The Taser's Edge


Remembering Daniel Schorr

Hired by Edward R. Murrow in 1953 then worked at CBS in the era of Murrow and Cronkite, interviewed Nikita Krushchev in 1957, named on Nixon’s enemies list (which Schorr learned about as he read his name on it for the first time, on live TV), hired by CNN in 1979 before CNN launched in 1980, still did commentary for NPR (albeit less and less frequently for a while), Twittered regularly, dead today at 93 years old.  Talk about a 20th century mostly unknown icon.



Bet Against the American Dream

Planet Money, a podcast and a blog which breaks down mega-business finances into understandable terms (Jarrett, you would like it), is one of the best things that ever happened to NPR (check out the first installment of their fantastic story in which reporters buy a toxic asset in order to report on it as it died) and is itself an offshoot of one of NPR’s other best things, This American Life.

Recently, This American Life presented a story co-produced by Planet Money and Pro Publica–“Inside Job”–in which they follow through on their hypothesis that the Great Recession did not just happen but was caused by the actions of particular people and corporations.  Listen to the story.  Watch this related video:



Playing the Field (er, Politically Speaking)

I don’t know where I first heard about the concept, but it was very likely NPR (which might inform how you read the rest of this post).  A number of people have begun to talk of the trend of polarization in politics, and specifically of the way that the change to Internet news has allowed us to control our intake of opposing views more than ever before.  I would say that polarized media has also had a major part to play, with the rapid rise of choose-your-favorite-24-hour-newschannelism.

For some reason, when I again read about the trend yesterday, I thought of the opposite possibility.  With Google Reader, it is true that I can limit myself to only those people and sources with whom I tend to agree.  Or I can purposely bring opposing views together.

Under my new “Politics” tab: National Review Online, The Corner on National Review, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, The Huffington Post, Drudge Report, Sojourners: God’s Politics, First Things: On the Square.  Those last two are sometimes labeled as the left and right voices of Christianity-and-politics debates, if you’re wondering what they are.  And while it is slightly stacked on the conservative side, my main news sources are the New York Times/International Herald Tribune, BBC News, and NPR, so some might say I’m still skewed toward the left.  Let me know if you have any suggestions for replacements/additions/subtractions.

The experiment is already bearing some fruit.  I would never have seen The National Review’s “International Law v. the United States”, in which Andy McCarthy writes, “Battle lines are being drawn regarding whether the United States is going to be a sovereign nation ruled by a Constitution voluntarily adopted by our body politic or a satellite in a world government under ‘the rule of law’ as fashioned and evolved by international law professors, human-rights activists and other transnational progressives.”

While his language is certainly rhetorically stacked, McCarthy raises an interesting point.  How does the phrase “by the people” change if “the people” are politicians and political interests on the other side of the world?  Or, a more extreme way of putting the question (one I won’t claim he’s pushing for): is globalization (whether or not capitalistic) necessarily a form of neo-colonialism?



Darin Atwater’s Soulful Symphony

If you listen to NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday of a morning, then you already heard the awesomeness of Darin Atwater, a  composer who melds 20th/21st century classical, gospel, African, jazz, and hip-hop influences together.  Link to the NPRmusic.org page about him here.  Or hear about it from him:

And since it’s Sunday, I’ll give you this, the Soulful Symphony’s version of “Go Down, Moses.”  It starts out sounding great, and then gets better and better all the way through: