The Blurb Blog is a monthly summary of CSPAN topics, with some of the major ideas for discussion that have been addressed throughout the past month. These are questions and topics discussed not only on the floors of Congress and in committees. Many of these lectures and ideas from CSPAN television are found in books and lectures from renowned authors and professors who talk and think about the timely and most relevant issues of the day.
There is nothing more pressing in our current life than the global pandemic we find ourselves grappling with on many levels. The discussions in hearings and in government seen on CSPAN often look for ways to deal with the crisis in the long term. That, and the problems that have popped up and were glossed over at times in our recent past are just some of the discussions and topics covered on CSPAN this past month.
April in a nutshell
History of our Nation
What is the history of the Boston Massacre? The question asked is this: How did we come to rebel against the British Empire? What did our founding fathers originally fight about to create the new country? These are still relevant questions for us going forward.
A Look at the changing views of death from past centuries: People died early, they died young, and often they died in childbirth. The fact is they just didn’t live long lives. That is part of the difference we see as we look at past ways we viewed death. In America, we didn’t have Social Security until after the New Deal in the mid 20th Century. We didn’t have social safety networks. We see older people now who are revered for wisdom with age. In the past they were still honored, but they were not as prevalent. The Victorian era and pioneer life in America both ushered in repressive ideas. Stiff upper lips were required regarding the subject of death. In America, there has always been a reverence for a certain mental toughness to our characters. Other countries who suffer from prolonged war in the 21st Century are places where we still find this stoic attitude towards death. Iraq comes to mind after the invasion, or sub-Saharan African regions. In wartorn countries we find fighting and death is still a part of everyday life. Reporting finds these are places where life is often very hard and very bleak.
Ideas & Innovation
For Ideas and the birth of how a business or industry gets started; we have in the past discussed the idea of a lack of imagination in our country and how this lack can create problems. Conversely, what can be done when imagination is allowed to thrive and create an entire industry? The Information Stack is the book about this idea. It talks about why we need innovation in the forefront to create our new businesses of the future. It’s about how competition helps but also hurts. There’s a push and pull when creating business that is always there…
Big Tech vs Govts around the world; What happens when big corporations stand in for government entities in negotiating deals with other countries? This talk explores how and why the shadow of Big Corporations loom large in their global power and influence sphere.
The American Dream is not dead: Interesting concept to simply hear this as a book title. How many times have we heard: We are the greatest country…BUT. The fact is, we are not leading the world in health/in longevity/in happiness/ in citizens participation.In short, we are behind in most of the things that we measure to make up the best parts of a good quality of life. The knock on our values and the way the term American Exceptionalism is applied is something we need to rethink. In many ways, America is still the shining city on the hill and harbinger of all things good and great. But there are many tears in the curtain and the pandemic has shone a glaring spotlight on our growing problems of health care and income inequality for all citizens.
Politics & Democracy
The controversy of Bernie Sanders as a Democratic Socialist, is put into context in the segment-We Own the Future. We can consider what the term Democratic Socialist means, as the history of Socialism in our own government is addressed. The irony of the ‘scary’ nature of what socialism means, and how we have incorporated socialist principles into our own government spending is explored. We have socialist policies, through Medicare and Social Security, both staples and treasured, valued programs. The fact is that more people are now dependent upon government working well in the face of a global crisis. Does this make the idea of socialism seem less frightening?
Presidents in crisis: the question has been knocked around; How would OTHER President’s handle Covid-19? Specifically, Pres. Obama & Hillary Clinton would be the most recent or plausible alternatives. This is an interesting parlor game or cocktail party question. Unfortunately, we are living through the fruits of our own governmental failings. We have heard speculation over the past few weeks as to whether there could be a better way to handle this pandemic. Or we’ve heard that other presidents would have applied much more planning and forethought, due to the lack of testing and some other notable problems that have cropped up in the USA’s response.
And the related matter for presidential leadership is to look at history: A look at how we handle crisis in the USA is called for. Specifically, the role of Presidents and Leadership, where we look for leadership in the presidency or in other leadership models to seek and emulate. We have had great role models in FDR and Lincoln and Washington, our heroes for centuries. This is, as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin acknowledges, No Ordinary Time- and we are living through this extraordinary time right now!
ON COVID 19
About Covid 19: The way we handled pandemics in the past is addressed here. The pandemic has also highlighted some glaring problems. These issues were often illustrated (and mocked) during the Democratic Presidential debates of 2019. Health care and Income inequality are the pillars that we have overlooked for too long. The pandemic illustrates the 1% of our population that is protected and at times insulated, and it highlights the fact that many Americans couldn’t handle a $500 emergency payment. This sector of our population has no savings, but lives paycheck to paycheck. These are some of the major obstacles in American government that need to be addressed. We have seen in a short time that entire industries we rely upon can collapse and the economic devastation that surrounds these problems are part of our everyday life we have too often taken for granted as we go about our daily routines.
Innovation during Covid-19; In our history, we can remember how auto plants transformed during WW II to make supplies for defense during the war. This fact is relevant to our discussions currently surrounding the Defense Production Act.
End of life care: the way we are talking about it now, in the shadow of the pandemic crisis, correlates with the tender and caring attitude shown in frontline doctors and nurses who stand in for family. As many Covid-19 victims are intubated and often die without their loved ones near, it makes us think of ways this might easily be us, or our loved ones. We need to carefully plan our own end of life care and realize that end of life nursing may evolve in the coming years.
1000 Books to read; This gives you a list of suggestions of books to read. You will find books in categories to stretch your mind, and make you think in different lanes that are not your usual fare. And that is a good thing. It also gives us ideas to make up our own bucket list of books to read and places to see. Books that make you think lead to knowing what questions to ask.. It also helps guide you into knowing where your passions lie, and challenges you to reflect on the curiosities in life
The writing career of some maverick or standout writers are reviewed on CSPAN. Carl Hiaasen’s themes and any discussion of the writing of Hiaasen begins with his background at the Miami Herald. Hiaasen started his career as a newspaper columnist with the Miami Herald in Florida. How that background shapes his humor and his writing career shows in his funny and thought-provoking fictional books about crime. In all of Hiaasen’s work, the themes of environmentalism and political corruption are threads that are pulled through to the end.
On Information and Disinformation
Wayback Machine: The Wayback Machine is a valuable tool in research for history of the Internet. We find out what people wrote about. We see they sometimes put out there some things that they may have wanted to take back! Discovery of this is a boon for reporters and researchers. They use the Wayback to find information on the internet, for better or for worse!
On Human brains processing information: Researching this may make a difference in a new generation reading and studying. Their comprehension of literature vs graphs/ info graphs and charts is going to be different from someone who grew up reading only books. And often people of a certain generation (OK, Boomer), may process information in a different way than someone whose reading comprehension has been shaped by an entirely different medium.
Online Disinformation: Disinformation is nothing new in the news industry. Remember the old adage: “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers” or ‘Information is only as good as the source?’ It’s the DATA that is supplied. It’s the actual source of information, that comes into question and the more sources you seek, the better. When you can verify the credibility of the source that is vetting the information, it makes all the difference.
Science: How does our science and genetic engineering help us in conquering Covid-19? We need to look at work that is done to prevent future pandemic crises through scientific breakthroughs.
And finally, the question is asked: How are we using science? Can you manipulate opinions and skew facts to fit an ideological view? The answer is yes, if scientists are paid for their opinions!