Why charity can’t be the answer

“Do people have a right to social services that will solve their difficulties? Since it is our argument that charities and philanthropies are out of place in a mature society, social services should not be a matter of privilege but should be guaranteed by law.

charity“In a developed society, responses to human needs are channeled through organizational forms. Such services should be met by public agencies financed primarily by tax funds, and not by voluntary, private agencies financed primarily by non-tax funds.

“The ‘right’ to welfare services should be integrated into our legal system because, pragmatically, it offers the only workable alternative to the continuing and intensifying deterioration of social conditions; and philosophically, human needs precede in fact and in importance the service rendered. . . .

“Because men and women are entitled to life, they are entitled to an adequate diet, decent housing, sufficient clothes, total medical care, adequate treatment for mental health problems, and the freedom and opportunity to search for values.

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Punks, grafters, self-seekers, puny Hitlers and papsuckers

John S. Knight“When a certain unscrupulous type of politician finds that he is unable to get an editorial endorsement either for himself or his candidate on merit, he then turns to throwing garbage and dead cats at the press in an effort to convince unthinking voters that he is the righteous defender of the people’s rights. … It’s a trick that is practiced by countless petty office holders and self-seekers throughout the country. It is a device that is familiarly known to those in the newspaper business as ‘running for editor.’ … 

“The chief threat to good journalism these days comes from the so-called ‘pressure groups’ who sometimes feel that, if they can muster an imposing delegation to call upon the editor, he may ‘see the light.’ However, in this country, a newspaper’s exercise of its sacred privilege, freedom of the press, is limited only by the degree of the editor’s courage. So long as we have men presiding over the editorial destinies of our newspapers who possess courage, intelligence, tolerance and a devotion to the public interest, it will take more than a few self-anointed ‘puny Hitlers’ and political papsuckers to sway them from upholding the right as they see it.” – John S. Knight, Oct. 20, 1940

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Valsa de Silêncios (Alexia Evellyn)

Legacy

StAll vying for attention, ticking off entries on a résumé, of places visited, of objects and living things consumed and possessed, of citations and honors collected; cataloging ancestors who lived unremarkable lives during remarkable times, and through repetition and embellishment become pieces of other biographies Read more of this post

A ‘network of surveillance’

G Herbert Walker smallThe goal was to counter German spies and saboteurs during the Great War, but the American Protective League appeared to be more successful at helping criminalize speech and neutralize dissidents, including leftists and labor activists.

The league functioned as a “voluntary auxiliary” under the U.S. Department of Justice, a network of amateur secret agents of 200,000 or more “loyal” Americans. Its work in St. Louis was highlighted in a lengthy feature, “Fighting German Spies in St. Louis,” published in the Post-Dispatch on Aug. 18, 1918.

Among the revelations in the report: the chief of the St. Louis division, which was said to number some 3,000 agents, was none other than George Herbert Walker, described as “a wealthy broker.”

Walker was a power in the local Democratic Party who became an influential investment banker with W. Averill Harriman’s New York firm after the war. Today, he’s best known as the maternal grandfather and great-grandfather of former presidents Read more of this post

Goober, 2000-2018

He was born in St. Louis, rescued by former Riverfront Times writer Melinda Roth, and ended up with my family. Like us, he lived in several places, but he managed to spend most of his time on a sofa. In 2013, he returned to St. Louis, where he spent his final years. He was my favorite cat and, in retrospect, deserved a more dignified name.

goober4

Reviews

boggsFrom review of Carl Boggs’ ‘Fascism Old and New: American Politics at the Crossroads’(2018): “[Carl] Boggs credits Trump with unleashing a multitude of dark social forces in American society, tapping a certain ethno-nationalism that encourages stereotyping, hate speech and targeting. But Trump — despite the strong passions he arouses — may not really matter all that much. Certain tendencies are now so institutionalized, so thoroughly entrenched in American public life, that the leadership factor as such is bound to be less decisive than generally believed, Boggs writes.”

BergerFrom review of Henry W. Berger’s ‘St. Louis & Empire: 250 Years of Imperial Quest & Urban Crisis’ (2015): Past attempts to address poverty, racial segregation and inequality, and troubled public education have had, at best, limited success and, in many cases, made things worse. Far more extensive attention and far greater corrective action is required, he writes. The focus should … be on people, not real estate. High-ticket enterprises such as stadiums, convention centers, and condo buildings do not a city make.’”

 

 

‘There was great rejoicing in hell this morning.’

prisonRemembering George Dinning, a black Southerner who in 1897 defended his family from a white mob, then courageously brought suit against his tormentors — and won. 

