• Legendary broadcaster, polymath, and public educator, Milt Rosenberg, dies at 92

    Anyone who listened to Milt Rosenberg’s iconic program, Extension 720, on Chicago’s WGN radio, knew what a rare talent he was.

    He had on the most interesting authors and public intellectuals, actually listened to what they said, engaged them seriously, and never, ever talked down to his audience. His station was not a rarefied, specialized one; it was the biggest in Chicago. He assumed his listeners wanted to be pushed intellectually, whether they had PhDs or GEDs. He assumed the authors wanted real dialog, with pushback but never yelling. He gave it to listeners, guests, and authors alike, drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge.

    He taught at Yale and then the University of Chicago for several decades, published important research in social psychology, and kept learning and growing, not only in his speciality but across all the liberal arts. It was a love of learning he shared with his audience.

    What always shined through to me with Milt was how much he valued the intellectual banquet that had been opened to him–him, the son of poor immigrants, raised in the 1920s and 1930s in the poor New York neighborhoods, but able to rise in a melting-pot America by dint of intellect and hard work. He was an undergraduate at Brooklyn College in the days when Jews like Milt were not wanted at prestigious Ivy League schools. He never forgot those roots and tried to keep the door wide open for generations to come, always reminding them what a wonderful country America is.

    Milton Rosenberg was awarded every honor the broadcasting industry could give, including a star on WGN’s Walk of Fame outside the Tribune Tower. He enjoyed the recognition, but what mattered most to him was his nightly “seminar,” as good as any liberal-arts college’s and more diverse intellectually. Anyone who listened regularly was treated to a list of books to enjoy, topics to engage, and debates to enter.

    May his memory be a blessing.

    Here is Joe Morris’ tribute to Milt

    Joe is a distinguished international attorney, friend of Milt’s, and a frequent guest on his program

    With sorrow I advise of the death late on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, at Chicago, of Milton J. Rosenberg. Mr. Rosenberg died of pneumonia and its complications after entering the hospital on New Year’s Day. He would have been 93 on April 15th.

    Milt was a remarkable client and a treasured friend. A full-time professor of psychology at The University of Chicago from the mid-1960s onward, he was also a fixture on Chicago radio, hosting “Extension 720”, a daily two-hour festival of intelligent talk on WGN-Radio, the flagship station of the former Tribune Company, for nearly 40 years, from 1973 until the end of 2012.

    He was a polymath, a perceptive analyst, and a keen questioner. These traits, combined with a prodigious memory born of wide reading and experience, made him an outstanding interlocutor of political leaders, business executives, academics, journalists, artists, and others in the long parade of guests whom he welcomed to his studios and to the extraordinary conversations that he then held for the benefit of millions of Americans listening to his program each night in their homes and cars across the nation as streamed by clear-channel radio at 50,000 watts. For four decades his show was the mandatory first stop on the book tour of every author of a serious work of fiction or non-fiction.

    His career was also described by the arc of a moral conversion, carried out in public via his nightly broadcasts, from the “soft mindless leftism of an East Coast academic” to an embrace of free market economics, traditional social values, and an appreciation of the United States as the world’s best hope for the defense of freedom and human decency in global affairs.

    Milton J. Rosenberg was born in New York City on April 15, 1925. He earned his undergraduate degree at Brooklyn College, the A.M. at the University of Wisconsin, and the Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan in 1954. Before joining the faculty of The University of Chicago, he taught at Yale University, the Ohio State University, Dartmouth College, and the Naval War College.

    After the convulsions that broke up the Tribune Company and brought the long run of “Extension 720” to an end, Milt continued to broadcast on WCGO Radio in Chicago and via podcasts.

    He married Marjorie Anne King on September 5, 1954. They had one son, Matthew Rosenberg, now of Seattle. His widow and his son survive him. He is survived, as well, by two grandchildren; by a devoted friend, Claire Fabvier; and by thousands of students and millions of listeners who will no longer hear his voice probing the far reaches of the cosmos, the fine details of history and literature, and the depths of the human mind.

  • Remembering a beloved figure in the Delta, “Pap” Pang

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    I just learned that L. K. “Pap” Pang has died, aged 105. Generations of Mississippians knew and admired him.

