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US Open: Climbing Mt. Ashe

Thursday, September 03, 2009

by Nate Chura
At the top of Arthur Ashe Stadium, the view of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is surprising. It’s beautiful and has a calming quality. Yesterday, while Venus Williams was blasting her way through fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-4, 6-2, in the second round of the U.S. Open, I took the long hike up to row Z of the upper promenade. It's the highest point of the National Tennis Center. When I arrived I discovered I wasn’t the only one who thought the trip might be worth it.

Randy, a local twenty-something from Flushing Meadows, is a regular Ashe climber.

“The best part,” he says about watching matches from the nose-bleed section, “is you don’t have to turn your neck as much. You can have a view of the whole court without having to turn your neck left and right. And you can also see the ball where it hits the lines. Actually, the ump should be sitting up here rather than down there.”

Another fan soaking in the last remaining summer rays in row Z was, Lee Griffin from Australia, who currently lives in London, but was meeting up with her sister for a week of tennis in New York. Griffin found the surrounding views serene as she rooted for Williams to win the match.

Listen to Nate’s interview with fellow rooftop climber, Lee Griffin, at the top of Mt. Ashe.

“It’s a great vantage point to actually see a whole lot of the surrounding countryside,” Griffin said. “A bit difficult for the tennis, but good for the views.”

Down in the deep caves of Mt. Ashe, in Interview Room 1, Williams wasted no words after her victory over Mattek-Sands.

“I’m in the U.S. Open,” the older Williams sister said. “The U.S. Open, baby. I’m in the process of being in the third round. So I love it.”

At ground level, fans of the U.S. Open said goodbye to two of the game's most interesting personalities: former world number 1 and 2000 champion, Marat Safin, and Fabrice Santoro, who made his 69th Grand Slam appearance in New York.

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Po Bronson on Nurtureshock

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Po Bronson argues that when it comes to raising children, we've mistaken good intentions for good ideas.
Listen to the whole interview:

In his new book, Nurtureshock: New Thinking about Children, written with Ashley Merryman, Po Bronson sifts through many of the common behaviors of parents raising children. Bronson argues that many parents are unaware of how praise, tattling, lying, punishment and even bedtime are linked to issues of childhood independence, self-esteem and obesity.

"There are key areas in which some of the assumptions we make are contradictory to scientific records," says Bronson. "A lot of parents tell me that they're proud to be doing something good, like being more affectionate [to their children]. In many dimensions they are doing the opposite of the authoritarian parent they've had." But apparently, the more lenient or "progressive" a parent is, the more their child may be likely to act out. A study Bronson cited of a middle school showed "progressive" dad's kids were acting up in class as much as the children of the "deadbeat" dads. "What it seems to be about is inconsistency at home," says Bronson.

According to Bronson's research, it is the progressive parents who are unsure of how to punish their child. "When it comes to disciplining their child, progressive dads are sort of embarrassed to do it, weren't counting on having to do this as a part of fatherhood, and as a result are often inconsistent." It all amounts to confusion as a result of different punishments received from lenient parents. "The inconsistency ends up leading to kids becoming more socially aggressive."

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US Open: Day of the Underdog

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

by Nate Chura
Day Two of the U.S. Open came and went with the summer breeze. While the giants of the game like Serbian, Novak Djokovic, and Russian, Elena Dementieva, dismembered their first-round opponents in grand fashion on the featured show courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, there was another group of challengers gutting out a living on the outer ring of courts deprived of such lavish comforts as the Chase Review Hawk-Eye system.

When most people think of professional tennis players, they think of Maria Sharapova. She won her night match quite easily. Or they think of Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, who hammered into submission yesterday 18-year-old Chase Buchanan, from Columbus, Ohio.

Mention the name Jesse Witten to most people, and be prepared for a blank stare. But on Court 7 yesterday, Witten, a 26-year-old tennis journeyman, made quick work of his opponent, too -- the 29th seed from Russia, Igor Andreev. It was the biggest win of Witten's career, taking only 97 minutes, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.

Until then, Witten, from Naples, FL, had never won an ATP Tour level match, let alone advance to the second-round of a grand slam. Witten is currently the 276th ranked singles player in the world. He had to win three qualifying matches just to face Andreev in the main draw. Going into the tournament, Witten’s total prize money for the year was a whopping $19,284. And in case you’re wondering, there are no endorsement stipends on top of that. For winning his first-round match, Witten will receive $30,000, enough to keep the dream alive.

Witten played college tennis for the University of Kentucky, where he studied kinesiology. After the match, Witten was asked if he endorsed young tennis players going to college.

“I’d go back to college right now if I could,” he said. “I loved everything about it. There’s a couple guys, obviously, that can skip college and get away with it. But, I mean, there are so many guys that are at the mediocre level. There are so many guys that skipped college, and I know ‘em now and they kind of regret it. Actually, a couple of my friends are going back. I think it’s great.”

