Welcome to the supporting web site for the Eclecticist podcast. Here you will find details on past and future topics, the hybrid research and broadcast notes for each episode, any interesting feedback and a contact form at the bottom.
Eclecticist is an exploration of everything, one topic at a time. Based in London and Los Angeles, we nevertheless take a very British perspective with a heavily colloquial bent on topics that either interest us or we feel warrant investigation. Our mission is to educate ourselves while researching and discussing a spectrum of interesting and mostly contemporary areas with the fringe benefit of distributing the value to any and all listeners. Please spend a little time, have a conversation with your friends and if you will, pop along some feedback.
Our modus operandi is as simple as we could engineer: agree and research (to a small extent) a topic then discuss our findings through the filter of our viewpoints. After each show, we publish the working document.
Sam Harris has spent the last God knows how long railing against Donald Trump. He’s had many people on his podcast who are in as much disbelief as he is. And he’s one heck of an atheist I can tell you. Concerned his Waking Up podcast was becoming an echo chamber, he asked his audience to suggest a Trump defender for his stated reasons of providing ‘balance’ and to try and understand how on earth someone not completely insane or a completely ignorant ‘low information’ type can support a man like Trump. The resulting conversation was interesting and fairly depressing. That’s what we’re going to attempt to unpack here today.
‘If there were only one religion in England there would be danger of despotism, if there were two, they would cut each other's throats, but there are thirty, and they live in peace and happiness’. So said the writer, philosopher and all round clever clogs Voltaire (as he liked to call himself) during the European ‘Enlightenment’ period. Multiculturalism as a strategy is largely a European invention designed to produce an all inclusive bazaar of human difference housed in the internally borderless EU superstate. Create a suitably non-interventionist, non-religious, socialist-leaning liberal progressive democratic framework and you will appeal to the all those who live in countries that don’t share these sets of principles. In the case of European countries, add a generous welfare system, a commitment to aiding those fleeing war or persecution and a large scoop of the ‘guilt of empire’ and you get a virtual mania of xenophilia. Is it to be ‘united in difference’ or ‘competition for the dominant culture’?
How much of a hard time can you give a person if all they were doing is trying to improve their life? One on side of the polarizing European Migrant Crisis debate, that is their argument and reason enough to rally together to help these poor people and get them back on their feet with all the milk and honey that those of us fortunate enough to be born in the west, take for granted. What of the other half? And what are the measurable consequences of the crisis beyond the United Kingdom becoming two distinct tribes?
“Please, for the love of all that’s glorious in the world, look at these cat pictures.” So says the global conversation according to that mass interactive communication platform: Social Media. One can scarcely bear to imagine what life might have been like before the brow dampening joy of tweeting one’s whereabouts to the indelible archive that is the Internet. “Validate me now, you sods.” So says the unflinchingly self aggrandizing mode of standing before the precipice of the infinite echo chamber. Possibly the perfect manifestation of Aestheticism, we are as Dorian Gray—made monstrous bipolar narcissists forever shoveling coal into the furnace of negative feedback, built from an advertisers wildest fantasy. “You blocked me on Facebook, and now you're going to die.”
What can we not say this week? Who will I offend if I speak disparagingly about potatoes? The Irish? Christ. Oh wait, oh jeez-louise, son of a sea-cook. Can I say that? Has the increasingly thin skin of the younglings given rise to the Trump phenomenon, the sensible minority are all terrified about? A natural reaction to the eggshells we’ve all been forced to hover over. Social Justice warriors: happy now?
Intelligence is generally defined as an ability to obtain and accumulate knowledge from which skills are developed and applied. The exclusive purview of the Human race currently. However, futurologists and increasingly, prominent scientists, industrialists and fear mongers would have you believe that credible machine intelligence is only around the corner, given our present rate of technological sophistication. Complex mathematics, Chess, Go, language comprehension and parallel computation - skills already attendant to the growing repertoire compiled into the Artificial Intelligence canon or AI as it has become better known. Are we on the cusp of delivering the greatest aide to human flourishing ever conceived or will we unleash a hostile replacement? What of the ethics upon considering arguably conscious electronic neighbours?