FRANKLIN, Ky.  •  Late on the night of Jan. 21, 1897, a group of 25 armed white men showed up at the home of George and Mary Dinning and told the family they had 10 days to leave.* They accused George Dinning, a former slave, of stealing chickens and hogs.

Dinning insisted he was no thief, but these Night Riders weren’t listening. They shot into the house — most of the couple’s 12 terrified children were there — and hit Dinning in the arm and grazed his forehead.

Despite his wounds, Dinning returned fire, killing a 32-year-old man named Jodie Conn. After the whites fled, Dinning made his way to nearby Franklin — the county seat of Simpson County, Ky. — where he turned himself in to the sheriff.

The vigilantes, as Dinning had feared, returned to his home and on a bitterly cold night forced his wife and children to leave. They then plundered the Read more of this post

Journalism! (Artifacts)

Neile AdamsNeile Adams in “This Could Be the Night” (1957) http://bit.ly/2nx335v

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Metrics, analytics, ephemera

FullSizeRender (2)“If the advertising is not worth anything to the advertiser unless it be disguised as reading matter it must be poor advertising and we should not sell it. In any event, we should not deceive and mislead the reader.” — Joseph Pulitzer II (quoted in Daniel W. Pfaff, “Joseph Pulitzer II and the Post-Dispatch, 1991, p 331)

“The move toward subscriptions will require measuring audiences differently, with analytics that measure deep engagement and not just page views. … Cutting back on newsrooms now … imperils any long-term subscription strategy. Publishers may have to accept a smaller, or in some cases no, margin of profit now to invest in the content quality that potential subscribers demand.”  http://bit.ly/2FznCpF

“Metrics alone don’t create a newsroom culture. (Caitlin Petre, a doctoral student in sociology at New York University), for her part, recommends newsrooms take time “for reflective, deliberate thinking removed from daily production pressures about how best to use analytics.” http://bit.ly/2oxMO8z

“The digital public sphere, says Schiller, ‘is bolted to the material world through spatially organized infrastructures.’ And like the newspapers of old, the work of producing and disseminating news and information in the digital age involves a sociologically complex labor process, involving ‘creative’ as well as various kinds of technical, mechanical and service work. … Read more of this post

Reassert & resist

information libre“At a pivotal juncture for journalism, it is important to reassert the value of community and resist the commercial imperative. … The goal of journalism, ultimately, is to ‘promote a well-functioning democratic process.’ If journalism simply views itself as the conduit through which transient audience preferences are satisfied, then it is no journalism worth bearing the name.” — Edson C. Tandoc Jr. & Ryan J. Thomas (2015) The Ethics of Web Analytics, Digital Journalism, 3:2, 243-258, DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2014.909122

Too much for too little

imageFound two old clips while going through some personal papers, both on subjects that are front and center in current St. Louis public policy debates. Both stories address urban redevelopment strategies that involve the transfer of public money to private interests. It was a strategy very much in tune with the times — the notion that the private sector, if offered incentives, could accomplish what the public sector couldn’t or wouldn’t.

The net result of this strategy:
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Names

Alice Martin for blogSt. Louis names -> Archer AlexanderAnonda Allen, James J. Allman, Roger Nash Baldwin, The Rev. William C. Barlow, Gordon Lee Baum, Charles W. Beehler, Napoleon Bland (Napoleon A. Rahim), Oliver K. Bovard, Helen Britton, Harry J. Cantwell, Jack Clark, Charles W. Conrad, Thomas Anthony Dooley, Elmer Sylvester “Dutch” Dowling, Cyrile Echele, Rev. Grant Edwards Sr., Lovett Fort-Whiteman, Flint Garrison, Emme and Mayme Gerhard, Jeff Gluck, Benani Guiseppe, Edward Michael Harrington Jr., A. Lincoln Hartley, Louis Hempelmann, Jeptha D. Howe, John Eads Howe, Jerry the orangutan, Joe Jones, Thomas ‘Red’ Kane, Madge Keith, Raymond Klose, Julius Lester, Jean Knott, Felix P. Lawrence, Ivy Lee, Robertus Love, Amadeo S. Marrazzi, Alice Martin, Francis L. McIntosh, William ‘Red’ McKenzie, Marguerite Martyn, Hyman Minsky, Barbara Ann O’Merry, Nelson O. Nelson, Rick NewburgerKate Richards O’Hare, Chris Pepus, Paul Piccone, John Henry Pippin, Benjamin Pitezel, Chief Pontiac, Cyrus Rastegar, Ripley Saunders, Eleanor Schlafly, William and Toni Sentner, Menlo Smith, Marvin “Gene” Starr, Dr. Henry A. Stimson, Julia C. Stimson, Ignatius Strecker, Tony Tabacchi, Curtis Thomas, John S. Thurman, Harry S. Turner, George P. Vierheller.

