture. Artists of all sorts adapt to survive in the industry, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they lose their roots. I’ve pinpointed some interesting elements in The Simpsons that I believe makes the show so popular and successful, and how and why after 24 years, the show attracts new audiences, while simultaneously keeping the audience’s fidelity.

Immortalizing the character’s age:
One of the best parts of the show is that the characters never grow old. Maggie is forever the infant that is ironically smarter than she is given credit for, and as much as I feel bad for her inability to voice her genius, Maggie is –well, needs to be forever the baby of the bunch. As for Lisa and Bart, we get to see the two as grown ups in various episodes and… I’m so happy they don’t age; after all, Bart’s rebellious nature works perfectly with his age, and pulling your pants down and saying “Eat my Shorts” as an adult is just not as cool. As for the self proclaimed nerd, Lisa Simpson, her future is still up in the air, and yet extremely hopeful, which makes Lisa such a great young character. To see her accomplishments in school, and failures in her social/love life makes me love her more. To say the least, all the youngins of Springfield will forever be youngins, and maybe it’s a little creepy for me to watch to immortalize their youth, but sometimes, kids just shouldn’t grow up in cartoons/animations because it keeps the characters similar.
Pop culture References-
This show mirrors the current trends and icons of pop culture of the time, as this show reflects a lot about how North Americans view ourselves and of others and places. The Simpsons is one of many outlets that allow the audience to laugh at ourselves through the means on the characters on screen. Although I can’t say which episodes have included this, the show’s use of meta-reference is also one of the show’s great qualities.

Stays on trend yet stays classic:
As mentioned previously, the show has a great sense of trends in pop culture, and knows just what to include to make the show “Simpsonian”. At the same time, the show doesn’t venture too far as to make you feel uncomfortable, especially with the characters. We like them the way they are. You can’t make Homer into a complete genius or go on WeightWatchers and have a six-pack. The only six-pack Homer should ever have is his beer. Please and thank you.

Guest stars: interesting new characters
Although I can live without ever having guest stars on the show, as some people may argue takes away from the characters themselves of the plot of the show, I don’t really mind it. I think that it’s a smart concept that keeps audiences interest in seeing how celebrities will be cartoonized and represented. Again, it also plays on the whole notion of pop culture referentiality.
Political parodies:
Who doesn’t like political satire? The show is not afraid to address sticky situations. .As far as I know, the rhetoric of The Simpsons is represented as being nonpartisan, but the show clearly aligns its politics as left-winged liberals. Politics mentioned include: homophobia and gay marriage (in the episodes “Homer’s Phobia” and “There’s Something About Marrying”), immigration and border control (“Much Apu About Nothing,” “Midnight Rx”, “Coming to Homerica”), drug and alcohol abuse (“Brother’s Little Helper”, “Weekend at Burnsie’s”, “Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment”, “Duffless”, “E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)”, and “Days of Wine and D’oh’ses”), gun rights (“The Cartridge Family”), environmental issues (“The Old Man and the Lisa”, “Trash of the Titans”, “Lisa the Tree Hugger”, “The Wife Aquatic”, “The Squirt and the Whale”, in addition to being an important plot device in the feature -length film), election campaigns (“Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish”, “Sideshow Bob Roberts”, “Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington”, “See Homer Run”, “E Pluribus Wiggum”), and corruption (“Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington”).
Religious content
Ned Flanders–respectively, Homer’s character foil–is made fun of for his conservative Christian values. However, I’m not entirely convinced that that’s what The Simpsons is going for. Ned is portrayed as a lovable, kind-hearted man that doesn’t have an ounce of malintentions in him and is not represented maliciously at all despite his very pious Christian ways. Flanders harbors the sanity of Springfield. He doesn’t just represent the Church in Springfield, but he represents a sort of light in Springfield, of all citizens of Springfield. This is open for interpretation, but without Ned, Springfield wouln’t be quite right.

National identity
The Simpsons is mostly about self representation in the most accessible form. It’s meant to be a satire of dysfunctional families and American culture, at its best and worst. It says that Americans take themselves too seriously at times, but look at us Americans, creating this fictional world of The Simpsons. We’re also funny, and we are very aware of ourselves. We have a sense of humor and we can make fun of ourselves.
Catch phrases that we use in our own lives as reference to The Simpsons:
“D’oh!”, “Excellent…””Ha-ha!”. “¡Ay, caramba!”, “Don’t have a cow, man!” and “Eat my shorts!” “I didn’t do it.”

The Couch
The always new and different couch gag in the opening sequence of the show has become a cultural phenomena and has left a special place in our hearts

Podcast of the week: Radiolab

 
 

Another week, another podcast! You know that feeling you get when you discover a TV series and realize there’s at least 5 seasons of it and you go, ” YESSS, jackpot!”  Well this is how I feel with Radiolab. There are so many episodes I have yet to listen to and the majority of them are an hour long. I now find excuses to walk everywhere because it allows me to just tune in and listen. 

 
What is Radiolab? Well, they couldn’t have described it better: ” Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience” 

 
Seriously. I can’t get enough of this show. The host, Jad Abumrad and co-host Robert Krulwich, are so easy to listen to and they ask questions with great sensitivity. The show’s great stories are mostly told by the guests themselves, but the hosts help narrate the story. Sometimes the shows makes you go, *Huh* like 
 
 
About citizens over 60 who were caught buying…explosives to blow up federal offices in Atlanta,Georgia. 
 
