Saturday, June 16, 2007

Reading Recommendations: 2007-06-16

Due to my recent upgrade to "premium" DSL, I confess to watching and listening more than reading lately. Here are some bookmarks from the few times when I wasn't in complete potato mode. Nothing but text, guaranteed.

  • Giuliani: Worse Than Bush
    Matt Taibbi, who I sometimes want to think of as the new Hunter Thompson, does a nice hatchet job. And by nice, I mean certainly well-deserved. (Giuliani seems to me simultaneously less of a wingnut and more scary than the rest of the Republicans running. (But I am not commenting on the presidential race of next year, this year.))

  • Shrum and Dumber
    Matthew Yglesias laments more eloquently than almost anybody else about the cretins ruining running the Democratic Party. Or at least, their campaigns.

  • Do You Really Need Three Phone Numbers?
    Harry McCracken reviews GrandCentral, the self-proclaimed "one number for life" service. (You might remember that I mentioned this a few months back.)

  • Has Success Spoiled NPR?
    Drew Lindsay provides a semi-insider history of NPR. It is by turns a warm fuzzy and a cold slap. I'm on the fence about NPR lately; I like many of their shows, but I no longer listen to their main news programs. This piece echoes much of my ambivalence.


Anonymous said...

Good reads all especially the one on the democratic campaigners. Thanks for the links.

Unknown said...

NPR’s audience is largely white; the median income is about $70,000 a year; most listeners are baby boomers....According to Giovannoni, these demographics are the natural result of NPR’s appeal to the intellectually active and curious-minded—attributes typical of the college-educated.

And rightly so.

This demographic is the reason for the very existence of NPR, the ones who called their Congressperson, the ones who pledge not dollars but hundreds of dollars per year, the ones who know what SCOTUS stands for.

The answer to diversifying NPR's actual audience (as opposed to its politically correct target audience) is to get people to go to college, not dumb down the content to "make it fresh" or "keep it real".

Being open-minded means listening to all arguments, not accepting all arguments as equally valid.

Let me be perfectly clear: not all cultures are equally enlightened. A symphony is more difficult to compose than a rap song, quantum physics is more difficult to do than floor sweeping. Exercising brain and brawn both benefit the individual, but only the former benefits others. Reading during childhood does make you smarter. Believing in God without a shred of empirical evidence is irrational.

And listening to NPR is more edifying than listening to Clear Channel.

This I believe.

Sornie said...

I haven't had a chance to read the RS story of Giuliani but that headline alone on the cover makes me think even less of him than I already did for the 9/11 coattail riding, tragedy profiteering, vile and adulterous Bush wannabe.

bjkeefe said...

I agree with you in principle about NPR, Dan, but the very reason that I have stopped listening to their news programs is exactly that they seem to have dumbed down, or softened up, their delivery.

I'll resist the temptation to add that their news seems ever-increasingly polluted by their paranoia about being part of the "liberal media," and their consequent fetish for "tolerance," which manifests as non-critical coverage of religious wingnuts, blasé reporting on Republicans in general, and an excess of hushed-voice sob stories about soldiers.

Well, I didn't really resist, but I at least kept it short.

I agree that listening to NPR continues to be vastly preferable to anything commercial. The presets in my car continue to be at least 40% NPR stations (the rest being college channels). I am just disappointed in them lately, or at least, as I said in the original post, ambivalent.

BTW, what did you think of the article itself?

Unknown said...

I am not interested in the Republican primary. I wait until they tack left again for the general election.

The article on NPR was a well-written historical narrative. I especially liked the early years and the beating-up on Garrison Keillor (“I thought it was elitist,” he says. “I thought it would attract upper-class suburbanites who wanted to laugh at middle-class America”). I loathe the sound of his voice.

It is impossible to attract people like Nina Totenberg or Bob Edwards to NPR, willing to get up at 4 AM and forgoing big contracts in the private sector, without pandering to their egos, and I have no problem with that.

I don't mind a tack to the right. There's always Pacifica radio for left-wing echo chamber. It is unhealthy to have two unintersecting cultures (left/urbane/educated and right/nationalist/religious) in one country that don't talk to each other, so wingnut guests can only spice up the conversation. Call it a mini-cultural-anthropology experiment.

What I can't stand is Susan Stamberg posing as Martha Stewart or Neal Conan pimping for Apple's new iPhone. Just give me Bob Edwards and Daniel Schorr (but hold Red Barber, since I hate sports, and Cokie Roberts, with her self-vaunting trademark greeting “Morning Bob” and all-too-publicly-successful Type-A dare-to-have-it-all marriage to Steven Roberts). See what I mean? NPR has become a soap opera, with outsized personalities and highly honed voice modulation.

But what can you do? With Fox Noise out there, I can't afford to pick on NPR. WAISAD, I'm not in the majority of any non-trivial set of Americans, so I'm not calling the shots. I'm learning to be OK with that.