Requiescat in Pace -> Andy Alissandratos, Becky Austwick, Art Baldwin, Ed Bishop, George Duncan Bauman, Ray Blanton, Joe Bonwich, Tommy Burks, Harry Cargas, Maurice Chambers, John Chamis, Wayne Chastain, Chris Conley, Sam Cooper, Cornelia Crenshaw, Read more of this post

The next stage of history

Scythians

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. … We cannot tell yet how much of the winnings of catastrophe remain to be gathered in. New falsities may arise and hold men in some unrighteous and fated scheme of order for a time, before they collapse amidst the misery and slaughter of generations.

“Yet, clumsily or smoothly, the world, it seems, progresses and will progress.”  —  H.G. Wells, “The Outline of History” (1920)

‘Inner St. Louis’

09-27-1917 inner 3 smallA century ago, the Commission on Comity of the St. Louis Church Federation surveyed “Inner St. Louis,” the area east of Grand.

This portion of the city, the Protestant ministerial group found, accounted for “half the population, three-fifths of the saloons and four-fifths of the crime.”

The “East End” held the city’s “foreign colonies” and “most of the factories and factory workers.”

The survey, the Post-Dispatch reported on Sept. 25, 1917, found conditions that tend to “weaken the family relationship: Bad housing, many divorces, common-law marriages and other marital irregularities, desertion, nonsupport. Of 15,000 births in the district within a year, 750 were out of wedlock.”  Read more of this post

The influence of big business

hb portrait“The influence of big business has always been present in our federal government. But there have been some checks on its control. The mere presence of a Supreme Court, a House of Representatives, a Senate and a President would not be sufficient protection against the utter centralization of power in the hands of a few men who might hold no office at all. Even in the case of Hitler, many shrewd observers feel that he is no more than a front man and that his power is derived from the large munitions and steel barons of Germany. …

“Now one of the first steps which Fascism must take in any land in order to capture power is to disrupt and destroy the labor movement. … I think it is not unfair to say that any business man in America, or public leader, who goes out to break unions, is laying foundations for Fascism.” — Heywood Broun, journalist and founder of the American Newspaper Guild, quoted in 1936 (from George Seldes’ “Facts and Fascism.”)

The ‘talking newspaper’

09-10-1911 news that talks smallFound by accident, while searching for something else, this Sept. 10, 1911 feature published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the Telefon Hírmondó, the “talking newspaper” of Budapest. Newspaper subscribers would receive news dispatches via a special telephone.

One paragraph in the article about the new news delivery platform has a familiar ring to it: an argument that the new technology would enhance, not threaten, print newspapers:

It may appear at first that the “telefon hirmondo” would seriously cripple the newspapers by depriving them of circulation, but such is not the case. In the first place, only newspaper subscribers can avail themselves of the service, and the advantage of having the news telephone in the house therefore attracts many who would not otherwise be subscribers. Moreover, in the telephone message, the subscriber is given only enough of the news to make him hungry for details, and he consequently looks with greater interest for the arrival of his printed sheet.

 

These exit signs could be characters in a novel

Alta AldersonAlta Alderson (Exit 161, Interstate 64, West Virginia); Louisa Ashland (Exit 191, I-64, Kentucky); Antonio Barnhart (Exit 185, I-55, Missouri); Bill Gillette (sign along Wyoming Highway 59 north of Douglas); Ebenezer Goodman (Exit 146, I-55, Mississippi); Cooter Holland (Exit 4, I-55, Missouri); Marie Lepanto (Exit 41, I-55, Arkansas); Victoria Luxora (Exit 53, I-55, Arkansas); and Waddy Peytona (Exit 43, I-64, Kentucky).

Gathered these from recent trips. Got any others? 

Independence Day

07-03-1917 rube goldberg small

‘Never be satisfied with the surface of the news.’

Bovard gravestone“In this space I cannot hope to describe his singular abilities or indicate the range of his sinewy, searching mind. Through one rule which he laid down for reporters he may be glimpsed. This was the rule: ‘Never be satisfied with the surface of the news.’ If he considered the pupil worthwhile he would explain: ‘There is a formal and superficial aspect of every story. It may be a police report, a lawyer’s brief, an application for a trolley franchise, or a President’s message to Congress. As such it may have a proper place in your story. But to print that alone may result in misleading the reader partially or completely. Read more of this post

Better readers, better newspapers

newspaper reader (2)“Many of the desirable improvements in the newspaper cannot be successfully achieved until the average level of education and intelligence of readers is raised.

