Saturday, February 27, 2010


Two weeks in Vancouver, basking in the light of the Olympic flame:

I'm not sure about this year, when Canadians are the home team and the nation launched a drive to "own the podium", but having observed CBC's coverage of Winter Olympics in '92 & '94, it was far less nationalistic and more appreciative of athletic excellence for its own sake and not obsessed with medal counts... NBC, not so much.

The Seattle Times noted the satorial splendor of the Norwegian curling team's pants with this headline:

"If you can't beat 'em, blind 'em!"
And the ever courteous host of Late Night, Jimmy Fallon, wrote thank you notes on set with Bob Costas and a live studio audience.

Impending Flameout

Except for a single foray by the Jamaican bobsled team and the relatively late ascendance of Asian skaters, participants have been mostly white Europeans or their North American descendants.

It's not something that draws worldwide competition or TV audiences. FIFA's World Cup in South Africa will be a global obsession later this year.

It's a long way from the original idea of peacetime athletic competition between naked ancient Greek warriors. The Winter Olympics involve a lot of things the majority of the world wouldn't ever think up, or need to do.

And it's really expensive to be the host city, to cover as a network television event and to participate in the Winter Games, as events there usually require expensive gear and special venues to train and sharpen their skills.

David Wallechinsky, son of author and screenwriter Irving Wallace and himself author of "The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics: 2010 Edition," talks about the origins of the Winter games.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WGBH's The World 2/25/10, Host: Marco Werman.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
You're Welcome - Winter Olympics
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorVancouverage 2010
After 16 days of competition and Sunday night's closing ceremony, the host city will send its guests back to their own corners of the globe. It's an odd idea... Since spheres have no corners. But in the aftermath of the 21st Winter Olympics, how will their impact add up?

Steve Lus, a reporter for CBC Radio in Vancouver, shares his perspective as the Olympics draw to a close.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 2/26/10, Host: Meghna Chakrabarti

Glom Onto The Gold

While American TV watchers have had to shovel out from under a blizzard of ads by sponsors claiming an official affiliation, at the Vancouver Olympics competition venues have been scrubbed of almost anything that hints of commercialism. For example, the ice hockey arena known as General Motors Place when the NHL's Canucks play is called Canada Hockey Place during the Olympics... No venue has billboards, signs or logos touting products or companies.

But outside the venues, Olympic sponsors have an unavoidable presence, from the busloads of corporate visitors getting great seats to the most popular events, to the billboards sporting Olympic rings on the sides of city buses carrying ordinary folks without connections.
Audio: NPR's Morning Edition 2/25/10, Reporter: Howard Berkes.

Mood Lighting

Designed by Diana Lin, these l.e.d.-lit bubbles can create the mood for lovin' touchin' squeezin'... But they do make a squeaky whoosh sound when you fondle the silicone.

$139 via Yanko Design

No Reason For Pride

In a YouTubed interview, the British-born General Manager of Nevada Public Radio noted that 97% of people who live in metropolitan Las Vegas will reply with their birthplace or former city of residence when asked where they're from... Embarrassment might be the reason.

When he's not on airport welcoming duty, investigative reporter Jonathan Humbert is most often seen on KLAS-TV, Las Vegas.

Governor Jim Gibbons, like the first President Bush, ran on a pledge of no new taxes. Whether his stand will survive a legislative special session to address the Nevada's revenue shortfall and budget deficit is the subject of widespread speculation in a state whose politics and tax system are half baked at best.

And elsewhere across America...

New Day, Different Dream

Like many other business-oriented young people, Youth Radio's Lauren Silverman used to swoon at the idea of working in the towers of high finance. But now she's thinking differently, making other plans.

A Wall Street career now seems like a Faustian bargain she's no longer willing to make.
Audio: APM's Marketplace 2/26/10, Host: Bob Moon.
(If the player won't stop, you can still turn it down.)

Silverman misspoke, but stands by her sentiment. The financial sector crash she cited was in September 2008.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Summit Summation

Still saying nope to hope for change...

After hours of articulating pre-determined positions that seemed to exclude common ground, the parties adjourned without agreement.

In Vancouver, the Olympics... And an example:

White Out

Well not all white. The African American pairs team of Vanessa James and Yannic Bonheur took to the ice in Vancouver, finishing 14th. Not high enough to get a lot of primetime airtime, but good enough to be among the trailblazers folks at the barbershop will talk about in years to come.

