Thoughts on Radio, from a friend

From my friend Julian, a long post worth the read:
To take it back half a step, radio is still a fundamentally viable form even in these internet days. People still like listening to human voices, and people still like listening to music. And, beyond that, I think that it’s sort of an important piece of our popular culture, and one worth saving. We’ve sort of touched upon some of the things that good radio traditionally can/does do, but there is plenty of room for expansion within the form, and we can perhaps draw some inspiration from our cousins over in the UK, where the BBC is alive and well (another indication of radio’s fundamental viability as a technology). According to a pretty good article in the LA Times about a year ago, there is still a huge audience for radio in BBC-land, partly derived from a radio-listening culture (one interviewee had a radio for every room, I believe, and left them on in the way that Americans leave televisions on), but also from a great deal of excellent programming. Because radio is still respected, and because the BBC is state-run and therefore beholden to nobody, the money to produce quality programming can meet the quality talent required, creating a number of excellent shows. Plays are serialized, new works commissioned expressly for radio, esteemed commentators are heard nationally, and yes, they have a pretty thriving music show lineup too (Mark Lamar’s show God’s Jukebox is quite nice). The moral is many-fold: an expansion of public radio would greatly enhance our national culture, as we’d be able to support no-strings attached works of critical radio excellence; we should be so lucky as to have the same intellectual-respecting and cross-media popular culture as there is in the UK (where dudes like Stephen Fry can show up basically anywhere and say insightful things, and get listened to!); and the only limitation on radio is that it’s a purely auditory medium.

A conservative/liberal epiphany

Reading Bobby Jindal's "Leadership and Crisis," (which is a decent book for the anecdotes, but nothing to write home about in terms of political persuasiveness - see "Audacity of Hope), I had a sudden thought:

Human nature drives our affairs, and its not always pretty, as psychology has showed. We as a species are capable mass rape, with slavery, with torture, just as we are also capable of loyalty, bravery, and decency. We have a range of motivations and methods to our mass thinking.

Conservatives see these motivations and seek to harness them - they are authentic, true, and powerful. Liberals see these motivations and imagine higher, purer ones - less authentic, but still true and powerful once nurtured. Witness the acceptance of all sexualities, the societal condemnation of racism and slavery. Each of these causes were taken up first by liberals, and achieved success upon the adaptation of conservatives.

In other words, liberals and the left are broadly like the US House of Representatives, and Conservatives like the Senate.

No doubt there are a million holes in this but (obviously) I think it was worth posting.

Start at :46

I can't stop laughing at this image.

Sing-off picks

First place for showmanship: Yellow Jackets
 Still waiting for a kickass opening number a la "Use Somebody" from Season 2 on the Sing-Off. Then again, there were only 8 groups left at this point; we're still looking at 11, so there may be better work in store. I hope.

First place for technical excellence: Afro-Blue.
Steve Jobs thought. Just as Jobs excelled in understanding human nature in his life, achieving raw success in a cutthroat corporate world against a range of detractors, his death is also a window into our true nature. We forgive his megalomania; his questionable labor practices; his ridiculous markups that led to gigantic profits. We do this because he found a way to build products that we LOVED - had some attachement to, both via marketing and a all-consuming attention to perfect design that literally led to pointless screws put in place solely to provide visual symmetry.

In any case, I'll keep watching, and cancer sucks. RIP Steve, and thanks for everything you did, and everything you revealed.

Tabloid Journalism and Thankfulness

November 1, 2007: I'm writing on our college discussion board about limited card swipe access to dorms. Another ongoing topic of focus is the JK Rowling declaration that Dumbledore was gay. Somewhere else, a college student is murdered; another student displays some reportedly "odd" behavior.

The next 3.7 years: I study politics, economics, sociology, more, graduating in June of 2011. Somewhere else, as written later that month:
She continues to study Italian (which she now speaks fluently, with occasional sallies into jailhouse vernacular), reading textbooks from cover to cover three times each. She has also become proficient in German and French, and is studying Japanese, Chinese and Russian. She is devouring the Western canon, and lists in her journals each book she completes. She has become something of a specialist in Existentialism (Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, Sartre's No Exit and Nausea), Magical Realism (Calvino, Borges, Eco), Absurdism and Despair (Vonnegut, Beckett, Woody Allen, Kafka).
I travel to Rome, to Florence, to Paris and Taize, to Jerusalem. Somewhere else, a long stay in a jail cell. I am free. Someone else is - was - not.

It's regretful that so many stories that could be told are not told. We don't read or hear about the countless stories of brutality that brave men and women have survived. We don't read about the thousands killed by natural disaster in China; of the German solders killed defending what they thought were their interests. But we do hear about Natalee Holloway, and the sister case that reached its conclusion today in the city I'm visiting on business.

Quoth the same:
When an attractive young woman from a privileged British family is murdered in Italy, you've got a popular crime story. When the person suspected of killing her is an attractive young woman from a privileged American family, you have tabloid gold. When the prosecutor hypothesizes that the victim was slaughtered during a satanic ritual orgy, you've got the crime story of a decade. When a sitting U.S. senator declares that the case "raises serious questions about the Italian justice system" and asks if "anti-Americanism" is to blame, and when 11 Italian lawmakers in Silvio Berlusconi's coalition request a probe of the prosecutor's office — well, at that point, you have an international crisis.
We don't need this example to understand the media's bias, though. We don't need it for anything except our own fascination (I didn't know that much about this until reading the article linked above, but I got sucked into an online argument about the evidence yesterday. I'm guilty as anyone else.)

But what I'm trying to remember - trying to maintain focus on - is that something like this could have happened to me. I remember the death of my grandfather when I was 10 or so, and how my tears were in private, in secret. I also remember not crying - feeling overwhelming "control" - upon learning the news, and how guilty I felt that I couldn't or wasn't displaying my grief like others. I'm still learning how to do that. I remember various dumb decisions I made when abroad, such as getting deliberately lost in a french wood surrounded by a fence during a rainstorm (a twisted ankle would have been more than problematic), and my solo sojourns in countries where I spoke little-to-nothing of the native tongue. Curiously, I have never returned to Spain, though Spanish is the second language I know best.

All of this to say that the world is strange sometimes - cruel even - I'm lucky to have enjoyed what I have, and to have had all of the wonderful experiences over my past 4 years that I enjoyed. I hope we can leave others involved in this case alone (I haven't mentioned names here deliberately), and that there can be some lesson learned from sorrows so that we can avoid repeating them or their cousins ourselves.

Obama Administration Puts Pressure on Israel

I find it interesting that the Secretaries of Defense are the administration's method of sending public messages to Israel: perhaps attacking them would be harder?