“Nor can the newspaper accomplish its function of supplying the basis of sound public opinion unless citizens are willing to devote enough time and thought to newspaper reading to inform themselves thoroughly.

“Hence every movement to develop more intelligent, better-informed citizens deserves the newspaper worker’s heartiest support.”

Willard Grosvenor Bleyer, “Newspaper Writing and Editing” (1913)

‘What’s the use of living if you can’t help somebody else?’

03-11-1917 madge keith portraitOccasionally, a gem shows up in the archives of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This item, published on March 11, 1917, shows how a worker found the courage to demand a better shake from her employer. This is taken from the much-longer story, which is included at the end of this summary.

Getting arrested has become a “regular thing” for Madge Keith, 24. In 14 weeks of picket duty at Robinson’s, a restaurant in downtown St. Louis, she’s been picked up by police 25 times. “And I might be arrested 25 more — but it’s all in a day’s work with me now,” she told a Post-Dispatch reporter.

She’s on strike for a wage increase. “We don’t want so very much, either. The restaurant pays $1 a day and 8 hours’ work. We want $1.10 a day 8 hours’ work. We couldn’t get it. So we struck.”

Read more of this post

A good comrade

mao

What is work? Work is struggle.

There are difficulties and problems in those places for us to overcome and solve.

We go there to work and struggle to overcome these difficulties.

A good comrade is one who is more eager to go where the difficulties are greater. (1945)

‘The house where Eugene Field was not born’

eugene-field_edited-1A plaque on the Eugene Field House says “the children’s poet” — famous for “Little Boy Blue,” “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” and other works — was born there. The Field House Museum, on its website, says “Eugene Field was born in St. Louis at 634 South Broadway, on September 2, 1850.” And some contemporary news stories also say Field was born there.

But he wasn’t.

A former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter named Robertus Love took the blame for the confusion — a century ago. In letter to the newspaper, published on Feb. 12, 1917, Love wrote: “About 15 years ago I suggested a story on Eugene Field.… My suggestion was approved and I was assigned to get the story. I interviewed several persons who had known Field more or less intimately when he lived here as a young newspaper man. Also I interviewed his guardian, an elderly gentleman now dead…. In reply to a specific query as to where Eugene Field was born, his guardian told me it was the house on South Broadway.” Read more of this post

Jerry the smoking St. Louis orangutan

jerry-postcard(Several links restored on July 17, 2018)

St. Louis still celebrates some of the long-ago residents of its famous zoo. Phil the gorilla. Mr. Moke the chimp. Moby Dick the sea elephant. Siegfried the walrus.

But not Jerry.

This much-photographed orangutan showed up in newspapers across the nation in the 1940s — and even scored appearances in Life magazine and in at least one newsreel.

Today, though, Jerry seems to have been forgotten.

I became curious about Jerry when I spotted an old postcard that showed him in uniform, smoking a cigarette. I made a few inquiries and checked archives.

Here is what I learned. Read more of this post

First uses

The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and de- formations, and the banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation. — George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language

Apparent first use of certain words employing the “-ize formation” in English-language newspapers, based on a review of online archives. (Does not include variant spellings.) Updated Jan. 8, 2017. 

“… some liberal minded judge permits a continuance and turns the criminal loose on the street to revictimize the victims.” Interview with Maj. Henry J. Wolff of the Indianapolis Police Department. [The National Road Traveler (Cambridge City, Ind.), May 3, 1972]

“Dr. (Emily) Alman startled some 200 homemakers when she suggested that the family of the 70’s may have a completely different structure. “I suggest that the group coming up has started to delegitimize the existing structure. They will not follow our patterns,” said Dr. Alman. [The Courier-News (Bridgewater, N.J.), April 29, 1970]

honeywell-ad-small“And the problem we face now is how to operationalize the concept of Black Power.”
Interview with activist H. Rap Brown. [Delaware County Daily Times, Aug. 8, 1967]

“The U.S. Department of Labor has available a new study entitled ‘Manpower Challenge of the 1960’s.’ It definitely is on the list of required reading for employers and educators. Its perusal might incentivize junior sufficiently to bring home better grades.” [The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont) May 23, 1960] 

“The Honeywell Model 7000 Digital Data Recorder-Transcriber digitizes data at the fantastic rate of 10,000 samples per second directly from transducer or other data input sources.” [Honeywell recruitment ad, Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 8, 1959] “It accepts signals from thermocouples, flow, pressure and other transducers. It measures these signals, digitizes them and prints their values. A thermocouple reference oven can be supplied to permit it Read more of this post

‘Pockets of volume’ ‘Locally heavy’ ‘Hearts go out’ ‘Great’

weatherWeather words: Cone of concern. Spotty mix. Barreling. Lashing. Churning. Taking aim. Little blustery. Ridge of high pressure. Packing winds of. Packing a punch. Gusty winds. Heavy rain. A line of showers. Intermittent. Severe. Isolated. Spot. Strong. Sun is starting to peek back in. Pop-up shower. Stray and scattered and residual showers. Hit-and-miss. Notches. Hooks. Locally heavy. Couple sprinkles. Rumbles of thunder. Breathing a collective sigh of relief.

Groundhog Day, every morning: The Internet is full of perils, scamsters and child predators. You can’t watch your children enough! Don’t be fat! Really! Too many people are fat!  Here’s a new recipe. Watch these well-paid athletes play sports. Sharks are dangerous, and they’re showing up in all sorts of places. Sharks are unpredictable, and vicious! You never know what the weather will do next! It’s crazy! It’s unpredictable! Here’s our forecast. As President Trump says, “the world is a very dangerous place!” Look at these weird people doing crazy stuff! Here’s a new study. It’s good to know, but more study is needed. Here’s a new book!  Caught on camera, and gone viral.  Dogs!

Traffic words: It’s heavy now. It’s volume right now. You’re heavy on. You’re stacked up on. Sunshine slowdown. Stacked up for a look. Stop and go. Pockets. Slow pockets. Pockets of volume. Building volume. Hitting/tapping/on your brakes. We’ve got some volume. The usual volume.  Bumper-to-bumper. Injury accident. Trouble-free. On the brakes. Crawling. Jamming. A lingering backup. In the clearing stages. Flowing fine. Still a good run. Typical delays. Clusters. Slowing down in the stretch. Smooth sailing. Keep your eye out for …

hamstersCrime (and tragedy) words: Small, tight-knit community. Rattled. Hearts go out to. Make sure a tragedy like this never happens again. Close-knit community. Devastating impact. Loved ones. When something like this happens. No obvious connection to international terrorism. On the ground. Visibly shaken. Thoughts and prayers. Shots rang out. Closure. Grief process. Active scene. On edge. Haunting. Nightmare. Ultimate sacrifice. The community is reeling. Asking the public to come forward. Families left waiting for answers. Escalated from there. Tragic news. Raise awareness. Their desperate time of need. Breathing a collective sigh of relief.  Keeping a close eye on. Bad apples.

TV and radio: Opening up and speaking out and taking a stand and reaching out and setting the record straight. What’s trending online. We’ll continue to monitor this breaking story/situation/news. We want to know what you think. Hard questions. Real concerns. The discussion continues at … . We’re watching out for you. Read more of this post

What is news?

thriving“The highest form of reporting is the ability to understand and fit together certain isolated and apparently unrelated trends before they become news. The public knows what news is after it becomes news. Only the accomplished and skilled reporter or editor knows what it is before it becomes news.” — A Handbook of Scripps Howard (1948)

‘Factious, flippant and reckless’

Frederick Law Olmsted  (Library of Congress)“Questions of the most momentous importance come up daily, and exact grave consideration from all. The experience of most persons will confirm the assertion that the manner in which the daily newspapers deal with these questions is most defective and unsatisfactory. Their false prophecies, their abandonment of all attempt to sift evidence — often unavoidable, it is true — their constant sacrifice of the truth to the demand for startling effects, the factious, flippant and reckless way in which many of them deal with the most serious topics, constantly remind their more intelligent readers that they are prepared to suit the requirements of the greatest number, but not by any means the best qualified, of those whose judgment goes to make up that force in human affairs called public opinion.” — “Prospectus for a Weekly Journal,” June 1863, from the collected works of Frederick Law Olmsted, a co-founder of The Nation.

We keep entering ‘a new and dangerous phase’

The week-long offensive to retake the ISIS stronghold (of Fallujah) has now entered a new and dangerous phase. [CBS News. May 30, 2016]  The Palestinian president today accused Israel of provoking a danger“religious war” … amid mounting concerns that their long-running conflict is entering a new and dangerous phase. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 11, 2014]  Declaring a victor before a negotiated settlement could mark a new, dangerous phase of the crisis surrounding the vote to succeed President Hamid Karzai. [The National Journal, September 11, 2014] The 48-page report released Tuesday is grim, Read more of this post