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By Keith Graham:
Are some wars worth fighting? Maybe. Not an argument we have to discuss today.
But 46 years ago this month, a Quaker named Norman Morrison said an emphatic no to the Vietnam war and to any more Americans fighting in that ill conceived and ultimately pointless conflict, which resulted in so many — perhaps heroic but needless — deaths. Morrison said no in a dramatic way
Now that the frantic last-minute Christmas shopping is finished and the family gatherings have come and gone, what are we supposed to do?
What else but work on those New Year’s Resolutions?
I came across a line in a Paul Krugman column the other day that I thought might make a good resolution for me: “Well, I guess we should never assume malice when ignorance remains a possibility,” he wrote in a column headlined “The Humbug Effect” in The New York Times.
But among more specific goals — the ones
Anger? Frustration? Most likely, we’ve all experienced such feelings this year. But Thanksgiving Day is not the time to talk about such things. All of us still have plenty to be thankful for.
I hope you will feel free to share some of your own special notes of gratitude, but just to get the conversation started here are a few thank you notes of my own.
I’m thankful for:
My wife and I first heard a recording of Irish singer Maura O’Connell while we were having dinner in a tiny, long-gone Dublin restaurant.
We asked about the music, and the next day we went out and bought our first recording by her. We’ve bought every one since, and we’ve been fortunate to see her perform live six times. The latest was Friday night at Eddie’s Attic, an excellent venue and listening room in Decatur, Ga. We went with our good friends, Billy and Laurie.
Jobs in journalism that pay a living wage are hard to come by these days. Meaningful and interesting jobs in journalism that allow you to make any difference in the world are even harder to land.
Yet, students still enroll in journalism schools. In fact, the numbers of students might actually be growing. Are the students making a mistake? Are schools doing them an injustice by allowing enrollments to grow? The answer to those questions will shake out over the long term.
If anyone asked my advice, I’d discourage students from majoring in the field. Even if you do wind up working as a journalist, the lack of a journalism degree most likely won’t be held against you. Many media professionals have long favored liberal arts degrees or more highly specialized degrees over j-school backgrounds anyway. A minor in journalism, not a major, would be a sensible course to take, in my view.
Here’s a little good news: The Dalai Lama is back in town.
He’s in Atlanta for a series of events at Emory University, where he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1998 and accepted an appointment as Presidential Distinguished Professor in 2007.
Not knowing what to expect, I spent an hour talking with him in his hotel room when he first visited Emory in 1987, two years before he won the Nobel Peace Prize. I knew less about the situation in his native Tibet than I should have then and understood even less about Tibetan Buddhism. Based on quick coaching from a couple of academics who knew a lot more than I did, I anticipated that the hour would be much like I imagined an hour at the Vatican with the pope might go. Interesting, perhaps inspiring, but not a whole lot of fun.
Desmond Tutu turns 79 today, Oct. 7, and he says this is it: At long last, he’s retiring from public life.
The South African archbishop-emeritus played a critical role during a period of dramatic change in South Africa in recent decades, and he is rightly revered world wide.
A man with the dynamic energy that Tutu displays surely has rubbed some people the wrong way over the years and picked up some detractors who regard his public persona as too good to be true. Sure, he’s a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He’s also human, after all.
However human he might be, he is also deeply humane.
Irish poet Joan McBreen is the mother of six children, a noble accomplishment in its own right, and taught elementary school until she quit teaching in 1986 to work full-time toward being a poet.
A genial down-to-earth woman from Sligo, she has enjoyed considerable success since then, both as the editor of anthologies and the author of her own poetry collections.
I just read the most recent volume of her poetry, Heather Island
The sign on the door at a neighborhood pub I visited last week gave me pause: “Als,” it said.
Was that the place for me? I wasn’t sure until I checked out its companion, “Gals.”
Yep, I was — for that moment anyway — an “Al.” In recent times, I have also been a “Guy,” not a “Doll,” and a “Cowboy,” not a “Cowgirl.” Most often (and I appreciate the simplicity) I go into a room marked “Men,” not “Women.” Sometimes, I’m just a stick figure, one that doesn’t wear a skirt.
