5 Ways to Quickly Brush Up on the Political Scene Before A Dateby Kevin Armento on February 09, 2012
Ok, so it’s the day of a first date, and you’re realizing that because either a) you’ve been crazy busy, b) you’ve grown ultra-cynical lately, or c) you just find it too depressing, you haven’t been following what’s going on in the world. What’s more, you know the person you’re going out with tonight probably, well, does, because you’re attracted to smart and sophisticated people, which is why you’re going out with him/her in the first place.
You need to do a crash-course before tonight, college-style. Well you don’t need to, but you absolutely want to, because you’re determined to show your best self tonight, and damned if something as petty as current events is going to ruin that for you.
Here are 5 ways you can brush up fast, and find plenty of things to talk about:
1. Download the Democracy Now! podcast for the car/subway ride over. Amy Goodman’s 15 year-old news program is the one of the best ways to catch up on the biggest stories of the day. The free audio podcast is perfect to listen to on your way over to the date, and you’ll get both a survey of events, and penetrating analysis.
2. Put on Al Jazeera English while you’re getting ready. After the Egyptian revolution last year, some U.S. cities (including New York) started carrying the excellent Doha-based channel, which covers global politics better (and more fairly) than almost anyone. If you’re really short on time, put this on while you’re getting ready, and some of that international goodness is sure to seep in.
3. Leaf through The Economist over lunch.If you have some spare time and six bucks, pick up a copy of this London-based weekly. It gives a fantastic overview, region-by-region, of what’s been going on the past week, and what big events are coming up. It’s also a fantastic way to get a handle on the heavy stuff, like the ongoing sovereign-debt crises — which, if anything, are going to be in the news more this year.
4. Spend 15 minutes on a good local news site. With all the chatter about presidential politics and international affairs, it’s easy to miss big things going on in your own backyard. You might find an impending law (smoking ban on all parks?), controversy (state legislature taking up marriage equality bill?), or even anecdote (they want to move the baseball team?!) that’ll make for good conversation later that night.
5. Start following journalists on Twitter that morning and check in throughout the day.Feeling truly current about the political scene today means literally up-to-the-minute. Here are some good feeds to start with: @anamariecox, @ggreenwald, @chrislhayes, and @maddowblog. They’ll save you a lot of article-hunting time, and can help process events as they unfold, to unpack the implications.