Talking points 4 August

Hi, it’s Bruce from the WHYS team this morning…it’s my first blog post so please be patient with me. Thanks to Brett and Selena for their hosting this weekend. Security issues seemed to interest a lot of you and there’s another angle on that this morning.

Troops are being deployed in cities across Italy in an attempt to fulfil the government’s promise to uphold law and order. The opposition say this is an extreme measure and undermines the police. What do you think? Should the army ever be used for policing? Is the army best placed to keep order, while the police should be left to do investigative work? Or is the use of the army in this way the first step to a militarised state?

And, when did the credit crunch start? Most analysts are “celebrating” – if that’s the right word – its first anniversary. So how have things changed for you one year on? Are you starting to feel the pinch? Have your material circumstances changed noticeably? Are you bracing yourself for a hit or do you think the storm has passed you by? Is the credit crunch merely an obsession of the financial centres in the West and of little interest anywhere else?

Alexander Solzhenistyn, the great Russian writer who told the world about the prison camps of the Soviet Union, has died. What will be his legacy? Who, if anyone, can claim to be his successor? Are there any future Solzhenistyns in Burma, Iran or China?

And lastly, on China, an attack in Xinjiang province has left 16 policemen dead. With four days to go to the Olympics, do you think we could see further unrest across the country?

55 Responses to “Talking points 4 August”

  1. 1 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 11:24

    So nothing from Blank page number page number 18 made today’s talking points? Interesting.

  2. August 4, 2008 at 11:52

    @nelsoni, that means that we wasted our time and efforts over the weekend were in vain. @troops deploy in Italy, if laws and orders are about to degenerate into anarchy and the police are not in the position to restore sanity, I see no reason why the army should not be deployed. This does not in anyway undermines the police because it is all in the interest of the security of the state.

  3. 3 Brett
    August 4, 2008 at 11:57

    And, when did the credit crunch start? Most analysts are “celebrating” – if that’s the right word – its first anniversary. So how have things changed for you one year on?
    I bought a 1978 CB175S to get me around town when my bike won’t do. At around 80mpg it will be a noticable improvement from my V6 Passat which I am trying to use less and less of.
    I have a friend as a roomate to help pay a little more than a third of my mortgage and split utilities.
    My garden has expanded to provide more food so I’m not spending as much money as that.
    If anything has changed it has just been that I have reduced consumer spending yet again and begun focusing on fixing up my house and doing tasks which I have been putting off. I go to the river alot more, its less than 2 miles away and free 🙂 Lol.

    Are you starting to feel the pinch?
    I’d say gas prices are doing more than the ‘credit crunch’… That thing never really did seem to impact me terribly.

    Have your material circumstances changed noticeably?
    See above. I’ve gotten rid of alot of things I havent used and picked up a few new items. Mainly a new computer and new (to me) motorcycle.

    Are you bracing yourself for a hit or do you think the storm has passed you by?
    Can’t be too prepared, if the hit doesn’t come I will be in a better position to live more responsibly and in a scaled down fashion.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  4. 4 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 12:14

    @ Mohammed Ali. I totally agree with you. I am far from impressed. Probably the comments were too long so the page was not worth reading. We are supposed to set the agenda for the show,today’s Talking points does not seem to reflect that.

  5. August 4, 2008 at 12:16

    Hello all – Chloe here. Some great discussions over the weekend but far too many comments were simply too long. We’re going to start getting strict, again. We’ve said it before but if you write an essay nobody reads it and it also puts off new people who come to our blog.

    As Nelsoni put it on the blank page “I do not envy the WHYS staff that will have to read this page tommorow morning. He/she has their work cut out. Sure a water or tea break will be necessary after reading these posts especially the long ones. What a way to start a monday morning!!!”

  6. 6 selena
    August 4, 2008 at 12:29

    My goodness! I am shocked and perhaps a tad naive! 🙂

    Are we talking simply to make talking points?

