Jan 20

MagnessHolyLandHoly Land Revealed, taught by Jodi Magness, Teaching Company video ★★

In anticipation of a return to the Holy Land, I purchased this video. I was quite apprehensive, as the Teaching Company has a tendency for any series under the category of “religion” to be taught by liberal professors. Jodi was not only hyper-liberal, but also did not offer what the title suggests would be the topic. It would have been better titled as Holy Land archaeology or Holy Land history rather than Holy Land revealed. I assumed that she would delve into the Holy Land itself, discussing the geography, cities, archaeological digs, etc., but ordered in a historical fashion. Instead, the main video was not of the land itself, but of her in the classroom teaching. She was placed on a large square rug that, like a good obedient puppy, she never leaves save for one time, where she got her right foot about ⅔ the way over the edge of the carpet. I wondered if the Teaching Company had a hidden cattle prod that shocked her back onto the rug at that point.

Magness offers the richness of an archaeologist that has frequently dug in Israel. She spends an entire talk on her dig that revealed the toilet habits of the Qumram community (?), and much related to the Roman Masada ramp, which actually was quite interesting. Much of her talk oriented more around history than the land itself, which did not seem to be the topic suggested by the title of this lecture series.

Magness shows herself as a typical liberal, in that she easily holds extra-biblical materials, such as the writings of Josephus, as more credible than Scripture itself. She seems to delight whenever archaeology might suggest something contrary to Scripture, such as the dating of Herod’s slaughter of the children, or timing of the fall of Jericho. Sadly, she is unwilling to explore the controversy in these areas, but presents things as cut and dried. She is a perfect example of claiming that her scientific quest is “open-minded” and yet is hell-bent on proving a hypothesis, let all of the evidence be damned. Scripture over time has proven itself irrefutably infallible, about the only thing that one can safely hang their hat on, regardless of the storms and assaults of man. Archaeological evidence is highly subjective, the theories for interpretation of the data are constantly changing, and the evidence is often contradictory, leading to strange and obtuse theories to explain away the contradictions.

I learned some history in this presentation. I also learned a few interesting facts about the “land” itself. It wasn’t a totally worthless series, though it did not offer what the title and lecture subjects suggested that it would cover.

 

 

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Apr 10

AndrewWilsonMasters of War: History’s Greatest Strategic Thinkers, taught by Andrew Wilson, The Teaching Company ★★★★

The Art of War, Andrew Wilson, The Teaching Company ★★★

These are two series on war strategy taught by Andrew Wilson. The first series provides a chronological account of the most influential thinkers on war strategy, including Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Machiavelli, Napoleon, Jomini, Mahan, Corbett, and others. Wilson first defines what he means by strategy, and compares that to the often confused  tactics. He allows one to see how thinking about war, including when to conduct a war, the expected outcomes of the war and what one expects to accomplish by war, when it is best to not engage in war, how to pick your enemies, how to play your friends, etc. all have evolved, and involve the greater spectrum of what we view as war strategy.

The Art of War is a more thorough summary of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. This additional six lectures to the above 24 lectures, including 2 on Sun Tzu, include little in addition of great value except to the most curious.

 

Tagged with:
1 Comment »
Feb 02

BriwaThe Everyday Gourmet: Making Healthy Food Taste Great, by Bill Briwa and Connie Gutterson of the Culinary Institute of America, The Teaching Company ★★★★★

Perhaps you noticed that we already reviewed a Teaching Company Video series with Bill Briwa. That series was 24 lectures long, whereas this one is only six lectures long. Bill is an awesome instructor, and with the help of the Culinary Insitute nutritionist fills us in as to how a gourmet chef actually manages to cook gourmet food at home while keeping it completely healthy. The series was enjoyable to watch, and Betsy found the series most inspiring. Briwa spends much time in discussing how different grains can be incorporated into the diet, and how to plan left-overs (planned-overs) for cooking successive meals. Thus, a grain like barley can be cooked and then incorporated into various different schemes. Though a few of his productions did not look terribly appealing, for the most part, the meals appeared to be most savory, and not the bland horrid taste that someone would expect from something really healthy. The series also comes with a hard-bound cookbook to make it easy to begin various healthy menus immediately.

 

Tagged with:
2 Comments »
Jan 24

The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking, by Bill Briwa (DVD, The Teaching Company) ★★★★★

The Everyday Gourmet: Baking Pastries and Desserts, by Steven Durfee (DVD, The Teaching Company) ★★★★★

These are two separate series offered by the Teaching Company, but because of their similarity, I’ll be reviewing them together. Briwa also did a short series on healthy cooking, which will be briefly reviewed later. Both chefs are prize-winning in their fields, and both teach at the Culinary Institute of America. Both series comes with accompanying hard-bound texts with the exact recipes for what is being cooked. Both are very well done, with clear teaching and superb examples of various dishes discussed. Watching these DVDs makes you want to get into the kitchen and attempt some of the recipes, realizing that a few of them can be a little bit tricky. They’ll have to be tried out on ourselves before we invite guests and then serve them something that flops. The only reason I would have liked to have given each of the series a few less stars is that they were way too short. I hope that Briwa and Durfee would be able to produce a lengthier version of this set that is more comprehensive of the styles of cooking and types of dishes that could be made in a normal home. There was great entertainment in watching these videos, but hopefully you dear reader won’t be tortured by our first experiments in gourmet cooking.

Tagged with:
1 Comment »
Aug 30

Everyday Guide to Wine ★★

Everyday Guide to Spirits and Cocktails ★★★★★ – both by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan

These two courses are sold separately from the Teaching Company, but can be purchased as a single set. The two courses differ vastly in their style and character, leading to two divergent ratings, even though taught by the same person.

In the Everyday Guide to Wine Jennifer S-B introduces herself, and spends at least one lecture justifying her qualifications for teaching a wine course. She was superb at taking one through the necessary formalities of a wine tasting, and the basics for determining the quality of wines. She then marches from region to region, introducing and sampling the various wines. One is left with a reasonably good idea why certain wines from various regions tend to be more prized, and thus (often) more expensive. I disliked two things about the course. The first was Jennifer’s continual self-referential comments. I really didn’t care that JSB was classified as a master wine-taster, and could detect scents of olive or asphalt or burnt American Oak in her wine.  Secondly, I found it to be totally gross that she always spit out the wine. If wine appreciation means spitting out wine and not drinking it, then I’ll stick with beer. All in all, the course failed to enhance my appreciation for wine, and I instead gave most of my wine away, so that I could focus on gaining a better appreciation for beer.

The other course on spirits and cocktails was a much different course. JSB really didn’t talk much of herself, and she focused on the various spirits that are available, with good overviews of the nature and origin of the various spirits. She also had a number of expert bartenders demonstrate the preparation of various cocktails. All in all, this course was fun to watch, and enhanced the appreciation for the various distilled spirits that one might imbibe.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
preload preload preload