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Archive for August, 2009

Logo08-200x99I’m extremely proud to have worked with the professionals at WMUB Public Radio, before Miami University ceased local operations of the station. This week we found out that the staff had won 17 awards for 2008  from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. That’s more than any other station in Ohio. Here’s the list:

Radio Winners
Smaller Markets (all others)

Best Consumer Reporting
FIRST: Healing Touch,” Cheri Lawson, WMUB.

Best Continuing Coverage
SECOND: “Windstorm Aftermath,” News Team Staff, WMUB.

Best Enterprise Reporting
FIRST: “Fast Fungi,” Tana Weingartner, WMUB.
SECOND: “Sewing for Soldiers,” Gary Scott, WMUB.

Best Feature Reporting
FIRST: “The Two Miamis: Neepwaantiiyankwi,” Tana Weingartner, WMUB.
SECOND: “Model T Party,” Gary Scott, WMUB.

Best General Assignment
FIRST: “Palin in West Chester,” Tana Weingartner, WMUB.

Best Health Care Feature Reporting
FIRST: “Threshold Choirs,” Cheri Lawson, WMUB.
SECOND: “Healing Touch,” Cheri Lawson, WMUB.

Best Medical/Health Reporting
FIRST: “Alternative Healthcare,” Cheri Lawson, WMUB.

Best Minority Issues Coverage
FIRST: “WMUB Forum: Proposition 8 Protest,” Gary Scott and John Hingsbergen, WMUB.

Best Spot News
SECOND: “Palan Announcement Reax,” Tana Weingartner and Heather Reed, WMUB.

Best Anchor
SECOND: Body of work, Cheri Lawson, WMUB.

Best News Operation
FIRST: Body of work, News Team, WMUB.

Best Public Affairs Program
FIRST: “WMUB Forum: Year in Review,” Gary Scott and John Hingsbergen, WMUB.

Best Reporter
FIRST: Body of work, Tana Weingartner, WMUB.
SECOND: Body of work, Gary Scott, WMUB.

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Beware the Blob

theBlobIt’s conventional to talk of the great low-budget Sci-Fi films of the 50’s (Them, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, etc.) as reflective of Cold War angst — the Rooskies sublimated into a dreaded, unstoppable menace from outer space. Although Body Snatchers is quite a good film despite its studio-tacked-on happy ending, some of them are so hopelessly cheesy that they give cheese a bad name. So I always assumed the Cold War resonances were just spontaneously generated by the zeitgeist of the times.

Apparently not in the case of era’s premier wad of Gorgonzola, The Blob, starring Steve McQueen. According to Jeff Sharlet’s The Family, it’s a deliberate work of anti-Commie-rat propaganda. Sharlet describes the movie as coming out of a meeting at the Family’s 1957 National Prayer Breakfast, where actress/screenwriter Kate Phillips met evangelical Christian filmmaker Irvin “Shorty” Yeaworth. Yeaworth had financial backing (from where is not exactly specified) to make a movie that would subliminally impart a “wholesome” anti-Red message. The rest is cinema history.

Digression: my favorite pulp sci-fi novel of this genre was Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, written well before Heinlein went off the deep end. It was made into a movie in the 1990’s (forgettable, even with Donald Sutherland, Richard Belzer and Yaphet Kotto in the cast). But think what a Spielberg could do with this story.

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468px-Shakespeare

W. Shakespeare, Gent.

I posted a blog entry today at Lisa Haneberg’s Management Central site on the topic of motivation vs. behavior. In it I quote Hamlet to Gertrude as he advises her to have nothing to do with his murderous stepfather:

Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
. . . Refrain to-night,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence; the next more easy;
For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either exorcise the devil, or throw him out
With wondrous potency.

In other words, behavior. Don’t become virtuous so that you may act virtuously; instead, act virtuously so that you may become virtuous.

The problem here is that we need to recognize that while Shakespeare may articulate this or that idea, we mustn’t fall into the trap of the Shakespearean fallacy: acting as if Shakespeare is advocating the same. He isn’t; his character Hamlet is.

Or take this better-known speech, from the same play:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

This is Polonius to his son Laertes. How many motivational speakers have gotten 4 hours ot of this? But:

  • Is this Shakespeare’s advice?
  • Sure, it sounds reasonable.
  • But Polonius is a fool.
  • Does that make his advice worthless?
  • Does it matter?

This why, in Shakespeare, you end up throwing up your hands and say it’s the ultimate example of John Keats’ negative capability — the capacity of the artist to create believable characters who may (or may not) be like their creator. Sort of the opposite of the clueless Dan Brown.

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In praise of shuffling

iPodClassicWhen the iPod Shuffle debuted I thought the idea was ridiculous. I assumed I would want a more purposeful way of listening.

But I find that the more I use my iPod Classic, the more often I use the “Shuffle Songs” option. And when I use iTunes on my laptop, I use the equivalent (the DJ setting). Freeing yourself from the question “What do I want to hear now?” is, it turns out, truly liberating.

And I really enjoy the novelty of hearing something unexpected — not just the new song, but the juxtaposition. I’m rarely (truly, never) jarred by a weird segue of styles. At times at seems that there MUST be someone deciding “I’ll bet these two would sound interesting back to back.”

I recall the debates we public radio types used to have in classical music programming about the need for a”buffer.” I came to believe that 30 seconds was plenty of time. Now I think even that may be too long.

Major elements in my iPod are Bach, other classical, swing jazz/popular song, Bach, Renaissance and Tudor choral, Appalachian roots/old time, more Bach, Sacred Harp, selected pop music, still more Bach, and a few others. I’d never program that mix on a classical station, but it works for me as a listener.

graphic: Wikimedia commons

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SHSArtbig-2Item 1:
I was curious to see if any members of LinkedIn had “Sacred Harp” in their profiles. I found over 60 entries, but couldn’t see the names of most of them because they weren’t in my network. Then I checked to see if there was a LinkedIn Group about Sacred Harp. Again, no luck. So I created one — “Sacred Harp Singing“.

Item 2:
In February several members of the Cincinnati Sacred Harp singers supplied the music at my church in Oxford, Ohio. Here are mp3s of the six songs (numbers are the traditional way to refer to the songs in the Sacred Harp song book).

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Ch7Nothing to see here, folks. It’s just a weird name. His parents must have been gangster lovers AND movie lovers. Look again if you don’t know what I mean.

The image is from Dayton’s Channel 7, the story from the Dayton Daily News.

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Restoring a pond (4 of 3)

LilyAnd THIS is why I work on the pond. Until today, I  hadn’t seen a lily blossom in weeks.

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