    I thought we were talking to get to know each other and different cultures. I thought we were talking to see if we could contribute to making the world a better place.

    If talking points is our only reason for talking, it seems sad to me.

    A waste of time to talk to people??? Yes, I am quite shocked!

  7. 7 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 12:31

    @ Chloe, may be this could make a sub WHYS topic some day, “Do we really need long essays as posts on our blog or should we do more to teach our participants how to make their points in short posts?, does long posts make the blog less attractive?”. I think it’s worth talking about since it directly affects every one of us who has made WHYS a “home”, after all there would be no WHYS show without us(the audience).

  8. 8 selena
    August 4, 2008 at 12:35


    You are right about the long posts again.

    And I guess I am more than naive. Trust me not to understand the purpose.

    My head is always in the clouds. 🙂

  9. August 4, 2008 at 12:35

    @chloe, agree with you. However, there were some short and precise comments that still had some important points. @WHYSers, can we regulate our comments so that we will not drive other potential WHYSers away.

  10. 10 Angela in Washington D.C.
    August 4, 2008 at 12:36

    I have not been affected by the credit crunch but I have stopped eating out. Additionally, I stopped going home to Georgia, as frequently. I was contemplating getting a roommate but I think I will just move into the city, so I won’t have to drive as much.

    I read this article this morning about FEMA and the individuals still affected by the storm. It shows the plight of some people and shows their inability to help themselves. I was wondering what people thought of the situation. I felt bad for the individuals but I just wondered what other people would think about the situation.


  11. 11 Brett
    August 4, 2008 at 12:36

    We have discussed this on the blog many times it seems. It also seems that there are always exceptions made if the long posts are well pointed, thought out, or entirely relevant. Also different mods have differing ideas of what is too long (as there are simply vague rules of thumb but no explicit rules) so some long posts are approved and slip through depending on who approves them. One day we’ll all get it right, hang in there 🙂

  12. 12 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 12:42

    @ Selena. Hi, please kindly read WHAT’S WHYS?. The first paragraph should explain our primary objective here. If we fall short of it, that means that aim of the program is slightly defeated. Of course in the course of discussing we will inevitably interact with one another.

  13. 13 selena
    August 4, 2008 at 12:50


    We receive phone calls, calls over the net, text messages, emails and comments on our blog.

    I didn’t think the Blank Page was the only game in town.

  14. 14 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 12:52

    @ Selena, based on my post above, I think it’s sad if we spend a WHOLE weekend blogging, and not a single topic makes the first talking points page of the week? So what did we spend our week end doing? No. The blank page is not the only game in town. My point is WHYS has given us the audience the power to set the agenda. As much we can, we should fulfil that mandate. When they start setting the agenda, then something is wrong. You can’t tell me that not a single topic on the blank page is worthy of making today’s talking point page?

  15. 15 Julie P
    August 4, 2008 at 12:59


    We spent our time this weekend learning a valuable lesson. Last week there was a forum politely requesting that we shorten our comments. It seems the request was not adhered to. This week we are reaping what we sowed.

  16. 16 Bob in Queensland
    August 4, 2008 at 13:04

    For the record, by my very rough count, only 20 of 242 posts extended beyond half a screen long on my laptop…and, of these, about half were people responding to two or three different topics, split up with headers to make it easy to read.

    Much shorter and it will just be headlines, not communication.

    If it’s too hard to read, it’s because the blog format itself is flawed and should be moved to more of a forum format so individual topics can be “threaded”.

    As for the weekend topics vs today’s talking points, I’d say some of the points raised over the weekend were as valid as yet another “credit crunch/recession” topic or “troops being used for civilian defence in Italy”.

    My tuppence worth (that’s about 5 cents Australian) anyway.

  17. 17 peter mose
    August 4, 2008 at 13:06

    peter mose [fully trackable ] sent in 4 blogs about the loss of trust with the bbc since the phone in scandle ,/ but nothing reached the screen ,this was and is a very imotive subject but it would seem that loss of face is taking its toll ,

    if all of my words on this are banned HOW CAN WE TRUST THE BBC TO REPORT THE RIGHT THING,EVEN IF THEY CANT DO IT.


