Commentary & Opinion

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Master Gardener Offers His Diagnosis

3 hours ago
Master Gardener Gerry Weber at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties
Ralph Gardner Jr.

When my brothers and I were born my grandmother planted spruce trees for each of us on the front lawn of the house that has now passed down to me.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Lost World

Sep 22, 2017

THE LOST WORLD.  It’s a Hollywood silent movie that first startled audiences in 1925 and has since proven to be a cult favorite for those who savor fantasy and science fiction genres.  In THE LOST WORLD, pterodactylus fly, and brontosaurus and stegosaurus roam.  The story, which stems from a novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was written in 1912.  It is evidence that Conan Doyle’s appeal was not limited to Sherlock Holmes.  This story features two of Conan Doyle’s lesser-known but repeated characters, hot-tempered explorer Professor George Edward Challenger and his friend, adventurer and big-game hunter Sir John Roxton. 

Judith Enck: Toxic Legacy

Sep 21, 2017

On a recent beautiful Saturday afternoon, I joined a group of professors from Bennington College who were going door to door in Hoosick Falls.   We were asking residents to fill out a new health questionnaire.

Herbert London: The Emerging New World

Sep 20, 2017

It is clear that the free exchange of opinion that once characterized university life is now being challenged. The avatars of social justice have arrogated to themselves the role of arbiter in the university curriculum. But it hasn’t stopped there. Now monuments of the past are being put through the probity of present standards as one statue after another is in jeopardy of tumbling. Here is a foreshadowing of a “new America”, one in which the evils of the past are to be redressed by the self-appointed czars of the moment.

Stephen Gottlieb: I’m An Affirmative Action Baby

Sep 19, 2017

I went out for an early walk recently. One of the things I like about taking a walk is the way it clears the mind. This morning, the fog lifted and I realized with great clarity that I was an affirmative action baby. About a decade before I applied, Princeton had made the decision, not just to eliminate the quota that limited the number of Jews admitted, but to actively encourage Jews to come.

Judith Enck: Climate Change And Hurricanes

Sep 19, 2017

There were just a few days between the time when Hurricane Harvey caused historic flooding in Texas and Louisiana and when Hurricane Irma slammed into the Carribean, Florida and Georgia.

Blair Horner: Consumers’ Finances At Risk

Sep 18, 2017

Recently, it was revealed that Equifax, one of the big three credit reporting agencies, had been hacked, potentially compromising the data of 143 million Americans, which is more than 40 percent of the entire U.S. population.

Rob Edelman: Dupont’s Variete

Sep 18, 2017

Once upon a time, I was delighted to discover and savor a number of German silent films that date from the 1920s-- or, before the coming to power of Adolph Hitler. One of my favorites was VARIETE, released in 1925 and directed by E.A. Dupont. Across the years, all the other titles, from Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS to F.W. Murnau’s THE LAST LAUGH to Josef von Sternberg’s THE BLUE ANGEL, have been screened in a range of venues. But one was conspicuously missing, and that was VARIETE. Happily, however, Kino Classics recently released VARIETE to home entertainment in a beautifully restored print that was culled from several international sources, and it truly is a pleasure to re-see and rediscover.

David Nightingale: Genghis Khan (~1160 - 1227 AD) (Temujin)

Sep 17, 2017
Portrait of Genghis Khan
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Imagine standing somewhere on the Great Wall of China and looking north. Before Russia there would be the Gobi desert, and Mongolia.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Thinking Of Tortola

Sep 16, 2017
Photograph of Lambert Beach, Tortola
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

My wife visited the British Virgin Islands in the late 1970’s, part of a crew to sail a boat back to New York City. Their departure was delayed several weeks, giving them a chance to get to know Tortola, the largest of the islands.

So Donald Trump has tried to have it both ways. He is ending the DACA program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy established by the President Obama in June 2012 because Congress had failed to pass the Dream Act. In 2010, a version of the Dream had passed the House of Representatives and came just five votes short of shutting off an anti-immigrant filibuster in the Senate. In other words, a minority of US Senators prevented this eminently reasonable proposal from becoming law.

Herbert London: Putin’s Strategy And Our Response

Sep 13, 2017

At the end of the Cold War, Russia was a facsimile of itself. Shorn of empire, the Russians appeared to be a weak regional power, if that. Should one examine it through domestic considerations, its economy was weak relying entirely on extractive industries. A contagion of alcoholism raged through the society. HIV cases represented an epidemic. And life expectancy was declining. These conditions still prevail, but Putin has gone global in order to conceal the weakness and failure that exists at home.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Value Of Democracy

Sep 12, 2017

Driven by the Tea Party, Republicans gave us a Congress that hasn’t been able to get much done. Saying less government is better, they take credit for getting nothing done, and leave immigration, tax policy, and health care to fester. It took the Democrats to make a deal with Trump to open the spigot even on hurricane relief.

Bill Owens: Trump And The Democrats

Sep 12, 2017

On the evening of September the 6th, at a meeting with Mr. Trump, Ms. Pelosi and Messrs McConnell, Ryan, and Schumer a negotiation ensued to resolve the debt ceiling, Harvey relief and a Continuing Resolution (known as CR - that essentially extends current spending into the future when Congress can’t agree on specific appropriations bills).  There was a back and forth amongst the assembled with the initial offer from the Republicans being a proposal for an eighteen month CR and debt ceiling raise to be included with Harvey relief of $7.85 billion, this was countered by a three month proposal from the Democrats; the Republicans then countered only to be pushed aside by President Trump who agreed with the Democrats.

Blair Horner: Immigrants In America

Sep 11, 2017

The incredible natural calamities occurring around the world have understandably taken away public attention from important policy decisions, such as the Trump Administration’s move to end federal policy protecting the children of undocumented immigrants. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Getting Into A Jam

Sep 9, 2017
Ralph Gardner Jr. picking raspberries at Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, NY
Ralph Gardner Jr.

With the headlines – a Mexican earthquake sandwiched between two superstorms – sounding apocalyptic, mental health almost requires those of us out of harm’s way not only to give thanks but also to take solace in life's smaller pleasures.

Audrey Kupferberg: Alone In Berlin And The Exception

Sep 7, 2017

If the topic of a film is unpleasant but presented in an exaggerated or outlandish manner, audiences flock to see the movie.  In superhero blockbusters, characters borne in comics fight to the death to save whole populations from misery and the world from mass destruction.  Audiences can’t get enough of this type of entertainment, and profits of hundreds of millions of dollars result.  

Bill Owens: The Health And Safety Land Account

Sep 7, 2017

A common sense Constitutional amendment has been put forward for a vote this November.  The State Assembly with strong leadership from Assemblyman D. Billy Jones and the State Senate with strong support from Senator Betty Little have voted in two consecutive years to move this amendment forward as well as having passed enabling legislation. The amendment creates a 250 acre land bank in the Adirondacks and the Catskills.  These two constitutionally protected areas of the state provide enormous green space which aid in the protection of our environment and are major attractions for tourism and recreation bringing tens of thousands of visitors from outside of New York.  This is the second proposal that I recall which provided for a common sense response to the needs of Adirondack communities.  Several years ago, a land swap occurred in Essex County for the NYCO mining facility, which was a hotly contested amendment to the state Constitution, but nonetheless, it passed and NYCO was allowed to expand in exchange for returning land of equal size to the Adirondack Park. 

Herbert London: The Lesson Of Charlottesville

Sep 6, 2017

The events in Charlottesville raise many questions about national cohesion. If a national government is to exist, it requires political loyalty that causes neighbors to treat each other as fellow citizens. Without a legacy of social trust derived form a sense of belonging, political stability is impossible. Those on either side of the barricades in Charlottesville were not united in common sympathies and could not in any meaningful way offer their fealty to government.

Stephen Gottlieb: Taking Care Of Each Other

Sep 5, 2017

Americans have been celebrating the reaction to Hurricane Harvey as an example of Americans taking care of each other. There is much to celebrate. But we have also wrestled for centuries with the problem of taking care of each other – the out of work, the working poor and others struggling to stay afloat.

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal indicated that Alibaba’s revenue will grow fifty percent (50%) due to an increase in sales to China’s growing middle class.  The dynamics of that reality may well cause a shift in Chinese production towards its own middle class, and thus, a shift in the utilization of resources for that production.  The level of Chinese exports to the United States in 2015 was $483,188,700,000 and 2016 was $462,618,100,000, resulting in a U.S. trade deficit during each of those years of $367,256,700,000  and $347,016,000,000  respectively.

Blair Horner: The Campaign Season Begins

Sep 4, 2017

Not only does Labor Day herald the beginning of the football season, it also kicks off the final quarter of New York’s election campaigns.  And while the focus of this year’s elections is on local offices, there are three ballot questions that impact the state’s constitution.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Traveling Beyond The Headlines

Sep 2, 2017
A memorial to victims of August's terrorist attack in Barcelona
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

There are many benefits to taking a vacation abroad – the charming, if unquantifiable stimulus on the brain when you visit new places; good food; and the opportunity to relax; whether in my case that means taking long walks through terrain more dramatic than our woods or going swimming in bodies of water significantly larger and less murky than our pond.

Bill Owens: NAFTA Talks

Sep 1, 2017

The United States, Canada and Mexico had their first day of negotiations on Wednesday August 13th, 2017. Prior to the U.S. Trade Representatives, Robert Lighthizer, remarks it was difficult to determine the direction those negotiations might take and their impact on our region. Most of what takes place in Washington has little direct impact on our region. NAFTA is a major exception to that axiom. 

Herbert London: The Lying Heart Of The Left

Aug 31, 2017

The idiocy of the hard left is in full display in a Huffington Post article by Jessica Schulberg entitled: “Sebastian Gorka, Who Has Downplayed Threat of White Supremists, Still Teaches Marines About Terrorism.” Ms. Schulberg claims that Sebastian Gorka, an adviser to President Trump, has been overly critical of Islam, yet dismissive of a white nationalist threat.

Behind The Scenes

Aug 30, 2017

It takes a lot of people to make WAMC the superb, fun place to come to work that it. Many of you know Joe Donahue, Sarah LaDuke, Ray Graf, Brian Shields, David Guistina, Wanda Fisher, and Selma Kaplan, among the many other on-air people. But there are a lot of unsung stars who really do make the place hum.

Stephen Gottlieb: God And Texas

Aug 29, 2017

I mentioned to Ian a couple of weeks ago, as I was preparing to take a brief vacation, that I thought I had enough commentary ready for a couple of months. Ian just smiled and said it might depend on what happened. He didn’t mention a biblical flood in Texas.

Every child should be taught by a highly skilled, qualified teacher.

A standard page out of the American Business playbook is that if there is a serious problem emerging down the road, corporate chieftains ramp up a massive disinformation and lobbying campaign to undermine the threat.

David Nightingale: Lucretius, Philosopher

Aug 27, 2017
Sculpture of Lucretius, 1859-1861, Parco del Pincio, Rome
photo by Colle Pincio / Wikimedia Commons

This essay is about Titus Lucretius Carus, a Roman, who was born around 99 BC.

He is known for a long poem “De Rerum Natura” -- “on natural things” -- or on natural philosophy.

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