Pundit Wire

E-n-c-y-c-l-o-p-æ-d-i-a

EncyclopediaI wonder how Jiminy Cricket would have handled the æ.

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The news summer from hell and the end of optimism

globe By this point in the summer, a sane person could reasonably conclude that the world is going nuts.  Spiraling out of control, descending into darkness, making optimism a delusional last recourse – that kind of feeling.

“What fresh hell is this?” – the question Dorothy Parker asked when her doorbell rang – now applies to the news.  If you’re staying informed, you’re licking the razor.  Unfortunately, not following what’s happening in the world isn’t really an option.  These horrors seize our lizard brains; we’re hard-wired to pay attention to danger.

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Remembering Todman

todman The August 17 Washington Post carries a fine obit on Terence A. Todman, deceased August 13. No quibbles with Emily Langer’s synthesis of this remarkable man, my first boss in 1986 in the Foreign Service.  Just a few footnotes to add:

I was Ambassador Todman’s press officer the day he gave his fateful news conference in Copenhagen, denying that his future posting would be South Africa…

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War, Liberalism, Trust in Government: The Many Casualties of LBJ’s Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Johnson Fifty years ago, on August 10, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed what is known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. It is a day that should live in infamy.

On that day, the President gave himself the power “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed forces,” to fight the spread of communism in Southeast Asia and assist our ally in South Vietnam “in defense of its freedom.”

Or as former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it decades later, it gave “complete authority to the president to take the nation to war.”

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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Not Just a Pretty Face

prettyface Last week I was in New York to attend the founding meeting of the Professional Speechwriters Association. While there, I managed to take in a play at Manhattan’s Irish Repertory Theatre. Sea Marks: An Irish Love Story, tells of two middle-aged people: Colm, a fisherman who has lived all his life on a small rocky isle on the west of Ireland, and Timothea, a Liverpool divorcee who works in publishing.

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