Avoiding godless communism. This is done by promoting prayer in school, believing climate change is a hoax, opposing abortion, supporting American exceptionalism, and generally only caring about one's own needs. Screw the rest of the world, it's all about me. Perhaps American Conservatism is actually a personality disorder like sociopathy. And how can we so reliably predict what a person's stance on climate change is by knowing where they stand on same-sex marriage? Isn't this tribe mentality? How far have we regressed? And since when was Jesus a conservative for Christ's sake?
Discussing race is never easy. It's quite possibly the most divisive topic of our current era. A fair skinned person of european descent needs a lot of caveats before discussing anything pertaining to the lives and cultures of peoples of a different ethnic persuasion. And had better acknowledge his or her 'privilege' and apologise sincerely and profusely for his or her's part in the exploitation of all non-white races since time immemorial. Otherwise, this person is a racist.
Probability theory is only really fun when money is involved. From a whimsical flutter on the outcome of mechanical race horses at the arcade to shorting airlines to slapping down a barber pole at a top carpet joint—nothing gets the brain opioids pumping like the glamourised institution that is gambling. We all want to be publicly validated for being right, lucky, blessed, smart or right. The rush of winning big when backing the underdog, the agony when your dead cert team fumbled the ball and cost you the lot, ten million pounds on the EuroMillions lottery going to a syndicate of twenty neighbours of yours, your last ten quid in change gone in three minutes on your favourite one arm bandit only to hear pound coins pumped into the winnings tray when your back is turned at the change cashier. The chance to fill your boots, to corral some well deserved karma, to pull back a little lady luck in times gone sour. Gambling is entertainingly additive. How does it work and what does it want?
Something that’s happening over there, displayed over here. Better yet, something that happened over there now displayed over here. Increasingly, something that never happened, displayed. There’s nothing not to like about the concept of television. We’re a highly visual species and the ability to see things that we have not witnessed (or are not witnessing) is a magic trick that in a just world, we should never get over. Ever since that great Scot, John Logie Baird managed to force his brain to accept the incredible abstraction that is the transmission of moving pictures, there has been nothing to slow the torrential adoption of the One Eyed Monster. We are now friends with Friends, tearful at the deaths of strangers, exhilarated at the feats of the brave and in thrall to the sway of advertisers. How great a part in our shared culture do the luminaries of television form? How fares their art? How might the wondrous technology itself change going forward?
American politics as seen from the UK, particularly during the ‘election season’ (a ‘season’ being a few years), is essentially one big sitcom...Palin, Bush, Gore, hanging chads, God, guns, gays, etc. Not a funny sitcom. There’s a kernel of truth to the BBC’s reporting, but it’s more often ‘Isn’t America dumb? Aren’t we wonderful?’ Living in the United States and seeing how the sausage is made, it’s more complicated than a one-note show with an obnoxious laugh track. America is a big country so you’re bound to have huge swaths of smart people along with equally huge numbers of ignoramuses. The latter is the low-hanging fruit, ripe for UK sensational headlines. That being said, Trump really exists.
How-tos, vlogs, gaming, fails and reviews—popular categories currently best represented by: how-to play Minecraft, Isn't my cat/makeup/life fabulous, watch as I play Minecraft, near fatalities during Darwin award bids and look at this latest smartphone. We are of course talking about the most viral destination on the web—YouTube. Since the mid-naughties, the Google-owned platform has accumulated over a billion users, streams hundreds of millions of hours of content daily through localised portals in 88 countries and 76 languages. In every dimension, YouTube is a massive going concern. What social needs does it fulfill? How has it changed us as a species and what meme might best speak to its future?
A watch is a general term for a small, wearable clock. After centuries of admirably telling the time of day, they soon expanded into various other time based arenas such as informing its owner of the day of the week, the month, moon phases, an alarm and even a stopwatch. In the 1970s the humble watch jumped on the digital bandwagon and went stratospheric. The ‘clockface’ gone; instead an array of futuristic numbers that dance and sparkle and even more time-themed features. Soon; a calculator of all things. Through the 80s, 90s and 2000s, watches got better and better and just when we thought we had a fully developed understanding of ‘the watch’, BAM! The smartwatch happened. This is all well and good but let’s not forget: a watch is wearable that is to say, it can be clothing or jewelry. Not only can it tell you the time, it can tell you that the person wearing it has good taste or should be killed.
