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September 17, 1999 1900PDT

PBS fundraising! It's that semi-annual time of year, when I shift the default radio choice away from KQED, since tuning them in usually brings their pledge campaign and its mascot, that urgent, fatally perky voice of Cynthia Mericootchie (sp?). True, hearing her's not near as unpleasant as Ruth Seymore Hirsch-whatever at KCRW; well maybe as, but in a different way.

I think what people object to is that public radio is known for a certain level of quality and service, and then you tune in one day and they're not doing any of that stuff. They're instead doing fundraising. We're taking away from people the very thing that draws them to the station and then asking them to support the station through that action, which is sort of really asking a lot.
    - Torey Malatia, general manager at WBEZ
Well Torey, duh! I think the only public in public radio is your frequent demands from the public for a "pledge".1 When is your station's semi-annual public forum, for example, when changes to the schedule are discussed, the public's desires measured, and agreed-upon changes made? Implement that and you might get a check from me. Otherwise, the best move would be to take the station off the air - that would get my attention; the way it's done now is too easy to avoid.

All should come away from today's entry with this one vital bit of a trivial factoid - Monkee Michael Nesmith's mother invented "white out" correction fluid. Unlike the rumor about Eddie Haskell and Mr. Greenjeans, this one is true. And remember those mysterious shortwave beacons we read about in Big Secrets,2 which just broadcast voices reciting numbers, or the Morse code for a single letter, repeating endlessly? Recently Salon had an article about them, says there's even a new CD of samples available: "The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations." An Englander is quoted describing his fellow number station "enthusiasts" as being "...what we call Anoraks, obsessive nerd types into railway engines and things like that" ie the trainspotters. I wonder what attributes and characteristics the Japanese otaku and the English anorak share?

One final link - this is a page of links to reports from observers of last month's solar eclipse, across Europe and even from cruise ship passengers (who got great views).

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1 This term makes me gag - as you read it, hear me saying the word with disgust.

2 Chapter 25, ©1983