But, during my most recent trip to Scotland, I registered the reality that, on every occasion when I needed to visit a restroom, I was for a moment or two one of the “Gentlemen,” not the “Ladies.”
Maybe the places I frequent here at home are on the scuzzier side of society, but I have rarely found myself invited to be one of the “Gentlemen” in recent years. We don’t have “Gentlemen” any more, at least in the circles I seem to run in.
Rest assured. This is not a tale about toilets,
Before noon, I had worked up a sweat. How? Sitting on my shady screened porch reading the newspapers.
It’s hot here where I live. I don’t yet know the official reading but the prediction was that we would reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It was humid, too.
And what’s wrong with this picture? Overnight, the seasons officially changed. Summer ended. Fall began.
A friend told me a couple of days ago that fall is his favorite season. When people ask him why, he jokes, “Because I like to see things die.” But I know why he really likes the season. The summers in the southern U.S. are so excruciatingly uncomfortable, but autumn at least offers some hope of cooler temperatures.
Smart. Savvy, Sophisticated. Southern.
Of course you are. You’re a Like the Dew reader.
Let’s be honest with each other. We have a sharp group of folks in the Like the Dew community, and we’d like to offer a new way for you to contribute to the Web site and share your knowledge and talents with your fellow readers.
This week we’re introducing a “Mini Dew Reviews” department. We invite each of you
The title of a book, compiled from the World War II diary of Naomi Mitchison, resonated with me the first time I heard about it: “Among You Taking Notes.”
What a good motto for a journalist, I thought then, and I quickly adopted the phrase as my own. That was a fair number of years ago, but I have kept the motto ever since.
I had never read the book, however — until this year when my sister, Stacy, gave me a copy as a gift.
As she so often does, Gail Collins of The New York Times summed up the situation with pinpoint precision today when she wrote that “it is important to remember that about 5 percent of our population is and always will be totally crazy.”
She wasn’t talking about people who suffer from a form of mental illness, which is a health matter and should prompt an empathetic response. She was talking out-and-out crazy, which is not at all what highly respectable organizations like the Mental Health Association try to address.
OK, the U.S.A. departed the World Cup a few days ago. So who is America’s team now?
I can’t say, but I do have a good sense of who Atlanta’s team is.
My wife wore her Holland shirt around town today and was stopped over and over by people who told her that they hope this year is the Netherlands’ year.
Some years ago, I met the writer Barbara Kingsolver and talked with her for a half-hour.
I had read a couple of her early books and thought they were well done. In conversation, she was charming, engaging and genuine.
In the years since then, however, I confess that I haven’t really kept up with her work. Oh, I’ve read the reviews, most of them very favorable, and some people who have read her books have told me how much they liked, even loved, them.
The cerveza companies probably deserve the most credit, but Cinco de Mayo has become a sort of Mexican version of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States. Lots of folks gather to sip a Corona or, my favorite, Modelo Especial, or a margarita, eat spicy Mexican food, and generally celebrate all things Mexican.
It’s not typically a day for deep thoughts, and its feel-good qualities don’t necessarily carry over to debates about immigration law or fair treatment of Mexican workers in this country.
I’d like to mark the occasion, though, with a tribute
The late John Walter, then-managing editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, used to call me aside once in a while to talk about a story a reporter was working on. On several of those occasions — and describing several different individual reporters over the years — he would say, “There’s a good (name withheld) and a bad (name withheld). Your job is to get the story out of the good (name withheld).”
“Name withheld” — referring to the person who was equally capable of doing very good or very bad work, in John’s opinion — comes from me, not John, who rarely minced words. But I’ve often thought you could say the same about the United States and the South and my home state of Georgia. There’s a good one and a bad one. As citizens, we take pride in the good and are embarrassed — or worse — by the bad.
John’s analyses — prompted by his assessments of his individual reporters’ strengths and weaknesses — came to mind again this afternoon as I spent some time looking back at stories and commentaries on the first Earth Day 40 years ago.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve been re-visiting some of the Irish items I live with every day. Here are 17 of them for the 17th of March:
1) A green-and-black rugby shirt from Delaney’s, an Irish pub in the Wanchai district of Hong Kong. (Wanchai was the setting for “The World of Suzie Wong,” but I never met her at Delaney’s.)
