The Great Courses

by Craig B.

I’m a hermit by nature. A shiftless layabout. A couch potato. While you, a socially adjusted human being, are having dinner with your friends, I’m eating Fancy Lads Snack Cakes in a post-nuclear wasteland. While you’re counting footsteps in the local park, I’m eating cookie dough off my Snuggie. But my life isn’t all apathy and indolence. You might be shocked to discover that I exercise my mind. I’m certainly shocked to discover that I exercise my mind. Yes, my La-Z-Boy recliner is a sacred grove of transformation. I blame The Great Courses. I can engorge my brain with cranial truffles the likes of which even Trivial Pursuit has never seen, all without leaving the living room. So while you’re restocking your depleted Flickr accounts with selfies from Snoqualmie Falls, I’ll be exploring Great Britain with Professor Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D. Following are some of the most recent courses I’ve gleefully devoured.

Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy

Where else in the library’s collection will you find a 21st century academic who can sport a pocket vest and a fob watch with unabashed sincerity? I daresay nowhere. Despite Professor David Kyle Johnson’s anachronistic proclivities, he really packs a punch when it comes to parsing out science fiction’s most philosophical insights. Despite my own entrenched skepticism, he almost had me believing that The Matrix sequels were good.

Great Ideas of Classical Physics

Physics Professor Steven Pollock manages to make science a hoot in this twenty-four part lecture covering the history of mechanical physics. From Newton’s Laws of Motion to Maxwell’s equations to Thomas Young’s surprising discoveries about light, Great Ideas of Classical Physics will have you clinging to the edge of your seat. Okay…I’m kidding. It’s infested with math you haven’t used in thirty years. For me, it triggered dreams that I was taking the SAT without any pants on. In a good way, though, in a good way.

The Agency: A History of the CIA

The Agency is, bar none, the most comprehensive history of the CIA I’ve ever seen. Professor Hugh Wilford presents a thorough and refreshingly objective approach to the subject matter. You’ll take a trip down a rabbit hole, to be sure, but you’ll want to leave your aluminum foil hat at home. I was especially captivated by the beginning of the series, which deals with the formation of the organization and its first few covert operations; it is an eye-opener. If you like digging into the unkempt corners of American history, you’ll love this lecture.

I hope you enjoy these titles! Be sure to comment with any additional titles you discover so I can add them to my list!

The Great Courses

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