Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Great Fresh Air

[Updated: 2007-06-16 21:38 EDT]

[Updated: 2007-06-09 19:24 EDT]

I was catching up on some back episodes of some of my shows this morning, thanks to the beauty of podcasting, and caught last Tuesday's Fresh Air. The bulk of the show was an interview with Larry Wilmore, best known lately as Senior Black Correspondent on The Daily Show. Funny, as expected, but also quite insightful on many serious levels -- Wilmore has been around for a while. It seemed to me as though it took him a few questions to open up, so if the interview feels a bit draggy to start, hang in there.

The show finishes up with a commentary from Geoffrey Nunberg, a regular contributor. His topic this time: Wikipedia. Apart from criticizing the wooden prose that site seems almost to fetishize (my main complaint with it, too), he concentrated less on linguistics than he mostly does in his space, and instead, examined a bigger issue: whether the ever-increasing acceptance of the site means the death of the traditional encyclopedia. Nunberg's views were more nuanced than the typical for-it-or-against-it stance one often hears on this hot-button topic. He made several points that made me say, "Huh. Yeah, you know …" His own prose, as usual, was graceful almost beyond compare.

You can listen to the whole show, in streaming fashion, here. If you want to listen to just one segment or the other, follow the links from that same page. Visit this page if you'd like to subscribe to the podcast.

And thinking about podcasts in general …

Podcasts are a beautiful thing, but keep in mind that there is still something to be said for listening in real time, or at least via the particular show's streaming service: I've noticed that two other favorites, Le Show and Whad'Ya Know?, omit the music in the podcast versions. Harry Shearer spins a lot of tunes that you'd be hard-pressed to hear elsewhere, and the live piano/bass duo of John Thulin and Jeff Hamann is stellar. In both cases, the music adds a lot.

Now that I think about it, the podcasts for Fresh Air and On The Media suppress their musical interludes, too. Although the music on these two is less intrinsic to the show, the omission is still annoying.

This suppression in general probably has mostly to do with royalty payments and/or DRM issues. Whatever the explanation, it irritates me.


2007-06-09 19:24 EDT

(Minor wordsmithing.)


2007-06-16 21:38 EDT

Speaking of Wikipedia: There's an interesting talk out there given by Jimmy Wales, titled "How a ragtag band created Wikipedia." He gave this talk at a TED conference in 2005, before the ranting and raving about Wikipedia really began. (Wales, of course, is the founder of Wikipedia.)

BTW, the entire TED site is well worth your attention, if you can stand to watch ~20 minute videos on your computer. I may post some links to my favorites someday (I just came across this site a week or two ago); ask if you want 'em.

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