While a lot of publications are downers, just telling folks about a lot of bad news, Like the Dew tries at least occasionally to say something uplifting.
Not long ago, for instance, we told you the wonderful news that the U.S. just might become the next France. We got the word from Mitt Romney and joie de vivre has been building ever since.
Once again, here goes: Some really great news.
Rush Limbaugh, who just might
Oh, sure, he’s a conservative.
But David Brooks is far from the most doctrinaire, and his columns in The New York Times are almost always readable.
As a writer and in his regular appearances on PBS’s News Hour,
Like many people, I confess to a fair amount of skepticism about the possibility that democracy is going to blossom in Iraq or Afghanistan as a result of the military actions we’ve been engaged in for much of this decade.
That skepticism has not been erased. But I also confess to a certain amount of humility after reading Stephen Lee Myers’ report on Sunday’s election in Iraq.
Here’s my choice for best quote of the day. It comes from David Axelrod, top aide to Barack Obama who is described by The New York Times in an article today as the president’s “message maven:” “Have I succeeded in reversing a 30-year trend of skepticism and cynicism about government? I confess that I have not. Maybe next year.”
A Washington Post column by the veteran political observer E.J. Dionne is already a bit dated but it still deserves to be widely read.
Published Monday, the column was written before Jim Bunning, a baseball pitcher turned Republican senator from Kentucky, abandoned his one-man stand against extending unemployment insurance. But it covers a lot of ground under the headline, “Living with partisanship.”
Like a lot of folks, I’ve spent much of the day watching the ongoing debate about health care in Washington. I’m not sure why I’ve been watching. Certainly there’s not much drama in what passes for discussion in the nation’s capital, and today’s conversation, such as it was, has gone as everyone predicted it would.
Far more unpredictable, I thought, was a discussion at the St. Marys, Georgia, city council meeting the other night.
Like so many people who feel great affection for the United States, I’ve been a little worried about it lately.
With the inauguration of Barack Obama in early 2009, the nation appeared on the verge of entering a new era of hope — one in which the U.S. would make progress toward living up to its ideals and once again be a shining beacon for the rest of the world.
Then Republicans put up a united front of naysaying and political grandstanding, Democrats responded with craven timidity and downright cowardice, and the era of hope quickly evaporated into an era of nope.
On a flight into Atlanta a few years ago — a journey I had made many times — I sat next to a young man from Dublin, who was on his first trip to the U.S. As the plane made its descent, the young Irishman stared intently out the window and marveled at what he saw.
“It’s a city in a forest,” he told me.
I loved his fresh perspective on the city
The best oyster stew I’ve eaten in recent months was served by the Oyster Shak in Brunswick, Ga., at the mainland end of the causeway to St. Simons Island. Rich and buttery, it comes in a cup or bowl with a generous portion of fat, juicy, whole Apalachicola oysters.
The best oyster stew I’ve ever eaten in my life was made by my grandmother and mother.
Mahatma Gandhi, the great nonviolent leader, was born 140 years ago today (Oct. 2). Just wonder how he would have dealt with much of what passes for political dialogue on the Internet, talk radio or some cable television in our times. I’ve been reading various commentaries on several sites on the Web today and the hostile and mean-spirited discussions that followed them. I also made the mistake of tuning into the misnamed Fox News channel, which might more accurately describe itself as the Fox Fantasy channel or, too often, the Fox Hate channel. Imagine Gandhi trying to introduce a sane thought into this mix. In honor of his birthday, though, I’ll let him introduce a few sane thoughts here. Gandhi speaks: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” “I reject any religious doctrine that does not appeal to reason […]
Speaking to an audience at Yale University in the early 1970s, Tom Wicker attempted to explain the difference between liberals in the South and those in other parts of the nation. The main difference, he said, was that Southern liberals really believe what they say. Then a New York Times columnist whose views tipped decidedly to the left, Wicker knew all about Southern liberalism. He was born in Hamlet, N.C., and educated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And he had started what proved to be a highly distinguished career in journalism with a job at the Sandhill Citizen in Aberdeen, N.C. Wicker was not denigrating the beliefs of liberals in other part of the country. He was just saying that, at that time, people didn’t come to liberalism in the South without having their views battle-tested. It wasn’t easy to be a liberal in our region, […]