Code Of The West

Cowboy Up!

A proposal to turn The Cowboy Code into an ethics law is galloping through the Wyoming legislature. It’s based not only on ‘Wild West’ ethics, but also on a book by a Wall Street investor. So lets turn to a business professor from the state with the cowboy license plates for his perspective. Brent Hathaway is Dean of the College of Business at the University of Wyoming in Laramie; he helped produce a short film about The Cowboy Code:
  1. Live each day with courage
  2. Take pride in your work
  3. Always finish what you start
  4. Do what has to be done
  5. Be tough, but fair
  6. When you make a promise, keep it
  7. Ride for the brand
  8. Talk less, say more
  9. Remember that some things are not for sale
  10. Know where to draw the line
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 2/23/10, Host: Robin Young.
Wyoming Cowboy painting by Ali Spagnola.

Poster Project

Apparently still a secret.

Photo: Egor Bashakov

Reject Remake

Babs Bails

After 29 years of Oscar Specials, she's calling it quits. Finally!
Berger & Prescott publish podcasts on Facebook...
They closest they ever got to Oscar was watching TV with their kids.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You Got It, Toyota?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Toyotathon of Death - 2/23/10
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Politics Gets Personal

While cable pundits were asking whether the President's "health care summit" at Blair House (Thursday, 2/25/10) would be kabuki theater or kumbayah, a bit of political theater from another House...

Real life and death drama in one family crisis...

Facts, Faults & Frustration

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Michael Kinsley, columnist for the Atlantic, founder of Slate magazine and former co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," explore how the media provides both a service and a disservice in the drive for splashy headlines of 24-hour political coverage.

Audio: PRI & WNYC's program The Takeaway 2/23/10,
Hosts: Celeste Headlee & Todd Zwillich.

Gross Cupidity

From College Humor

Rock 'n' Holy Rollers

So exactly who made up the list?

Just a guess.

The Game Fron Hell

A video game inspired by "Inferno," the first book of Dante's 14th century epic poem... Levels of video game meet circles of hell in the new release from Electronic Arts.

Guest: Arielle Saiber is an associate professor of Italian literature at Bowdoin College and writer of the blog Dante Today.

Gamer and author Naomi Alderman reflects on the marriage of medieval literature and modern video gaming.

Audio: BBC World Service/The Strand, 2/22/10, Presenter: Mark Coles.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rush to Race Baiting

From the extensive photobucket collection uploaded by freebirdny.

Shill Game

Whether through verbal introductions or onscreen captions, TV talking heads have only a portion of their identities and affiliations disclosed -- usually whatever made guest bookers believe they might add light, or heat, to the subject of the segment. But often what doesn't get disclosed is more important to understand who's paying the piper and pulling the strings.

In a recently conducted study by The Nation, many of the talking heads on cable news were found to also be working as paid lobbyists, often with stakes in the issues they're invited on-air to discuss. Author Sebastian Jones says the problem is much more widespread than we may have suspected.

Article: The Media-Lobbying Complex, from The Nation.

Terry Holt was mentioned in the first segment. He's a prolific talking head and also frequently lobbies on behalf of health insurance companies. He says that he tells cable news producers about his lobbying work, but what they disclose to viewers is up to them.

Audio: WNYC's On The Media 2/20/10 Host: Brooke Gladstone.

Someone Needs A Break

Via Like Cool!

Sign Of The Times

A cheeky invitation from a visitor to London's Brass Rubbing Centre:
6 Saint Martin's Place, near Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ

Via Just Whatever.

Window Washing for Women

A sketch from Smack the Pony, which ran on BBC 4 (1999-2003).

Food For Thought

Social psychologist Melanie Joy addresses Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows in her new book of the same name.

She explains it’s because of "carnism," a belief system which makes us disgusted by the thought of eating golden retrievers, but allows us to eat cows and pigs, even when they are just as intelligent as dogs.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now. Host: Robin Young.

Oh yeah? Dogs make better TV critics!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Party (Failed) System

Can voters who often perceive elections as choosing a lesser evil be seduced into supporting the system that offers such lame choices?

