Sunday, January 9, 2011

Junk Food for the Mind

Until a few years ago I used to listen to a good amount of talk-radio going back to the early '80s. Names like Dick Pomerantz, Bruce Williams, Bob Yates, Michael Jackson and Sally Jessy Raphael were regulars on KSTP 1500's lineup. I enjoyed them all but Bruce Williams' nightly program where he discussed money matters was my favorite. As much as anything, talk-radio was a regular part of my week.

I remember when Rush Limbaugh first came on the air nationally in the summer of '88 and how even though I didn't find his show all that interesting initially, I kept getting drawn back to it. Nobody else was saying the things he was with the exception of maybe Morton Downey Jr on TV although in a much more abrasive way. I'd take Snickers on our daily hour long walk and use that time to get my dose of Rush from the yellow Sony Sports AM/FM/TV/cassette player I'd clip to my waist. I came to question little of what he said and my devotion to his show continued for years. I even remained loyal when he told of his seemingly unexplainable hearing loss and how he was determined to overcome it only to soon find out that his problems stemmed from drug abuse. His denials of illegal activity never squared with his 'man-up and accept responsibility for your actions' message he was fond of preaching but I was willing to give him a pass.

It would be another couple years but I'd eventually open my eyes to another truth other than the one Limbaugh was offering. I'll still occasionally listen to him but it's very seldom now and with a skepticism that gives him no benefit of the doubt.

I was driving home from work last Wednesday afternoon when I tuned into his program to see what sort of divisive talk he was bellowing. John Boehner was in the middle of his acceptance speech after taking control of the House Majority Leader position. It was difficult to focus on what Boehner was saying because Rush was talking over him and interjecting his take on what Boehner's words really meant which were 180 degrees out from my interpretation.  I could only wonder why he wouldn't allow his listeners to come to their own conclusions about the man's words and why he felt the need to tell them what to think. But I knew the answer; Boehner's words weren't divisive enough for Rush. I actually swore at my radio in frustration as I listened to him.

In the news today was the tragedy that unfolded in Arizona where a crazed 22 year old shot up a gathering of people attending an open public forum for Congresswoman Giffords, seriously wounding her and killing 6 others including a 9 year old girl. It's a stretch to say that hate-radio or talk-radio pushed this person over the edge because it appears the man has problems enough but it's not a stretch to conclude that the sort of divisive talk many are routinely absorbing through people such as Limbaugh, Hannity and others isn't helping matters in the least. It's also not a stretch to imagine that there are some among us who only need a little prompting to act out in violence.

Free speech is something we as a people put a lot of importance in as we should. But just as you don't yell 'fire!' in a crowded theater neither should it be acceptable to work people up through a constant pounding of the drum of half-truths.  If nothing else I would hope we would all be a little more aware of some of the messages we're receiving. I found this clip online to be especially interesting given the person being interviewed...

Maybe it's time we reevaluate what we're feeding our minds, that's all I'm saying.

My breaks from the sector at work give me ample time to read or surf the net. My usual choice is to surf but since getting my Kindle from Tammy for Christmas I'm finding that I'm leaving my computer at home more often than not when I leave for work. It's a nice alternative, not that the option to read a book hasn't always been there, I just like it better in a digital format. I'm not sure what that says about me other than I truly have geek tendencies.

Tammy and I made it out to Lake Harriet yesterday for the annual Winter Kite Festival. The sun was out giving us a beautiful day for photography but that also made it nearly impossible to see the viewing screen on our cameras. I wonder if that had something to do with the glare from the snow? The temp never made it out of the single digits nor did the wind speed which made for challenging kite flying conditions but it was still a nice diversion from a Minnesota winter day. Here's some video I shot with my Panasonic Lumix LX5. I'm quite pleased with the results it's giving me.

Oh, and Savoy's Pizza in Minneapolis is some pretty good stuff!

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