Posts Tagged ‘PBS NewsHour’


November 19, 2013

I am deaf in one ear.  It’s a conduction loss.  My parents’ hearing loss is/was a nerve loss.  And while they eventually conceded they don’t/didn’t hear so well, they have belonged to the school of thought that everybody is mumbling.

I will note that even standing face to face with them, everything has had to be said (loudly) at least twice, for years.

But my mother has noted two exceptions to the “everybody’s mumbling” claim:  Hari Sreenivasan and Kwame Holman on the PBS NewsHour.  She says she can understand every word they say.



August 19, 2012

I’m not sure whether is employing new software or whether it’s just that the way I’ve used the site has recently triggered something that’s always been there, but I don’t like it.  I consider buying something, and then either they raise the price of the item I’m considering before I decide to buy it or they start sending me emails about even more expensive, related items for sale.  It’s enough to make me change my use of the site.

Similarly with the processes of posting comments to pieces on newspaper, and such, websites.  I long abandoned posting comments on the website of The Boston Globe.   It had turned into a “conversation,” and the results were not, in my opinion, for the better, in terms of quality or interest.  At the time, I didn’t much mind, because I was enjoying posting comments on the NYTimes website.  That was back in the days of the previous commenting format, in which the comments were numbered, for example, and everything was, I think, on a first-come, first-served basis.  And Marie Burns took top prizes.

I think Marie Burns can be found elsewhere on the web.  But there are other aspects to the old process I miss (such as the greater formality of most of the entries), and I am thinking I am detecting the degenerating of the whole enterprise into more casual interactions among commenters — better for the social networking, worse for the content, which I think benefits from focus on ideas, not on their reception.

I’m not against interaction per se, I just think it needs to be structured in a way that doesn’t have a negative impact on the primary enterprise.  I should probably also note that under the current regime at the NYTimes, I personally am able to post my comments without going through moderation — on the Globe website, there is only moderation after the fact, and for everyone, of course, I think.  But I am much less content with the dynamic now at the NYTimes as a whole than I used to be.

I also comment on the PBS NewsHour website, where many fewer comments are posted and I can’t quite figure out the moderation practices.  There the dynamic seems to vary, with some very interesting interactive threads and some seemingly random and oddly-inspired comments.

But, to get back to my original point:  just as I don’t enjoy the apparent algorithm I’m encountering, I find my interest in commenting on the NYTimes changing for the worse — I find myself feeling put off by the dynamic.

My reference to the dynamic on the NewsHour site makes me want to say that I really don’t know what makes an interactive experience satisfying and what doesn’t for me — I suspect for me it’s about openness and a focus on ideas and not personalities.  I wonder whether for others, it’s more enjoyable when it’s quite the opposite and has a greater component of reacting to one another.

I don’t know what the NYTimes’ objective is for their commenting feature.  With Amazon I’m going to suspect it’s pure profit.  So I really don’t know whether to expect that there will be other changes in the future to the commenting feature to try to maintain quality and not just traffic, for example.

I have been contemplating other changes in my life of late, and I’m not sure how this issue fits into that.  I’ll be going away later this week and into the next, so maybe time away will help me determine what I’ll do about all this.  Maybe it will seem to me that the universe is nudging me to go in a different direction from what I’ve been doing and turn to something else.  Things in this world are always changing in some way.  Or maybe I’ll just come back with a different attitude towards the same activities.

Creative destruction, Shiva, and praxy

July 18, 2012

I’ve got the concept of creative destruction in the context of capitalism in my head from reading people like David Brooks, and the praxy part from reading people like Richard Rohr on the contrast between orthodoxy and orthopraxy.  Shiva comes in as my go-to shorthand for referencing creative destruction in spiritual matters.

This is my post on gnosis misunderstood through attempts at external transmission, which I said I would put in its own post.

If we take Shiva as pointing to a concept of creative and transformative destruction, a concept we might understand through internal insight, through gnosis, we can wonder what might follow from perceiving the concept through only external and intellectual means.  If we actually internalize the concept, I think we become more open to incorporating it into our own journey.  Journeys include actual experiences and doing things — Father Rohr’s praxis, I believe.  I think the upshot may be our willingness to experience creative destruction in our own lives, to take The Fall.

If we have only heard about or understood the concept behind Shiva and perceived creative destruction through our cognitive apparatus, by which I mean our intellects (I have in mind here, by reading about the concept and thinking about it with our conscious minds alone), then we might only incorporate the idea of it into our lives.  In that case, we probably only talk about it rather than experience it.  That, I think, leads to theories and discussions such the role the role of creative destruction in capitalism.

So what? I guess is a question I should address.

People who insist on never taking the fall inflate on the spiritual plane like a balloon and like an obese person on the physical plane.   They may buy larger clothing but the internal build up within them impedes aspects of their lives.  They also need accommodation from others and in real sense push this onto others.  It’s not that there’s anything “morally” wrong with any of this, it’s just that it shifts around needs and burdens.  (People with other eating disorders, including anorexics, I think do the same.  I have lived with both — obese people and anorexic people.  I also often think the depiction of the Buddha as fat is significant — he may be reflecting back to us our own spiritual condition.)  At the extreme, a person who only uses words and never experiences becomes both an empty shell and toxic dump.  The fall allows a person at a certain stage in their development to engage in osmosis, if I can call it that: an exchange of what’s inside them with what’s outside of them — they become a permeable membrane.  This development allows a person to continue to develop spiritually, is my understanding.

