Soup to Nutz nails TED Talks.
When they first came along, I liked them, but they wore out their freshness early on, starting with the growing realization of how non-exclusive it is, and yet how exclusive.
That is, being invited to give a TED Talk isn't like receiving a MacArthur grant. In fact, I guess you can just sort of sign up. However, you do have to be in the general flow of what they're about.
Which is okay. There's a branding element, such that people who listen to TED Talks want some sense of what they're going to hear, in tone and general worldview.
And you don't pick up "Sports Illustrated" expecting to read an article about Lady Gaga or how they harvest rice in Thailand. Branding is an okay thing.
But the main reason I listen to New Hampshire Public Radio rather than Vermont Public Radio is that VPR runs a lot of what I call "Squirrel Essays," which are those smug little amateur ponderings extruded from writers' workshops in which people describe the eternal truths embedded within the cheery snick-snick-snick of their bicycle's bearings as they glide through the bedappled frigging sunshine with the crisp autumnal breeze and the squirrels gamboling evocatively in the goddam treetops.
After which they go to "The Writer's Almanac" which is a five-minute segment in which we discover what William Shatner would sound like if he were recorded at 45 and played back at 33 1/3. Or, to put it another way, Paul Harvey in Birkenstocks.
So, anyway, I'm not a huge fan of TED Talks.
Waiter, there's a pumpkin seed in my coffee
Frazz made me laff because I've been driving by a sign outside a coffeeshop every day for the last two months that boasts of their "real pumpkin lattes" and wondering what constitutes authenticity in a pumpkin latte and would you have to strain it?
Given that I don't want to drink a regular pumpkin spice latte, the question is somewhat academic, but the image remains a little bizarre.
I don't know if Andy is being an insensitive old white guy here, but I also wonder if all this fuss over pumpkin spice is insensitive to culinary inclusion?
One of the most ridiculous Internet arguments I ever got into was over whether or not macaroni and cheese is considered a holiday staple in black households.
The fact that it pops up as a holiday dish in places like the Black Family Reunion Cookbook carried no weight at all, and the overwhelming self-confidence of the Internet combined with its overwhelming pallor eventually wore me down.
Geez, even Pat Robertson knew to take his cluelessness to someone who could answer his questions, but it was actually this exchange that had kicked off the argument, because people were insisting he, and the correspondent and Condoleezza Rice were all wrong.
Anyway, don't look at this, because it's only for inside the community.
Which segues to this
David Horsey admits his cartoon is deliberately provocative, but I like it. The kid who comes home after seven weeks of college suddenly keyed in to the Secrets of the Universe will always be an object of wonderment.
The essay that goes with it, however, seems a little off the mark, chiefly because he's contrasting the current campus mood with the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, and that's kind of unfair.
As readers of The March know, those early days were highly disciplined and choreographed, and, while they were largely carried out by college students, they were happening in the real world.
In the years that followed, the college kids took over and there were some damned silly things said and done. True Believers then sounded very much like True Believers do today, and very much like the True Believer in Horsey's cartoon.
I've criticized Occupy Wall Street for not having the discipline of the Civil Rights Movement. While it may have been good consciousness raising among millennials, it did barely anything beyond the group.
But when things are happening on campus, I'm more receptive to the idea that the old folks need to shut up and let it flow.
This On the Media segment is an attitude changer, because, while I believe (A) in press freedom and (B) that a move to displace the president of a public school is a public issue, it's hard to argue with his observation that, in terms of getting the message out, a flood of tweets goes further than a superficial, hit-and-run daily news item by someone who doesn't get it.
Yes, it's "preaching to the choir," but sometimes the choir is your intended audience.
And it's a public college, but I don't pay taxes in Missouri, so why should they care if I see it on the nightly news or read it in the NYTimes?
I've been a student at these things, and I've been a reporter at them, and, if 300 people sit listening intently to a speaker while some fool is parading around dressed as Uncle Sam with a machine gun, I know the picture that will be in the paper.
And if a reporter talks to 10 people, nine of whom discuss the issue in some depth and one of whom says maybe we need to break some windows, I know what sound bite gets on the news that night.
I'm not saying I like the attitude. I've been threatened while trying to interview people on a picket line and it was frustrating, insulting and kind of scary.
Dammit, it's not fair to refuse to talk and then turn around and complain that nobody covers your movement.
But it's also frustrating to cooperate and then see yourself misquoted and distorted. I know what it's like to pick up the newspaper the next morning as if it were ticking.
I don't have an answer, just an observation.
I don't understand everything going on with #BlackLivesMatter but I'm willing to concede that Condi wasn't lying about macaroni-and-cheese.