Posted tagged ‘The New York Times’

The BBC, Mitch Miller, Insularity of U.S. News (Mommy Kissing Santa Claus)

August 3, 2010

Mitch Miller? (Looking for Mommy)

I’m a New Yorker.  I tend to read the New York Times and feel proud that it’s not the Post. But every once in a while, I feel a need to go further afield, usually to the BBC, partly so I can just listen to news rather than read it.  (If you don’t already know, the BBC has a wonderful site, in multiple languages with non-stop online “radio” choices.)

An hour of listening quickly changes one’s world view.  For one thing, it converts it into a world view.

This morning, for example, the BBC news stream gave time to the Papauan dissident with whom it had snagged an exclusive interview.  It reported the flooding in Pakistan; it quoted the South African judge sentencing a mendacious police chief; it interviewed the little Yemeni girls whose family took them from school when WHO stopped trading wheat for attendance and the girls’ mother who had to give them blood a couple of times against malnutrition.  It discussed a new novel about Afghanistan, some controversy involving Mossad, the current violence in Karachi.

Some of these stories were also reported in the New York Times, but when I looked at the online Times this morning, my eye kept hooking onto Mitch Miller’s goatee.  (Today’s article on Mitch was actually about an unsuccessful attempt to interview him.  Hmm….)

Sorry.  I actually love human interest stories;  I also loved Mitch Miller.  (Not just the Christmas hits; not only the happy accordian rifs–I will remember how my six-year-old heart twanged to The Prisoner’s Song till my final rest in the arms of my poor darling.)

What strikes one in listening to the BBC is how big the world is, how busy.  What is striking too is how local the many conflicts are–even as they are related to more universal issues of economics, religion, race == how they are played out in so many very local, very complicated ways.  In discussing the killings in Karachi, for example, the BBC talked of the number of Pashtuns in the city.  (To be fair, the Times mentioned Pastuns in their Karachi article too, but in a somehow more muted way.)    And me, I think “Pashtun”, that they are in Central Asia, Afghanistan.  Green eyes come vaguely to mind.

But what I am mainly impressed by is how little I know.  Like, sadly, most Americans.

What also impresses me is how much our regular news  (and I really don’t mean the Times here) often seems to reinforce our insularity and our ignorance of the world rather than dispelling them.   So that we can convince ourselves that we are well-informed simply because our homes have some kind of news feed 24/7–when often all that feed is telling us is about the time Mommy was seen kissing Santa Claus, or worse, suspected of kissing Santa Claus.

Why I Stay Up Late Rereading Silly Books i.e. Twilight (ha!)

August 25, 2009

Why I Stay Up Late Rereading Really Silly Books (Like, I’ll Admit It, Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, even Midnight Sun….)

  1. Otherwise, I read The New York Times.
  2. Or check on the stock market.
  3. Ugh.
  4. Books like Twilight have happy endings which, at all moments, even the “tense” ones,  can be foreseen by the reader.  Especially on a re-read.
  5. In the world of Twilight, even environmental issues, like the poaching of endangered species in national parkland, are dealt with soothingly.  (The  vampires only go after an “excess” of such endangered species after all, and with only their teeth as weapons.)
  6. And man’s inhumanity to man turns out to be actually vampire’s inhumanity to man, which somehow feels a lot less disturbing …  (I mean, what can you expect from a bunch of bloodcrazed supermodels?)
  7. Health care issues, at least in terms of access to treatment and payment for care, are arranged with breath-taking ease.  Of course, it helps to have a vampire doctor in the house.  And, in Breaking Dawn, a personal x-ray machine.  (Though blood banking’s a bit tricky.)
  8. Hardly anyone in the books seems to actually work at a job for pay except the policeman father (Charlie) who apparently plays cards with other officers much of each day.  Yes, Bella has a part-time job, but whenever this is mentioned, she’s being urged by her employers to take time off.  (The altruistic vampire doctor, who seems somehow to work at the hospital on a volunteer basis,  doesn’t count.)
  9. The New York Times, when I read it, frequently mentions the large number of ordinary Americans not working, being shunted to part-time jobs, or forced to take time off.   Somehow these practices seem a lot more fun in Twilight.
  10. Not only more fun.  More lucrative.  In the best-selling fantasy saga, college tuition and living expenses can actually be earned in one of these barely-existent part-time jobs.  By a teenager.
  11. More importantly, it’s somehow more pleasant to identify with Bella Swan than Maureen Dowd;
  12. More pleasant to read what Edward Cullen has to say than David Brooks, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, and/or Frank Rich.
  13. After all, Edward Cullen is even better than Robert Pattinson.
  14. True love conquers all.