Monday, February 28, 2011

From that Era -- U.S. would have trouble ruling world

From the October 29, 1953 edition of The Argus-Observer

By Don Lynch

Major Malcolm Rosholt, former Air Force officer in the C-B-I theater in World War II and former Shanghi newspaper publisher, debunked the value of the United Nations in his talk to the Knife and Fork club here Tuesday evening.

He told the crowd he had been re-reading Herodotus and was impressed by how little man’s heart had changed in 2400 years.

“Unless man has a remarkably sudden change of heart we will never have peace of much duration during the next 2400 years,” he said.

I asked him if he thought that with the scientific advancement in weapons, man could survive another 2400 years in a world of conflict.

He expressed the opinion that even though millions of people would be killed quickly in an atomic war, the human race would probably survive.

Then he added, “But it would become necessary for one country to rule the world.”
Sometimes that does appear to be the alternative if the United Nations or its equivalent eventually proves entirely futile.

Who would that nation be?

We know the world would be a tragic place if it were run by Russia. But what of the United States?

Could we actually rule the world intelligently? I doubt it. We have trouble enough trying to harmonize the widely diversified interests of our own nation into enough of a common pattern to govern ourselves. We haven’t done that very well. How could we really rule the world except by brute force, even if it was moderated by some awareness of justice as a principle and the Golden Rule as a desirable ideal?

The Romans were just, according to their own standards, and they were intelligent, but they flubbed the job of world rulership when it was much more simple that it would be now. And although they were rugged where we are soft, they couldn’t maintain enough character to handle their responsibilities.

Things are far more complex, travel at a far faster pace in in our world today. If in the decades ahead, circumstances require us to assume the task of ruling the world, the speed of our physical and moral degeneration will probably make the Romans look slow indeed.

Let’s not kid ourselves that we are qualified to rule the world. Far better to keep talking in the United Nations in the hope, however slim, that the world can find solutions and compromises that are at least temporarily acceptable to the diverse interests of its diverse people.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Newspaper -- The first Argus Observes column from Sept 1, 1952

By Don Lynch

This is the fifth anniversary of the consolidation of the Ontario Argus and the Eastern Oregon Observer into the Argus-Observer. This consolidated newspaper has now served the Ontario area for five years as a semi-weekly. It has likely run more pages of newspaper per week, on the average, than any other one newspaper in a town the size of Ontario in the Pacific Northwest.

Some maturity must accrue to a newspaper on its fifth anniversary. Therefore this seems like a fitting occasion to begin a personal column by the editor --- an idea we have been kicking around for a long time.

However, your editor doesn’t feel mature. Newsmen must guard against the feeling that they have “arrived” in professional competence.

The need for such humbleness on the part of working newsmen was well summarized by a sign that used to hang above the sports desk in a Washington D.C. newspaper. It read, “As long as you know you’re green you continue to grow, but when you think you’re ripe, you start to get rotten.”

Columns like this one are standard features to be found in a great many newspapers these days. This trend stems in part from the tremendous readership acquired by syndicated news columns during the past generation. Success of the big columnist has caused editors to feel that a more personal touch would increase the readership of their own material.

For the past generation editors have bemoaned the fact that the readership of newspaper editorials has fallen off. In the days before movies, radio and television, frequently the best entertainment readily at hand was the writing of some old-style fire-eating editor found on the editorial page of the local newspaper. Everyone read the editorials. Today editorials are read by a small percentage of newspaper subscribers --- sometimes referred to by editors as a “select” group.

The editor’s personal column represents an effort on the part of the editor to reach a larger general audience of readers. This was part of my reason for starting a column.
Another more important reason is the freedom and flexibility afforded by a column like this. One can write easily in the first person abut something he had read, a movie he has seen, an experience or idea he has had, all with an easy informality difficult to accomplish within the rather strict limitation of editorial column style.

Selection of the name, “The Argus Observes,” is an obvious one taken from the name of the newspaper.

