Commentary & Opinion

David Nightingale: Smart Meters And Microwaves

5 hours ago
Talbott/National Institute of Standards and Technology / Wikimedia Commons

This essay is about the 'smart' technology that many utility companies have introduced, and to which there is a degree of nationwide opposition.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Walk In The Woods

Feb 18, 2017

Here’s a suggestion for unsettling times: take a walk in the woods. I notice I’ve been doing a lot more of that lately.

Bill Owens: A Positive Step With Canada

Feb 18, 2017

The atmosphere at the White House appeared cordial with the Prime Minister wearing a charming smile which appeared to coax the President out of his usual scowl.

Rogovoy Report 2/17/17

Feb 17, 2017

The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include comedy; chamber music; modern jazz; multimedia; new plays; vocal music; and a whole lot more.

Ben Downing: Democratic Strategy In The Trump Era

Feb 16, 2017

Much has been made of how Democratic elected officials are pushing back against the Republican administration’s agenda. Whether it’s Attorneys General filing suit around the President’s executive order banning refugees or Senators pushing back against irresponsible cabinet appointees; all of these actions are necessary, but they are not sufficient.

If one relies on Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy In America, the great strength of the U.S. in the nineteenth century was its mediating structure that maintained social equilibrium. By that, Tocqueville meant the family, the church, the schools and the alliances – institutions that created coherence and solidarity without reliance on government.

Stephen Gottlieb: Labor Economics

Feb 14, 2017

The White House isn’t explaining what’s happening to jobs. I once taught labor economics, an issue close to my heart. To some extent, labor is like any other commodity and that’s the problem. Jobs go wherever business can find all the things it needs – the land, transportation, materials, markets, reliable legal relations, at the right prices. And it keeps changing.

On January 31, there were two articles about Donald Trump that had him saying two diametrically opposed things. The topic was whether or not Medicare should be able to negotiate the price of drugs bought for the Part D insurance program. Under the 2003 law which set up Medicare Part D, Medicare is explicitly barred from negotiating drug prices with their suppliers. The Veterans Administration, by contrast, is permitted to do so and saves about 40% compared to Medicare, Part D. For details see “What if Medicare’s drug benefit were more like the VA’s” at http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/what-if-medicares-drug-benefit-was-more-like-the-vas/

It’s not only winter in Albany, it’s budget season—arguably the biggest and most important job for the Legislature each year.  Once the governor proposes his budget, it’s up to the Legislature to decide how to react.  Every year, both houses of the Legislature hold joint hearings to look into what the governor has proposed.  This year is no different.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Valentine's Chocolates For Men

Feb 11, 2017
Valentine's Day Candy
John Hritz from Ann Arbor, MI, USA / Wikimedia Commons

I’ve got a confession to make. I buy Valentine’s candy. For myself.

No, of course I’m not talking about those large, red velvety, heart-shaped boxes filled with assorted chocolates.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Valentine's Chocolates For Men

Feb 11, 2017

I’ve got a confession to make. I buy Valentine’s candy. For myself.

No, of course I’m not talking about those large, red velvety, heart-shaped boxes filled with assorted chocolates.

I purchase those for my wife and daughters. And I buy local, by the way. At Vasilow’s an old-time candy store in Hudson, NY.

But if I did acquire for personal consumption a box bursting with raspberry crèmes, sea salt caramels, and chocolate covered cashews, so what? Who came up with the dorky notion that the bounty of Valentine’s Day should be reserved for the female sex?

Paul Caiano's Midday Forecast

Feb 10, 2017
Newschannel 13 Meteorologist Paul Caiano
WNYT

Newschannel 13 meteorologist Paul Caiano delivers the Midday Weather Summary for Friday, February 10, 2017.

Hilary Dunne Ferrone: Nonprofit Special Events

Feb 9, 2017

Recently, I attended a local arts organization’s annual fundraiser. The night started with a fun cocktail party which included an inspiring and gracious speech by the board chair, followed by a wonderful dinner.  It made me think about what makes a successful event, why events miss the mark, and what fundraising alternatives could be more effective.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Put Your Hands Up And Drop the Kleenex

Feb 9, 2017

For the past week, mainstream, alternative, and social media outlets here in the United States and abroad have been consumed with discussion and debate about the legality and morality of President Trump’s recent travel ban. However, the so-called Muslim travel ban is not the only set of potentially controversial restrictions put into place recently.

