NPRn't: I enjoy listening to NPR. It's certainly not perfect--I find a lot of their content to be insufferably pretentious, and they are woefully culturally out of touch for a lot of things, but they generally do a pretty good job of reporting solid news. However, lately, I've noticed a subtle change. I don't know if it's a result of changes in viewership or a consequence of funding changes, but two things stick out. One is that they seem to rely a lot more heavily on member-station-submitted content, usually youth radio programs; these segments are almost always eye-rollingly horrible in their analysis (which is mostly elementary-school reasoning on a trendy opinion of the day) and not great in execution. The other thing is that their cultural reviewers--mostly music, but sometimes movies or TV--are from people who have no business doing so. I heard a review of the new Arcade Fire album that was so mind-numblingly boring it actively wanted me to hate the band.
You Don't Say: A few years ago, France, seeing incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy as unappealing for re-election, instead elected Francois Hollande, a warmed-over socialist whose platform is full of the exact sort of thing that seems normal for Europe and baffling to Americans. But one particular aspect of his Presidency--a 75% income tax on millionaires--is particularly jarring. Not surprisingly, rich French citizens are making a concentrated effort to house their fortunes outside the nation, and soccer players--who are tied to cities and don't have that luxury--are basically going on strike. Anyone who has ever taken Econ 101 would realize how this was going to turn out, and yet (as usual) people are reacting with shock that someone who is getting three-quarters of his income taxed away might not take too kindly to it.
The Curse of Myopia: I've noticed a trend recently of cultural awareness, in that many people (including both reporters and the sort of people who comment on forums) have a horizon of reference that lasts roughly five years or so.If you ask the internet what a great show was, it's going to be something that aired in the last five years. Best movie ever? It something that came out last summer. This particularly horrible article on CNN about things Presidents wish they said exemplifies this; with over 200 years to choose from (and 200 years of politicians saying incredibly stupid things) all six are from the last 20 years or so. Sure, he makes a shout-out to some earlier presidents, but the examples he gives are pretty weak. There seems to be a pretty low comprehension of historical context, and I find it maddeningly annoying.