Thursday, December 06, 2007


For a while, I had my XM lineup listed over on the right. I took it down to save space, as it changes so infrequently. At the moment, XMLed has replaced The Blend (until XMLed goes off air) and XM Chill has replaced The Move (until The Move comes back once all the Christmas channels finish).

I may be on the cusp of another switch.

The last dial is set to CNN, me being a news junkie and all. But listening to CNN has its own hazards: perpetual self-promotion (of course CNN is going to tell me it has the best political team on television; though it's not nearly as insufferable as ESPN); intermittent sensationalism ("Tell me what you're working on at the Breaking News desk"); and moments when CNN lives up to its billing as the anti-Fox News - and that's not a good thing. I once heard one anchor praise Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) for being beligerent during a hearing.

"Good for her," he said.

No, not really. From what I could gather, she was out of turn and kept blathering on anyway. Such flauting of the rules should not be tolerated from anyone of either party. You want a free-for-all? Go run for a House seat.

With all of this mind - and after reading a well-done L.A. Times editorial blasting CNN for its GOP YouTube debate performance - I wondered if I wasn't wasting my time with the channel.

So I looked for an alternative. Just a few channels north, I rediscovered the BBC World Service.

All meat. Few commercials. In-depth reporting presented in a measured tone.

In short, journalism as it should be.

The old cliche tells us that we shouldn't worry about the price of tea in China. Yet the BBC had a compelling story about the skyrocketing cost of food in China, and how work-a-day Joes are struggling to keep up.

I tuned in smack in the middle of a story about some new movie that uses special effects to recreate a dramatic scene on the open ocean. The water effects took like 120 people seven months to do; once they left the office for the day, their PCs joined their collective computing might to help the larger mainframe keep chugging on the project. The water movement had to be designed then rendered; bubbles below the surface and whitewater all required their own simulation and rendering.

They had an interview with a regional UN spokesman over a controversy that UN peacekeepers would be engaging in battle. What a concept: They let him have his say without cutting him off in mid-sentence.

Fascinating stuff, particularly for a guy who fancies himself with a wider worldview.

I haven't made the switch just yet. But it's coming.

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