Listener Letters: Obama Isn't A Geek

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We share some listener letters about the conflict in Gaza, whether 99 Cent store muzak is really that bad and if president-elect Barack Obama qualifies as a geek.

NOAH ADAMS, host:

From NPR News, it's Day to Day. And joining us now to help share some comments from listeners, our senior producer, Steve Proffitt.

STEVE PROFFITT: Hey, Noah. Great to have you here. Let's start with thoughts about our coverage of the conflict in Gaza between Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces. As usual, with all things Middle East, we've got listeners accusing us of bias and of favoring one side or the other.

ADAMS: For example, Joanne Boynton(ph) of Belfast, Maine, wrote in about an interview we presented on New Year's Eve with a young woman living in the Israeli border town of Sderot.

PROFFITT: Yeah, this is a town that's been under constant rocket fire for years. Ms. Boynton thought the interview poignantly described the psychological cost of the ongoing hostilities.

ADAMS: But, she asked, where was a similar interview with a Palestinian?

PROFFITT: Well, the next day, that was New Year's Day, we interviewed a businessman in Gaza City. And Judith Auerbach(ph), she's from Louisville, Kentucky, wrote to complain...

ADAMS: You pay scant attention, she wrote, to the thousands of Israelis whose homes have been hit by rockets and spend the better part of their time in bomb shelters.

PROFFITT: Well, then there was the interview we did last week with an editor from Asylum magazine about the geekiest moments of 2008.

ADAMS: It was a conversation with Anthony Layser, and he pointed out that soon-to-be President Barack Obama was a geek, in his view. Barack Obama likes comic books. Apparently, when he met Leonard Nimoy, he split his fingers, giving the actor a classic Vulcan hand sign.

PROFFITT: That's right. Huntington Beach, California, listener Richard Wisson(ph) was not amused. He says for his money, the first geek in the Oval Office was Teddy Roosevelt.

ADAMS: Teddy Roosevelt, really? Anyway, he writes about Mr. Obama, I realize that it is a shocking change to have a president who understands polysyllabics, who reads, and who sounds like an educated person. That does not, said Mr. Wisson, qualify him for geekdom.

PROFFITT: Or presumably for nerdom or dorkiness. OK, moving on to one our favorites on this show, the very unique retail analyst Howard Davidowitz.

ADAMS: We talked with him last week about the dismal state of the consumer economy.

PROFFITT: And Howard is not a guy who minces words.

Mr. HOWARD DAVIDOWITZ (Retail Analyst): It's horrendous, it's terrible. The consumer is completely inundated, and nothing good is going to happen in the near term.

ADAMS: And that has to stand for a cheery forecast, I guess.

PROFFITT: Oh, my goodness, writes Jennifer Roth(ph) from Mishawaka, Indiana.

ADAMS: She says, regarding Howard Davidowitz, obnoxious and arrogant are words that come to mind. Please, she begs, work harder to find people who don't appear to take such delight in people's hardships.

PROFFITT: Finally, some disgruntlement over a commentary by our musician contributor David Was.

ADAMS: On Monday, he went on a rant about muzak and on being exposed to bad pop music.

PROFFITT: He called it the devil's play list.

ADAMS: Every time he goes into a store to buy something.

PROFFITT: What the heck is up with David Was, asked Jeremy Johnson(ph). He's a listener and a musician who's from Louisville.

ADAMS: Not only was his snobby sneering off-putting, Mr. Johnson complains, but also ripped on some seriously good music.

PROFFITT: More than one listener agreed. Leslie Atlansky(ph) wrote, I believe the devil's play list would include a little ditty called "Walk the Dinosaur."

ADAMS: And that is a song by David's group, Was (Not Was). So I guess we're going to hear a little bit of that music right now.

PROFFITT: Yeah, we'll go out on that - Was (Not Was). But anyway, thanks to all who wrote us. There are now so many ways to do that.

ADAMS: Use the "Contact Us" link at npr.org.

PROFFITT: You can comment directly on stories there.

ADAMS: Or visit the blog, npr.org/daydreaming. Steve Proffitt, thanks.

PROFFITT: You're welcome, Noah.

(Soundbite of song "Walk the Dinosaur")

WAS (NOT WAS): (Singing) Open the door, get on the floor, Everybody walk that dinosaur. Open the door, get on the floor, Everybody walk that dinosaur. Open the door, get on the floor, Everybody walk that dinosaur. Boom boom acka-lacka lacka boom. Boom boom acka-lacka boom boom. Boom boom acka-lacka lacka boom. Boom boom acka-lacka boom boom.

ADAMS: Stay with us. Day to Day continues.

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