The name Argus comes from Greek mythology. Subsequent columns will deal with a variety of information and ideas. An early issue will tell the story of the Greek Argus. (Editor’s note: Read that column in a coming post.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Keeping it interesting in 1953

By Don Lynch
From the April 9, 1953 issue of The Argus-Observer

Few newspaper readers can possibly know how much of the newsman’s time and effort goes into trying to keep the news uncluttered and interesting….

The stock in trade of a weekly newspaper is its names in the news. It is expected to carry the news about the everyday doings of the ordinary folk in its home town and region.

This is sound in principle because it is the basis of reader interest in the paper.

But pursued to extremes this philosophy would produce a sheet that was nothing but inconsequential clutter --- tripe that conceivably might hold the interest of a few avid gossips with a insatiable appetite for what their neighbors are doing but be dreadfully dull to large important groups of readers whose interest is needed if the newspaper is to be “everybodys” newspaper as we attempt to make this one.

Therefore we steadfastly refuse to run meaningless lists of names. We frequently cuts lists of names of people who attended parties or who attended meeting. If they won prizes, were elected to offices or made committee reports, they may get mentioned. But lists that run a half a dozen or more names in a lump are taboo in the news unless they are in the news of crime and violence which really has public interest.

One of the most frequent requests for dull treatment of the news comes from well-meaning sponsors of various worthwhile projects, who when the work is done, want to publicly thank the people who pushed the project….Readers just aren’t interested in all these gracious comments of thanks. So we try to avoid them unless they have some real news value.

The good people who want this sort of news printed seem to feel that if a helper is publicly thanked in print it somehow means more to him than if he just receives a personal thank you.

It is quite the other way with me.

I quite agree with “Rainwater” Jones who once gave me the idea in conversation that it is both good religion and good business to keep quiet about the various things you do in public service.
The broad general statement of ethics, the Sermon on the Mount, says something about, “When thy doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.”

There is another quite practical reason why many people don’t want a fuss made over their public efforts. They don’t want to be “snowed” with further requests.

There is a premium these days on persons willing to help on public projects and the willing horse is apt to get worked to death. I’d rather not be known as such a horse, and I’m sure many other people feel the same way.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Brevity in Feminine Attire

(Editor's note: This is another favorite post from some year's back. It's a post taken from a front page column my father wrote for his newspaper.)

From the Sept. 20, 1954 issue of The Ontario Argus-Observer

The Argus Observes
By Don Lynch

Brevity in feminine attire has become about as commonplace and unexciting as an old print dress.

The utter indifference often accorded a scantily clad female was brought to my attention last summer by a chance observance.

On one of the warmer days in late summer, I sat in a barber shop getting a shoe shine and watched a junior miss in high cuffed shorts and a scanty shirt wend her way through and past the groups of men that dotted the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street.

Her blouse may have been what the women call a halter scarf. At any rate, it wasn’t quite as diverting as the skin tight T shirts sometimes seen this past summer which, unfortunately, seem to appear most often on the fat girls.

This girl was strictly a youngster who looked so young in fact that the average man would feel a little hesitant to note that she was a candidate to be quite a woman.

At first I thought that she might be unaware of the rather obvious display of her charm. But not so. After she had walked the block one way she soon came back the other direction and it was plain that she was conscious of her feminine attractions. At least it was plain from where I sat.

Yet not a single one of a couple dozen men standing on the street gave her a second glance. Most of them didn’t even give her a first glance.

Perhaps if she had been dressed in snug fitting denim waist overalls, she might have rated more attention. She would have looked like a more approachable type to her audience.

The contrast in today’s attitude toward women’s dress and that of a generation ago is well illustrated by an incident I remember from my childhood.

My country-school teacher father sent two of his high school girl students home to get appropriately dressed when they rolled their stockings down below their knees and wore short knee-length skirts in the first of the flapper days.

I don’t think he was shocked but he thought the community would be horrified. So he made the girls cover a little more before he would let them stay in school.

Where will we be in another generation? Will it be bikini suits or less on the girls by then?
I hope not. There are still some things I’d prefer to leave to my imagination.
However, I shall try to ride with the times, adjusting to the trends whatever they may be to keep from being separated from the youthful part of society by the devastating attitude generally accorded to disapproving elders.