Commentary & Opinion

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Tesla Of Chickens

Oct 7, 2017
Anna Hodson at Kinderhook Farm
Ralph Gardner, Jr

Does a pampered, pasture-raised, animal welfare approved, and all around well loved chicken taste better and is it healthier for you than your typical supermarket broiler? Is it worth paying multiples of the price for the former? Or is the enhanced flavor mostly a figment of your imagination?

On September 24 something beautiful to behold happened.   A group of black athletes and some white allies refused to be bullied by our so-called President.  Even more stepped forward on October 1.  Of course I am referring to the group of football players who took knees in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.   Ever since September 24, Donald Trump has railed against the players and particularly Kaepernick because he was allegedly disrespecting the flag, the military, first responders and the entire nation.   This is so typical of Trump that it should not require explanation but here goes anyway:   Kaepernick was very explicit in stating that he took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem as a way of protesting the wanton unpunished killing of too many unarmed black people by police officers.   He was also protesting police brutality in general.   Trump, of course, ignores this completely and has turned the entire story into one of “disrespect.”   Too many people have fallen for this “misdirection play.”

“An injury to one is an injury to all.”

That cry is a stirring call to action for the labor movement. Its message of solidarity – of reminding fellow workers that ‘we got your back’ – has reassured ordinary New Yorkers in political battles and resounded on picket lines during contract disputes for decades.

MaryEllen Elia: Back To School

Oct 5, 2017


Another school year is well underway. Teachers, students and parents are getting comfortable with new classes, schedules and routines. It’s an exciting time of year.

Herbert London: Kneeling For Recognition

Oct 4, 2017

It is now a Sunday ritual. Petulant NFL football players joined by their colleagues in other professional sports have colluded to dishonor the flag and what it represents by kneeling during a performance of the national anthem.

I awoke yesterday to the horrible reports from Las Vegas but I decided to take a week to organize what I want to say, and deal with guns and Vegas next week. This week I want to tell a story about generosity.

Despite the nonsense that Americans hear from their national elected leaders, climate change is the single biggest policy challenge we face.  There is no doubt that the planet is heating up and that human activities are the primary driver of global warming.  The burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, are the most significant culprits in those human activities.

Many Sides

Oct 2, 2017

I have some very strong beliefs in life. I believe that health care is a right for every American. I just can't fathom why some people think that if you are poor, you and your kids don't have any such right. In fact, universal health care is just one example of something I believe in. 

candy
Ralph Gardner, Jr

On a visit to WAMC’s studio in Albany last week a friendly staffer offered me a marshmallow peep. I hesitated and finally had to reject her generosity.

Hilary Dunne Ferrone: Shared Space

Sep 28, 2017

It’s nice to be back in the WAMC studio. I took the summer off from my commentary to work with some new clients, but I was constantly coming across news items related to nonprofit management and philanthropy that I wanted to write about: mismanagement and malfeasance in nonprofits; disaster relief; the responsibility of philanthropists and nonprofits to speak out against hate…The news this summer provided many instances for reflection on such critical issues. However, another news item from this summer, the mega lottery jackpot, really got me dreaming… What would I do for my community if I had that kind of money?

Herbert London: Watermelons v. Cherry Pie

Sep 27, 2017

For news junkies there is one consistent story at the moment: an ongoing and systematic attack on President Trump from without and within. On the outside is a web of the Fourth Estate, the Democratic Party, the Republican Establishment, the Academy and Corporate America that see in the president a threat to the prevailing left-wing cultural agenda. On the inside are the reformers who by dint of influence persuaded the president to rid his staff of Trump partisans so that the administration is essentially anti-Trump in ideology and orientation.

Stephen Gottlieb: My Undocumented Friend

Sep 26, 2017

A friend since my law school days knew he’d been adopted. We saw a lot of each other when we both lived in New York City, where I met his adoptive parents. In a distinguished career, he’s been president of his professional society, recipient of honorary degrees in the US, France, and Greece, an advisor to the Director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and he taught at several of this country’s finest universities and war colleges.

Ben Downing: Graham-Cassidy

Sep 26, 2017

On our national seal, you find a motto of the United States in Latin - “E pluribus Unum” … “Out of Many, One” … it was adopted to represent the coming together of the separate states to form the Union and the basis for our country. We are at our best as a nation when we look at that motto not as a description of the legal arrangement among states, but as the spirit that has guided us for 2 and a half centuries since. Out of many, one.

If you promised to do something, but you found out that if you fulfilled your promise tens of millions of people would be hurt, and some may die, would you do it?

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Master Gardener Offers His Diagnosis

Sep 23, 2017
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.

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