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Conference Could Help Your Business

By G. Michael Dobbs Managing Editor I don't have to tell you the economic climate is challenging. That's why anyone whose business intersects with the media ought to really consider signing up for the annual "Getting Noticed in the 21st Century" media conference presented by Western New England College and the Valley Press Club on Jan. 7 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the college's main campus. Full disclosure time: this writer is a board member of the Valley Press Club, but I swear on my autographed photo of Orson Welles that the following is not just another infomercial. Who should go? The event is intended for business professionals, staff of non-profit organizations and students looking to communicate more effectively. Let's face it. There are fewer traditional media outlets in the Valley, but there are plenty of people who have things to share. This conference will feature 17 workshops designed to sharpen skills, explore new technologies and provide interaction with reporters and editors from local media outlets. Workshop topics include market research, direct mail marketing, sponsorship and partnerships, "green" marketing, branding, government relations and creating effective news releases. Pretty good stuff, yes? And you get to meet a number of decision-makers from the local press who will be happy to answer your questions. Folks such as Tom Vannah of the Valley Advocate, Wayne Phaneuf of the Republican, Veronica Citron of 22News and Doug Lizette of CBS3, among others, will be there. I'm among the "others." We have been saluting one of our own for a number of years now with a Lifetime Achievement Award and this year it goes to Barbara Bernard. A lifelong resident of Holyoke, Bernard's distinguished career in newspaper, radio and television spans more than six decades. She began reporting for the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram newspaper and writing radio commercials for WHYN radio in 1945. She would go on to work at WHYN-TV (now WGGB). She currently writes a column for the Republican and Conference fees are $150 for business professionals, $110 for members of non-profits and $70 for students. A discount is available for two or more people registering from the same organization. Tickets to the Lifetime Achievement Award luncheon only are available for $25 each. Proceeds from the event help provide scholarships to deserving students. To register or for more information, call 782-1249 or visit

"I've got mine, the hell with you"

"I've got mine, the hell with you" aynrandchristmas02.gif
I get a lot of unsolicited e-mail from various think tanks with a political axe to grind and some of the wackiest stuff comes from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. In case you've not heard of these folks, the Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead." The late author wrote in "Atlas Shrugged," "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." So as I understand it, the folks who follow this philosophy prize selfishness as a virtue something that I believe goes counter to having a society that actually works. Anyway, Dr. Leonard Peikoff, billed as "the foremost authority on Objectivism," had quite a little screed about Christmas. He wrote in part, "All the best customs of Christmas, from carols to trees to spectacular decorations, have their root in pagan ideas and practices. These customs were greatly amplified by American culture, as the product of reason, science, business, worldliness and egoism, i.e., the pursuit of happiness. "America's tragedy is that its intellectual leaders have typically tried to replace happiness with guilt by insisting that the spiritual meaning of Christmas is religion and self-sacrifice for Tiny Tim or his equivalent. But the spiritual must start with recognizing reality. Life requires reason, selfishness, capitalism; that is what Christmas should celebrate and really, underneath all the pretense, that is what it does celebrate. It is time to take the Christ out of Christmas, and turn the holiday into a guiltlessly egoistic, pro-reason, this-worldly, commercial celebration." Wow. Now isn't this what makes America, America? The fact you can support a way of life that emphasizes putting your own interests above all others and that you can insult a holiday observed by the bulk of nation. While I find this viewpoint repugnant on a variety of levels, I salute folks like Peikoff for exercising his free speech. I hope he'll salute me when I write that his way of thinking is what has put this nation in the economic turmoil it now faces. Selfishness and greed are not good, contrary to objectivism. The concept of "I've got mine, the hell with you" has led to the kind of mess we are now in.