Imagine a world where you forgo any plausible claim to privacy by paying for-profit companies in other lands to collect and analyse your personal data. Imagine further that the means with which said companies acquire your data is through a portable computer bristling with sensors that you literally wear on your body, most of the time. The portable device, communication and data services are so important to your life that you’re driven half mad with worry and misery when parted just for a short period. Welcome to the reality of 21st century mobile telephony, where everyone lifelogs into their very own portable telescreen.
Jings, crivens, help ma’ boab have we got a braw topic for ye, Jimmy. If we were to reduce a country down to a few specific food items, Scotland would be ‘haggis’, ‘porridge’ and ‘mutton’. There are probably others and we may mention them in the show. ‘Shortbread’ is another. References to Scottish cuisine in the media will almost certainly be derisory; often for comic effect. The natives’ penchant for deep frying is a particularly familiar canard, but there is a serious tone when talking about Scotland’s habit of combining a terrible diet with their tradition of getting dangerously drunk all the time. The BBC reports that ‘Scottish mortality rates among working age men and women have been the worst in Western Europe since the late 1970s’. But maybe it’s worth it though.
Devised during the frenetic interwar years in Germany, Volkswagen, the ‘People’s Car’ manufacturer was envisaged to be an affordable, usably efficient and family oriented means of transport that every ordinary German could own and enjoy. Now, nearly an octogenarian, Volkswagen has given us the original hipster camper van ride, the Love Bug, a near continuous succession of grey, drab saloon cars, high profile acquisitions, massive expenditure on lobbyists and a share price sinking scandal. Volkswagen - endearingly generic. Do we still want to lovingly lever off the badge?
Two men who have never met each other before, might even be from different social classes, might be different races, different species even. What they have in common is sport. They can talk to each other about a recent game or the consequences of an upcoming game, how an England manager is somehow a turnip, how it’s been a good season for something or other and so on and so forth. Etc. And on it goes. And why not? Coverage of sport is top billing stuff. Literally teams of millionaires running around a field kicking, or hitting or carrying a ball can create headlines all around the world, often reducing grown men to tears of anguish, in some cases transforming groups of men to rise up and engage in armed conflict with other groups of men in an orgy of tribal violence. What about those of us that couldn’t give a rat’s ass about what a bunch of rich infants get up to on or off the pitch? Those of us that have better things to do than shout ‘nice one Rooney!’ when we see a diamante encrusted pink Bentley GT or a matt black pointy Ferrari farting down the street? Sport (or sports).
We’re living in an age where otherwise normal people prefer to deftly caress glowing rectangles than exchange more than a few sentences with their kin. We’re locked in our homes cosseted with the convenience of online purchasing and large screen televisions. Technology seductively iterates in an ever tightening stranglehold. The tremor in a surgeon's hand, a customer service representative’s botched order, palliative bathroom duties - the writing’s on the wall for human labour. It is only a matter of time where, from the shoulders of giants, we summon the machines that will ultimately replace us. Are we soon to relinquish control of our own destiny? Is this the time of peak human?
Creationism is the belief that life, the universe and everything, began when God said ‘go!’. He apparently did this mere thousands of years ago and we have record of this in the first book of the Old Testament. ‘What kind of chump would believe something simply because a book says it is so?’ Well according to high profile ‘creationists’ such as Ken Ham and many others, there is actually a massive body of scientific evidence that confirms the truth of the book of Genesis. If you dig deep into the ground you will find ‘billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth’. You would have to have a lot of faith in the Gods of secularism, immorality and cannibalism to believe such a fact isn’t solid proof of Noah’s Flood.
