martin tyler
what i watched last week

i read the news today, oh boy

Jody Rosen:

[T]he All Songs Considered audience has a fuzzy understanding of the word "all." "The Best Music of 2009 (So Far)" consists almost entirely of indie-rockers: acts like The Decemberists, Wilco, Grizzly Bear, Neko Case, Andrew Bird, Regina Spektor, and Animal Collective, the Brooklyn art-rock group that took the top spot in both the best songs and best albums tallies. On the Best Songs list, there are no songs that cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and none by African-American performers. Two black artists, Danger Mouse and Mos Def, made the Best Albums list, at numbers 20 and 23, respectively.

None of this is a surprise, of course. NPR's audience skews white and college-educated; so does Animal Collective's fan-base. In matters of musical taste, everyone has a God-given right to provincialism and conservatism, even those NPR listeners who consider themselves cosmopolitan and liberal. The numbers, of course, tell a different story. The NPR list leans not just white, but male—dudes with beards and guitars. So far in 2009, the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts has been by a black or female artist—or by groups featuring both blacks and whites or men and women—a total of 41 out of 42 weeks. (The exception is the current No. 1 hit, "Down," a collaboration between an Anglo-Asian R & B singer, Jay Sean, and an African-American rapper, Lil Wayne.) Who are the progressives again—the public radio crowd or the Top 40 great unwashed?

Stephen J. Dubner:

Humankind has long witnessed periods of time marked by the rise of new cultural, religious, and political movements. Well known examples (to the Western world) include protestantism, the renaissance, the inquisition, the industrial revolution, socialism, etc. I don’t know the answer to this question but I think it is a fair one: Is the global warming movement about science, religion, politics, or a little of all three?

Heather Havrilesky:

Marriage is like an inflamed bunion. It requires a lot of care and attention, but all it does is make you itch and wince in return. You can never get away from it, but you can't touch it as often as you want to, either. You're not supposed to ignore it, but if you look too closely at it, it'll only make you nervous.