Tag Archives: character

Character counts 10 year anniversary interview

I’m a big fan of Michael Josephson’s “Character Counts” essays on KNX 1070 in Los Angeles. The daily essays on ethics and character are a breath of fresh air compared to most news programming out there. Recently, these essays have reached their 10th anniversary.

Tomorrow, at 11 AM Pacific (2 PM Eastern), there will be a one-hour long interview with Michael Josephson on KNX 1070 in L.aA. For those of you no longer living in L.A., you can listen to the interview (as I will) on the live feed at http://www.knx1070.com. Click on the “Listen Live” button once you get to the site to listen to the program.

The Guy In the Glass

I came across this great verse while reading the lastest Character Counts commentaries that I receive each Thursday in email. The verse is by Dale Wimbrow, and was written in 1934. (For more info, see his website.)

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn’t your Father or Mother or Wife
Who judgment upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.

Driven to distraction

I have a theory: I think you can tell a lot about a person’s character by how they drive their car.

And just how can you do this?

The Cold Within

My weekly newsletter containing this weeks radio commentaries on “Character Counts” by Michael Josephson had a commentary on racism and hate, which contained a verse by James Patrick Kinney called “The Cold Within”. I’d never seen the verse before, but after hearing it, I decided I liked it. (It’s not free verse, so that might have helped.)

Read the poem

Character counts

We need more of this:


When I was living in L.A., I used to listen to these commentaries on the way home from work and thought they were great. I found them available on the web tonight.

The junk food lawsuit

While eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Caffine Free Coke (TM) and chocolate brownie for lunch, I came across a news item on Yahoo! reporting that Nickelodeon and Kellogg were the targets of a lawsuit which cites a “recent report documenting the influence of marketing on what children eat”. You can link to the article here.

This is one of those lack-of-accountability suits like the person who sues McDonalds for gaining weight eating their food. This kind of thing drives me nuts for some reason. It’s a tricky thing to comment on, however, because it deals with obesity, which is a touchy subject for some people. Studies have shown that some people are more genetically prone to weight gain than others. But this is a tendency and while it may require some to be more disciplined than others, the bottom line on law suits like these is still accountability.

It seems to me the whole claim of the argument is that, when it comes to food, kids listen to their TV more than they listen to their parents:

Wakefield, Mass., mother Sherri Carlson said she tries her best to get her three kids to eat healthy food. “But they turn on Nickelodeon and see all those enticing junk-food ads,” Carlson said. “Adding insult to injury, we enter the grocery store and see our beloved Nick characters plastered on all those junky snacks and cereals.”

Correct me if I am wrong, but is this person arguing that her kids are so influenced by these ads, that she, the mother, is simply forced to go out and buy the junk food for her hopelessly influenced kids?

Now, I don’t have kids of my own, but I was once a kid, and sometimes, I like to think I still am a kid. If I begged and pleaded for junk food, and my mom or dad gave into me, the behavior I’d learn from that is that no self-control is required. I can just beg and plead for my junk food, and ultimately, I’ll get my way. My folks will cave in under the enormous pressure that me and my allies in the advertising industry place upon them.

What has happened to accountability in this country?

Maybe the right question to ask is: why are parents going after Nickelodeon and Kellogg? What do they expect to get out of this? I think there are two answers here: (1) publicity and (2) money, not necessarily in that order. This is about more than a parent’s concern for their child’s eating habits. It seems to me that if parents were really concerned, they wouldn’t hire a lawyer, they would instead find creative ways to make healthy snacks more enjoyable for kids. It’s not that hard to do, and you can see the results pretty quickly.

This is a slippery slope. Parents pawn of the responsibility to educate their children about nutrition and health to the very television set which they sit they kids in front of to babysit them. Nickelodeon and Kellogg are not forcing anyone to do anything. Are they putting ideas into kids heads? Sure. Are they putting pressure on parents to buy kids junk foods. Certainly. But who is ultimately responsible for going out and buying that candy bar? I’m not sure anyone could convince me it’s Nickelodeon and Kellogg.

Where does this lead? Will parents soon start suing other parents who allow their children to eat junk food at school because it sets a bad example for their children? This sounds facecious but I’m not kidding. Law suits scare people, and especially institutions like schools. Will schools start to ban junk foods, even in lunches brought by students because they will be afraid of the influence it might have on other students? Will we start to evolve legal definitions for “junk food”?

Unfortunately, things can only get worse with this kind of mentality. We are teaching children that there is no need to think for themselves. There are some smart kids out there. They see that junk food is bad for you in excess. They make the very rational generalization that anything is bad for you in excess. And they grow up to be well-adjusted adults. But not all kids have an equal footing when it comes to critical thinking, so the playing field now has to be leveled to the lowest common denominator. At the very least, let us not be hypocrites. The more we lower the expectations of our kids and ourselves, the less we should expect.

I can see the future now, and it is all gray. No one thinks for themselves, no one questions, no one cares.

If parents really wanted to tackle the obesity problem in this country, they wouldn’t sue a TV station and cereal company. They’d set their jaws, plant their feet, and do what my parents did when I was growing up and wanted to eat junk.

They’d just say No.