WSKG is proud to present another half hour of toe-tapping fun as Fritz’s Polka Band takes the Let’s Polka stage. Fritz’s Polka Band (FPB) was formed in 1978 by lead accordionist, the late Fred Scherz Sr., and his eight-year old son, Fritz, for whom the band was named. Sadly, Fred passed away on November 14, 2009, but FPB has vowed to carry on his legacy! Playing everything from modern-style polka to country to rock and even blues, FPB performs an eclectic mix of musical styles! Highlights of this set include ‘Kiss an Angel Good Morning’, ‘Polka Time in the Morning’ and a cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’.
In an era of artificial intelligence, gene splicing, and handheld devices that hold an entire life’s history and keep people in constant touch with everything and everyone on Earth, there is still much that we don’t understand and a lot to be scared of: seeing your work go for naught, getting lost, losing a friend. Maybe the worst thing is simply not understanding what’s happening to you and what will happen next. The characters in the novel “Beta Test” by Eric Griffith are elbow-deep into the modern world; they are hi-tech workers north of Silicon Valley in the light, lively town of San Francisco. But then everything goes wrong. Everything. People simply disappear and the world starts to look like it’s coming to an end. Have we earned it and can we control it? http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1007062.mp3
“Beta Test” has been called “an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale” and it is a fun book to read. But there are some real chills. The principal characters are workers at a struggling high-tech company called EverLife that created virtual realities, sort of four-dimensional video games. Yet the characters, especially Sam Terra, a bright, overweight technician, soon find that they are pawns in a game played by creatures from another dimension. When his co-worker and secret sweetheart Molly Maddox suddenly disappears, then an empty airplace crashes into San Fancisco Bay, and millions of people worldwide (including the vice-president of the United States) turn up missing it is obvious that there are stronger forces at work than mere earthlings can deal with. But Sam and his friends prove to be constantly resourceful. Sam returns to his (and author Eric Griffith’s) hometown of Hornell, NY, where he discovers that some people were able to return in a new guise but that alien forces had truly taken control of the world. Their power seems to be based in a zoo in Australia, where prehistoric animals have begun to run loose and everything seems to be guided by God, who appears in the guise of a talking platypus names Richard. An action-filled apocalyptic tale turns into an inquiry into the workings of power, faith and human resourcefulness.
“The real S&L crisis [of the 1980s] was not a few deregulated hucksters but the complete shift of Americans’ savings from banks to markets… In a titanic shift in the organization of American capitalism, banks had become service providers, not capital providers.” — from “Borrow: The American Way of Debt”
The dynamism of a nation’s economy means that it is constantly changing — new products and services, expanded markets, creative entrepreneurship — sometimes for the better but possibly also for the worst. The rise and fall of opportunity and output may be cyclical, prosperity and recession may be due to factors outside the economy, such as war or a changing birthrate. Sometimes economic development contains the seeds of decline; the dot-com revolution of the 1990s was one more example of an imploding technological revolution. And now the American economy is in a slow climb out of “the great recession” that saw the first decade of the 21st centuy fall victim to the souring of forces that made much of the 20th century a period of growth and optimism. The ravenous beast was debt — as nasty a four-letter word as any that shouldn’t be spoken around children. The abundance of credit cards, home mortgages, auto loans and other forms of individual, corporate and government debt has become such a common burden that it may come as a surprise that until recently falling into debt was considered a serious moral failing, though one that the average person was unlikely to qualify for. Consumer debt is a distinctly 20th century product. The history of debt — where those mortgages, charge accounts, credit cards and layaway plans came from and how they work — has now been told in “Borrow: The American Way of Debt” by Louis Hyman, assistant professor in Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. It is a companion volume to Dr. Hyman’s earlier book “Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink”. “Borrow” tells “how personal credit created the American middle class and almost bankrupted the nation.” The book ranges from the activity of loan sharks to the contrasting policiesin the early days of Ford and General Motors, through the role of debt in bringing on the Great Depression of the 1930s and then to supercharging the post-war recovery.