To hear Nate’s interview with Witten:

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D.A. Candidates in Heated Debate

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The three Democrats vying to succeed Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau squared off in a debate at John Jay College last night.They fielded questions on high-profile cases from Etan Patz to the Central Park jogger to Plaxico Burress and on their legal philosophies on drug law enforcement and parole-versus-prison, among other topics. The debate featured some sparring between Cy Vance and Leslie Crocker Snyder who's been hammering Vance for weeks for spending the majority of the last two decades in private practice across the country.

"During NY's worst crime, worst, when everyone here was in danger and our kids were being assaulted, you were in Seattle."

Snyder, a former state supreme court judge, claimed to be taking on what she called the old boys' club in the city.

Vance accused Snyder of changing her positions since she ran against Morgenthau in 2005, saying at that time she supported the death penalty.

"How is the electorate to know what are your core legal values, and when they won't change and bend to political whims."

Vance has the support of Morgenthau in the election.

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Today in History: Japanese Surrender

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

japansurrenderOn September 2, 1945, Japanese officials signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri. Here General MacArthur speaks at the signing ceremony.

“We are gathered here representatives of the major warring powers to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored. The issues involving divergent ideals and ideologies have been determined on the battlefields of the world and hence are not for our discussion or debate...It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world dedicated to the dignity of man, and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice....

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US Open: A Fitting Opening

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

by Nate Chura
The 2009 U.S. Open kicked-off yesterday in New York style. Before night matches began, a record 36,085 fans poured into the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens to attend the last grand slam tennis tournament of the season.

While some came to see men’s world #1, Roger Federer, and others filed in to see Serena Williams, one thing all fans had in common was a desire to witness the best tennis in the world, which was in fine form.

All the major seeds progressed to the second round. ATP Tour veteran, Tommy Haas struggled a bit in his four-set victory over journeyman, Alejandro Falla. And underdogs like Devin Britton, the 2009 NCAA Champion and wild card in the tournament got a lesson about what it takes to win in New York City.

The volunteers were out in full force. Ushers were ushering. There was no shortage of people pointing and passing along directions. To the casual tourist, these were the signals of a carnival, fitting of a world’s fair. But to the concessionaires and retailers, all the deliberate choreography lead to a singular objective: a job.

Inside the National Tennis Center there were no signs of recession. Indeed. Outside Louie Armstrong Stadium in the food court, where at the Fulton Fish Market a lobster roll costs $17 and a pint of Heineken beer will set you back seven big ones, the economy was booming as large as Andy Roddick’s serve. As summer draws to a close, hopefully the two-week tournament billed as the “largest annual sporting event in the world” will serve as a harbinger of prosperity to come in the days ahead.

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Today in History: World War II Begins

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

germaninvasion1939On September 1, 1939, World War II begins as Nazi Germany invades Poland.

French news account of events in English, which aired August 31:


German news account of events in English:

Adolph Hitler's ...

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NJ: Qaddafi Not Welcome

Friday, August 28, 2009

51772716In New Jersey, the mayor of Englewood, Michael Wildes, is going to court to stop renovation work at a mansion where Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi wants to stay when he's in town next month for the UN General Assembly. Wildes ...

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The Four-Day Work Week

Friday, August 28, 2009

Men at WorkFor the past year, the Utah government have been experimenting with a four-day work week for state workers. The state experiment's original goal was to increase energy savings among state buildings, but many other benefits have been proven as a result of the policy change. 'If you shut offices down one day a week, you don't have to cool them, heat them, and workers don't have to drive to work. Everyone saves money,' says Bryan Walsh of Time Magazine. In addition to the millions of dollars Utah has saved on energy costs, many workers are saving money used for transportation costs while playing a part in environmental conservation. 'We found that there was less traffic and less air pollution because there were less people on the roads' says Walsh.

NYS Assemblyman Mike Gianaris (D-36, Queens) is another person who has subscribed to the idea and expressed his interest in having a four-day workweek instituted in New York State. This program is 'estimated to save New York $3 million a year,' says Gianaris. In addition to the issue of government and energy sayings, Walsh saysthat the majority of workers surveyed commented on the difference in their quality of life. 'A lot of people found that they had more time to do errands. Other people found themselves volunteering and exercising.'

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Democrats Face Off in Primary Debate, But Target is Clearly Bloomberg

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The two Democratic mayoral candidates vying to prevent Mayor Bloomberg from winning a third term squared off in their first debate last night.

City Councilman Tony Avella took City Comptroller Bill Thompson to task for taking campaign cash from developers and money managers who also do business with the city's ...

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The Life of Edward M. Kennedy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Historical moments:

Eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy, 6/8/68

Chappaquiddick statement, 7/25/69

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Today in History: The 19th Amendment

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Suffragists rally, February 1913, waving pennants reading Votes for Women.

Suffragists rally, February 1913, waving pennants reading Votes for Women.

