Friday, March 26, 2010

Well, I'm Back.

It's been a while. Honestly, I'm not sure how the big bloggers do it: between work and writing and family and running my household, time for posting here just trickles away. But here I am again, with thoughts of making this a more regular thing than I have in the past. We'll see how it works.

Let's see: where to start? We can start with a status update, I suppose: I've stuck my previous project in a drawer for now, in favor of one that's holding my interest a little better at the moment. I'm just over 21K words into the first draft. Shooting for 50K, so I'm almost halfway there. I may describe it in a future post, but not now.

In this post, I'd like to talk about one of my favorite newly-discovered pastimes: listening to podcasts. My old iPod didn't have the space to hold my music and podcasts at the same time, and I'm too lazy to continually load and reload new content--I'd much rather just have my library at my fingertips when I want it. Well, with my new iPod (a gift to myself for my birthday a few months ago), I have that. And I've started listening to podcasts.

So far, my hands-down favorite is Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. You can find it here or on iTunes. I'm in no position to send him money right now--although his work is certainly worth paying for--but I figure people may read this blog eventually, and maybe he'll get some hits from it one of these days.

Dan is an amateur historian, like me. He makes no pretense of being a credentialed academic. What he does is approach history from a different angle: rather than focusing on what happened, or even on what it means to us, he focuses on the human aspect of historical events. What was it like, he asks us to imagine, to live through the Punic wars? What must it have been like to fight on the Eastern Front during the Second World War? What was life like for the Apache as they watched their territory shrink, watched their loved ones die, watched their way of life trickle away?

His interests are eclectic, all over the range of historical exploration: as I mentioned above, his podcasts address the Punic wars, World War II, and the Apache. He devotes whole episodes to the possible impact of factors like alcohol and drugs on historical events, invites us to imagine what it might have been like to live through (or not) a medieval plague, ponders the lot of children through most of our human past. His most recent podcast carries the provocative title "Globalization Unto Death," but rather than railing against the "evils" of expansionism and western colonialism, he ponders why it was white Europeans, and not the Chinese or the Arabs, who ultimately colonized the New World.

Dan pulls no punches, handing out blame and approbation wherever it is due--both, in varying measures, to both sides in every conflict he explores. For every admirable trait the Apache may have possessed, we can't forget the impact Apache raids had on pioneer families throughout the American southwest and northern Mexico. As much as we can admire Hannibal for bringing Roman legion after Roman legion to its knees, we must also consider that he was a man driven by hatred, as surely as any man in history. And whatever wickedness white sailors visited upon the, er, idyllic societies of the Pacific and Caribbean, the hardships they endured crossing the oceans and the receptions some of those societies gave them are at least worthy of some consideration.

If you are at all into podcasts, or history, or are thinking about getting into either--you could do a lot worse than listening to Dan Carlin. You can tell him I sent you, if you want; he won't have any idea who you're talking about, but I'll feel as if I have done a good deed by sending you his way.

I'll try to chime in on another podcast soon. Or I may post some of my own rantings; my experiment with Associated Content has shown me I might just as well post those words here and try to drive interest to this site as make money there.

So until next time, have a good one!