PROPAGANDA

Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. — Geo. Orwell, 1984

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Photo by Robinson Recalde on Unsplash

When future historians write about the 20th Century, it would not surprise me to find it had been nicknamed The Century of Spin. Today more than ever we see that the battle for the minds of the people revolves around the manner in which events get interpreted, not necessarily the events themselves.

Social observers have long noted this trafficking in interpretations. Who decides what is good and what is bad? Who decides who the good guys and bad guys are in this battle for control of the narrative?

We live in a mediated world. Before entering World War One, very few Americans knew much about Germany, its history and its aims. But as the drums of war began to sound, there were plenty of messages being piped into our brains through the news media, striving to form a national will to take up arms against Kaiser Bill and those German brutes. …


NOSTALGIA

“My work is a moving thing.” — Bob Dylan

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Author in front of elevator doors, Duluth Holiday Inn, when Dylan won Nobel Prize, 2016.

The Minnesota music scene has produced some sensational talent through the years. Rock, folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass and even gospel music circles have developed exceptional performers and recording artists. One of these was David Curtis Glover, better known as Tony “Little Sun” Glover. A harmonica player with the folk group Koerner, Ray and Glover (inducted into the MN Music Academy Hall of Fame in 1983) he was also a notable rock critic who wrote for many of the best-known music mags including Crawdaddy, Sing Out, Creem and Rolling Stone.

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Courtesy RR Auction House

When young Bobby Zimmerman left Hibbing to “attend” college in the Twin Cities, Tony Glover’s friendship there in the Dinkytown music scene made an impression on the kid from the North Country, so much so that Dylan dedicated a prose poem to Glover at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival, calling Glover “a best friend in the highest form.” 40 years later Dylan made note of Glover’s importance in his life by referencing him in Chronicles: Volume One. ‘I couldn’t play like Glover or anything and I didn’t try to. I played mostly like Woody Guthrie and that was about it. Glover’s playing was well known and talked about around town, but nobody commented on mine.’ …


WORK LIFE

“We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we respect, trust and care for each other.” — Vala Alshar

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Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

For years I have referenced data from the Gallup organization for insights on various topics. What I like about Gallup Polls is that they stake a claim on getting the most diverse viewpoints from the broadest field of data. They have the resources to do this because they do it well and have become trusted for it, unlike many news polls that pretend to do so.

When companies measure ROI, they are measuring results after the fact. …


As the morning sun salutes the dawn…

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Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Winter Morn

A cold North Wind has blown into town;
The earth, in her bridal wedding gown
awaits the glistening eye of sun
to smile (as if to say “you’re the one”)
and as smiling face sheds morning light
her gown reflects it, making bright
the world once shrouded still and gray.
’Tis glorious, this, the dawn of day.


LIFE LESSONS

When will we ever learn?

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Photo by RawFilm on Unsplash

A number of years ago I read a news story that somewhat surprised me, though I’ve reached an age at which nothing should surprise me when it involves government. Nevertheless it did take me back a step as it once more illustrated one of my favorite laws, the law of unintended consequences.

For those not familiar with it, the encyclopedia defines it like this:

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Illustration by the author.

“The Law of Unintended Consequences holds that almost all human actions have at least one unintended consequence. Unintended consequences are a common phenomenon, due to the complexity of the world and human over-confidence.”

Examples of this law in action are legion, especially in situations where modifying behavior is attempted. Prohibition is one well-known example. Small-time suppliers of booze were put out of business, but the demand was such that organized crime (gangsters) owned the market. …


LIFE LESSONS

A few thoughts on leadership and motivation

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Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

In 2018 I published an article in which I shared 9 Maxims Which Carried Me Through a Career in Corporate America. While preparing a speech this week about leadership (which I delivered Thursday evening) for our Toastmasters group, I drew upon several of those life lessons. I had so many things I wanted to say that I deleted this from the speech lest it take too much of my allotted time.

I’d first heard the expression in one of advertising guru David Ogilvy’s books. If I remember correctly he was discussing the manner in which we manage creatives. Creating fresh ideas day in and day out is a challenge, and hitting it out of the park doesn’t happen with every swing of the bat. (Unless you’re Joe Hardy.(1) There are risks involved in aiming for the exceptional. Risk means there’s a possibility of failure. …


NOSTALGIA

“Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things… I am tempted to think there are no little things.” ~Bruce Barton

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Photo by Sole D’Alessandro G. on Unsplash

I read once that Francis Ford Coppola had an illness when he was a teen that kept him in his bedroom for a year. To keep himself from going crazy at what he couldn’t do, he used to create puppets or characters and stage plays in his room. No doubt this staging and directing on a small scale contributed to his achievements in Hollywood, which included hits like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.

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Painting by the author.

On a smaller scale I had a bout with pneumonia in seventh grade which contributed in no small way to making me who I am. There were five weeks left in seventh grade when I learned that I had pneumonia and that I would have to stay home and rest. Frankly, I did not feel ill. It was a form of walking pneumonia, so I didn’t have a strong incentive to stay housebound. When my mother came home from work she’d find me continually in the woods behind our house or doing things in the yard when I was supposed to be “at rest.” The doctor explained that it appeared the only way to keep me inactive, short of shackles, was to hospitalize me. …


EDUCATION

A reading list with ideas as fresh as when penned 95 years ago.

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Photo by Renan Kamikoga on Unsplash

One of the books on my bookshelf is a little volume from 1922 called Free Thought and Official Propaganda by Bertrand Russell. It is an first printing of the Crowley Memorial Lecture that Mr. Russell gave on 24 March 1922 at the South Place Institute.

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Photo by the author.

I planned to review the book because of the widespread influence of “cancel culture” that has been occurring in public discourse. It’s interesting that Mr. Russell recognized early on, more than two decades before Orwell’s 1984 made waves, that there is a tendency to pressure people to conform to certain ideas. …


MOVIES

“Mistakes are the inevitable lot of mankind.” — Sir George Jessel

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Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

Last night I started watching A River Runs Through It, a film directed by Robert Redford based on a novella by Norman Maclean, who also co-wrote the screenplay. I’ve read the book several times, and seen the film a few times as well, albeit perhaps 10 or 20 years ago.

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Publicity still. A River Runs Through It.

Last night, though, I found myself questioning a couple details as they came up. For example, Norman, the storyteller, says he saw the great boxer John L. Sullivan fight while he was at Dartmouth College out East. For some reason I thought Sullivan fought around 1900, not 1920. (And when I checked just now, it was even earlier! Sullivan died in 1918.) …


MOVIES

You say you are waiting for something. And I say to you, “Yes, yes. We all wait.” — Viktor Navorski

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Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

This week I watched The Terminal again for the first time in perhaps 10 or 12 years. Funny thing is, although I remembered the storyline I could not recall the reason our hapless hero Viktor Navorski came to the U.S. in the first place. Nor did I recall that this was a Steven Spielberg film, one of several that the masterful director has made with Tom Hanks.

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Public domain.

The storyline is this. Viktor Navorski (Hanks) has flown into the United States from his homeland Krakozhia, a small country in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, there has been a coup during his flight and the new regime has not yet been recognized by our State Department so that his temporary visa is rejected. On the other hand, he is not able to fly home because his return is similarly blocked. In short, he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. …

About

Ed Newman

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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