KRWG

Scott Simon

The one best wish I think I have for the country as a new administration comes to office is that there is a revival of respect.

It can be depressing, especially on these days that celebrate a peaceful and democratic transfer of power, to recount the many times this year political rhetoric got coarse, boorish, and even cruel.

I want to be fair about this. But in the news business, we can't pretend that one candidate didn't utter more of those kinds of remarks than any other; and he won.

There is a funeral service for Ashley Theriot in Pensacola, Fla. today. She was just 32, and a gifted freelance writer.

The death of a vibrant young person is a tragedy in all ways. But the person who dies can leave a gift for someone else to go on. That can be a flesh and blood blessing.

Ashley Theriot returned from Colombia on Jan. 1 and began to have seizures. She turned out to have a rare tear in the artery of her brain stem.

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I always had a wonderful time in Fidel Castro's Cuba, and usually wound up feeling bad about it.

The island is beautiful, the people even sunnier: warm and friendly, especially to Americans. The responsables — government minders — assigned to each reporting crew would tease me about being from Chicago.

"Your mobsters used to run this place," they'd say. "Sam Giancana, The Godfather. You made our men bellboys and our women prostitutes." And then they'd treat you to mojitos and fabulous music.

I know baseball is not real life.

While Chicago's streets teemed with loud whoops and waving banners as the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, 18 more people were killed over two days on the south and west sides of the city. The number of homicides in Chicago has surged past 600 this year. 2016 could be the city's deadliest year in nearly 20, and the people in those afflicted neighborhoods, usually a long way from Wrigley Field, will remember this year more for their losses than any World Series victory.

Every week we get emails and tweets from people who say they are so appalled by this year's election campaign they no can longer pay attention to the news. Then they often go on to give us full details about the latest incident in the campaign that's so repulsed them.

A lot of Americans say they are disgusted by this year's election. And the data says they can't get enough of it.

I have a special respect for political losers. Losing can reveal a candidate's character in a humbling, vulnerable moment.

An Ohio politician who lost a race for governor once explained to me that most politicians are used to being popular. They were often class officers and top athletes as kids, who become lawyers, professors, or business owners. They get used to people listening to them, and laughing at their jokes.

Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature this week. His selection was surprising. He is the first artist to receive the award for a body of work that is almost entirely songs. But while there were critics, there was also a lot of acclaim, even from outstanding longtime novelists, including Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, and Salman Rushdie, who called Mr. Dylan, "the brilliant inheritor of the Bardic tradition."

What's in a name?

The Chicago White Sox, mired in in the middle of the American League Central division, announced this week they've signed a 13 year deal to rename the park where they play Guaranteed Rate Field.

Guaranteed Rate is a home loan company, headquartered in Chicago.

But as Rick Morrisey wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Guaranteed Rate Field. You're kidding, right? Was Year End Clearance Sale Stadium already taken?"

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It somehow just seems right the last A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor will be heard tonight, on this weekend of flags, parades, and lemonade stands. The show was recorded last night at the Hollywood Bowl.

The first Prairie Home Companion was in 1974, and all of us who share this sliver on the radio spectrum know we wouldn't be in business if Garrison Keillor hadn't made a new thing called public radio truly sing.

Orlando has had a hell of a week. Few cities have endured such heartbreak over just a few days.

49 people were shot to death at Pulse nightclub. Lane Graves, a two-year-old boy, was dragged to his death by an alligator at a Disney resort. And Christina Grimmie, a 22 year-old singer, was shot to death at another nightspot — all within a week.

Each death was a tragedy, that struck in a sunny place where millions go to have fun.

The shooting death of Harambe, the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla, after a 3-year-old boy fell into his cage at the Cincinnati Zoo, is a tragedy in all ways.

Harambe delighted zoogoers, and may have meant the boy no harm.

The little boy's parents say they are grateful their son survived and is doing well. But many people on social media platforms have attacked the mother as neglectful.

John Hersey went to Hiroshima in 1945 for the New Yorker magazine to talk to people who had lived through the world's first nuclear bomb. The magazine turned over its entire issue to his report in August of 1946; it's considered a classic.