    Born in Marks, educated partly in China (as his father wished), he lived most of his life in with family in Clarksdale. He will be buried in Marks, next to the extended family he loved so much. His brother, Andy Pang, and brother-in-law, Noah Chinn (married to Pap’s sister, Gene), ran our town’s best grocery, the King Store.

    Pap was Mississippi’s oldest WWII vet, and, as everyone knew, a dedicated fan of the Ole Miss Rebels.

    One of the high points of his later years was being honored at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on his 100th birthday, surrounded by family and friends. He was recognized there again, on Veterans’ Day, when he turned 105.

    A full obituary is here.

    After a rich, full life, may he rest in peace.


  • Creator of the “Muscle Shoals Sound” of rock and soul has died; here are two of his best productions, Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” and Etta James’s “Tell Mama”

    If you listened to rock music in the 1960s and onward, you listened to the sound Rick Hall produced at his FAME studios in northern Alabama.

    Rick Hall has died, aged 85, at his home in Florence, Alabama, near Muscle Shoals (New York Times obit)

    He produced Aretha, Etta, Dylan, the Stones, Clarence Carter, and many more, ranging from rock and R&B to country, making his studios a mecca in the classic age of rock. He included a strong horn section (as Stax-Volt also did), and had Duane Allman as the studio guitarist.

    His first big hit was Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” (1961).

    In 1964, it was Jimmy Hughes’ “Steal Away.”

    The producer Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records brought Wilson Pickett to FAME for sessions that yielded five singles: “Land of a Thousand Dances,” “Mustang Sally,” “Funky Broadway,” “Hey Jude” and “Hey Joe.” The idea of recording “Hey Jude” came from the studio’s lead guitarist: Duane Allman.

    Mr. Wexler returned to the studios with Aretha Franklin, who recorded two career-defining songs there in a day: “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)” and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.” –Rick Hall obituary in the New York Times

    Here (in a live version) is one of my favorites, produced by Rick Hall at his Muscle Shoals studios:

    Another of my Muscle Shoals favorites, Etta James’ “Tell Mama”


  • How to Know When You’ve Left the South and Arrived in Manhattan: Two Tales

    Tale #1: My own story begins with the tallest building of my youth, the McWilliams Building in Clarksdale, Mississippi, about thirty miles from my hometown of Marks. It was 6 or 7 stories and proudly bore the name of its owner. It was, I’m sure, the tallest building for several counties around.

    When I visited New York for the first time (something I did in high school with my family), I was like most kids from small towns, amazed by the forest of skyscrapers, many with famous names.

    But what struck me most was walking down a side-street in Midtown, looking up at a 60 or 70 story building, and noticing that its name was only its address. That told me: “Buildings this tall are so common here that they don’t always get a special name.” They might, of course, but the fact that many did not told me how commonplace they were.

    Tale #2: I thought of that today, reading the obituary for a New York Times’ reporter, Roy Reed. He was from Hot Springs, Arkansas, and one of the paper’s lead reporters during the Civil Rights Era. The paper turned to him frequently when they needed a reporter who knew the South. (Obituary here)

    Over the years, he wrote several books, but I was particularly intrigued by the title of his memoir, Beware of Limbo Dancers.

    His story about that title is much like mine about the McWilliams Building, a variant of “you’re not in Kansas anymore.”

    The title, he wrote, came from a message neatly written on the inside of a door in a bathroom stall in the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street.

    “This was a style of wit that I had never before encountered,” he wrote. “I suddenly knew that I was a stranger in town — not unwelcome, just a stranger.’’ –New York Times



  • Jim Nabors, RIP. Gomer Pyle on the Andy Griffith Show

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    Gomer was the good-hearted, clueless goober, first in Mayberry, then in the Marines–a beloved character for the Baby Boom generation.

    The “Marines” show was a spin off from his success on the Andy Griffith Show.

    Nabors, it turned out, was also a fine singer, and had a variety show for several years after the sit-com ended.

    Originally from Sylacauga, Alabama, he spent his final decades in Hawaii, living with his husband of nearly forty years, Stan Cadwallader. (NYT obituary here.)


