Book Review

July 9, 2018

THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING

Even though James Patterson books have sold more than 300 million copies, up until now I have never read one of them. I have read President Clinton’s autobiography, My Life. Now I can say that I have read a  James Patterson book. And, I now plan to read another one, because I really enjoyed The President is Missing, which I read because it was co-written by an actual former President of the United States. I would imagine a lot of folks have read and will read it for the same reason.

While it is definitely a page-turning cyber-attack thriller loaded with violent action and many surprises, it has the depth of geopolitical and White House intrigue, and it does address today’s political climate. However, James Patterson, in an appearance on Book TV on C-SPAN, said the book is not political. I’m not sure what he means by that, because it also definitely deals with politics. Maybe he said it because parties are never identified. I never saw the words Democrat and Republican in the book.

There was a time when I read almost no fiction, but I read more of it now, especially by authors like Grisham and Follett. And, now, as I said, I’m going to give Patterson another read. Any suggestions on which of his thrillers I should try?

 

 

 

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Seth, Slow Down

June 22, 2018

Seth Rudersky’s rapid-fire delivery might work in Manhattan, but it didn’t work for me and some others at the RiverCenter’s 2018-2019 Season Reveal Concert in the Bill Heard Theater last night. We simply couldn’t understand what he was saying.

The first admonition public speaking course instructors often give is “slow down.” That is especially important in a large theater, and Bill Heard seats almost 2,000. So, Seth, when you play in big auditoriums,  I think many more folks will better understand what you’re saying if you slow down.

The reveal  part of the concert, which included a video presentation, was easy to follow. The upcoming season is loaded with a large and diverse number of shows and concerts. We plan to attend a lot of them.

 

 

 

Another Way to Reduce the Cost of Healthcare

June 10, 2018

The point of the post is still topical, so I’m rerunning it. Your responses, as always, are welcomed.

Dick's World

IMG_1923 Locally grown produce on sale at Uptown Market in downtown Columbus, GA, Saturday, May 27, 2017.

It’s no secret that the cost of healthcare in the United States is highest in the world, but  overall quality is low among developed nations. The United States ranks 37th in the world according to the World Health Organization.  As you probably know,  just about all of the developed countries in the world but the United States have universal healthcare.  Certainly the top ten do. While the debate on whether to go single-payer or continue for-profit is important, there is another way to drastically reduce healthcare costs that gets very little attention.  Poor diet reportedly is a major contributor to the cost of healthcare in the United States.

This was graphically pointed out by a Harris County farmer at a Wednesday night group discussion at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, Georgia.  He provided…

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Political Rewind Shows “Old Fashioned Radio” Can Still Work

June 9, 2018

Born in 1930, I have witnessed the evolution of mass broadcasting. When I was a kid, my family gathered around a large console radio in the living room to listen to dramas, comedies, live music shows,  and special events like national political conventions, things that people watch on TV now. Many of the programs featured live studio audiences. That came back to me as a friend and I  “gathered” around a radio to listen to Political Rewind on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

The show attracted a sold out audience to Legacy Hall in the River Center in Columbus. It’s usually aired from Atlanta with no studio audience. Columbus Mayor Tersea Tomlinson, who has appeared on it in Atlanta, invited GPB to bring it to Columbus. To me, that was a great idea because not only did it provide a very informative and entertains program, but because it reminded a statewide audience that Atlanta isn’t the only vibrant metro area in Georgia. The River Center competes well with any theater complex anywhere in America now.

We really enjoyed the program. Not only did it inform us politically, it was entertaining. The host Bill Nigut and the panel, State. Senator Josh McKoon, State Representative Calvin Smyre, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, Ledger-Enquirer  reporter and columnist Chuck Williams were at the top of their articulate games. And the reactions of the large audience enhanced the experience.

If you missed it when it aired Friday afternoon, you can hear it on the GPB website. In my view, it’s definitely worth a listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Varsity and Dinglewood

March 30, 2018

Amazing how two hot dog emporiums have become famous enduring institutions.

I saw where Varsity hot dogs were served to legislators for dinner at the last session of this year’s Georgia legislature. I had my first Varsity fare years ago. The Varsity opened across the highway from Georgia Tech in 1928, two years before I was born.

I enjoyed my visits to The Varsity, but frankly, I like Columbus’ Dinglewood Pharmacy hot dogs and scrambled dogs better. Not only does Dinglewood beat The Varsity in hotdogs (to my taste), but it does in longevity, also. It opened in 1918. I started enjoying their hot dogs and milkshakes in the 1930s. (I haven’t had either in years.)

The Varsity is still a drive-in. Dinglewood was also a drive-in for a while at its old location. It used an empty lot next door for drive-in service until the owners of the lot decided they didn’t like that idea. When that closed it continued “curb service ” on Wynnton Road. I know this because my “big brother” Elbert was a teen-age carhop there in, if my memory is correct, about 1940.

Don’t Let Them Snow You

February 7, 2018

Recognizing Propaganda

Every minute of every day you are subjected to propaganda. People are using words, pictures, and even music to influence the way you think.  Before I get into how propaganda works, the techniques that are used, I should define the term as used in this post.

