Letters: YouTube Debates and Reading Ahead

Listeners comment on YouTube's presidential debates, kids who grow up to be more religious than their parents, and whether it's better to read a new book from the beginning, or flip to the last page first.

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LYNN NEARY, host:

It's Tuesday, and that means it's time to read from your e-mails. We spent some time last week talking about the YouTube debates, the first aired last night on CNN, where they're giving anyone with an Internet connection the chance to post questions the candidates translates into more democracy, John, a listener in Chicago says, yes. This is a very good thing.

The little guys and the people in general win. Ghandi said once, the only tyrant I accept is this still, small voice within me. Now, even Joe Blow can be heard. It's just a matter of finding an audience. Although the large media still selects which clips from YouTube they want to hype further, this is still a positive thing overall.

Another listener disagreed. Call me pessimistic, wrote Nathan Hendricks(ph), but I don't think that new media are good for democracy or for the electoral process. Democracy thrives on consensus and a thorough exchange of ideas. The new media foreclose meaningful debate by reducing public discourse to thousands of sound bites. Let's be honest, YouTube is not a meeting of minds, rather, it is democracy's close cousin, capitalism. And while I think capitalism is just swell, it's not where I want to see my elections going.

During our show on kids who grow up to be more religious than their parents, many of you wrote in with your own stories. This one from Brandy(ph) in Ohio. I was one of the many college students who were reached by campus evangelical Christian ministry and jumped right in. Regrettably, I became pretty fervent in my attempts to help my parents convert to real Christianity.

They patiently stuck their ground and assured me of their satisfaction with their spiritual lives. Ten years later, after having burned out, I think I have ironically become less religious than my parents. What a surprise. Fortunately, I have patient and understanding parents.

Before the last Harry Potter, but after all the spoilers came out, we asked you to tell us where you start reading books with surprise endings. At the beginning or, do you flip to the last page first? Anna e-mailed from Rochester, New York to explain, Harry Potter is a special case. Even though I have seen the final pages of the book online, I feel like nothing has been spoiled. I want to know how everything leads up to that ending. The story is the important part.

And finally, we continued our Summer Movie Series last week with your nominees for the best movie robots. One of the films mentioned was "Blade Runner." Of course, the robots in that story were called replicants. And George Borr(ph) e-mailed to tell us, I take strong exception to the characterization of "Blade Runner's" replicants as evil. They are very violent.

But one of the things that makes them so human and finally so sympathetic as characters is the fact that they are fighting for their lives. That's a very human trait. One of the things that makes "Blade Runner" such a powerful film is that the threat is not really, or, at least, not completely evil.

There were too many suggestions for the best movie robot to get on to the show last week, but we've put together a list of the top picks and posted it on the blog. You can check that out at npr.org/blogofthenation, and we'll get back to the Summer Movie Series in two weeks.

In the meantime, if you have any comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by e-mail. Our address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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NEARY: This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary in Washington.

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