Pitch a Show: 3/1/07

I’m not quite sure what’s happened — either you’re all getting really great at pitching us your show ideas, or we’re getting much better at putting them into production. Recently, a third of our shows have been suggested by listeners. One or two a week. We’re really proud of that.

The last pitch thread gave us patsyb’s Surveillance show, hurley’s Marching Toward Obsolescence, and Ray Shea’s Katrina and the Insurance Tsunami. We started to see collaborations in the pitch thread this last round: Brian Dunbar, Jason Hoppes, and Pboakes joined forces to sell us on What to Do in Space, Forton Twelve, herbert browne, and davispeter co-pitched Do Americans Need to Serve?, and mjking, avecfrites, and ExSites finally convinced us to talk about the One Laptop Per Child project. Tonight you’ll finally hear nother’s The Age of the Shuffle, and next week, Tom B’s Hannah Arendt show.

As ever, there are a few pitches from the last thread that we haven’t answered — we’ll answer them here. If you’re curious, here’s the full archive of pitch a show threads, and here’s the full list of the listener-suggested shows we’ve produced and the ones we’re still working on.

You know what to do.

How This Works
Every day one of our producers reads the pitch-a-show thread and responds in the thread with a roundup. We read every show suggestion and will respond to as many as we can.

Every day, that same producer takes the pitches that could make a good show and presents them to the whole staff in our 11 am story meeting. If the rest of the staff thinks the show might work on the radio, too, we write up a short description and post the idea as a new show under “Warming Up.” Sometimes the pitch dies in the meeting; we often reject our own ideas, too. (Often brutally. It’s not a meeting for wallflowers.)

When you pitch a show idea, try to answer the question “Why now?” We don’t want to be slaves to the news cycle — and we’re less news-bound than most public radio shows — but if you want us to do a show on Dostoevsky, for example, help us figure out why now is the time to do it. Is there something going on in Russia now that makes him especially relevant or interesting?

Pitch us ideas from your own reading habits and your own lives. We read The New York Times and listen to Fresh Air, too; we need your help catching the stories we might not see. Do you have regional insight on a national issue? Have you read something in a local paper with wider implications (or just fascinating in its own right)?

On the radio we need a conversation. We need questions. If you have a thesis or a conclusion, you’re better off writing a blog post or an article than pitching it as a show.

Give us as much information as you can. Are there any links you can leave us as a reference? Run a search on Technorati or Google Blogsearch; are any bloggers writing about this? We’re understaffed and distracted; point us in a direction and then help us down the road with a solid nudge.

We’re working hard to respond as quickly and as thoroughly as we can; please don’t be disappointed if your pitch doesn’t make it to the radio. Stick around. Pitch again. We’re reading.


483 thoughts on “Pitch a Show: 3/1/07

  1. Responding to pitches from:

    WED FEB 21

    Great pitch, herbert browne. But we kind of already did that show back in November.

    We’ve been talking about doing more shows on education, the annie. I’ll bring up the NCLB re-auhotirzation debate in our next conversation about some possible education shows.

    After getting this set of pitches, Greta actually spent at least a day researching the worst presidents in American history show idea hurley (et all). She decided that it wouldn’t make a good show because after minute 17 or so, when our historian guests had finished describing the 5 other non-Bush candidates for the award, we’d be left with a not very interesting 45 minutes of talking about Bush. So it looks like we’re not going to do that show.

    Ok, a couple things about this pitch hurley. First, you’ve got my ears perked, but I think if the hope was to do an entire series, we’d have to really nail the “why now” of the pitch. It sounds like individually each European country has a lot of interesting things going on (not surprising, I guess) but is there some trend or something unifying? Some unique historic moment? I guess, now that I think about it, that the 50th anniversary of the European Union is fast approaching. Have I just answered my own question? Help me out here.

    Second, all the stuff you mentioned about Italy sounds really interesting. Can you help me figure out what the frame or the hook might be there, too? I think I’d want to hear a show about contemporary Italy, but we need a strong hook.

    I will think about and pitch this show/series with the EU anniversary and the model of our election series in mind, but please write with more ideas and better framing as you think of it. Cool!

    WED FEB 28

    Ah, the HPV vaccine debate. Greta spent some time researching a feature on this topic about a year ago, and it didn’t go anywhere (I promise I’m not using Greta as a foil!). But I’m going to pitch this, because after asking Greta about it she and Brendan and I talked about it heatedly for 15 minutes, with Greta and I saying, “people know about this already,” and Brendan saying, “no, they don’t.” My take on the national HPV vaccine debate is that it mirrors the abstinence-only sex education debate, and is for that reason very familiar. But I could see doing what we did with our first show on the politics of climate change, where we just laid bare the politics of it before moving on to talk about its other aspects. Maybe we can do something similar here. Anyway, I’ll pitch it. And yes, Lumiere, more women on the show is always a good thing!

    That article looks interesting, hurley. Too bad I, um, can’t read Italian. (Are you Italian? I’m detecting a theme here.) Anyway. We’re actually planning a show about how Russia and Putin have been consolidating power anew, trying to make Russia a counter to the US in global politics and recapture the power and prestige of the Soviet Union, without the ideology. (Putin’s quote on the matter is something like, “there’s no ideology any more. Just business.”) A post is forthcoming. This seems to fit right in, so I’ll pass it on to Katherine, who’s been pursuing the idea.

    The Bush administration’s hostility to the press is indeed interesting and important OCP, but is their hostility news? Maybe it’s one of those things I think everyone knows when they actually don’t, but I feel like I’ve heard stories on this topic for the last seven years. And if Bergman has already been on a nameless “competing radio show,” well…that’s another disincentive to us. I don’t think this would make it past the story meeting.

  2. Two proposals, one new and one old(er):

    1. Latin America’s Left Turn: Chavez is the leading example, but Latin America has become taken with populism, and more defiant with regard to the U.S. Is this left turn specific to the situation in that part of the world? Is it cultural? Or does it reflect something deeper and more enduring? Is Chavez a self-aggrandizing dictator? A populist hero? Something in between? Who are the next Chavezes? In a multi-polar world, what does this shift to the lure of socialism mean? (There’s an article I wanted to link from the current issue of BookForum, but it’s sadly unavailable online.)

    2. I raised this in the astronaut thread, but I’d like to put it forth here and get a response on it: Something on the way American society looks at mental health issues, and the way we differentiate between what is illness and what is merely bad, or sad, or just unusual behavior. To quote from the other thread: Mental illness is broad and varied, ranging from the experience of acute anxiety to full-blown psychosis to a lot of stuff in between. …. The whole discussion makes me angry about how little time and patience our society has for understanding and remediating the challenges of mental illness, in all its forms. (One of the major news magazines has a cover story about men and depression, so I guess that’s something…) We would (and should) never ridicule someone suffering the effects of Parkinsons’ or cancer or MS or whatever, but we’re all too ready to dismiss the effects of mental illness as oddities to be made fun of and moved on from (or even, in the case of depression, sometimes admired as hallmarks of authenticity and connectedness). This approach disserves all of us, not just those who are suffering from these illnesses.

    …. Where do we and where should we draw the line between the choice to do something violent or offbeat or just “wrong” and mental illness? Between a perverse act or series of acts and a treatable condition?

    There are a number of “pegs” here. The Newsweek article on Men and Depression (the point not being “Newsweek covered it, so ROS should,” but rather “Is the mainstream media coming around on this issue?”). Lisa Nowak. The recent spate of articles on “positive psychology,” which tries to teach the tools of happiness in a rigorous, academic setting. This is a critically important topic to many people. I love the current events show, but even if (God forbid) Iranian terrorists detonated a nuclear weapon in New York City, it would still directly affect fewer Americans this year than depression and other mental illnesses.

  3. One more — seems odd to me that there have been no shows, or almost no shows, on the situation in North Korea in a long time. Recent weeks have seen some potentially huge developments in negotiations over the nuclear program there. Something on NK would be great. What about getting Guy Delisle, the Canadian cartoonist who wrote the great graphic memoir “Pyongyang,” on? After reading that, I finally felt like I had an ounce of understanding about what real life in that country might be like.

  4. I hope you’re going to do a show with Chris Hedges regarding his new book, AMERICAN FASCISTS.

  5. After seeing hurley’s Europe series pitch, I began wondering about the prospects for a show on machine translation (MT). I know the EU uses SYSTRAN, an MT company founded way back in 1968. I remember hearing that Google and Altavista got into this game not too long ago (see the latter’s translation engine, Babel Fish.)

    Suffice to say, the holy grail of MT technology would seem to be an earpiece/mouthpiece set allowing people of various nations/cultures to communicate in real time. This sort of technology has a host of implications: to begin with, is such technology even remotely possible? Just what is lost in translation? Who gets to decide? And, regardless of the (im)possibility of the technology, why are we, by turns, so attracted, repulsed, and intrigued by its creation and use?

    Then there is this site: http://www.tashian.com/multibabel/, which satirizes MT technology. Just what sort of multi-language collage does this technology allow for? Is there sense to the non-sense? Is there art?

    Possible guests: Saul Kripke, Daniel Dennett, Peter Toma (linguist and SYSTRAN founder), and Gregory Rabassa (literary translator of Spanish and Portuguese.)

  6. BLACKWATER! “The world’s largest mercenary army…” entwined in current and future military actions (as proposed in the State of the Union speech in the form of Civilian Reserve Corps), and in domestic policing (New Orleans, 2005) and policy. The threads here look like a spiderweb: Erik Prince, religiously motivated warrior, private armies operating without government oversight, lack of access to information on deaths and injuries…Jeremy Scahill’s book will be released this month; your show would be an excellent platform to shed some light on this very black organization.

  7. Sorry hurley, I’m dumb. I didn’t realize you lived in Italy, but Greta set me straight! (We’re talking about your Italy pitch right now…)

  8. Hi Robin,


    I’m not Italian, but I’ve lived and worked in Europe, including Italy, for a long time now. You answered your own question better than I would have. As usually happens when you pick up on an idea of mine, I’m immediately caught out in my own ignorance. That said, another reason — more to follow — is the changing face of US-European relations. Difficult perhaps from Beantown to gauge the level of bemused contempt, here and there tending toward resignation and despair, with which many Europeans regard the US under Bush. The brief grace period the US enjoyed in European opinion from the post-9/11 editorial in Le Monde declaring Nous Sommes Tous Americains to Rumsfeld threatening to “make Germany’s economy scream” was probably the last best chance the US had to redeem itself in the eyes of its closest allies. But then of course the contempt is returned, with interest, in terms of the trans-Atlantic cultural cringe; the idiotic Fox-News “freedom fries” francophobia (extending even to the House of Representatives); the complete disdain of even the most stalwart allies (“Yo, Blair”); the disregard and subsequent demonization of the Spanish vox-pop after the Madrid bombings (“Cowards!”); the “extraordinary rendition,” — grotesque Orwellian phrase – of suspected terrorists off the streets of Milan, the subsequent refusal of the US to extradite those responsible, etc. I suspect every country in Europe has its contemporary tale of woe vv the US. One author to bear in mind on this subject is Giorgio Agamben, a reknowned philosopher who now refuses to travel to the US for reasons he outlines in The State of Exception. A brief overview of his career, with links, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Agamben

    For a more synoptic view of the state of Europe, see the brilliant Perry Anderson, several of whose articles on the subject can be found here:


    Water: The link to the Italian article about water was in reference to a previous suggestion of mine, further up the thread. An interesting bit of information, either way, though I think you could do great things with the water theme (Handel, anyone?).

    Worst Presidents: That was a furtive attempt to regain your interest in the Impeachment pitch. Thanks though for explaining why it wouldn’t work.

    Finally, amid all your well deserved celebrations, please do have a look at the links to Frederick Seidel. I think Chris would have a field day, both with the poetry and the man.

  9. Robin, Ecco mi di nuovo, as Italians say when you’ve encountered your neighbor perhaps one time too many for the day. No need to apologize for not knowing where I live — au contraire. Like me apologizing for not knowing you live in…Hingham. Glad you’re considering the Italy pitch, which would make a good show on its own and an interesting segment in the greater series. Happy to help in either event, preferably in both.

    I second Andrew Kinney’s suggestion, though it might usefully be expanded to translation in general. Also Dacker’s proposal about Blackwater. I suggested it myself, back in the day, maybe apropos of New Orleans, where Blackwater thugs — sorry, mercenaries! — roamed the streets after Katrina.

  10. I’ve long ago given up suggesting shows (or reading the thread), but I popped over this morning to see what the new, terse suggestion thread might indicate the listeners are deeming important these days.

    Sutter and Kate McShane are living up to their usual admirable standards, but that’s not what prompted this post.

    hurley’s idea is priceless. What do Americans know of the contempt our foreign former friends hold for us? Virtually nothing?

    The opportunity for this sort of uncommon edification seems to me to be a hanging curveball right over the middle of the ROS plate.

    Please bang it over the Green Monster.


    (I’d like to know in particular what Europeans think of the dysfunctional government our 18th century constitution inflicts on us and on the world we share with them.)

  11. Next Wednesday, March 7, about 4,000 black and Hispanic parents in Boston will play the lottery. It’s a different sort of lottery, though: about 1,000 winners are picked randomly to attend charter public schools.

    Most of the “lottery losers” must instead send their children to failing traditional public schools, as these charters reach out to serve low-income families who can’t afford to move to the suburbs.

    Chris L knows this world fairly well. It’s a local peg to a national story – charters are proliferating in DC, New Orleans, Newark, NYC, Chicago, etc. These families probably are not listeners of Open Source, but their stories would be of great interest to the O.S. audience.

  12. Response to March 1 pitches

    Sutter: I’ll mention your Chávez pitch in the next meeting. This is indirectly related to Chávez — I’ve been hoping to get the rest of the ROS crew excited about doing a show on the “Dictator Ethos.” What worldview do dictators have that distinguish them from other politicians and leaders?

    As for your mental illness pitch we would really have to be specific in this hour. Can you suggestion one diagnosis that we should focus on? What guests should join the conversation? One show that I really want to do is an hour on how post traumatic stress disorder is affecting Katrina victims. Not only are thousands of Gulf Coasters suffering with PTSD but also we have a new generation of war veterans. Are we, as a country, prepared to deal with so many citizens who have been severely traumatized?

    Kate McShane: We love Hedges, who joined us last summer. We try with all our might to avoid the straightforward book show. Can you think of other guests who you would like to hear Hedges and Chris talk with?

  13. Robin,

    more stuff on HPV

    Get a doc that isn’t on a research stipend ( I’ll be listening to that person), someone from Merck (corporate profits?), Wendy Wright (she is president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative group that focuses on women’s issues – read: the religious right) and a proponent of national healthcare (from Hillary’s campaign?) one of the Berman sisters Laura or Jennifer (sex therapists) and a rep from the state of Mass dept of health

    Sex, drugs, and…. the religious right !

  14. Robin, I don’t have any ideas about who would be good to talk with Chris and Chris H. I’ll try to come up with someone. There must be some right wing religious nut who would come on and argue with Chris and Chris. I just don’t know any of them personally, thank God. I’ll get back to you.

    If you do a show (per Sutter) about PTSD, Judith Herman from Cambridge Hospital is extremely good and one of the leading experts in the country. She wrote a classic book about trauma (TRAUMA AND RECOVERY). She would be great in a discussion of whether the country is prepared to have so many people with trauma histories. Of course, we already have so many people in the country with trauma histories, because this country doesn’t address these problems. We’re too busy being aggressive. I used to work in the area of child abuse, and she was the best I ever read. She has a really fine mind and it hasn’t been narrowed by her psychiatric training. Also, Bessel van der Kolk, who was in Brookline at the Human Resource Institute the last I heard has done a lot of research on PTSD and on a treatment for trauma called EMDR. If you decided to do it about schizophrenia, a journalist, Robert Whitaker, wrote a book about the way it is viewed and treated in this country (not favorably) called MAD IN AMERICA, which came out in 2000, I think. I remember he said that if you live in this country and become schizophrenic, you have the worst chance of getting better of any country in the world.

  15. If you go with sutter’s suggestion re Chavez’ successes, and what else may be in store for Latin America, here’s a recent (Dec 06) link to an excellent think-tank out of Albequerque, which has covered Central & South America for decades, now: http://americas.irc-online.org/am/3792

    I wonder if you have done a show on the case of Julie Amero, the schoolteacher from Connecticut who’s been convicted of loosing pornography (albeit inadvertently?) in a school. Ignorance of the law may be no excuse- but how about ignorance of the available technology that can get you busted? If a computer in a classroom begins automatically spewing porn links, and you’re a technophobe- and you panic, and freeze- are you the guilty party? Is this worth pursuing?.. (and it goes a lot deeper than “I didn’t know it was loaded.”) ^..^

  16. Chelsea, Sorry — I didn’t mean to call you Robin. I got confused with who was writing about which show.

    About GoldsteinGoneWild’s suggestion that you do a show about families playing the lottery for a Charter School, I want to second it. It would be great for your Race and Class series (not that you need me to tell you that). I don’t have any ideas for it, but since R&C was my favorite series, I would really like to hear “regular people” interviewed again.

  17. I read an op-ed piece in the NY Times online today about the mysterious disappearance of honey bees in 20 states recently. This is alarming because of the invaluable service bees perform in pollinating crops.

    I’d post a link to the piece but you have to be a paying customer so here’s a link to a thread I started, with the piece, on my favorite forum where I go to keep my bio-diesel Mercedes running:


    The bees are disappearing in an unusual manner, just apparently leaving the hive and not coming back — en masse — even though honey, pollen, and larvae are at the hive. One possible explanation is the use of new pesticides. Whatever the cause, this highlights the fragility of our natural systems and points to the need for greater care in how we treat them.

  18. Wither the bees? Great suggestion, cmac2021. I made a vaguely similar suggestion a while back after reading about the increasingly mysterious and aggressive behaviour of elephants around the world — crushing their touts, rampaging through villages, raping rhinoceros. I quoted Levi-Strauss to the effect that animals are how we think, in order to ask, What are the animals thinking? Well, what are the bees thinking, and what does it tell us? I’d like to hear a show on the subject — you could even go back to Maeterlink’s curious little book on the subject by way of contrast.

  19. The poet Wallace Stevens. I don’t know if he’s been done before or if a show will put everyone to sleep, but I find his poetry enlightening. “When one has abandoned a belief in god, poetry takes it’s place as life’s redemption”, or something close to that made me listen. His “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” is wonderful.

    From Wikipedia;

    “Stevens concludes that god is a human creation, but that feeling of rightness which for so long a time existed with the idea of god may be accessed again. This supreme fiction will be something equally central to our being, but contemporary to our lives, in a way that god can never again be. But with the right idea, we may again find the same sort of solace that we once found in divinity.”

    He walked to work everyday 2 miles to his job selling insurance in Hartford and did most of his composing on the walk.

    Most interesting to me, he was baptized as a Catholic a few months before his death.

  20. Follow up show to The Ecstasy of Influence.

    A show about art:

    what is art

    why is art important

    How is art influenced by technology, culture, politics

    Where are we now

    where are we going in terms of current influences

    where do each of the participants think art should go irrespective of current influences

    A focused show might be the above questions relating to the NYC art scene.

    Modernism vs post-modernism ?


    Arthur C Danto

    After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History

    The Abuse of Beauty: Aesthetics and the Concept of Art


    Jed Perl

    Gallery Going: Four Seasons in the Art World

    New Art City.



    Artists at the End of the Avant-Garde (1996)

    The End of Art (2004)


  21. I love Lumiere’s suggestion above.


    Regarding the program now in the graveyard: Presidential Power- perhaps we can bring this back in another form or with another name. My sense of outrage has not subsided and was fired up yet again reading this morning’s (Sunday March 4th 2007) New York Times editorial “The Must-Do list”– I believe it’s behind a firewall and I respect that or I would publish it here in it’s entirety ignoring your guideline limits on length of posts as well.

    We are having a discussion on evil on the Arendt thread and I said that I have no trouble at all calling some of the things that our government is doing in our name evil- like suspending habeas corpus,– first on the NYT list…. and torture.

    This list is for the congress- to undo what has been done, to reverse as the NYT put it “the assault on the founding principles of American democracy”. It is about and because of what this President has done in the last several years to broaden executive powers under the guise of protecting us; what he was ABLE to to with a rubber stamp congress, and what is now becoming institutionalized as we slumber on.

    As well, not on this list, issues rose again in my mind listening to and reading Sy Hersh’s New Yorker article about the president’s ability to conduct covert war not to mention make war (widen war), provoke war.

    Here are the items on the NYTimes list:

    Restore Habeas Corpus

    Stop Illegal Spying

    Ban Torture, Really

    Close C.I.A. Prisons

    Account for “Ghost Prisoners”

    Ban Extraordinary Rendition

    To address this the government must:

    Screen prisoners effectively

    Ban tainted evidence

    Ban secret evidence

    Better define classified evidence

    Respect the right to counsel

    Stop the present rush to classify documents to avoid public scrutiny (15.6 million in 2005, double the number in 2001)

    It should also reverse the grievous harm this administration has done to the Freedom of Information Act by encouraging agencies to reject requests for documents whenever possible. Congress should curtail F.B.I. spying on nonviolent antiwar groups and revisit parts of the Patriot Act that allow this practice.

    The United States should apologize to a Canadian citizen and a German citizen, both innocent, who were kidnapped and tortured by American agents.

    Oh yes, and it is time to close the Guantánamo camp. It is a despicable symbol of the abuses committed by this administration (with Congress’s complicity) in the name of fighting terrorism.

    Tired of hearing about it?- I am too. But it has not gone away. In fact we are getting used to it it seems.

    One resource:

    Center for Constitutional Rights

  22. Regarding the discussion on post-traumatic stress syndrome above- I am very familiar with Judith Herman’s excellent book “Trauma and Recovery” and would love to hear her. As well Robert Jay Lifton speaks about this ( I know we have had him on already).

    PTSD is not specific to the USA, it’s international, the results of natural catastrophes and wars, the effects this has on children and adults everywhere, including the recent tsunami in SE Asia the war in Iraq ( on top of years of trauma under Saddam) , not to forget recently Lebanon and ongoing in Gaza. How mentally bent so many must be…

    There is a lot here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PTSD

  23. Potter and katemcshane: One of the best books on schizophrenia I’ve ever read is Operators and Things, by Barbara O’Brien (a pseudonym). I read it many years ago and it’s haunted me since. I’d tell you more, but wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. It’s long out of print but you can find copies on the internet, maybe even in your local library (what ever happpened to that suggestion?). Do please let me know if you get around to it. I’d love to hear what you think.

  24. Thanks to Kate McShane and Potter for helping to flesh out the mental illness issue, and to Chelsea for considering the idea. Some more thoughts on guests, followed by thoughts on shaping a show:

    Peter D. Kramer wrote an excellent book called “Against Depression,” published about 18 months or so ago. The book is meant to fight back against the conception (which I mentioned above) that depression serves a useful social function, giving the afflicted access to some higher truth. Kramer, a professor of psychiatry at Brown and author of “Listening to Prozac,” found that when he spoke about depression to audiences, he would almost invariably face a questioner who asked some variation of “But what if Van Gogh had been on antidepressants?” He wrote this book in response, to explain why we need to kick the habit of thinking of depression as a burden to be borne by some for the benefit of the rest of us, and need to start thinking of this as a disease to be treated just like any others.

    Kay Redfield Jamison is the author of “An Unquiet Mind,” Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide,” and “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament,” among books. She is/was a professor of psychiatry (at Johns Hopkins, I believe) who herself became afflicted with manic depression and chronicled her own illness in the first of the books listed above.

    Tal Ben-Shahar is an associate of the Harvard Psychology Department, author of several books, and a superstar in the new field known as “positive psychology.” In 2006, his class on the topic was the most popular course in Harvard’s catalog. An article in Harvard Magazine (http://www.harvardmagazine.com/2007/01/the-science-of-happiness.html) describes the field as follows: “Though not denying humanity’s flaws, the new tack of positive psychologists recommends focusing on people’s strengths and virtues as a point of departure. Rather than analyze the psychopathology underlying alcoholism, for example, positive psychologists might study the resilience of those who have managed a successful recovery—for example, through Alcoholics Anonymous. Instead of viewing religion as a delusion and a crutch, as did Freud, they might identify the mechanisms through which a spiritual practice like meditation enhances mental and physical health. Their lab experiments might seek to define not the conditions that induce depraved behavior, but those that foster generosity, courage, creativity, and laughter.” The field was also the subject of a recent profile in the New York Times Magazine (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/07/magazine/07happiness.t.html?ei=5070&en=da80299f0a158b1c&ex=1173157200&pagewanted=print).

    And, of course, there’s the Newsweek cover story on Men and Depression (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17190411/site/newsweek/)

    Now let me take a moment on refining the pitch. If I had to focus on one diagnosis, I would probably go for garden-variety depression, which affects a huge number of people, and goes far beyond the stereotypes. Depression tells us that mental illness is not just about that homeless guy sleeping on Cambridge Common, but also the professional buying coffee next to you at Au Bon Pain or sipping chardonnay at Rialto.

    But my point, in a sense, was that for cultural purposes we shouldn’t slice and dice by limiting ourselves to talk about a specific diagnosis. Mental illnesses are all of a piece in the sense that a person who suffers from mild depression could, but for luck or the grace of God, instead be suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or another debilitating illness. Distilling the individual illnesses out from one another and dealing with them only individually undermines our ability to take on mental illness the way we need to, because it lets us say to the (mildly or moderately) depressed, “Chin up, get through it, it’s not so bad,” and lets us dismiss the schizophrenic as some kind of crazy case of “it could never be me.” When we look at it all together, though, we’re more prone to recognizing both (1) that the depressive may well really need treatment, and doesn’t have to suffer (as many depressives believe is just their lot in life) and (2) that the more seriously afflicted could indeed one day be us, through no fault of their own (Potter could have suffered her sister’s fate, and s could we all).

    I’m not sure the above made sense to anyone but me, but to me, there’s a lot of value in looking more generally at how these illnesses affect people and how we view them in American society. Most or all psychiatrists and psychologists would know enough about all of them to be able to speak compellingly and to see the forest for the trees.

  25. Thanks Potter

    A follow up to critics could be an artist show and then a show with the best from the two shows: critics vs. artists

    Visual artists are embarrassingly inarticulate – they communicate through their work. Although I would rather listen to Kiki Smith and Cindy Sherman, we would probably be listening to Gunther Schuller and Salman Rushdie.

    Art ‘think’ tends to break down along the lines of the medium

    When Salman Rushdie hosted Charlie Rose he interviewed Deepa Mehta. He spent much time fiddling around before he popped the question: what do you think art is?

    She said it is a collective consciousness.

    That’s a good answer if you are selling books and movie tickets, but what a disappointment for me and probably Kuspit and Perl would have been disappointed.

    I was also shocked that he would ask such a question, but it was obviously something he was really interested in knowing. Not the kind of thing David Mamet wastes time thinking about.

  26. By the way, a show on PTSD w/r/t Katrina and/or other traumas would also be great. I don’t know whehter it’s the same show or not, but it would be worth exploring. As Potter says, the effects of PTSD are also quite broad. The highlight of my legal career thus far was pro bono work I did for several refugees in their attempts to win political asylum in the USA. One had been a slave in Mauritania, subjected to repeated beatings, rape, and hideously “clever” punishments. The other two (an elderly couple) had been subjected to rape, beatings, and the burning down of their home, all as retributuion for their expression of certain liberal political views in Pakistan. All three suffered different forms of PTSD (as we demonstrated in court using expert psychiatric testimony). We won in both cases, despite some very difficult evidentiary problems (it’s hard to document this stuff, and the applicant is generally assumed to be lying) and a general disposition against granting asylum. But the point is, I got to see PTSD up close, andit’s not pretty. You’re right to wonder how Katrina will be affecting people for years or decades to come.

  27. Sutter,

    As always, an excellent post.

    As always, an excellent post.

    ///….how these illnesses affect people and how we view them in American society.\\\

    Sheryl Crow says she is in a state of melancholy when she writes a song. Many artists know what she is referring to…

    If Van Gogh was depressed, it was a feeling – truth is a thought.

    Depression might have been a motivator -for the good doctor to assert you can find truth without a motivator is a questionable assertion.

    I think a show on metal illness would in someway include Rollo May, who I believe was the first to say, like Kinsey, there is no such thing as normal.

    “If we admit our depression openly and freely, those around us get from it an experience of freedom rather than the depression itself.” – Rollo May

  28. Lumière: Someone I’ve mentioned elsewhere in connecton with other things is the American writer William S. WIlson. He published two books of fiction in the 70s and 80s that in their quiet and demanding way seem to me among the best in “our” literature. Since then he’s published mostly art criticism, of the highest order, some of which you can find here:


  29. Lumière: If I take your point, that is his point. But that’s an old article (1968). Wilson’s central concern seems to be with art as a form of visual philosophy. Read around the rest if you have a chance. I’d be very eager to hear what you have to say.

  30. Hurley,

    If you would, give me some specific links re visual philosophy – most of the items I saw were old.

    That piece has me stewing about Andy:

    I wouldn’t cross the street to look at his work – one doesn’t have to look at his work.

    Nonetheless, for a guy with an IQ supposedly less than 100, he was able to create a lasting schism between intellectuals and artists.

    Imo, intelligence has to do with order – uncovering, recovering, discovering, and integrating the order of things.

    Einstein did it and so did Andy.

    The fact that Andy could do it, galls intellectuals. Now intellectuals can feign a fascination with a piece, such as Lethem’s Ecstasy of Influence, because it denigrates art.


  31. Heartening response, Lumière. But what has you stewing so about Andy? I’d love to hear it.

    As for the schism, Danto, whatever his recantations, tried to bridge it long ago in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace. Wilson still working here and there with the paradoxes Warhol presented. I tend to share, superficially, your opinion of Warhol as a visual artist, but was brought up short in my usual ignorance after reading a book of interviews with him (http://www.amazon.com/Ill-Your-Mirror-Interviews-1962-1987/dp/078671364X/ref=sr_1_2/102-6832164-8772966?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1173033400&sr=1-2) in which he basically ran rings around anyone presumptuous enough to pose him a leading question. Wilson a good guide through the metaphysics of Warhol and others. Worth persevering with, no matter the initial disturbances.

    No links off-hand re visual philosophy, but the theme comes through clearly enough in what’s available online. But if I find any I’ll send them your way.

    P.S. What does “Imo” mean?

  32. ///…rings around anyone presumptuous enough…\\\

    I’ve seen the interviews – what does that have do with the work?

    That is the crux of the post-modern problem – it is about celebrity -Andy being Andy.

    In a recent interview with Rose, if my memory is correct, Perl used the word ‘crap’

    to describe the NYC art scene. Kuspit’s book, End of Art. is a rant against post-modern nonsense.

    Danto considers himself a philosopher and although he wont commit to using a word like ‘crap’, in the The Abuse of Beauty, he gives us a clue to what he is thinking: beauty delivers the promise of happiness.


    …the heck?

    Only a bad artist thinks he has a good idea. A good artist does not need anything – Ad Reinhardt

    Ps. imo = in my opinion

  33. Sutter: Potter could have suffered her sister’s fate, and s could we all…..I’m not sure the above made sense to anyone but me, but to me, there’s a lot of value in looking more generally at how these illnesses affect people and how we view them in American society…

    I did suffer from my sister’s illness, that is the point, though not nearly what she suffered. The whole family did. From that I derived my own version of PTSD ( how fragile mental stability can be!) overcome ultimately through therapy and meditation practice ( Jon Kabat Zinn’s excellent course on mindfulness based stress reduction out here at UMASS Mem Med center ). It’s very hard almost impossible to understand mental illness unless you have been close to it. The impulse is to turn away I think b/c it is so scary not to have your wits about you. I think it’s easier to be without a limb than your mind.

    That is why the “chin up” response is so prevalent. How can one understand insanity or deep depression-it’s an oxymoron. I got near and it is frightening. Anxiety of which PTSD is a form, which is also closely connected to depression is very frightening. The world is a different color. Those that have mental illness in one form or another very close to home suffer along with those that they love.

    I have, from the beginning of these suggestion threads, been asking for something about PTSD because I quickly realized, extrapolating this to a universal level, that it is not possible for people everywhere,who are suffering from much more trying circumstances in their lives, multiple trauma for instance, are not dealing with mental illness in one form or another and that this having an effect on us all. And we don’t choose to see it nevermind deal with it. It’s an uphill battle with insurance companies and the law. ( How many of the mentally ill are in prison?)

    The compassion is not there because it is very difficult to empathize with mental illness unless you have it in the family or you get close to it.

    Okay- I’m off my soapbox.

  34. Potter writes “How can one understand insanity or deep depression-it’s an oxymoron.”

    This is really the core of the matter. One thing that ties together all the different forms of mental illness is that they all distort the victim’s view of reality. In some cases the dissociation is extreme; in other cases it’s just a more negative or anxious interpretation of the facs that would be normal. But the import is that it is very hard to understand the way in which these illnesses affect people. (Thus, for example, the phrase “What does he have to be depressed about?” is infuriating, because the whole point is that “he” sees the world in a certain way that has nothing to do with the objectively good things in “his” life.)

  35. I’m wondering if, in this Age of Communication, there is a grassroots movement on the internet (or any other communication media) wherein the common people are connecting to one another and slowly breaking down barriers of nationalism and stemming the tide of xenophobia. Could this kind of relationship building prevent wars? (Ok, probably not, but it could help us care a little more about how our actions affect people in remote places.)

    I found this strange little program called Flork where you can post your profile and click on a button that brings up random profiles with a message box at the bottom. There are profiles of people from all over the planet. (though, mostly Europe and US). The idea is just for people to make new friends. I’ve been having little conversations with people in Turkey, Iraq, Taiwan, Holland, Brazil……

  36. the KKK is experiencing its largest boom in membership since the 70′s, mostly thanks to piggybacking on the new bigotry against immigration and gay marriage. Morever, the biggest increases in membership are not in the south, but rather in states like PA, NB, IN, and NJ! Initially it was the PEW center that carried this story… but naturally its swept under the rug as it is very alarming.

  37. Follow up to OLPC

    Convergence :

    Convergence of media occurs when multiple products come together to form one product with the advantages of all of them. Taking pictures with a cell phone and surfing the Web on a television are two of the most common examples of this trend.

    First, Convergence in telephony first: voice + data + video

    Next, Convergence between television and the computer

    Finally, convergence between the two above.


    Angela Gunn (executive writer) of Digital Duo – if she isn’t interested, pump her for sources

    Someone from Advanced Television System Committee (ATSC)


    When will this happen

    Who will or how will standards be set

    Are there any social ramifications driving this, or is it just convenience?

    Is the need for one device the logical extension of the desire for “one-ness”? (notice we are getting one stamp from the USPS) (Will we all change our names to Nunee per the SNL skit?)

    Is all this interconnectivity going lead to one huge viral crash? Will it be the next potato famine?

    Will technology end with this single device?

  38. I don’t want to harp, but yesterday’s death of former Sen. Thomas Eagleton provides a compelling context for looking at changing attitudes re: mental health issues. As most of you know, Eagleton was selected to me George McGovern’s running mate in 1972, but withdrew from the ticket two weeks later after it became known that he had voluntarily been hospitalized for depression and nervous exhaustion on three occasions. (Perhaps I’m too optimistic for believing times have changed: A promising candidate in the Maryland governor’s race last year withdrew citing depression as well.)

  39. Lumiere, I’d be happy to help out on the convergence thing — in “real life,” I’m a telecommunications policy wonk. If the ROS people were looking for niches to fill on a convergence show, I’d be happy to throw out names. That would be a fun show, particularly for me!

    Bicyclemark’s suggestion is also worth a lot of thought. I didn’t know about the renewed rise of the KKK, but that’s obviously a troubling development. (Unless it’s not troubling, because it somehow indicates a rearguard action against a rising tide of cosmopolitanism, as is sometimes the case with nativist “resurgences.”) Either way, this would make an excellent show too!

  40. Sutter,

    Geeks are usually guys, so give ROS some gals if you would.

    Gunn is probably a journalist, which is ok she, might have an overview.

    I am interested in this from the sociological standpoint

    Art has ended, history has ended, science has ended




    Will this end tech?

    That would be great! we wouldn’t have to deal with the expense of constant change.

  41. I vote for Sutter’s suggestion of a show on mental illness. In particular I’d like to hear the widespread accepted bigotry and contempt towards the mentally ill talked about. I couldn’t leave my house for two full years because of severe OCD and it and Tourette’s have devastated my life, but TV shows like “Monk” with its tagline of “defective detective” perpetuate the idea of these mental illnesses as comedy and entertainment. It’s indescribably offensive – you would never see a version of “Monk” featuring the lead character with a physical disease. Scorsece’s “The Aviator” was the only accurate gem in an ocean of malinformed misguided filth like “Matchstick Men.” America has barely come far at all from the days when even the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald wasn’t exempt from being locked away in a cell and mocked and mistreated until she died.

  42. I went to college with a guy who had Tourette’s.

    He had a photographic memory and could only get 100% correct. Once he became incensed b/c he got one wrong – he went flying up to the professor and showed him the error. The prof had to collect all the tests and re-grade them – he didn’t want to – John made him do it.

    You’re right, there was comedy.

    Ever semester we would wait for John to ask his first question. He would blurt out some horrific profanity right before he asked. That wasn’t the funny part – we were all on John’s side – the funny part was the new prof’s response.

    John was well liked and respected for his knowledge and willingness to help others. John never once mentioned Tourette’s, we had to figure it out.

    I don’t know what more you can expect from people.

    Good luck and God bless.

  43. It’s a common misunderstanding that all Tourette’s symptoms involve shouting profanities or racial slurs, but that’s not the case; my verbal tics are only grunts, shouts, coughs, etc (nevertheless loud enough to put stress on my relationships with those in neighboring apartments). But the physical tics are the real problem because they often lead to real physical pain. There’s one, for example, where I snap my ankle and contract the muscles in it so hard it feels like I’ve ripped a tendon and I’m unable to step on it; a few times a year I inevitably have to pull the crutches out of the closet for a week or so.