The Deutsche Demokratische Republik otherwise known as East Germany was a significant slice of post war Deutschland administered by the Soviet Union for over 40 years. During that time, the population endured an ever dwindling economic output. Goods and services taken for granted by those in the perceived American puppet state over The Wall were unimaginable. The people were largely trapped in a state where the suspicion of dissent or insurrection was punishable by harsh personal levies and on occasion, beatings and execution. After Reunification and much needed investment, the vestiges of the Eastern Bloc persist and the region suffers from slow and patchy development and a decline in population. What must it have been like living with secret police, citizen informants, variable rationing, no bananas, free childcare and all the best museums?
In the days where you’d wait to see something on telly as opposed to watching whatever you want, whenever you want (wherever you want), Christmas would be the time where there’d be a Star Wars film on. Bloody Star Wars. Everyone has seen Star Wars. The ‘western in space’. The film spawned a plethora of sequels some good, some awful and of course, the merchandise which according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the most successful instance of toys, tat and geeky collectables sold off the back of a bunch of movies. And there’s a brand new one. It’s been impossible to ignore the military campaign of marketing and hype carrying ‘The Force Awakens’ and early reports (at least in my ear) are all positive and the box office has literally exploded. Could be because George Lucas isn’t in the driving seat. Could also be because three beloved main protagonists from the first salvo of films have reprised their roles. That’ll be weird seeing them all old. Am I ready to see a 60 year old Princess Leia in that sexy skimpy outfit?
‘Maintain vigilance against the ever-looming threat of an American invasion.’
‘Let us hasten final victory through a revolutionary ideological offensive!’
‘Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms by making mushroom cultivation scientific, intensive and industrialised!’
As they say in that darkest of nations, North Korea. It’s a minor miracle that a country can succeed in alienating itself from the world’s stage so completely but the technologically impoverished denizens of the retro-Soviet Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea resolutely stand behind an electric fence of unending anti-Western propaganda—or so it would seem. What do we think we know and what do we actually know about the last Communist nuclear power?
Whenever we see lists of ‘greatest’ anything to do with cinema, the name Stanley Kubrick will almost certainly be there and his paragraph will likely have words like ‘innovator’, ‘meticulous’, ‘control freak’, ‘freak’. He was freakish in the level of interest he would take into what he was working on, finely crafting every second of celluloid whether it was to appear in the final cut or not. His attention to detail and absolute perfectionism would win him frothing adoration from movie geeks and bemusement and incredulity from his actors and crew. And what of the box office? Contrary to popular assumption, his movies never initially set any records in fact it’s fair to say that the three movies we’re discussing today were slow burners with the possible exception of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ but that was withdrawn in the UK and only existed in notoriety until Kubrick’s death in 1999.
Just a moment … Just a moment … I’m detecting that I’ve reached the desired word count for this intro text.
Famous for one’s works, famous for the works of others, famous for being famous. Celebrity has been currency ever since Moses dropped the first set of commandments. In today’s age, If You’re Not Famous at Fourteen, You’re Finished. From premier league footballers to reality TV desperados to attention-seeking serial killers, celebrity is the ultimate confirmation of one’s secret suspicion, ‘I’m special’. They may be workaholics, sycophants, obsessives or uncommonly gifted in their field, they may have had fame thrust upon them. Alcoholics, drug abusers, sexual predators, confidence tricksters but at least, they’re not faceless ordinaries. Must we all aspire to celebrity?
Apparently there are basically only four jokes. Or five or some other low number. Depends who you ask. The point is that all jokes are derivative of only four actual jokes (or five or some other low number). Despite this, ‘comedy’ as an artform is forever popular. People like to laugh. Whether it’s just a silly joke or a clever joke, some spiky piece of satire, gallows humour; comedy can be remarkably remarkably useful. As crazy as it sounds, in one form or another, it could have been humour that helped us deal with 9/11 and could even help us with the healing of the recent Paris attacks. Comedy is also extraordinarily subjective and often a fairly reliable barometer of whether someone is a decent bloke (likes It’s always sunny in Philadelphia), or a total moron (likes Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps). But what of the people who create comedy and do they all have mental problems?
