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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 11, 2010 / 3 Mar-Cheshvan, 5771

The State of the Obsession: Report From an Anarchists' Convention

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | DALLAS, Tex. -- I was going to call this dispatch from the editorial writers' national conference The State of the Art, except that opinionating is more obsession than art. H.L. Mencken, who certainly should have known what moves certain depraved souls to press their opinions on others in the most public fashion, once explained the compulsion this way:

"Why, then, do rational men and women engage in so barbarous and exhausting a vocation? What keeps them from deserting it for trades that are less onerous, and, in the public eye, more respectable? The answer, it seems to me, is as plain as mud. An author is simply a man in whom the normal vanity of all men is so vastly exaggerated that he finds it a sheer impossibility to hold it in. His overpowering impulse is to gyrate before his fellow men, flapping his wings and emitting his defiant yells. This being forbidden by the Polizei of all civilized countries, he takes it out by putting his yells on paper. Such is the thing called self-expression." ("On Literary Gents," The Chicago Sunday Tribune, June 20, 1926)

Call it verbal exhibitionism. All of us opinionators may have the notorious artistic temperament, but only the exceptional among us are artists -- like Mencken himself. Most of us are just in the grips of an obsession. And we're grateful to find a newspaper that will harbor us. That's certainly how I felt when I was lucky enough to get hired on at the Pine Bluff Commercial as the paper's editorial writer more years ago than I'd care to remember. I'd just been drummed out of Columbia University's graduate school of history. For just what, I wasn't sure of at the time, except that my sin had been egregious. It since has acquired a name: political incorrectness.

It was a time when young editorial writers would say our job was so much fun that, instead of the publisher's paying us to write, we'd gladly pay him--if only we had the money. Imagine: being handed two blank columns every day to fill with our undying prose. Surely that would be enough space in which to save the country, if not the world.

Then as now, the world may not have been paying us overmuch attention, but it was getting published that mattered, not whether anyone was listening. It was the work that counted, not how it was received. In that regard, we did have something in common with real artists.

I don't hear as many editorial writers as excited about ideas these days. Maybe because there are fewer editorial writers around to be heard from.

The decline in our numbers mirrors the decline of the whole newspaper industry. Yet those of us who are left seem just as devoted to this annual conference and family reunion. You start seeing the same people the same time next year, and friendship develops. Something more than friendship. Call it devotion.

I think if I were ever in real trouble, as I've been from time to time, I'd pick up the phone and call some of the folks I first met here so long ago. And I've done just that from time to stressful time. Even if I didn't, the knowledge that I could was always assuring, It's that kind of outfit.

By now some of the widows of editorial writers I met and admired at these conferences are in attendance. Yes, it's that kind of outfit. We've laughed and cried, celebrated and mourned together over the years; now we comfort one another.

An informal show of hands indicates that maybe half of those here are paying their own way--rather than being on expense accounts, the newspaper business being what it is these days. These meetings can become downright habit-forming, like those of AA.

Membership in the National Conference of Editorial Writers may be down, but not as much as it was last year--in the trough of the recession. Happily, the first-timers here sound just as enthusiastic about editorial writing as we old-timers ever were. They've noticed that the job is fun. Of course it is; it's a ringside seat at the human comedy. And we get to write the review. Every day.

There ought to be a handy gauge, like a thermometer, that would indicate the health of American editorial opinion. But what would it measure--heat or light, emotion or reason? When it comes to a single quality I'd use as a test of editorial vigor, I'd nominate a sense of humor.

Yet every year editorial writers seem more solemn, more deferential to each other, and just more taken with the Seriousness of It All. That's not a good sign. It may explain why so many of the editorials that I see come across not so much as serious but just dull. Is this the root of what a pediatrician might call our failure to thrive?

These annual conferences reflect the full spectrum of American styles in opinionation--from the frustrated world-saver to the disinterested observer of the human condition. There are the captains of opinion who have a whole crew of writers under their command, and the one-man bands who do everything on their editorial pages from editing the letters to the editor to drawing an occasional cartoon. Their little skiffs find safe harbor at this annual conference, too, right next to the great battleships. Once a year the whole fleet's in.

It's quite a gathering--in variety if not number. At coffee in the morning or around the table at dinner, you might find yourself squeezed in between Mr. Righteous Indignation and Miss Cool Analysis. Editorial writers still come in all shapes, sizes and degrees of sobriety. The good news is that, even if our numbers are declining, our opinions remain as varied as ever and even, on happy occasion, as eccentric.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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