    Thanks for sharing your story of John. He was lucky he was able to think clearly enough to function in school and society (although if he hasn’t found treatment yet I wonder if he’s still able to) as a lot of people cannot. In severe cases the constant internal struggle is almost impossible to describe. The state of America’s mental health care is beyond shameful.

  44. Hi folks. Last June I pitched the idea of a show on English Nationalism: http://www.radioopensource.org/suggest-a-show-june-2006/#comment-12777 and you guys liked it: http://www.radioopensource.org/show-suggestion-roundup-june/ but then with war in Lebanon it sank without a trace. But every time I hear Chris say “England” when he means (or at least should mean!) “the UK”, I’m reminded of my idea. Tony Blair is not the prime minister of England, he is the PM of Great Britain. This is becoming ever more an issue as we approach his resignation and Gordon-”I like the English… honest”-Brown prepares to take over. The idea of Scot in charge is sharpening feelings in England, mainly because the Scots already have their own parliament. The newly emergent English nationalism says – how come there are so many Scots in charge in London, as well as in Edinburgh?

    So what is English nationalism? Is it the slightly drunken but generally warm-spirited football nationalism of last summer’s world cup? According to the Guardian (12 July 2006) 27 % of English adults bought at least one England flag in June 06 (I was one of them) and for a nation that has has previously found flag waving, frankly, rather embarrassing, this is quite amazing. BUT these were St. George’s Crosses, not Union Jacks.

    Is English nationalism just a response to the setting up by the Labour govt. of a Scottish Parliament and Welsh assembly? The Scottish parliament sets all laws except foreign and defence policy; the Welsh assembly not quite as much but they do some of their business in Welsh which makes it seem rather “foreign”.

    Can English nationalism be inclusive to a diverse society when many ethnic minorities say they see “English” as racial distinction, and are therefore much more comfy describing themselves as “British and…”?

    Amusingly when President Ahmadinejad has ranted against the Imperial west, he has named “the United States and England” as his mortal enemies. As the UK prepares to renew its trident nuclear deterrent at great cost – have the Scots and Welsh got the the right idea?

    You want guests? I’ve got guests. Like I said before you’ve gotta get the incomparable Billy Bragg, singer-songwriter and author of the Progressive Patriot. And how about comedian/actor Chris Addison who has just done a BBC documentary called the “The Hunt for Middle-England”? The American that every Brit loves is Bill Bryson because, simply, he’s seems to quite like us and he knows more about the UK than most Brits do. Prospect magazine did a symposium on the “English Question” in the August 06 edition. Any of their writers would know their stuff on this: http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=7608 Another good one could be delightfully mad punk/journalist/english-nationalist-politician Gary Bushell – anointed by Howard Stern as his “ambassador to England”. This may, or may not, be a recommendation.

  45. Billy Bragg – absolutny !

    Chris Addison + Gary Bushell = 100%

    The Druid ancestry in me thinks this would be a great show.

  46. Mental illness. Yes. Good idea. We shouldn’t forget two things however, one: Hitler and his approach to the subject, and two: the far left – self righteousness, and how intellectual narcissism and selfishness *translates* into a counterintuitive blindness – that prevents those who indulge in it from recognizing danger.

  47. There is so much discussion about soldiers in Iraq what about a show about the children of soldiers. Michael Ritter wrote a book about being a military brat called The Brat Chronicles http://www.literaryroad.com. There is also a movie touring called Brats: Our Journey Home by Donna Musil that would be a good resource.


  48. Here’s a pitch…

    A few days ago the chief of the Israeli police resigned after an investigation that found several of Israel’s highest police officers guilty of corruption and negligence. This came within a week of the forced resignation of Israel’s Chief of Staff from the military because of the fiascos of the second Lebanon war… some ten days after Israel’s minister of justice was convicted of sexual assault while on duty… after Israel’s president – who holds a largely symbolic position – resigned temporarily following charges of rape and sexual misconduct. ….several other investigations are still pending, not least two or three directed at the Prime Minister himself, Ehud Olmert, concerning corruption and favoritism… Suddenly the Palestinians and the Hizbullah, and even Iranian nukes, have taken a back seat: Israel does indeed seem in danger of imploding from within, at least as a viable democracy.

    Is Israel Falling Apart ? http://hnn.us/articles/35958.html

  49. Hi March 6th-ers,

    Toby in the North: Henry picked up that show pitch last summer and researched it for a while. Sam likes the idea– he’ll pitch it in the meeting first, and if it doesn’t pass, he’ll work it up for a feature. Thanks for checking back.

    Lumiere: To be completely honest, all I know about Jean Beaudrillard is that he’s a noted French philosopher. Can you help me out? Do a little digging and sell me on why this is such a fascinating conversation to have now. Why would you be excited to listen to it?

    OliverCranglesParrot: The fact that a competing radio show covered the story means its likely we won’t.

    renfitz: Brat life is interesting– we’ve got one on staff here. Maybe we’ll cover a piece of the story on a show we’re planning for early next week on veterans returning home. If there are interesting things we miss, let us know.

  50. There has been a lot of discussion here, and elsewhere on the neoconservatives, either being in retreat or regrouping. But a general discussion on conservatism, and it’s current flavor du jour would be very enlightening.

    I think a show on what is ‘Conservatism’ based on Russell Kirk and his influence and how much the current ‘conservative’ movement is so far afield, not just the neocons, would make for a good show.

    There are a couple of good writers out there, that have covered Kirk.

    W. Wesley McDonald , and his book Russell Kirk and the Age of Ideology is one.

    Also, recent articles by by Jeremy M. Beer, RUSSELL KIRK: A CRITICAL BIOGRAPHY OF A CONSERVATIVE MIND

    or The Idea of Kirk.

    It would make for an interesting show.


  51. An intriguing article about Mossad’s possible premonitions, shall we say, of 9/11:


    I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories about the collapse of the Twin Towers — I’ve ignored them. But this particular version of some aspects of what happened needs to be explored and, if possible, confirmed or debunked regardless. The allegation of journalistic cold-feet thus far should be all the more incentive.

  52. One peg for zgarilli’s proposal might be the coming publication in paperback of Fukuyama’s “America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy.” As I commented to a friend recently, the book has experienced an odd life-cycle. When Fukuyama wrote it, he probably viewed himself as an apostate who wanted to warn the world that the philosophy with which he had been associated was being misused. By the time it was published, America had grown deeply, deeply suspicious of the ideology. By the time it comes out in paper this spring, it will be a warning about the misapplication of an outlook that is almost (only almost, but still almost) universally derided.

  53. I’ve been listening to the podcast for about a year and figured it’s time to log in and add a pitch…

    What is our National Interest? Who gets to define it? Should it be a Straussian secret? Or should it be Open Source? Can we work backward from policies like the Iraq invasion and occupation to a point where it’s obvious what National Interest we were trying to promote by invading and occupying? In 2002/3 I opposed the war because it didn’t fit in with my vision of what our National Interests should be. Obviously, I didn’t understand the National Interest.

    What does the phrase National Interest mean anyway? Why is it always talked about in vague terms? What if it were open sourced? Is it in the eye of the beholder? Is it a term that is so open to interpretation that it is essentially meaningless? Can we do without it? Is the process we go through to define it broke? Can we fix it?

    You need to book a historian, a good one who can provide a hindsight perspective.

    You need a political scientist/geostrategist, maybe somebody ex-NSA or maybe Tom Barnett. (That is, if he’s still talking to you after that embarrassing Chalmers Johnson show. Two guys so far apart they can’t even agree on the definition of ‘base’ – sheesh!) Get into a discussion of current National Interest definition methods at State, in the NSA, in Congress. Also, is National Interest supposed to transcend party affiliation? Or do our political parties represent competing visions of our National Interest?

    Then maybe a ‘what if’ discussion would be useful. What if we went about defining our National Interest differently? Use national referenda. Have open discussions of what the heck we are trying to accomplish as a nation. Actually build an informed national consensus. Would we fail at all international negotiations because we’re too predictable? Or would we be more respected because of our honesty and openness?

  54. Greta,

    Would rather see a 4-parter on The End of:

    Art – see March 3 , 2007

    Technology Convergence – see March 5, 2007 (post 1 & 2 )

    Science – see March 5, 2007

    History –see March 5, 2007

    Baudrillard was– just and idea – would be fascinating, but he is too esoteric – not sure who ROS could get to speak

  55. I’d like to hear a show on green building. Specifically on building with straw bale. Straw bales are risistant to fire, earthquake, tornados, and pests, so no wolf will blow down a strawbale house. It is supposed to be somewhat easier to construct, but cheeper long term because of the heating and cooling savings. To top it all off the houses have an unbelievable old world beauty.

    It seems to be a growing trend with more and more builders getting into the straw and green building business.

    Here’s a few videos:





    Here’s some websites:





    Here’s the wikipedia article:


    Here’s a page with links to photo Galleries:


    I haven’t built with straw yet, but I’d like my next home to be a straw home.

  56. A pitch for a few months down the road (say, around June 2007?) :

    ‘The Israeli Occupation at 40′

    Questions/lenses (certainly incomplete, but I won’t pretend that this pitch is all-inclusive):

    –I think it’d be particularly interesting for ROS to tackle this history through the lens of Palestinian mass (largely) non-violent resistance to the occupation, namely similarities and differences obtaining between the first (1987-93) and second (2000-) intifadas. How have the phenomena that marked the first Intifada–popular mobilization both in the Occupied Territories and within the Green Line, despite a massive military onslaught by Israel meant to ‘break the bones’ (I take this from Yitzhak Rabin, of course) of Palestinian civilians–been rendered either extremely difficult or impossible in the years since?

    –An attempt at a judicious understanding of Hamas–and the attendant rise of suicide bombing throughout what was for the Palestinians the diplomatic black hole of the 1990s–is obviously a crucial component of any discussion of modern Palestinian and Israeli politics, society, and culture. How has the rise of suicide bombing harmed the Palestinian cause at the international level?

    –The ‘formal’ Palestinian leadership constitutes, or at least did under the Arafat regime, one of the most wealthy “resistance movements” in the world. Millions of dollars in the coffers, and painfully little to show for it, whether because of US/Israeli prevarication/rejectionism, internal corruption, or simple incompetence, or some combination of the three). Cue Hamas. What changes (or lack thereof) have taken place in the ‘traditional’ PLO leadership–which certainly was one step behind the first Intifada, not simply because the PLO was at that point still exiled–particularly following the death of Yasir Arafat and the unequivocal embarrassment of Fatah in the general elections of 2006?

    –Also, of late a debate has begun among those who support a peaceful and just solution between Israel and the Palestinians (the ostensible outcome of any Palestinian resistance), but disagree on the make-up of such a solution: one binational state, or two separate political, ethnic, and religious entities? The latter is unarguably the bolder proposition, and has been gaining traction (see Ali Abunimah and Virginia Tilley, below).

    –Culturally, (and this is where someone like the Palestinian filmmaker Michel Khleifi could be an indispensable guest), the outbreak of the first Intifada roughly coincided with a sustained effort by Palestinian intellectuals and artists to engage with the daily fact of the Occupation through their work. How has this situation changed since 1987? How has such cultural activity been undermined either by Israel, or by the more recent provocations that have seen Palestinians pitted against one another?

    The list of of potential guests is of some length (if somewhat improbable at points. I’m also aware that the, well, partisan nature of some of these guests may need some sort of counter-valence, in the interest of unbiased journalism.

    My own sympathies, though likely obvious, are totally irrelevant; all that matters are to what extent these potential guests are capable of sober and judicious political and historical analysis. I consider them all more-than-able interlocutors. Included where appropriate are the beginnings of the extra-credit reading list for this pitch.


    Kathleen and Bill Christison : ex-CIA analysts and outspoken champions of Palestinian rights, who have written on everything from the much-debated power of the Israeli lobby in the US to the inherent racism of Zionist ideology (a Google search will bring up any number of articles the Christisons have co-authored recently).

    Virginia Tilley – author of ‘The One State Solution : A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock’ (see Tilley’s response to a review of her book in New Left Review here: http://newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2607)

    Ali Abunimah – editor of the absolutely indispensable news/analysis website Electronic Intifada (http://www.electronicintifada.net) and author of ‘One Country: A Bold Proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse’. Ali’s own website is abunimah.org

    Bashir Abu-Manneh – a friend/former professor of mine. Born in Haifa, teaches English at Barnard College in New York. See a collection of Bashir’s writing here: http://www.zmag.org/content/AllByAuthor.cfm?lname=Abu-Manneh&fname=Bashir&startrow=1

    Perry Anderson – Professor of History at UCLA, editor of New Left Review, author of too many books to name here. A uniquely brilliant thinker. See his ‘Scurrying Towards Bethlehem’, written not long after the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa intifada, here: http://newleftreview.org/?view=2330.

    Michel Khleifi – Palestinian filmmaker, born 1950 in Nazareth. Has directed, among other films, ‘Road 181′, ‘Fertile Memory’, and ‘Wedding in Galilee’.

    Joel Beinin – Professor of Middle East history at Stanford and author with Zachary Lockman of ‘Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising Against Israeli Occupation.’

    Ramzy Baroud – Editor-in-chief of PalestineChronicle.com, author of ‘The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle’ and ‘Searching Jenin’.

    Azmi Bishara – Knesset member who ran briefly for Prime Minister of Israel in 1999. A man of formidable intelligence and erudition.

    Hanan Ashrawi, – Palestinian Legislator for the Jerusalem district. Founder of MIFTAH — the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy.

    Tanya Reinhart – Journalist for Yediot Aharonot. Author of ‘Israel/Palestine: How To End the War of 1948′ (Seven Stories, 2002) and ‘The Road Map to Nowhere’ (Verso, 2006).

    Joseph Massad – Another former professor of mine, teaches Modern Arabic Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia. At the center of a swirl of controversy while I was at Columbia, during which it was alleged that Massad ‘intimidated’ Jewish/Zionist students in his classes on the history of the conflict, an allegation which was roundly found to hold no water. One of the most intelligent people I have ever met. His Columbia website: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/mealac/faculty/massad/

    Hamid Dabashi – Yet another former professor! (Am I cheating?) Holds the Hagop Kevorkian chair in Iranian Studies at Columbia. Close friend, as is Massad, of the late Edward Said. His website: http://www.hamiddabashi.com/

    Amira Hass – I have heard Chris speak highly of Amira before, so you guys probably already know who she is. Veteran journalist covering the Gaza strip for Haaretz, author of ‘Drinking the Sea at Gaza’ :Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege’ (Owl Books, 2000).

    Jimmy Carter – Thought he might be worth a shot, considering his recent book and the fire he’s come under for it from the American political establishment.

    Gideon Levy – Another Ha’aretz reporter telling the “other” side of the story.

    Norman Finkelstein – Professor of Political Science at DePaul, scourge of people like Alan Dershowitz. An implacable critic of the state of Israel. Author of numerous books including ‘The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years’ (University of Minnesota, 1996), ‘Image and Reality of the Palestine/Israel Conflict’ (Verso, 1995) and ‘Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History’ (University of California, 2005).

    Sara Roy – professor at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard, who has worked extensively on the effects of occupation on the Palestinian economy, particularly in Gaza. See ‘The Economy of Gaza’ here: http://www.counterpunch.org/roy10042006.html

    Ahdaf Soueif – Egyptian-born author (‘In The Eye of the Sun’, ‘Aisha’, ‘Mezzaterra’, ‘The Map of Love’) and a journalist writing most notably for the Guardian. Her website: Ahdafsoueif.com

    Gilbert Achcar – Professor of Political Science at University of Paris-VIII. Author of ‘The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder’ (Monthly Review Press, 2002) and ‘Eastern Cauldron: Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq in a Marxist Mirror’ (Monthly Review Press, 2004). See a collection of some of his writing here : http://www.zmag.org/content/AllByAuthor.cfm?lname=Achcar&fname=Gilbert&startrow=1

    Noam Chomsky – Need I elaborate?

    Whew. I feel like I should apologize for the length of this pitch. But some degree of thoroughness is a must. Hope this gains some momentum…

  57. I have no idea why there is an ‘emoticon’ in the middle of Amira’s book title up there. There is very little that is funny about her book.

  58. Oh! One more proposed guest, (I know: as if one more were necessary…)

    Ilan Pappe – Israeli ‘New Historian’, professor of History at the University of Haifa. Author of ‘A History of Modern Palestine’ (Cambridge 2003) and editor of ‘The Israel/Palestine Question’ (Routledge, 1999).

  59. Oh! One more proposed guest:

    Ilan Pappe – Israeli ‘New Historian’, professor of History at the University of Haifa. Author of ‘A History of Modern Palestine’ (Cambridge 2003) and editor of ‘The Israel/Palestine Question’ (Routledge, 1999).

  60. Interview Kirkpatrick Sale about ‘After Eden’. He goes into the origin of our exploitive attitude toward the world. It’s a bit speculative, but in-depth, and quite a head trip.

  61. Andrew Kinney: This is a good pitch (concise, includes potential guests). I’ll bring it up in the story meeting to see whether anyone bites. Maybe a larger show on translation — with part of it on machine translation?

    Dacker: Mercenary armies. Potentially interesting. There was a good NYT Magazine piece on this a while back. I’ll pitch it to the group.

    GoldsteinGoneWild: We definitely need to kick it up a notch on the school front, so I’ll add this to our list of education ideas.

  62. Responses to pitches from March 3rd and 4th:

    Herbert Browne: I don’t think the Julie Amero case could hold an audience’s interest for a full hour. I mean, we all know that there’s porn out here in the wilds of the internet, and that — so I’m told — it’s not too hard to chance upon. As for legal questions of classroom stumbling: I have a feeling that the questions themselves might get into legal minutae but wouldn’t really have too much of an effect on most of our daily lives.

    Katemcshane: we’ll try to have some “regular people” on our upcoming veterans show. I think you’re right in general, though. We’ve been a little wonk/talking head-heavy over the last few weeks.

    cmac2012 and Hurley, on bees and elephants: we are definitely going to do the On Anthropomorphism show that followed from the rampaging (and clinically depressed) elephant article. We’ve been waiting because Paul Theroux, who most likely will be on the show, has been out of the country for a while. I’m less sure about bees, although I can imagine a passion for bees show taking shape, with their disappearance forming just one part of the hour. We’ll give this some thought.

    Loay: We did talk about Walt and Mearsheimer’s article when it first came out. I think we’ll wait to see if the book adds anything new to the debate or just more footnotes.

    Lumiere: I’m torn here, because I’d love to figure out an interesting follow-up to the Ecstasy of Influence show, but I’m not sure this is it. The question “What is art” is eternal — and impossibly broad. You could argue that it’s been with us since we started painting horses on cave walls. And that it’s been the CENTRAL question in the art world since Marcel Duchamp wrote “R. Mutt” on a urinal in 1917. But I have a feeling that for both of these reasons it would make a better half-drunk conversation in a bar than an hour of radio.

    As for “Modernism vs. Postmodernism,” is anyone having fruitful discussions about these particular rubrics or are they just making art (or writing critism about it)? I did read Jed Perl’s recent screed in The New Republic (which, of course, is behind a damn firewall) called “Laissez-Faire Aesthetics: What money is doing to art, or how the art world lost its mind.” It’s an angry, entertaining, enlightening essay — one that I’m filing away for a rainy day, and in the mean time thinking about how to turn it into a conversation. If any of you can sneak behind TNR‘s enemy lines, check it out.

    (As for your assertion that “visual artists are embarrassingly inarticulate,” my painter fianceé will talk you (and me) under the table, so watch out!)

    Potter: I don’t know that we’re going to resuscitate that particular show, but we hear you loud and clear about these critical issues, and we won’t forget them. Hopefully you heard our recent Guantanamo show, which touched (perhaps too briefly) on Habeas and spent much of the hour on what kinds of questionable evidence will be allowed in their military commission “trials.” We’ll be returning to Abu Graib and the torture question in the follow up to tonight’s Hannah Arendt show. Keep us honest!

    Sutter: Did you sneak into our story meeting? Chelsea has been pushing for a post-Katrina PTSD show for a while now, and your post will help buttress her case.

  63. No such luck David (being in one of your meetings) — I was just following up on Chelsea’s mention of that angle. It would make a great show. I’m still holding out for the generic “changing views on mental illness” show, which has got to have as much marginal value as another Iraq show.

  64. On a somewhat lighter topic…

    “Visionary performance artist and musician Laurie Anderson in a conversation about aesthetics, story-telling and ways of seeing the universe, as illuminated by her time as NASA’s first artist-in-residence.” Go here: http://scienceandreligion.arizona.edu/calendar.html

    I always enjoy your shows about the arts, especially when they intersect with big non-art ideas in society. So when I saw the calendar for this lecture series at the University of Arizona called “Astrobiology and The Sacred: The implications of life beyond Earth”(see the link above), and I saw that one of the speakers is legendary perfomance artist/musician Laurie Anderson, I thought it was something you might like to explore.

    Anderson’s discography spans twenty years, her cunning play with language and technology was way before its time; she has been immensely influential to a whole younger generation of artists, myself included, and she is FUNNY. Any conversation with her is bound to be interesting. She has a new book out, and a new album on the way, and she has lots to say about a lot of things.

    And Artist in Residence for NASA? How cool is that?

    I also think that the mere fact that NASA has an “astrobiology” department is really interesting. Peter Ward, author of “Life as We Do Not Know It: The NASA Search for (and Synthesis of) Alien Life” (go here: http://www.amazon.com/Life-We-Not-Know-Synthesis/dp/0670034584 would also make a good guest, I have heard him on our local NPR affiliate and he is articulate and interesting.

    Not the most coherent show pitch, but something to watch for.

  65. General Alireza Asghari, who served as deputy Iranian defence minister, went missing in Istanbul on February 7 after arriving from Damascus and checking into a hotel.

    This is interesting because there has been allegations that he was either kidnapped or he defected to the US. Both of these cases have severe implications for Iran and the United States.

    This article in the Christian Science Monitor gives a intriguing account of what is being said by the media. http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0308/p99s01-duts.html

    There is alot of disinformation and spygames playing out.

    I remember listening to Sy Hersh explain about the covert ops going on in Iran. I think this would be a great show.

  66. Yeah, I’m here seconding Hurley’s suggestion. I read Helen Benedict’s article in Salon about the rape and sexual abuse of women soldiers in the US military and I am outraged. Here’s the link:

    “The Private War of Women Soldiers”


    There are many threads that could spring out of this. Is war just hell? Are men just beasts? The Japanese “comfort women.” The Israeli military, the mixed units there. Is there a breakdown of discipline in the Army? Does that connect this to Abu Ghraib? If American military men behave this way towards their supposed comrades, how do they treat Iraqi women? The gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl last year by US soldiers. (The perpetrators are in various stages in the justice system.) The lowering of standards by Army recruiters. The culture of sexism and homophobia in the Army. If they could go from extreme racism and segregated units to being a vanguard of integration, why can’t they get over sexism?

    I can see how it could be very controversial, as it could be construed as criticizing The Troops (horrors!) but honestly, someone needs to deconstruct that dumb sacred cow. This story shows that The Troops is not a monolith, and that “supporting” them should amount to a lot more than not questioning the US presence in Iraq.

    How’s this for supporting the troops: Stop using their (disproportionately poor and brown) bodies to wage wars of conquest and resource control in cuntries that never attacked us!

    Honestly, it’s broken my heart. Again. Somebody wrote in the “Letters” section to the article that “the Army is just one big mass of hurt.”

    If this topic ends up being folded into the upcoming section on Soldiers coming home, that’s fine, so long as it’s a platform to tease apart this notion of “Supporting the Troops” and how that’s used to stifle debate and shut-up whistleblowers.

  67. Oh, and Samnang–

    If you’re gonna build with straw, PLEASE don’t put concrete plaster on it, no matter WHAT your code inspector says.

  68. Sutter the claim that the Iranian general is talking with the United States is from an anonymous senior us official. I don’t know how much of it is disinformation or misleading information. This Iranian general in particular made headlines in Tehran when he exposed corruption in an Iranian ministry. This makes it hardfor me to believe that he would knowingly betray his country.

  69. ///How’s this for supporting the troops: Stop using their (disproportionately poor and brown) bodies to wage wars of conquest and resource control in cuntries (Freudian slip?) that never attacked us!\\\1

    people volunteer for the opportunities the service gives them.

    Replace the army with rich kids and you will get complaints from the poor.

  70. AFR114 — forgive me if I was unclear; I wasn’t commenting on the merits. Just wanted to make sure you had seen the story. I’m more inclined to believe it — we have many incentives at our disposal — but I certainly can’t claim to know for sure either way.

  71. OCB:

    Thanks for the link.

    Typical Kuspit rant – I went immediately to the bottom to see if he said:

    we are getting the art we deserve

    Hell yes!

    he says:

    ….suggesting that the marriage between money and art will produce defective artists. It already has, in the form of anti-artists.

  72. Wednesday March 7

    I’m sensing there could be some synergy between the state of Israeli democracy and the Israeli occupation at 40. So I’ll bring both of them up.

    Wow, hurley, that’s the most depressing thing I’ve read in a long time. I’m not really sure what to do with it. I’m gonna need to think about how/whether this could be a show. In the meantime I’m also going to send it to Chelsea, who’s working on a show about veterans for Monday.

    We did a show this past summer on The Encyclopedia of American Conservatism that I think is an answer to your pitch,

    zgarilli and Sutter.

    We talked about doing a 9/11 conspiracy show this summer, around the approach to the 5th anniversary of the attacks, hurley, and decided against it. So I don’t think it’s likely we would do it now.

    Thanks for giving us your first pitch, deNoVa. However, although we like our high concept shows, I think this one is both a) too vague, and b) not likely to yield interesting results on the radio. I feel like I can hear people saying, “war is not in our national interest, peace is,” and better education and health care, and all the things we’re always working towards. If you can find someone who has an answer to this question that is surprising or unexpected, you should try to re-pitch it.

    I could maybe see us doing a show on green building, Samnang, but definitely not on something as specific as straw bale. Want to re-pitch a more general show about green building? I know it’s a big deal right now, and could perhaps envision it as part of our global warming series if we approached it the right way. Help us out.

  73. So are we ready for another show on Latin America yet? Bush is in Uruguay, Chavez and Evo are in Buenos Aires, and Lula is in the middle.

    I would highly recommend looking for alternative (i.e. non-US based, and Spanish-language if possible) sources for this one. You’ll note that the NYTimes article linked to above is quick to identify Hebe de Bonafini an anti-Semite and a 9/11 apologist, but don’t mention that she was one of the leading figures in returning Argentina to democratic rule during the military dictatorship. And characterizing Chavez as a dictator, as Chelsea did in her round-up above, is a gross distortion of the situation. Chavez is a populist leader who has curtailed some civil liberties in his country, much like GWBush is a corporatist leader who has curtailed some civil liberties in his country. Neither can be said to be dictators.

    To understand Chavez’s power down here, one must FIRST _listen_ to him on his terms, and only THEN reach conclusions. There is great rhetorical power in Chavez’s dismissal of the US-Brasil Ethanol deal: Chavez paints an image of Latin Americans starving while the fertile South American soil is used to feed North America CARS!

  74. I’m also surprised that more people haven’t seconded the Baudrillard show pitch. After all, he did give us (indirectly) _The Matrix_(note copy of his _Simulacra and Simulation_ in Neo’s room).

    Baudrillard is far from esoteric. In fact, I would go to the other extreme: Baudrillard is one of those invisible influences, the invisible foundation beneath all of our discussions of ‘postmodernity’.

    It was Baudrillard who recontextualized the Greek concept simulacra to talk about mass-media culture. It was Baudrillard who provocatively proclaimed the Gulf War did not happen. And it was Baudrillard who was gave us the philosophical soundbite, always destined to be misinterpreted.

    How to make a show out of this? That’s a tougher question. We could ask ourselves: is Iraq II happening? Obviously the answer is…maybe. It is happening for the local population in Iraq, but pundits call any accurate attempt to estimate civilian casualties partisan hackery. It is happening (or happened) for the veterans that so many people are talking about after the Walter Read story, but veterans have been returning home to the same conditions for FOUR YEARS! Did the general public concern itself with veteran care in 2003? 2004? There is the much discussed question of wartime sacrifice…does a war really happen is the citizens can continue a normal uninterrupted life on the home front? And there are the examples of wartime simulacra–the spin around Pat Tillman’s death and Mission Accomplished–and the home front media images of torture in fictional TV shows that end up being reproduced on the front lines.

    So if we all promise not to sink too far into jargon, it might be worthwhile to ponder the question in Baudrillardian terms…is this war really happening?

  75. More thoughts on political parties 2.0, from a conservative politician in England. Not so much centered on parties, but still the most radical thing I’ve heard in awhile on applying the web to government:

    The first of these pillars is about equality – equality of information – or what Eric Schmidt, Chief Executive of Google, called “the democratisation of access to information” when he spoke to our Party Conference.

    The second pillar of a new political settlement will be founded on new social networks.

    The final pillar of this new political settlement is open source.

    Last week I went to hear my friend Professor Jeff Sachs deliver the first Reith Lecture. He talked about open source politics.

    Open source politics means rejecting the old monolithic top-down approach to decision-making.

    It means throwing open the doors and listening to new ideas and new contributors.

    It means harnessing the power of mass collaboration.

  76. I’d like to second (third?) the proposal for a show on Congress, and specifically the current lack thereof. Open Source has done such a great job keeping our eye on the political ball this year, but more and more I’m struck how they all leave me asking, Where is the Congress?! Take us a little deeper than the simplistic, “They’re spineless.” Help us think about the historical, institutional matrix of where we are.

  77. WNYC’s On the Media just did a segment on http://www.opencongress.org. If the voting US public cares, opencongress seems to give them the tools and resources to track voting records, campaign contributions, even rss feeds to see when bills are amended or changed.

    It might be interesting to look into how this program will change the US Congress. For instance, one can see exactly what is happening with H.R. 1201, a bill that will be of great interest to all ROS community members.

  78. I am only vaguely familiar with Baudrillard, but I think it would be great to have a show on his concept of simulations.

  79. Ah, a Baudrillard show….

    What we have here is failure to communicate: we need to complete the format below.

    Title: Did Baudrillard’s death really happen?

    Concept (includes relevancy):

    ///Baudrillard is one of those ……influences, the ….. foundation beneath all of our discussions of ‘postmodernity’.\\\

    ////mass-media culture: Baudrillard who was gave us the philosophical soundbite, always destined to be misinterpreted.\\\


    In contrast to Foucault however, of whom he was sharply critical, Baudrillard developed theories based, not on power and knowledge, but around the notions of seduction, simulation, and, the term with which he is most associated, hyperreality

    For those who like word play, Baudrillard is a great topic.

    Foucault, & Derrida are also good subjects for those who like word play:

    deconstruction theory played out in Cindy Sherman’s work ( alterity ) and, I’m not sure, but perhaps the origins of political correctness are found in deconstructionist theory


    The major question since Nietzsche is: are philosophers commenting on existence or are they changing the way we think and hence the way we exist? Chicken or egg?

    How did Baudrillard change modern existence?


    One would want a Baudrillard scholar and a Foucault or Derrida scholar for counterpoint Maybe a writer,….

    The interested, add to above

  80. Ps. OCP

    Kuspit is only starting to catch on.

    If Koons or Hirst produces a pile dung, with the express purpose of eschewing commercial value, money will flow towards their dung.

    There is no way out of this spiral because nothing is real.

    By that I mean only nothing is truly authentic.


    Nothing is truly authentic because it is a unique experience – everyone experiences the emptiness of nothing in their own way, which suggests my own belief that, at the highest level of thought, individual consciousness is unique.

    Oh uh,…..Baudrillard again:


    Hyperreality is a way of characterising the way the consciousness interacts with “reality”. Specifically, when a consciousness loses its ability to distinguish reality from fantasy, and begins to engage with the latter without understanding what it is doing, it has shifted into the world of the hyperreal.


    i.e. Nothing becomes your own unique, authentic, hyperreality.

  81. more about Baudrillard:

    I was thinking more along the lines of the relevance of his philosophy today and the usefulness of his concepts (simulacrum, hyperreality etc) in understanding our current situation.

    As several community members have expressed interest but limited familiarity with Baudrillard’s though, it would probably make more sense to dedicate an hour to him instead of using his death as an entrance point for the ‘status of philosophy’ question [another very interesting proposal, I might add, but not best approached via Baudrillard].

    Focusing on ‘word play’ actually demobilizes the power of Baudrillard’s thought; he indeed was a ‘playful’ thinker, but his comments on spectacular society, reality TV and war in the age of cable news are profound. We shouldn’t let ourselves–as critical thinkers–off the hook by chalking up Baudrillard’s writings as ‘mere’ word play.

    Some interesting guests for a Baudrillard show might be:

    someone from the Baudrillard Studies Journal

    (seconding Lumière) an author interested in Baudrillardian themes

    someone who can speak about media images and torture

  82. ////…is this war really happening?\\\

    The irony in the title relates to the above.

    Did Baudrillard’s death really happen?

    I didn’t mean to imply that his was word play, but that those who like to play with words would find his terminology and use of language interesting.

    One can already see a thread on Baudrillard approaching the length of the Arendt thread….

  83. On Baudrillard:

    @silvio I loved the passage of White Noise, it made me think of The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri where a family visits great sights, that are constantly perceived through the camera lens, because the reproduction of the event becomes more important than the event itself.

    I think it would be interesting to talk about the creation of hyperrealities such as shopping malls, which recreate a more “perfect” reality.

  84. Under the influence of the Web, is the essay the long-form of years to come? Is Franzen our best living American example?

    Three new noteworthy collections of essays have just been published, each well worth delving into in depth: Milan Kundera’s The Curtain (translated by Linda Asher), Susan Sontag’s posthumous At the Same Time, and Mallarme’s Divagations (translated for the first time and exquisitely by Barbara Johnson). Each collection embodies what makes of the essay the quintessentially reflective and therefore provocative form we need to nudge us into renewing our thinking and our frameworks for thinking.

    Invite Anne Fadiman and Lewis Lapham, for example, to discuss the art of the essay, its writers, and its topics.

  85. How about a show on the most controversial filmmaker of all time Leni Riefenstahl. There are two new books dealing with this confusing figure.

    In my history of film class the professor was a Jewish woman who had devoted much of her work to issues of the Holocaust. Yet she felt she had to teach Riefenstahl’s films, as they were so groundbreaking to the medium.

    This would be a fascinating show that would touch on the bigger issue of whether we can separate the artist from art and beauty from the message.

  86. ///Sontag also observed that “the purification of Leni Riefenstahl’s reputation of its Nazi dross has been gathering momentum for some time,” with her defenders, including many in the avant-garde film establishment, suggesting that she was first and foremost an “indomitable priestess of the beautiful,” fascinated by the ideal and the monumental, “a beauty freak rather than a horrid propagandist.”\\\

    I obviously haven’t read enough Sontag – let’s do this one !

  87. This one is loaded:

    a developing fascist aesthetic…. to erect the façade…. virtuosic manipulation of formal elements …..


    Is this about beauty and politics? Or Leni?

  88. Follow up to Coming Home: Iraq Veterans

    Title: Where is the peace machine?

    Concept: Only one speaker hesitantly said: we need to be careful what we go to war for. He was the only one to express doubt: Is there any wonder why?

    Our society has a military machine for people like Tammy Duckworth to re-build their life around. She, by default, must go back into the militarization machine. Warriors are trained for war and to be Semper Fidelis – what other options do they have?

    What is the peace machine?

    I would like to see a tax provision that allows me to designate that my taxes go to support a peace machine. I would like to see the corruption at the UN cleaned up so that we don’t have an adversarial relationship there. I would like my taxes to support green issues such as the Kyoto Protocol. I would like my taxes dedicated to setting up micro-loans that work around corrupt governments.

    Returning vets could simper fi for the peace machine.


    Ah, thinking off….

    Taking the peace machine to its logical conclusion the military would shrink down to the sacred cow Nukes. The probability of nuclear war would increase geometrically.

    File under: GIL SCOTT-HERON, Work For Peace

  89. Here is a story and maybe another show/ a revisit. The inhumanity- the suffering- caused by enforcement of the current immigration policy/law. Ted Kennedy focusses on the MA detention center- but there are others ( ie Texas) The comments are good.


    See this comment in particular: http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2007/3/13/111517/606/187#c187

    as well as her first: http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2007/3/13/111517/606/205#c205

    I know you did “Immigration Stories” just about a year ago. So where are we? Has the situation changed- gotten worse? Does a Democratic Congress make a difference? What is Ted Kennedy ( or anyone) proposing?

  90. This is veering in a different direction, but I think would have enormous synergy with issues in both science and religion, and bring together potentially some fascinating people and ideas. Basically, I’d like to know if people would be interested in not just another God VERSUS evolution type of show (the kind of thing stirred up so much by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, their books and ideas that pit science against religion) but a different kind of show that asks in a scientific way WHY we humans came to be religious (not all of us, obviously, but religion exists in every society). How and why did religion evolve in the first place?

    As an anthropologist, one of my current interests is in the prehistory of religion. In my book (Evolving God, Doubleday 2007) I suggest that we can pull together different sets of knowledge– – from empathy in chimpanzees to burial rituals in Neandertals to art caves in early Homo sapiens–to understand something about why our species evolved to make connections with the supernatural.

    One suggested link:


    This is one piece of the puzzle. Of course, the idea would be to bring in various views, cross – connections, and so forth…. which could come from both theologians and from scientists who would be interested in dialoguing in this way. Why now? See the New York Times Magazine of two Sundays ago! (cover story: Why We Believe) This stuff is in the air, and yet it’s still not fully explored. Too often the answer comes down to genes or other too-easy explanations. There’s more to discuss.


  91. I love listening to your segments with authors discussing literature.

    Since April is National Poetry Month, hope you decide to a show to support it. If you are looking for poetry by, for, and of the people, visit Poetry Thursday, http://poetrythursday.org/. It’s a growing online poetry community supported by bloggers. Poets and poetry lovers can participate.

