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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

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Enhancing YouTube Audio of Sarah Kay’s “Tshotsholoza” for Public Radio

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Making quality public radio and illustrating a guest’s point can be a tricky. Take, for instance, the poem going into the midpoint break of our interview with Sarah Kay. The clip is excerpted from Ms. Kay’s June 2010 performance of “Tshotsholoza” at the Acumen Fund’s *spark! event in New York City.

What we hoped for was a broadcast-quality recording. Unfortunately, the Acumen Fund only had a YouTube video of it. The audio is good but not great, but the strength of the content took precedent over the quality of the audio. So, our technical director stripped the audio from the video, imported it into ProTools, added some broadband noise reduction to minimize the buzz and hum, and then used audio compression to aid in some of the dynamic range.

First take a listen to the audio above. Then listen to the video below (with your eyes closed) and see if you can notice the difference.

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Sunday Morning Exercise: Take “The Wug Test”

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

Jean Berko Gleason is the mother of the “wug test” whose findings rocked the world of linguistics when they were first published in 1958. The test demonstrated that children as young as three or four can internalize complex grammatical codes no one has necessarily ever tried to teach them — like forming plurals — and apply these rules broadly, even to made-up words (like the adorable “wug” featured below) they’ve never heard before.

Below you’ll find the 27 delightful hand-drawn pictures that comprise the original wug test. Try them out with the kids in your life — or even by yourself. And tell us what they said that surprised you. What are they modeling or constructing on their own?

wug test - image 1 - this is a wugThe Wug and Wug Test © Jean Berko Gleason 2006. All rights reserved. For individual and family use only. Commercial use prohibited.

wug test - image 2 - this is a gutch
The Wug and Wug Test © Jean Berko Gleason 2006. All rights reserved. For individual and family use only. Commercial use prohibited.

wug test - image 3 - this is a man who knows how to spowThe Wug and Wug Test © Jean Berko Gleason 2006. All rights reserved. For individual and family use only. Commercial use prohibited.

wug test - image 4 - this is a kazh
The Wug and Wug Test © Jean Berko Gleason 2006. All rights reserved. For individual and family use only. Commercial use prohibited.

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What Do You Think Williams’ Mother Meant by Giving Her Those Journals?

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

spiralsThis bit of audio from our Terry Tempest Williams interview has us all mystified. It resulted in this “thought experiment” among our staff, which led to wildly varying interpretations.

Take a listen to this confounding story about the journals her mother left her:

What do you think Williams’ mother was trying to say about herself? To tell her daughter?

What do those pages say about “voice” to the rest of us?

I’ve told and retold this story to many of my friends and family, and each person has a distinct take on what it all means, but they all ask with a wrinkled brow: Why? Why? Why? I’m anxious to hear your interpretation because I can easily come up with a half-dozen theories.

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Bell Sound Meditation
Shubha Bala, associate producer

Hanging bell in a rural settingThis four-part, bell sound meditation is a short guided practice led by next week’s guest, Arthur Zajonc. For our (overdue) weekend exercise, take these ten minutes to try this contemplative meditation. Then, reflect on your experience and share your thoughts with us:

  1. How did the sound of the bell help you focus your attention?
  2. Did you find that paying close attention allowed you to “let go” and be openly aware?
  3. How did/didn’t the voice of a guide help you in this exercise?

At Amherst College’s the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, you can find other guided meditations and Zajonc’s five-minute introduction to the bell sound meditation you heard above. Here, he describes this unfamiliar state of open awareness with a lyrical passage from the Tao Te Ching:

"Do you have the patience to wait ‘til your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving ‘til the right action arises by itself? The master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and can welcome all things."

Updated: 2010.07.14 with stricken language.

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