Peter, Paul and Mary’s performance at a massive 1971 peace march in Washington was more ragged than their generally smooth concert work, but it still resonated with the emotional power their listeners always expected. I just re-watched the video of that performance, thanks to the link in R.P. Singletary’s tribute to Mary Travers, who died Sept. 16 at the age of 72. I had traveled to Washington from North Carolina for the ’71 rally and was, no doubt, among the scruffier folks in the throng. It was the second time I had heard PP&M at a political demonstration, the 12th time I had seen them overall. Their music rang clearly through the sound track of my youth. From the vantage point of four decades and more, the appeal of those performances might seem hard to fathom. But I remember them clearly. More importantly, I remember their impact on my view […]
B-o-r-i-n-g. Yet another debate on television about health care reform. The only thing I found interesting this time was a graphic saying 83 percent of the American people feel satisfied with their current health care coverage and 71 percent think change is needed. If that doesn’t make total sense to you, all I can say is welcome to America. But for that 71 percent who think reform is needed — perhaps because they feel compassion toward the less fortunate or even un-American pessimism about their own future status — I can help to change your mind. Just consider these 10 Good Reasons to Oppose Health Care Reform: 1) You are so rich and so sure that you always will be that you don’t even need medical insurance. 2) You have great insurance right now. You are confident that you can always keep it and that it will continue to be […]
Visiting other countries, I have occasionally been asked where I’m from. Sometimes, I’ve just played it safe and said, “Canada.” But in less cautious moments (and less hostile locales), I generally say the U.S. and sometimes even stupidly throw in my city’s name, Atlanta. I say “stupidly” because I am usually met with blank stares at the mention of Atlanta. Sure, most people know about Coca-Cola and CNN, some know about CARE USA, which is based here, and many have heard of Martin Luther King Jr. and/or Jimmy Carter. But they don’t generally associate Atlanta with any of these famous names. When I have run into people with some faint knowledge of the city, the most common response has been, “Oh, yes, ‘Gone With the Wind.’ “ A few occasions have been luckier. Last October, a shop keeper in Italy lit up at the mention of the city’s name. “Yes,” […]
My wife and I like Arlo Guthrie so much that we named our much beloved (and now long lamented) dog in his honor. (Full disclosure: Our dog’s complete name was Arlo Gordon Graham. The Gordon was in honor of Ruth Gordon because we also are big fans of her movie, “Harold and Maude.”) A Keeshond with a mane of silver and black hair, Arlo the dog even bore a slight resemblance to Arlo the singer, and once after a concert we managed to persuade the human Arlo to autograph a picture of our pup. While our Arlo is no longer living, Arlo the singer is still going strong. Because of our (admittedly one-way) bond with him, Chrys and I were interested to read a short q and a, published last month in The New York Times Magazine, in which Arlo mentioned his decision “five or six years ago” to become […]
If you take a non-stop train from the St. Lazare station in Paris to the village of Vernon, you can reach Giverny, the home and gardens where Claude Monet lived and painted for 43 years, in just a little more than 45 minutes. My wife Chrys and I were fortunate enough to make that trip once. Nothing unusual about that. Some half a million people tour the house and stroll through the gardens each year during the seven months the home is open to the public. But even if our experience was not unusual, it was special to us — one of the more pleasant days either of us can recall. In a more tangential way, Giverny figured into another of our more pleasant days, but that day was here in Atlanta. Even though neither my editor at the time nor I knew much about him, I was assigned to […]
We had talked on the phone and exchanged e-mails, but I had never met Han Park and wasn’t sure what he looked like. When I arrived at an upscale tea house in Seoul, South Korea, I told the hostess I was there to meet Dr. Park. She dutifully wrote his name on a small, hand-held chalkboard and walked around the room ringing a bell. When she returned, she said, “But, sir, there are so many Dr. Parks here.” I should not have been surprised. Park, like Kim and Lee, is a very common name in Korea. But the Dr. Park I was looking for — and who found me a few minutes later — was a singular man. A professor at the University of Georgia, Park might be the most authoritative expert on North Korea in the United States. For that reason, I took seriously an Associated Press report a […]