    I really enjoyed your show that featured Major Jackson, and any show with Steve Almond is a good one.

  92. Yes poetry is in order. My idea is for an hour exploring the best poems about war. As we dig ourselves deeper into a war that is harder and harder to understand – lets turn our lonely eyes to the poets.

    Look Down, Fair Moon

    from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1900)

    “Look down, fair moon, and bathe this scene;

    Pour softly down night’s nimbus floods, on faces ghastly, swollen,

On the dead, on their backs, with their arms toss’d wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.”


  93. Speaking of literature…

    Given the apparent trend toward single-interviewee shows, I wondered about a show featuring Jhumpa Lahiri. The movie based on her novel “The Namesake” has just been released, and might provide an occasion to discuss the themes of multiculturalism and ethnic identity in her works (not only “The Namesake” but also — especially? — the wonderful stories in “Interpreter of Maladies”). Chris talks a lot about Zadie Smith, and Smith deserves it, but Lahiri does just as much. (This might be viewed in part as a continuation of the Elif Shafak show, given that The Bastard of Istanbul also addresses these issues…)

  94. Push in / Pull out

    It has struck me as incongruous that two of the most passionate issues regarding the US’s international involvement have been Iraq and Darfur. We want the US to end the occupation of Iraq, and we want the US–or an international peacekeeping force heavily supported by the US–to intervene in the Sudan. The same individual will usually support these two positions–the first anti-occupation, the second pro-occupation.

    Mahmood Mamdani thinks critically about these two positions in a recent London Review of Books article. At the very least, the ROS community should read the article. It is challenging and provocative, and Mamdani is much more knowledgeable than most people writing about Darfur today. Mamdani claims ” Journalism gives us a simple moral world, where a group of perpetrators face a group of victims, but where neither history nor motivation is thinkable because both are outside history and context”; I think ROS can prove to him that not all journalism needs fall victim to simple ahistorical moralizations of complex historical affairs. There may be a good show here: the future of peacekeeping in the wake of Iraq II, taking into account the so-called “War on Terror” and its _true_ repercussion on global diplomacy and peace. This also ties to the Arendt shows: has our use of the word “genocide” itself become banal?

  95. Should have said “but Lahiri addresses the same set of issues, and deserves as much attention.”

  96. Poetry: Please keep in mind my previous suggestion about Frederick Seidel, some of whose recent poems have addressed the Iraq War.

    As for poetry and war, don’t miss Christopher Logue’s reworkings of the Iliad, one of the most amazing works-in-progress of our time:

    Screeching above the grave percussion of their feet

    Shouting how they will force the savage Greeks

    Back up the slope over the ridge, downplain

    And slaughter them beside their ships-

  97. Joshua Wolf – JoshWolf.net – he’s a journalist who’s been in prison for not revealing his sources.

    As of Feb 6, he became the longest incarcerated journalist in US history. He’s being held in civil contempt for not turning over unpublished video to the grand jury.


  98. And now for something completely different: a show about pi. March 14 is National Pi Day, and it’s bringing the pi nuts out in their 3.14159…s



    Premier mathematician Robert Osserman, author of the wonderful and accessible Poetry of the Universe; A Mathematical Exploration of the Cosmos, would be a good guest either for this or some other mathematically-themed show. His present work revolves around mathematics and culture, and he has hosted a series of interviews on mathematics with such unlikely guests as Tom Stoppard, Steve Martin, and various others. He’s a remarkable and extremly engaging fellow. He can be contacted at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute:


    You could have a lot of fun with this.

  99. For a poetry show: Gerard Manly Hopkins, first modern poet. He invented an idea he called sprung rhythm, which gives his poetry such interesting cadences. His sonnets of despair are truly dark. And then there is:

    “What would the world be once bereft

    Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,

    Oh let them be left. Long live the weeds

    and the wilderness yet!”

    (Above quote is from memory, so it might be slightly askew.)

  100. Hi guys -

    I’m going to weigh in on the Baudrillard pitch that Lumiere, Silivo Rabioso, and eumel have been talking about.

    I actually think it’s a great idea. He is totally relevant to understanding this (post) modern world we live in. The one problem I can envision (and I say this as someone who majored in art semiotics in college and gladly sat through my fair share of seminars on pomo theory) is finding people to talk about his work that don’t make us want to shoot ourselves. I think his stuff is relevant and interesting, but it can *feel* technical and oblique if you don’t have the right person talking about it.

    That said, I’m going to pitch it in our meeting. Chelsea also casually threw out the idea that since both the Matrix and Don DeLillo have been mentioned, maybe we could do a show about people who have been influenced by his work. Or at least try and get those folks to talk about his work. Anyway, we’ll keep you posted.

    Also, hurley, I just wanted to get back to you about the abuse of women in the military idea you pitched, just because I have been thinking about it since I read that article. This is tough, given how horrendous and shocking the subject matter is, and how much I personally feel compelled by the story. But here’s my cold, calculating, professional opinion as a producer of hour-long talk shows. I’m not sure what we would talk about after the first 25 minutes of the show, once we’ve laid out the facts of the abuse and generally agreed on how horrible it is, and talked about why this story gets no attention and how the military may be suppressing the facts of the problem and/or making it worse. What do we talk about then? The only thing I’ve been able to come up with so far is how the role of women in combat is different than it’s ever been before, and likely much more dangerous. So I’m going to pitch it that way, but I’m not totally convinced it could work as a show. If you have any ideas about how to broaden this, I would appreciate hearing them.



  101. Robin,

    In an earlier thread, I tried pitching a show on Clifford Geertz, who died late last year after a career as one of the very most influential anthropologists of his generation. I don’t know enough about either Baudrillard or Geertz to be sure, but I’ve had this sense since Baudrillard died that the two might make an interesting pair to discuss in unison: Geertz, it seems to me, was quintessentially “modern,” a modernist’s modern, concerned with “thick description” of cultures and what the nooks and crannies of a group’s social institutions told us about our broader world. Baudrillard, of course, was more post-modern, though I can’t say much more than that about him. So, one approach could be to take these two bright lights in their respective fields, who came from what I think were differing perspectives — the Pomo and the “Momo,” in effect — and see how well, if at all, they speak to one another.

    I suppose this could be read as a shameless attempt to get Geertz back on the screen, and maybe so. But I do think there might be something there…

  102. Robin

    If you want to spice the Baudrillard show up, you could get a Foucault person to answer Baudrillard’s criticism of Foucault

  103. Robin, Happy you picked up on this, also for the insight into how you frame a show. Women in combat probably the right rubric in which to fold that awful story. Begin with the Amazons, carry it briskly forward through other episodes of women in combat — Israel an interesting contemporary example — narrow focus to American women in combat (was WAVES one of the acronyms?), charting the state of decline — if in fact it is a decline — check the statistics for Vietnam — to the present day. More tomorrow.

  104. Pitches from March 13th:

    nother: Nice Riefenstahl pitch. I’ll bring her up in tomorrow’s meeting.

    Lumiere: I’m with you- a peace machine absolutely, but this sounds like an op-ed you should write rather than a conversation we’d have.

    Potter, we’ve got you covered. We’d been talking about covering the New Bedford story for a few days, but your pitch cast the deciding vote. Sorry for not citing you sooner.

    bjking: I loved that NYTimes Magazine article the other week, your book sounds really interesting, too. I’ll take a look at the book if you send it : 15 Mt. Auburn St. / Cambridge, MA 02138. Thanks!

    Hi January O’Neil and all the poetry fans. To be honest I think all those National ________ Month observances are a little bogus (April is also National Prevent Lyme in Dogs Month and Couple Appreciation Month, too) but I’ll take use any excuse to do more poetry shows. I love the poetry of war idea.

    Sutter: Deserves a pitch. Chelsea thinks Jhumpa Lahiri might have been a receptionist at BUR during the Connection days. High time for some confluence.

    silvio.rabioso welcome back! Fascinating pitch. I’ll definitely read the article. We’ll have to check back in soon about your other pitches — the Aymara hip hop article, etc.

  105. Does an interviewer have a responsibility to point out when a guest on their show is speaking like an authority on a subject they know nothing about? Is asking a person questions on a national radio program too much pressure? Should guests be reminded that it is okay to say, “I don’t know?”

    No one will want to be on the show if the host makes them look foolish, but a program isn’t worth listening to if its guests can say whatever they want without any fact checking.

  106. Yeah, the idea of an official National Poetry Month is lame. But it’s really the only time the general public thinks of poetry these days, sadly. Any reason to showcase poetry and literature is a good one.

    Looking forward to a “poetry of war” segment. Two interesting groups working on antiwar effors are Poets Against the War and Split This Rock, a group organizing a festival in March 2008 celebrating the great tradition of poetry of witness and resistance.

  107. DanO;

    Chris had his BS sniffer going last night – he did it in a good natured way too – but that is the state-of-the-art for blogging

    In the blogging world, you get back what you put out – i.e. if you don’t know what they are talking about, you’re gonna get snowed.

  108. Hi all,

    Been listening for a few months, decided to sign up and pitch one of my favorite bloggers as a potential show. He just (well, last month) came out with the book “The No Asshole Rule” and his blog is http://bobsutton.typepad.com/ .

    While I’m not currently in a job where we have many a-holes, my last job (just over 3 years ago) was dominated by one. I know there are LOADS of folks with stories about a-holes out there too. Timely? Timeless? You can probably get Bob Sutton on the air, and see if he can link you up with some of the folks whose stories he shares both on the blog and in the book. I KNOW I’d love to hear what these people have to say!!



  109. Mahmood Mamdani gets it !

    You don’t have to read the London or NY papers to see what he is talking about.

    Mention Rove, Cheney or Bush here and those waxing poetically about empathy, wane; their hate barely containable, they lose any concept of fact.

    It doesn’t matter who you hate, hate is confused and inadequate thinking.

    Excellent article – I think Mamdani is saying that the conflict accelerant is ‘taking sides’ rather than finding solutions:

    “….power-sharing at the state level and resource-sharing at the community level.”

    Pretty simple solution and it is about integration – not about taking sides.

  110. Belated response to pitches from 9 March

    hurley and valkyrie607: Women in the military — thanks for the link. We’re thinking about putting together an hour on this along the lines of Chelsea’s Iraq veterans show. In other words: with military women telling their own stories.

  111. just occured to me while ranting away about cheney. (can you imagine?) who was it that said that the best ideas happen while defacating? (not the idea)

    you can just hear chris’s voice….

    “from the stoas of athens to speakers corner in hyde park to the world wide web..how have the stoic traditions of ancient greece threaded through the ages to land on the internet…and what possibilities for the future do they suggest?”

    a little obvious maybe but the stoics were huge in their day…and speaker’s corner is wild! this new ability to communicate has unfordeeable consequences..what are they? is the fringe given an advantage? it would be really interesting to hear a roundtable of experts on history and philosophy put in such a context.

  112. silvio.rabioso: We obviously missed the Bush in Latin America peg, but we agree: we’re down a quart on Latin America shows. Hopefully your kick in the pants will push us in the right direction.

    emmettoconell: That speech about about the Conservative MP George Osborne — and his fascinating bio — made for good reading, but we’ve just been talking here about how we’re not so excited about doing FILL-IN-THE-BLANK 2.0 shows any more. In the end, it seems, whether you’re talking about dictionaries or cookbooks or baseball statistics or God, the mechanics are the same: social media, wikis, and open source content of various kinds. It’s just hard to get excited about a new conversation if the only new thing is the name before the 2.0.

    materialistfriends: I don’t know if we’ll do a straight-up Congress show any time soon, but a number of our recent shows, in my opinion, have directly answered the “Where is Congress?” question. Last night’s Federal prosecutor show was largely a result of Congressional oversight. The veterans show mentioned Congressional hearings. And, on a more disappointing note, our recent Guantanamo show focused heavily on the 2006 Military Commissions Act that Congress passed in response to two Supreme Court decisions. Tonight we’ll have the feisty Barney Frank on again, this time to talk about the recent New Bedford sweatshop raid.

    silvio.rabioso on Opencongress.org: I’m going to contradict much of what I just wrote in response to Emmettoconnell’s pitch above when I say that we’ve been following this OpenCongress story, and it’s something we’d consider doing. (Part of the reason, I should say, is that it’s a project of ROS friend Zephyr Teachout’s Sunshine Foundation.) I think I’m just waiting for it to take off a little bit more — get some legs under it and figure out what it can do.

  113. Katherine: That’s great. Put that story out there. You’ll shed light, and tears too, I imagine.

    David: Further to silvio.rabioso’s suggestion about Latin America, one rather provocative guest — on the face of it, given his history — would be the renegade spy, Philip Agee, who has recently written about the shifting balance between Latin America and the US here:


    Another might be Richard Gott, long The Guardian’s Latin America correspondent, and author of a book about Hugo Chavez.

    As to sr’s pitch about Baudrillard, I’m all for it. For a dissenting view have a look at Robert Hughes’ review of B’s book about America, gathered in Nothing If Not Critical. A wonderful polemic, if wide of the mark.

  114. Re a “women & War” thread- did the phenomenon of “war brides” end with the coincidental end of “The Draft”? Was there any connection? Does the easy accessibility of internet porn affect the historic confluence of military outposts and prostitution? ( It may be problematic to apprehend these issues while our forces occupy a country embroiled in a civil war, wherein one side hates us and the other despises us…) ^..^

  115. I realize I’m terrible at suggesting shows. I can’t quite grasp what the ROS staff find interesting – and I’m worried this will be more of the same. So please forgive if this is another dud:

    After hearing Valerie Plame testify to Congress today, I can’t escape this conclusion: compromising her activities was more than a political slapdown. It compromised entire networks of intelligence.

    It was, in a word, treason.

    It might not have seemed so the narcissistic ideologues who engineered it, but it was in effect an act of treason, even if only by dint of negligence and/or incompetence.

    Is there a way to build a show around this?

  116. I agree with Nick. A show about treason. Plame’s testimony was telling and bore deep into the horrors being perpetrated before our wide-open eyes, providing yet more clarity about what’s going on at the highest levels of power in Washington. Treason is a strong word — is that what this was/is? Is that too strong a word? What do we call what *is* being orchestrated from the White House, apparently endlesslessly? Who’s going to take this on? who ought to? It’s time for ROS to launch this conversation.

  117. More on Latin America and Chavez:

    The NYTimes finally–after Bush’s disastrous visit to Latin America–decided to try to *understand* Chavez’s pan-Latin American popularity instead of immediately denouncing it.

    I think a show assessing the ruins left in the wake of Bush’s visit is in order. There are many possible stories here–Bush snuggling up to Uribe during a storm of Colombian controversy, the lukewarm welcome given to Bush’s sugarcane ethanol proposal, and of course the massive popular protests that followed Bush around the region. But the real drama unfolding beneath the surface is a geopolitical realignment of enormous proportions. As you can see in Valenzeula’s op-ed, Bush’s visit pushed Latin America one step closer to a powerful European Union-style regional alliance. China appears in this story as well, in unexpected ways.

    Suggestions for guests:

    Walter Mignolo, author of, most recently, The Idea of Latin America

    Ernesto Laclau, author of, most recently, The Populist Reason

  118. Dear all — Here’s the BusinessWeek story — America’s Hot New Neighborhoods — online. Fun. Best, Margaret


    Venturing to the fringe may also pay off in other cities, like Boston, where the neighborhood of DORCHESTER [!!] remains affordable even though home values there have increased nearly 60% in the last five years. The median home value is now $331,896, according to Zillow. Almost a separate city in itself, Dorchester is a large and diverse working-class community south of Boston’s center, with many Irish and Southeast Asian immigrants, as well as a significant African American population. Residents enjoy riverfront amenities like beaches and boating, as well as the green space and recreational activities of 527-acre Franklin Park.

  119. patsyb Nick :

    Hasn’t it been learned that it was Armitage, in an offhanded way, that leaked Plame?

    Sorry, if that true, bursts your bubble.

    From unknown source:

    ///… undercuts the argument that outing Plame was a plot by the hard-liners in the veep’s office to “out” Plame.\\\\

  120. Hi all. Taking us in an entirely different direction. Has ROS ever done a program on the explosion of first person narratives that have become daily fare as part of news and public affairs programming? I’m especially wondering about the genre of bearing one’s soul about sad or tragic events. Is this a particular conversation we’re having in certain circles and, if so, what are we actually talking about? Can we relate this phenomenon to anything similar historically? It seems different than many oral story telling traditions–more psychologically rooted and less about passing down or along any particular traditions. On the other hand, maybe some wise social psychologists, for starters, can point to some fundamental need we’re witnessing to be noticed, to have our adversities noticed. Many argue this is distinctly American and a lot of it makes Europeans, among others, cringe. Thoughts?

  121. ///Thoughts?\\\

    It makes me cringe too. My pain is mine, it is personal and not for public consumption, anonymously or otherwise.

    I think it started with Clinton talking about his childhood, no?

    Let’s all read Philip Larkin’s “This Be The Verse” and move on.

  122. another on just occured to me..as in my last suggestion..i remember that chris enjoys classical material..

    well here’s a lulu that a lot of people don’t know about..studied her long ago when studying beowulf

    Late medieval Jewish legend portrays lilith as the first wife of Adam, who left the Garden of Eden after a dispute with her husband, and subsequently became the mother of demons, the Lilin.

    lilith and adam, if i recall accurately, were made simultaneously! as an equal in the relationship and of course as a woman SHE actually had an advantage. adam complained out she went and God improvised eve out of one of adam’s ribs.

    discuss reflections of cultural gender attitudes and relevance amongst yourselves.

  123. more about lilith…

    as i recall..monsters to the medieval mind were the result of man’s sins…lilith and satan as this legend goes (she was understandably a little peeved) begat all manner of monsters and demons..a sort of proto-original sin.. that hurt pride thing again…and unleashed them on mankind..the offspring of her ex and eve.

    beowulf’s grendel (circa 800-1000 ad.) (john gardner’s take on it is hysterical) was one of these..so monsters in this case could symbolise the bad results of our sin..needing to be heroicly smote…

    a footnote..i’ll have to look it up..but at least one of the st. george and the dragon paintings of the later medieval period shows the maiden crying while st. george is or has lanced the beast. deliberately ambiguous? tears of joy, fear or sorrow? the mind of that time would have caught this and pondered it.

    my undergrad school’s english department was packed with medievalists because of the extensive manuscript collection. this stuff.. in the hands of a passionate expert is complex, provocative and really fun…and they do tend to be passionate, one of my profs lived in a meadhall that he had built.

  124. found it…

    UCCELLO, Paolo

    Saint George and the Dragon

    c. 1455-60

    Tempera on canvas

    56.5 x 74 cm

    National Gallery, London

    had the leash part right..not the tears though..still she looks unhappy

    representing the yin and yang of monster/sin control?

    men bludgeon..women bind? who knows but these things are usually some kinda morality play.

  125. Very Belated Responses to Pitches from March 8th and March 15th

    eugene_x: I’ll mention Laurie Anderson in our next meeting. A couple of years ago she and Lou Reed were on Charlie Rose. I had never known until that show that NASA had an Artist-In-Residence program. Anderson is really remarkable. It would be great if we could get her on ROS. Thanks for telling us about the lecture series

    afr114 and Sutter: An entire show on General Alireza Asghar seems too narrow. Do you have any suggestions as to how to make this a broader conversation?

    valkyrie607 and Hurley: Thanks to you Katherine is putting together a show, Women in War.

    A.L. I’ll mention “The No Asshole Rule” show idea in our meeting. Stay tuned.

    enhabit: We’ve tackled the stoicism angle that you suggested in our Insta-giants: Bloggers Who bestride the Earth show

  126. The recent Theremin topic have got me thinking. If we’re gonna talk about a musical instument, and it’s history, and possiblities, I recommend the Hammond Organ and Leslie Speaker. What do Lawrence Welk, Jimmy Smith, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Henry Ford, and Fenway Park have in common? The Hammond Organ! We’ll I think they’ve gotten rid of the Hammond organ at most ballparks, but it was a mainstay at Hockey and Bassball games for years.

    In Jazz, Rock, Metal, Folk, Raggae, and especially Sacred music, and so much more music, the Hammond is prominant, you can find these instuments all over the world, and in music from all over the world. It also changed the music it was in, how it’s played, and it is the utlimate cross over instument bringing jazz to rock, rock to jazz, sacred to R and B, and the list goes on.

    Also, the Hammond tone wheel organ, which most Hammond players still swear by (the legendary B-3, as well as the ever so slightly different A’s, C’s, D, E’s, H’s, M’s, etc), is at heart NOT an electronic instument, it’s an electric instument. Think of it as: an electric guitar is to an accostic guitar, what a hammond organ is to an acoustic organ. The organ uses a series of spinning disks to create magntic signals which pickups make louder, not unlike an elcectric guitar. The basic Organ that was invented in the early 1930′s is still the basis for the Hammond today, just as Les Paul’s log is still at the heart of all solid body guitars. Of course Hammond went “astray” over the years and used electronic tone generations, but the power and beauty of the Hammond tone wheel organ has never been surpassed.

    Want some additional inspiration, Check out the book “Beauty and the B,” published by Keyboard Magazine. It give a great summary of the history of the organs, as well as some of the players. Or just do an internet search, the Hammond Organ lives on into the 21st century and is still extremely relevent.

  127. Chelsea et al.,

    I don’t deserve any credit for the General Alireza Asghar pitch — that was all afg114. But in the spirit of collaboration, if I were expanding that pitch, I would suggest that the recent Iran v. Israel show pointed up a disjuncture between two images of Iran: One as monolithic founding member of the “axis of evil” and one as somewhat pluralistic nation bouncing between radicals and reformers (“reformer” in the Iranian context meaning less than the label might mean here). What is the “real” Iran? If Ashgar did defect, what does it say about the state of politics in Iran? What about the recent parliamentary elections? What does it say that we seem to hear more agitation over the depiction of the Persians in the movie “300″ than we do over Seymour Hersh’s reporting of a potentially imminent US attack? How does the growing urge toward moderation in Iran’s youth interact with also-strong nationalist sentiments? How do relations with the Gulf’s other superpower, Saudi Arabia — and the U.S.’s de facto alliance with the latter — play into Iran’s internal politics?

    I suspect there is a great deal to learn about Iran. This isn’t my pitch, but if it were, this is how I’d expand on it.

  128. Erm, this might be too obvious but, won’t there be a show about the French presidential elections, next month?

    Since there was a show on the riots in Parisian suburbs and that Sarkozy was in the middle of those events, it’d make sense to have a show about this specific round of elections.

    There’s a fair deal of music being produced about those elections. The next Yo La La episode is specifically on the elections and the last song played on this month’s show was condemning Sarkozy pretty directly. (Yo La La is a show, in English, about French rap.)

    A funny anti-Sarkozy music video from an African perspective (playing on the difference between Sarkozy’s selective immigration policy and the slavery/colonial policies of previous French administrations).

    And everybody is adding to the conversation.

    ARTE’s online radio has been doing clips of fictional politicians (in French) which propose a very different view of what a government may be like. Edgier than most political talk in the United States, these days. Think “Modest Proposal” in a post-Post-Modern and post-Neo-Colonialist era. A lot of fun.

    This should really be easy to pitch as it has everything, from race and class to alter-mondialisation and international migration, from political economy to European exceptionalism, from multi-party democracy to creative expression.

    Looking forward to that show. Should be insightful and interesting.

  129. As the only Muslim nation armed with nuclear weapons and with an increasingly threatened president, this article in The Economist http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8861470 raises the thought in my mind: ‘Is it time to revisit the topic of Pakistan?’ Hussain Haqqani’s 2005 book, ‘Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military’ is still very relevant, and he would make an excellent guest. Here’s his CV: http://www.carnegieendowment.org/experts/index.cfm?fa=expert_view&expert_id=154&prog=zgp&proj=zsa

  130. I beleive Husain Haqqani is still Director of the Center for International Relations and Professor at Boston University. Right in your back yard!

  131. that WOULD be interesting tbrucia..the “stans” have more in common with persian lineage than most..and iran seems to have ambitions..how far will the military leadership of pakistan have to go to keep it together? a destabilized nuclear power would be a frightening thing..we have had some tastes of this already. osama may have had a play for a nuke or some material in northern pakistan..things were pretty riled up after 911

  132. I’m a very new listener to the show so pardon me if this ground has been covered:

    The Amateur/Professional Line in Art: Does it Matter Anymore?

    I live in Canada where the average income for a professional cultural worker is well below the national average, keeping working artists at or below the poverty line. Yet the product of our work generates billions for dependant industries such as travel and tourism, while returning more to the Canadian economy that farming, forestry, mining and oil & gas combined (source, the Canadian Arts Coalition). Despite a tiny, affluent superstar elite, cultural workers have never (like, ever, in history) managed to generate a sectoral living wage.

    Along comes the digital age, and with it both a marvelous promise and a dark threat. Never before has it been easier for an artist to reach and engage an interested audience, and never before has professional status been less necessary for successful art production. Sites like Flickr prove you do not need an art school degree to sell your photos online, especially if you are a young woman who sells mostly self-portraits, mostly unclothed. Should we celebrate this great age of the amateur? Should “Flickr girls” be seen as both feminist icons and amateur revolutionaries, or do they represent a sad, even contemptible dilution of the art form?

    As well, the new user rights ethos of the digital age demands that professional artists increase audience access to their work (sometimes even to the point of allowing the audience to change the work itself), while simultaneously lowering the cost for access. Canadian sci-fi superstar (and Boing Boing editor) Cory Doctorow has challenged all creators to take the Butch & Sundance leap of faith and start giving their work away for free, yet even he acknowledges that without some revenue stream, professional artists can’t survive. Butch & Sundance may have survived their leap from the cliff, but the movie doesn’t end well for them.

    Have we killed professional artists? Should we? In the age of Free Culture, should anyone other than superstars and their executives expect to make a living from cultural work? If so, how?

    Suggested reading and viewing:

    Cory Doctorow on changes to book selling because of the Internet

    Me on amateurs online

    Doctorow answering questions about his business model for writers

  133. I was thinking this morning about the United States in its throes of fear regarding ‘terrorism’ — and suddenly I thought of Edgar Alan Poe’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ where the nobility hides in a castle and parties until ‘the Red Death’ enters their world of dreams and strikes, hideously. How completely relevant! And then I thought of ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’. Again, what a great parable for America’s situation…. Yep, I’m leading up to a suggestion: why not a discussion of Edgar Alan Poe’s works http://bau2.uibk.ac.at/sg/poe/Work.html#Prose (The Premature Burial, The Cask of Amontillado, etc) and his relevance for 21st Century America… It shouldn’t be hard to find persons able to speak intelligently on this son of Massachusetts. (He was born Edgar Poe to a Scots-Irish family in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 19, 1809).

  134. No links to add, but another vote for the Hammond organ – what a distinctive sound! There’s a feeling of emotional fullness that washes over when I hear any song with those rich opening chords – any song. How to describe it…? Anyway, you get a few musicians, rock historians, maybe a classical musician – it should be fun to hear.

    Looks like the idea of Blackwater isn’t taking off. Too bad; there isn’t much awareness of them out there. Terry Gross just interviewed Jeremy Schahill who seems to have the corner on the market. I don’t know of any other sources, although he did mention that there are hearings in Congress and some legal proceedings against them. This is an important topic: our tax dollars are paying for these shadow armies.

  135. that business of blackwater demanding immunity from prosecution..a private company? what makes them feel so empowered? disturbing….although it could be nothing but posturing. haliburton off to dubai? what’s the extradition situation there? how about taxes? where DID our money go? do you know mr. cheney?

    the whole no-bid private army/contractor thing does not pass the smell test…could be a very lively show on air and text.

    clinton gets his keister fried over monica/whitewater maybe he should have i don’t know..but if that’s near impeachable (and iran/contra was not?)…where is the outrage over a long long list of dubious bush/cheney endevours. plenty of people are angry but where is the action?!! maybe a clue can be found in the recent events surrounding those us attorneys..somebody likes to maintain control.

    was that rancher in texas not entitled to keep his land? was that really the only place that gwb could put his rangers team? a pattern of behavior emerges..those in the way are moved out of the way…emminent domain indeed!

    do the show..please!

  136. I’d vote for a Blackwater show — the Fresh Air piece mentioned a couple of Congressmen who are frustrated in attempts to get info from the company. It would be interesting to hear these dudes describe what’s going on at that level.

    Viewed from up north here, it’s frickin’ terrifying. The White House has its own personal army, and you folks are paying for it.

  137. How about Art and War, starting with ‘All Quiet on the Western Front?’ On Sunday, April 15 (Holocaust Remembrance Day) four artists in different media (a photographer, an actor, a writer, and a sculptor) will be discussing this at the Pierre Menard Gallery in Harvard Square, to accompany an exhibition called ‘Recruits’ of work by the sculptor/participant. Also playing in the gallery will be a great movie by Australia George Gittoes, ‘Soundtrack to War,’ that takes you way into the heads of soldiers in Iraq. I don’t mean to pitch the show so much as to pitch the show.

  138. Greetings from New Orleans ROS friends.. where Im visiting this week. Ive been reading up and talking to park rangers… I cant get over the Mississippi river and how it has been closed in and tamed in such a way that is ruining the bayou. The river doesnt flood anymore.. and the bayou is becoming a lake… and the way of life of many many people and that unique ecosystem… are all dying.

    ROS should do a show on the death of the Bayou and how the army corps ruined the mississippi delta with all their canals and levees that stop the natural flooding.

    One Suggested guest: Mike Tidwell, author of Bayou Farwell

  139. I used to live in the US and worked successfully in public radio for about 15 years but now I live in France (and still produce things) – I make my main living teaching in two French Grande Ecoles – and I listen to Open Source as a podcast. It has been fantastic for me – I am now teaching geopolitics and business ethics – and I cannot tell you how much I have picked up from the show. However, two subjects are reaccurring more and more in my my work and I haven’t heard anything on them that I can find:

    1) Yesterday in Geopolitcs I asked a roomful of European kids who has more power, government or business?” and they all said “business” in unison, three times. This is linked to programs on democracy and – philantrophy (?) – and the fact that the Microsofts of the world might be able to solve many problems, but what will it mean when businesses are not subject to the same rules as governments? When they can indulge in secrecry if they so desire (like Cheney et al.) Are states on the way out?

    2) Greenwashing – I’m sure you’ve heard of that. The green gesture as marketing ploy. My business students aren’t impressed. They think it’s just PR. Is it? As for products marked “fair trade” and “organic” in the supermarket, what does that say about all the other products on the other shelves?

    Sorry not to provide links – I haven’t seen anything!

    Keep up the good work! Marjorie

  140. i want to know more mercenaries. not just Blackwater, there’s much talk about them now. I’m waiting for lunch to read the Time article, earlier i had to stop reading a segment of Scahill’s new book since it was so slanted. i want to know about mercenaries historically, who used them? what was the result into the long term for both the commissioning nations (or private entities), the civilians, the victors, the victims, the history books’ recollection, the press, etc… what lessons should the US be reviewing now that we’re deep into it.

  141. lumiere:

    about your march 4. the real loser in the art world is the public..they are out of the loop almost entirely..much af art, architecture, high brow music etc. seems to be made for other artists. the dialogue that once had existed between the art world and plebians has largely been severed. is this perhaps where over-thinkers like ruskin (beautiful notebooks though) have taken us?

  142. As someone who grew up playing the B-3, I too love Marc’s idea about the Hammond Organ/Leslie speaker. The technical aspects are intriguing enough, but for me, the coolest part is the impact that Hammond has had on such a variety of musics– everything from rock and jazz to sacred music. But IS that breadth of use/appeal exceptional for an instrument? It’d be interesting to interview some musicians and find out. Here’s one interesting link


  143. A quick follow-up to tbrucia’s March 20th post: I love the idea of a Poe show, but if ROS is equally struck by the relevance of Poe’s short stories with that of our current military situation, why not broaden it to something like “Literary Lessons for Iraq”? Couldn’t we put Peter Galbraith’s book (“The End of Iraq”) in conversation with King Lear? The Walter Reed story with Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun”? Or, is this war more like an epic novel (“War and Peace”)? Or, perhaps Greek tragedy and its attendant furies (Aeschylus’ “The Oresteia”) best describes the drama of the war?

    Perhaps the primary literary lesson from Iraq is that we cannot only read our own literature any longer.

  144. Andrew Kinney — sounds like a classic ROS show in the making. I like it. Especially reading the literature of others: if we ever needed an excuse to do it, we don’t any longer.

  145. Although I’m on record with the “too much Iraq” complaint (it’s important, but it’s drowning out a lot of other important stuff), I love Andrew Kinney’s idea, and especially the part about the Oresteia. The brief for the humanities begins with the role that literature, philosophy, and similar fields play in enabling us to self-govern, to see through traps, to make the relevant analogies and connections, and so forth. Was our collective failure to see through to what Iraq would become (a majority supported war at the time) attributable, in part, to the declining importance we attach to these fields, and our attempt to shove them into the “recreation” box as if they did not speak to the heart of our real-life predicaments? Would we be better suited to self-governance if we listened to Trumbo and Aeschylus and Shakespeare and Heller and so on and so on more, and more attentively?

  146. For months, I’ve been thinking about an exchange that occurred on your Thucydides show. Susan Cheever kind of bowed out of the conversation saying something to the effect of, Literature is more important than politics. She’s a wonderful writer, but I’ve just been completely baffled by this comment. I remember thinking at the time that Shakespeare seemed to believe that politics–i.e. the struggles and dilemmas of those who wield power–were the very essence of literature.

    Well, it didn’t take long for Stephen Greenblatt to read my mind. “Shakespeare & the Uses of Power” is in the current issue of the New York Review of Books. It begins with Bill Clinton as literary critic, and then goes on to discuss Shakepeare’s depictions of people who for reasons of fate and family are destined to hold power (G.W. Bush? Hillary?); his attraction to characters who attempt to walk away from power (Al Gore?); as well as his distrust of democracy (“when he tried to imagine electioneering, voting, and representation,” Greenblatt says, “he conjured up situations in which the people, manipulated by wealthy and fathomlessly cynical politicians, were repeatedly induced to act against their own interests.”)

    Isn’t it time for another show on Shakespeare?

  147. In the vein of understanding current politics, nationally and internationally, as well as our societies and values, what about a show populating Dante’s hell with our contemporaries? Not only is it instructive, it’s fun–and makes for great dinner hour conversation. I recommend Rachel Jakoff, Dante scholar (Wellesley College), to spice up the evening.

  148. I know I have asked for this before way back and it was hardly a pitch probably, nor is this but your show with Alain Pacowski was sooo wonderful by mutual agreement on “Le Jazz Hot” that I have to ask again for one on the blues. Albert Murray is apparently still alive- and maybe he’s not able to be on… but perhaps he is or you or anyone here can think of an approach and someone as wonderful as Alain. Or maybe Alain again????

  149. Last night on the Newshour http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ I saw a segment of Paul Solman’s “Impact of Globalization” with Vandana Shiva. I never had heard of her before and thought her ideas were well presented and quite radical. I would love to hear more about her and her ideas. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/jan-june07/globalization_03-23.html

    She is trained as a quantum mechanics nuclear physicist so why did she leave that to do this?


  150. dora:

    how about “Shakespeare and Pinter:Macbeth meets the man on the street”

    has ROS done a show on Chekov btw?

  151. maybe harold will participate. pretty politically active. i’m sure that he would have quite a lot to say about the state of power today.

  152. David, I’m not sure I really ever meant Political Party 2.0 in the way I think a “blank” 2.0 show would run. What I’m really interested in hearing, or at least originally before I lost my way in the 2.0-ness of it all, is how political parties fight for relevancy today.

    Do they serve a purpose beyond labels?

    Anyway, the recent Pew Report seems to point to some shocking (at least to me) consequences. Republicans are losing influence, but it isn’t being picked up by Democrats:

    Yet the Democrats’ growing advantage in party identification is tempered by the fact that the Democratic Party’s overall standing with the public is no better than it was when President Bush was first inaugurated in 2001. Instead, it is the Republican Party that has rapidly lost public support, particularly among political independents. Faced with an unpopular president who is waging an increasingly unpopular war, the proportion of Americans who hold a favorable view of the Republican Party stands at 41%, down 15 points since January 2001. But during that same period, the proportion expressing a positive view of Democrats has declined by six points, to 54%.

  153. Citizen Conrad Black (death)

    I think that Naomi Klein (good guest pick) summed it up best in the Guardian/Nation article


    “The Black trial is an odd beast: a Canadian who gave up his citizenship in order to accept a peerage in Britain is on trial in the US for allegedly pocketing tens of millions that belonged to the shareholders of Chicago-based Hollinger International. Every twist is front-page international news, but most Americans have no idea who Black is. In his opening remarks, Black’s lawyer, Edward Genson, assured the jury: “In his native Canada and England, he’s a household name.”

    Reason for show: nobody here knows who Conrad and the Lady of Crossharbour are.

  154. Happy to see more suggestions about Blackwater. I mentioned them in connection with a pitch about corporate mercenaries awhile back, pointing out their involvement in two ongoiing tragedies, Iraq and New Orleans. Mercenaries go back to the Anabasis, but the new model corporate mercenary is something different altogether, particularly as he shifts from rogue element to respectable recipient of non-bid out-sourced contracts. This subject worth your attention. I know a fair bit about it, or used to, and would as ever be happy to contribute as I can.

  155. Nother said:

    This whole “Unity 08″ thing is intriguing

    Especially when you take into consideration the coverage Unity08 has been getting from Irregular Times. Unity08 looks interesting, very interesting, but there seems to be big disconnect between their PR and their actions.

  156. Responses to pitches from 16 March and 23 March:

    Nick: We’ve done four Plamegate shows, and it’s a story we keep following, but we wouldn’t spend a whole hour on the question of whether or not outing a CIA agent is treasonous. What the outing did, both personally and professionally to Valerie Plame, and intelligence-wise to the country, have been pretty thoroughly hashed out in the media at this point…

    Andrew Kinney, patsyb, and Sutter: We’ve been thinking about doing a show on The Plague and the Iraq war — and your pitches are a good reminder to think again about some hours on applying the lessons of literature to what’s going on in Iraq.

