Podcasting, the next juggernaut

Today’s word was sent to me by David. The word is juggernaut. It, like pundit, is an english word borrowed from India.

Juggernaut is a noun with has three definitions. Although they are all closely related, two of them completely new to me. This first definition is the one I am most familiar with- an unstoppable force. The other definition are more religious in nature and are derived from the Sanskrit Jagannāth meaning “lord of the world.” One use of Juggernaut is the title of the Hindu god Krisha or Vishnu. The remaining religious definition is a belief or institution that elicits unquestioning devotion or to which people are sacrificed.

David sent me this word after I confessed I wasn’t aware of very many english words of Hindi or Sanskrit origin, but he wasn’t the only one. Craig Patchett of the GodCast podcast also sent me two list. One of Hindi words and one of Sanskrit words. I never would have guessed shampoo, swastika, sugar &orange were derived from Indian languages.

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How Clever I want to be with Steganography- a Podcast

How do you hide a message in plain sight? Steganography. It is an idea I have appreciated for a long time but I still have no idea why I would use it. Steganography is the art or science of hiding the existence of a message. A steganographic message typically looks like something simple like an innocuous photo or a newspaper article. The secret message is hidden in the photo or newspaper article. The idea being if those spying on you don’t know there is a message, it is much harder to crack.

Clever techniques include using the first word of a each paragraph in a longer document to compose the message. Of course this is very simple trick.

I wish I better understood the math of the more complex techniques. Fortunately there is software available to help you with these techniques. Pict Encrypt for OS X allows you to hide some text in an image file.

Want to do it on Windows? Check out securekit.com.

To my earlier point, I think steganography and cryptology are very cool. I just wish I had a reason to use them.

Be sure, if you want to know more, to read the interesting thread on Slashdot.org about steganography & steganalysis.

With all the fear of terrorism I am sure steganography & steganalysis (the detection of steganographic messages) will be increasingly important fields of study.

Steganography and Podcasting? I am sure there is a way to hide a message in a podcast. Anyone interested in figuring out how?

A laconic podcast

Today’s word can be found in a recent post at BoingBoing.com. The word is laconic and it is used to describe the voice of the narrator used in many of Walt Disney’s promotional movies in the 1950’s.

Laconic is an adjective and it is used to describe concise speech. In some cases in can mean rude or curt but usually it just describes an economy of words, brevity. The word originates from the Greek state of Laconia, an ancient state famous for its capital city, Sparta and its reputation for terseness of speech. It is not hard to see a relationship between the word laconic and the word spartan.

I value your time as a listener so I try to produce laconic podcasts.

A side note: I am surprised at the amount of coverage of Hunter S. Thompson’s death. I didn’t think his passing would be such a hot topic in the mainstream media.

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A Gonzo Journalist podcaster?

Today’s word is two words, Gonzo Journalism, probably my favorite form of journalism. Gonzo Journalism was pioneered by Hunter S. Thompson, among others, in the the late 1960’s. It is a form of journalism, based on fact but with room for embellishment, in which the author is part of the story. The motivation or benefit of this style of journalism is to give the reader more of the flavor of the story. A flavor that cannot be captured by just the facts.

The term was coined by Bill Cardoso– a journalist and friend of Thompson. According to Thompson’s website Gonzo is “a corruption of g-o-n-z-e-a-u-x. Which is French Canadian for “shining path””. However, this etymology seems to me to be a urban legend.

Besides Thompson, P.J. O’Rourke and George Plimpton employed Gonzo Journalism to tell engaging stories. George Plimpton wrote a series of articles and a best selling book, Paper Lion. The book Plimpton’s experience, at age 36, playing third string quarterback for the Detroit Lions. Plimpton was not an athlete he was a writer. A writer who got to play pro football and then write about his experience. He created the story around himself, hence the Gonzo.

O’Rouke, one of my most favorite writers, especially when he was writing for Rolling Stone, also employed the technique in a series of articles that lead to a book. The articles are about O’Rouke’s travels to the some most troubled spots on earth, Bosnia, the Czech Republic, Haiti and Vietnam. The book is All the Trouble in the World. I heartily recommend both All the Trouble in the World and Paper Lion. Most importantly, if you want raw Gonzo Journalism, read Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I haven’t seen the movie and as much as I like Terry Gilliam I doubt it does the book justice.

