Two Audio Stories That Should be Required Listening

A story told without video or a slide deck can be as powerful as a story supported by video. But it takes a rare talent to pull it off.

While riding my bike home last night and driving into work this morning, I listened (on a safe little speaker) to two podcasts (episodes?) that

(1) Reminded me what a powerful thinker and speaker Barbara Jordan was before her death

(2) Introduced me to Will Hurd, the only black GOP member of Congress who used to be a CIA agent and whose district runs hundreds of miles along the southwestern border.

(3) Show that a stories told without video or a slide deck can be as powerful as stories supported by video. But it takes a rare talent to pull it off.

Disclaimer: I think what Hurd says in this Daily interview makes great sense. However, I have no idea where he stands on other issues or, frankly, anything. On the issue of “the wall,” he’s a voice of reason.

Here are links to the two posts.

Where Have You Gone, Barbara Jordan? Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You  (This American Life)

A Republican Congressman from Texas Who Opposes the Wall (The Daily)

Photo: GettyImages

The Only Things We Have to Fear are Statistics

A person’s odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are greater than dying in a motor vehicle crash.

Years ago, I posted a few items about what I called “fear junkies” — the apparent addiction to panic that so many people have — and that gets stoked by weather and news purveyors.

After going through a few politically-motivated panic attacks since then, I understand the fear people have. However, I’ve not given up my belief that, statistically, Americans often misdirect our fear. We obsess over things which are statically remote while growing numb to things (and certain politicians) that we should actually panic over.

For example, according to a new study by the National Safety Council’,” (via: NYTimes.com) a person’s odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are greater than dying in a motor vehicle crash. Here’s a quote from the study’s findings.

Fear is natural and healthy. It can help us respond to danger more quickly or avoid a dangerous situation altogether. It can also cause us to worry about the wrong things, especially when it comes to estimating our level of risk. If we overestimate our risk in one area, it can lead to anxiety and interfere with carrying out our normal daily routine. Ironically, it also leads us to underestimate real risks that can injure or kill us. It can be difficult to accurately assess the biggest risks we face. Plane crashes, being struck by lightning or being attacked by a dog are common fears, but what about falls, the danger inside of a bottle of pills, or your drive to work? Knowing the odds is the first step in beating them.

A chart (below) from the National Safety Councils website provides a listing of lifetime odds of death for selected causes. I found it fascinating, but not surprising, that many things deserving more fear are accepted as normal while things that rarely happen get most of the airtime of local news each night.

Heart disease and cancer and lower respiratory disease (all with connections to smoking) are the top causes of deaths. (Death from riding a bicycle is 1 in 1,747.)

The one thing for certain, no matter how precisely we understand the statistics of death, there is only one thing we can be 100% sure of about death: we’re all going to experience it one day…unless we travel on passenger trains.

 

Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2017
Cause of DeathOdds of Dying
Heart Disease1 in 6
Cancer1 in 7
Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease1 in 27
Suicide1 in 88
Opioid overdose1 in 96
Motor Vehicle Crash1 in 103
Fall1 in 114
Gun Assault1 in 285
Pedestrian Incident1 in 556
Motorcyclist1 in 858
Drowning1 in 1,117
Fire or Smoke1 in 1,474
Choking on Food1 in 2,696
Bicyclist1 in 4,047
Accidental Gun Discharge1 in 8,527
Sunstroke1 in 8,912
Electrocution, Radiation, Extreme Temperatures and Pressure1 in 15,638
Sharp objects1 in 28,000
Cataclysmic Storm1 in 31,394
Hot surfaces and substances1 in 46,045
Hornet, wasp and bee stings1 in 46,562
Dog attack1 in 115,111
Passenger on an airplane1 in 188,364
Lightning1 in 218,106
Railway passenger1 in 243,765

See data details

Google Doodle, Bluegrass Style

Today’s Google Doodle honors legendary banjo player and stylist Earl Scruggs. Here’s a short essay I posted when Earl Scruggs died. It contains a re-post of an earlier post (15 years ago) about the chance my son had to meet and chat with Scruggs. (My son was 14 at the time — and a fiddle and mandolin player.) I appreciate Google recalling this great artist.

 

Self-inflicted Culture Clash?


Interesting juxtaposition of links provided on the same page by Techmeme.com (January 9, 2019, 11:15 AM) 


1 | Mark Zuckerberg says his challenge for 2019 is to host a series of public discussions about the future of technology in society

“Every year I take on a personal challenge to learn something new.”

2 | Over a dozen ex-Facebook employees detail how the company’s leaders and stacked ranking performance reviews foster a culture where any dissent is discouraged

More than a dozen former Facebook employees detailed how the company’s leadership and its performance review system has created a culture where any dissent is discouraged.

Why was January 1, 2019 a Special Public Domain Day?

For the first time in over 20 years, on January 1, 2019, these published works entered the US public domain.


(January 1, 2019 : via the Duke University Law School Center for the Study of the Public Domain)

“For the first time in over 20 years, on January 1, 2019, these published works entered the US public domain. Works from 1923 will be free for all to use and build upon, without permission or fee. They include dramatic films such as The Ten Commandments, and comedies featuring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. There are literary works by Robert Frost, Aldous Huxley, and Edith Wharton, the “Charleston” song, and more. And remember, this has not happened for over 20 years. Why? Works from 1923 were set to go into the public domain in 1999, after a 75-year copyright term. But in 1998 Congress hit a two-decade pause button and extended their copyright term for 20 years, giving works published between 1923 and 1977 an expanded term of 95 years.”


 

Here are some of the works that entered the public domain on Tuesday. 


(Click for thousands more
)

Films

Books

Music

  • Yes! We Have No Bananas, w.&m. Frank Silver & Irving Cohn
  • Charleston, w.&m. Cecil Mack & James P. Johnson
  • London Calling! (musical), by Noel Coward
  • Who’s Sorry Now, w. Bert Kalmar & Harry Ruby, m. Ted Snyder
  • Songs by “Jelly Roll” Morton including Grandpa’s Spells, The Pearls, and Wolverine Blues (w. Benjamin F. Spikes & John C. Spikes; m. Ferd “Jelly Roll” Morton)
  • Works by Bela Bartok including the Violin Sonata No. 1 and the Violin Sonata No. 2
  • Tin Roof Blues, m. Leon Roppolo, Paul Mares, George Brunies, Mel Stitzel, & Benny Pollack

 

(More from Glenn Fleishman, Smithsonian Magazine.)