Commentary & Opinion | WAMC

Commentary & Opinion

David Nightingale: An Exoplanet

Jun 14, 2020
Size comparison of Gliese 581 c and Earth.
NASA / Public Domain

Planet 581C is so far away that our 'How are you?' is received by them 20 years after we say it. If they reply 'fine thanks', that's another 20 years -- which certainly amounts to a strained conversation. The first inter-planetary conversation ever made, using the Star-Trek-inspired warp-communicator, has no delays. Moreover, communication, with computer translation from the other end, is only possible with 581C once every 99 years, and the alignment passes in four minutes.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Reusable Community Activism

Jun 13, 2020
Tom Plumb at Middlebury College in the 1970’s
Tom Plumb

My wife and I have the same disagreement around this time every year. She wants to buy a case of bottled water for guests. I say our tap water is great and, besides, plastic bottles, even if they’re recyclable aren’t good for the environment.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: The Courage Of Refuge

Jun 12, 2020

Some years ago, I wrote an illustrated children’s book about the underground railroad.  In it, a family of slaves seeks refuge with an immigrant Jewish family from Germany who had never intended to serve in the dangerous role of harboring escapees.  Noticing the Jewish family’s Menorah lamp burning brightly in their window one night in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the slave family mistakes the lights for the lights of a safe house beckoning kindly to people running from plantation owners and slave hunters.  Caught in a web of accidental circumstance, fear and suspicion, the story’s four parents are prodded by their four quick thinking children into devising a plan for hiding their friends that night.  The plan works, the two families celebrate Hanukkah together, and the Jewish family helps its new friends escape to freedom the next morning. 

Rogovoy Report 6/12/20: The End Of Travel

Jun 12, 2020

You hear it all the time from natives, expats, experts, know-it-alls, and blowhards: that such-and-such a city that you’re thinking of visiting isn’t what it used to be. It’s a mere shell of its former self. While it was once the coolest, hippest place to visit, where everything was a bargain and life was still authentic and you could sit at a café all day nursing your espresso and no one would bother you and you could blend in easily with the locals, now it has become overrun by tourists. It’s been ruined by the commercialism and gentrification that follows in their wake. There’s no more there there. It’s over. It’s so yesterday, so last year. Don’t go there.

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump’s Second Amendment Hooligans

Jun 9, 2020

The pandemic has been making life quite difficult for many of us, but if we don’t figure out a way to deal with Trump’s invitations to violence things can get a lot worse.

The racially-based disturbances taking place throughout the country have forced many of us to examine our own consciences in regard to white privilege.

Blair Horner: Can The "Street" Change America?

Jun 8, 2020

Two weeks ago, George Floyd, an African American man, was asphyxiated when a white Minneapolis police officer pinned his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes 46 seconds.  The police officer has now been charged with murder.  Mr. Floyd’s killing, coming on the heels of the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, ignited protests against racism and police tactics that have broadened to include the nation’s political leadership.

Former north country congressman Bill Owens offers his weekly look at world events. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Graduation For The Ages

Jun 6, 2020
A Zoom college reunion
Ralph Gardner Jr

My college reunion’s this weekend. Or it would have been this weekend if a pandemic hadn’t interceded. I won’t say which reunion it is on the grounds that I’ll be deluged with offers for walk-in bathtubs and medical alert devices. Suffice it to say I don’t feel a day over fifty, except for my lower back.

Like most Americans, I have been heartbroken by the loss of over 110,000 of our fellow citizens to the coronavirus over the past four months. I have also been outraged and anguished by the continued killings of unarmed black people at the hands of police or vigilantes. 

Rogovoy Report 6/5/20: Am I Cut Out To Be A Writer?

Jun 5, 2020

I stumbled upon a Medium post the other day entitled “The Top 10 Signs You’re Really Cut Out to Be a Writer.” It caught my eye and I thought, sure, why not? So what if I’ve been at this thing for 40 years or so. So what if I’ve written and published literally thousands of articles, essays and reviews. So what if I’ve had two books published with a few more on the way. Isn’t it time, I thought to myself, to find out if I am really cut out for this work? How can I be sure I’ve made the right decision? Why not read the article and find out?

George Floyd was murdered, and he deserves justice.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Killing Of George Floyd

Jun 2, 2020

After practicing law, it’s hard to stick to stereotypes about people, whether the police, the looters, whites, presidents or anyone else. Lawyers see the best and the worst, Mother Teresa and Jack the Ripper. The good and bad aren’t predictable.

As Ever, We Are One

Jun 2, 2020

First of all, let me take this opportunity to thank each and every person who has made this radio station what it is by putting something into the collective pot. To say that we love you for all you have done is an understatement. When we opened the Locked Box at the beginning of May, hoping that we could avoid an on-air fund drive, we had sort of expected to limp into the formal start of the drive on June 1st. We never saw anything like what you were able to do in such an amazingly short time.

After a nearly two-month hiatus, state lawmakers returned to Albany last week to conduct legislative business.  Having wrapped up a limited agenda, they are not expected to return for the remainder of the scheduled session.

