Digging The Great Courses

Tweet Reddit Share

Greatly enjoying The Great Courses Plus subscription. This time of the year brings long hours in the garden. I love it, but it starts to be a bit much after awhile, with my mind subtly shifting from “We must cultivate our garden,” and all the artistic and spiritual metaphors it evokes, to “Damn, this is a grinding waste of time.”

Podcasts help, but they’re like blogs: a decent source of information, but with emphasis on entertainment and production rather than reliability and accuracy.

Enter the Great Courses Plus. Curated, edited, taught by experts in their fields. The fare isn’t as good as it used to be, but it’s still awfully good. Ten years ago, I would’ve given their fare a “9.5” These days, I give it an “8.” In the old days, it was rare to get a bad course. These days, you have a much better chance, but with the “Plus,” you don’t have to buy the lecture to find out that it sucks. If the lecturer grates, delete it. If the presentation is confusing, switch to something else.


Interesting: I’ve long railed against female sportscasters doing men’s sports. Their voices simply don’t “fit” the game. Women aren’t on the field playing, so there is something incongruous about listening to them announce the game.

(Aside: I really dislike the “urban” accent of many black athletes, but in the context of announcing a game? It doesn’t bother me, within reason.)

But I’m beginning to think there might be something about the female voice that grates on me in general. Of course, I might just be a male chauvinist, but the Great Courses Plus is obviously trying to hard to present more female lecturers, and they’re not bad. I can’t tell any difference in quality of content, speaking style, or presentation.

But after awhile, the high pitched voice starts to grate. A subtle tension starts to creep into me. And then when I click it off, a sense of relief washes over me.

I can’t say it makes sense, but it’s definitely there. And I suspect that, in less woke times, more people would admit that they have the same experience. It’s a simple fact that certain pitches resonate differently (think of a baby’s cries).