  18. 18 Julie P
    August 4, 2008 at 13:09


    I had thought about the restrictions that are place on the regular HYS, most of the time it’s 500 characters, on rare occasions it’s 700. I don’t think that would work here. I did notice the same thing about people breaking up their one comment to address more than one person, perhaps three separate comments would more acceptable? It’s a thought. I’m not the one making the decisions on comment lengths, perhaps there should be clear guidelines posted as to what is found to be an acceptable length.

  19. 19 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 4, 2008 at 13:22

    There was a whole discussion on post length; I can’t figure out how to navigate to it, or link to it, but it was called something like “It’s a blog, not a dissertation,” maybe two weeks ago. Essentially Ros said, keep them short, and made the not entirely apt comparison to one person taking ten minutes on the radio. The diff of course being that you can’t press “Page Down” to get through ten radio minutes in a fraction of a second; you can in the blog. Anyway there were about 100 posts there. I think I managed to restrain myself.

  20. 20 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 13:28

    @ Bob in Queensland, even if the topics are threaded, if they are still flooded with essays or long posts ( which ever one you prefer), we are back to square. There is something called “summary” and links can be added to support arguments, there’s a principle called KISS (Keep short and simple). What can be said in 1000 words can be said in 150, with short summaries and supporting links.

  21. 21 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 13:32

    @ Julie P. That would work fine here. It will put an end to all these arguments about what a long post is or not. The site administrators should determine the length of the posts they want here. In time we will all get used to it.

  22. 22 selena
    August 4, 2008 at 13:34


    Maybe today’s talking points came from phone calls, calls over the net, text messages and/or emails. That is the audience setting the agenda.

    The only difference is it is not the blog audience.

  23. 23 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 13:37

    @ Selena, I dont want to speculate but maybe one of the WHYS staff would be kind enough to tell us how they arrived at today’s talking points. At least they have done so in the past.

  24. 24 vijay
    August 4, 2008 at 13:43

    Does China have an Alexander Solzhenistyn?
    How many “gulags” are operational during the Olympics?
    Were any of the facilities constructed with slave labour?

    short posts benefit the staff who have to construct the show from the posts ,callers views and guests arguements.
    You could just keep posting your points ,one after the other and label them part one ,two etc…

    In the UK petrol must be nearly $8US dollars per US Gallon,in India petrol is about $5.60 per US Gallon.

  25. 25 selena
    August 4, 2008 at 13:46


    Why does it matter?

  26. 26 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 4, 2008 at 13:48


    Phone calls, texts, email, etc. normally comes during the actual radio show, I think.

    BBC can’t fairly have it both ways, complaining that (a few of) the posts are too long, and ignoring them all in favor of points they come up with on their own.

    By the same token, We can’t ignore them and expect to be paid attention, I suppose. Still, I could distill 10 points from the weekend without even trying, and without reading the long ones.

  27. 27 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 13:53

    @ selena .. Because there is something called “freedom of information”. If WHYS invites the listeners to set the agenda, then we deserve to know how it all plays out.

  28. 28 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 13:59

    @ selena, when we talked about celebrity and role models, we knew where it came from, Steve. When we talked about banning home births we knew where it came from, Lydia. I can go on and on. So what makes today’s own any different?

  29. 29 Dan
    August 4, 2008 at 14:00

    RE: Long Posts
    Have to agree with Vijay for weekend posts. Unlike WHYS staff, we have time to read them or like Jonathan just “Page Down”.

  30. 30 selena
    August 4, 2008 at 14:01


    OK I have no problem if the audience wants to understand the decision making process.

    However, personally, I don’t mind how they arrive at talking points. The points are always valid.

    And I don’t mind that they don’t pick points that are discussed over the weekends.

