Open Source

Radio Open Source to Close

Posted on June 27, 2007. Filed under: Art, News, Open Source, Politics, Software, Technology |

I first started listening to Christopher Lydon when he hosted a show on NPR in Boston called “The Connection.” I was living in Massachusetts at the time. This was back in the late 90s, before the tech bubble burst. His show was so intelligent and informative that I became a regular listener. After I left New England, I was chagrined to find that his show was not nationally available. But he soon moved on to other things.

What made “The Connection” so great? I think it was Lydon’s openness to new ideas, the great range of his intellectual curiosity, and his ability to listen–not just to his guests–but to everyone. According to my recollection, at least half of each show was reserved for listeners to call in. Lydon demonstrated the power and the joy of listening–and this is still his greatest gift.

I had similar hopes for “Radio Open Source,” Lydon’s current project. The idea behind OS was to allow listeners to contribute to the development of show topics using the Internet. The web site also encouraged listeners to comment on shows. “Radio Open Source” took the format of “The Connection” to the next level of user participation. In that sense, “Radio Open Source” had far more potential than “The Connection.”

The shows I downloaded were as interesting as they were informative. Unfortunately, “Radio Open Source” is shutting down. I hope it gets new funding and it returns this fall. Until then I will pick up the mantle, raise my escutcheon against the fray, unsheath my rapier, carry the standard, beat the bongos…well, let’s not get carried away.

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Grow Up Christopher Hitchens

Posted on June 18, 2007. Filed under: Books, Foreign Policy, Open Source, Politics |

Christopher Hitchens is a skillful debater and I think he can sell books. When I listened to him speak on Open Source, an online radio show hosted by Christopher Lydon, I could not help by being impressed that he actually got on the radio to debate this pointless topic.

Now, I want to admit right away that I have not read his new book.

Humans inherited religion a long time ago and it’s pointless to pretend that we can get away from it. Our best bet is to respect others whose beliefs are different from our own. It’s not clear to me what Hitchens envisions as a replacement for our human need to believe in something, but I sure hope it’s not reason or philosophy. If you want some recent evidence of the stupidity of reason, look no further than Iraq, where the U.S. invaded on the basis of “intelligence” and “evidence” of WMD. It’s almost as if Hitchens still has not accepted the fact that the world we live in (and I exclude no corner of globe) is fundamentally (although not exclusively) irrational and uncivilized. When Hitchens says that he hopes humans “grow out of religion,” I just have to smile. The world is stuck with your religion (whatever it is); it’s stuck with mine; it’s stuck with Dick’s religion and Jane’s religion; it’s stuck with religions with one God; it’s stuck with religions with hundreds of Gods. There’s nothing to grow out of. This is it.

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  • Quotes of the Day

    "Writing editorials is like wetting your pants in a blue serge suit. It feels good, but nobody really notices."

    --Jack Germond

    "Famous men and women, by the act of putting themselves on display, whether as politicians, actors, writers, painters, musicians, restaurateurs, or whatever, invite public appraisal. They are all, impressively or pathetically, acting on the presumption that their ideas, their fantasies, their music, their bodies are more original than those of, say, a plumber or a certified public accountant. They are all exercising the impulse, as Mencken put it, ‘to flap their wings in public.’ This is so obvious to the critic–and, I believe, to the ordinary reader or spectator–that it seems hardly worth saying. But resentment of the practice of criticism itself is strong among professional artists (and all Presidents of the United States). There is a psychological type among them that hates critics on principle as parasites or failed performers. This is very natural but surely very childish and, in any country claiming to be civilized, actually anti-social. The existence of critics, good, bad, or indifferent, is a firm clause in the social contract between the governors and the governed in any nation that is not a dictatorship. Public figures should accept with good grace the public response to their invitations to be admired and resist the temptation to retort, except in the face of flagrant malice."

    --Alistair Cooke

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