    Dora: The NYRB piece sounds good — we’ll take a look at it. Your show idea could work especially well as the 2008 campaign heats up.

  157. I’m w/ hurley, we need to start talking about “impeachment” on some level. The executive branch is more than inept, it’s disintegrating.

    I’m just upset that took Chuck Hagel with a “R” next to his name, to get this on the table – I wasn’t even brave enough to consider it.

    Hurley had it all along.

  158. I see that the pending ‘Morality: God-Given or Evolved?’ now has 451 posts, compared to 199 here… What about a ‘Top 10 Topics — And Why’ show. In the spirit of talking about people talking about other folks talking about things that yet other folks talk about….

  159. Responses to pitches from March 22nd:

    bicyclemark: My first reaction to this was that it would make a great documentary — sometimes visuals of such devastation are really necessary. But I thnk that reflex is just a radio producer’s copout. I’ll pitch your bayou story at tomorrow’s meting. Do you have any photos?

    vanwindmill: I can’t think of an intersting way to do a radio show on Geopolitics. That seems awfully broad. Have you any suggestions as to something specific — be it an angle, a guest, an example of something that illustrates something larger?

    However, we have been talking about doing a show along the lines of Greenwashing, which was inspired by this NYT article. Until we get to this show check out our global warming series.

    rahbuhbuh: We’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to do a show on mercenaries. Your angle, however, on the history of mercenaries is one that we haven’t talked about. I’ll mention this idea in our next meeting.

  160. Is preventing a person from dying from cancer the same as preventing cancer or can we do better?

    The media coverage of Elizabeth Edwards’ experience with cancer has brought attention to the many successful lifesaving treatments for people with cancer. This has been really good news and I celebrate the progress. But over this past week I have not heard one word about preventing cancer. While surviving cancer is a good thing, as it becomes accepted as a chronic and treatable condition, I am concerned that we might never get around to figuring out if and how, in addition to not smoking, it can be prevented. Hearing a local tv health reporter state that early detection is important in preventing cancer, rather than that it is important in successfully treating cancer, seems a signal to support my concern.

    To help shift the focus from treatment to prevention, I would like to suggest that you do a show examining aspects of food, air and water quality related to CURRENT RESEARCH ON THE CAUSES AND PREVENTION OF CANCER.

  161. While driving around, I listened in for a few minutes to the show on women soldiers, http://www.radioopensource.org/women-in-war/. I was disturbed (in the little I heard) from the happy face presentation of military life in war.

    As a vet with less than warm memories of my limited participation in combat, my show suggestion for you is the subject of the book “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society” by Dave Grossman:


    From Library Journal: “Grossman (psychology, West Point) presents three important hypotheses: 1) That humans possess the reluctance to kill their own kind; 2) that this reluctance can be systematically broken down by use of standard conditioning techniques; and 3) that the reaction of ‘normal’ (e.g., non-psychopathic) soliders to having killed in close combat can be best understood as a series of ‘stages’ similar to the ubiquitous Kubler-Ross stages of reaction to life-threatening disease.”

    Just how radically “reluctant” to kill soldiers were, even in the heat of historic battles, flies in the face of all the war propaganda we’ve been force-fed from infancy. I can’t remember all the statistics, but Booklist’s review says: “(about 85 percent in World War II) resist by missing the target or refusing to fire.”

    The Army studied this “problem” and developed the “standard conditioning techniques” that achieved progressively more lethal results in our subsequent, never-ending, chickenhawk-led wars of choice. Most frighteningly, these same techniques are now widely disseminated in our mass media to inure and “condition” the masses with a pro-violence, pro-war mentality.

    Nevertheless, other than the one-in-a-hundred sociopath who has no adverse effects from killing, the other 99 soldiers will deal, negatively, with their participation in killing over time, despite the shallow sanction by yellow-ribbon brandishing false patriots in the “homeland.” Ten years from now, when the flags are waving for the next killing-ground de jour, troubled “veterans” from today’s “conflicts” (Orwellian double-talk for illegal invasions) will be just as marginalized and misrepresented as they always have been.

    Modern war means at least a hundred civilians killed for every soldier. This well-known fact is kept from the public and its subset of military recruits, but is something the veterans know well and deal with every day, all around you, invisibly but painfully.

    You’re not likely to be able to draw out many vets on the subject of our personal experience (at least the “non-psychopathic”), and you’re likely to get only more denial and bravado like on tonight’s show from current soldiers and the recently discharged, but you can at least cover the subject. The information is there, open source.

  162. I would love to hear a story about body modification, so called “Bod Mod Culture”, that is growing ever-popular. More specifically, the large number of people with “heavy” modifications; those that radically and permanently change their outward aperance.

    In the last few years ear lobe stretching (the act of stretching your tiny ear-ring holes to an inch or more) seems to have gotten especially popular among the sub-30-something range, but there are also an incredibly large number of people with full facial tattoos, implants of silicone spheres, stars and barbells under the skin, scarification and skin removal. Even the so called “Lip disc” of African tribes has reached the western world (http://www.bmezine.com/news/presenttense/20050203.html). Many modification procedures going past the back-alley piercing parlor to fully trained and medically skilled piercers (a large number seem to be more knowledgeable than your average bottom-of-his-class doctor).

    What I’m especially interested in is the psychology behind this. Why do so many people feel the need to change their apperance so dramatically? What happens if you change your mind in ten years? As more and more of the heavily modified types gain employment beyond the freak show and enter the professional field, how do those of us with “virgin skin” interact with them? Is one still obliged to ignore the color of ones skin if that color is there by choice?

    The most notable example of this can be seen here; a young man literally exposing his skull to the outside wold.


    The blog that image was linked from, http://modblog.bmezine.com would be a great resource for the show (Be warned, it contains some very graphic imagery and is completely NSFW). Written by the kingpin of the world’s largest body modification community, http://www.bmezine.com. It’s fanbase is so devoted that a huge number of users have tattooed the site’s logo on their person.

    Now, go to it open source!

  163. In my previous post I said “Modern war means at least a hundred civilians killed for every soldier,” but meant to say “for every soldier killed.” What I said probably implied that the number was for every soldier in the theater, but I meant to refer to the total casualties, civilians v. soldiers.

    Nevertheless, a discussion of this is nowhere in the media when the rhetoric of revenge or bloodletting is flying. Nor, in the case of Iraq, at the time of Falujah at least, was there a discussion that most of the civilians there had been killed by the US military (not the media-ubiquitous suicide bomber).

    Cover the story of the vets who have killed, and what that means to them for the rest of their lives. Interview Grossman at least.

  164. Getting Serious About the “I” Word:


    Do you really want to lag behind Wolf Blitzer on this? By my hazy tally, herbertbrowne, Potter, nother, Sutter, enhabit, and others have endorsed the idea of a show about impeachment. A quorum of faithful correspondents does not a mandate make, but your aversion to the idea begins to seem representative of the political culture you’re usually at pains to confront. Why not at least take herbertbrowne’s suggestion and create a warming-up thread, which at the very least would send the more mindful scurrying back to the Constitution?

  165. I don’t know that I favor impeachment, either as a legal matter (he’s grossly inept and terminally dishonest, but I’m not sure whether either meets the standard; alternatively, his novel understanding on the Constitution and specific statutes such as FISA might make for some fertile ground) or as a political matter (he’s doing such a wonderful job of destroying his party — I don’t want to get in his way), but I do think it’s at least within the realm of conversation. To put this in a different light: If Bill Clinton had not been impeached, would we be so averse to discussing impeachment here? It feels a little too much like political payback because of what happened to Clinton, but if that factor were removed, it might actually seem like a more compelling case. So yes, I support Hurley’s drive, and ask the producers to explain a bit more what’s holding them back.

    (I’d also make the argument again for my mental health pitch above, which garnered a lot of attention that kind of demonstrated my point.)

  166. Sutter: I like the Manchurian Candidtate aspect you attribute to Bush vv the Republican party but favor creative destruction of another sort. Your emphasis on putting the matter “within the realm of conversation” in line with my bewilderment that it isn’t. As for Clinton, I thought his impeachment as tawdry as the fun and games with the cigar, but it seemed to me he’d brought it on himself. Imagine if he’d responded to the initial furore by simple saying, “None of your business.” A Lincolnesque moment, lost; he might have changed the culture in profound ways had he simply had the courage. Or not. That’s what I was thinking at the time. No allegiance to the Democratic Party, much less Bill Clinton, motivating my death-by-a-thousand-links seige on the subject. I didn’t like the Clinton administration, but even I have to admit the US was in better hands then than it is now…I think my insistence on the subject has as much to do with the subject itself as with the general — and local, might I add — reluctance to discuss it.

  167. What about a show re: Taiwan? Here are some possible discussion points:

    (1) U.S. foreign policy towards Taiwan in light of growing partnership (and competition) with Mainland China. Will domestic interests in the U.S. continue to dilute support for Taiwan’s democratic experiment?

    (2) Taiwan’s own internal cultural/national identity crisis. How the continuing war between the KMT and the DPP are coming to a head in the upcoming presidential election, and how the results will have significant impact upon cross-straight relations. Remember that the former KMT chairman and presidential candidate, Lien Zhan, visited China without the approval of the DPP administration, and seemed to not only solidify a party platform for the KMT, but also provide Mainland China with a political opportunity towards peaceful relations (if not outright reunification). Also consider Taiwan’s intensifying geographical and cultural divide, with the “nativists” mostly centered around the south, and the “realists” mostly converging on the northern and central urban centers (e.g., Taipei, Taichung, etc.). Does America’s red/blue divide have anything on Taiwan’s cultural civil war?

    (3) People in the U.S. think of “Nixon in China” as a monumental event in the course of 20th century international politics, and rightly so. But how many Americans understand Taiwan’s shock from de-recognition, and the ripples that continue to this day?

    (4) By all measures, Taiwan is no longer the economic jewel that it aspired to be in the 80′s and perhaps early 90′s. Uncertainties regarding sovereignty, market stability, and government accountability have driven Taiwan’s once iconic economy to a society of increasing debt and desperation. How has this affected the American economy? And the Chinese/Taiwanese-American population here in the U.S.?

    (5) Speaking of government accountability, why not talk about the unsightly corruption that has been serially revealed from the DPP administration in the last few years? You think Florida and Ohio were bad? What about an (possibly staged — no one is apparently able to find out!) assassination attempt on the sitting president the night before election day in 2004?

    I can go on and on. Any takers?

  168. with out a doubt a show on taiwan would be lively and interesting. the diplomatic tightrope that nixon stretched for that one can be un-nerving. does that fear have basis in reality or does china just like to rattle the cage every now and then to show who they think is boss?

  169. I’ve thought about this scenario often:

    The U.S. has what one might call a “pathos” towards Taiwan, since it’s been such a success story in terms of democratization from martial rule. The economic story, of course, was a wonder to many.

    But today, China is (I think) the primary owner of foreign-held U.S. debt, and it has tremendous influence over the world economy. Think energy, currency, manufacturing, global investments into China, etc.

    Now, if push comes to shove, and China goes to the bargaining table one day with the U.S. about some issue (e.g., “Hey, America, we want to exercise on some of this leverage we have over your currency!”), what is the likelihood that the U.S. will ultimately trade in its pledge of protecting Taiwan for an economic solution?

    My entire extended family lives in Taiwan. This is a real issue to us.

  170. Jcwang

    If China takes control of ROC, what would happen?

    Not much, sort of like HK?

    China can hold the US debt or sell it – if we print money to pay the debt, the value of the money goes down and China loses.

    As Milton Friedman said: if china sells the debt , it passes from weak hands to strong hands.

  171. I think you’ll find that the ROC will react very differently from HK should China start to push hard for reunification. I’ll bullet point some reasons:

    1) Taiwan has not had to deal with a deadline the way HK did with 1997. That has significant impact upon the national (important word) psyche.

    2) Taiwan is far more populous and culturally diverse than HK, and the variability of reactions in Taiwan would be harder to manage than it was for HK. Though, granted, HK hasn’t had an easy time transitioning.

    3) Taiwan still has the legacy of Chiang Kai-shek in its older generation, and in the the core of the KMT constituents. That sense of nationalism (and anti-Communism – not so much in a socio-philosophical sense, but in a political and anti-Mao sense) is pervasive and something that HK doesn’t have.

    – I should note that CKS was not a very nice man, and we should all know that.

    4) Taiwan has a standing military.

    5) The DPP is loud and clear – and well represented – as pro-independence party. While HK had its dissenters against 1997, the DPP in Taiwan is large, well organized, and wealthy. (Sadly, though, they’re awfully corrupt.)

    I could go on, I suppose.

    As for the economics between China and the U.S., I would agree that China isn’t yet in a position to shape U.S. policy through economic levers, but I think most would agree that China’s growing prominence in the world stage, economically or politically, takes away the already few cards that Taiwan once held. That was my basic point.

    (Cursory Disclosure: I am a KMT supporter that does not support declaring Taiwanese independence immediately, whether through political declarations or constitutional amendments. I do, however, appreciate that Taiwan is a very different place from China. The reality of the situation compels me to believe that there must be an open and two-way relationship between the two sides until China is ready for Taiwan’s expectations of social liberalism and progressivism, and until Taiwan is ready for China’s expectations of a singular national identity.)

  172. 1. The Guardian Angels, badgeless and red bereted, have… i don’t want to use the term “threatened” but i can’t find the right termonology, to come to Boston in order to stop the horrific body count and gun violence.


    Radio Open Source, tell us about these people. I know there’s some sort of controversy around them, just can’t recall what. volunteers? vigilantes? thugs? good intentions? history? I have heard of similar Police initiatives where loads of cops just loiter around troubled areas for about a week. Criminals leave due to the sheer concentration, and don’t return for a long time afterwards giving residents a chance to breathe and regroup into a community. New York? Detroit? can’t remember. What does this mean for Boston?

    2. Dorchester Rev. Bruce Wall warns city hall that he and his volunteers will “post signs around the city warning tourists that they are not safe in Boston if the mayor doesn’t act now and declare a state of emergency.” Menino and NGOs are failing to stop the violence, and pressure on Boston Commons and Back Bay may direct people’s attention to Dorchester and Roxbury. (paraphrased from Bostonist.com)


  173. The flip side of the Digital Audio Revolution. Downloading has caused many artists to scream bloody murder at their intellectual assets floating freely from computer to computer on P2P Networks. Record Labels lead witch-hunts in vain attempts to regain their previous stranglehold on the profits of artists they exploit. Aside from the buzz a college student might get overloading an i-pod with hacked records- pilfered from cyberspace…lets look at the creative advantages to the modern digital recording artist, musician or digital audio hobbyist- making music in the digital home studio. “Pre-digital, I -like many others- recorded ideas on 4 track tape and then paid absorbent studio rates to track music at pro quality”, says Jon Kagi, Creative Director of Kagi Media- a publisher of Pro Tools and Digital Audio Workstation tutorial DVDs. “The biggest problem with the old system was that you were always “on the clock” which wasn’t a very creative way to make music. Now you can actually make music with a bare bones computer, a couple cables and GarageBand- and you can get into an entry level Pro Tools system for fewer than 500 bucks…enabling you to record and interact with musicians all over the world and exchange files with pro studios.”

    Submitted by Kagi Media, kagimedia.com

  174. jcwang

    Thank you for your answers.

    If the US were to close military bases in the Far East:

    Do you think China would invade Taiwan


    embargo to get submission?

    What does China want from Taiwan – wouldn’t they leave most economic systems and local politics in place?

  175. jcwang0706,

    My sense is that an ROC-related crisis would put the White House in a very different position than the Iraq war did. In Iraq, there was the “neocon” case for war, and also a “realist” case for war (from which key “realists” dissented — see e.g. Brent Scowcroft — but to which other “realists,” concerned about oil and WMDs, adhered). A crisis over the ROC, it seems to me, would put the Administration on a stranger footing, with neocons and Wilsonians wanting to support the ROC’s separateness (if not “independence” — “one China, two systems,” or whatever we’re calling it these days), and realists (not to mention business interests) extremely skeptical of risking conflict with the PRC over Taiwan.

    Any thoughts on this?

  176. Pitches from March 20th and March 27th:

    Alexandre Enkerli: I think your idea about the music of the French elections is a brilliant pitch. I agree with hurley: we’d love to cover France as a piece of our/hurley’s EU identity series, and we’ve been meaning to find an interesting angle into the French psyche– this sounds like a grand one. I’ll pitch it today, and if it doesn’t make it through the meeting, I’d love to talk about it with you for a web feature.

    tbrucia and enhabit: Since you’re interested in Pakistan, would you mind listening to this show on the subject? That one’s more than a year old by now, but your Hassan Haqqani was our lead off hitter. I’m sure there’s much more to talk about. Can you help us develop new angles?

    john_d: What a thorough and well-thought out first pitch. We’ve only sort-of covered this ground before — most recently (and most successfully, in my opinion) with Jonathan Lethem on The Ecstasy of Influence. That one covered more of the Cory Doctorow angle than your amateur/professional artist angle. I’ll read your piece and try to do it justice at the meeting.

    tbrucia: On Poe and fear. Worth a pitch. Until we get to it (or if we don’t), tide yourself over with our Fear Factor show.

    demarconia: Maybe it’s that I am a member of the sub-30-something range, but I see “Bod Mod Culture” as more of a fad than anything else, and not necessarily indicative of some broader psychological trend.

    hurley: I do think it’s time to put the “I” word into the Warming Up thread. I’ll see if others agree.

    jcwang0706: your Taiwan show sounds interesting. I’ll read your full pitch in the meeting.

    rahbuhbuh: I’m not sure if this story is too local or not. I’ll read up.

  177. Lumiere:

    One of the very strange (but informative) things about cross-straight relations today is the duality of realities between politics and trade. There’s a lot of grandstanding by the DPP for independence, a lot of forlorn headshaking by the KMT for maintaining the status quo, and a lot of growling by the Mainland for threatening military action, but there are over a million Taiwanese citizens living in China right now, and the Taiwanese is (I think) financially the most heavily invested “foreign” population in China today. Talk to a Taiwanese businessperson involved in import/export, manufacturing, professional services, etc., and s/he will either be already invested in China, or is planning to do so. And ask a Chinese entrepreneur in Shanghai about tracking down angel or institutional investors, and Taiwanese contacts would pop up.

    So what’s the problem, one might ask. Well, my take is that China has a lot of disputed territories in its outer regions, some of which (I think) provide a good amount of natural resources (coal out west?). So, especially in a time of ascension in global politics and trade, China can’t afford to lose its claim of authority of such a symbolic “territory’ as Taiwan. I’m not sure how HK might react to China acquiescing to Taiwanese independence, but imagine the reactions in Tibet, Xingjiang, etc.

    Which makes me think that the ball is actually in Taiwan’s court, in a way. China has nothing to gain from attacking Taiwan, as long as Taiwan doesn’t make China lose face as a sovereign power. I would think that China would be happy to maintain the status quo (even improve relations to allow direct airliner routes, more robust trade agreements, etc.) and continue to feed off of Taiwanese capital. But now we have a DPP administration in Taiwan that (along with being mired in corruption and incompetence) exploits a (arguably self-inflated) position of immediate independence in order to remain politically viable, China is forced to react militantly, and the whole system inches towards conflict, all the while isolating Taiwan further from the international community.

    As you can probably tell, I’m not too hot on the DPP.

  178. Sutter:

    I think we’re on the same wavelength in terms of reading how American politicians would react to cross-straight tensions. It’s a bit of a tension for me personally, because I identify myself as a “realist” with a progressive bent (and a Democrat), but I recognize that the conservative Republicans in Congress are more sympathetic for Taiwan’s side of the argument. George Allen, for example, was a relatively active supporter for providing military protection for Taiwan should there be outright conflict.

    May his soul find peace.

    But, as I rambled to Lumiere, the way that Taiwan’s DPP party is driving the situation into the ground (through disingenuous protestations and lofty claims of liberalism in declaring immediate independence) puts even the U.S. in a sore spot. The One-China policy here is this country’s attempt at having it both ways – making money off of China, but not publicly abandoning the promise of democracy in the world – and the only way for that policy to survive is for the status quo to be maintained. The DPP is pushing against that balancing act (again, for reasons I find to be vulgar rather than high minded), and I think Taiwan will end up the loser.

  179. JJShantell:

    There’ve been laments about how things like Myspace has diluted the quality of music in America (But relative to Britney and JLo?! Anyway…). But have there been discussions that see this as a real shift in the social organization of music making? How might the term “musician” change over time?

    I know the analogy is so imperfect that it’s not even there, but this reminds me of how atonality wreaked havoc in the minds of the musicians everywhere in the early 20th century. “There are no rules! Anything could be music with this, and so nothing is music!”, they said. Schoenberg made up his own rules, of course, but they were hard to appreciate on a visceral level. And then people came back to tonality in a big way.

    I wonder if people will have similar existential qualms with regards to published and profitable “music making” by kids in basements. Will there be a Schoenbergian solution in the bowels of the record companies?

  180. music lovers:

    i remember progressive radio in the late sixties and early seventies. a music set might have everything from miles davis to jimi hendrix and even some bach might get tossed in from time to time..sounds like my ipod.

    my jazz singer/pianist in laws (mostly the singer) get quite bent out of shape over royalties but i stand up for a little free sampling. people will want more if they like the taste..then they buy.

    the entire entertainment industry has gotten so infected by the “blockbuster” mentality..this includes sports teams..that they have lost sight. there is a LOT of great creative product out there but finding it requires too much work for most people. word of mouth has always been the best source for music lovers..perhaps word of net is the next step. there have been some tremendous bands that got very little air play. fill in your own blanks.

    technology now favours the little guy but watch out for “barriers to entry” such as internet radio is up against right now. big labels deserve to struggle..i for one do not appreciate force-feeding.

  181. I’m very bad at this, but how about this pitch: I don’t have a catchy buzzphrase for it yet, but lately I’ve begun to fear that most Americans’ political beliefs – not their candidate preferences or instinctive policy views but the core of their ideologies – are far more fluid than I had previously believed, and based on factors that are somewhat alarming. Specifically, recent poll data (*news peg alert*) reveal a huge shift in opinion toward capital-D Democratic positions on core issues. As a center-left independent who almost always votes for Democrats, this makes me happy in one sense, because it bodes well for 2008 and maybe beyond. But it also scares me in another sense. While I believe that Republican policies have failed us, and I am willing to be convinced that the data simply a growing belief to that effect, it feels like something more superficial is at work here: Bush is viewed as an incompetent loser, and it feels like many Americans are just more interested in siding with the winner on the issues. For a long time the Republicans have seemed like the winners, and now that the tide is shifting, so too the population is shifting. So, I worry (and again, I’m willing to be proven wrong on this) that we may _not_ be seeing a shift to the left on health care and taxes and so on arising from shifts in individuals’ underlying notions of justice and effective policy, but merely a shift in whose “team” people want to be seen as being on. That’s working in favor of my “team” right now, but if people really are so fickle, what’s to say the winds won’t shift as quickly in the other direction once a Democratic president makes a big mistake or a new Republican president restores faith in the White House? And even if it works in my favor, should I really take comfort in the fact that Americans want what I want mostly because it’s _not_ what someone else wants?

    So, I guess the pitch is this: For all the talk about a crisis in conservatism, are we really seeing the crack-up (see friend-of-ROS Jonathan Raban’s review of Andrew Sullivan’s current book in the NYRB: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20050), or just a possibly short-lived, broad-but-not-deep sea change in the gut-level preferences of a mostly apolitical public? Beyond the sort of people who comment on these threads, are Americans fundamentally indifferent as between policy outcomes? Have the politics fully subsumed the policy in Americans’ collective public life? Should we care?

  182. Jamestown then and now. First off, it’s the anniversary, blah, blah. Second, it’s the other foundational story—Pilgrims motivated by religion, the Jamestown colonists by money. Right now, everyone’s fighting over the appropriate commemoration: does the Virginia legislature apologize for slavery (first African on the continent, an indentured servant brought by the Jamestown colonists)? Tavis Smiley has his State of the Black Union 2007 in Virgina to discuss that: http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/special/jamestown.html

    Or, ought the “commemoration” be a “celebration” as Chuck Norris is demanding http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54867 Is it all too PC?

    And think about how incredibly unique it is for a bunch of English-speaking men to be sent to establish control a foreign land’s natural resources, not knowing anything about where they’re going, beset by incompetence, and assuming the natives could either by won over by charm or guns…

    The LA Times Book Review covered a few Jamestown books this past weekend, and the Washington Post Book World a couple of weekends before that…





  183. I’ve listened to many shows about illegal music downloads, but I’ve never heard anyone explore the relationship between the environment of corporate corruption and people’s personal attitudes toward “stealing.” In a world where telecom and credit card companies routinely sneak false charges into monthly bills, grabbing a few tunes for free seems like meager compensation for living in a “free market” environment which overwhelmingly favors large corporations, not private individuals.

    Of course, music companies don’t see why they should be the fall guys for a situation in which everyone feels like they’re being ripped off. But that’s why corporate executives need to be in the forefront of raising ethical standards. Leadership comes from leaders, not the poor schnooks who are just trying to get by and get over when they can. Who’s the bigger criminal – the kid who downloads music for free or the corporate executive who manipulates his company’s stock price?

    So, that’s my pitch: a show about the relationship between free market ideology and eroding ethics in society. How do you condemn piracy in a world that encourages pirates?

  184. I just finished listening to Part II of “Banality of Evil”, with Prof. Zimbardo talking about the Stanford Prison Experiment and related thoughts.

    Great show.

    From my standpoint, there are at least three directions that ROS can go “from here” on that particular theme. Consider one comment that Prof. Zimbardo made, which was (something like), in a difficult or pressured situation, conducive to catalyzing “evil”, people often break down into three patterns: One large middle group is passive and watches, follows, or begins to slightly participate as the other people become more active; Another group, a smaller group, are highly susceptible to bad-barrel environments and start to behave in ways that are harmful and surprising toward others, i.e., in ways that may enter the area described as evil; Another group actually counter-reacts (in the other direction) to try to stand up for more healthy principles and to help protect or take care of weaker victims. This last group is the heroic group.

    Given that rough approximation, ROS could go in one (or more) of the following directions:

    1. You could basically continue the same conversation.

    2. You could focus the discussion on the dynamics of human conformity and group-think, the conditions that cause it, why it happens, and so forth.

    3. You could focus the next discussion on a subset of those people that most easily go the route of evil, especially when in bad-barrel situations, but even (sometimes) in normal everyday situations, i.e., the characteristics of people who are actually diagnosable as Antisocial Personality Disorder (often called “sociopaths”) or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

    I think that show concept “3″ would be a great show, and very valuable, interesting, surprising, and practical for the audience. But, to make sure the show is an authentic success, and is truly helpful, you shouldn’t get someone who has a “pop-psychology” view of “narcissism”, etc. You should get a real expert — a full psychiatrist or a highly-qualified psychologist with true expertise and experience in the areas (with APD and NPD) and who keeps, for the most part, to the expert definitions of APD and NPD. Truly understanding those psychological patterns, which are different from each other and also different from popular conceptions (talking especially about the difference between true NPD and between the popular conception of people who are “narcissistic”) would be very eye-opening and helpful to the audience. It would also explain a significant portion of those people who most easily enter into “evil”-like activities when the conditions allow. For a good understanding of these two (very real) psychological patterns, which most people don’t recognize (until it’s too late!), you can read the APD and NPD pages in the DSM-IV, the official diagnostic book of the psychiatric profession. Each of those sections is only four to five pages long, I think, so they can be read fairly quickly.

    Of the three show concepts suggested above, I think “3″ and “2″ would be most helpful.

    Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to send you more thoughts on these themes.

  185. CheeseMoose:

    my father (professional musician) always had more trouble with clients paying than ascap. but then again, he had to take ascap’s word on a lot.

  186. # hurley Says:

    March 20th, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    “Years ago there was a survey of famous people asking after the most momentous events in a period and place that more or less approximated to the US in the 60s. I thought back to the Stanford Prison Experiments, and the murder of Kitty Genovese that preceded them in 1964, which gave us the Bad Samaritan Complex, otherwise known as the Bystander Effect. Seems to me they — the experiments and the complex — mirror and feed each other in important ways. I’d be curious to hear what Zimbardo might have to say about this.”

    combine this with “jonestown” dovetailing w/ upcoming pbs documentary and you’ve got banality of evil part III

  187. CheeseMoose Says:

    March 28th, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    ….. the relationship between the environment of corporate corruption and people’s personal attitudes toward “stealing….


    The relationship between the two is selfishness

    Nonetheless, it is never the intent is corporations to steal – it wouldn’t be in their long term interest b/c of the probability of getting caught an the resultant bad press – most well run companies take their customer relationships seriously. It is usually done by managers who “game the system”.

  188. btw ROS:

    don’t discount lilith as an interesting show. she got quite a rise out of the class and the discussion carried over. medeivalists are passionate and the iconography has tremendous relevance today..what adam had a first wife? she hooked up with who? whoa. just get a femnist on the subject of why adam couldn’t handle a wife that was an equal and..sparks.

    there are a lot of “apocraphal” testament stories including new testament. the adolescent jesus losing his temper for example? large amounts of property dissapearing? that story was tossed early in the process. there is a charming italian movie..can’t remember the name..that focuses on jesus and family hiding out in egypt..there is a great scene where jesus brings a dead bird back to life while playing with the neighborhood kids…mary was not pleased.

    this stuff is provocative and entertaining..the subject of why it got tossed out of the biblical record as we know it is heated and rich.

  189. The White House using Iraqi bloggers as a reason to believe things are getting better.

    The Seattle PI’s (virtual) editorial board will be taking this topic on today.

    And the Carpetbagger talks about why the bloggers Bush is talking about might not be all that trustworthy.

    From a short glance at old ROS stories, there doesn’t seem to be a story focusing on the homegrown Iraq blogosphere, and since the days of Where is Raed? it has been interesting.

  190. Greta, regarding the Guardian Angels suggestion: I don’t expect nor want ROS to keep a topic like that local, it’s just the spark. I’m interested in the broader concept of local or outsider groups taking up the job of policing and protection a community. Black Panthers and Guardian Angels are contemporary American versions, thinking the city and law enforcement were failing and so created the “anti gang gang” as a friend calls them. Where does that lead, where did it lead? Mafia lore tells of similar tactics, but for specific reasons based on money or ethnicity. They “protect” the locals by keeping the black or irish or italian or jewish or ______ out. That’s a prett insideous example, it’s a variation on a theme.

  191. Let’s talk about some porn.

    I’m sure you’ve heard about the U.S. judge blocks law criminalizing Web porn that reaches kids


    “A federal judge on Thursday dealt another blow to government efforts to control Internet pornography, striking down a 1998 U.S. law that makes it a crime for commercial Web site operators to let children access “harmful” material.”

    We could start by talking about the implications of that case on free speech, because we all know where port goes, technology follows

    But where I’d like to see the conversation really go, is the bigger question of how we have changed now that we live in an age of ubiquitous porn. Any of us, kids included, can and do view graphic porn for free with just a click of our mouse. (Present company excluded. :-))

    How is this affecting us as a society? We need to lie on a couch and talk about this…just talk though, no funny business, I promise.

    Check out this great article in Wired.

    “Internet Porn: Worse Than Crack?”


  192. I would like to see you folks do a show on “Carbon Neutrality”. Is this a case of checkbook environmentalists “buying indulgences for their climate sins”. Are people who buy carbon offsets acting like someone at a track who eats a box of cookies and then has someone else run around the track for them so they can be “calorie neutral”?

    I think it is all the more relevant since celebrities and politicians like to make such a big deal about how they strive to make their jet flightd and concert tours “carbon neutral”.

    The companies that trade in these offsets are lightly regulated, the accounting methods suspect, and and auditing measures used to verify that the projects exist and are not being resold are slim.

    Two great background reads for this: a recent Businessweek article “Another Incovenient Truth”, and the publication “The Carbon Neutral Myth” put out by Transnational Institiute.

  193. jcwang0706

    They can’t get enough of our paper….

    Foreign holdings of U.S. securities rise in mid-year 2006 by Robert Schroeder

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Foreign investors held $7.8 trillion in U.S. equities and short- and long-term debt securities as of the end of June 2006, representing a 13% increase in holdings from the year-earlier period, the Treasury Department said in a preliminary report Friday. Chinese investors held $699 billion in U.S. securities, making the country the second-largest holder of securities after Japan, which held $1.1 trillion in those instruments. Treasury will issue a final report about foreign holdings of U.S. securities as of June 2006 on May 31.

  194. Stepping back for a micro-second: What about time and how it’s almost all filled up… (the ultimate limiting factor?). I find myself driving and listening to my iPod, and wondering what I’m missing on my satellite radio… as I watch folks weaving all over the highway as they talk on their cellphones (or if stopped in traffic, reading). The memory marker on my DVR teeters at 90 percent full and it’s a fantastic feeling when I empty it down to 75 percent. The magazines pile up in the living room, some partially read and others (as yet!) untouched. When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, I check my email. And my wife insists we go to see this or that film together, and then go shopping. While she’s inside scoping out mangoes and selecting cheeses, I pop a CD in the car radio and read a book (always one along for fear of wasting any five-minute ‘slot’ in my day!). I could go on, but you wouldn’t beleive how many things I have to get done before I have to go to sleep…. And I AM NOT UNUSUAL. Most people are busily cramming ever more activity into every second of every day… trying to do two or even three things at once. And it is now getting to the point where… every single moment of every single day is scheduled (thanks to my PDA). It’s all full. And now I have to choose what to give up… and I don’t want to give anything up! I simply think, ‘Too bad I’m wasting seven hours a day sleeping, when there’s so much going on. I wonder if I could get by sleeping less…. This situation would make for a fascinating show: ‘Cramming it all in; do you get frustrated by time?’ (And at least one guest COULD be a person who is totally bored; does nothing all day long except watch the sun travel across the sky; and can’t imagine life off his/her rocking chair. I suspect finding this person might be very difficult, but perhaps with Google, a laptop, installing Google desktop… oh, hell, you get the idea!

  195. tbrucia: you’ll find Ferdinand the bull, contemplating the world beneath the shade of a cork tree. Good luck getting him into a studio, though.

  196. I began this as a reply to Brian Dunbar in the March 27th “meeting notes” thread, but will post it here for (eventually) self-evident reasons.

    In that soon-to-vanish thread, Brian wrote, “the system of government that we’ve got generally works as set out in the charter”.

    I would in response point Brian and others to statusquobuster’s incisive post in the ‘Straight Shooter’ thread. Beyond that, I’d like to suggest the following:

    It seems to me that geographical boundaries determining the ‘states’ have been increasingly meaningless since 1865. Between 1789 and 1861, residents of the various states—especially the longer established eastern and southeastern ones—were literally willing to fight and die for their states. Because these entities represented their residents’ “nationalism” (although ‘nationalism’ as a concept would only gain currency later, I seem to recall). This ‘state-nationalist’ era didn’t really transfer to the western territories however, as the preposterous ‘war’ between the Michigan Territory and the State of Ohio over the Toledo Strip comically demonstrated.

    I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan most of my life – and I can promise you that the idea of Michiganians like me militarily fighting Ohio is utterly ludicrous—even during the rabid third week of every November. ‘State-nationalism’ is dead (and unlamented).

    So, in 1789, these political entities defined, profoundly, the American electorate: New York; Massachusetts; Virginia, Georgia; etc.

    What is the meaningful corollary of ‘states’ today? What defining political divisions have survived the demise of ‘state-nationalism’?

    Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the meaningful divisions are these: affluent suburb; working class suburb; inner city; gentry city; (ultra-)affluent countryside; agricultural countryside; etc.

    In other words, the very divisions that sly politicians comprehend and use their clout to gerrymander themselves into (hopefully) safe seats.

    People demand investment not in their ‘states’ (per se) but in the critical infrastructure of their local economies. That state governors often give voice to these demands (by the rich) and pleas (by the poor) is more incidental than anything else. The ‘states’ are now nothing more than (often) internally-incompatible patchworks whose defining fabrics utterly transcend their arbitrary geographical boundaries.

    Is there any compelling reason to retain the archaic ‘state’ structure – aside from the nation’s unimaginative institutional inertia?

    So, were I to write something like, “The nation’s political landscape has changed since 1783”, I’m not merely using a figurative. The nation’s political landscape actually has changed. But our governmental-system-as-constituted isn’t designed to represent this – at least, not democratically. Incumbency reelection rates demonstrate this – even in this past year’s “surprising” national elections.

    One simple solution – a solution used all over the world but not here – is proportional representation. Proportional representation would instantly render gerrymandering a historical curiosity as obsolete as ‘state-nationalism’. It would instantly expand the spectrum of political parties from two to at least three (enabling a legitimate ‘Center’ party) and, more probably, dozens (at least initially).

    This same sudden development would necessitate campaign-by-policy-differences. Voters would have to become fully aware of the vying parties’ differing policies because they will no longer be electing individuals but party-slates. This would shift the focus of political ‘debate’ (if that’s the proper word for the typical, sordid, crap-baths we must endure during our political autumns) from individuals and their human failings to party policies – substantially neutering the deplorable influence of the ‘politics of character assassination’.

    Proportional representation needn’t be a fantasy but could instead be achievable if only we could talk about it public. It wouldn’t happen overnight, of course, and there’s plenty powerful interest vested in the status quo. But it can’t possibly eventuate in the current intellectually timid and vacuous environment of ‘conventional wisdom.’

    Is ROS content to remain a part of the problem, or can it dare to be an innovation-oriented media-organ? Lani Guinier – already a friend of the program – has written extensively on our electoral system and the largely unrecognized need for different criteria to determine our political representation.

    Why not invite Guinier and Sanford Levinson onto a program that discusses these occluded but inescapable meta-issues?

    ROS offers its listeners dozens of fine shows that highlight the manifold objectionable symptoms of the government that has evolved since 1789. Here’s my challenge: do at least ONE show examining the actual pathogen, to compliment the many shows in which you examine the symptoms. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t shirk from it.

