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Resurrecting the past

Back in the 90s, I worked for a now-defunct radio station, KMNY AM 1600, in Pomona, which went by the name “Money Radio”, and was the main business and financial news radio station in Los Angeles. From 9am-1pm every weekday, I did a program called “The Business Day”.  Recently, I found several cassette tapes of various interviews and special reports I did at Money Radio from 1994 to 1996. Some of the material is the broadcast version, some of it is the raw interviews.

I’ve decided to digitize them, since they are all 20 year-old cassette tapes, and are really at the end of their useful lives. In fact, one of them broke simply by rewinding it, forcing me to repair it, something I haven’t had to do for years.

A couple of things leap out at me as I re-listen to the cassettes while recording them to MP3 format:

1. I’m not sure why my voice was so high. I think it’s a tape speed issue. Some of these sound like a frickin’ Mickey special on Radio Disney.

2. I’m surprised at how many of the issues are still relevant, and are almost unchanged from 20 years ago.

3. I don’t remember cassette sound quality sucking so bad at the time. Digital fidelity has made cassette sound quality appear awful. I think it’s because a) the cassettes are so old and b) the station used really crappy cassettes for air checks, so the sound probably wasn’t that great in 1995.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in a taste of the stuff, So here’s some links to the digitized files. Most of these are 42-ish minutes long, as they are mainly 1-hour programs without commercials. There are some pauses between each segment of the hour.

1. An interview I did with then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich. This is the raw interview I did in the production studio, but it was broadcast exactly as recorded, with only a broadcast intro and outdo added to the interview when aired on 4/19/95. Link

2. Reform in Congress, broadcast on 6/17/94. Link

3. A collection of weekly interviews from 1995-1996 with Roger W. Robinson, President of RWR, Inc., and former Chief Economist for the National Security Council under Ronald Reagan. He was always a fascinating guy to talk to. The collection starts with an interview done on about 10/25/95. Link

4. Smoking and the tobacco industry, broadcast on 6/17/94. Link

5. The economy with Dr.  J.S. Butler, aired on 9/4/95. Link

6. Inflation, aired on Thanksgiving Day, 1994. Link

7. Foreign affairs with Roger W. Robinson, aired on 2/19/96. Link

8. Tort reform, aired on 12/2/94. Link

9. International trade, with Dr. Henry Nau, aired sometime in 1995. Link

NON-MONEY RADIO BONUS TRACK

I also have some even older stuff. Now this one is short, and has nothing at all to do with politics or economics. It’s what you heard if you were listening to me on the Canadian Forces Network in Brunssum, the Netherlands, at 8 o’clock on the morning of Saturday, 27 April, 1991. It’s the oldest air check I can find, so far. I edited out the music breaks, so it’s mainly my interstitials. I notice the sound quality on my CFNB air checks is way better than my KMNY ones. Probably because I didn’t use shitty cassettes when I made them. This is Memorex, baby. Link


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A response to Amazon’s editors: my own suggestions for a well-read life

A few months ago, the “Amazon Book Editors” put up a list with the description “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: A bucket list of books to create a well-read life”.

It contains some good (1984, Pride and Prejudice, The Right Stuff), some decent-but-thought-provoking (Man’s Search for Meaning), some leftist cant (Silent Spring), and a disproportionate amount of lightweight fiction, books for children, and books for young adults. I’m guessing this is a consequence of Amazon editors skewing rather young.

I think the list lacks broad perspective. It is weak on science, with only the often-purchased-but-seldom-read Brief History of Time plus an obscure book on nutrition. There’s nothing on technology, nothing on business unless you count Moneyball, nothing military (though it does have two books about the victims of WWII), and weak on history. 

Fittingly for a Seattle-based company, the list leans left. I mentioned that Silent Spring is there, which is disturbing given the damage and death caused by its inaccuracies and environmental hysteria. It also contains Fahrenheit 451, which is the soft lefty’s go-to entry when they think they just have to cite a science fiction book. I could name a hundred better science fiction books off the top of my head, but most are from authors who have a nasty habit of not leaning left.

While the list is worth browsing through, I thought the largest bookseller in the world should have done better. That started me thinking about the list I would recommend. My list would contain books that gave me some of the greatest return on investment in reading them. That might be by changing or refining my worldview. It might be simply great entertainment. Some of the very best combine both.

It would be the best books I could name from a wide variety of fields. Being easily bored, I’m more of a generalist than a specialist, and I like to read lots of different kinds of books. So I began composing a list, and extended and refined it several times over a few months.

Creating such a list involves some tough choices between certain books that cover the same territory. I have dodged that by having some of my entries be categories, in which I think a well-read person should be exposed to the category, but not necessary any single work in the category.

For some works and authors, I also included some follow-on suggestions.

I ended up with about 50 books and categories. Here, then, are the books I think ought to be a bucket list for a well-read person, in alphabetic order except that I separated out the science fiction and placed it at the bottom.

The ones that are also on Amazon’s list have an asterisk. No doubt I’ve left off some obvious works, and no doubt our sharp and excellent commenters will remind me.

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