Herbert London: Fading U.S. Influence In Asia

Feb 8, 2017

If one requires any evidence that the United States is a fading power, the recent events in the South China Sea offer ample evidence. Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft and, to add to the humiliation rebuked the Obama administration for any surveillance near China. The incident took place in international airspace on what has been described as a “routine U.S. patrol.” This latest encounter comes on the heels of another interception in which Chinese jets mimicked an all-out attack on a U.S. naval vessel that sailed close to a disputed reef. These are merely two recent war like actions by the Chinese in a series of interception since 2014.

Stephen Gottlieb: Pledge Drive And Public Radio

Feb 7, 2017

I wrote this commentary assuming it would be extra incentive to contribute. Instead it is a time for celebration and appreciation. A one-day fund drive – WOW. So let me say a bit about some of the things that your contributions accomplished.

Blair Horner: The Trump Administration And New York

Feb 6, 2017

The public focus on policymaking at the state Capitol has taken a backseat to the actions of the Trump Administration.  Almost from the minute the new President was inaugurated, his nonstop, frantic pace has captured the nation’s attention.

Rob Edelman: Speed Sisters

Feb 6, 2017

SPEED SISTERS, an eye-opening documentary that has just been released theatrically here in the U.S., opens with a familiar sight... if you are a racing fan. Drivers rev their engines, just before maneuvering their vehicles onto a racetrack. But there is something different here, something unusual and, to my mind, something extra-special. The drivers all are female, and they are Palestinian.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Mary Tyler Moore And Rich Conaty

Feb 4, 2017
Mary Tyler Moore
Alan Light / Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes you don’t understand what a person meant to you until he or she is gone.

Michael Meeropol: Showing Up

Feb 3, 2017

Many members of my extended family participated in demonstrations on Saturday, January 21 pledging resistance to the far right agenda of the Republican Congress and their leader, Donald Trump.  We marched in solidarity with women disgusted by the thought of a sexist, sexual predator in the White House.

WAMC listeners had a lot to say this week. Here are highlights from the WAMC Listener Comment Line.

In his book The Open Society and Its Enemies Karl Popper, as an advocate of tolerance, argued that intolerance should not be tolerated, for if tolerance allowed intolerance to succeed, tolerance itself would be threatened. As Popper put it, “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.”

Stephen Gottlieb: Polarizing America

Jan 31, 2017

I’d like to give my spleen a break for a week and talk about some of the dynamics that are polarizing  America, that neither side can solve because the problem is structural. Law has contributed with crucial changes regarding political parties, the media, the draft and residential segregation (which Brown did not prevent). I'd love to hear good suggestions for countering the polarizing effects of those legal changes.

Bill Owens: Health Care Reform Or Chaos?

Jan 31, 2017

Let me begin by saying that I cannot comprehend the impact that the loss of health insurance will have for nearly 20 million Americans.  It will be a financial, health and psychological tsunami for our families, friends and neighbors.

For the longest time, the state Capitol has been rocked by scandals.  In recent years, those scandals have mushroomed: Both leaders of the Legislature have been convicted of corruption and face time in prison, and close aides and associates of the governor have been charged.

On February 6th, perhaps the most important fund drive in WAMC's history will take place. It comes as Donald J. Trump takes his place as the 45th President of the United States. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Hudson Women's March

Jan 28, 2017
Women's march in Hudson, NY
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Unless you were vacationing on another planet or living under a large, intractable rock you’re aware there were massive women’s marches around the country and the world last Saturday, including the one I attended in Hudson, NY.

Hilary Dunne Ferrone: Athletes & Philanthropy

Jan 27, 2017

Now that the National Football League playoffs have been battled and we’re racing toward the Super Bowl, I’m feeling nostalgic.  My first job after college was in the marketing and special events department of the NFL.  It was a dream job in many ways: not least because it was a fun product to market and it certainly presented iconic special events.  It may sound strange for a middle-aged woman to be waxing nostalgic about this particularly brutal sport, but as my career developed, I had the great fortune to work with athletes who wanted to do charitable work: it was through football players that I learned a lot about the emotions that inform a person’s desire to engage in philanthropy, and the potential pitfalls of this work.

We lend an ear to what our listeners had to say. Here are this week's highlights from the WAMC Listener Comment Line.

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Public Cervix Announcement

Jan 26, 2017

On Monday, just days after millions of women (and their allies) marched in political demonstrations, researchers reported a disturbing new finding that could affect the health and wellbeing of these protestors. In a study published in this month’s issue of the journal Cancer, scientists found that a woman’s risk of dying from cervical cancer was much higher than originally suspected.

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