Weekend Roundup 9/20/2010

Every week, the CQR Blog will feature comments from CQ Researcher writers and editors on stories they read over the weekend and liked. We hope you’ll join in the conversation and post your favorite reads in the comment section.

Small Change
Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, Oct. 4, 2010

Synopsis: Social media are nice. They help us keep in touch with the many acquaintances and people at one or two degrees of separation that we'd otherwise lose track of or never know about. Nevertheless, we wouldn't use Facebook or Twitter if it were hard to do. And, that being the case, the "weak ties" between people that social media strengthens aren't nearly as good for fomenting serious social change as Internet evangelists would like to believe.
Takeaway: "Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice. We are a long way from the lunch counters of Greensboro." By the way, Gladwell's piece ties in nicely with my recent report on "Social Networking" (9/17/10) and "Impact of the Internet on Thinking" by Alan Greenblatt (9/24/10).

Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer, CQ Researcher

How the future will judge us
Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Washington Post, Sept. 26, 2010

Synopsis: A philosophy professor at Princeton University identifies four contemporary practices that future generations are likely to find deserving of condemnation: U.S. imprisonment policy; industrial farming; institutionalization and isolation of the elderly; and “the environment.”
Takeaway: “What were they thinking?” Even if we don’t have a good answer, Appiah says, we should be anticipating the question.

Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor, CQ Researcher

The Unconsoled: A writer’s tragedy, and a nation’s
George Packer, The New Yorker, Sept. 27, 2010

This long, intimate profile examines the life and work of David Grossman, one of Israel’s leading novelists and nonfiction authors. The longtime peace activist began his latest novel, To the End of the Land, while his middle child , Uri, was in uniform, and completed it after Uri was killed during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Southern Lebanon. Grossman had supported the initial Israeli response to Hezbollah attacks, but urged a negotiated settlement. Grossman’s novel appears as Israel and Palestinians try again to negotiate a “two-state solution.” He is keeping his hopes alive.

Peter Katel, Staff Writer, CQ Researcher

“OP-ED AT 40: Four Decades of Argument and Illustration”

What a feast for mind and eye The New York Times gave us when it launched its artfully illustrated Op-Ed page on Sept. 21, 1970. In an 18-page special section that’s worth keeping for your children and grandchildren, the Times reprinted excerpts from memorable columns. There’s President Gerald R. Ford explaining why he pardoned Richard M. Nixon. Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, author of Born on the Fourth of July describing the moment he was shot and paralyzed. Novelist James Baldwin commenting on Black English. Charlotte’s Web author E.B White reporting on what his barnyard animals were saying about the Watergate break-in. And on and on…..Ronald Reagan, author Nora Ephron, playwright Wendy Wasserstein, Chinese dissident Liu Binyan, and yes, Mr. Nixon.
Thomas J. Colin, Managing Editor, CQ Researcher