Wednesday, July 29, 2015

KTRS Wednesday


I'll be back on the 6-10am CT show at KTRS today. My guests will include:
  • Barry Svrluga, author of "The Grind: Inside Baseball's Endless Season";
  • Staci Rossi of the ACLU on its new Mobile Justice app that helps you record police stops;
  • Cat Neville, publisher of Feast Magazine.
Listen over the air, via the station's free smartphone app or via KTRS.com.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mandy Smith, Virgin Flight Attendant


Mandy Smith spent more than a decade as a flight attendant for Virgin Airlines, and has written about her adventures in a book called "Cabin Fever." On my radio show, we discussed:
  • How is it different being a flight attendant for Virgin compared to other airlines?
  • Have passengers ever tried to join the Mile High Club on any of your flights?
  • Who's more demanding: coach, business class, or first class passengers?
  • Are there too many carry-on bags now that airlines charge for checked luggage?
  • Did male passengers hit on you a lot?
  • Would your job have been much easier if alcohol wasn't served on board?
Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!
Previously on Harris Online...

Back To The Moon


Here's my conversation with Charles Miller of NexGen Space, which just released a study showing NASA could land humans on the moon in the next 5-7 years, then build a permanent lunar base a decade after that -- and it wouldn't cost any more money than is already in the budget. I asked him how that's possible, whether humans need to go back to the moon when we can send robotic missions, and who will own the materials we mine from under the lunar surface.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Why Not A Three Day Week?

Here's my conversation with Maria Konnikova about her New Yorker essay, "Why Not A Three Day Work Week?" It's an idea that came from Mexican telecom billionaire Carlos Slim, but could it work in America?

Considering how many of us feel like we're already on the job 24/7 because our smartphones keep us in touch with work and colleagues and clients day and night, it seems impossible to cut back. But Konnikova argues that most people who have five-day-a-week jobs aren't actually working during all those hours they put in at the office, so perhaps we need to convert to a system of only working as long as it takes to get the job done. Of course, there are many occupations that could not apply to -- emergency room nurse, Chipotle clerk, teacher, radio host -- but there are plenty of others that could.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Bridging The Pay Gap

Rick Newman, columnist for Yahoo! Finance returned to my show today to talk about how the tide may be turning against rich CEOs. For example, there's been a lot of backlash against comments by Dunkin' Donuts CEO Nigel Travis, who says increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour is "outrageous," but he doesn't seem to have a problem doubling his own compensation to $10.2 million/year.

With higher minimum wage laws passed in New York, California, Seattle, Chicago, and elsewhere, and lots of talk about income equality, there seems to be some momentum to bridge the pay gap between the people at the top and those at the bottom. But do shareholders want it? Will voters support politicians who want to change that equation?

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Knuckleheads In The News® 7/28/15


On a special Tuesday edition of Knuckleheads In The News® I have stories about a couple that had to be rescued on their first date, a crappy golf course, and the wrong use of an air sickness bag. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Want more Knuckleheads In The News®Click here.

KTRS Tuesday


I'll be up early this week to fill in for McGraw Milhaven on his 6-10am CT show at KTRS. I'll have a brand new batch of Knuckleheads In The News® and guests including:
  • Yahoo Business columnist Rick Newman on how the tide is turning against rich CEOs;
  • Mandy Smith on her career as a Virgin Airlines flight attendant and her book, "Cabin Fever."
  • Charles Miller of NexGen Space who says NASA could return to the moon in the next decade and humans could live there a decade after that.
Listen over the air, via the station's free smartphone app or via KTRS.com.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Random Thoughts

Three quick thoughts:

  1. How much more bad news can the St. Louis Post-Dispatch take? Last week, star columnist Bill McLellan accepted a buyout. This morning, star sports columnist Bernie Miklasz announced he was giving two weeks notice (ostensibly to concentrate on his morning radio show, but I'm guessing it was contract time and the newspaper wouldn't cough up a big enough offer to keep him). Then came the news that movie critic Joe Williams died in a one-car crash last night. And the worst news? Consumers found out about all three of those items online, for free.
  2. If you put an armed guard in the lobby of every movie theater, how is that going to stop the nut with a gun inside the theater when he decides to start shooting? While we're at it, why isn't the database that prevents mentally ill people from buying a gun in one state shared with every other state?
  3. You may have seen this recent headline: "Google self-driving car involved in first injury accident." What that headline didn't say was that the Google automation inside the vehicle was not at fault -- it was rear-ended by a human driver in another car. In fact, in the 14 accidents involving Google self-driving cars over the last six years, it was never the car's fault (11 times it was rear-ended, and the other 3 times it was being controlled by a human). I'm guessing that, in the most recent accident, the human driver who rear-ended the Google car was too busy checking text messages on an Android phone.