    If they feel obliged to pick Blog points that could make the Blog more important. Do we want that?

  31. 31 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 4, 2008 at 14:08


    Agreed, except that it’s nothing to do with freedom of information. WHYS staff does a great job of getting comments on the air fast when they’re on the air, but from what I’ve seen, the notion of the blog as source for show topics is a polite fiction.

    I have a three-tiered system for the three page types: My posts for “on air” pages are extremely short, absolutely relevant to the topic, and punchy “sound bite” material. At least, while the show is on air.

    For “talking points” pages, I give myself a bit more space and breadth.

    On “Blank Pages” I spread out a bit more still, while managing to stay below Ros’ strongly suggested length almost without fail.

    Perhaps our gracious hosts might tell us if that’s a good compromise guideline.

  32. 32 selena
    August 4, 2008 at 14:12


    I don’t know about the BBC but people are always contacting news organizations.

  33. 33 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 4, 2008 at 14:15


    Something’s wrong with being “important?”

    Something’s right with being simultaneously scolded for long posts, and ignored for substance?

    If one of us asks something, it matters. You may except yourself, but not anyone else, from that principle.

  34. 34 selena
    August 4, 2008 at 14:18


    I am very happy that they picked Steve’s and Lydia’s topics.

    But I don’t feel unhappy that they haven’t picked mine.

    Perhaps someone sent in an email and they thought it was a good topic. if so, I,am pleased for that someone.

    Anyway, I have had my say…

    I am certain, with all the wise people here, it will all be sorted out beautifully. 🙂

  35. 35 nelsoni
    August 4, 2008 at 14:19

    @ Selena, kindly read Suggest a Debate. Surely, it would be sorted out.

  36. 36 selena
    August 4, 2008 at 14:28


    I am more confused than ever. Did I say people’s questions didn’t matter?

    Everything matters to someone!

    I am simply stating what matters to me and that may not be worth much to anyone else. 🙂

  37. August 4, 2008 at 14:34

    Hello my brethren of WHYS! I guess this has been the concern raised by us to our fellow bloggers that this is not the place and time for speeches. You can strike a salient point in few words. I hope we will take heed.

  38. 38 Venessa
    August 4, 2008 at 14:52

    Admittedly I get frustrated with long posts although I have been guilty as well on a couple of occasions. Often I just scan through them hoping I don’t miss any of the very concise points.

  39. 39 Venessa
    August 4, 2008 at 14:54

    When responsding to multiple posts I think it is a good practice to post comments separately for each one for the sake of making each shorter.

  40. 40 Dan
    August 4, 2008 at 15:04

    I oppose troops acting as Police. They have different missions & training. I only support they act as adjuncts to local police putting “strong” presence on street but have no arrest powers.
    Short enough?

  41. 41 John in Salem
    August 4, 2008 at 15:04

    If an army is sent to maintain order when there has been no disaster or revolution then it’s time to leave town.
    Had I been planning to travel abroad I would definitely be crossing Italy off my list of places to visit.

  42. August 4, 2008 at 15:19

    Hi, Nelsoni I take on board your points about the blank page. In fact the on air question today was prompted by the discussion on the blank page about the beheading on a Grayhound bus in Canada.

    We do listen and we love your suggestions, don’t forget two programmes last week from the talking points page made the programme.

  43. 43 Nick in USA
    August 4, 2008 at 15:19

    Maybe we should focus on the topics at hand people. WHYS still needs a show.

    @ Credit Crunch

    As far as I can tell, I have not been directly affected by the credit crunch. I have always felt like borrowing money is a losing deal, so I won’t be running out and getting a loan to buy the new Nissan GT-R anytime soon. I’m actually quite amazed that people are willing to take out loans on items like this. Is it really that important to buy a new “pimpin” SUV.

