Ken Rudin and the Beauty of Mastery

This is kind of a weird post, but I’ve been really impressed by this guy recently, so I thought I’d share. I listen to a bunch of different podcasts, including a few from NPR. Ken Rudin is a political editor who appears on “It’s All Politics” and on a weekly political segment on “Talk of the Nation”. Listening to him for just a few minutes will demonstrate that he’s knowledgeable, but where his mastery of political history really shines is in the weekly trivia question.

Every week on the political segment of “Talk of the Nation”, they pose a political trivia question. These questions are often very specific and obscure, I think to make it hard to Google. For example: “When was the last time that a political party gained control of a state legislature in the same year that the state’s university went to the NCAA playoffs?” And yes, that was an actual question.

So people call in and try to guess the answer. And what’s amazing to me is that Mr. Rudin apparently knows the history of every single political race in this country, ever. Seriously, he knows the history and life stories of candidates who ran and lost in obscure house races before he was born. These people probably don’t rate a Wikipedia entry, but he rattles off the stats and history without hesitation.

What’s more impressive to me is that he’s not at all partisan. I truly have no idea how he would vote in an election. He simply presents the facts and tells both sides of the story. His grasp and recall of the political arena are that much more impressive when you consider that he’s not there to promote an agenda, but because he loves the subject.

I bring all this up just because I really admire people like Mr. Rudin and I love observing mastery and great skill in action.

I don’t know that Mr. Rudin will ever read this, but if he does: I tip my hat to you, sir. You clearly love what you do and have worked very hard to master it, and that’s inspiring to watch.

Who do you admire for their mastery of a skill or subject? Extra points for being someone obscure.