On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, was ...

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Hardwired to Seek, Search, Hunt

Friday, August 21, 2009

78761369CJ002_Websites_reflFlea markets, casinos, bars, and the internet search engine all tap into what Emily Yoffe of Slate Magazine calls the 'human motivation to seek'. Studies done on lab rats and humans revealed an area of the brain called the 'seeking center' and that we are driven to search as a reward in itself.

Yoffe spoke with guest host Andrea Bernstein on The Brian Lehrer Show. An excerpt of the interview:

Andrea Bernstein: So there is this incredible human motivation just to search or to seek or to hunt?

Emily Yoffee: The brain is over-wired for this, seeking, curiosity, exploration...If you think of it in evolutionary terms, it all makes sense. If you have a creature that is very easy satisfied and is just sitting there being happy, it’s probably going to be eaten pretty quickly. We are strongly, strongly motivated to get out of our beds, our dens, our holes and go out and seek and search.

Bernstein: Is that is what is happening when you are reading a mystery or a thriller? You love the hunt and maybe why you feel a little let down when you get to the end?

Yoffe: Yes, this is why flea markets are so great, gambling, going to pick up bars. It is not that we don’t feel the reward, but the reward only lasts a little bit of time and then the seeking urge is renewed again. It’s not just that we are compelled to seek to in order to get the reward to feel good. Seeking, wanting, feels good itself...It feels great to be in that aroused, excited state. Drugs, like amphetamines, and cocaine stimulate that system. It’s the dopamine system. It feels good to be excited. It feels good to feel “I can do anything.”

Bernstein: Is Googling really changing anything or is it just helping us do what we would do anyway?

Yoffe: Googling, and all our electronic devices that help us search or find or get constant tweet updates from people, it hasn’t created a new sensation in the brain.

'If humans are seeking creatures, we have now created the perfect seeking machines.'

The dopamine system is the neurotransmitter for the seeking system, it is also believed that it controls our sense of time. That is why you can sit down to find one thing and you find it is an hour later. Where did that hour go?

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Digesting Politics: Chris Christie & Bill Thompson

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chris Christie starts to lose the news cycle over an undisclosed loan and Bill Thompson comes under the klieg lights. Andrea Bernstein and Bob Hennelly mull it all over in this week’s “Digesting Politics.”

Digesting Politics

'Digesting Politics.' We're back!

...

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Storm Leaves Mess in NYC

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Forestry experts are evaluating the extent of damage done to hundreds of trees in Central Park during last night's fast-moving thunderstorm. About 100 trees were knocked down, and hundreds more have broken limbs, and may need to be taken down.

"Many of them are just snapped off ...

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Today in History: U-2

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The trial of Francis Gary Powers in Moscow in August, 1960.

The trial of Francis Gary Powers in Moscow in August, 1960.

On August 19, 1960, a Soviet military court sentenced U.S. pilot Gary Powers to 10 years in prison. On ...

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The Art of Vacationing Dangerously

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

'A tourist looks an awful lot like a spy', says Robert Young Pelton, adventurer and author of Licensed to Kill. 'You have a camera, a video camera, they can Google you very quickly and find out you've work in other countries.' In the age of the blogger, Pelton argues, many young adventure-seeking tourists are blurring the boundary between amateur and professional. 'Quasi-journalists', says Pelton, are often compelled to 'report' on their experiences. Writers, photographers, and plain thrill seekers may take unwise risks, turning normal situations into 'dangerous vacations.'

Earlier this month, three American tourists were arrested and detained near the Iraq-Iran border by Iranian officials while hiking. This occurred shortly after the pardoning of American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee from illegally entering North Korea. Tourist or journalist; the risk factor remains the same when exploring a politically-unstable country. The author and filmmaker discusses the tendency of traveling youth to place too much trust in the visiting country's ability to keep them safe.

robertpeltonsite

On the other hand, Pelton supports adventure seekers, as well as the 'quasi-journalist', as long as they take precautions. 'Before you choose a destination, go on the internet and deal with people from the area', as opposed to gathering your information from the media, says Pelton.

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Today in History: Tryst with Destiny

Friday, August 14, 2009

nehruOn August 14, 1947, the eve of India's independence from British rule, Jawaharlal Nehru delivers his famous 'Tryst with Destiny' speech:

'Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.'

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On The Media's Eulogy Project

Friday, August 07, 2009

iStock_000001043541XSmall

On The Media wants to hear your thoughts on the slow death of newspapers – are you sad to see them go or glad to see the back of them? Either way, send your emails to onthemedia@wnyc.org and write ...

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Practical Economics: Dogs, Cats, & Shoes

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Labor Department released unemployment numbers this morning, indicating that only 247,000 jobs were lost in July, as compared to 443,000 in June. The unemployment rate fell from 9.5 to 9.4, the first drop since April 2008, leading some to cautiously suggest that the worst of the recession is over. ...

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