    I have a small, personal connection to Jim Nabors, who was a business major at the University of Alabama, as was my Dad and my brother Steve. My Uncle Harry was a professor of marketing there and actually taught Nabors. From all I heard, Jim was apparently just as likeable in person as he was on TV, and, unlike his characters, was a thoughtful, cultivated man.

    May he rest in peace.



  • ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, November 20

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Merkel’s Troubles–and Germany’s After her narrow election win, she cannot form a coalition government. Prefers new election (Deutsche Welle, in English)

    The coalition problem was that she needed support from the leftist Greens and pro-market Free Democrats.

    She couldn’t find common ground between them.

    Comment: Her larger problem is that she’s past her “sell-by” date and has a tin-ear for ordinary Germans’ disgust with open borders, which have led to millions of immigrants and serious problems with unassimilated Muslim populations.

     Charles Manson dead at 83. Remembering his victims: Rich, famous, fringe, and random (Los Angeles Times)

    Comment: Unspeakable evil–with the power to persuade others to join his malign fantasy.

    US designates North Korea as state sponsor of terrorism (Politico)

    Iran, Sudan, and Syria are already on the list. It had been placed on the list in 1988 and removed by George W. Bush in 2008 as a carrot during failed nuclear negotiations.

    “This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.

    Should have happened years ago. –Pres. Trump (quote at Reuters, link here)

    Comment: The big question remains: Will China adhere to US-imposed sanctions or call our bluff by cheating on them?

     Sen. Franken: Second woman accuses of “inappropriate touching” (New York Times)

    He won’t resign, says his hometown paper, the Star-Tribune.

     Roy Moore: Obstinate denials despite mounting evidence, stays in the race

    Comment: His refusal to withdraw leaves Senate Republicans in a world of hurt.

    Meanwhile, Moore received support at a press conference, featuring women who have worked with him.

    Unfortunately, all these women have the same drawback. They are adults.



  • ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, September 22

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ North Korea was sufficiently flummoxed by Trump’s speech that it postponed its own UN speech til Saturday

    The official NK media called Trump names normally heard only at Antifa rallies: “Mentally Deranged U.S. Dotard” (New York Times).

    The word itself is sufficiently odd that the Washington Post had to run an article explaining it. (Link here) Short definition: A person in his dotage.

    His latest threat is an H-Bomb test over the Pacific (Wall Street Journal, subscription)

    Comment: Expect fire and brimstone from the North Koreans at the UN on Saturday.

    This is not going to end well.

    The really big news is that China’s Central Bank has told all the country’s banks to stop all dealings with North Korea. That’s a major step, one Trump himself called unexpected (Reuters)

    It does not mean all banks will comply, but the penalty (from the US and perhaps China) will be severe for cheating.

    North Korea will undoubtedly try to utilize other currency streams: British Pounds, Euros, Gold, Bitcoins, whatever, but I expect London and Frankfurt will follow Washington’s lead on this.


    1. North Korea is very canny in finding and hiding new sources of financing. The US and others will have to monitor transactions very carefully and punish violators harshly.
    2. It is quite likely that Pres. Trump’s very strong speech to the UN and the credibility of US military threats moved China to take measures against North Korea it clearly did not wish to take and has avoided for two decades.

    Raging Bull Jake LaMotta dead at 95. Champion fighter in the early post-war years was subject of Scorsese movie(New York Times)

    Obama Presidential Library getting lots of pushback from black neighborhood (Chicago Tribune)

    Now that Obama is about to build his presidential center in Woodlawn’s Jackson Park, some residents are wary of his ability to transform neighborhoods without doing harm to longtime residents who could end up displaced by gentrification.

    A nasty fight over a community benefits agreement with the Obama Foundation has exposed an unexpected rift between the former president and some of the South Side residents who helped lift him to prominence. –Chicago Tribune

    Comment: Part of the issue is “rent seeking.” Locals want a cut of the action, and Obama won’t sign an agreement with them.

    Another part is that the whole complex, including a fancy golf course, is an upscale project on the lakefront. Pres. Obama had a chance to build it two miles away, in an area with much better transportation and a neighborhood that really needed it.  He preferred the more prestigious site instead. Finally, a lot of the pushback is that activists claim his presidency “didn’t do enough for black people.”