    Give the ghost of Thomas Jefferson reason to smile.

  197. PS: imagine the comment-thread for a ‘Constitution’ show. Do you think it would attract a few dozen posts?

    Or hundreds?

    (Not even counting whatever I’d find to time to throw into it.)

  198. Apologies to enhabit and everyone else for my hasty, unedited, first draft @ 2:46 PM, March 31st. I wanted to post it, and then point Brian to it, before the thread which hosted our original conversation vanished into the Archives.

    Here’s a one-sentence summary of my purpose, in the form of a wry quote from Daniel Lazare: “Americans have been praising the Constitution and cursing the government it creates since the founding.”

    I suppose it’s a testimony to our national skills at indoctrination that Americans seem hopelessly blind to the connect-the-dots link Lazare’s quip illustrates.

    Here’s another thing we ought not remain forever blind to:

    Some Americans have sixty-nine times the legislative votes than others. That’s 69: the times Wyoming’s 494,000 residents goes into California’s 33,872,000.

    How? The Senate awards each state equal votes, on the rationale that the small states need equity to the big ones.

    Was this once a reasonable compromise?

    Yup. In the republic’s first 70 or so years.

    What about now?

    Ask yourself this: Is a majority of California’s Orange County (population 3,000,000+) more likely to vote against, or with a majority of Wyoming’s 494,000?

    What defines voting tendencies in 21st century America? State loyalties?

    Or class-based economic interests? Interests that politically link affluent suburbs all around the nation’s 50 trivial districts called ‘states’ – putting those voters at odds with other voters within their own states?

    The Senate, as currently constituted is comprehensively undemocratic. In the Senate, small states are allowed to mine the national tax-treasury at a grossly disproportionate rate the than can the large states. (See Levinson’s book for shocking examples.) Large states are, chronically, the losers in this system – or, should I say, the taxpayers of large states are the losers: funding as they do the tottering ecomomies of small states while their large state neighbors are allowed to languish in relative poverty. Does this poverty lurking one or two neighborhoods away help, or hurt, the large-state taxpayers?

    The original rationale for the Senate has simply and comprehensively obsolesced.

    Yet we are hardly allowed to publicly whisper such obvious observations.

    Sixty-nine more legislative votes per Wyomingite.

    Why isn’t this discussed?

    Dogma-based Constitution-reverence?

    Here’s a bit of wisdom from one of that document’s principals:


    Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present… I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy…

    Let us…(not) weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs. Let us… avail ourselves of our reason and experience, to correct the crude essays of our first and unexperienced, although wise, virtuous, and well—meaning councils.

    And lastly, let us provide in our constitution for its revision at stated periods… Each generation is as independent as the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before. It has then, like them, a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness; consequently, to accommodate to the circumstances in which it finds itself, that received from its predecessors; and it is for the peace and good of mankind, that a solemn opportunity of doing this every nineteen or twenty years, should be provided by the constitution; so that it may be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time, if anything human can so long endure.


    — Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Samuel Kercheval

    I hope this post rectifies, at least a little, the many flaws of my earlier attempt above.

  199. get rid of the electoral college..the pres should be popular

    also our gov’t model does not export well..too much presidential power for most situations..too many presidents for life…too many bought out representatives…the more fluid dynamic of a parliamentary systems seems to insert better…not perfectly just better.

  200. Constitutional inequities in representation:

    Brian Mann discussed these in his 2006 book “Welcome to the Homeland,” an examination of the rural/urban divide in politics, and the way that skews our government. Reading it made me wonder if we’ll ever bridge the gap.

    Don’t know where else to post this:

    Following up on Michael Specter’s discussion of Russia today, check this new development out:


  201. Nick,

    I’m not against change; only change for it’s own sake or change without reflecting and thinking deeply on all the consequences.

    Lucky for us we have such a diverse political climate – what with all of those states and so forth reflecting the national climate down to the county level – that we can experiment locally with changes. See how they work in the real world with American sensibilities and notions.

    Consider Wisconsin. I have no idea how you could legally enact proportional representation here but assume it’s done. We have major urban areas. Utterly poor rural areas. Manufacturing. Farming. Belts of prosperity and regions as poor as you’d need.

    Do it here first – if it works the rest will follow.

  202. I have a comparison to make, somewhere in it, I think, there’s a show: The Communists, who took over Russia and what would be the Soviet Union, were rather ignorant people, certainly unsophisticated, who took one belief very seriously, came to power somewhat by accident and turned a society and a nation on its ear. Not to mention starting a long decline to eventual emplosion. Does the first part sound familiar? In America we are faced with a similar problem, a minority of fundamentalists have taken power and twisted and reinterpreted America in their own image. They do this under the guise of a better life, and prosperity, just as the communist did, however, this is just the carrot and stick to keep it moving. Where can this be headed? America is no longer the unflappable democracy of the 20th century, it is currently heading down a road, that could turn out to be similar to the stagnate state of the Soviet Union. A one party resolve to push through big changes, big plans, wars, and use politics to create consensus, but in many ways half asleep, stumbling. And don’t say, “It can’t happen here,” those are famous last words.

  203. have you guys ever done a show on Ivan Illich? brilliant, visionary, controversial to the point of outcaste, heart of gold, tough as nails. his views become more and more relevant..but no discussion on him will ever be neutral. those that dislike him call him an anarchist..those that support him find him liberating. had the honor of visiting with him a couple of times…one of the better things about that blasted school.

    copied some orientaion materials off the web..read if you can find it “in the mirror of the past”

    Erich Fromm, in his introduction to Celebration of Awareness (Illich 1973: 11) describes Ivan Illich as follows:

    “The author is a man of rare courage, great aliveness, extraordinary erudition and brilliance, and fertile imaginativeness, whose whole thinking is based on his concern for man’s unfolding – physically, spiritually and intellectually. The importance of his thoughts… lies in the fact that they have a liberating effect on the mind by showing new possibilities; they make the reader more alive because they open the door that leads out of the prison of routinized, sterile, preconceived notions.”

    some II quotes:

    “I believe that a desirable future depends on our deliberately choosing a life of action over a life of consumption, on our engendering a lifestyle which will enable us to be spontaneous, independent, yet related to each other, rather than maintaining a lifestyle which only allows to make and unmake, produce and consume – a style of life which is merely a way station on the road to the depletion and pollution of the environment. The future depends more upon our choice of institutions which support a life of action than on our developing new ideologies and technologies. (Illich 1973a: 57)”

    “Schooling – the production of knowledge, the marketing of knowledge, which is what the school amounts to, draws society into the trap of thinking that knowledge is hygienic, pure, respectable, deodorized, produced by human heads and amassed in stock….. [B]y making school compulsory, [people] are schooled to believe that the self-taught individual is to be discriminated against; that learning and the growth of cognitive capacity, require a process of consumption of services presented in an industrial, a planned, a professional form;… that learning is a thing rather than an activity. A thing that can be amassed and measured, the possession of which is a measure of the productivity of the individual within the society. That is, of his social value. (quoted by Gajardo 1994: 715)”

    “Experts and an expert culture always call for more experts. Experts also have a tendency to cartelize themselves by creating ‘institutional barricades’ – for example proclaiming themselves gatekeepers, as well as self-selecting themselves. Finally, experts control knowledge production, as they decide what valid and legitimate knowledge is, and how its acquisition is sanctioned.”

    his views on medicine alone would completely fill the hour.

  204. under the heading of where are they now?

    To the Editor (ny times):

    Your Dec. 4 obituary of Ivan Illich, the priest, philosopher and historian, failed to capture the essence of this extraordinary man’s life — his profound critique of modern assumptions of scarcity and the dehumanizing effects of technological dependency.

    Mr. Illich was a deeply spiritual man who embodied in his way of life a radical Christian simplicity. His understanding of the past and his cheerful embrace of suffering set him apart. He called for asceticism and the art of friendship, not ”watered-down Marxism” or ”anarchist panache.”

    In a world obsessed with longevity and freedom from pain, Mr. Illich studied and practiced the art of suffering. He was a man of rare genius and classic erudition. He was also a wonderful friend.



    Oakland, Calif., Dec. 4, 2002

    last one:

    Twenty-Six Years Later

    Ivan Illich in conversation with Majid Rahnema

    This conversation was published in The Post-development Reader compiled and introduced by Majid Rahnema with Victoria Bawtree (Zed Books, Fernwood Publishing, 1997).

    Majid Rahnema: Ivan, I was already “contaminated” by many of your ideas on development and education, when I first read your talk on “Development as Planned Poverty,” later followed by your other great essay on the Epimethean Man. Like your other writings, those papers continued to display the laser quality of your mind which allowed you to pierce through many of the opacities of your times. Yet, the “developer” in me was then in great difficulty, considering your attack on the new myth as nothing more than a skillful provocation. But now their prophetic dimensions have prompted me to bring at least one of them to the attention of the younger generation as an important contribution to the history of the present.

    Yes, as I was coming to see you here in Bremen, I felt it would be a more exceptional gift to the readers if I could offer them your views on development, some twenty-six years later, especially as “The Post-development Reader” is intended to help them better understand the post-development era. And now that you have so kindly agreed to break your long silence on development and allowed me to engage in a friendly yet open conversation on the matter, I would like you to satisfy my curiosity on a couple of questions.

    If I am correct, you have never been interested in the kind on actions in which missionaries, developmentalists or Marxist and other social intervenors generally take pride; namely, to extend care or assistance to those who are presumed to suffer or need help. Unlike them, you seem to consider this attitude as both unloving and unrealistic, arrogant and counterproductive. By contrast, you have always been concerned with the art of suffering, in particular the history of different cultures in coping with their sufferings. And you have deplored the fact that modernity has affected this art very negatively, while it has created new and perhaps more intolerable forms of suffering.

    This position has led some of your critics to argue that you are interested more in the history of the arts of suffering than in actions aimed at reducing or eventually eliminating different forms of sufferings. Hence, the following set of questions: To what extent do you believe that human solidarity implies that one has to somehow respond to suffering, eventually with a view either to reducing it, or to transforming it into an elevating exercise that is the opposite of its dehumanizing forms? And if so, could these be achieved in a meaningful and dignified manner?

    Ivan Illich: Majid, there is something unsettling about your inquisition. Here we are, seated on my futon with a steaming samovar in front of us, relaxing in my mansard in the Bremen house of Barbara Duden: You soon to depart to celebrate the 75th birthday of Dadaji; I to teach one more class on the history of iconoclasm at the university. Just last night, with my students who are also your readers, we celebrated your 70th birthday. Thus I cannot very well reject your request. Further, I speak with pleasure, for your questions are a poignant reminder of a conversation that has been a true enquiry. I know this is so because I remember it as controversial and polemical in character. Now we are both older; each of us had to advance along his own road to reach a level where we can find ourselves in agreement.

    You are correct in your belief that I had qualms about the notion of economic development early on. From my first encounter with it, when I became vice-chancellor in charge of “development” at a university in Ponce, Puerto Rico, I had doubts. That was exactly 40 years ago, 12 years before you were made Minister of Education, 17 years before each of us overcame his timidity and we met in Tehran, where we sucked on an ablambu, a huge pomegranate, at our first meeting. Intuition guided my initial rejection of development. I only learned to formulate true reasons gradually, over the stretch of time that coincides with our growing friendship.

    During a decade or more, my criticism focused on the procedures used in the attempt to reach goals that I did not then question. I objected to compulsory schooling as an inappropriate means to pursue universal education — which I then approved (Deschooling Society). I rejected speedy transportation as a method of increased egalitarian access (Energy and Equity). In the next step, I became both more radical and more realistic. I began to question the goals of development more than the agencies, education more than the schools, health more than the hospitals. My eyes moved from the process toward its orientation, from the investment toward the vector’s direction, toward the assumed purpose. In Medical Nemesis, my main concern was the destruction of the cultural matrix that supported an art of living characteristic of a time and place. Later, I increasingly questioned the pursuit of an abstract and ever more remote ideal called health.

    Majid, it is only after those books to which you just referred — that is since the 1970s — that my main objection to development focuses on its rituals. These generate not just specific goals like “education” or “transportation,” but a non-ethical state of mind. Inevitably, this wild-goose chase transforms the good into a value; it frustrates present satisfaction (in Latin, enough-ness) so that one always longs for something better that lies in the “not yet.”

    Majid Rahnema: This morning, I conveyed to you the message of a younger friend who asked me to thank you for having left a deep mark on his life, since the first time he learned from you the need constantly to question his certainties. Although the lesson had enriched this friend’s inner life in many ways, it has also, I guess, acted on him as a destabilizing factor, actually discouraging him from continuing to take an active part in social life, as he did before. Thinking of him, I sometimes wonder whether the joy and indeed the inner clarity gained by this type of questioning does not sometimes hinder one’s capacity to relate to the outer world and to participate in a meaningful social life.

    To help you grasp the depth of my question, I think of a beautiful answer you gave to David Cayley when he asked you, “Once one has laid bare these certainties and becomes aware of ‘needs,’ ‘care,’ ‘development’ — whatever these cherished concepts are — once one has investigated them, once one has seen… how destructive they may be, what next? Is your counsel to live in the dark?” You emphatically said “No” to him, and then added: “Carry a candle in the dark, know that you’re a flame in the dark.”

    To me this is a Buddhist answer, the kind of comment which makes me sometimes believe that, despite your resistance to the idea, you often come close to the Buddhists in some important areas on thinking and action. But, closing this parenthesis, I remembered you saying yesterday that Buddhists who use meditation or other “spiritual” exercises tend to focus more on their navels than upon the possible consequences of their belief in their oneness with the world. So, in the name of eliminating the causes of sorrow, you said, they actually sever themselves from other people’s sufferings rather than experiencing them.

    Now, coming back to your advice to David, how do you think one could be a candle in the dark and still develop, at a social level, the type of compassion and love of the world which permeates all your thinking? I know that, for you, friendship is perceived as a way of reconciling the two, but is it possible to extend the grace of friendship to everyone?

    Ivan Illich: Majid, your queries are like challenges, more stimuli than questions. Now you ask something which just fits the sense with which we concluded our first session. Tell your friend the story of Saadi’s Golestan, the story you related at the celebration last night: “In the annals of Ardashir Babakan, it is told that he asked an Arabian physician how much food one should eat daily. He replied, “A hundred dirham’s weight would suffice.” The king pressed him further, “What strength will this quantity give?” The physician answered, “This quantity will carry you; and that which is in excess of it, you must carry.”

    “Enough” is like a magic carpet; I experience “more” as a burden, a burden that during the 20th century has become so heavy that we cannot pack it on our shoulders. We must load it into lorries that we have to buy and maintain.

    The story is true of things, be they food, or ideas, or books. But it does not apply to friends. Friendship cannot be true unless it is open, inclusive, convivial — unless a third is fully welcome. The candle which burns in front of us also lights up our pipe; a match would serve just as well. But a match would not let us see the continual reflection of a thirdone in both our pupils, would not remind us of this persistent presence.

    Now, Back to your questions. I worry about minds, hearts and social rituals being infected by development, not only because it obliterates the unique beauty and goodness of the now, but also because it awakens the “we”. As you know better than I, most languages have several differently sounding words for the first person plural, for the we, the us. You use a different expression for saying: “You and I, we two.” The Greek or Serbian dualis, and another for designating “those of us who sit around this table” — to the exclusion of others; and yet another to refer to those with whom you and I live our daily lives together.

    This refinement of the first-person experience has been largely washed away wherever development has set it. The multiple “we” was traditionally characteristics of the human condition; the “first person plural” is a flower born out of sharing the good of convivial life. It is the opposite of a statistical “we”, the sense of being jointly enumerated and represented in a graphic column. The new voluntaristic and empty “we” is the result of you and me, together with innumerable others, being made subject to the same technical management process — “we drivers,” “we smokers,” “we environmentalists.” The “I” who experiences is replaced by an abstract point where many different statistical charts intersect.

    Assure your friend that neither naval gazing nor flight from the city is appropriate; rather only a risky presence to the Other, together with openness to an absent loved third, no matter how fleeting. And remember that there is no possibility of achieving this so long as the candle near our samovar stands for “everyone”. The most destructive effect of development is its tendency to distract my eye from your face with the phantom, humanity, that I ought to love.

  205. This is not a very well-developed show idea, but I just came across this news item (http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070326/full/446474a.html) about a group of cancer patients who are putting together a sort of open-source Phase III clinical trial for terminal cancer at http://www.thedcasite.com.

    Basically there’s a compound that has been shown to reduce human tumors growing in rodents, but no major trial of the drug has been performed in humans – at least partially because there is no money in a potential patent for the drug, which is the way Big Pharm recoups its losses in funding large-scale human clinical trials of experimental drugs. The drug is available online (“for veterinary use”, to bypass the FDA), and terminal cancer patients have been ordering it and plan to track their response to the group as a database (should we suggest a wiki?). Scientifically speaking, this would not provide proof of the drug’s effectiveness unless it is properly done (as Dr. Evangelos Michelakis is trying), but such trials are arduous,expensive, heavily regulated and controlled and necessarily slow.

    The bioethical questions surrounding drug development, trials, and approval notwithstanding, an analysis of this situation could provide insight into how and why medical treatment is dominated by large corporations, the role of the internet in and the overall pace of contemporary medicine, access to experimental drugs for terminally ill patients (on which I seem to recall an NYTimes Mag or NYer piece on not too long ago), and a whole slew of other questions. It’s clearly life-or-death in some people’s minds, but the question lingers about whether it really works or it’s going to be like a set of other promising anti-cancer drugs that have been disappointing.

  206. Duplicity – you triggered something, thanks.

    A show on long life – could we really live longer than what currently seems the best effort – 120 years? Would you want to? What would a society be like if people could extend their lifespan and be in reasonably good health?

    Consider that the proponents of this feel that they can push people past the 120 year limit, in good health. Not an army of terribly old people on walkers and canes but .. terribly old people in robust good health.

    People shuffle off to retirement now because they’re tired and want to enjoy another 5 or 10 years of rest. Yet that figure keep being pushed back … so 5 years becomes 10 becomes 20.

    What changes would we see if people aren’t tired of living or working but .. keep on producing, becoming smarter at what they do in a 2nd or 3rd career.

  207. Brian Dunbar: I heard a wonderful segment on the BBC about the rash of centenarians on the island of Domenica. Asked her secret of longevity, a 108 year old woman responded: “Every morning a glass of coconut water, a shot of gin, and a banana.” Breakfast of Champions.

  208. A show on long life – could we really live longer than what currently seems the best effort – 120 years? Would you want to? What would a society be like if people could extend their lifespan and be in reasonably good health?

    More …

    SF Writer Robert J. Sawyer speculates on living ‘forever’


    SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence)

    A practical approach to developing real anti-aging medicine


    Aubrey de Grey who runs SENS is an interesting guy. He was asked _why_ someone would want to live ‘a really long time’. What would you do? I paraphrase the answer – “drink beer in the pub, go for walks with my wife on the river, read books”.

    if you’re happy and you know it … why would you not want to extend your lifespan?

  209. I’ve been absent from this site for a while, in part because of a battle to save my job. During this time, trying to avoid depression, I decided to try something completely different: learn to TANGO. I had never imagined myself as a dancer, except on the soccer pitch, and began with great trepidation but an open mind. Now I’m hooked though still causing confusion and pain for my dancing partners. They say it takes about 2-3 years to get proficient. Can they wait that long? It is hard enough just to figure out the steps and way to move let alone do so in unison with a partner. Tango really instructs us on what it is to lead and follow, especially since it is more free-form than ballroom dancing.

    In this oppressive time of “The Deciders”, dancing the Tango not only provides me with a challenging and passionate escape but an alternative metaphor for how to lead with sensitivity, compassion and cooperation. Pushing, shoving and unitary action will only end in mis-steps and tumbles, and possibly cause unnecessary bloodshed. My boss and those in the halls of government should try it.

    I did a search and it seems that ROS has never done a programme with a dance theme!! How about the Tango on a Thursday? Is there anything more passionate?

    For a start, you might try watching, if you haven’t already, The Tango Lesson.



    Sally Potter, the director of this movie, would be an interesting guest.

    Here is my Haiku after my first tango experience:

    Winter Languishes

    Warm bodies waxing, waning

    Floating in tango

  210. Yes, please on enhabit’s proposed show on Ivan Illich. I still think his notion of Shadow Work does not get enough currency (pun intended).

  211. Hark the shark: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2048861,00.html

    George Monbiot on the alarming decline in the shark population, trends in overfishing, the spectre of “trophic dead-end” leading to an explosive rise in the JELLYFISH population (I couldn’t find that thread, so post this here):

    “But beyond a certain point the collapse is likely to be permanent. Off the coast of Namibia, where the fishery has crashed as a result of over-harvesting, we have a glimpse of the future. A paper in Current Biology reports that the ecosystem is approaching a “trophic dead-end”. As the fish have been mopped up they have been replaced by jellyfish, which now outweigh them by three to one. The jellyfish eat the eggs and larvae of the fish, so the switch is probably irreversible. We have entered, the paper tells us, the “era of jellyfish ascendancy”.

    It’s a good symbol. The jellyfish represents the collapse of the ecosystem and the spinelessness of the people charged with protecting it.”

    There’s a title for a show: JELLYFISH ASCENDANCY

  212. The above probably best sleeved into a very depressing show about the state of the oceans.

  213. More on Tango.

    I found this site:


    Jeannette Potts takes some of the important lessons from tango and applies them to life.

    This application could make for an interesting show. Something like Tango reflects life reflects Tango. First explore the actual dance of tango and some of the key ideas. Here are some Potts mentions: “Do not anticipate!: A discipline to be in the moment,” “Always keep your heart in front of hers/his: Be guided by your heart,” “Zen Tango: We cannot possess the things we most treasure,” ” Don’t allow errors to interrupt the dance: Mistakes can lead to unusual and creative choreography.” Then look at tango and life.

    Here is Robert Duvall talking about tango.


    Some thoughts by bloggers on tango and life:







  214. Three notable American literary occassions in the offing: Don Delillo’s 9/11 novel Falling Man, excerpted in the New Yorker here:


    Denis Johnson’s long awaited Vietnam epic, Tree of Smoke:


    Alexander Theroux’s first novel in 20 years, Laura Warholic:


    Three fine writers, most likely three good books.

  215. Ya know, if you were really tinkin, ya wudda put Paglia and Mailer on the same show !


  216. Since film, with the Zizek show, has been a recent subject, thought I’d try to keep the cinematic momentum going. So I hereby suggest a show with Andrew Bujalski as a guest.


    The topic can be, the current and future state of film as an aesthetic and technological and commercial entity, a question Chris touched on during the Zizek show. Bujalski’s films are decidedly low-tech, handmade, using old school film stock. He taps into the problems and uncertainties of post-college, early adult life. As part of this demographic, I responded, identified, deeply with his films. Not that this response is restricted to this age group. I realize the subject matter, as I put it, sounds potentially cliched, but he deals with it in a very precise and unsentimental way. Plus, last I read, he’s in or around Boston. If this practical consideration entices you at all.

  217. Responses to pitches from 30 March

    nother: On kids and porn and the internet — it’s clearly important, but it feels like a subject that’s been parsed endlessly already… I read your links but (convince me otherwise!) don’t see a new angle that would sustain a full hour.

    Mike from Bolton: We’re hoping to get to carbon neutrality at some point soon, so keep checking back.

    tbrucia: Busy schedules, too much technology and media, and too little down time are things that we all wrestle with, but the conversation about them feels pretty well played out. Feel free to push back.

  218. Greta, thanks – my blog posting on the amateur/professional art subject is limited to one small sub-issue, namely how the incredible freedom of digital culture has raised the stakes on artistic control. I imagine a full ROS show on amateurism would cover a lot more ground, and I wouldn’t even try to predict what all that would entail.

    I’ve read Lethem’s Harper’s piece and listened to the show on it. I think his essay (and project) is brilliant, though flawed. Note Lawrence Lessig’s own letter to Harper’s in the current issue — a correction of Lethem on the point of plagiarism.

    In Lethem’s own words, his essay is a provocation, and as such it must necessarily push the lines. But the lines are pretty subtle and pretty necessary. I’m with Skanky Jane (one of the last commenters on the show’s thread) on this one. You sure know it in your gut when someone steals from you.

    I agree we shouldn’t panic, but we should also not relax so far that we let crucial individual rights or crucial economic structures become irretrievable. We should be especially concerned about this when considering the position of professional artists. There is a mean irony in the fact that a well-compensated professional creator is sermonizing to everyone else about relaxing economic controls. Maintaining control over his copyright, by which I mean continuing to be the one who makes the decisions about what happens with his work (by the signing of publishing contracts and film rights transfers), has made Lethem a living.

    Salon.com has covered Lethem’s idea of gifting the film rights to his next novel to whomever sends in the best idea for it, but this very process of giving away rights depends on rights actually existing. As much as you can’t steal a gift, you also cannot give away something that does not exist.

    I worry a bit about the conflation of plagiarism with all the many and marvelous ways creators in our culture have always fed from, alluded to, sampled and reused the very meat of that culture. There is a difference. And it need not even be an egregious case like Lethem and others refer to. It is simply a necessary distinction of terminology. I would even go so far as to say that Lethem is wrong when he says he plagiarized his article for Harper’s. By the very act of “fessing up” within the article, he did not cross the line to plagiarism, and I think he counts on his audience respecting him for that.

    In terms of the debate about copyright and it’s reform, I tend to take a don’t build a whole new fence just ’cause the gate done broke approach. Corruption of the practice of the copyright law by large media corporations is the real issue (paraphrased from the show — I love paraphrasing), and that is not really a copyright problem is it? Do we abandon copyright in order to put Disney in its place, or do we simply put Disney in its place? We should absolutely fix the gate broken by the litigious bully practices of some rightsholders, and then get on with the fun and business of creating and recreating our culture.

    Anyway, that might all come up again in any show, so maybe it’s all repetition. Said the snake while eating its tail.

  219. Show Pitch:

    No More Civilians? We have a notion that war used to be fought between solidiers and conscripts, people in uniform. But thr fact is civilians have always been victims in war and end up being combatants in the sense of being casualties. In an age of terror–terrorist attacks, kidnapping, hostage taking, extortion, civilian rape — is it time for a new version of the Geneva Convention? Or are we now in a technonological Middle Age were we accept everyone as fair game? Us drones spread collateral damage, mass arrests and Abu Gharib; the Tamil Tgers kill everyone in their path, children are scooped up into rebel forces in Africa. Is there a realistic call for civility in the midts of war? How does that get enforced? How did the Geneva Conventions work? Is the US willing to call anyone a combatant? Is it true that anyone really is? Do US citizens with all their ability to influence policy acquiesce in what is done in their name..and in effect.make themselves complicit as citizens soldiers in government policy? Are we actually all in combat? Or can we take steps to draw lines between civilians and combatants? Is there are possible rule in the rule of war?

  220. This may be a bit too “small bore” for ROS, but as an attorney and as a politically interested citizen, I’m fascinated by the Monica Goodling 5th Amendment battle. Goodling’s counsel argue (see link below) that she is entitled to plead the 5th because even though she did not commit any crime, Democrats in Congress have (they say) already drawn the opposite conclusion. The suggestion here is that wherever, under any circumstance, a decisionmaker might (reasonably or otherwise) see testimony as inculpatory with respect to a real or imagined crime, there is a 5th Amendment right not to testify. That, I feel fairly confident in saying, is a truly novel and extremely broad interpretation of the right against self-incrimination.

    The 5th Amendment occupies a special place in the public consciousness about law. But is it well understood? I would love to hear two or three criminal/constitutional lawyers debate the issues generally, and with regard to Goodling in particular. Again, may be too small-bore for ROS. But we’ll be hearing more and more on this in the coming weeks.

    Goodling’s most recent volley is available here: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/docs/Goodling-Houseletter/

  221. I vote for a show about hearing voices, based around Daniel B. Smith’s book Muses, Madmen, and Prophets. Besides it being a great book, the cultural moment for this kind of humanization. In this age of fundamentalism, hearing voices is more and more prevalent–think of people claiming to hear God speak to them, including our president. The author talks about Moses, Mohammed, and others, who might today have been considered crazy and given Paxil. But if hearing voices is in many ways the basis for the Western religions, why do we think hearing voices is crazy? The author isn’t an advocate for voice-hearers–rather the book is an argument for a sort of Jamesian pragmatism.

  222. Response to pitches from April 3

    Hi guys…some interesting ideas here that I’ll throw out at the story meeting tomorrow.

    Brian Dunbar: I once tried to write an article about cryonics enthusiasts, only to discover that, since they literally felt that they had all of eternity, they were in absolutely no rush to return my calls. So getting guests for this show might be tough. But I personally like the idea of approaching the rather well-worn subject of humans living longer with a practical question: what will we do with that time? So who do you think good guests would be, aside from Sci-Fi folks like Aubrey Grey? Are there any artists or philosophers who would tell us that endless time will improve art or philosophy?


    It’ll be tough to do justice to such a visual art form on the radio, but I’ll submit your tango idea to the group tomorrow. I like your angle of tango lessons as life lessons, especially since there seem to be a fair number of people out there who feel the same way you do. But why tango? Why not, say, waltz or rumba? What makes tango special, and more of a metaphor for life?

    Hurley: I hear you about the jellyfish–especially since the aquatic crisis that’s fueling their rise eerily echoes the topic of our show on the mysterious decline of bees. But I’m not sure that just jellyfish can sustain a whole show, especially since we touched on them already after our global warming show, as you point out. What else is there to talk about with jellyfish that we haven’t covered?

    Hurley: We don’t do many straight-up book shows, but never say never. Which of these is your favorite?

  223. Thanks for your response JuliaR.


    But why Tango?


    From what I have heard and read, it is a social dance that is more uncertain and requires more inspiration and initiative. In this, the lead/follower role is more complex. Since I am not an authority, let me quote from others.

    Other voices:

    “Valeria Solomonoff: Tango is basically the only dance that explores deeply the improvisation generated from lead and follow, in how one influences the other.

    In Tango, not a single step can occur without the connection.

    Q: And what do you get from tango?

    Valeria: I get another level of knowledge and awareness that I don’t find in any other dance. The partner level is totally developed.

    Q: Finally, what’s tango magic like for you?

    Valeria: I am with that person and that person is with me and it is wonderful. It is possible in other social dances, but in Tango it is a must, and in other dances it could happen. On the other hand, I am with another person and that person is with me and that can be Horrible!!! I guess that is a risk we take in life too.”



    “They face each other, assume the position, breathe in anticipation. The powerful music of the bandoneon swells for them to take in. The man initiates movement; the woman feels the direction and timing from his body. They are now mirror-image figures. He has her agreement to be led – and therein lies the balance. Without agreement and balance, there is no Tango.”


    “Social dance forms arise out of a profound physical need to create a language in which people can speak to each other without words. But since the sixties, most social dancing in Western culture has been essentially a solo activity. People did their own thing, unencumbered by the needs of another body, unencumbered by rules and conventions. But during the last decade, there has been a huge revival of interest in ballroom dancing: the waltz, the quickstep, the Latin dances such as the salsa and rumba, and various forms of jive.

    But the Argentinean tango holds a unique place in couple dancing. The body is closer, more intimate than in any other dance form. And yet the 2 legs move faster and with more deadly accuracy than in any other comparable dance. It is this combination of sensual, meditative, relaxed contact in the upper body and swift, almost martial arts-like repartee in the lower body that gives the tango its unique identity.

    Add to this vibrant mix the music – melancholy, ecstatic, growling, predatory, soaring, seeking, heartbreakingly beautiful (especially compared to the insipid kitsch that most ballroom dancing music has become) – and you have the ingredients for something more than a craze. You have a genuine participatory art form, which can express the most profound and complex longings that people can have about their lives, about each other, about the nature of existence itself.”



    It’ll be tough to do justice to such a visual art form on the radio


    If anyone can pull it off, Chris is our guy. His interviews are a great example of tango on the airwaves, the way he embraces his guests and leads and follows in the moment.

  224. Why tango?

    This is also a question I have, which is why I am interested in a ROS show on it. I haven’t enough dance experience to answer this, but I’ve quickly found in this Dance of Life so much and want to know more. A jazz dance teacher is another student in my class and she has become entranced with tango. A former jazz dancer I know said the same, as did another acquaintance who found the tango more fulfilling than other social dances. Is it the spirit, the music, the interplay of dancers, the passion and romance, the movement, what it tells us about life–all of these elements? Indeed, why Tango?

  225. Chris has quoted the apostle Paul a number of times on air. Perhaps we can revisit this controversial figure in Jewish- Christian Relations. Gary Wills has recently written a new book “What Paul Really meant” Another book “Rabbi Paul” is in paberback. The great NT scholar N.T.Wright has a new book on Paul. Did Jesus found Christianity or was it Paul? Can the roots of anti-semitatism be found in Paul’s rejection of Judiasm and movement to include non-Jews. Local writers like James Carroll are in town or NT Scholar Dan Harrington at Weston Jesuit. It would be interesting having Gary Wills.

    Also, I like sidewalkers’s take on Tango!

  226. To augment my above pitch:


    The idea of a filmmakers’ forum occurred to me, with representative filmmakers with different aesthetic and technological approaches. Andrew Bujalski is an instance of what can be called old school (in terms at least of the technology) personal independent filmmaking (it’s irritating to put labels on these things, but it’s tough to see how to pitch it otherwise). You could then have a representative from the world of web videos, and also maybe someone from the major studio side, preferably a person openminded about the possibilities of film and video in “the internet age” or whatever you want to call it.

    Since video content on the web is obviously a huge thing now, seeing the art of film and video in this context, from different points of view, would be a good thing, I think.

  227. loki:

    maybe that show might focus on the fight between those who were around jesus’s brother james (maybe exploiting him? i don’t know) and paul. paul had to hide..it got that nasty. did paul actually reject judaism per se? my understanding is that christainity was seen by the james gang as a jewish sect and therefore only available to jews. this is what paul rejected and had a really rough time for.

    why james is a widely forgotten figure i don’t know, jesus had other siblings as well. was the cult of the virgin that important?

  228. Slum Culture: Renaissance of the New Generation?

    30 years ago nobody thought twice about bulldozing a shanty-town. It was responsible social policy to remove squatters. Sure, there were refugees, but they were a temporary problem. Slums were a temporary problem, and if the economy got better, or if more public housing was provided, the slums would go away.

    Now this perspective seems ludicrous. Slums in the Global South are no longer just a small problem. The UN estimates that as of 2003, 1 Billion people lived in slums. This is also the fastest growing demographic worldwide. However, unlike rural or industrial poverty, the slums of today are a very new (circa 1960s) phenomenon.

    Are these 1 Billion Slum Dwellers a lost cause? Or are we on the verge of witnessing something completely new? Slums are no longer the chaotic wastelands they were a generation ago. Grassroots social movements (sdinet.org), microcredit, and internet access have transformed many slums around the world. Yes, people are still living right on the edge. Yes, there is still rampant disease and poverty. But there is also something new emerging from this landscape of despair: hope for the future. Is this where the next renaissance will happen?

    #If you decide to make this a show and want guest recommendations, I have a whole portfolio of names. There’s some amazing research being done in this field, and almost none of it is older than 2003. I think it’s really important to include Slum-dwellers in our ‘Global Conversation’. Let’s get the ball rolling.

  229. bobo:

    sent in stuff on that in a while ago..some specific individuals from codi, sdi/sparc, no response so far.

    that field is what i study..you?

  230. maybe another way to look at this bobo is that 1 in 5 people on earth are considered squatters.

    put that in the context of the upcoming transition into majority urban (some say we are already there)

    “By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of 100 million slum dwellers.”

    Target 11: United Nations Millenium Declaration


    “Experience accumulated over the last few decades suggests that in-situ slum upgrading is more effective than resettlement of slum dwellers and should be the norm in most slum up-grading projects and programmes.” (Un-Habitat-2003)

    i quote myself:

    Target 11 of The United Nations Millenium Declaration has placed its focus on 10 percent of the world’s 1 billion slum dwellers, approaching 2 billion in 30 years (the world’s population in 1950 was 2.5 billion). In its 2003 Report on Human Settlements, UN-Habitat goes into a great deal of detail on this matter while repeatedly raising the issue of sustainability. (UN-Habitat-2003) Whatever is to be done about the world’s slums, it is to be maintainable long term while many unanswered questions remain about economic forecasts, political stability, and the availability of resources. Achieving any such goal within the caveat of in-situ upgrading presents a tremendous challenge. Anything less than the total replacement of a dwelling requires the pre-existence of a sound structure to rehabilitate. How does one upgrade a large number of dwellings efficiently without relocating the occupants?

  231. Target 11’s sober expectations may be understandable but that does not make them easy to accept. No one who lives in urban squalor is going to find the 17-year time line any more acceptable than those 1 in 10 odds of finding assistance. If there is any possibility of exceeding the UN’s goal, as it is indeed desirable to do, attitudes in the so-called developed world will have to be changed and innovative thinking and action will have to be applied. We all must re-evaluate our attitudes about access to land and shelter.

    Between May and July 2005 in Zimbabwe, it is estimated that forced evictions of settlements have displaced more than 500,000 people; a match, numerically, for those displaced by some our planet’s recent series of disasters. And yet, public awareness and concern for such evictions is comparatively low.

  232. Responses to March 29 and April 5 Pitches

    Hi Enhabit: Could you focus your pitch on the Medievalists? If you could envision an hour of radio on this topic what is the angle or approach that you’d like us to take? Do you have specific guets in mind. What you’ve pitched is too vast for us to imagine an hour-log conversation.

    Hi Emmettconnell: It’s true that we have never done a show on the Iraqi blogosphere. Rather than do shows on bloggers as bloggers we like to use bloggers as guests. On our Iraq, October 2006 The blogger behind Healing Iraq was a guest. On our Quantification of War show we had three Iraqi bloggers on: The Neurotic Iraqi Wife, A familiy in Baghdad, and Nabil’s Blog. these are just a few examples of how we draw on the growing Iraqi blogosphere.

