Lest there be any doubt that PBS stands alone as the greatest channel on American television, I give you tonight’s prime-time kick-off program:

“Sandwiches That You Will Like.”

And lest you think there is some humorous trickery involved, here is the full program description:

It’s America between two slices of bread! It’s a slightly goofy celebration of some great sandwiches at some interesting places. Even when much of America seems ‘all the same,’ host Rick Sebak can still find some distinctive, delicious differences in several cities. Sebak and his crew traveled from Maine (lobster rolls) to New Orleans (po’boys and muffalettas) to San Jose (banh mi), talking to sandwich makers, sandwich eaters and sandwich lovers. The program is an explosion of American voices talking about tastes, traditions and toppings.

I was particularly happy to find that it was being broadcast in stereo (who can enjoy a tuna on rye in mono, eh?). No news on a hi-def version yet.

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Gloria’s Girl

A sad introduction to an element of British culture for our American readers. The BBC is reporting that former Blue Peter presenter Caron Keating has died of cancer at age 40. Blue Peter is a childhood institution in the UK, something that all kids and early teenagers watch religiously. It’s appeal extends further than that, in fact, because traditionally there is at least one hot female host, a role which Keating ably filled in the late 80s, so males into at least their 20s sometimes watch.

Blue Peter is so central to our culture, in fact, that famed polymath Stephen Fry was able to say, only half in jest, that the way to identify a Russian spy was not by his knowledge of the Kings and Queens of England, but by the names of the Blue Peter presenters when he was a child (Sarah Greene, Peter Duncan, that git Simon Groom and others, if you’re asking).

To sum up; imagine Mr Rogers, only sexy, and part of a bigger team.

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Must Try Harder

Just reading about a report on the British government’s record on the environment. The article itself is interesting to me (being something of an enviro-weenie), but the bit I enjoyed most was the grading system used in the report, which struck me as very British. The reports lowest grade? Not ‘D-‘, or ‘fail’, or even ‘disaster’. No, in certain key areas the government was damningly labelled…. ‘dreadful’.


An excellent piece in Slate today about the failings of Condoleeza Rice. What I’ve found amazing about this whole process, and what ties in with a common criticism of the Bush White House, is that they won’t admit any failing. Rice echoes this with her contention that she, and the White House, coudn’t have done any more. Imagine that; it was physically impossible to do any more than they did! I don’t think that the attack could reasonably have been stopped (governments receive terror threats constantly, and to take each one as real would literally shut down the country). But to claim that there was nothing that could have been done better is staggering. This article makes a similar point, with rather more humor.

A scary quote from the first piece:

“[If] I needed to do anything,” she said, “I would have been asked to do it. I was not asked to do it.”

That might wash for a secretary in the White House, but one of the qualities I’d look for in a National Security Advisor is initiative.

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