Or a moving piece like:
 
 
About a mysterious connection between a composer and a biologist centering around dementia, obsession, creativity, and famous piece of music. 
 
Or get chills like:
 
 
On lucid dreaming, and learning to control one’s dream. This one was a lot of fun, and so well executed. The beginning on the guest’s story gave me the chills. It’s a combination ofInception and that cafe scene in Mulholland Dr. 
 
Seriously, listen to the podcast, you’ll love it. 

Podcast of the week:Spilled Milk

Spilled Milk, has nothing to do with spilled milk nor crying over spilled milk, but it has two very funny hosts who talk about food. Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster-Burton are two friends who-according to the podcast’s site-“combine food and comedy in a bowl and stir it up until it explodes.” Isn’t that enough to make you want to listen?

What I enjoy most about the show is that they choose very common food items like fried eggs, cereal, muffin, asparagus, spinach, grapefruit etc., and talk about it for the whole segment. You get to hear them talk about their childhood encounters with the food , hear them bite into the food and laugh along with them because they’re usually rolling on the ground laughing. I’d say the podcast is pretty irresistible. (Is that weird to say about a show?) Maybe. I think I’m listening to too many shows about food. But really, is there such thing as too much when it comes to food? Okay. Yes. Maybe when you actually feel like your stomach is about to explode. Or literally explode. But that can’t happen when you’re listening to Spilled Milk! There’s 67 episodes out so far.

Warning: Listening to the show in public may cause you to laugh like a fool and everyone will look at you funny. Or just make you happy.

Top 3 favourites to get you rolling:

Ep 16: “Sour Cherries” – They make milkshakes with sour cherries. Enough said.

Ep 49: ” Peanut Butter” – An episode after my own heart.

Ep 53: “Dark Chocolate”- For all chocolate lovers.

Podcast of the week: Salt & Fat

salt and fat:

Hopefully I’ll post these up every week but for now I’d like to recommend a show you should listen to if you have time. This week I focused on one specific show that I didn’t mention in my previous post about my favourite podcasts.

Salt & Fat– If you love food and enjoy reading and watching all things related to food then this podcast is a winner. As I said earlier, the hosts of any show really influence the way I feel about the program and I’m happy to report that Salt & Fat is hosted by two very knowledgeable guys that are both designers and self-taught chefs, Jim Ray and Neven Mrgan.What I love about this show is that it’s just like a phone conversation between the two–actually, I’m sure that that’s what it is because they live in different cities.Right now they only have 14 episodes out and they are so good.

Here’s 3 shows from Salt & Fat to start off with:

Ep #2: Cooking with love: A show about cooking in or dining out on Valentine’s day and some tips on do’s and dont’s–very funny and informative.

Ep #8: Let’s make mistakes in the kitchen: As the title suggests. We’ve all been there!

Ep #10: Any Form of Cultured Dairy: Upgrading food rather than cheaper substitutes.

Top 5 podcasts

top 5 fav podcasts

I’m not sure when I began really enjoying podcasts but it must have been some time ago because I don’t remember seeing as many as there are today. The list of podcasts are endless and I’ve only delved into a small handful. Podcasts have essentially replaced listening to the AM radio for me and as much as I like radio talk shows, the commercials just ruin it. Good podcasts not only offer interesting material, but great hosts make the podcasts entertaining. Do you listen to podcasts? If so, any recommendations? Here are 5 of my favourite podcasts:

1. This American Life: Each week This American Life hosts a show based on a selected theme. The show contains several individual stories based on the theme so you get to hear a variety of voices and narratives. Hosted by Ira Glass, the stories are usually based on the true stories of everyday people. Choose from hundreds of archives here.

2. Philosophy Bites: Philosophy… it can either be very dry when pretentious philosophers try too hard, or it can be engaging and intellectually stimulating when its hosted by David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton. Philosophy Bites is a weekly program that explores tough philosophical questions like “what is criminal responsibility?” to lighter questions like “what is humor?”  in bite-sized answers. Each podcast runs between 10-20 minutes and you end each show thinking about the question for the rest of the day. Find archives on their site here.

3. Quirks and Quacks:  Ever wondered why yawning has a “domino” effect? Or how psychologists can tell if you’re lying by studying your face? Quirks and Quarks is a show about questions and answers about all things science. Whether it’s physical, natural, social, technological, environmental or ethical implications of science, host Bob McDonald will guide you through interesting and fun shows. Archives found here.

4. NPR:Ted (talks)Radio Hour and TED Talks(Audio): I’ve combined both programs because they’re pretty much the same except Ted Radio Hour is produced specially like a radio show where you have a host–Alison Stewart–conversing with the speaker while TED talks (Audio) is purely the recording of talks. Both of course promote and share innovative ideas from speakers around the world. Brought to you by the good folks of NPR, TED Radio Hour is a co-production of NPR and TED.  I have to say I prefer listening to the audio podcast than watching the presentations themselves, although they are both great.  Listen to past episodes (Radio Hour) and TED Talks (Audio) here.

5.Slate’s Cultural Gabfest: This is the newest podcast for me and so far, I’m loving it. Slate Magazine is also a very good publication with very well-written pieces on everything from news and politics to popular culture and even advice columns. This podcast focuses on pop culture and there are 3 hosts who are engaging, smart and don’t talk over one another( unlike the ladies on The View). Find archives here.

( All can be found on iTunes as well)