Pundit Wire

Turning 50: The tragedy of Tonkin Gulf

Tonkin Gulf They came in from the west: three North Vietnamese patrol boats, halting five miles from the USS Maddox. The Maddox fired first. One Vietnamese boat launched a torpedo. Then the boats raced away, strafed by U.S. jets. One boat sank.

So, at least on the first day there was a battle. A few nights later President Lyndon Johnson was on TV, describing two attacks, reassuring Americans we “seek no wider war,” and asking Congress for the power to take “all necessary measures” against “open aggression on the high seas against the United States of America.” A year later, we had almost 200,000 troops in Vietnam.

Read More »
Posted in General, History, International, National Security | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

If Norman Lear at 92 is what 92 is, I’ll have what he’s having

Norman Lear It is not widely known that Norman Lear and I have the same mother.

Norman once called his mother in Bridgeport, Conn., and said, “Mother, I just got this call. The Television Academy is forming a Hall of Fame. And the first inductees are going to be General Sarnoff and Edward R. Murrow and William Paley and Milton Berle and Paddy Chayefsky and Lucille Ball — and me.”

There was about a two-second beat, and she said, “Listen, if that’s what they want to do, who am I to say?”

Read More »
Posted in Culture, Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Stop Students Peeping at Their Mobile Phones?

cell phone in class One of the worst things about being a teacher or trainer these days is the fact that the joys of the classroom have to compete with Rival Attractions.

Back in the 1960s when I was at school in St Albans in England, our Maths teacher kept steely control. When (as he invariably did) he spotted you fiddling with something beneath the level of your desk instead of paying attention, he would stroll across the classroom to where you were sitting. He would then daintily pick up the offending object between thumb and forefinger, give you a nod of thanks, walk across to the window, drop the article out of the window.

Read More »
Posted in Education, General, Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Encore for Proprietary Medical Schools?

Medical Schools Conventional wisdom holds that America faces a growing physician shortage and that one way of responding is by creating new medical schools.  Starting a new school is an expensive proposition which may explain the modest number that has opened in the past decade.  But now the private sector may be coming to the rescue by creating proprietary – or profit-making – schools to train physicians.

Read More »
Posted in Business, Economy, Health, U.S. | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Please manipulate me

opi_fb-marty_71414_539_332_c1 What do you call it when media try to manipulate your feelings without first asking for informed consent?

Tuesday.

Example: The average Facebook user sees only 20 percent of the 1,500 stories per day that could have shown up in their news feed. The posts you receive are determined by algorithms whose bottom line is Facebook’s bottom line.

Read More »
Posted in Culture, General, Media, U.S. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liberty, Equality and Barbarity

Bastille Day July 14 is Bastille Day, the day on which the people of France celebrate the storming of the Bastille and the revolution that gave the world “liberty, equality and fraternity.”  That, at least, is the version we get in the history books.  But the French Revolution was a good deal more complex than that.  And so I am going to devote today’s post to an episode from the Revolution that most history books either gloss over or omit altogether.  It’s something called the War of the Vendée.

Read More »
Posted in General, History, International | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Magic Formula

Sorcerer Houston’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society is staging six performances of the Sorcerer at the Cullen Theatre between July 18-20 and July 25-27.

The Sorcerer is not as well known as H.M.S. Pinafore, the Pirates of Penzance, or the other operettas that followed. But without it, we might not have had its successors. Because it was with the Sorcerer that Gilbert and Sullivan hit on the magic formula that would plant their distinctive brand of musical comedy firmly in public favor, in their own time and to the present day.

Read More »
Posted in Culture, General | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to organize your books

books It’s a sin to throw away a book.

I don’t mean e-books.  If they’re cluttering your e-reader, all you have to do is delete them, and you don’t even have to do that, since you can pretty much fit the Library of Congress on a thumb drive.

But physical books – the creepy retronym for the objects formerly known just as books – are different. They take up space. They demand shelves.  They can crowd us out and weigh us down. And though no divine injunction exempts them from a recovering hoarder’s triage, there’s something miraculous about books that stops me from tossing them in the garbage.

Read More »
Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment