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Commentary & Opinion

Over the weekend the planet achieved a new milestone:  A small Siberian town hit temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  While that region of the world is noted for its wide range in temperatures, the reading is the highest ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle.

Let’s start out with something positive, the Clinton County Fair Grounds which will not be open for the fair this year has decided to utilize its facilities for a drive-in theater.  Many of us remember those venues in which we had fun as children and even more fun later on. I am pleased that they are demonstrating their creativity, flexibility and a desire to make people happy.  The first night was a resounding success as reported by the local media.  I am hoping to get out soon to see a movie for some fun in a difficult environment.

Bob Goepfert: Lack Of A Unifying Song Of Protest

Jun 21, 2020
A man burns an American flag Saturday in Albany.  May 2020.
Jackie Orchard / WAMC

TROY – Throughout American history there have been many moments of powerful social protest that led to change. And, in most of them there was a song that unified the emotions and illuminated the goals of those protesters.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Pandemic Birthday Party

Jun 20, 2020
A socially distanced birthday party.
Lucy Gardner

I’ve always believed in celebrating one’s birthday. The basic reason is that life gives us ample opportunity to be sad and disappointed so why not seize any excuse to have a party?

Michael Meeropol: The Promise Of Juneteenth In 2020

Jun 19, 2020

June 19th is an important date in American history.  For my brother, myself and our families, it is the anniversary of the judicial murder of our parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, 67 years ago.   What he and I lived through as a six-year old and a ten-year-old back in 1953 never goes away.   [Calling it murder is not hyperbole.   For the facts underlying the reasoning behind this conclusion as well as details of what actually happened in the case, see Meeropol, Michael, “‘A Spy Who Turned His Family In’: Revisiting David Greenglass and the Rosenberg Case,” American Communist History Volume 17, Issue 2 (May 31, 2018) .]

Rogovoy Report 6/19/20: In Praise Of Mixed Nuts

Jun 19, 2020

I like mixed nuts. I don’t know how they do it, but someone has figured out the perfect ratio of different kinds of nuts – the best-tasting proportion of Brazil nuts to filberts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, and peanuts (technically not a tree nut but a legume). I love blindly reaching into a bowl of mixed nuts and coming up with a delightful, satisfying blend of varying flavors, textures, shapes, and sizes.

Bryan Griffin: The Picture Of The Progressive Left

Jun 17, 2020

In Oscar Wilde’s famous novel The Picture of Dorian Grey, a man is beset with a unique curse. Invincible to harm and age, every ailment or injury that befalls him is transferred to a portrait of himself. If he views it, the wounds would then become his own, so he avoids it. Not knowing what his portrait holds, in time, he becomes dangerously unconcerned with what he has become. His inability to see the portrait of his true self is his undoing.

Stephen Gottlieb: To Reinvent The Cops, Disarm Them

Jun 16, 2020

The Governor wants us all to reinvent policing in our own communities. Let’s pull that apart. He wants each separate community to have a conversation about policing and reset everything. Sounds good. Community is a lovely warm word. But I think the reality is a lot different than it sounds.

Blair Horner: A Nation Of Laws And Democracy

Jun 16, 2020

Americans pride themselves on living in a nation governed by laws, not the whims of those in power.  Those laws are determined by representatives elected by us.

A Bloomberg article reported that Wall Street was warning corporations to gather as much cash as possible as we drift into the second half of the year. The obvious concern is the number of people who are unemployed, and the likely decrease in spending which that will cause even if another pandemic relief package is passed by Congress. This dire warning coincides with many other economist views that the fall, September, October, November and December could be particularly treacherous, and thus, the acquisition of cash could be very important, not only for corporations but individuals. Something more to think about as part of this difficult period.

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!

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