    Enhabit, you and Bobo are having an interesting converstion on slum cities. We’re planning a show at the end of April or early May on slum cities with Robert Neuwirth and Mike Davis.

  233. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

    Responses to pitches from March 17-18, 24-25, 31, and April 1:

    Silvio Rabioso: We’ve talked about the popularity of Chavez — and Latin American populism more generally — a few times, and I wonder if enough has changed to warrant a revisting.

    lammypie4: This is a very helpful article for someone like me who’s trying to figure out where (and how!) I might buy a first home… but I don’t think it suggests an hour of radio. Is this any different than the story we all know all too well? The inexorable gentrifying spread of money and whiteness into poorer, blacker/browner neighborhoods.

    Juliette: I totally agree that we turned a corner at some point in recent American history and became a confessional, memoirist, first-person culture. My gut reaction as a radio producer is to exploit this urge on a daily basis and find would-be confessors to put on the air — rather than focus on the phenomenon as an hour of radio in and of itself. Do others out there want to talk about this as a phenomenon? (And by the way, here’s my favorite somewhat related response.)

    patsyb: Our Dora-pitched Shakespeare and Power show was enough of a hit that we’ll keep Dante in mind, but I think we’ll wait until someone of Greenblatt’s erudition and charisma writes a piece that catches our (or your) eye.

    Potter: The blues, huh? I think there’s a gap in blues knowledge and love in our office, which is probably one reason we haven’t yet done a blues show. I can imagine a primer on how to listen to blues working nicely. Any other ideas — Potter or the rest of the gang — on superstar talkers?

    clodene: Vandana Shiva was on The Connection years ago, and made a big impression on the producers who now work here. Thanks for the reminder. We’d love to have her on.

    emmettoconnell: Thanks for the clarification. We’re most likely going to have Ralph Nader on the show in the coming two or three weeks. I wonder if he might not be an interesting, controversial voice to answer some of the questions you raise…

    Artnova: You certainly shamed me, and I think you’re right! I know almost nothing about Conrad Black and less than nothing about the Lady of Crossharbour. I’ll read the Klein article.

    Nother: This Unity ’08 thing is intriguing. I’m inclined to wait a bit to see if it picks up steam. But again, I’d love to ask Nader his thoughts on this matter. I imagine he’d see it as a charade — or, worse, proof of his thesis (does he really still believe it?) that there is no meaningful difference between the Democratic and Republican parties.

    Tom B.: I think we should wait until this idea gets just a little bit more meta, then we’ll jump on it!

    Nick et al: Lani Guinier isn’t just a friend of the program. She was the star of a program largely dedicated to political representation — and how it might be changed. As we get closer to the ’08 elections, I think it would be great to revist this with a more explicit disussion about the relevance (or obsolescence) of the electoral college.

  234. Your Reliable Filter Resource, or Rage Against Specialization.

    This show’s producers purport to be “not slaves to the news cycle,” which is a fine thing. But there are other cycles that envelop us. The Paglia show, for example, is cruising up on 300 comments. Inevitably, by word count, anyway, places like the comment thread become the domain of the few, the loud and the remarkably not-otherwise busy, notwithstanding how democratic Chris insists things web are. So, what is relevant? Or, maybe one step back, how do I know what types of things I might find to be relevant, and, then, how do I find a reliable source for such things and still have time to do anything else?

    I’m not suggesting a show about the existence and nature of freewill, although that would be fun, too (with the “why now?” answer having something to do with an unprecedented proliferation of choices). I’m suggesting a practical guide to holding the deluge of information at bay but still getting the benefits of a broad survey of information. I rely on Brendan et al. to mine the comment thread here just as I rely on the Week In Review section of the NYT. I read periodicals one year behind my subscriptions so that I can feel liberated from subscription oppression (the entire Economist every week AND any other news or periodicals, let alone something as antiquated as a book? I have a job and a family, so forget about it) and to filter out information I know the relevance of which has disappeared or analysis that on quick scan was clearly off base. What’s the filtration technology, how is it deployed and how are its outputs distributed and consumed?

    Maybe talk to a technology person, like Jim Moore or some other aggregator technology thinker. Maybe talk to a person whose job it is to be a filter, like the editor of the Week In Review, or the Leaders section of the Economist, etc. I presuppose the goodness of surveys, but maybe have someone on to talk about whether it is good to have all depth and no breadth. Maybe have an Emersonian on to convince me to be my own aggregator.

  235. Hi all. I’m slowly catching up on pitches. More to come soon.

    WED MARCH 21

    We’re plugging away at your EU series, hurley. So thanks for more links.

    Looks like no one has yet addressed calls by Marc McElroy, Lumiere, and Dacker a Hammond Organ show. Yeah, I think this could be a really fun show. Lots of good sound for sure. I’ll pitch it. What would help would be some guest recommendations and a specific play-list. Who is the world’s most compelling Hammond champion, in popular or religious music today, and what should I be listening to to get excited? (Just found this Hammond history overview from the BBC as a good place to start. Happy 70th birthday, Hammond Organ!)

    We’ve talked about the Blackwater/mercenary story in our meeting at least once now, but not really to any definitive conclusion. It feels like a show pitch that needs some internal research and championing to make it to the next level. I’ll see what I can do on that front.

    Thanks for alerting us to this show, Dosty. We like our next door neighbors over at Pierre Menard. I’ll check out the show. My initial reaction is that “art and war” is impossibly broad. We’re already talking about a poetry of war show, which at least brings it down to the level of one medium. This is another show we’ve talked about but which is kind of in limbo right now, so I’ll bring it up again in the context of your pitch.

  236. I notice you don’t actually link to the current place to post show suggestions. As a new member, I find the layout of the site and the presentation of information rather jumbled, and am left with no clue as to the proper place to post my idea…

  237. I would like to suggest a show on the topic of the group known as Scientology, specifically, on their ongoing tax-exempt status in the US. To start with, the link below gives a better summary of the background on this issue than I could possibly provide myself:


    Moving on to the question of “why now?” there are a number of reasons I can think of. The (somewhat) recent tirades of certain celebrities within the group, as well as censorship of an episode of “South Park” which directly mocked Scientology has brought the group back to the attention of the masses. However, very few in this country know anything more about the group than what they have seen in the mainstream media, in other words, absolutely nothing. The people deserve to know that our government is currently granting non-profit status to a group which includes among its basic principles “MAKE MONEY. MAKE MORE MONEY. MAKE OTHER PEOPLE PRODUCE SO AS TO MAKE MORE MONEY.”

    I hope you consider covering this controversial and important subject. Few are willing to risk the harassment and threats that the group aims at anyone at all who conducts an open discussion on the organization and the issues surrounding it. I can only hope you will not be so easily intimidated.

  238. Robin Says: I’ll pitch it.

    Dave Cohen is a potential Hammond (not sure if B3) player from the 60’s Country Joe and the Fish – call him while he is still alive !

    “He (David) was one of the pioneers of the era on electric keyboard,” “The sound of his keyboard defined the Country Joe and the Fish sound.” Joe McDonald


    You might also add to the show the mellotron:


  239. tbricia,

    In the original Japanese version of Shall we dance there is tango music but no tango dancing. In the Hollywood version there is a little tango. So I wouldn’t recommend either if someone is interested in tango, but I would highly recommend the Japanese version if you want to watch a really sweet movie and get an insight into some aspects of Japanese culture. Though the characters are embellished for entertainment purposes, they are not far off some of the people I have encountered in my lessons in Tokyo. And it is true that it is not often a married couples activity.

  240. I have tried to re-organize/combine several of my previous pitches for a new Latin American show that can also serve as a one-year anniversary of the Children of the Corn Subsidies hour. Here it goes:

    Los Hijos del Maíz-Azúcar

    In recent public interventions, both Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have criticized ethanol-based energy projects in no uncertain terms. In Brasil, Lula expressed reservations even as he signed an agreement with Bush.

    While many in the US will be quick to dismiss the two leftist Latin American leaders as a (democratically elected) strong man populist and a dictator, respectively, their criticism of the current North American ‘miracle cure’ to emissions must be heard. Very few people doubt the international–indeed, global–impact of global warming. But who is looking for a truly *global* solution to the problem?

    Again, I understand that most ROS listeners will feel an immediate impulse to reject outright any viewpoint expressed by Chavez and/or Castro, but in the spirit of open dialogue, I suggest that we at least try to understand what is at stake here.

    I will give a brief sketch of the rhetorical power of opposition to ethanol-based fuel projects through two examples. Here I am simply recounting the *rhetorical* arguments…the purpose is that the show spend an hour unpacking and contextualizing these objections to ethanol.

    1) The rich and decadent imperialist North now wants literally to take food from the mouths of underfed Latin Americans to feed North American *automobiles*.

    2) The Caribbean nations (especially Venezuela and Cuba) paint the corn/soybean/sugarcane projects as the next step in banana republic exploitation of the global south. Corn and soy are the next in a long line of commodities produced in Latin America for North American consumption (bananas, sugar, etc.). This imagery can be mobilized to support the claim that any and all North American intervention in Latin America is neo-colonial in nature. Instead of 19th century sugar plantations, it will be 21st century corn/soy/sugarcane monocultures.

    So here is the question for the hour: beyond the rhetoric, does ethanol represent a global solution to a global problem, or is it a local (North American) solution that will cause more problems than it solves? Is the problem (as Robert Bryce suggests) the *corn* in the equation? What is the difference (speaking GLOBALLY) between US government subsidized Iowa corn and imported Brasilian sugarcane?

    ROS expressed its skepticism to ethanol one year ago, but upon reviewing that show, I noticed that Robert Bryce had a lot more to say on the subject. And he was only speaking about the domestic issues. The goal of this hour, of course, would be to take a *global* perspective on ethanol as it relates to global warming.

    Possible guests:

    Isabella Kentfield and Roger Burach on the Brasil-US ethanol connection.

    Lester Brown on the relationship between global hunger and biofules.

    Enrique Marínez (Spanish language source), head of Argentina’s National Institute of Industrial Technology, who states: “If we wanted to earn money from the land, we would plant marihuana, coca [for cocaine production] or opium, which are all more profitable than corn. But like those alternatives are morally and militarily rejected and combated, we must also reject the cultivation of corn to produce ethanol because it breaks the country’s food balance and increases the price of the basic basket of goods.”

  241. silvio.rabioso

    i had (gotta protect this one a little) a very high level brazilian gov’t official, incredibly accessible btw! straigten me out about a few things regarding brazilian urbanism. corporate farming is chasing masses of people off the land and into the cities. soy beans, oranges etc. there is little room left for the little guy. it is to some extent driving the deforestaion of the amazon as well. just imagine if adm et al decend on the region with ethanol production!

    deforestaion and displacement of more indigenous people..talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water!

  242. this official had been giving a talk about the state of brazil’s debt. the economy was stagnated by it. paul wolfowitz is running the world bank right now..a little leverage being applied here? interesting coincidence..

  243. Enhabit: sorry on the wait, but yes, Slums are my specialization as well. I’ve spent a lot of time on the ground in Mumbai and Pune, and am currently researching SDI, Sparc, NSDF, etc., trying to identify ways in which successful slum work differs from the traditional NGO setup. Anyway, I really feel that Slums are just about the least understood and most important facet of our global human experience right now. I hope ROS can be a part of opening this topic up to the public.

  244. BoBo

    Any thoughts about KIVA micro loans?

    I have 4 outstanding:

    Ecuador Mexico Bulgaria Togo

  245. Tango people:

    Anyone dance to Gato Barbieri’s music?

    Found Gato by way of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris

    Saw Gato in Boston at a club on Boylston Ave

  246. Today’s Wall Street Journal contains several articles describing the latest excesses in the area of corporate executive compensaiton. The Journal offers a number of suggestions for how to get Boards of Directors to stop giving the company away to top executives regardless of their performance or lack thereof. These articles were triggered, in part, by new disclosure regulations that are reveling more of the details of the princely compensation packages enjoyed by top executives. I question whether the Journal’s suggestions will have much effect. They ignore an aspect of the problem that I’ve thought about for some time, and that might be subject for an interesting program.

    Executive compensation has less to do with economics than with sociology. Corporate executives have become a new kind of noble class that perceives itself as superior to the rest of society and not bound by society’s rules. Once you become a member of this club you are taken care, of regardless of whether you do a good job or a bad job. Boards of Directors are filled executives of other companies who want to take care of their own, secure in the knowledge that they in turn will be taken care of by the executive on their own boards.

    What are the effects on society of having a class of managers who feel that it is their God-given right to pillage the companies they are charged with overseeing? What Does it mean to society to have so much wealth and power concentrated in the hands of an elite that has so little connection with or loyalty to the rest of society?

  247. for example bobo,

    a little de-mythification. we in the states tend to assume that these “third world” slums are populated by unemployed criminals and beggars.

    the un estimates that the “one billion” have more cash stashed away then all the aid agencies sent to help – combined ..and many are “working poor”

    sdi/sparc and codi have tapped in on this..they have built a lot of housing, frequently with absolutely no outside help…

    jockin arputham (have you met him? he’s a firecracker!) says get the hell out of our way! that’s how you can help!

  248. bobo:

    spreading the word is a great thing..glad you are out there. maybe a show could be how the words “development” or “planning” automatically draws a sour expression on the face of the slum dweller…

    plenty of “developers” and “planners” up there in cambridge..have some GSD and harvard business guys debate with some slum advocates..BOOM!

    a volatile mix and a lively show.

  249. What would happen if a virtuouso classical musician played as a busker in a subway stop? Someone you might pay $100 to sit and listen to in Symphony Hall – would you throw a couple of bucks in his violin case at Park Street Under? Would you stop and listen at all?

    How much do you think he would earn in an hour of busking at rush hour?

    This seems like the kind of show that pitches itself to a Chris Lydon audience.

    Read the Washington Post article (with video) here:


  250. JuliaR: I threw that out by way of general information, also to alert you that two major contemporary American writers have books coming out that deal with major American themes –9/11 and Vietnam. I haven’t read either book, but imagine they’ll accupy some cultural space in the months to come. Maybe you could get in front of the trend. To answer your question, sort of, the DeLillo excerpt I linked looks good, but I’m especially looking forward to Tree of Smoke.

  251. Ralph Kramden: There are classical buskers (well, not buskers, they’re sanctioned) in Boston’s MBTA. A casual glance tells that the cellist often stationed in Harvard Square makes slightly more, or keeps more visible, in his case than the accoustic folk guitarist or old tyme banjo plucker. Then again, it’s the nature of Harvard Square as a stop and audience to give money to that entertainer. Classical music was piped into certain Orange line stations to deter hooligan kids who would theoretically prefer something contemporary from loitering.

  252. rahbubeleh – Maybe we shouldn’t try to educate the hoodlums – if they knew how to distinguish a Strad by the sound, they might have tried to take it from him.

  253. More gems from the “Church” of Scientology….

    “…we do not want Scientology to be reported in the press, anywhere else than on the religious page of newspapers. It is destructive of word of mouth to permit the public presses to express their biased and badly reported sensationalism. Therefore we should be very alert to sue for slander at the slightest chance so as to discourage the public presses from mentioning Scientology.”

    Gee, I wonder why you never hear about Scientology in the press?

  254. Twilight of the Age of Enlightenment?

    Is the Age of Communication the twilight of the Age of Enlightenment?

  255. enhabit: I have not had the pleasure of meeting Jockin, although I hope to someday. I’m sure he would give me an intellectual thrashing the likes of which I have never experienced. Oh! If we could get him on ROS!?

    Oh how I would love to see Jockin and Kissinger have a talk about ‘development’.

    While I agree that many slum-dwellers defy our normal stereotypes (often derived from refugee camps), even the working poor are hanging by a very thin rope of stability. All it takes to turn slum-dwellers into pavement-dwellers is one city official with ‘urban renewal’ on his mind, or one sectarian riot, or one fire… At least, that’s my experience after spending a lot of time in a few select slums. But I guess that’s part of my point: we really don’t know much about any of it. The slums are a truly new type of society on this planet, and they oftentimes don’t obey our traditional logic. We all need to learn more, we all need to ask these questions, but the first part is starting the conversation.

    Also: does anyone know of any Blogs written specifically by slum-dwellers? I’ve been searching, but haven’t come across anything yet.

  256. I know I’m seriously late to the game on V for Vendetta, a really good film I just finished watching five minutes ago. Reminded me of It Can Happen Here, a book I haven’t read yet, but whose premise seems interesting enough and is based around one of my favorite high school books. I know I’m strange for my generation, but my favorite writer in high school was Sinclair Lewis, not Kerouac.

    Maybe not a show on tyranny in America, or its possibilities, but maybe of the fictional portrayals of tyranny and why its a popular subject, and possibly using Mr. Conason’s book as an entry point/structure.

  257. Lumière,

    I like Gato Barbieri’s sound, but his music seems difficult to fit with Argentine Tango steps. I don’t know about its suitability for ballroom tango.

  258. emmottoconnell: the comic was much better and more thought provoking in its criticism of Thatcherism. The original author took his name off the film adaptation because they mangled his story too much. In the comic (it’s not a graphic novel, it really isn’t), the people were much more at fault for volunteering away so much freedom knowingly.

  259. bobo,

    he (above) rambles a bit but a note to him might guide you, he seems active.

    also if you write Somsook Boonyabancha, she is really spectacular AND accessible..i hesitate to publically post her address. give this one a try…


    she will write you back if you link up to her..in the absense of a family, i would drop what i was doing and work for her in a new york minute!

  260. Responses to April 9 Pitches

    emmettoconnell: The million dollar laptop is pretty terrifying, as is the “by appointment only” website of the manufacturer. I know you said that this wasn’t a pitch, and it certainly isn’t yet a show by itself, but do you have any ideas about it could be worked into one?

    JKN: I like the idea of a show about executive compensation. Who would you want to hear talk about this? Also, how do you think we could we develop the discussion beyond saying, “this is awful,” over and over in different ways for an hour? Anything surprising or counterintuitive in the WSJ articles you read?

    Ralph Kramden: On virtuosos playing in the subway: I have to admit, I found the tone of the Washington Post piece on Josh Bell in the subway elitist and weird. Right from the beginning, the title, “Pearls Before Breakfast,” starts off by implying that the subway riders and “mid-level bureaucrats” who passed by in the morning are swine. (Greta disagrees with me and likes the article!) That aside, what larger show could this be a part of? The importance of context in art? High art v. low art? What’s new here?

    babu: The twilight of Enlightenment? Why? What comes next?

    davidgura: Wow, there’s a lot here. I’ll pitch this in a story meeting, but how would you put this together as a show? There was sort of a flurry of media attention to the question of “what is a civil war?” a little while ago, and there are always ongoing discussions about defining genocide, but I like that this article and the responses both draw a lot of attention to how these issues relate to practical questions of what course to take in foreign policy.

  261. How about re-inventing the Election 2008 wiki to go beneath the radar screen of polls,pols and personalities the see what the deeper trends are moving the electorate and state by state. Perhaps have absentee voters on like i.e. miltary. as well as state by state. Look at how blogs,youtube and mystae are reinventing retail politics. If we not longer have NH do we have Holyood instead? I am curious about the views of the American Elections-for example the brits thought McCain was the next President-in waiting. It can be a two year effort by all ala “The Making of the President” (Teddy White) or Richard Ben Kramer. It could be a conterweight to money and pundits.

  262. I’m also interested in what RobertPeel is interested in. A deeper look at 2008, instead of what we have been talking about during these personality profiles of Obama, Hillary and John McCain. They’ve been interesting, but not where I’d like to go with the overall coverage.

    Here is my original pitch for something different.

  263. so here’s another dumb idea what the heck.

    an extension to the morality threads

    hippocratic oath – modified a LOT over time, but fairly universal. a code of ethics, argued over but a useful point of reference. “do no harm” – if that was all it said it would still resonate.

    we, as a species are becoming a kind of cyber-collective. start a net project to come up with a universal code of behavior. a “wikipedia for ‘morality’”…it would at least be interesting..at best, a useful point of reference… maybe a little revolutionary. call it cynai or the Open Source codec.

    this group (ROS) would excel at establishing the ground rules and editing the results. another multi-year thread?

  264. Pitches from WED MARCH 28

    Aside from the fact that this sounds like a sales pitch, JJShantell, I would say two things. 1) This flip-side argument of the artistic merits of sampling has been around as long as sampling itself (and the backlash against it), and 2) it’s very similar to the show we did with Jonathan Lethem called The Ecstasy of Influence. I would point CheeseMoose to the same show.

    I’m having a little trouble drawing a concise pitch out of your paragraph, Sutter. I think what you’re pitching is: is there a sea change in American politics away from the Republican party, or are voters just being fickle/whimsicle/flip-floppy etc.? Did I get it right here? Brendan actually pitched something today that we tossed around for a while about the importance of converts – people who switch from one side to the other – in politics, but also in things like advertising (think of those old Mac ads). We didn’t come to any conclusions on that show idea, but it might be possible to glom them together in some way.

    My first question, RichardNash, is what is there to say about Jamestown that’s new? The history is interesting, but would the show just be a history lesson? I’m not sure I would want to listen to that show.

    Glad you liked the Zimbardo show, hug. We’d like to continue that conversation too, but I think a show on people with personality disorders is probably too narrow. What is there to actually *talk* about with regards to these folks? Once you describe the disorders and their consequences, it doesn’t seem like there’s anywhere to go from there. I like the idea of focusing on conformity and group-think better, but I think Zimbardo basically addresses how those things come about and any “further explanation” would actually be kind of redundant.

  265. Responses to pitches from WED APRIL 4

    It’s kind of funny you pitched Andrew Bujalski, mynocturama. We’ve been talking about doing a show with him for a while now, both because we like his work a lot, and because coincidentally, he, um, happens to be a good friend of David’s. (And yes, he does live here, too.) I’m not sure what tack we would take with him yet, but I’ll bring him up again and see if we can use your pitch as the perfect nudge to finally get him on the air. One of the things we talked about at one point was doing a show about the concept of “selling out,” or about going big or something to that effect. Andrew’s directing his first big studio picture (an adaptation of Benjamen Kunkle’s book Indecision) and it will be somewhat of a change from his previous pictures.

    Avecfrites: we did this show with James Howard Kunstler in October of ’05.

    I like your idea, barthjg, especially this part: “Is it time for a new version of the Geneva Convention? Or are we now in a technonological Middle Age were we accept everyone as fair game?” I’ll bring it up.

    I like the idea of a show about the 5th Amendment, Sutter. But given that we’ve already done some shows about the US attorneys firings do you think there’s a way to do that show that didn’t rely on treading on old territory? Are there other contemporary cases we could talk about that would be interesting fodder for discussing the 5th Amendment?

    I’m kind of fascinated by this idea, sholdens12, so I’ll get the book and check it out. It could be cool to have people on the show who hear voices talking about what that’s like. How did you come to this topic? Do you or someone you know hear voices?

  266. Pitch: End of US Dollar Hegemony

    Since the end of WWII the US dollar has held the status of the world’s reserve currency, taking over the reigns from the imploding British Empire. Since that time: goods, services and commodities (notably petroleum) are traded on global exchanges priced in US dollars. Foreign central banks and governments hold massive dollar reserves to not only back up their own currencies but to also facilitate trade on these global exchanges. This foreign reserve accumulation has created a demand for US currency despite ever widening US deficits and often reckless fiscal policy. Other economies that have strayed too far with their deficits and debt have paid the price with plunging currencies. Could the US be on the same path?

    In recent years, the emergence of the Eurozone and the Asian Tigers has created rival currencies to the US dollar. Many foreign central banks have been re-balancing their reserves with a less weighting of dollars in favor of the Yen, the Yuan and particularly the Euro. The effects being even larger trade deficits and rising inflation.

    The global trend away from the dollar shows no sign of stopping and has only been accelerating with each passing month. What implications will this have for the American standard of living and it’s future social promises? Could a currency collapse be just around the corner?

    interview on the subject

    another interview

  267. enhabit: “so here’s another dumb idea what the heck.”

    Harumph, well I like this particular dumb idea. In fact, just last night I suggested — only half joking — that the US legal system should be run by wiki. Maybe we could keep some jobs for our reps and ABA as moderators or flaggers or somesuch. In court, the most current version of the law at the time when the crime in question was committed would be the law which was used. However, one could easily introduce the ‘edit history’ defense, and past versions would be given some legal standing. Also, any edits made by anyone involved with the trial, or anyone associated with them would be discounted in court. A judge’s ruling would stand for the case in question, but court opinions would be posted on the wiki so that legal precedent could be edited as well.

    It’s just a hop-skip-and-jump (of insanity?) away from enhabit’s morality wiki idea, but I think it could be worked into a show on the wikification of different aspects of society.

  268. Sunday is the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in baseball. Most players in baseball are going to wear Jackie’s number, 42. This is a great opportunity to talk about the man himself and the state of race, class, and baseball.

    Doris Kearns Goodwin would be a great guest, she lives in Concord. I read her semi-memoir, “Wait till Next Year” about the Brooklyn Dodgers and her childhood. Joe Castiglione would be a great guest; unless Mary’s still thinking about a baseball radio show…witch I would love!

  269. one angle on a medeval show: (gotta go)

    lilith was the first wife of Adam, who left the Garden of Eden after a dispute with her husband, and subsequently became the mother of demons, the Lilin.

    lilith and adam, if i recall accurately, were made SIMULTANEOUSLY! as an equal in the relationship and of course as a woman SHE actually had the advantage. (eastern thought often gives that which yields a slight advantage) adam complained out she went and God improvised eve out of one of adam’s ribs. he who shall not be named was lurking at the garden gate..hooked up with lilith and the two begat all manner of monsters and demons. not only does adam have an unacceptable equal in this story..but that “sin of pride” charecter will take her.

    there is a lot to discuss on this one alone..look at all the reasons that the story is “apocraphal”…but many medeval individuals knew this story..

    *first woman = first man?

    *god favors guys?

    *lilith given due process?

    *god can make erroneous assumptions and have to improvise a solution?

    *god’s mistakes can create evil?

    keep those women in their place! think we’re above it all today? think again!

    two image based (we like to think of ourselves as mostly literate) periods in history. images are more easily manipulative and seductive. stories, psychological drama, history covered cathedrals.

    what are we looking at?


  270. so start with the thesis:

    medieval vatican was the madison avenue of its day…reverse it if you wish

    keep people’s interests where they are most usefull to you.

    ..then the eye-candy rich baroque period makes sense as a marketing response to the reformation..

    find someone in up there in boston they will have their own show to pitch on how much the two periods have in common….you won’t regret it, the stuff is rich.

  271. the apocrapha is quite a subject as well…

    is the bible the word of God, the editing of God, both?..how does that work?..how can it be both ways? the reasons for some of what was thrown out is clear…but a lot of it is subtle and revealing of the mindset of the period..we still live under the influence of these decisions that were made for our “benefit”..atheists and believers alike.

  272. the dispute over the apocrapha was the stuff of “da vinci code”. threats..killings..burnings..monastic orders moved to the desert and elsewhere to hide texts from destruction…some resurfacing today (judas, thomas)..some searched for (the Q)…others lost and forgotten..

    who needs dan brown?

  273. Robin: Something like that. I guess what was going through my mind that day was, “Are we just wrong to think of people as Democrats and Republicans/liberals and conservatives/etc.? If views on fundamental issue can change so, so quickly, are they really deeply held, or are most of us fundamentally unconcerned with this stuff? And if so, what does that say for our politics?” In one sense, it suggests a kind of “radical pragmatism” — we like the effective, competent types, and shun not only the incompetents but also their ideas. I don’t know if I like that. Right now, we have a President who I think is both incompetent and wrong, but the two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. But I confess that that sounds like an awfully dissolute pitch, so I’m not sure I’m really asking you to do anything on it!

  274. Here’s my pitch: Real Security Vs. Security Theater. Main guest: Bruce Schneier of http://schneier.com

    Through his writings and appearances, security guru, Bruce Schneier, punctures the pseudo security we are spending billions on, what he calls “Security Theater.” Security Theater is the enterprise devoted to maintaining an illusion of security, while real security is woefully neglected. Bruce handily dissects the rotting organism of our current security practices, in hopes that we can build a healthier, more effective body of security practice in this country.

    Schneier is a fascinating voice of reason in the security wilderness. Please book him.

  275. Nother: I was pondering today, how do we do a show about this and not make it about Baseball and the world. Meaning, is this a discussion about African Americans walking away from baseball or baseball walking the other way? Dodgertown in the DR and all that.

  276. The Election Wiki 2006 was a great beginning. It gave us a feel of the different cultures behind the election. The shows and conversations on New Orleans on race,poverty and deepr divisions in our country going beyond red and blue or personalities. We can go deeper into What happened in Kansas and go beyond the spin and the pitches. For example military familes are worried about deployments,povert and health carei.e the constitute a”state”and a “cullure”that is producing literature: novels and blogs.The are influenced by a global culture.

    Sidewalker could report from Japan on the view from Asia. Toby from the North could provide a Euro-center view. Just some random thoughts and encouragement for ROS to cover Election 2008 Teddy White style.

  277. Then I’ll have to ask for one on Flamenco. What great radio that would make! And the history is amazing- a blend of Gypsy, Jewish( Sephardic), African, Carribean, Islamic( Moorish) influences coalescing in Andalucia- the great melting pot. The singing is heart piercing, emotional; the dancing- percussive foot stamping-expressing the strength, determination of the spirit.


  278. Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007. RIP. Not sure how well an “appreciation” show would work, but if anyone can do a good first cut at his significance, it’s you folks.

  279. slaughterhouse five is oft quoted as his best…i liked everything that i read of his..but s-h-5 had a certain something..a humanity to it that will resonate for generations. i liked the description of it that i just heard.. a funny book in which you were not permitted to laugh.

  280. I was thinking the same thing as Sutter. Yes, an ROS hour on Kurt Vonnegut* please.

    I’m sad to hear of his passing, but “Oh, well – he wasn’t going to write Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony anyway.” Luckily for us, he wrote all those wonderfully imaginative stories.

  281. JuliaR: I mentioned the jellyfish to connect the story with the in-house feature you had a while back. Jellyfish needn’t be the focus of the show, but Monbiot (in the article I linked) draws out their real and metaphorical relation to the collapse of the oceans quite well in summation. He touched on a lot of issues, the first being what happens when you destroy the top predator in the food chain, in this case the shark, then traced the effects all the way to the bottom and you know what…Another aspect of the environmental crisis that I’ve been thinking about is how, in a normal life already fraught with moral calculations — should I or shouldn’t I? — one is now forced to make so many more. For example: I’m more or less of a vegetarian, backsliding now and then when the occasion demands, and relishing the odd plate of sushi when I can afford it. But as certain species of fish hover on the brink of extinction, sushi becomes such a guilty pleasure that I can’t see myself enjoying it anytime soon. I’d also like to travel more, but how can I justify dumping more x and y into the environment? Etc. Maybe, in addition to a show on the above, a show about the new moral-environmental calculus?

  282. For me, what’s so great about S-H5 is how he can sum it all up with that constantly repeated phrase, “so it goes.” There are real limits to our powers. We must endeavor to do the best we can within those limits, while recognizing that in many cases, lamenting “so it goes” is the best we can do.

  283. love that Lumière

    hi ho *

    *amazing how many ways that sounds when repeated so often in “slapstick”..sad, jubilant, melancholy, defiant….

  284. Deep in the Canadian wilderness, about 600 miles north of Montana, is an oil reserve second only in size to Saudi Arabia. As technology for extracting it improves, the eventual haul could be in the trillions of barrels.

    It’s a common refrain these days (from foreign policy hawks to environmentalists), that the U.S. needs to wean itself off foreign oil. The Alberta oilsands seem to provide a perfect remedy — a politically stable, friendly country eager to sell its natural resources south of the border.

    But problems abound. From environmental degradation, to stoking an already overheated economy, the oilsands are both a blessing and a curse to the region. They are far and away Canada’s largest emitters of greenhouse gasses, and burn clean natural gas to process dirty sand into clean crude. Also, the U.S. is not the only interested party. China and Japan want a piece of the action, as does France.

    There’s plenty to chew on here. The scale of the operations up in Fort McMurray is staggering. It shows the lengths to which we’re going these days to tap every last bit of oil on earth.

    I am a political reporter at the Edmonton Journal and did my journalism degree in the United States. I find few people south of the border know about the oilsands and their potential impact on the U.S. economy. There is no shortage of people in this area to talk to. Could be a great show!

    Here are some links for anyone who’s interested:





  285. Great idea Archie McLean. I saw the CBS Bob Simon “60 MInutes” segment you link. It was not that long ago….. very good reporting.

  286. Archie McLean: I’ve read elsewhere about this. It strikes me as a boondoggle on a par with the ethanol scam currently in the works, if not worse. I second your suggestion, hope ROS involves you in the event.

  287. As a follow up to Paglia saying kids are luzrs, how about a show on”

    grlzradio com

    I heard about this on WGBH radio, so you should have no problem doing due dili

    Accentuate the positive !!

  288. I put on my radio-producer hat:

    The show has an anti-postconstructionist anti-postmodernist view.

    The grlzradio com show is about various inner city orgs creating programs that give kids positive experiences.

    Plus, Chris can get the lowdown on the urban hip hop vs Latin jazz conundrum

  289. Pitches from WED APRIL 11

    We’re talking about doing a show on the latinization of baseball, nother and Emmett O’Connell, which I think would fit with your idea of re-examining race, class and baseball (if not Jackie Robinson directly, although I’m sure he would come up.) I’ve added your names to that particular story idea, already on the list. Thanks!

    I take it you want us to do a show about media/internet repression in China, enhabit. We did a show close to the start of Open Source on The Great Firewall of China, so unless there’s anything new, I don’t think we would do that show again.

    Your idea on security theater, johnnygoldstein, is pretty similar to pitches we’ve gotten a couple times in the past along the lines of, “how safe are we actually?” given all the money and drama around security post 9-11. Unfortunately these pitches have never made it out of the story meeting…mostly I think because an examination of them would be impossibly broad. I will keep Schneier in mind for future shows though, as he seems like an interesting guy.

    I don’t get your pitch, RobertPeel. Can you try and rephrase it please?

  290. might be worth a revisit robin….

    what would happen if i sent that link..don’t want to make trouble fpr my friends.

    wonder if they can access sites like “you tube” and “glumbert”

  291. I’m proud that I can create an idea so bad its not even worth responding to in order to say its bad.

  292. so Lumière,

    an example of why text communications such as this can cause problems.

    an argument is presented in the appearant context of another’s life’s work that is laughable. if i know this person well, i can attenuate a response. i see three possibilities here:

    -this is intended to be humorous

    -this is serious

    -this is intended to be insulting or mean spirited

    i don’t know this person, can’t hear this person, and can’t see this person..so the best response in this case is no response..but if i had already stepped in it…well a “program crash” initiates…better to withdraw..no great loss to the thread…frustrating though…look forward to the show..and btw (as if you didn’t know) there is no answer to the thread’s question…

    this being the closest thing to a neutral salon

  293. enhabit

    As a member of the lumpenblogetariat, one never knows

    I took at as humorous, but more importantly, it might be presented again somewhere, so we learned what DE is not about.

  294. Op-Ed Contributor NYT

    Trash Talk Radio


    Published: April 10, 2007

    ///So here’s what this voice has to say for people who cannot grasp the notion of picking on people their own size: This country will only flourish once we consistently learn to applaud and encourage the young people who have to work harder just to achieve balance on the unequal playing field.\\\

    How about it ROS?

    You have a platform – you can do something:

    applaud and encourage the young people

    The grlzradio com show is about various inner city orgs creating programs that give kids positive experiences.

    I heard about this on WGBH radio, so you should have no problem doing due dili

    Accentuate the positive !!

  295. would like to see a show on state independence/succesion movements. Hawaii has one (for obvious reasons) and Vermont has one (for less obvious reasons). I’m sure there are others. They don’t have much steam behind them (and this lends a tragicomic air to them) but I don’t know that it will remain this way. The steam may be coming in the next 50 years. Here in Vermont I often see bumper stickers and graffiti art reading “U.S. out of Vermont!” It always makes me chuckle — which is not to say that I don’t have a certain amount of sympathy for the idea. Anyway, here’s a starting poing: http://vtcommons.org/

  296. eed:

    if you hang around the UN enough you can see this stepping even farther…it would make quite a paper, but it seems to me that the first stirrings of the return of the city-state may be upon us..they are tired of waiting for help from the nat’l gov’t..they are beginning to share information and even financial resources across borders..ask youself, when it comes to tax dollars, where do your priorities lie? not in washington i’ll wager.

    very impressive list of member cities here:



    i have mentioned before that i have stumbled upon a politically intense youth culture..very focused, active and prepared to do without to live up to ideals…they are certainly marginalized but there is something genuine there…for a child of the sixties it has a familiar ring

  297. eed:

    add to the mix we are becoming majority urban across the globe..a revolution about to come to a boil?

  298. I was joking with a friend of mine saying that in future Vice-Presidential Debates that the candidates will be asked something like, “What is your shadow government going to be like?”

    Dick Cheney has radically changed the role of the Vice President. Instead of being an invisible lady-in-waiting, I’m sure most people will agree that Cheney has asserted himself as at least a co-President. There are those of us that believe that Cheney is the de facto President!

    Here are questions I’d like to see a show address:

    1) How unusual is Cheney’s vice-presidency? As far as I know, it is a singularity. Perhaps you can find a historian that can describe previous vice presidents that have asserted so much power.

    2) Is Cheney’s transformation of the office permanent? Will future vice presidents establish such an elaborate apparatus that acts without the checks and balances that constrain the President? (Who else would have the gall to go hunting with a Supreme Court Justice while he or she has a matter before the Court?) It seems that Laura Bush has not retained the increased importance of the First Lady’s office that Hilary Clinton achieved. Is this an indication that the individuals that surround the President can define their offices while in office, but that definition leaves as soon as the term is over.

    3) Is a constitutional amendment needed to more explicitly limit the Vice President’s power and/or make his or her level of accountability and transparency the same as the President’s since the traditional role and the understood duties and responsibilities have been so perverted by Dick Cheney?