    People in the states are living way beyond their means these days. I think that reflects in housing prices. Here in Lexington, KY the houses are incredibly overpriced. In the better neighborhoods a 1400 sq. ft. ranch house can go for a half million. The bad neighborhoods still have affordable housing, but I’m not willing to live in the ghetto like I was in college. That means that people are given no other option than to enter a 30 yr. mortgage that they can’t really pay for. When everyone can get a loan, the prices just keep shooting up. I’m kind of happy the housing bubble has burst.

  44. 44 Brett
    August 4, 2008 at 15:26

    Regardless of what material or discussions get used, I enjoy the blank pages as an opportunity to talk strictly about what we want to. No one controls the discussion (though mods do moderate out comments which are in poor taste). If our discussions get used, great! If not, we got our thoughts out on the table and get to look forward to a new discussion come the “On Air” segment.

  45. 45 Andre
    August 4, 2008 at 16:26

    I have no problem with any unit of the army being called out to fight high crime – with the proviso that the army is effective at fighting crime and that the threat from any other nation or external forces is not exacerbated by the use of the army for internal security.

    I live in the US and, during severe riots or other civil disturbances, it is routine for the National Guard, (military reservists), to be called out in support of the police.

  46. 46 Dennis
    August 4, 2008 at 16:53

    Hi Chloe,
    Thanks for the updated situation regarding, what the show is going to be about!

    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  47. 47 Roberto
    August 4, 2008 at 17:26

    Re Italian troop deployment:

    Time for the US Homeland Security Forces to deploy their ICE patrols in my hometown as well as probably a couple of dozen cities across the US.

    Live in one of the wealthiest state capitols in the US, and one of the best educated.

    Our school superintendent tells us that 62% of current AISD students are from below poverty level families. The demo breakdown is 25-45 age bracket and their children constitute 60% of the population. Latinos that answered the census more than doubled their % in the last 20 yrs.

    Don’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Less afluent cities hurting more.

    If Ice can’t do the job, maybe time for some Nato blue helmets or perhaps an SOS shout to the Italians as the country is being turned into the 3rd world backwater.

  48. 48 steve
    August 4, 2008 at 17:30

    Morgan Freeman was in a serious car accident.


  49. 50 Angela in Washington D.C.
    August 4, 2008 at 18:27


    I cannot believe flat earthers actually exist. The article was quite funny. I still believe it has to be a joke.

  50. 51 Jens
    August 4, 2008 at 18:47


    unfortunatly they do, but then we have plenty of other conspiracy theories floating around that are equally as absurd.

    i mean even the catholic church has finally recognized that the world is not flat and that organization is not the most progressive one.

  51. 52 Venessa
    August 4, 2008 at 19:21

    Jens ~ Landing on the moon was a hoax according to some people…hehehehe!

  52. 53 Angela in Washington D.C.
    August 4, 2008 at 20:33


    I know alot of people that do not believe we landed on the moon.

  53. August 5, 2008 at 05:16

    @ Post lengths,

    As a moderator I find it impossible to delete posts because of their length. I assume that the BBC producers just scroll by lengthy posts without reading them.

    I see the blog as a place for bloggers to knock around ideas and issues, but keep in mind that the WHYS producers read through the blog looking for topics. Bloggers who want their issues and ideas to be read by the producers of the radio show know to keep it brief.

    The few posts that I have deleted are because of swearing, hostility, or comparing someone or something to Nazis.

  54. 55 peter mose
    August 6, 2008 at 09:53

    reply to portland mike=re5th
    imagine a long blog scrolled by =never mind what is in it ,just wave it on,
    how exatcly do you discribe in a few words ,a piece on the bbc [called a matter of trust ] that did not contain any swear words ,but did contain storey on corporate,
    greed /the cover up/ a conflict of interest / and of broken trust,

    i would not say it was unduly long, iwould say that i got no chance of getting thisput out for the world to discuss,

    you know when you had 4 goes at it /then you send it to the news night team in a vauge hope some body would just think about it ,
    this act of greed and the subsiquent cover up broke my trust in this org.

    peter mose
    fully trackable

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