In case you hadn’t heard Hunter S. Thompson took his own life this past weekend.

“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”

Today we have a quote from Immanuel Kant the 18th century German philosopher noted for arguing we are all born with minds full of innate forms and concepts. And these concepts combined with our experiences form knowledge.

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.

Immanuel Kant

I chose this quote because lately I have been try to get my life a little more organized. Perhaps that will imbue me with a little knowledge.

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I wonder who the first big podcasting pundit will be

Another word from my mother. Today it is pundit. A word I am sure many of us heard a lot during last years US presidential election.

Pundit is a noun and a pundit is a learned person or a source of opinions, a critic. This last sense is the one I think is most often used. In fact I bet many learned people think a pundit is specifically a political observer or critic.

Pundit comes from the Hindi or Sanskrit pandit meaning learned man or scholar. I think pundit is the first word I have defined that comes from hindi or sanskrit. And to be honest I am surprised by its origin. Although it certainly sounds Hindi there just aren’t very many english words borrowed from Hindi. If you know of some others please send them to me at scott at todays podcast.com or leave me a comment at the site.

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Those poor .mac podcasters have quite a kerfuffle on their hands


Today’s word was recommended by my mother. The word is
kerfuffle. She saw it in an editorial piece in the paper this weekend and also heard it on the radio.

A kerfuffle is a commotion or a fuss. It is a noun that comes from the Gaelic cur meaning bend or twist and fuffle is an Gaelic onomatopoeia– a word that sounds like its meaning, a mess. Kurfuffle can also be spelled curfuffle, kerfuffle, gefuffle.

I also have a follow up on a podcast from last week. The word was venal and it was used to describe the city of Chicago’s decision to prevent people from taking pictures of a public work of art. Since that podcast I was contacted by Julian of www.herecomespod.org.uk [Julian seems to have taken the site down –Scott, Sunday, February 1, 2009] Julian is photographer and let me know Chicago’s finest may very well be enforcing a law that doesn’t exist. In general you can take a photo of anything you want as long as you are in a public place. Private property holder can prevent you from taking pictures on their property but not of their property. You can download a short guide to photographer’s rights at krages.com/phoright.htm

A note to my fellow podcasters: Julian’s site www.herecomespod.org.uk is podcast review site where you can review other podcasts and get your own reviewed too. I had mine reviewed last week and it was very helpful.   [Julian appear to no longer be maintaining the site. –Scott, Sunday, February 1, 2009]

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I hope Today’s Podcast never “Jumps The Shark”

I was reminded of today’s phrase by a recent “TV event,” here is the US. The event was the Happy Days 30th Reunion and the phrase is “jump the shark.”

I don’t think “Jump the Shark” will make it into any reference books, at least no serious ones. But I think it should because it describes a very real and increasingly common event. The term refers to the point in a TV series when it has peaked and the writers/producers cannot sustain the stories or plots that made the series a success. At this point they jump the shark. They become desperate to keep their audience. So desperate they do something stupid. Something designed to pander to the audience. These episodes are usually advertised with phrase like “Next week, on a very special…”

The term comes from theSeptember 13th, 1977 Happy Days episode when the the Fonze jumps a shark on water skies, thus marking the beginning of the end of the series.

I think notion of jumping the shark can apply to other entertainment media too- radio, movie series (James Bond), even podcasting.

To learn when your favorite show jumped the shark visit JumptheShark.com, they are the ones that coined the term. At the site you can also vote on when many TV shows of the past and present jumped the shark.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from Mary Ann Evans

“What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined… to strengthen each other… to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.”

– George Eliot

image003.gifIn case you didn’t know, and I didn’t, George Eliot was woman who’s real name is Mary Ann Evans. She was a 19th century English novelist.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Especially you, Jahnavi!

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When it comes to the future of podcasting we are all philistines

I was reminded of today’s word while listening to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. The word is philistine. I have always known I didn’t want to be called a philistine, I just wasn’t sure what it meant specifically.

Turns out a Philistine, with a capital P, is a native of Philistia, an ancient areas that is now known as the the south western part of Palestine or Canaan. The Philistines occupied the five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and

When philistine isn’t capitalized it is an noun- a low brow person uninterested in intellectual or artistic pursuits. A person who is uninformed or ignorant in a particular area of study. One dictionary included the connotation that a philistine is drawn to or motivated by material gain- selfish.

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