Tag Archives: npr

The History and Future of C-SPAN

Some people are addicted to heroin. Some are addicted to pornography.  Some are alcoholics. Of all the vices one might have, I consider mine to be of the more socially acceptable variety. I am addicted to C-SPAN, NPR, and any other sources of balanced debate and information on current events, history, non-fiction literature, philosophy, science, etc.

Behind every addiction is a tragic flaw. Mine is a kind of manic curiosity about the way the world works. So in that sense, C-SPAN is one of my drug dealers.

The reason I write about it now is that Brian Lamb (founder of C-SPAN) is stepping down from his post as CEO of CSPAN. So why not take this chance to celebrate one of my favorite organizations…

What I like most about CSPAN is the non-political programs such as Book TV. It provides interviews with or presentations by authors of complex and fascinating non-fiction books. The more political programs such as Washington Journal are also interesting. They have a variety of experts (actual ones, not simply pundits) on to discuss the major events of the day. It’s really one of the best methods to get informed in a balanced way about the major happenings of the day.

What I don’t like about the Washington Journal is that they take callers and purposefully are very loose about screening those calls. They don’t just take callers with calm intelligent questions, but they also take the calls that are neither intelligent, well-informed, calm, or even have a question. Even more, some of these people has trouble stringing together words and sentences that make any sense. Some others simply read out talking points they undoubtedly picked up from an ultra-partisan website or radio show. When I listen to Washington Journal, I like to skip over these calls and just listen to the answers, allowing my blood to remain room temperature for the most part.

PS: The tone and style of this blog post reflects not so much my outlook on a life of learning, but the fact that I’ve had several cups of coffee back to back, and believe that this gives me the power to be clever. Denial is a wonderful thing.

CBS This Morning: Double Dose of Charlie Rose

Main point (so you can ignore the rest): Charlie Rose is hosting a new morning show on CBS. It will be serious. It will be in depth. In other words, it’s going to fail.

I haven’t watched a morning TV shows for years. The main reason is there is too much fashion, cooking, weather, shallow political chatter, etc. There is a certain light feel to it that I guess people like to leave playing in the background for noise as they make coffee and leave for work.

But now, the morning welcomes the dark night of in-depth interviews: Charlie Rose. He is apparently going to be doing a morning program on CBS starting January 9th. The plan is to make it a serious news show with actual reporting but with a closer storytelling style. In other words, it’s going to fail.

I love Charlie Rose for his late night show on PBS. He is probably the best interviewer on television today in terms of creating a rich educational experience. Of course, it probably bores most people to death. And that’s why I think his new venture is destined to struggle and eventually collapse under the pressure of having to be more “entertaining” for the target audience in the morning which according to NPR is older women.

Luckily, he will still continue doing his evening interview show. However, I have to wonder how at age 70, five years after heart surgery, he is going to be able to handle two serious shows a day.

Armrest Sharing and the Path to Peace

in-flight-etiquetteA story about in-flight etiquette on NPR cracked me up. There were some interviews which indicated that people in general do not get along. Put them in a tight space together for hours, and that fact becomes more apparent.

Click on the image, it’s a good one.

What I find most entertaining, in particular, is the age old battle of “who gets the armrest?” Apparently, this is a major debate on the internet.

Opinions are as varied as political views. Some people want to share fairly based on size, some people want to help the least fortunate (middle seat), and some believe in survival of the fittest: claim it and hold on.

I think it probably depends on the size, sex, attitude, mood of the person, and many other details of the specific circumstance. But I find these little day-to-day situations strangely representative of human characteristics which lead to or around larger social conflicts and compromises.

If we can resolve the armrest issue, surely peace in the Middle East will soon follow.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in Sports

A picture of two football players huggingI heard this story on NPR and was genuinely surprised. It seems that no major professional male athlete has come out publicly as being gay.

First, let me define my perspective. I’m not gay myself and I only have one or two friends that I’m aware are gay, so the issue doesn’t feel particularly personal to me, which is why I was not aware of some of the facts covered in the NPR story. I see the general discrimination against homosexuals the same way as I see slavery: an ugly stain on human history that is bound to be overcome by the progressive common sense of reasonable people. It’s a ridiculous disrespect of human rights, and the vision of the founding fathers.

I say the following cautiously, but we should distinguish between (what in my mind are) two uses of “gay” in sports. Sports are for tough people, physically and mentally. So the use of the word “gay” that I find less despicable is when it refers to the stereotype of being “feminine” (another nested stereotype). It’s like calling someone a p***y. Perhaps, other words should be used, but I’m rarely a fan of political correctness, so this use of the word “gay” doesn’t bother me as much.

What does bother me, and what I don’t actually see that much in my experience with sports, is genuine homophobia. I think that once a few major professional athletes come out as being gay, both the first and the second use of the word will become obsolete. I’m pretty sure that gay people range (just like straight people) from some of the toughest athletes in the world to the biggest wusses that would much prefer to sit at home with a tub of ice cream and cry over a cheesy romance novel. I respect athletes that have the killer instinct and the mental fortitude to overcome any challenge. I don’t care who they sleep with, fall in love with, or have extra-marital affairs with.