Shanti Emerson is a breath of fresh air on The Union’s otherwise grumpy Op-Ed page

What a refreshing change to read Shanti Emerson’s column on The Union’s Op-Ed page instead of the typical yammering,  grumpy, “get of my lawn,” “anti-this,” “anti-that” diatribes that dominate its pages. (You know who you are).

I’ve gotten to know Shanti over the years (I think we first met at an event at The Center for the Arts), and I have always appreciated her “glass is half full” approach to life, not just our region. I’ve enjoyed meeting her partner, Jivat, too. A very interesting man.

Some excerpts from Shanti’s column:

-“I sold my San Francisco Victorian and bought a ranch style house on Banner. I have always been grateful for that choice.”

-“Music? Of course, all over the place.”

-“Then there is the Nevada County Fair with bands, magicians, paintings, photographs, carnival rides, rodeos, quilts, canned fruits, and animals raised by FFA students, and most of all, Treat Street to get our favorite baked potato, corn dog or chicken teriyaki.”

-“More? Yes, look at all the organizations one can join … interest groups, international service clubs, local nonprofits like Utah’s Place or Women of Worth.”

Then I read the regular disclaimer on The Union’s column and it made me laugh out loud:  “Shanti Emerson is a Nevada County resident and a member of The Union Editorial Board. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the board or its members.”

No kidding! LOL.


The “millennial snowflake” is a myth, study data shows

“The popular conception of the millennial snowflake — a person under 35 who’s too sensitive and easily offended to function in the real world — is not supported by data from a long-running survey about social attitudes, which shows that millennials are actually more tolerant of potentially offensive speech more than older generations,” according to Metro.US.

“The non-partisan research center at the University of Chicago has conducted the General Social Survey since 1972. Part of the poll involves asking questions about the extent to which free speech should be allowed. Some of the questions and findings:

“• Should a militarist book that advocates overthrowing the government and letting the military run the country be removed from the public library? In the 2016 poll (the most recent available), 16 percent of 18-to-34-year olds say it should, compared to 29 percent of those aged 50 to 64 and 34 percent of those over 65.

“• Tweaking the question to a book advocating communism, the results were nearly the same, with 18 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds saying remove it from the library, versus 28 percent of those aged 50 to 64 and 34 percent of those over 65.

“• When asked if an anti-American Muslim clergyman should be allowed to make a speech, 60 percent of those over 65 said no, compared to 55% of millennials. Even 35-to-49-year-olds were more sensitive, with 57% saying the speech shouldn’t be allowed.

“‘For us olds, there are few things more pleasurable in life than shitting on the young,’ says Jeffrey Sachs, an academic with a PhD from McGill University, who surfaced the study on Twitter. ‘On issue after issue, young people aged 18-34 are the most tolerant of potentially offensive speech and trending upward, while older Americans are the least.’

“The survey also suggests that a snowflake is in the eye of whoever it’s stinging — or who got to the meme first: There are at least as many people who could be considered an old snowflake as there are who could be labelled a millennial snowflake; it used to be called differing passionate opinions.”

The article is here.

Grant Wood’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” (1931)

The New York Times has a great read this morning on the Grant Wood exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. It is here. I wish I could see it. Ever since I was a child, we’ve had “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” print. It was in the den. This painting fascinated me a child: the bird’s eye view of Paul Revere on his horse; the dramatic moonlight; the brightly lit houses and shadows, and so on. It still does. Now we have this painting in one of the bedrooms at our cabin in Lake Tahoe. A good, lasting memory.

Trump’s growing losing streak

“For someone who talks so much about winning, President Donald Trump is racking up quite the losing streak,” CNN is reporting.

“The electoral earthquake in Pennsylvania set to send Democrat Conor Lamb to the House of Representatives from a district Trump won by 20 points in 2016 is sparking new questions about the President’s personal political potency.

“That’s because state Rep. Rick Saccone is not the first GOP candidate during Trump’s term to win the President’s blessing and promptly lose. Trump-backed candidates Luther Strange, Roy Moore and Ed Gillespie also tanked in Senate and gubernatorial races in Alabama and Virginia.

“Those busted endorsements suggest that for all his mystical connection with his base, Trump is not necessarily an asset for GOP candidates in special elections. They may also be a sign that the President will be more of a liability than an asset for Republicans come midterm elections in November.

“While some Republicans are in denial over the implications of Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, others are concluding that relying on the President in reelection races may not be a sure bet.

“‘You better be ready and in the end you determine your own fate in these things,’ Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said Wednesday.”

The rest of the article is here.

Famed physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76

“Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, has died at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76,” as the New York Times is reporting.

“A family spokesman announced the death in a statement to several news media outlets.

“’Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world,’ Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, said in an interview.

“Dr. Hawking did that largely through his book ‘A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,’ published in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies and inspired a documentary film by Errol Morris. The 2014 film about his life, ‘The Theory of Everything,’ was nominated for several Academy Awards and Eddie Redmayne, who played Dr. Hawking, won the best-actor Oscar.

“Scientifically, Dr. Hawking will be best remembered for a discovery so strange that it might be expressed in the form of a Zen koan: When is a black hole not black? When it explodes.

“What is equally amazing is that he had a career at all. As a graduate student in 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was given only a few years to live.

“The disease reduced his bodily control to the flexing of a finger and voluntary eye movements but left his mental faculties untouched.

“He went on to become his generation’s leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits so deep and dense that not even light can escape them.”

The rest of the article is here.

Ghidotti’s plans for national school walkout to protest gun violence

This week marks the first national test of teenage activism against gun violence. This is from the Ghidotti Early College High School newsletter: 

“Hello Ghidotti Families,

A few folks have asked about a possible walkout tomorrow in concert with the events happening across the nation.

“As principal, I’m not in a position to endorse a political position. However, it is my responsibility to make sure our students are safe and heard. Yesterday I met with two student leaders and a representative from Sierra College to review plans for the walkout. I applaud these students’ civic engagement and support the right of all students to exercise their First Amendment rights.

“At 10 a.m. tomorrow, the students plan on leaving class, marching to the quad, and participating in a moment of silence. They’ll be returning to class at 10:17. I’ve asked the high school teachers to remain in their rooms so that students not wishing to participate may stay in class.

And I ask everyone to be respectful to those who may hold different views from your own.

Thanks and Go Phoenix!

Noah Levinson
Principal, Ghidotti Early College High School”