Southern California talk show host Michael Benner, a 1980's/Los Angeles colleague and friend, insisted that either/or choices were always bogus. And since he spoke in the deep and powerful way that broadcasters called a "voice of god," he dominated any discussion of the subject.

His advice: replace automated stimulus - response with a cycle of stimulus - perception - conscious response... Realizing there are always more options is a first step toward escaping false dichotomy & actions that yield greater benefit.

Michael Benner's "Inner Visions" left KPFK's airwaves in 2007.

The message continues via a "mystery school" site, podcasts, and together with "meditative learning" advocate and seminar leader Steven Snyder, a blog on personal empowerment.

Bill Killer

Uma As Action Hero

A New Name For An Old Problem

Krill Killers

Before whales, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, giant filter-feeding fish swam the prehistoric seas. By going back and searching through museums for misunderstood or overlooked fossils, a researcher found evidence that these fish existed for more than 100 million years — far longer than scientists had previously thought.
Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 2/19/10, Host: Robert Siegel,
Reporter: Nell Greenfieldboyce, Image: Robert Nicholls,


For those who feel boxed in, but live in a damp environment.

"Trapped" from dscaman's Flickr stream.

For E @ 43

Happy Birthday

Simon and Garfunkel live, from their "Best of" CD released in 1999.

Remembering Dr. Ragtime

Guitarist Jack Rose

Appreciating a star of American Primitive guitar.

His last record, "Luck in the Valley," comes out this month.

Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday 2/20/10, Host: Scott Simon.
Reporter Joel Rose and musician Jack Rose are not related.
Photo: Tim Bugbee/Tinnitus Photography

Monday, February 22, 2010

Us & Them

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) wrapped up in Washington, D.C., this week. While the conservative movement may have not yet found a clear leader, the overwhelming consensus seems to be that Republicans need to rediscover their conservative ideals. NPR's Guy Raz talks to Erick Erickson from the conservative blog Then National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez, explains why she and other attendees, signed a declaration of ideals called "The Mount Vernon Statement."

Audio: NPR's All Things Considered, 2/20/10.
Establishment Republicans are desperate to co-opt two right-wing groups that want to retain at least some claim to autonomy: the TEA Party, recent speaking venue of Sarah Palin & CPAC, whose collective voice is sounding more like that of the teabaggers based on messages from, and response to, their featured speakers.

Has CPAC itself been pulled away from the rational conservatism of small government, fiscal responsibility and economic libertarianism by a bunch of whack jobs throwing out red meat to angry red states?

How much maniacal hate and paranoid xenophobia directed toward other American citizens can Republicans spout, absorb or passively tolerate and still be considered a mainstream political party?

From Peter Gabriel's 3rd self-titled album, aka "Melt" (1979).

Beatles (History) For Sale

"And in the end, the crap they'll take
Won't equal all the cash they'll make."

The Abbey Road recording studio is on the block!
Berger & Prescott publish podcasts on Facebook...
They can't afford to buy the place to save it.

The Amazing CubeStormer

Built entirely from Lego elements, the world's fastest Mindstorms RCX speedcubing robot in action! It can scan and solve any 3x3x3 Rubik's cube configuration in under 12 seconds.

Relayed from Damn Cool Pics.

Mental Toss Flycoon

Hannah Montana is the Disney-manufactured tween-idol who came after Hillary Duff's "Lizzie McGuire." Hanna Wyoming, just down the road from Elmo, is a real little western town with troubles.

Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday 2/20/10, Host: Scott Simon.
First segment Reporter: Molly Messick, Wyoming Public Radio. T-shirt by Zazzle.

Halloween 1981 at the Palladium, New York City. Sorry about the end... The YouTube poster must have grabbed a portion of a medley.

Model Making

Are barely teenaged anorexic Eastern Bloc exiles the new norm?

Trooping Along

Living together can be tough, particularly if the relationship sharing space crosses species lines. In this Radio Lab podcast, Barbara Smuts, a professor at the University of Michigan tells a story about her experiences trying to find that elusive space. This tale takes us back to the 1970s, when Barbara was trying to gain the trust of a troop of baboons in a remote area of Kenya... By being a shy baboon.
Audio: NPR & WNYC's program Radio Lab, Hosts: Robert Krulwich & Jad Abumrad.
Photo courtesy of Barbara Smuts.