Monday, January 16, 2017

Three Inspiring Stories To Brighten a Gloomy Monday

by Nomad

Suffice to say, the recent days haven't done much to bring much happiness in our lives. I don't know about you but I am finding it hard to find much in the way of silver linings in the present fiasco. It's difficult to stay positive when every day there's some new trauma to contend with.

The really unfortunate part is that we currently live in a world where a person like Anne Coulter or Rush Limbaugh (or a hundred others like them) can effortlessly grab the attention of millions with some divisive and discouraging remark.

It's time we took a break and heard a little good news about good people.
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Teacher Retires After 38 Years, But Students’ Heartfelt Send-Off Leaves Him Speechless

Last month, the students at College Paul Fort– a junior high school in Courcouronnes, France- decided to give a proper send-off to their teacher who was retiring after 38 years.

The 63-year-old gym teacher, Alain Donnat, was leaving his final class and heading towards the doors of the school to leave, when.. well, I will let you watch the video to learn what happens next.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Russian Journalist to US Media: Congrats on Trump's Press Conference and Get Used to the New Normal

by Nomad

Immediately following last week's press conference, in which President-elect Trump faced off with the reporters, many in Russia were laughing their heads off. Others were totally astounded by what they saw.
Not, however, for the reasons you might automatically assume. Not because of America's abject humiliation on the world's stage.

A report in The Moscow Times points out:
In Russia, the independent media has gradually eroded under a president who seems to share Donald Trump’s disdain for disruptive journalism. But Russian Twitter users who tuned in to watch Trump’s meeting with the press weren’t partying or seething — for the most part, they were laughing.
Many prominent Russian Twitter users seemed to think the most amusing aspect of Trump’s confrontation with the press was the fact that reporters actually asked him tough questions, sometimes quite aggressively. This is a far cry from the tone at Vladimir Putin’s annual press conferences, where a room packed mostly with sycophants pampers the president with praise, disguised as questions, and opportunities to impress the nation, framed as requests for presidential intervention.
Alexey Kovalev, a Russian journalist who writes about propaganda, fake news, and Russian state media, has a message for US new organizations about Donald Trump.
If you think that Trump press conference was a disaster for journalism, you'd better get used to it.
Kovalev says the Russians have been dealing with this kind of thing for over a decade.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Thomas Wolfe's Message to Trump's America: You Can't Go Home Again

by Nomad

Thomas WolfeAmerican author Thomas Wolfe's travels through 1936 Nazi Germany comprised part of his posthumous novel. Excerpts from the book reveal the ways a society can adapt to the unstoppable approach of a brutal regime.

The Shortcomings of "Genius"

Last Saturday night I saw a film called "Genius." It was, to put it as nicely as possible, not as good a film as it should have been.
The germ of the idea was worthy enough, to be sure. The point of the film, I suppose, was that often genius relies on hard and cold self-evaluation. Oftentimes, the artist is the last person capable of this type of hard-nosed discipline.

The other side of genius is knowing what to leave out, what to excise in order to enhance the focus and strength.
Fair enough, but in an age where the only rule of communication is trying to keep it down to 144 characters, it seems to be a bit of lesson too well learned.

To be honest, until I watched the movie, I really hadn't known much about the life of the writer Thomas Wolfe. He never made it on my reading list but I gather that in style he was a forerunner to the later Beat Generation's Kerouac.

Actually, I kept getting him confused with other similar names. Thomas Mann and the author and journalist, Tom Wolfe, a Republican dainty who wears a white tie, white homburg hat, and two-tone shoes.

Tom Wolfe You Can't Go Home Again
So here's the man I am talking about.
North Carolina-born Thomas Clayton Wolfe was a bestselling author in the 1930s. In 1929, he wrote his most popular work, Look Homeward, Angel and, before his death in 1938, published more four novels.

To my surprise, I found one of his books in its complete form online. Published posthumously in 1940, You Can't Go Home Again, is largely autobiographical and deals with the effects of fame on Wolfe's life. 
Parts of the book deal with the repercussions of writing about the incidents and characters of the small town he grew up in. (The residents were understandably not thrilled about having their dirty laundry become the butt of the jokes of the New York literary world.)

In another section of the book, the main character, George Webber travels to Europe, observes (with wide and sharp eyes) and busily scribbles them down.
In Paris, Webber/ Wolfe briefly enjoys the social bedlam of an uninhibited group of expatriates, a fading echo of the 1920s. The days of Fitzgerald and Hemingway were gone forever. He had arrived too late.

However, it is the next part of that book which aroused my interest. In that case, his timing was perfect.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Here's the Intel Report that President-Elect Trump Didn't Want the World to See

by Nomad

Yesterday's blockbuster leak of a 35-page classified intelligence report has, at long last, emerged as President-elect Trump prepares to be sworn into office.
The report, disclosed by a site called BuzzFeed, seems to reveal the extent of the alleged Russian involvement with Trump's campaign.
The document, a dossier prepared by a former British intelligence officer hired by Mr. Trump’s political opponents, had been circulating among high-ranking politicians and some journalists since the fall. Intelligence officials recently presented a two-page summary of the allegations to Mr. Trump and President Obama, CNN reported on Tuesday.
The allegations, which could not be absolutely substantiated, appear to come from a variety of credible sources, in and out of the US government intelligence community.
The charges suggest that Russians were gathering highly damaging information about Donald Trump, of both a ("perverted") sexual and financial nature for over 5 years. 

Nevertheless, while the report raises a lot of questions about Trump and foreign manipulation of the election, nothing has been proved.  Many reputable new sources refused to print the report and since the advent of purposefully faked news sites, deniability has now been permanently built into any disclosure.