Michael Mann on Climate Change


Last week, James Hansen, NASA's former lead climate scientist, released a new study saying that sea levels will rise faster and sooner than previously believed -- possibly 10 feet in the next 50 years. That seemed like a major news story to me, but I didn't see much coverage of it, so I invited another climate expert, Michael Mann, to return to my show today to discuss Hansen's report and its impact.

We talked about how glaciers are melting at a higher rate than previously predicted, and what that will mean for coastal cities both in the US and around the world. Mann also explained what the more severe climate change is already doing to our weather in the midwest, and how's it's related to the drought in the southwest. We discussed what this will mean for populations in places like Miami and New York, which will have to migrate inland, and how that will affect the rest of us.

I asked Mann if we're past the tipping point where nothing can be done to save us from a cataclysmic future for our children and grandchildren, and on that point, he seemed more optimistic than I expected. Even with a Congress full of deniers like James Inhofe (who doesn't understand how climate change and snowballs can co-exist), Mann praises moves done by President Obama by executive order that are at least taking us in the right direction, if not far enough.

One of Mann's most important points is that, congressional deniers aside, the Pentagon is seriously worried about climate change because of the consequences on populations around the world, and the risk that more wars will break out when the supply of fresh water shrinks as sea levels rise. And on that global front, we talked about the upcoming global climate summit in Paris in December, where world leaders are scheduled to negotiate a plan to cut back on carbon emissions. Maybe.

I always enjoy talking with Mann because he's so good at putting this difficult area of science into language that the rest of us can understand. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Previously on Harris Online...

The Trump Effect

Here's my conversation with ABC political analyst Steve Roberts about Donald Trump's effect on the GOP presidential field, why he's still leading in some polls, and how other candidates are trying to outdo him to get more attention. I also asked Steve about the impact Bernie Sanders is having on Hillary Clinton's campaign. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

KTRS Monday


I'll be up early this week to fill in for McGraw Milhaven on his 6-10am CT show at KTRS. Among my guests today will be world-renowned climatologist Michael Mann discussing a new report warning that global sea levels are rising faster than believed, and could threaten coastal cities within fifty years. Listen over the air, via the station's free smartphone app or via KTRS.com.

Carrot Top's Surprising Show


While in Vegas a week ago, I had a free evening with nothing to do, so I decided on a whim to go see Carrot Top's show at The Luxor. I'm not a huge fan of his, but I've liked some of his TV appearances, and think some of his prop comedy is kinda clever. I went online, found a discount ticket ($40 instead of $65), and chose a seat in the 8th row. Based on my ease in getting that seat just a few hours before showtime on a Monday in the middle of summer, I figured the place would be mostly empty -- but to my surprise, the theater (which probably seats 500) was packed!

I wasn't sure what to expect, but got a sense of what was to come from the videos being projected before the show. They were like a greatest-hits reel from "America's Funniest Home Videos" that had been winnowed down to nothing but shots of guys being hit in the nuts, one after another, mixed with clips of animals humping. Okay, so it was going to be an intellectual show.

After an opening act whose name I've already forgotten, Carrot Top hit the stage and began one of the most joke-intensive performances I've seen since Rodney Dangerfield. He moved from trunk to trunk, pulling out a prop he'd built, making a joke about it, and then tossing it off stage while moving on to the next.

The not-so-family-friendly onslaught of jokes had something to offend everyone. This was not the ready-for-television Carrot Top. He did a lot of self-deprecating humor and makes fun of the Luxor, but also went after other Las Vegas celebrities from Mariah Carey to Celine Dion to Elton John to Criss Angel (who has a show in the same building). He made fun of country acts and rock singers, did some topical political stuff (of course there was a Donald Trump joke!), and engaged his audience quite a bit.

But it wasn't all prop comedy -- and this is where the show shocked me. Amid all the jokes and props, Carrot Top's show was a precision-timed act with musical stingers, sound effects, lighting effects, and video clips intertwined with stage banter as perfectly as anything I've ever seen. After a decade at The Luxor, he and his crew have their timing down. It's impressive. So is the physical energy required to keep that up for 70 minutes, non-stop.

I know I walked out of there exhausted. And pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Random Thoughts

A couple of days ago, I saw a movie that was so bad it will show up right behind "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" on my Worst Of 2015 list. I can't tell you what it is yet because of an embargo, but when it opens, I'll post a full review here.

I've been invited to a screening of "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" tomorrow night, but after seeing Alex Gibney's Scientology documentary "Going Clear" on HBO earlier this year, I just can't look at Tom Cruise on screen the same way. Sure, I've known for a long time he's a Scientologist, but the documentary showed an evil side of Cruise that I can't get out of my mind. I wonder if enough other people share my view of him to impact the movie's box office reception.

I've given up on Jim Gaffigan's sitcom after two episodes. I like Gaffigan, and have seen him perform several times, but his TV Land show makes one fatal error. The premise starts with Gaffigan following the lead of Jerry Seinfeld and Louis CK in playing a version of himself as a standup comedian. Like real-life Gaffigan, the TV version has a wife named Jeannie and five small children, all living in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. The problem is that the plots pit Jim against Jeannie. She wants him to do something, he doesn't want to do it, he tries to figure a way to weasel out of it, he ends up lying to her, she catches him, he looks silly, etc. etc. etc.

We've seen umpteen versions of this marriage dynamic on sitcoms, from "I Love Lucy" to "Everybody Loves Raymond" to "King Of Queens." But instead of making the husband the protagonist and the wife the antagonist, it would have been so much better if Jim and Jeannie were always on the same side, fighting against the absurdities of the rest of the world. Don't make the supporting characters pick sides, let them be the other side and allow Jim and Jeannie to make fun of (and plot against) them. That would have been different. But the version they have on the air now offers nothing new.

I just finished reading Judd Apatow's book, "Sick In The Head," a compilation of interviews he's done with comedians dating back to 1983, when he was a teenager carrying around a bulky cassette recorder and convincing Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, and others that he was doing a show for his high school radio station (WKWZ/Syosset, which still exists). He asked them a lot of good questions about how they got started, how they wrote jokes, and how they made a living. This was at a time when comedians weren't often offered the opportunity to talk about their craft, so even when a 15-year-old kid showed up at their door, they were willing to sit down and open up.

Also included are more recent conversations Apatow has had with Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Roseanne, Harold Ramis, Louis CK, Chris Rock, Jeff Garlin, and Garry Shandling. Many of them veer from talk of comedy to very personal subjects, but it's the professional insights that I found most fascinating. My only complaint is that Apatow left in his repeated explanations of how the project began -- imagine reading the previous paragraph over and over. It's the sort of thing that a good editor should have taken out, but we know from the length of Apatow's movies (which regularly run past the two hour mark) that cutting is not his strength. Still, I enjoyed his book.

Sorry to see "Key and Peele" coming to an end. The episodes that are airing this summer on Comedy Central were actually finished last fall, but there was no announcement that this would be their last season until this week. Not only has the show been funny and tackled issues that no other sketch comedy series has, it also had the best hair and makeup effects I've ever seen on a comedy show. Those guys must spend half their day with someone working on their heads. The final episode will air in September. Can't wait to see what they do next.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Best Thing I've Read Today

Jef Rauner is as sick as I am of people who refute facts with their evidence-free beliefs, then defend their right to do so by saying, "Well, that's my opinion." As Rauner writes in the Houston Press, "No, It's Not Your Opinion. You're Just Wrong"...

You can form an opinion in a bubble, and for the first couple of decades of our lives we all do. However, eventually you are going to venture out into the world and find that what you thought was an informed opinion was actually just a tiny thought based on little data and your feelings. Many, many, many of your opinions will turn out to be uninformed or just flat out wrong. No, the fact that you believed it doesn’t make it any more valid or worthwhile, and nobody owes your viewpoint any respect simply because it is yours.

You can be wrong or ignorant. It will happen. Reality does not care about your feelings. Education does not exist to persecute you. The misinformed are not an ethnic minority being oppressed. What’s that? Planned Parenthood is chopping up dead babies and selling them for phat cash? No, that’s not what actually happened. No, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong.
Read Rauner's full piece here..

Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?


Last weekend at The Amazing Meeting, one of the speakers was Tim Caulfield, author of "Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?" I enjoyed his presentation so much that afterwards, I invited him to guest on my show. Here's that conversation.

Caulfield, a professor of health law and policy at the University of Alberta, talked about some of the silly pseudoscience put forth by Paltrow, Katy Perry, Simon Cowell, and others -- from vagina steaming to supplements to detox cleanses. We also discussed the impact of Angelina Jolie going public about her preventative mastectomy, the conclusions he came to after reading People magazine every week for a year, and how Big Beauty sells you skin products you do not need.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Showbiz Show 7/24/15


This week on the showbiz segment of my show, Colin Jeffrey reviewed the Adam Sandler movie "Pixels" and I reviewed "Paper Towns" and "Trainwreck." We also recommended an indie directed by the man behind "Jurassic World" (which is now the third-biggest movie of all time), and Colin revealed how Pixar made a change in "Inside Out" for its Japanese audience. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Harris Challenge 7/24/15

This week's Harris Challenge -- the most fun you can have with your radio on -- includes categories "The New Hall of Famers," "Animal Movies Not Named Sharknado," and "They Died This Week." Listen and play along, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Want more Harris Challenges? Click here.

Knuckleheads In The News® 7/24/15


On an All-Florida edition of Knuckleheads In The News® I have stories about a neighbor's loud music, a man who head-butted a bus, and an exercise session gone wrong. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Want more Knuckleheads In The News®Click here.