    Thank you.

  299. Race, class, and language. The Right is defending Imus by claiming that African Americans use that language…so lets take their argument head on. We should discuss who – in this country of free speech – can use derogatory language about race? Can the youth say it; Chris Rock; only African Americans? Have we reached a point that it shouldn’t be cool for anyone – anytime, to use that language?

    Guests could include the Harvard prof. Randall Kennedy, who wrote “Nigger – The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word.”

    Stanley Crouch would be great! Orlando Patterson. The language guy from “Fresh Air.”

    It would also be cool if you went in the street and asked young people what they thought about Imus’s remarks.

  300. A different spin on Imus: whether he is in or out, the question is whether he is relevant anymore in the mix of “terrestrial,” satellite radio, and podcasts? What national DJs on generalist shows still hold people’s attention and why? On what stations or media? demographics?

    Stern didn’t draw the numbers of satellite subscribers hoped for, and superstars are being scooped up than hiring traditional radio DJ talent “up from the ranks” to lure non traditional listeners. Air America bombed. ROS has it’s own take on radio and technology and the future obviously.

    nother: who was the politician who used “niggardly” in the proper a-racial (if that’s possible) use but got so much flak for it?

  301. Bush as modern day “Sherman”: Leaving a scorched-earth USA in the wake of the Halliburton Presidency.

    I was at a Seattle Tully’s coffee house last night, and heard someone ranting on about how he was convinced that the current white house administration would leave America a bankrupt nation – spiritually, morally, and financially. At first, I wrote off the talker as a crack-pot, left-coast weirdo who was looking for any excuse to criticize the Bush administration. But the more I thought about it, the more I’m convinced there’s enough information here to do further research.

    He specifically mentioned the recent call to extend the National Guard tour-of-duty length, while at the same time shorten the amount of time between deployments. It has the potential of a) depleting the US National Guard as a resource in the country’s military arsenal by demoralizing current recruits, and b) dissuading future enlistees from signing up. And what of the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on a policy (Iraq) that caused voters to bring about change in both Federal legislative bodies last fall. Couple that with President Cheney’s Halliburton – awash in funds from no-bid contracts – decision to move their headquarters from Houston, TX, USA to Dubai. What does the Halliburton board know that we don’t? (rats from a sinking ship) Are they fleeing to avoid potential prosecution? Or is there more here? The art of misdirection is at work in this country – an art at which the current white house are acknowledged masters.

    The speaker brought up the three (3x) companies George W. Bush (Spectrum, Arbusto, and Harken Energy) managed into oblivion. He speculated that the same fate that befell these three companies could now be “in the wings” for: 1) the US economy, 2) the US military, and 3) our nation’s position as a respected global leader.

    Q: Will Bush leave a scorched-earth in place of the USA?

    - – - – - – - – - – -

    I did some blog research, and could not find any serious discussion of this possibility, but I found scattered pieces that one could put-together like a web-jigsaw, and support this discussion:

    http://dailywarnews.blogspot.com/2006_02_01_dailywarnews_archive.html#113984140776019280 – (search for “Harken”) this is mostly about Hugo Chavez as the ‘anti-Bush’.

    http://liberaldoomsayer.blogspot.com/2007/01/in-his-case-he-should-work-for-free.html for info on Harken, and links to Bush’s sale of Harken stock at a profit before the company tanked.

    Yet, I can’t find much about this topic. I feel that beyond casual conversation, most people are too terrified of the implications to seriously engage on this topic. The implications on the US economy, Wall Street valuations, etc. are staggering. And that’s where the other part of the conversation comes in – at my work-place, there is an e-mail list called “seattle-chatter”, where people claimed their parents were receiving calls from stock brokers to “sell everything” [around the time Alan Greenspan made his prediction about the likelihood of a fall 2007 recession]. That e-mail spread like wildfire around here – fortunately it didn’t sway the psychology of the overall stock “market”.

    Your thoughts?

  302. Robin

    Let me try to rephrase my pitch:

    ROS did a great job by producing the 2006 Election Wiki be getting to the hear of the issues in different states and regions It chronicled the 2006 ecltion in my ways veterans like Elizabeth Drew,Theodore(“Teddy”)White,RichardBen Kramer and other did by giving a living history of politcal campaigns and local issues howver in a new way by new media. For me a wonderful example is how ROS compiled a living history of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina by talking about race,economics, rehabilitation and lituerature to give a commentary from botton up of a major crises.

    2000 and 2004 were close elecitions often decided by states such as Florida and Ohio and absentee ballots(expatirots and military voters.) In the midst of these elections such as Howard Dean and now Hillary,Obama.McCain and others have begon to use and manipulate the new media by blogs,youtube,my space and websites to promote voters.Politcal marketing has changes.

    However ROS offered in 2006 a unique forum for conversation by the 2006 Election Wiki enabling other voices to surface and allowed readrs to capture a deaper snes of what was going on on a state by state basis beyong politics,polling and political promotion. Sort of a look into the question posed by the author of “What is the Matter with Kansas.” So I recommend that ROS revisit the idea of a 2008 election wiki begining ASAP. Sort of an ongoing conversation and commentary of the 2008 election(the 40th anniversary of 1968 when the Viet Nam War was raging!) to offer a no-spin zone in the midst of the 2008 media bliz. Our of the 2008 election Wiki sory ideas might emerge for shows and coversation that might not be in our imagination at the moment(perhaps the fight over Colorado River water rights?) Also, included in this Wikie a place for people living out of the country and military overseas. Doing this wiki will contribute to democracy of ideas through a possiblity of all of participation.Through this type of project news treads may emerge but most important we can use the new media to chronicle a decsive election. Perhaps,we can break down the red/blue divide and see a variety of colors. Chris has done this before as a newsman,news commentator and as a candidate for Mayor of Boston. It can bee fun. We can learn alot about our country. Possible see what others in our world think about American elections. It might avoid thinking in polarities(as K aka”MC” Rove has tried to promote.) That’s an idea the worked well for ROS in 2006. It might be a way to keep BG involved as our NY wiki campaingn manager.

  303. Just the facts jack

    Within two years of purchasing Arbusto and making Bush Jr. president, Spectrum 7 was itself in trouble; it lost $400,000 in its last 6 months of operation. That ended in 1986, when Harken Energy Corporation bought Spectrum 7′s 180-well operation.

    Take a look at this oil price chart and you can guess how most companies where doing when oil prices tanked in 1985


    Junior got $227,000 worth of Harken stock, and a lot more. He was named to the board of directors, made $80,000 to $100,000 a year well into the 1990s as a “consultant” to Harken, and was allowed to buy Harken stock at 40% below face value.

    Jr did pretty well and he was not running anything, let alone running anything into the ground

    (all puns intended)


  304. Responses to pitches from 6 April 07

    pj: Chelsea put together an hour on free will last autum, if you’d like to check it out. As far as information overload goes, although we share (every day!) your feeling of being overwhelmed, I don’t quite hear a new conversation. But Greta’s planning to put together a feature in the next couple of weeks on how to sift & sort through the blogosphere — maybe that would interest you?

    Siawns: The tax-exempt status of Scientology unfortunately just isn’t the kind of topic we’d cover.

    Lumiere: Robin pitched the Hammond organ idea today, and we’re interested.

  305. Responses to April 12th Pitches

    Potter: I’ll pitch your Flamenco show during our next meeting. (In today’s meeting Sidewalker’s Tango pitch got Chris’ seal of approval.)

    Sutter, Enhabit, and Sidewalker. I’ve tried twice in the last two days to churn up some enthusiasm for a Vonnegut show, to no avail. I realize that there are so many people who have died this year who we did not pay tribute to: Molly Ivins, William Styron, Tokyo Rose, and Art Buchwald, to name a few. I think our reluctance to do these shows comes from our own regret that we never did a show with them when they were alive. It is an enormous challenge to do a tribute show and we have yet to rise to the occasion.

    Archie McLean: We may be due for another oil show. Thanks for this info. I’ll bring it up in our next story meeting.

    Hi Lumiere: could you offer some specific guests or an angle for this show? Right now it’s a little too broad for me to pitch in a meeting.

    Nother: We have invited Deval Patrick to be on Open Source but he is not doing nighttime media these days.

  306. A Kurt Vonnegut show is really necessary. After a month of Anna Nicole Smith, it seems only fair that we slice off an hour or two for one of our countries most important writers.

  307. Katherine Says: Robin pitched the Hammond organ idea today, and we’re interested.

    Ok !!

    Credit should go to Marc McElroy’s pitch on March 19th, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    The guy below teaches hammond organ

    Dave Cohen is a potential Hammond (not sure if B3) player from the 60’s Country Joe and the Fish – call him while he is still alive !

    “He (David) was one of the pioneers of the era on electric keyboard,” “The sound of his keyboard defined the Country Joe and the Fish sound.” Joe McDonald


    You might also add to the show the mellotron:


  308. Robin, let me know if you have any questions or need more info. There are lots of potential angles if the story seems too broad…

  309. We need an honest conversation about how we Americans can moraly sit back and do nothing regarding crimes committed by Bush, Cheney, et al in our name.


    I’d like to see a show about this topic. How do “we the people” clear our name in a democratic and peaceful way when clearly non of our leaders are going to help us do it.

  310. jakeforpeace1 Says: How do “we the people” clear our name in a democratic and peaceful way


    just a thought….

  311. …..and that is precisely why we need to have this kind of conversation, because millions of us know instinctively that “voting” is NOT working.

    so how do we make us whole again?

  312. I’m in the middle of filing my Mass state taxes. “If you qualify for the Clean Fuel Vehicles deduction, enter the amount…” I am a bike commuter yielding no environmentally damaging emissions, yet I get no deductory pat on the back. If the tax forms begin to go green, why don’t they go all the way? I daydream about Menino-esque gun buy back programs which swap firearms with vehicles. Bring in your dirty smog belching truck, get 20 city-compatible bicycles for you and your friends and a big tax credit. The truck goes to a family or charitable organization out where you actually need a car to get anywhere.

  313. You should have a show (ten shows actually) on mercury in vaccines and the autism epidemic. The issue is about to come to a rolling boil by virtue of a trial that no one (read the CDC and other federal agencies charged with vaccine safety oversight, the pharmaceutical industry, the American Academy of Pediatrics) wanted to take place, save the families of affected children.

    After five years of preparation, on June 11, 2007, the Office of Special Masters, whose job in the federal court system is to decide vaccine injury claims, will finally hold a general causation hearing in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding. The upcoming hearing in June will begin to decide whether Thimerosal – an ethylmercury-based preservative used in vaccines – and/or the MMR vaccine causes autism and related disorders and whether thousands of severely disabled children are entitled to compensation from the federal government. There are about 5,000 families (including mine) in the proceeding, but we are just the tip of the iceberg of potential claimants, with one in 150 children now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (and a staggering 1 in 94 boys).

    A number of potential guests come to mind:

    • David Kirby, author of Evidence of Harm (St. Martin’s Press, 2005), which won the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2005 Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting in a Book. See his website evidenceofharm.com or his blogs on huffingtonpost.com. You could also interview some of the members of Safeminds, the parent group featured in Kirby’s book, about their extraordinary experience battling the federal government on this issue since 2000.

    • RFK Jr., whose controversial piece, Deadly Immunity, was published by Rolling Stone and Salon.com in 2005. It’s still on his website http://www.robertfkennedyjr.com/.

    • Dan Olmsted, a UPI health editor whose investigative “Age of Autism” series has been the best original journalism on the subject over the last few years.

    • Daniel Shulman, an assistant editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, who wrote a critical piece in the CJR asking why the mainstream media won’t cover the Thimerosal debate. See http://www.cjr.org/issues/2005/6/Schulman.asp.

    Any interest? It’s only the vaccine trial of the century over the potential iatrogenic poisoning of a generation of American children.

  314. I’m interested in GJPOhio’S pitch on autism.

    I have no iron in the fire but would like hear about this from an epigenetics POV


    There is a ton of stuff that comes up when you Google Epigenetic autism. So guests shouldn’t be a problem.

    The show would give us a scientific basis for genetics & autism prior to the legal results in June, which could result in a follow up show then.

  315. To add to my ethanol pitch, 12 South American Leaders will be gathering this week at the first South American Energy Summit.

    Cuba and oil-rich Venezuela oppose ethanol, Brasil wants to become international source of sugar-based biofuel, and the other countries find themselves in the middle.

  316. Responses to pitches from 13 April 07

    Lumiere: grlz radio sounds like a great project but probably not something we’d do a show about.

    eed: While there’s surely something interesting about state secession initiatives, you said it best yourself: “they don’t seem to have much steam behind them”. I don’t think the idea would work as an hour of radio unless that head of steam builds up…

    houstonDave: A show on how Dick Cheney has changed the office of the VP. It could be interesting if we could find an original angle in. I’ll pitch it.

    nother: Straight from pitch to post!

    rahbuhbuh: We’ve spent a lot of our story meetings last week gabbing about Imus and trying to figure out whether and how to cover the story. We finally decided to go with nother‘s suggestion about language.

    seymour: Your question is a good and important one, but so many of the shows we do (on Iraq, on the military, etc.) already try to get at various pieces of it.

    DanO: As Chelsea said, she’s tried hard to pitch the idea…

  317. Just wanted to respond briefly to Lumière, and to offer an alternative pitch if epigenetics sparks an interest.

    First, I need to point out that the “scientific basis for genetics & autism” is not at all what I had in mind – indeed, it is pretty much antithetical to it. With the ten-fold rise in autism cases over the past 15 years, the research focus is (slowly but surely) shifting from a genetic to an environmental causative model. Simply, you can’t have a genetic epidemic. You can deny the existence of the autism epidemic (many people do) but these denials have an increasingly otherworldly quality to them these days.

    Nonetheless, I see potential for a show on environmental epigenetics, i.e., how environmental factors and toxins in particular affect genetic expression. What interests me here is the concept of our toxic “body burden” – i.e., the buildup of industrial toxins even in newborns (see http://www.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden2/execsumm.php) – and their potential epigenetic effects on human evolution. If, as the field of epigenetics recognizes, environment factors turn genes on or off or causes them to mutate, and we are continuously introducing new chemicals into our environment, virtually none of which are tested for their neurodevelopmental effects, have we entered a kind of post-natural phase of human evolution? In the End of Nature, Bill McKibben posited that with man-induced global climate change, there was no independent “nature” left – no natural process free of human activity. I wonder if, with the “body burden” of synthetic, industrial chemicals accruing inside ourselves, something similar can be said of human evolution.

    Perhaps autism research can offer a segue into this topic. I’d strongly recommend an interview with Martha Herbert at Harvard Medical School, who was recently featured in a Discover magazine article on this issue. Here are some links:

    • http://discovermagazine.com/2007/apr/autism-it2019s-not-just-in-the-head

    • http://www.medicalveritas.com/MarthaHerbert.pdf

    • http://autismmedia.org/media16.html (be sure to watch all three videos)

  318. GJPOhio Says: shifting from a genetic to an environmental causative model

    Precisely why I chose epigenetics and not genetics. It would not exclude the effect vaccines. Epigenetics ties the environment to the genome. Epigentic damage can be passed on.

    I think autism would be a great show concept from a science POV.

    Good luck !

  319. I’d intersted in a show on what happened with that poetry magazine that got a huge 9-figure bequest a couple years back. Has it destroyed them or has it done wonders for poetry?

  320. The Ken Burns WWII series starts soon. Latinos are miffed that their contributions to the war are not represented. Using Burns as a news peg, we could discuss issues such as minority invisibility in mainstream news and media, Burns’ status as the official documentary film maker for the nation, the nation’s response to WWII compared to our response to 9/11, or (with both Al Gore’s film and that of the Dixie Chicks in the background) the rise of the documentary in the film world.

  321. Tango Book “Tango and the Political Economy of Passion:From Exoticism to Decolonialisation” by Marta Savigliano (from Argentina-prot at U Cal Riverside and a dance teacher.” It would be greate to hear Sidewalkers’s voice from Japan!

    How about getting Robert Duval.

  322. During my visit to ROS, Greta gently suggested that my mental health pitch would work better if broken down into bite-sized pieces. So here’s one, with a news peg and everything. It even could fit into the “Banality of Evil” series.

    As is being widely reported, the Virginia Tech gunman had issues. Teachers recognized disturbing tendencies in his writings. Fellow students noted patently weird behavior. He was treated for depression. In the coming weeks, we’re likely to see renewed debates over gun control (as we should), and campus security. Will we see a debate on collective responsibility for addressing depression and other mental illness, and the costs that are incurred when we fail to do so? To be clear, I’m not at all interested in absolving Cho, morally or legally, and I’m willing to put aside the question of what society owed him in terms of treatment and care. But what about what we owe his victims? If our society were more attuned to treating depression seriously as the illness that it is, it’s possible or even likely that these people would be alive and well today. (This is not to say that evil could be eradicated by Prozac — we’d still have shootings and all. But life’s all about reducing the odds, and this seems like a case that would have been caught if we had a better safety net in place.)

    So, in short, while everyone else is talking about guns and lockdowns and Hokie spirit, I’d like to hear ROS talk about whether we need a new model of preventive mental health care, and whether such a model might have saved more than 30 lives earlier this week.

  323. While you’re on this great run of musical programs, why not a show about Leo Kottke? I gather he still tours regularly so chances are he’ll turn up in Boston before long. An excellent studio guest, I imagine. A musician of genius –according to Segovia, no less — he also has a wonderful baritone voice and a great line in quirky Mid-Western surrealism, as anyone who has listened to his lyrics or read his liner notes knows.

    Wikipedia’s entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Kottke


    — where LK is compared to Chopin:

    “The title seems to be a spoof on the music business—years of trying to figure out what category Leo’s music fits into and inane conversation about whether he should sing more or less,” said John Stropes, a renowned authority on fingerstyle guitar and the only person Kottke trusts to transcribe his work. “Leo’s music captures a broad variety of idiomatic sounds from the fullness of American life. His genius for technical idiosyncrasy, his robust inclusion of coloristic effects, percussive elements and an infectious rhythmicality make this music come alive on one guitar. He possesses an effortless virtuosity. His contributions to guitar technique have been staggering and are still not fully understood. Like Fryderyk Chopin, he has created a fresh, new virtuosic literature for his instrument which fires our imagination and stirs our emotions.”

    P.S. LK’s own website (http://www.leokottke.com/cgi-bin/ontour/leotour.cgi) lists a 5/5/2007 tour date in Ridgefield, CT. There’s a gap of eight days before his next concert (in characteristically, French Lick, IN). Maybe you could arrange to get together then, either in Ridgefield or Boston? It has all the makings of great ROS.

  324. I’ll try not to insist, but this essay on sadness from LK’s site (were the musical converation to fail, he and Chris could always talk about literature):



    by Leo Kottke

    When Dartmouth asked Joseph Brodsky for a commencement speech, June ’89, he showed up at the podium and warned everybody of boredom, and its virtues. Pronouncing boredom, after Dartmouth, the most enduring stone they’d face in their lives–”At best, Dartmouth may acquaint you with the sensation by incurring it”–Brodsky appears to have been talking more to himself than to the graduates; Dartmouth may have wondered, but his speech was not boring–not to read, at least.

    My address will be on sadness, when Dartmouth asks; not the sadness that follows the death of something, or the premonition of the death of something, but the sadness of nothing, the sadness that sends us to bed early with no big struggle. Not boredom…simple sadness. Empty quiet. Not melancholy, or blueness, only sadness. The first chill in the air, or the first warmth.

    I’m sad now. I’m sad because I’m writing this. Brodsky was not bored when he wrote his commencement address. Sadness, though wispy, can be persistent and catching. Boredom is too human to last for long, especially if you’re not completely nuts; work can erase it, for example…but work won’t eliminate sadness. Sadness will spoil your work. It’s global. Sadness will keep you, as my father might say, from getting outside and getting a little fresh air.

    When I was a child in Wyoming and my father thought I was becoming a nerd from reading too much, he told me to go outside. He didn’t tell me to stop reading, he told me to go outside and get some air. So I floated Huckleberry Finn to a vacant lot in Cheyenne, smoked a pipe Kent Ekloff and I’d stolen from a work train on the air force base, and got sick. I think I was ten years old. I remember the milkweed in the vacant lot, the raft, and the nausea. It’s a great book. And I still read… but right now, I’m sad. And I’m sad for the guy whose pipe I stole.

    On a record called Great Big Boy, I mentioned jumping in a lake when I was a child:

    “My earliest memory is of water. I was submerged in it. I had stepped off a dock into Clark Lake. Before my Aunt Rui jumped in after me, I had time to hit bottom- about three feet down- and look around. A bubble formed around my head and I could breathe in it. I was two and a half. I learned this much: adults couldn’t breathe underwater, but a child could do anything. About four years later I held a paper bag above my head and jumped off a roof. I reached full speed and slammed into the ground. I learned this much: adulthood begins at six.”

    But what I was was sad. Later I was a Sad Sack. Now, grown up, I am sometimes, like now, simply sad. This is not the tragic view, not acknowledgement of the human condition, it’s just sadness.

    One access to sadness is to be too literary for one’s own good, to suffer with Moby Dick in an ocean of Calvinism. You could cheer up, maybe, with Henry James: Take a dilletante’s interest in melancholy and recline on someboy else’s croquet lawn. Or you could go trout fishing with Hemingway, and sadness could become style: A clean, well-lighted place. Or sadness could become habit–and us mammals (or the tragic view)…smaller.

    If the tragic view continues to shrink–and, with it, the strange, sad chance it offers to cheer up–there are worse things than the too literary: there is boredom, there is the total avoidance of the literary, or the dismissal entire of the “tragic view”…and the ensuing headlong, or headless, rush into kitzch: refrigerator magnets, un-founded optimism, soul-less-ness, blunted faith, religiosity. This is worse than sadness. (No, let’s just say it’s different.) It’s still nothingness, though. It’s being a reindeer, and reminding rooms full of people that there’s something to be said for free-floating gloom. It’s being ribbons on a poodle, fake flowers on pencil erasers, a bumper sticker…not fate, but flaw.

    All of which makes me sad. Angry, even. It may be self-loathing that makes a thug, but it’s a numb smile that pisses him off.

    But we can be happy. We can swim with the mammals, maybe. If kitzch is the denial of shit (just to be literary and quote Milan Kundera) reality is the tragic view–Maybe Dick, to quote Bullwinkle. We are pinned by choice…because we’re too damn sad, or stupid, to make up our minds.

    Maybe I am only talking about myself.

    The exhaust fan above a stove looks like a giant Flo-Bee. It’s possible to make a potato cannon out of PVC tubing and hair spray. We can tune a yapping dog by snipping its vocal chords, from yip to woof in an hour. By reversing a clothes pin we can shoot flaming kitchen matches at our potato cannon. We can make a gun out of a bicycle spoke. Run a garden hose six feet up to the surface of the lake we’re swimming under, try to breathe and drown.

    Ingenuities, misunderstandings. We can be born dumb, but we have to make ourselves stupid. We can live our lives just fine with twenty nouns or two thousand, but if we don’t learn to say “ouch” we’ll never live at all. It’s possible to fall asleep with our eyes open–I’ve done it twice on freeways, especially the one through Pennsylvania, the one that never ends. Pennsylvania never ends. I’ve never figured that out.

    Are we still talking about sadness? I don’t think so. Maybe this is about something else, about Hertzian poodles. About being asleep. About Gore Vidal? Not really. William F. Buckley?, too many nouns. George Will?… doesn’t like “The Catcher in the Rye”… a tin ear, he has. The kitzch of Fox, the spout of Snopes?

    Are we talking about politics? No. Maybe Dick?

    Perhaps sadness is an organizing principle. Maybe without it, as I am now, the random sparks of imagination can drag us off, sputter like Teddy Roosevelts of yesteryear, shove us into the engram jungle, and suggest we get along with nothing but an idea to fondle. Without sadness, in less words, we would be having too “good” a time. We might be asleep, and making unintelligible noises. Or: If sadness is only a drag, tragedy is only a mistake.

    The virtue tragedy teaches, if it teaches anything, is compassion. If there is a lesson in sadness, it is in its impermanence–one of the values Brodsky finds in boredom. And if imagination can show us how to tune another species or how to make a weapon out of a potato, it cannot show us how to end a note whose only organization was a now vanished cloud.

    Good-bye. (I gotta go get some air.)

    Copyright © 2003 Leo Kottke

  325. Sutter I am right there with you. There are two main issues that come out of this Virginia Tech shooting that seem to stand out as far as I am concerned.

    One issue is about the availability of handguns or guns that are concealable. (It’s unbelievable that there are folks saying that kids should be allowed to carry guns on campus to protect themselves!)

    The other issue is about recognizing serious mental illness in another person. As the stories continue with more and more facts coming out it seems as though Cho left many signals for a number of people. Some actually did do something but obviously no one did enough; no one took responsiblity. He roamed freely, a disaster waiting to happen.

    One major question I have is how the university could have accepted him in the first place. Didn’t he have an interview? Write an essay or two for his application? How can one tell such a person, who does not think he has a problem, to go and seek some help? What responsibility does a parent, a roommate, a teacher, a therapist, a gunshop owner have?

  326. I agree with Potter and Sutter! Yes the political question of who has a right to have hand guns or weapons to kill human beings. Ironically(given his present political difficulties with the US Attorney fiasco in NM) Peter Domenici and now Patrick Kennedy have argued for parity in treatment of mental illness i.e. we should provide the same resources for treatment as we would any disease. Sadly, Cho was on the radar screne of his professors,some of his classmates and his mother. Remember the famous case of litigation at M.I.T. when a student had committed suicide. Was Cho’s murder spree an attempt at suicide. What does this say about the increase of gang related killings in Boston. Statics sugget that Depression rates globally have increased amongs young people from 15-25.

    I am grateful to Sutter for trying to “chunk” this down. I do not know how to do it.

    I do feel that the undercurrent of the Iraqui war impacts all of us despite soldiers going to war and we go to Wall Mart.

    In reference to Potter I do know a university which accepted a young woman with bi-polar disorcer who committed suicide days before her graduation. Did the college in accepting her provide adequate support and help?

  327. Responding to pitches from April 16:

    hurley and hurley: The Moyers documentary is definitely one to watch. I’ll prod everyone to pay attention to it in the story meeting. And I’ve bookmarked Beppe Grillo’s blog in preparation for our Italy show, which we’ll start on one of these days.


    It’s like you can see into our brains. A show on autism and epigenetics with Jill Neimark, the author of that Discover article you mentioned, has been on our to-do list for months. The next time we talk about it, we’ll draw on your suggestions and, hopefully, talk to you about your personal experience with the issue as well.

  328. Regarding the “latinization of baseball” show idea, I think we should stay away from the “how Latin players impact the game” line of thinking that dominated the Japanese Baseball show.

    When I’ve gotten into discussions about bringing baseball to lesser communities in the US (Portland OR or Las Vegas), I’ve often counter argued that some Latin markets deserve consideration (San Juan PR or Monterrey MX). My thought was that MLB should expand into Latin America. But, that assumption had to do with a different view of Latin baseball than the one I hold today.

    I thought Latin baseball leagues were organized separately from MLB, but I’ve come to realize slowly that practically every Latin league of note, from the Liga Mexicana de Beisbo, to the Venezuelan Summer League, and even the Caribbean Series are infected one way or another with MLB.

    This may sound insanely naive, but its almost as if MLB maintains relationships with Latin leagues in order to ensure a cheap supply of talent. I’m sure there is a “How Soccer Explains the World” type parallel going on here.

    It might be worth looking at Jorge Pasquel as a starting point.

  329. Eed–

    My buddy Dean, who fixes bikes at the shop in Montpelier, tells me he started those “US out of VT” stickers. Had ‘em printed up, put ‘em out on various counters with a cup for dollars next to them, and voila.


  330. Consider this:

    Over the last three and a half decade the number of breweries in the US has increased from around 160 to closer to 2000. Home brewing only became legal 30 years ago. Germans are actually complaining that they can’t get some american beers due to thier purity laws. The new york times recently published a peice about the changing image of beer (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/28/dining/28pour.html?ex=1177128000&en=93f01a67a1f4d188&ei=5070).

    My interests revolve specifically around beer (as i am a critic), but more generally around the idea of puritan founded america ever so slowly escaping what was once thought unacceptable. Our inablity to dispatch images of Animal House (and even more extremely Refer Madness) from the part of our minds that defines social mores seems rather curious. Beer culture has been around since the dawn of civilization, but we only celebrate wine.

    Why does american culture shun seemingly random aspects of itself? From beer, to immigrant population. Are we scape goating? If we blame beer, then we don’t have to address our impitant drinking laws? Like we blame immigrants for our shaky economy under an unpopular administration.

    I digress. Beer culture is facinating and ever overpowered by the frat boy image encouraged by the 3 largest breweries in the US (because binge drinking is more profitable for them). I suggest a show exploring it a little. This is not as intense a show as I often hear suggested, but it would be enjoyable, accessable, and exceedingly informative to the layperson. US beer culture is rising more rapidly then ever and is in an active fight to claim it’s legitimisy.

    Basically, i’d like to hear show about beer.

  331. Btw, JuliaR, how is the Tango show coming along? Yesterday at my lesson, my instructors (Japanese champions) said they were recently on a radio show and the host even had them dance and described it play-by-play on air, including the revealing of panties!! I didn’t hear the interview, but I guess there are different ways to bring this art form to the radio. Ganbatte kudasai (Please try your best).

  332. Thanks Robert Peel for the book Tango book recommendation. I’ve just ordered it! I also read a review and I’m sure many of the points the author makes accurate on a broad level. As for individual motives, I can’t speak for others, but for me it is not about male domination or sexual exploitation. I’ve found rather that there is nothing macho about leading. Rather it is about tender communication and the quieting of ego. Also, in class we always change partners so at one point I may be dancing with someone 20 years younger or 20 years older. At first I was reluctant to engage with strangers in this way, but now I laugh at my vanity.

    I’ve heard that in more happening parts of Tokyo some of the milonga attract guys on the hunt, but the ones I’ve experienced I’ve found most people are there just to enjoy the dance and escape from the daily grind. I still lack enough experience to speak with any certainty though.

  333. I’ll pitch a show about Instant Symbols and Icons, based on the Virgina Tech killings.

    The image of Cho Seung-Hui brazenly holding two handguns, arms outstretched will soon reach iconic status, to be mashed up and shared in all sorts of ways—just like the Abu gharib photos and Che’ and everything else that has appeared on t-shirts and ads. How many You Tube videos created in the wake of the shootings? music tributes. every incident enters the mosh pit of creative repurposing.

    Who is going to write the music, the movie…track every 6 months how pieces of this tragedy filter thru global culture

    Watch someone stage the two crazy plays this guy wrote for the drama class he is in. (you can find them on aol.com…i read them last night)

    i thought i heard there is now a shorthand message being used by students at virginia tech: imok@vt (i am OK at virginia tech). when will that be on a t-shirt?

    guest: henry jenkins from MIT?

  334. Back to Sutter.

    It might be helpful in light of Viriginia PolyTech to focus on college age students 18-30 regarding violence on Campus and mental health. Also, it is important to note that these students are the same age as our soldiers in Iraq.

    As a former,middle management college administrator, I have noticed in horror on how in the face to the dreadful murders on campus how state college officials are scrambling to cover their butts. College Mental Health officials are required to asses for violence and suicide it is comonly called Tarasoff where potential victims need to be warned. The case law is the California appelate decision Ewing v. Goldstein. A search might be helpful

  335. Along with the blogosphere, DIY record labels with digital downloads, podcasts, etc. there has also been a growing community of online comics. From the earliest comics such as Kevin and Kell (http://www.kevinandkell.com/) to Fred Gallagher’s MegaTokyo (http://www.megatokyo.com) which was picked up by Dark Horse Comics, the webcomic has been a place for artists and story tellers to be able to do their work on their own terms. Also, in comparison to their print counterparts, there is a conversation going on through forums, commenting on each comic, and direct 1-to-1 communication between the creator and fans. Just ask Fred about his appearances at comic and anime conventions. That guy gets mobbed.

    suggested guest:

    Scott McCloud – http://www.scottmccloud.com/

    other potential guests:

    R.K. Milholland – http://somethingpositive.net/

    J. Jaques – http://www.questionablecontent.net/

    Chris and Joe Brudlos – http://www.alpha-shade.com/ (who also have a rather amusing podcast of their own)

  336. Forget about Virginia Tech: listen to Democracy Now! We need to continue to get word out about Blackwater and other mercenary armies. This is a much bigger story that is not getting the exposure that it deserves. Exposure is the operative word: there is very little general knowledge about who is fighting in Iraq, and who is representing the US in the world today.

  337. I know it’s early to suggest a September show, but I wanted to put something in the pipeline: A show exploring race and politics in the context of Steve Biko’s life (and death) in South Africa. His death was on September 12, 1977, so a mid-September show would be appropriate, I think.

    Steve Biko died under suspicious circumstances in South Africa. While the official line was that he died due to a hunger strike, evidence points to his being bludgeoned to death. He was controversial at the time for his simultaneously uplifting and revolutionary positions, and was targetted by the apartheid government. His non-violent position is considered a tactic to gain legitimacy, as opposed to a heartfelt belief. He spoke forcefully to the human-ness of black people and rights that they should have.

    While Nelson Mandela, a pacifist-turned-militant revolutionary-turned-pacifist, was imprisoned, Biko was murdered. He was considered dangerous to the apartheid regime, in a way that Mandela wasn’t.

    Cornell West comes to mind as someone who has carefully considered race and politics. I don’t know of any Biko experts, which is why I’m throwing this pitch in so early. Help?

  338. I like Makrab’s pitch about shifting views on beer in our conflicted puritanical but vice loving country. Another interesting case beyond beer is the catch-22 preventing the FDA’s testing of medical grade marijuana due the National Inst. for Drug Abuse’s monopoly on the crop and refusal to grant access.

    Two government agencies’ red tape (three if you count the DEA) is trying to be cut by the ACLU, the Multi Disciplinary Assoc. for Psychedelic Studies, and a respected Umass Amherst botanist after a DEA Adminstrative Judge ruled in their favor: “the judge rebuked all of the DEA’s arguments and explained why NIDA needs to stop obstructing legitimate scientific research.” — Jag Davies, from MAPS.

    A discussion on RU Sirius’s show (underneath the hideous jokes from his sidekicks) with Jag Davies from MAPS tells the full story: http://www.10zenmonkeys.com/2007/03/29/maps-drugs-research-ru-sirius/

    I’m not pitching a show on legalization because I want to imbibe freely. I don’t drink nor smoke, I just love to hear people articulately discuss the war on drugs and personal freedom to do stupid things. It is why I found Stuart Walton’s “Out of It: a cultural history of intoxication” so fascinating. It’s why I’m so conflicted on the run anti-smoking rulings in major cities.

    I would love to hear ROS elaborate on any of these themes.

  339. Responses to April 19th Pitches

    makrab: I’ll see if I can sell the rest of the folks on a “Passion for Beer” show.

    RobertPeel: A number of people have been asking that we do a show on mental health. The challenge is to do this in a compelling and respectful way. Is the Virgina Tech massacre our moment? I’ll ask in our next story meeting.

    Chrisb DIY comics isn’t enough of a topic to occupy an hour of live radio though it would be a perfect feature for a radio show like Day to Day or Studio 360.

  340. Thanks, Chelsea

    I will do some research over the weekend(if I am not sailing!) What I am trying to wrestle with this campus violence embedded in a nation at war. James Hillman, classical Jungian analyst and teacher (at 80+year old),wrote a recent book “A terrible love of War!) Robert Kegan, Professor at Harvard School of Education,writes about developmentalpathology in his”Evolving Self.” Listening to the program last night I felt that one of the panelsits discussed mimesis I think he is on to something. One definition of mimesis is learning through imitating behavior. Tibetan Tuvan chanters learn through “mimesis”several tones at once. Med students learn the feel of practising medicine by being there in the interaction of the attending docs and the patients. We learn to walk by mirroring others. Perhaps we learn violence as a commentator said mediated life in Mash up videos. Thanks again. I agree with you how to do this in both a compelling and respectful manner,


    Sources close to the office of Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) confirm that the progressive Democratic congressman and Democratic presidential aspirant intends to introduce a bill of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 25…


  342. Today’s NYT website features an article: U.S. Erects Baghdad Wall to Keep Sects Apart’ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/21/world/middleeast/21iraq.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin . What about a discussion of “WALLS”? It could bring in the role of the Berlin Wall, fencing the U.S./Mexican border, the Israeli/Palestinian wall, and the division by walls of the neighborhoods in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (For those with a poetic frame of mind, Robert Frost’s famous poem could ‘slip in under the wall’). Are walls symptoms of interpersonal problems, solutions to conflicts, or a mixture of both? And since some walls seem to follow very convoluted patterns (e.g. The Great Wall of China and the Israeli/Palestinian wall complex), a side discussion of labyrinths and mazes might prove interesting. Could walls be built between hostile forces with the simple intent of confusing those attempting to cross over? (Not an idle concept, since minefields are built with ‘secret passages’ to allow ‘friendlies’ to make it through these invisibles walls!)

  343. Another topic related to Walls…. a discussion of TUNNELS: from those underneath the Berlin Wall to those connecting Gaza to Egypt to those allowing free passage under the US/Mexican border. And this could prove fascinating in light of the argument (now resolved) about the Channel Tunnel and the threat it posed/poses to Great Britain… (Don’t forget the refugee camps in France clustered around the entrance to the Chunnel, with wannabee emigrants/immigrants hoping for an underwater path to England!) The history of tunnels is fascinating: they are the polar opposite of walls. The basic function of walls is to divide people. The basic function of tunnels is to unite people. They are the ying/yang of architectural symbols, expressing the fears and desires of humans for solitude and community, and fear of the other and curiosity about the other.