    According to the Tribune:

    At a community forum Wednesday night, a discussion about the proposed agreement morphed into a shouting match over whether Obama actually loves black people. One man in the audience yelled, “No,” while others said he wasn’t necessarily “their brother.” –Chicago Tribune

    ◆ Paging Alex Haley



  • ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, September 11

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Remembering those who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

    Those in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, the airplanes, and the selfless first responders.

    As the prayer says, “May their memory be for a blessing.”

    Florida’s massive cleanup begins

    Miami Airport closed Monday because of “significant water damage.” Fears for Florida Keys and southwest FL

    Updated coverage in Miami Herald

    Gangs loot in Ft Lauderdale. Smash windows, grab boxes of shoes and clothes from stores (NBC Miami)

    Comment: They will claim to be victims, not the perps, in 3, 2, 1 . . .

    Btw, Houston and south Texas maintained law and order after their disaster. Let’s hope other cities in Florida can, too.

    Speaking of crime, the creator of McGruff, the Crime-Fighting Dog, dies. Jack Keil was 94. (New York Times)

    Comment: He was 650 in dog years.

     Yawn: Hillary criticizes Donald as she rolls out her book. Upset about identity politics . . . when used by others.

    That’s a shocker. She says Trump “used race to win the election” (Washington Post)

    She adds that his inaugural speech was a white-nationalist cry from the gut.

    Comment: Mrs. Clinton is shocked, shocked to discover identity politics is being practiced in America.

    She plans to search high and low to find the political party that relies on it and on divisive ethnic- and racial-mobilization.

    We wish her the best of luck.

    China pushing for lots more electric cars. Global manufacturers rush in, despite risks (New York Times)

    Comment: The main risk is to intellectual property.

    To gain access to their market, the Chinese demand outsiders give away their proprietary technology to local firms.

    First, robot vacuum cleaners. Now, lawnmowers.

    The best ones, by Husqvarna, currently run $2,000 to $3,500. They rely on GPS and advanced electronics, mow 1.25 acres, and have anti-theft devices. (Link to story here)

    Comment: As with all electronics, expect the prices to drop steadily.

    Once manufactures produce really heavy-duty machines, the robots should save enormous $$$ maintaining highways and parks.

    Expect autonomous snow-plows and more over the next few years.

    Equifax: Still neck-deep in trouble after the hack. Their site to see if you have been hacked is returning random results (Slashdot TechCrunch)


    Hat Tip to

    Michael Lipson for the Equifax story

    ◆ Ed Vidal for Ft. Lauderdale

  • Remembering a GREAT spy, who located the Nazi rocket program at Peenemünde

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    Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens, Valiant World War II Spy, Dies at 98

    A French native who spoke flawless German, she was

    an amateur spy who passed a wealth of information to the British about the development of the V-1 and V-2 rockets during World War II and survived stays in three concentration camps for her activities. –New York Times obituary

    She used skill and charm, hiding her sharp mind and photographic memory as she interacted with German officers in Paris.

    She was a favorite with the German officers, who were completely unaware that the woman they knew as Madeleine Chauffour had been reporting to a French intelligence network, the Druids, organized by the Resistance.

    Getting wind of a secret weapons project, she made it her mission to be on hand when the topic was discussed by the Germans, coaxing information through charm and guile.

    “I teased them, taunted them, looked at them wide-eyed, insisted that they must be mad when they spoke of the astounding new weapon that flew over vast distances, much faster than any airplane,” she told The Washington Post in 1998. “I kept saying, ‘What you are telling me cannot be true!’ I must have said that 100 times.”

    One officer, eager to convince her, let her look at drawings of the rockets. –New York Times

    She gave her information to the French resistance, who passed it to London. That information included

    precise details about operations at the testing plant in Peenemünde, on the Baltic coast in Pomerania; and showed planned launch locations along the coast from Brittany to the Netherlands.

    Relying on this information, the British organized several bombing raids against the plant, which delayed development of the V-2 and spared untold thousands of lives in London. –NYT

    The Times obituary includes stories of her escapes from German imprisonment and more.

    It’s a helluva tale.

    Rest in Peace, Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens, a hero of the French Resistance.