Propaganda is the use of one-sided messages to influence the emotions, opinions, attitudes, and actions of targeted audiences for political, ideological, or commercial purposes. The messages may or may not be factual.  That’s a paraphrase of a definition provided by Richard Alan Nelson in a Wikipedia article.

A very effective explanation of how propagandists manipulate us is a documentary, Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions, by Jerry Kroft, Ph.D., a Psychologist, who wrote Duped! Delusion, denial, and the end of the American Dream.  You can see it on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfo5gPG72KM

He explains the basic tools that are used.

1.Reframing

2. Repeated Affirmations

3. Vicarious/ Imitative learning

4. Distraction and denial

5. Classical & operant conditioning.

It would be great, in my view, if this were shown to every11th grader in the United States.

 

 

 

What’s the Hurry?

December 8, 2017

If I didn’t have a DVR, I would miss a lot of what is said on the CBS This Morning newscasts.  I find myself rewinding a lot to be able to understand some reports. And sometimes even that doesn’t work because the information isn’t properly explained. Not only do the anchors rush a lot of their copy and run words together, but the production of the reports is often too tight..  Maybe the editors should cut down on the number of stories and give each one a little more breathing room.  Also, in my view,  there needs to be a brief pause between the reports, and transitions help the viewer stay on track.

Any basic course in writing for broadcast news makes it clear that writing for broadcasts is different from writing for newspapers and magazines. Readers can pick their speed and can easily reread the copy.  Listeners and viewers have to be able to understand what is reported the first time around, especially if they don’t have DVRs.  Perhaps it’s time for some producers to get back to the basics.

For some reason, the three major network producers seem to better understand this on the evening flagship newscasts.

Musical Chairs Make a Big Difference

November 20, 2017

Cameron Bean, Executive Director of Development for Columbia s State University, with Col. (Ret.) Hal J. and Marie A.Gibson standing by the new display for their donation of the Distinguished Chair in Conducting for the Schwob School of Music.

No doubt, one of the main reasons that the Schwob School of Music attracts extraordinarily talented student musicians from all over the world is that it has world-class instructors. And one of the main reasons is they are paid well, thanks to a large number of endowed chairs funded by generous benefactors.  Faculty members who are honored with Chairs in Music get significant supplements to their salaries.

Schwob Wind Ensemble conducted by Jamie L. Nix, The Hal J. Gibson Distinguished Chair in Conducting,

The latest faculty member to receive that honor is Jamie L. Nix, Conductor of the Schwob Wind Ensemble, thanks to Hal J. and Marie L. Gibson.  Cameron Bean, Executive Director of Development for Columbus State University, announced the addition of the Hal J. Gibson Distinguished Chair in Conducting at the Schwob Wind Ensemble Kick-off Concert for the 20th Anniversary CSU Conductors Workshop.  Bean said that Col. (Ret.) Hal Gibson is a retired Schwob School of Music faculty member, who, after leading the U.S.. Army Field Band and the United States Armed Forces Bicentennial Band, came to then Columbus College in 1976 to develop the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, gaining national recognition and acclaim for the Columbus State University band program. He retired from CSU in 1991. The Legacy Hall audience gave the Gibsons a standing ovation.

Col. Gibson and I had a nostalgic conversation during intermission. I got to know him when I accepted an invitation from him to emcee one of his Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s concerts. On June 1st. 1981, he reenacted a John Phillip Sousa concert at the Springer Opera House.  That was special for me because my mother, Sara McMichael, was in the audience. I informed the audience that she had actually attended  Sousa’s last concert at the Springer on February 18, 1922.

The 2nd balcony is used now for lighting, but it was built as a segregated balcony for African-Americans back in Jim Crow days. There was a second box office and flight of stairs that led to it.

The only seats left when her father decided to take her – she was about 11 years old – were in the second balcony, which was called the “peanut gallery” back then. That balcony was actually for “colored” patrons at that time.  However, for the Sousa performance, the high demand for tickets by whites led the Springer to close the second balcony to African-Americans and open it for whites. That was the way it was prior to 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress, ending racial segregation in public facilities.

George Washington Warned Us

November 16, 2017

In his Farewell Address, President George Washington spoke not just to the U.S. citizens of 1796, but to  us.  John Avlon wrote in Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations that he warned us about “the forces he feared could destroy our democratic republic.” The main ones, hyper-partisanship, excessive debt, foreign wars, and foreign powers interfering in our elections alarmingly apply to the political environment we are in now, 2017. The book is an interesting read.

 

 

The Solution is the Problem

September 1, 2017

The most powerful story in the world is the one that says that economic growth is the solution to the world’s social and political problems.  However, using today’s technology, that solution creates a greater problem, the destruction of the world’s ecosystem. That’s  a point convincingly made by Yuval Harari in his book Sapiens; A Brief History of Humankind.

The only time that the rapid rise in greenhouse gases slowed, he says, was during the 2008 recession which caused a slowdown in economic growth. Now that economic growth is greatly increasing greenhouse gases continue to increase. Not only do the wealthy economic elite want the growth to continue, but so do the masses of the world.  When the billions of Chinese and Indians, for instance, reach lifestyle parity with Americans and Europeans, the ecosystem will collapse.

Some believe that evolving technology caused this, but that new technology can also solve the problem.  However, others think for that to happen political and economic leaders will have to cause it to happen.