David Brooks once said on the PBS NewsHour that while he didn’t relish the idea of having his wisdom tooth pulled, he knew it was necessary and willingly had it done.  That sort of attitude I think is also necessary in respect to experiencing the fall.

To put it another way, I think we need at some stage in our journeys to dance with Shiva, and willingly.

The middle of the contest

April 10, 2012

I was thinking about the program Head Start and the attention small children get from our friends in the fields of sociology and psychology, and I’m wondering why that attention and such programs aren’t continued through other stages of a child’s life.  Is it not necessary, is it too hard, too expensive, not as gratifying to work with older kids?

I remember meeting in grief groups other widows with younger deceased husbands and younger bereaved children, and talking about that with someone outside the group, who then made the observation to the effect that maybe there are other developmental stages in a child’s life at which they are especially vulnerable to such a loss.  So, I wonder if that can be true for other issues, too.

I have the impression from some of the segments on the PBS NewsHour that more attention is being paid to children dropping out of school.  I wonder if we will come to the conclusion that kids need caring adult attention from a community throughout their development.

Kayaking metaphor

February 22, 2012

I was listening to Roger Rosenblatt talk about and read from his book about kayaking in the wake of his daughter’s death.  There is a post about it on the PBS NewsHour’s website, but I can’t link to it (see my previous post about having frozen my linking button, or something — still waiting to hear back from WordPress support):

I liked a comment by someone else on the post, who talked about how the heart and mind seem to get reconnected under such circumstances, and I started thinking about how maybe the heart floods the mind, grieving is the process during which the waters recede, to the extent they do, and maybe the kayaking reflects how we learn to navigate them.  I also expressed the idea that maybe we learn to swim in them.  Just now I got to thinking that if we become sufficiently porous, maybe the waters and we merge.

And then I got to thinking about my difficulties, sometimes, being comfortable in this world, and I started thinking about how hard it is to get out of the water and back into the boat sometimes for me.  I think my challenge is to learn to toggle back and forth between the two.  I think I used to think that the just learning to “swim” or “merge” was sufficient, or the goal, but now I’m thinking I have to learn (or, relearn) to get back into that boat, too.

All roads lead to ecumenism?

October 25, 2011

I was listening to a segment on the PBS NewsHour this evening about a school of theology that educates Jews, Christians, and Muslims together.  Apparently it used to be a Methodist institution, but took this turn in part due to the need to fill seats that had become harder to fill because of the difficult economic times.  The provost pointed out that the school had always been interested in being on the leading edge of things.

I didn’t see the economic nudge toward increased ecumenism as undercutting the positive aspect of the new orientation or the school’s ideal of creating a sense of “we” out in the pastoral world — it looked to me as if a number of forces are pointing them in the same direction, and I thought it looked like an endorsement of what they’re doing rather than something to feel apologetic about.

Indirect routes

September 3, 2011

I was writing a comment on the PBS NewsHour’s website, in response to the Shields & Brooks segment, about President Obama’s speech next week and what Mark Shields recommended as a “‘Holy Cow’ moment.”  And I was suggesting that President Obama do something similar to what I think happened to produce his speech on why we got involved in Libya — hearing lots of (maybe conflicting) advice and information, and then looking deep inside for what he really believes we ought to do — I think he even said as much, as I recall it, about the process.

It occurred to me some time after I submitted the comment that what might actually be the reality is that we as a nation will need to end up waiting for the mess of the popped financial bubble(s) to be reabsorbed over an all too lengthy period, that there’s a very real limit to what government can do (I’ve heard that point of view from my father for decades and David Brooks seemed to be espousing).  But I’m thinking that in a way there isn’t a contradiction between the president having a big idea (if he thinks one is appropriate) and our coming out of this economic situation through factors other than what he proposes — maybe a big idea, even if it doesn’t play out as hoped for, will lead to some other step, including less fear and more confidence in the community, that will ultimately help us get back on our feet.

President Obama’s window

August 4, 2011

I heard a segment on the PBS NewsHour this evening in which Professor Beverly Gage of Yale made a point to the effect that President Obama had missed a sort of window of opportunity:

BEVERLY GAGE: Well, I think Obama came to office with a real moment a few years ago.

In fact, I happened to be looking back at an old issue of Newsweek from early 2009, and it seemed incredible to me, but the headline on the cover of Newsweek was, “We Are All Socialists Now.” And this was just a couple of years ago.

It’s almost impossible to believe that that was really the case. And I think Obama had a moment when he came to office, when he had both houses of Congress, in which he could have mobilized people around a different sort of economic agenda certainly than we’re seeing now or even that he himself attempted to put into play when he came to office.

And one of the things that’s really astounding is how quickly that moment has passed and where we see ourselves two years out from that moment.

I don’t know, I was awake and alert in early 2009, and I remember being frustrated that President Obama, for all his electoral support in the nation, seemed to have less support in Washington, or maybe more specifically in Congress, for what he might have wanted to do and arguably should have done.  Maybe I wasn’t following closely enough, but I guess I’m not convinced he missed an opportunity that was really available.  Maybe it’s a feature of representative democracy, that the voice of the people is not necessarily transmitted note for note through the voice of its representatives in Congress.