Wherever electricity can be found, so too the means to play video games. Worldwide youth culture has a sizable slice of it’s collective time absorbed by the competitive pixel shuffling offered up on a rapidly growing spectrum of hardware. From simulation to Space Invaders, arcade hall cabinets to massively multiplayer fantasy epics enjoyable from the comfort of one’s own broadband connection—games and gamers are spoiled for choice. A growth industry almost without compare, what is the state of the art and how far has it come? Who are the gamers? What of the future - will we be tapping in our initials on our deathbeds?
Imagine you had a car idling in your living room. You’d be sitting there watching TV or playing snap or whatever it is you do, breathing in air laced with toxic fumes. You would recognize that it’s probably not a healthy place to sit because we breathe all the time. We also eat all the time. We spend each day of our lives literally putting food into our faces. Surely we would want only the best and healthiest foodstuffs passing through our mouths because in a very true sense, we are what we eat. But ‘fast food’ or perhaps more accurately ‘junk food’ is big business. Fast food restaurants are wide-rife in our high streets as are human blimps. Is it like smoking? Are people compartmentalizing their brains? Something about trans fats being banned and more and more healthier options appearing.
There is a God and there are no others. The name of God is Allah, He is merciful and His existence was revealed to the world through his last prophet, Muhammad. For fourteen centuries Islam (submission to the will of God) has been followed by Muslims (those who submit) in accordance with the moral teachings found in the holy book, the Qur’an. In our increasingly multicultural world, how might a behavioural report card on Islam fair? How is it getting along with its peers? How happy are its adherents? What is the future of Islam?
Sitting watching lots of photographs per second in a room full of strangers has been a pastime enjoyed by all walks of life in all corners of the globe for over a hundred years. The appeal of those halcyon days is obvious: folks didn’t have TVs or iPads and apart from going to church or lynching, there wasn’t all that much to do in their downtime. In the 21st century, going to the cinema is facing stiff competition from internets, disco dancing, pop music and gum chewing. Who wants to go to the cinema anyway? Spending fifteen quid on a ticket to see some three hour Michael Bay nonsense, drinking a Coke for a tenner, having to try and ignore arseholes either chatting, texting or slowly advancing on your armrest, straining your neck to see the screen through a tiny gap between the heads of a canoodling couple. Eff that.
The state of death, as it is commonly understood, is substantially defined by the fact that nothing ever returns from it. As risk abounds, individual organisms often narrowly escape Death’s icy fingers as a feature of life. During these close encounters, is it possible to experience the threshold? Could such near misses afford glimpses of what may lie beyond? Is there any evidence to back up the claims and if so, how was it conducted and what does it suggest?
Since time immemorial and throughout the world women continue to struggle against sexism, sexual violence, misrepresentation, economic inequality and social exclusion. The term ‘feminism’ appears to many as a collective term for the fight against these affronts. Should all gender designations in the West become feminists or has it become a victim propaganda gone too far?
From the most corpulent blue whale down to the tiniest viral particle—everything that has ever lived has done so on our very own tectonically plated, watery shrouded, iron cored four billion year old mote of dust. Or maybe not. Perhaps, despite the disappointing lack of findings from the SETI programme, there is a single planet or moon orbiting one of the 200 billion or so stars in the galaxy harbouring what we would recognise as life. Are we alone? Will we ever detect alien life given the distances involved? What are the odds?
Over 200 million years ago, terrestrial and oceanic reptiles known collectively as Dinosaurs appeared and dominated Earth’s fauna for approximately 135 million years. Fuelled by lush forests, warm temperatures and a conducive atmosphere, the diversity of clade Dinosauria ranged from rodent size carnivores, building size herbivores, seafaring goliaths and airborne hunters. Contemporaneous for much of their reign with birds and mammals, environmental changes conspired to tilt the balance of power towards these competitors ending their dominance and ultimately leading to their extinction. What do we know about the epoch in which they lived? What is the appeal of their enduring legacy and will we ever see their like again?
Podcasting as a broadcast medium has now firmly established itself as an advertising channel amenable by all product categories. No greater validation exists for the confirmation of a new method to draw a crowd of potential consumers than to have paying sponsors vying for the most compelling players in the market. Podcasts, syndication mechanisms, listening hardware and the pervasive behemoth that is the internet is the ecosystem in which personal broadcasting has taken off and is threatening traditional sources by outreaching them in terms of convenience, niche and hardware support. Are we headed to a better informed, more meritocratic future where everyone wields a microphone with intent?
‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ said the Statue of Liberty to the world, at least in the words of Emma Lazarus, a 19th century American poet. Let’s also not forget those 'inalienable rights' from the Declaration of Independence ‘Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness’. The United States of America has, since its inception, been a refuge for the world’s ravaged, a land of opportunity for those oppressed in war-torn and heavily statist regimes. Today, it has a larger influence than any other nation in the categories of food, science, culture, weaponry and democracy. So why all the hate? Why does the American in a pub feel the need to defend his own country from derision while his Belgian and Korean friends remain unaccosted?
It is a hostile universe. The near vacuum of space separates us by 25 trillion miles from our nearest star. In the 3.8 billion years of life on our planet, only 24 individuals (all human) have travelled beyond low earth orbit. It is safe to say, this world is all we know—It has provided everything we have needed to evolve and survive for aeons. It is however, a cooling rock prone to core and surface changes. Catastrophes have been known to happen. Armed with scientific methodology, we are now confirming our suspicion that it is human activity driving up global temperatures. Can anything be done? Is it too late? Or is it a tissue of lies spun by vested interests and the media?
The British Broadcasting Corporation is the largest, oldest, most innovative and most revered media broadcasting organisation in the world. From its royal charter inception in the early 1920s, the BBC has steadfastly remained a publicly owned and financed service with national and international commercial reach. How will modern day attitudes change regarding its unique funding, allegations of bias and increasing competition from a disruptive and distributed internet? Do we love Auntie enough to continue funding her unfair advantage over the best of the rest?
At one time, in virtually every walk of life, the name Michael Jackson was synonymous with pop, superstar, band-aids. As is so often the way with these mega global icons, it didn’t take long for the extravagant not-of-this world facade to slip and make fertile soil for scrutiny every bit as extreme as the strange creature himself. You see what I did there? It’s all too easy to forget that Michael Jackson was a human being. What’s also seemingly easy to forget is just how talented he was. Just compare the two Kings: Jackson was a songwriter that actually wrote all his biggest hits. Elvis Presley didn’t write anything. Jackson also invented the phrase ’sho-mo'. Both men, however, were white, went weird and died prematurely. Michael Jackson: Bad?
Rulers recognised as monarchs appear in recorded history as early as 757AD when Offa became the king of Mercia, the then principal kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England. Throughout the following 1200 years, Kings and Queens have inherited, usurped and returned to the top of the social order to establish a gnarly tree of competing dynasties. Today, the royal family is virtually a political institution able to deftly negotiate its holdings with the largely secular government and increasingly secular church. As the rest of the world maintains a keen fascination with the celebrity and colourful lives of the extended family, are they managing to stay relevant in the shrinking world of the modern era?
The deliberate consumption of smoke from burning organic matter pre-dates recorded history and endures as one of the most popular forms of recreational poisoning humans enjoy throughout the world. From analgesic self-medication and spiritualistic ritual to overt displays of status and peer group inculcation, smoking finds friends in those willing to justify the practice despite the increasingly well evidenced detrimental effects on health. In the West, full prohibitions in public places are becoming commonplace and social tolerance of smokers is diminishing in tandem. Is there value in seeking to preserve the practice or right of smoking? Is it destined to go the way of lead-based makeup and leeches? What accounts for smokers' cognitive dissonance?
