Saturday, October 15, 2016

Learn it and love it, not love it or leave it


Often in the bitterness of political debate, we expose our provincialism. Sometimes it comes in the form of: If you like the way things are in (fill in the blank), just move there. It’s the old “America, love it or leave it” routine.
George Santayana wrote in 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And perhaps we can add: Those who live with blinders on are also sure to repeat their and our mistakes or make new errors. And one of the best ways for Americans to remove those blinders is international travel. By experiencing what other countries do, we can learn that there are better ways to do things — if we’re open to them, of course.

I’ve alluded to this observation before, especially after a 2013 visit to England and Paris where I rode intercity and local public transit. While many of the Brits think their rail service could be vastly improved, compared to what’s happened in the United States, intercity rail travel is excellent. On the continent, France, Spain and Germany showcase high-speed rail. None of those countries have military budgets as large at the U.S. war machine. Changing our priorities will be a long time coming, but being aware of how we could be better should provide some motivation and national soul-searching.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A mighty news outlet hits bottom - updated

The New Orleans times-Picayune had a wondrous and honorable history. Started in 1837, the newspaper flourished and was my first taste of being a news junkie in 1954. That’s when I started reading it on a daily basis. The Wikipedia entry provides a good summary of the T-P’s storied history.

According to that entry, Samuel Newhouse, Jr., bought the T-P  in 1962, but an article on NOLA.com reported that Ashton Phelps, Jr., a scion of the T-P's ower family for many decades, retired in 2012. With the local publisher out of the way, the Newhouse family’s Advance Publications installed its own hitman and thus began Advance's gutting of the newsroom and much of the rest of the newspaper’s operation.