Nuggets from the News (Volume III)

Nuggets from the News is published pretty much any time we feel like it, which is to say: not often. But when we do manage to pull a few together, we try to be Johnny on the proverbial Spot.

These three outstanding pieces address issues of varying importance. They’re tips of the hat to notable, original, or important media content which, as you know, is sparse to medium rare in the crazy, nutty world we live in. This is Volume III of Nuggets, and we hope you find these tidbits worth your while.

1. Understanding ISIS

So, what’s the deal with ISIS? America and the World continue to watch what they consider to be indiscriminate brutality, but is it? Are these people disorganized thugs or quite the opposite? Why would they publicize and broadcast such evil deeds? Is there a reason? What is it?

To understand what is happening there, you need to understand what they think they are doing and why they are doing it. If you want an answer, I recommend Graeme Wood's’s excellent article in the March (2015) issue of Atlantic Monthly. titled "What ISIS Really Wants." Highly recommended.

2. Were You Born Gifted?

Now here's an interesting discussion that takes on conventional beliefs once thought to be indisputable. In Alison Gopnik's’s column in the February 4 edition of the issue of the Wall Street Journal titled "The Perils of Believing That Talent is Innate," she starts by wondering why the myth continues to perpetuate, and she mentions several studies and books to support her dismissal of the misconception.

It's true that scientists have long abandoned the idea of innate talent, but it's still a seductive idea in everyday life. Studies have found that students who think they are innately smart are less likely to accept and learn from mistakes and criticism, but that can be turned around with an understanding that our brains change with effort and experience. Who knew?

3. Blame it On Mitch

I realize most of you weren’t around in the Fifties, but you’ve no doubt heard the awful pop music of the era. This was a decade of AM radio, and short ditties and novelty songs ruled the day. Do I even have to list the stupid titles? I mean, any culture that spawned "Flying Purple People Eater" ought to be ashamed of it's collective self.

How did it happen? Why was it so bad? Who was responsible for over ten years of pure drivel?

In a book review of "The B-Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American song" in the March 1 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, Louis Bayard places the blame firmly on the shoulders of none of than Mitch Miller! That’s right, the same tall, balding gentleman with the goatee who’s weekly "Sing Along with Mitch" was a staple of early Fifties viewers.

I mean, Mitch once talked Sinatra into recording "Mama Will Bark," and they say Frank never forgave him for it. Oh, this review is full of juicy details you never knew.

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