President Trump continues his elimination of Inspector Generals and effectively the oversight which they deliver.  The latest firing of the Department of State Inspector General raises a whole new set of concerns because Mr. Pompeo is under investigation for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and for utilization of Department of State employees for personal matters.  He is the latest of the President’s cabinet appointees who has been investigated and several have already resigned.  This is an overall pattern of behavior which reflects a complete distain for the rule of law.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Call In The Experts

May 30, 2020
Julie Cerny, author of the Little Gardener
Ralph Gardner Jr,

Ours is not a victory garden unless your idea of victory is just enough lettuce to eke out a salad, grape tomatoes sufficient to garnish cocktail hour, or the random sprig of rosemary to add some interest to roast chicken or lamb.

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump's Misuse Of The Pandemic

May 26, 2020

I wanted to talk about something else; the health crisis is so serious and depressing. But it’s so serious because Trump has been unwilling to be part of the solution. He tries to double down, deny the science, ignore the tragedy and let everyone who’s not a Trump supporter sink into bankruptcy or perish, while Trump and his buddies play golf, and the people he put in charge of federal agencies use the pandemic as a smokescreen behind which to destroy all the agencies and the states and the services they provide – from schools to fire, police, safety regulation and health services.

On this federal holiday, millions of Americans have been out of work for two months. 

David Nightingale: The Month Of May

May 24, 2020

Chipmunks are scampering back and forth across the lawn, and the cold weeks are over. Finally the sun has some strength, allowing one to stand outside, stretch and soak in the warmth. Ah, what a feeling!

Ralph Gardner Jr: Taking A Pond's Temperature

May 23, 2020
Ralph's new pool thermometer
Ralph Gardner Jr,

During a pandemic you have to take your pleasure where you can. So I was probably more excited than I should or would have been in a normal world as I anticipated the arrival of a swimming pool thermometer that I’d purchased over the Internet.

There is an emerging consensus that life after the COVID-19 pandemic – if there ever will be such a thing – will not look exactly like life before the COVID-19 pandemic. Nor should it. And I’m not only referring to changes that will be made in direct response to the spreading of disease, or an enhanced awareness of viral and bacterial transmission and efforts that can, and will, be taken to minimize the spread of disease.

The Trump Administration and some of the companies that run large meat-packing plants are behaving reprehensibly towards their workers. When hot spot outbreaks of COVID-19 began to occur at many meat-packing plants, some of them closed down temporarily. As more and more workers got sick, some started to stay home out of fear for their own health. The result was a decline in production. It got so bad, that farmers – particularly those that raised pigs for slaughter – found no place to sell their maturing products.

Bryan Griffin: One Person, One Vote

May 20, 2020

Will the coronavirus pandemic take the American election system’s integrity as another casualty?

Stephen Gottlieb: For Those Who Can’t Work From Home

May 19, 2020

As the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. The fact that Trump has handled the virus badly, stupidly, doesn’t mean that everything out of his mouth is wrong even if he says it for all the wrong reasons and without any understanding of the impact.

The words "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" have long been associated with U.S. Postal Service’s workers.  The Postal Service has its historical roots in the 1775 Second Continental Congress and its first postmaster general was Benjamin Franklin.  It is one of the few government agencies explicitly referred to in the U.S. Constitution.

The reopening of America is a complex calculation, comprised of the need for a recovering economy and a significant health risk.  There has been little clear information about a number of factors that are troubling to me and I hope they may be of at least concern to you.  With 30 million plus people out of work as the enhanced unemployment expires, what will the citizens be able to pay for, obviously, it will be significantly diminished as compared to their recent consumer history.  Will businesses that open have enough customers to survive, or will these business owners deplete their last remaining resources to open and then find that they are in a worse economic position a few weeks into this process?  Given the fact that no state has met the criteria for testing, we will only know the results- more, less cases or the same.  The latter would be an interesting result.  Will the public simply stay away in large numbers, will there be a mix of all of these things occurring simultaneously throughout the country with different outcomes in regions, counties, cities, etc.? 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Some Of My Favorite NYC Things

May 16, 2020
Central Park, May 2019
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Cities in general and New York City in particular are facing an existential crisis, if they’re not completely doomed. That’s what some of the news, opinion and navel gazing I’ve been reading lately would have us believe. The approximate cause is that once people realize they can work from home, in their slippers, they’ll be loath to return to the office. The reasons people have congregated in New York for the last four hundred years and the services that followed to feed, house and entertain them will become superfluous.

There are two kinds of people during a pandemic: Those who take the opportunity to read “The Plague” by Albert Camus, and those who don’t. I, like thousands if not millions of others, am in the first category. I’ve always been a fan of Camus, but I had never read “The Plague,” which, for those who don’t know, is a novel about how a handful of residents in the French Algerian city of Oran respond to the bubonic plague. Published in 1947, and wholly a work of imagination – there was neither a plague in Oran in the 20th century nor did Camus ever live through a plague or pandemic -- it garnered Camus the Nobel Prize for Literature ten years later.

Hank Greenberg: Busy Times Ahead

May 14, 2020

When the clock struck eight on the night of Sunday, March 22, our economy was put on “pause.”  In order to try to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus Governor Andrew Cuomo had no choice but to issue an executive order putting most of the state on lockdown.