The Voice on the Radio

Here are two recent KERA/NPR radio commentaries for your listening pleasure.

1. Artificial Intelligence and Humanity–As amazing machines take over more and more human work, a question: What will be left for people to do?

2. America as Green Lantern–It’s one thing for a kid to believe in a glorious superhero–but we can’t build our foreign policy on such illusions.


Quote of the Day

Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think.

 —Jean de la Bruyere, essayist and moralist (1645-1696) 

And what about those who do a bit of both?

Grisly Smoking Ads: Big Brother Butts In?

These upcoming anti-tobacco messages, which will cover the top half of cigarette packages beginning next year, make me glad, so glad, I’ve never been a smoker. I lean in favor of the government’s decision to order them, but I can’t say it’s a slam-dunk case–maybe 55-45 right now.

Reason? First, let’s stipulate that there can be no living American with an IQ above 70 who does not know that cigarettes will harm and kill you. I’ve never heard anyone challenge the science on this. (We should be so lucky on global warming.) This is cold fact.

Which delivers us to the doorstep of the always-somewhat-alluring libertarian argument: Acknowledging all the science and the accuracy of these warnings, is it within the government’s legitimate scope of power to discourage people from damaging their health through some still-legal activity they consider–for reasons that have always escaped me–pleasurable?

Discuss. 50 points.

Bonus question. Make the case for or against similarly graphic warnings about liquor, factory farming and slaughterhouses, and extremely violent chainsaw-maniac movies. 20 points.

Clarence Clemons, 1942–2011

“When the change was made uptown, and the Big Man joined the band. . . “

Bruce Springsteen, “Tenth Avenue Freezeout”

For a look at how Clarence Clemons looked and sounded over the years, you can find any number of solos on YouTube. A lot of people think his slow, hypnotic work on “Jungleland” was the peak, but I think this compilation shows him off well, and captures at least a little of the great fun and excitement of a live Springsteen/E Street Band concert. (Sorry for the short ad; for Clemons’ solo, go to 2:10.)  Hard to believe they’ll never be on stage together again.

Baby Boomer Quote of the Week

“This album is Christian rock, but we still like to have a very hard driven and very tough-sounding backup. Just the message is a little different. Instead of chasing girls around like we did 20 or 25 years ago, now we are more concerned about our salvation.”

–Lou Gramm, former lead singer of Foreigner, on his new CD. From The Dallas Morning News 

Twimmolation or Obtwitterate?

The usually valuable WordSpy misfires this morning, I think, trying to leap on the Weinergate wagon with a new coinage, “twimmolate.” The early usage and definition is below.
I’m not sure this one will catch on. For one thing, “immolate,” the root word,  is far from an everyday word. Wordplays work better when they build something new and strange off something familiar.
So I’m going to propose “obtwitterate” as a better alternative to define this new phenomenon, as in “The hapless Weiner proceeded to obtwitterate his career and character.”  Votes, anyone?

n. The destruction of a person’s career or reputation caused by lewd or insensitive Twitter posts. [twitter + immolation.]
-twimmolate v.
Example Citations:

Suicide by Twitter. Shashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi are its leading practitioners. Its latest was comedian Gilbert Gottfried who got fired by an insurance company for making insensitive jokes about Japan where it does 75 per cent of its business.
—Priyanka Sood and Nishat Bari, “Twimmolation,” India Today, March 19, 2011

While Weiner remained dubiously vexed about the question if he could identify his own private parts, social networks went into a tizzy analyzing the situation in various angles. Some supported him, others flayed him, and then a third category of people just saw the funny side of the story.

There were witticisms as well as new coinage of words like ‘Twimmolate‘.
—Jijo Jacob, “Top Jokes About Anthony Weiner ‘Crotchgate‘ scandal,” International Business Times, June 3, 2011

Earliest Citation:
But Gottfried is the latest example of a firing over a quick, ill-advised tweet: what, for a lack of a better word, I will calltwimmolation. …

Should we just accept that in the future, to over-paraphrase Warhol, we will all get ourselves fired in 140 characters? Or will the ease and accessibility of social media&mdashand some tipping point of twimmolations&mdashmake people realize that everyone screws up, and increase our tolerance for the occasional idiotic, even beastly remark?
—James Poniewozik, “Gilbert Gottfried and the Rise of Self-Twimmolation,” Time, March 15, 2011