John Hersey didn't try to second-guess the American decision to drop the atom bomb, a year after it ended the deadliest war in history. Simply and plainly, he described the stories of six people who survived in a city where so many thousands died:

I flew back and forth to Chicago this week, and here were lots of passengers, myself included, who groused about the long, slow security lines: where schoolgirls have to kick off their pink running shoes, that can seem to take forever to unlace and re-lace; and convalescent senior citizens are made to limp out of their wheelchairs to walk through metal detectors and body scanners; and traveling salespeople who have to heft their bulky black cases onto conveyors, and shake their small, tired see-through bags of toiletries to show they're not carrying incendiary materials.

What would you consider "the best selfie ever"?

A shot of yourself alongside the pope, the president, Angela Merkel, Lin Manuel Miranda or Steph Curry?

This week Ben Innes, a health and safety auditor from Leeds, Great Britain, used those words to send out a photo in which he posed with the man who hijacked his plane.

The hijacker has what looks like a suicide vest of explosives strapped to his chest. Ben Innes is grinning.

There are some weeks in which there is so much news about death, loss, and cruelty that you are happy to find a story that can remind you in unexpected ways about life and kindness.

Stefan Jagsch, who is a local leader of Germany's far-right NPD party, is reported to be recovering after a car crash near Büdingen.

Greggor Ilagan, a Hawaii county councilman who is running for the state senate, decided to try to reach that vital demographic of young voters by appearing on social networking sites. And also Tinder, a dating app.

When he announced his candidacy last summer, Mr. Ilagan told local Hawaii press he would rely more on social media than campaign fund-raising to reach voters.

Greg Ilagan said on his profile page, "I bet we can find common ground on issues and make a positive impact around us."

That sounds Jeffersonian.

Famous names can be hard to live up to. Those who carry them are born with expectations, as well as advantages, and the sons and daughters of famous people have to make their mistakes and learn their lessons under a lot of watchful eyes.

When we spoke with Natalie Cole in June of 2013 (you can listen to the entire interview below), she had just recorded an album of Spanish language music, as her father had, in the 1950s.

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Soldiers must face many dangers - exhaustion, battle, loneliness and MREs.

Frank Sinatra was born a hundred years ago today. Even if you think his music just isn't your music, it's hard to get through life without uttering what I'll call a "Frank Phrase" from one of his songs at telling times in our lives.

"So set 'em up, Joe ... Fly me to the moon ... I've got you under my skin ... My kind of town ... I did it my way ... I want to wake up in a city that doesn't sleep ..." And that wry elegy for lost loves and lonely nights: "So make it one for my baby, and one more for the road."

What is the power of prayer? Is there any?

The front page of Thursday's New York Daily News featured quotes from prominent Republicans about the murders in San Bernardino. Headline writers thought they saw a theme.

Dr. Rand Paul had tweeted, "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims." Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted, "Our prayers are with the victims." They echoed Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted, "Please keep the victims ... in your prayers."

A bible story came to life in Queens this week. Jose Moran spent Tuesday morning setting up the Nativity scene at the Holy Child Jesus Church, where he is a custodian. Mr. Moran put up the manger, and went to lunch. And when he came back at about 1 p.m., he heard the cry of a baby.

The baby was in the manger, swaddled in blue towels. He was so young his umbilical cord still sprouted from his belly.

Jose Moran ran to tell Fr. Christopher Ryan Heanue, who has been ordained for only five months. Imagine being a new priest, and told: there's a live baby in your manger.

Jonathan Pollard is out of prison, if not totally free, after 30 years. He's on parole for another five years, during which he'll have to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, won't be able to give interviews, or leave for Israel, where he is considered a hero, and says he wants to live.

He also won't be able to use the internet without U.S. government scrutiny. Someone will point out: can any of us?

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We're following to news from France today after a night of devastating violence in Paris. Coordinated attacks killed more than 120 people in six separate attacks, leaving the city really and on edge. A Parisian man spoke with France 24 today.

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