KY Notebook: The problem is Obama, not Appalachia

May 30, 2008

Bill Bishop of The Daily Yonder has an excellent piece on the discussion about Barrack Obama’s “Appalachian problem.” It offers statistics showing that race is no more an issue in Appalachia than many other parts of the country, including New York. Bishop argues that Obama would get a lot more support in the mountains if he would simply show up and try. It worked for Jesse Jackson two decades ago.

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In the last Kentucky Notebook, I mentioned “retiree” blogs. Another interesting idea comes from Marty Solomon, a retired University of Kentucky education professor. Like many people, Solomon says he is frustrated that some stories he thinks are important don’t get much coverage by major new organizations. So he has created The Watchdog Post blog to draw attention to them.


Kentucky Notebook: Retirees and The New Yorker

May 28, 2008

Blogging software is one of my favorite new inventions. It allows anyone with a computer and Internet connection to easily express himself to a worldwide audience. One interesting genre is blogs written by retirees who use their expertise to report and comment on news and issues in their fields.

One of my favorites is Kentucky School News and Commentary, written by Richard Day, the retired principal of Cassidy Elementary School in Lexington. Day writes frequently on a variety of education topics, and flags relevant articles published elsewhere. What makes his blog especially interesting is that he does some original reporting, and not just commentary.

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A reader alerted me to an interesting article in last week’s New Yorker magazine that ends with a scene from John McCain’s recent campaign trip to Inez in Martin County. George Packer’s piece is called The Fall of Conservatism, and it traces America’s conservative movement from Barry Goldwater to George Bush. “It was interesting to hear big names like Buckley, Reagan, Nixon – characters in the great, big game of America – and end up unexpectedly in your own backyard,” said Matthew Clarke, a Kentuckian who now works in Manhattan.


Kentucky Notebook: What’s worth reading online

May 21, 2008

The World Wide Web is a gold mine for news and information junkies. The more I look, the more I find fascinating “content” that helps me understand the world and our little corner of it.

Today I’m beginning an occasional series of blog posts called Kentucky Notebook. I call it occasional, because I’ll do it whenever I find time and material worth calling to your attention. I call it Kentucky Notebook, because it will highlight online content relating to our state, people and culture. If you see articles worth highlighting, post a comment or send me an email.

Ron Eller, a University of Kentucky history professor who specializes in Appalachia, has a perceptive essay about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Appalachian voters. It was written before Hillary Clinton’s landslide victory over Obama in Tuesday’s Kentucky primary, but it helps explain why Obama received minuscule support in some Eastern Kentucky counties. The essay is accompanied by photos of Letcher County taken by photographer Andrew Stern this year and a half-century ago.

Eller’s essay also is a good excuse to highlight the online publication in which it appears. The Daily Yonder focuses on news and commentary about rural America. It is edited by two Kentuckians: Bill Bishop, a former Herald-Leader editorial columnist, and his wife, Julie Ardery. They now live in Austin, Texas. Bishop is also the author of a new book, The Big Sort: Why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart. It was reviewed Sunday in The New York Times.