  344. There’s been a little flap about a Lancet study of estimated Iraqi civilian war dead… and the latest thing is a study of a spike in childhood cancers. An Iraqi professor who was scheduled to speak at the U of Wa (Seattle) was denied a visa. The British denied one, as well, when he was invited to speak at Simon Fraser U in Vancouver, BC. There WAS a video conference, headed by a collaborating doctor in Seattle… but the wider “signal” about all this has a link to U.S. troop health as well. The culprit appears to be Depleted Uranium munitions. Here is a link to a blog of collected U.S. news links, over the last 3 years:


    A “Lt. Col. Bowman, MD” apparently has been researching this subject, as well… and has found pretty strong statistical links to DU-laced dust (& other aerosols). Rep. McDermott (D Wa) had a bill introduced to study this a couple years ago… but never got it out of the Armed Services Health subcommittee. Word is that he may try again. Sure- “all’s fair in Love & War”- but one generally assumes that you only worry about “incoming”- not “outgoing”… ^..^

  345. Like makrab, I also (as suggested by Chelsea) have a passion for beer. Something struck me very right and very wrong about his pitch. Everything he said about beer sounded very true, except when he pointed out the different perceptions of beer and wine. Of course, I live in Olympia, WA. Even though there are wineries up here, microbrew beer is king.

    The history of Redhook is especially telling. And, since its creation, I’ve been angling for a spot on the Beer Commission. They should have a spot there for customers.

  346. Chelsea, I’d submit that a show on mental illness requires no more or less respect than most other shows you do. Indeed, the most respectful thing you could do would be to draw attention to barriers faced by those facing this kind of illness, from the mildest depressions to the worst disorders there are: the disparity in the available care vis-a-vis that available for those with other illnesses, the social stigma, the societal tendency to ascribe blame to the afflicted that is absent in the case of so much other disease, etc. People with these illnesses are living with real, concrete pain. Sometimes that pain affects only them and those close to them. Other times (rarely, thank goodness), they wind up murdering 32 people and injuring many others. In all these cases, though, to give some attention is probably the most respectful stance we can take.

  347. Following up on my ‘Walls’ suggestion see, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/22/AR2007042201419.html?hpid=artslot . An interesting sidebar would be: ’21st Century America: Will We Bring the Walled Enclave Concept Home?’. I’m imagining American cities where not only the rich erect walls and gates around their enclaves (and lock themselves away), but an America in which the wealthy and powerful turn the tables and erect walls around poor neighborhoods, too — using arguments tested in Baghdad. Are walled neighborhoods the architectual wave of the future? And are medieval cities, with walls, walled off quarters, and curfews our future? (The great mandala turns and turns…)

  348. Two interesting quotes from the article cited above. From an Iraqi: “If my region were closed by these barriers, I would hate the army, because I would feel like I was in a big jail. . . . If you want to make the area secure and safe, it is not with barriers.’ And from an American enlisted man: ‘”They’ve been doing it in Florida, and the old people seem to like it,” joked the platoon’s leader, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Schmitt, 37, as he watched his team create the public entrance to the new gated community.’

  349. Topic: Fair Trade

    Angle: From Feb 26th to March 11th of 2007, FairTrade Woman and FairTrade Man ate only Fairtrade meals (a much healthier and less impacting example of super-size me.) Their story and work would be a great way to lead into a broader discussion of the fair trade practice, past, present and future.

    Other links:



    In March, 2007, Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell announced that Scotland would become a “Fair Trade Nation.”


  350. How about a show on the young superstars of international literature? I first learned about Michel Houllebecq here. Ditto Elif Shakar. I know about Zadie Smith and David Mitchell. But what writers constitute the next next generation — especially in places outside of Europe? What do young African novelists have to say about the spread of AIDS? What do up-and-coming Asian fiction writers think about the rise of China, or the spread of Asian neoliberalism? Who are the up-and-coming Latin American novelists, and what’s their perspective? Are Lebanese youths worshopping their short stories on last year’s Hezbollah/Israeli conflict? Almost a year after the death of Naguib Mahfouz, how do new Egyptian writers reconcile Islamic identity with the difficulties of living under a repressive state? It would be great to get some proessors of literature, book reviewers, and so forth on to discuss what we should be hunting down online!

  351. Apologies if this has been mentioned before, also to the person whose name I don’t recall who wisely suggested a show about contemporary documentaries: Darwin’s Nightmare, a shattering collage of images and implications about life in and around Lake Victoria in the wake of the introduction of perch as a cash-crop some 30 years ago. I was on the verge of tears throughout — and amazement too, for it’s an improbably beautiful film. It says so many things so well and so despairingly, while never insisting on any of them. A sort of tone-poem of life beyond imagining, and just a plane trip away. Not to be missed.


  352. Ashland, Oregon, which has perhaps more live theater performances, per capita, than anywhere else in the United States, has lost its public library. Fifteen libraries in Jackson County, including Ashland’s, closed on April 7 because of Federal funding cuts.

    I spent the weekend in Ashland and saw signs that said “Save our Libraries” everywhere I looked. A bond measure to increase property taxes and reopen the libraries will be voted on in May. And friends of mine in Ashland are concerned that the measure will fail.

    The San Francisco Chronicle covered this issue earlier this month. See the story at


    Here’s a pro-library advocacy site


    And here’s a blogger


  353. Cathohlicism alters un-baptized baby Hell to Limbo to Heaven in order to gain popularity? I don’t know where to find the ROS story in this, but that’s a rather substantial leap. Religeons glossing over scripture to gain followers? Sounds like scrambling for ratings or ditching questionable content for political correct times, but on a much deeper scale. Has Catholicism altered more rapidly in recent time? less? Is Limbo nixed entirely? How will that effect the literature?

    from an article in the LA Times:

    “In the 5th century, St. Augustine declared that all unbaptized babies went to hell upon death. By the Middle Ages, the idea was softened to suggest a less severe fate, limbo.

    The document published Friday said the question of limbo had become a “matter of pastoral urgency” because of the growing number of babies who do not receive the baptismal rite. Especially in Africa and other parts of the world where Catholicism is growing but has competition from other faiths such as Islam, high infant mortality rates mean many families live with a church teaching them that their babies could not go to heaven.

    Father Thomas Weinandy, executive director for doctrine at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the document “addresses the issue from a whole new perspective — if we are now hoping these children get to heaven, there is no longer any point in worrying about limbo.”

  354. I agreed again with Sutter. “mental illness” is often ill understood. we then tend to isolate,marginalize and scapegoat those suffering with mental illness. Brian McGrord did a wonderful essay a few days ago on the lact of treatment available to those deemed mental ill or wh are addicted. Again Senator Peter Domenici has been advocating for parity in treatment for the mentall ill. It is eas for us to blame the deranged kid at VT for the devasting murders that for us to accept reponsibility for the influence of the drums of war and violence on the streets of Boston and Bagdad. Sorry for the rant. I don’t know how to pitch this-perhaps Sutter and others can provide a better framework for this.

    I also think a the previous post mentioned that “limbo” is a signifcant shift.

  355. My notebook battery died while I was finishing my post on public libraries in Ashland, Oregon, above.

    The closure is a tragedy for Jackson County, Oregon; it has relevance to those of us who live outside of the County and the State of Oregon. This is a dramatic story about funding priorities; billions of dollars for an ill-advised war in Iraq and massive Federal funding cuts for public libraries. If the libraries remain closed in Ashland and the rest of Jackson County, will other counties in other states follow? What does this say about our priorities?

    It would be interesting to determine how much the property tax increase would be, on average, and relate it to other costs such as cable television bills in the county.

  356. hey folks,


    Canada is currently governed by a minority Conservative government run by the ultra-conservative wing of the Canadian Conservative Party. Long story. Anyway, despite an international reputation for progressive, liberal politics, we are now a Kyoto-shy, gay-marriage questioning, stay-the-course in Afghanistan, oil economy type of place — at least until the next election. So, until the next election, the government is moving as fast as it can to get some solid Conservative two-by-fours into the Canadian frame.


    Canada is in the process of changing its sexual age of consent from 14 to 16. If passed, Bill C-22 will do what?

    a) Protect vulnerable minors from predatory adult sexual advances?

    b) Criminalize teen sexuality in an age of unprecedented sexual honesty and openness?

    Not addressed by C-22 is the fact that Canada STILL makes a distinction between heterosex and homosex when it comes to consent. Boy/girl intercourse at 16 will be okay, while boy/boy intercourse could result in criminal charges until 18.

    Check this chart of worldwide ages of consent: ages of consent

    Not only is the hetero/homo distinction fairly standard, even after C-22 Canada will remain one of the most liberal consent-age places to discover sex as a young person. Why, in Wisconsin, California, Oregon and a bunch of other states, any sex under 18 is illegal.

    California? Who are you kidding? Does that make The OC child pornography?

    According to the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study 2003 report by the Canadian Council of Ministers of Education, kids in Canada are doin’ it on average at 14 years old. Will our change in law actually change this practice?

    Getting to the point:

    What are we talking about when we’re talking about consent?

    In an age of unprecedented access to sexual imagery, discussion and identity-support, when even our pre-teens have become highly sexualized, can society reasonably expect 15, 14, 13 year-olds to keep everything in their pants?

    Do consent laws work? Have they ever? Or are they just unrealistic balm for the worried minds of conservative parents?


    A little matter of consent

    Canada’s age of consent

    Some info on US consent laws



  357. Responses to April 23 pitches:

    sidewalker: I’ll bring the fair trade idea up at the next meeting. Fair Trade Woman and Fair Trade Man remind me of the the NYTimes story of the couple that went without toilet paper for a year. We had a discussion about individual v. collective action based on that, and whether any one person (or two people) can really make a difference about climate change without a fundamental overhaul of our social system.

    Sutter: I like the international lit superstar idea; to me it sounds more like a series than a show. I’ll pitch it next meeting.

    hurley: I really want to see Darwin’s Nightmare. I’ll ask if anyone at the office has. Any ideas about what kind of show we could do that involved it?

    scottbenbow: We’re still percolating ideas for a library show. I’ll send around these links.

    rahbuhbuh: A Limbo show sounds great to me. I’ll definitely pitch the idea. Any thoughts about guests?

  358. Samgr: The film itself merits a show, though you rarely do that sort of thing. See it and perhaps we can knock heads. In the meantime, it has patent connections to the globalization show you just announced; the AIDS transmission show you recently announced; and any number of other things on the ROS radar. I look forward to your comments.

  359. Samgr: I can’t recommend anyone specific, I’m ignorant to Catholic scholarship. There are only questions:

    1. how many people even believed in Limbo in recent years? I hear heartfelt threats of Hell and “Heaven-sent” praises, but only casual references to Limbo during traffic jams. It seems vestigial, or like it had a bad press agent.

    2. How else has Catholicism altered to keep with the times? Vatican 2? Gay-inclusive services? What’s next, Ditching the blood of Christ because it’s not a “nice” idea?

    3. What’s the business end in producing edited church material? Are certain tracts reworded? Editions recalled then reprinted? Or do people just ignore the printed offense now rendered false by the Vatican? Bibles with warning labels?

    4. Are there any other religeons with a Limbo still intact? Has their/its numbers wained as well?

  360. What is devastating the honey bee populations in the US and Europe, as much as eighty percent in some places? What are the consequences for the biosphere, for us humans, if these bee populations can no longer germinate plant growth?

  361. I love the show, but I wish you guys would spend as much time actually including the online users in the discussion as you do boasting about the online connectivity of open source.

  362. Show Title:

    “Osama’s silver lining”

    America is at war with its shadow and what have we gleamed from the experience? I think there much to gain from the outcome of 911. I’ve taken a good look at the way I conduct my daily life – my footprint and impact, the choices I make. The choice is clear.

    Osama’s silver lining – We have been forced to examine ourselves, we have been given an opportunity to change and evolve and it’s time for the revolution in sustainable practices to begin!!!

    The USA has ruined the lives of too many people, given too much money to the Pentagon and wasted too much time chasing its shadow. Now it’s time to live with ourselves, again. Let’s get it right this time and lead by example.


  363. Have you seen our Passion for Bees show in the Warming Up column, David Weinstein? Cause we’re right there with you.

    Tell us specifically what we can do better, demarconia, and we’ll at least try. We’ve already been getting more and more comments into each show now that Greta is reigning as Blogger-in-chief, and our community friendly web redesign is on the way. What else should we be doing?

  364. Robin and demarconia,

    A while back (before I went on the “mental health” tear) I posted something on the meta thread about this point, so I’ll throw in some thoughts. I think the fact that the radio show is FANTASTIC and the blog is EXCELLENT somewhat obscures the fact that the link between the two isn’t all it could be. Getting quoted on the air is nice, no question, as is having the show “do” a topic you suggested. But “Open Source” connotes more than a moderated text version of the call-in show and a suggestion box. The question is how to be more truly “open source.”

    Two quick ideas (feel free to cross-post on the meta thread if more appropriate there):

    - More lead time would be great. There are people out there who actually will read some of the books involved if they get a week or two in which to do so. This will surely inform the conversations online, and permit a real dialogue between the community and the guests. Ideally, they’d come on and post in the lead-up to the show, but even if not, more prep time would allow users to participate in the show through more pertinent cross-examination of the texts involved.

    - A real open-source model for show development. You do a great job of doing shows proposed by users, but it often seems that the selections made adopt a “suggestion box” approach to this thread rather than commitment to the open source ideal. I obviously have my particular hobby horse in mind here, but as a general matter, it’s somewhat frustrating to make suggestions to what purports to be an open source show, to have others help improve the idea (that’s the definition of “open source,” of course), and then to either see the idea go unaddressed, or addressed only by a “we’ll discuss it” or a “Well, I don’t think this would work for us.” The fundamental question ROS needs to think about is whether a “strong” editorial role is consistent with what “open source” would mean in the radio world. Of course, we don’t want you doing every idea we throw out — I rely on your radio expertise — but think about the software context where the OS movement originated. If Microsoft or whomever could have just said, “Yeah, thanks, but that probably won’t work,” that wouldn’t have been OS. In the radio world, you can’t let everything through, but I submit that if there’s no deference at all — if you’re not willing to do something you might not want to do — then this thread is nothing more than a suggestion box, and the “open source” label is misplaced.

    As I’ve said before, you all do a great show, and the blog is also excellent. I’m still wondering (with demarconia, I guess) whether the two intersect enough.

  365. Responses to April 25th Pitches

    Hi greenroom: Thanks for posting to the site. Your pitch is too vague. If you could suggest a specific angle and some guests who could elaborate on Osama’s Silver lining it would be easier to pitch this show to the rest of the staff, and it would have a much strongr chance of becoming a show.

    valkyrie607: Yesterday we talked about doing a show on limbo and no one could work up enough enthusiasm to produce it. I don’t think Carlton Pearson’s story could occupy an hour of live radio but it could make a great feature for another show.

  366. regarding user prosposed shows:

    Sutter: A real open-source model for show development. You do a great job of doing shows proposed by users, but it often seems that the selections made adopt a “suggestion box” approach to this thread rather than commitment to the open source ideal.

    Would ROS take submitted audio content from listeners? I’m thinking along the lines of amateurs taking the Transom route and giving raw material to ROS to fiddle with or improve upon like an editor. MTV did a failed show where they sent out video cameras to DIY reporters. It was an interesting idea, but met the wrong audience. This would probably only make more work for a small staff?

    I hesitate to suggest some sort of Digg-like voting system within the site. ROS filters the listener-pitched shows and fills a cue of potentials. The blog community gets to vote up the most interesting whilst suggesting guests and angles as usual. But, it wreaks of popularity contests and listener lobbying, which would get in the way of the quality we come to expect and enjoy in ROS.

  367. Responses to pitches on 4/14-15 and 4/21-22

    rahbuhbuh: I hope you got a refund, bike write-off or not. I like your idea, but more as an intriguing change in tax law than an actual discussion. There’s obviously a growing consensus among corporations, localities, and individuals that we’re all going to have to something about global warming, and we’re continually on the lookout for new angles. I think this particular tack is just a little too narrow.

    GJPOhio: Thanks for these great names. We’re definitely interested in the autism story. I think our first stab at this is going to be the epigenetics angle, and then we might follow up with a autism hour on its own.

    tbrucia: I like this idea. It seems like a workable mix of high concept and current issue. I’ll pitch it at our next meeting.

    Herbert browne: I’m not exactly sure what to say about this. This issue is so tricky because so little is known about depleted uranium — or, rather, many of the people who are most eager to talk don’t have hard science behind them, and those that do have the data have been pretty quiet. We may put a call in to Les Roberts, a co-author of the Lancet study who was a guest on our Quantification of War show.

  368. Declining sales in newspapers isn’t news. But this article in Fast Company by Anya Kamenetz is interesting take. She suggests an NPR-like social enterprise model for funding, especially it’s reliance on “viewers like you” (translation: reader participation, blogging, web 2.0)


    here’s some snippets:

    online media is great at breaking news, but doesn’t have ad revenue to fund the important analysis, in-depth reporting, etc… the market is weakening newspapers’ core competency before new media can replace it. So far this decade, the industry has lost about 2,800 full-time editorial jobs… Buyout packages target the old-growth trees of the newsroom, the senior editors with experience and irreplaceable institutional memory.”

    “I think that public ownership of newspaper companies is inimical to good journalism,” says veteran industry analyst John Morton. Many papers look to a billionaire sugar daddy for bailouts, but as Edmonds points out, “Private ownership is a roll of the dice. Is the person interested in good journalism, or does he want to help friends and punish enemies?”

    option: social enterprise. let the public support newspapers? turn themselves over to a philanthropic foundation that could invest in long-term quality over quarterly revenues?

    not as crazy as it sounds. When the Los Angeles Times was up for sale last year, billionaire suitor Eli Broad proposed running it philanthropically through his own foundation. Nelson Poynter bequeathed the St. Petersburg Times in 1975 to his nonprofit educational institute; the paper grew to boast the largest circulation in Florida.

    NPR is having a hell of a decade. Gone are the days of full dependence on mingy government stipends. Since CEO Ken Stern came on board (as COO) in 1999, revenues from corporate sponsors have more than doubled, as has weekly listenership. NPR is hiring more reporters, opening new international bureaus, and has helped pioneer podcasting.

    Listener support empowers it to strive to be a primary source of quality news, something no one else in American radio is even attempting in the age of Clear Channel. Stern acknowledges that listener trust provides the “halo effect” that motivates corporate sponsors.

  369. Public Campaign Financing 2.0

    A keystone issue for our country and our time is Public Campaign Financing.

    George W. Bush is the first president to be elected since 1972 using purely “private” campaign funds. Look at the reslts: Yikes.

    The Iraq mess, erosion of our civil liberties, the usurpation of power from the other branches of government, tax cuts for the rich, the hijacking of Medicare by the drug companies…the list goes on. All these ills can be traced to the simple fact that private money buys influence in Washington. S/he who pays the piper calls the tune. The proverbial “People” aren’t running the country anymore. The richest 5% who can buy influence ARE.

    It took Watergate to wake up this country to the corruption of money in politics. After Nixon resigned, the Presidential Public Campaign Finance System was born. And it worked pretty well – for a while. But (among other things) it wasn’t indexed for inflation, so presidential candidates stopped using it in the primaries, then the general elections. After THIS disastrous administration, it’s clear that Public Finance 2.0 is long overdue. And THIS time we need to also include the Congress-Critters.

    Maine and Arizona have successfully implemented CONSTITUTIONAL public campaign financing for their governors and legislatures. These reforms have been in place for almost a decade now and are working beautifully. It would be worth talking to the architects and practitioners of such reforms on the air.

    California rejected Proposition 89 – a proposed public campaign finance scheme for that state – last fall in large part because the moneyed interests bought oodles of TV air time to put out the (false) message that public campaign financing is a waste of taxpayer money. “It gives money to politicians, ” was the main thrust of the TV ads.

    But, “private” donations are paid for by the taxpayers literally 1,000 times over through special favors, pork, etc. That’s right. Federal public campaign financing would cost $10 per taxpayer and save about $10K per taxpayer in pork and other wasteful practices (and how many lives in wars not fought as requested by the military-industrial complex?).

    The California experience demonstrates there is a dire need to educate the U.S. public about this issue. Our democracy and very way of life is at stake.

    What better place to start than at Radio Open Source?

  370. Robin,

    I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond to your questions about why I pitched a show about Daniel B. Smith’s book and about hearing voices. Well, first off, full disclosure, Daniel Smith is my brother, and the impetus for his book was our father’s voice hearing. I may be a booster, but he’s the real thing, my bro: His book had a full-page review in the New York Times Book Review and it’s published by Penguin Press, Anne Godoff’s new imprint. And there was an excerpt in the Times Magazine a few weeks ago.

    The book is fascinating, to my mind, not because my brother wrote it, or because my father heard voices, which at this point is a fairly banal fact. What’s tough is that he suffered from them. My brother’s book is fascinating because what he’s doing is promoting a pragmatic view of experience a la William James, a view of experience that I think is having a resurgence as a response to the medicalization of many experiences. The question my brother asks in the book is, what are the benefits and costs of treating an experience like voice hearing as a pathology. Yes, some people suffer, but some cherish their voices. And even those who suffer have been extraordinarily influential in our culture: Moses, Mohammed, Joan of Arc, and so on.

    The angle that’s interesting to me is the question of whether something as singular as voice hearing can be tolerated and celebrated in society as much as other “aberrations” such as Judaism and homosexuality and tuning in and dropping out.

  371. Globalisation from an African perspective?

    Possible hook: recent African elections, “spread of democracy” in Mali and elsewhere, China’s spread through the continent.

    Justification: Africa is mostly under the radar, for Old Media. When media outlets do mention the continent, the tone is often paternalistic. But Africa is more than the site for a series of wars and epidemics. It’s home to a very diverse human population, with complex relationships with the rest of the world. Africans often think a lot about North America and Europe. The only times Euro-Americans think about Africa, it seems, it’s to portray the continent as the backwoods of the world.

    Just did a short Amazon Listmania list with a few sources in African Studies which could serve as background reading.


    (Couldn’t find an easy way to make a list on LibraryThing.)

  372. i have found, anecdotally of course, that aid workers can have a certain paternalistic tone when talking about africa. they can be protective of the region in a way that i haven’t found elsewhere. this can even become quite aggressive. i have often wondered how this affects africans..particuarily with regard to their self-image. also, i have noted that in certain communities, sudan and egypt for example, that prejudice towards people of african descent can occur quite openly and without reserve. hardly scientific data but the impression has stuck with me over the years.

  373. The looming parliamentary crisis in Turkey has enormous implications for Iraq, the Middle East, Europe and the world. Perhaps timely to have one of your overview shows that not only explains the current crisis but, more importantly, illuminates its implications.

  374. @Enhabit: Pretty much my impressions too. After talking about ethnocentrism and racism in Europe and North America, we’re now looking at the same issues in Africa and elsewhere. In Mali, “racial” labels are applied quite frequently.

    On Africans thinking about themselves through what aid workers think of them, I’ve actually been rather pleased. Many people I’ve met in Mali, from street vendors to academics, talk about neo-colonialism very openly and in a very balanced fashion. They recognise the potential benefits of help from the outside while keeping a critical mind when thinking about the implications of such aid.

    One hope, about humanitarian aid, is that some people are adopting a more thoughtful perspective on this type of work. Recently blogged about two such aid workers who were willing to challenge some widely held assumptions about humanitarian aid.

    Thanks for your comment, enhabit! Let’s hope they eventually pick up an African theme for a show, besides the usual “Africa’s troubles can be solved by U.S. intervention.”

  375. Alexandre Enkerli: I’d love to find more angles on Africa, and I totally agree that the normal lenses — of the dark continent, or the starving continent, or the warring continent — obscure more than they enlighten. But I’m afraid globalisation in Africa isn’t quite specific for a show. Is there something in particular that you’re interested in hearing about?

  376. David/enhabit/Alexandre: One lens through which to look at this might be the “Chinese investment” angle. There have been various stories about China making overtures toward Africa, and creating more of a presence. These stories interest me for two reasons. First, they suggest that the Chinese may view Africa in a more promising light than does the west, which easily falls into the stereotypes David mentions. Second, they link two issues that many Americans (myself included) seem to think about as separate. I.e., I think we tend to think of other nations in a kind of “hub and spoke” fashion: US and India, US and China, US and Africa, etc. But it’s a multilateral world, and it’s important to realize that China has its own relations with Africa, and vice versa, and that these relations make the world a lot more complicated than we sometimes assume.

  377. (I should say that I’m not urging you to do “China in Africa” in lieu of other Africa-based shows. It could be part of a series, etc.)

  378. btw Alexandre Enkerli i’ve got some really sweet music from mali “toumani diabate – bi lamban” is particularily tasty. some kind of atmospheric stringed instrument..a kora perhaps?

    thanx for the dialogue.

  379. Hope this is where I pitch a show! “You know how to do it” may not apply to me…

    Anyhow, here’s the pitch. I call it

    Abuse ‘Em Now, Jail ‘Em Later!

    Thanks to news out of Texas, we are reminded that children in institutions are sitting ducks for child abusers. We agonize over these kids, as long as they ARE kids. Then we toss them to the wolves.

    Victims of child abuse adapt many coping strategies. Often these include drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, early abuse can actually alter brain maturation, leaving the adult with the impulsivity and poor judgement of a child. Early onset alcoholism is particularly hard to treat.

    What happens when these kids become adults? Mercy goes out the window. They get the same half-ass non-treatment all adults receive at the hands of the criminal justice system. As a result, these early victims may well spend the rest of their lives in and out of prison on substance abuse related charges.

    I know of one man, abused for over a year by his ‘big brother’ who is now serving 11 years for his 4th DUI (he’s hurt no one). He’s been through ‘long-term’ alcohol treatment 7 times, but can’t get inpatient treatment for depression or PTSD.

    What are the obligations of a society towards its victims? How can we treat these men and women without just turning them loose (my friend the drunk driver certainly doesn’t need to be patted on the head and set free – eventually he will kill someone) Would more victims come forth if there were a real chance of help? and how many bogus vitims would join them? What about those brains? There’s a lot to talk about!





















  380. zeke: I’ll pitch the Turkish crisis at the next meeting.

    Sarah Asher: I’ll pitch this too. You seem to have a lot of info and resources at your fingertips; any ideas about who you’d want to hear on air?

  381. A Pittsfield Representative visits a 5th grade class, engaging them to co-sponsor a bill to make “Moby-Dick” the official MA state book. They enthusiatically join in. A cute story, but few if none of them had actually read the book. Representative and teacher acknowledge this. Many would agree that teaching democratic process at an early age is good, children and adults alike should understand the government. But for students to push a book they know nothing about to represent them as the OFFICIAL book forever, not just a four year term is hasty and ill informed. Would they vote for public officials in the same fashion?

    Has teaching the US government curriculum changed in recent years? K-12 students must hear stories of voting machines miscalculting, recounts, stolen elections? Proposed impeachment for infidelity or lying. Signing statements. Lobbying reform. Do the lessons shift with the times or is the same checks and balances year after year? Are the Mock United Nations ignored too? Are students in war time more politically aware?

  382. I know that there are a lot of serious things to consider in the world today, but I’d like to suggest a show on a topic that I have surprised myself with: Dancing With the Stars.

    I find myself tuning in to it lately. And thoroughly enjoying it, though I’ve had zero interest in any other ‘reality’ shows and don’t usually like TV, in general. I seem to latch onto to one show at a time for diversion and some sense of belonging to the mainstream culture. I already had a show I was watching, so it’s a dramatic shift from my normal behaviors to start watching another.

    Why do I like Dancing With the Stars? I caught the last 15 minutes of an episode by chance and found that I was sitting there with a big grin on my face. It was purely joyful to watch.

    In these times of a pre-emptive war gone bad and all the other cataclysmic news we face each day, I find that I need the thoroughly light-hearted entertainment. It’s a competition without vitriol. The contestants have warm comraderie. It’s live. Everyone involved seems to be having a good time. The celebrities who take it on actually work quite hard and develop skills. Some even become surprising fantastic dancers. It’s a fantasy world where the most important concern is how well you glide across the floor. It pokes fun at itself. It’s the glamour of ballroom and sense of being thrown back to a more naive time. Most of all, it makes me want to dance. To see if I can manage an ounce of the grace and vibrance. In a strange way, it gives me hope. A light in the darkness.

    I wonder just how popular this show is and if anybody has looked at why. Have ballroom dance schools seen a spike in enrollment?

    Anybody wanna dance?

  383. The First ever Internet RIOT!


    This is amazing, truly a breakthrough on so many levels. The HD-DVD encryption code was recently broken. It’s a number, nothing else. And HD-DVD is saying that number is their intellectual property. They’re trying to copyright a number! Anyway, the number got Dugg so many times by fans of digg.com, that it made it on the front page. Digg, which is sponsored by HD-DVD, removed the number repeatedly from its site. News spread quickly of the censorship, and the community revolted. Thus was born: the internet Riot.

    As of right now, every story on Digg.com’s front page is about the number. Here’s the slashdot article about it as well: http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/07/05/02/0235228.shtml

    If ever there was a ROS show topic, this is it. I’m really blown away just watching this unfold right now.

  384. Another article about the “21st century digital Revolt”!


    This is cool stuff, folks. A google search just a second ago revealed that ‘the number’ has 298,000 hits. It’s going to keep spreading. I’m sure blueray is going to be hacked soon. The entire industry is probably getting quite scared right now. They can’t keep us under their ‘intellectual property’ boot for much longer. Copyright a number! Ha!

  385. Digg just announced that due to the revolt on their site, they are going to keep the numbers up and go down fighting if they have to. Who says you can’t fight the man? And on May Day too (a couple hours late here on the East Coast). Here’s Digg founder saying they’re now willing to fight and admitting the mistake. http://blog.digg.com/?p=74

    But now, apparently, wikipedia is trying to suppress ‘the numbers’. Is this turning into a showdown between traditional media and the open source community? We’ll see.

  386. Bobo: interesting story. Best summed up by one of the comments:

    “Now if we could only get this excited about impeachment”

  387. silvio: true, but my favorite line to come out of this was: “It’s like a digital Boston Tea Party.”

    The point being that even though the particular focus of this might seem trivial to some, it demonstrated a really amazing new form of protest. Almost 50,000 people came together, spontaneously, in the space of a few hours, to demand their rights from an organization which was in no way obliged to listen to them. And it worked!

    The Boston Tea Party probably evoked a similar response from people at the time: “Ha, they’re getting all worked up over tea?! There’s bigger things to worry about.” But the point is not whether it’s tea or a 16 digit hex code, the point is that it represents an important cultural and political moment.

  388. Pitches from the last few Tuesdays (sorry for the lapses):

    rahbuhbuh: Has teaching the US government curriculum changed in recent years? Maybe, but until we’re sure there’s an interesting trend there, it’s a hard story to jump on.

    john_d, that’s very well argued and well pitched. I’ll definitely bring it up in our meeting, but, full disclosure, Mary’s got a 13 year old son, so any discussion of 14 year old sexual consent is going to make her squirm.

    Rob Halligan: Congrats on your first pitch! It’s an interesting question, whether throwing money at poetry changes anything. I feel like I just heard or read a piece about Poetry Mag and their cash cow — can anyone think of where?

    RobertPeel and EmmettO’Connell before him: I like the idea of coming at this election cycle from alternate angles (not the straight personality profiles and money matrices), and I did enjoy going state by state, issue by issue during the midterms. Do you think it’s too early to start? I’m not sure we know what the issues will be in 2008 yet, which is partly why those personality pieces are so boring.

    enhabit: Why not start it your “rewriting the hippocratic oath” project on our wiki and see if anyone joins up? It’s been pretty dead lately, but we’re always looking for ways to revive it.

    DougM: Great pitch. Econ is not my forte, but I’ll read the articles and bring it up in the meeting.

    Brian Dunbar: Maybe Chelsea’s upcoming show on aging and geriatric medicine will tackle a part of this? (i.e. why we might not want to live into our tenth and eleventh decades). I also wrote a feature on senescence a looong time ago.

    sidewalker, we love the tango idea. It’s on the board, which means there’s a very good chance that a producer will pick it up soon.

    hurley, check out Sam’s feature on jellyfish ascendency.

  389. After listening to tonight’s show I’m more upset than ever, it’s hard to believe that the Generals in our army were intimidated by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Never the less it’s clear to me that the Iraq War was never a war but an invasion, and it helps to clarify the situation we’re in by calling it ‘U.S. Invasion of Iraq’. Especially now, as the debate over funding of the invasion continues. It took a long time for the media to recognize there was full blown civil war going on, now is the time to acknowledge this as an invasion. Let’s at least be honest with ourselves. Climate change framed the debate differently from Global Warming, by calling this an invasion it might help refocus how we got into this bloody mess; and as with all Wars and Invasions, civilians pay the heaviest price.

  390. Response to pitches from 20 and 27 April (with apologies for tardiness)

    Vijtable: The trick to pitching this one is figuring out how to make a Biko hour fresh today. What about the story resonates in South Africa in 2007?

    rahbuhbuh: I don’t know that we’d do a legalization show (been done a lot), but a couple of people in the office have been flirting with the idea of a Passion: Beer show.

    Sutter: A very smart critique. You’ll be pleased to know that Greta’s cracking the whip on getting posts up as early as possible. As far as the open source stuff goes, you may well be right that it’s not a perfect metaphor. We do hope that our editorial judgment is part of what makes OS interesting and original. Chris and Mary have been in the radio talk show business for a long time, and their standards for guests and angles are pretty high. So while editorial control will never be perfectly democratic, your pitches and leads are truly informing the way we produce. We’re now airing many more listener-suggested hours than when we first started — both because all of you are getting very good at pitching and because we’re learning how to use your ideas. We hope that the new website (to be developed this summer) will allow listeners to vote for their favorite pitches.

    rahbuhbuh: We’ve been hoping since the very birth of OS to work listener-supplied audio into the show. Unfortunately we haven’t had the resources develop the software we need. It’s definitely high up there on our wish list!

    rahbuhbuh: We’ve done several shows on the future of newspapers. I think this one was our most recent. It doesn’t focus exactly on what you’re pitching, but I don’t think we’ll revisit the general topic immediately. As far as NPR goes, it did receive a $200M bequeath just a few years ago, so it’s not 100% dependent on listener or corporate support…

    TromboneErik: Public campaign financing is something we might think about closer to 2008, but it would take someone with a fresh sermon.

  391. I’m going to listen to the Pakistan show over the weekend, but like Sutter, enhabit, and tbrucia, I would like to revisit the topic.

    Specifically, I’d like to talk about the current crisis involving Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the former chief justice who was recently fired. Apparently, protests outside the supreme court include liberal reformers, right wing religious folks and lawyers.

    Maybe as a way to move away from the last Pakistan show, talk about the people who we choose to expediently align ourselves with overseas. People like Musharraf and Mubarak may do what we want, but they aren’t exactly saints in the eyes of their people. Are we seeing the danger of this strategy in Pakistan with popular protests against a hard line ruler who happens to be our friend?

  392. From May 2nd:

    I know you guys may not believe us when we tell you this, but Chris really doesn’t watch tv. On top of that, is there really, actually enough stuff to to talk about to make an hour of radio *about* Dancing With the Stars interesting? I suspect not. Now if you re-pitch this as a passion for ballroom dancing show, Allison, you may get my attention. The subculture of ballroom dancing, as portrayed in Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom, seems really strange and fascinating to me.

    Thanks for alerting us to this story, Bobo. Pretty intense. It’s interesting, and I’m definitely going to bring it up in the story meeting tomorrow, but honestly, I’m not really sure how to convince Chris and Mary to make this into a show. Is it about the power of mass protest on the web? The downfall of digital copyright? I think this guy has an interesting take re: the negative feedback loop that law suits start.

  393. I’ve long wanted to hear you do a show on section 8, article I of the Constitution which states that the power to declare war rests with Congress. Hillary Clinton has given me the pretext for pitching it. According to the New York Times this morning, she and Robert Byrd are proposing a vote to reverse authorizing the Iraq war. The story contains the sentence:

    “The question could prompt a constitutional debate over war powers that only the federal courts could resolve.”

    Isn’t this a debate that’s about 60 years overdue? I think plenty of citizens have tried challenging presidents (in and out of the courts) but where has Congress been–why hasn’t it asserted itself?

    More questions: How did we ever lose something that seems so fundamental to a republic–that is, the idea that it is the branch of government most answerable to the people that should have the solemn responsibility of declaring war? And how did we lose all sense of the gravitas of war such that we’ve allowed our presidents to engage in unchecked “police actions” all over the world for decades? Finally, is this a power that can be wrested back from the executive branch?

    One of the major themes of “Open Source” is that of the evolution of the United States from republic to empire. I would suggest that nothing has facilitated this transformation more than allowing Presidents unfettered access to military power.

  394. How about a show about “the fine art of resignation” i.e the moral courage(aka Profiles in Courgage)that it takes to resign a political postion and speak truth the power.

    For example Terry Gross on NPR asked George Tenet why he did not resign when he felt that the iraq war was driven by political reasons. Tenet responded that he had too much work to do.

    Michael Frayn’s interesting play “Democracy” potrays the downfall of Willie Brandt whne a stasi spy became a close personal assoicate. Brand the former Mayor of Berlin during the Berlin Crises and former hero of the German resistance to Nazi ended up resigning not merely because of his politcal mistake by because in his own moral worlview it was the right and moral thing to do.( Contrast Nixon with Brandt)

    In Europe politications resign to own up to mistakes they also resign to demonstrate difference in policy. Did not a member of Blair’s cabinet resign.

    Did Colin Powell and Tenet betray us by not resigning in the lead up to the Iraq war?

  395. Responses to May 3rd Pitches

    Hurley: I think our reluctance to talk about impeaching Bush comes from a deep fear that we will sound like a lefty public radio show. Maybe we are being lazy in not trying hard to figure out a unique way of discussing this on the air. Maybe we’re being lazy in not offering a solid rationale as to why we don’t want to do this show. I’ll bring it up in our next meeting. Stay tuned.

    Emmett O’Connell: You bring up a very interesting trend in our foreign policy, which could be an interesting way to approach a show on Pakistan. I’ll see what the rest of the staff — particularly those who produce the bulk of our Middle East shows — think about this.

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