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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

– Groucho Marx

10 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.

    Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

    –Groucho Marx

  • I suspect it’s a generation thing. Groucho Marx was of the pre-TV generation, and he never loved it the way I bet he loved movies. He certainly was in lots of movies.

    I have loved TV from the moment I first saw it as a small boy, and have loved it ever since. Yes lots of it is crap, now more than ever. Biased or just stupid. But you can pick and choose, now more than ever.

    TV now has a very end-of-the-age-of-TV feel to it, with lots of ancient repeats, and lots of programmes about the earlier lives and recollections of the TV generation, many of whom fell in love with TV when they were a lot older than I was when I did, just as I also fell in love with the Internet when I did, quite late on. TV now s like an old people’s home, where the actual work is also done mostly by younger people.

    And now, another generation is here for whom TV is old hat and ridiculous and not cool daddyo. I don’t blame such people for grumbling, but I refuse to join in.

  • I have gone from someone who watched 3-4 hours of TV a day to someone who watches 2-4 hours of TV a month… teh internetz is eating television :-D

    Time to short TV media shares.

  • BigFatFlyingBloke

    What Perry said.

  • Sam Duncan

    It didn’t stop him presenting You Bet Your Life for eleven years, though.

  • I used to be with Groucho on that one.

    I loved TV as a kid in the 1960s and 70s, but as the 70s drew to a close, I was becoming increasingly wary of it. In the 1980s, it became obvious to me that TV news was largely entertainment and propaganda, and my TV watching dropped pretty dramatically. In the early 90s, I chucked TV completely.

    At that time, I was completely with Groucho Marx, but then along came the internet, and my book reading has tailed off dramatically!

  • ‘Book’? What’s that?:-(

  • Laird

    Alisa, its something you download to your Kindle.

  • Right, and my birthday is exactly a month from now;-)

  • Paul Marks

    It depends what television a person watches.

    And also what it means to say “when I watch television I then go and read a book”.

    For example, 17 of the top 25 books on Amazon in the United States are works recommended by Glenn Beck on his television show (and they are all good books – and were not widely known before he discussed them).

    But I doubt this is what Groucho Marx meant – and he had a point.

    For example, if one watched British television stations or the broadcasting stations in the United States (ABC, CBS and NBC) how often would one hear something important and true insights?

    Hardly ever.

    And not just in economics and politics – even the history is often just plain wrong.

    For examle, the BBC will produce an expensive series about the Royal Navy (presented by the son of one of their leading creatures – Mr Snow, spelling alert). But the series will be full of errors.

    For example, we will be told (repeatedly) that the British economy was dominated by the profits of slavery (FALSE – domestic farming was vastly more important) and that these profits sparked off the industrial revolution (a nonsense theory that was refuted decades ago) or even that a single naval defeat “cost Britain the American colonies” (fantasy, the war was decided by what happened on land).

    And on and on.

    People who get their “education” (in economics, politics, or history) from the television are (at best) wasting their time.

    In spite of all the attacks upon it (indeed this is perhaps the real reason the attacks are launched) Fox News does, SOMETIMES, provide information of real value (education), but the other English language television stations are (at best) utterly worthless from an educational point of view – at least if one is talking about economics and politics.

    So Groucho (whatever he have thought about what I type above) had a point.

    By the way – it is possible for British television to be both entertaining and educational.

    For example, Brian Walden (an ex Labour M.P.) presented the ITV show “Weekend World” in my youth.

    He not only interviewed well (they brought him back some years later to do interviews – but this was not the main point) the show also taught people facts.

    For example, simple things like pie charts were used to help people understand such things as how much money government spent and what it spent it on.

    Before the interview, the first half of the programme was used to really educate the viewers (and it worked).

    Then M. Paris (an ex “Conservative” MP) was brought in to replace Brian Waldon and the show became utterly worthless – just talking heads.

    And talking heads that were talking crap – like the rest of British television.

    40 years ago (and with very primitive technolgy) Brian Waldon managed to explain the size and doings of government (and so on) better than anyone does now – including anyone on Fox News.