An analysis of the conversation between Cenk Uygur and Sam Harris and a wider discussion of the reflexive Harris bashing (and bashing of anyone) in certain liberal circles being critical of Islam. Is it fair to be marginalized for making similar noises to right wing bigots? Hitler may have been right regarding certain tenets of evolution by natural selection, but for the most part, intelligent people don’t reject that evolution is a fact. What’s with this double standard? Also, How big a part does ‘white guilt’ play into this? Criticising islam is tantamount to criticizing a race of dark skinned people. Harris and others often preface their comments with reminding us that Islam is a collection of ideas and that any criticism leveled at it applies just as much to white converts. It just so happens that the vast majority of Muslims aren’t white so you just can’t say these things, honkey. Wait, Ayaan Hirsi Ali isn’t white and she gets a heck of a lot of pushback, particularly from Uygur who’s thrown a fair few barbs in her direction. Uygur says a lot of nasty ass stuff about Pat Robertson and Ken Ham and many other Christian lunatics with no restraint or sensitivity but stops short of going too heavy on any particular Muslim. What is going on here?
Music is the art form most concerned with precision wobbling of the air in order to produce pleasing sounds. Since time immemorial, the motivations to achieve such auditory delights have included religious exultation, regal salutation, military motivation, sexual stratagem, social ascent, poetry and whimsy. As with any human endeavour, over the course of time, an industry is formed through the natural selection of assembled componentry—codification, methodology, agreed nomenclature, commonality of goals to name but a few. Music is one of the oldest common pursuits for which arguably, the most conspicuous industry has arisen. Beautiful sound can transport us; does knowledge of the machine behind the curtain spoil the magic?
When the automobile became a commodity, manufacturers felt pressure to not only improve function, but to ‘improve’ appearance. There are a number of contributing factors in determining a car’s aesthetics—the style of the age and technological advances are just two obvious examples. Even with that in mind, manufacturers appear to burn a lot of energy creating generations of cars which bear as little (superficial) resemblance as possible to their predecessors—so much so that any car plucked out of the automotive timeline is essentially a snapshot of the zeitgeist. Why is this necessary? And despite the steep ramp in change over time across the board, why does it appear that so many manufacturers collectively churn out the same car? Laziness or perhaps cars are now fully evolved? Who knows. There was a time when cars didn’t all look the same. For example in the 1970s a Citroen looked like a spaceship, a Mercedes a breezeblock, A Jag E-type a phallus. These days if you gaffa tape over the badge, it could be anything.
Gun control is a vital component of any society that values the rule of law. However, the availability of weapons and the freedom to defend oneself and one’s property using firearms could be equally vital. Is it possible to maintain a safe and just society with free and easy access to ballistic weaponry? Should gun possession be criminalised and wielded only by democratic governments? In this show, we will discuss the polarising dilemma of gun ownership.
Bodies of ancient biological organisms buried, compressed and cooked over billions of years have produced Petroleum, a complex, hydrocarbon rich, liquid fuel. As a species, we have been burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale for centuries and it has benefited us in terms of standards of living immeasurably. However, there is only so much petroleum underground. It’s getting increasingly harder to extract and will one day, completely run out. There are consequently, environmental, socio-economic and political implications to our dependence. There are many initiatives across the globe dedicated to raising public awareness of our potentially worsening energy situation and an increasingly fruitful effort to make renewable energy solutions realistic.
Since the religiously motivated terror attacks on America in 2001 subsequently known as ‘9/11’, a wave of animosity towards structured religions in general and Islamic nations in particular has produced the meme 'New Atheism' and the many volumes that undergird it. In this show we discuss the derivation of the term, key players, effects on religious communities and the potential trajectory of an inflammatory vocal attack on faith. Is there anything new about atheism?
Everybody’s a critic. In essence, review is criticism which is judgement. We all do it and we all commonly listen to the criticism by others. In our day to day lives we develop opinions and judge the merits and demerits of virtually everything with the intention of basic discrimination. In this show, we will talk about criticism in the celebrity sense as used by those in the trade, we’re criticising professional critics, their motivations, values, weaknesses and utility.
Apple Incorporated is an American computer hardware and software manufacturer founded in the 1970s that has grown steadily and then explosively into the largest company in the world (in terms of market capitalisation). Designers at Apple are renowned for agonising over every aspect of functional and aesthetic design, an attribute that has garnered them respect from the design community at large and discerning consumers in equal measure. Our discussion ranges from the rationale of their design ethos, effects on hardware design and technology and how the Apple ’design DNA' formula may propagate into the future.
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