Archive for January 15th, 2011

15
Jan
11

1.15.2011 … MLK weekend … plan to travel north tomorrow … hope the snow/ice is melted!

culture, politics:  David Brooks takes a different approach to our current lack of civility.

But over the past few decades, people have lost a sense of their own sinfulness. Children are raised amid a chorus of applause. Politics has become less about institutional restraint and more about giving voters whatever they want at that second. Joe DiMaggio didn’t ostentatiously admire his own home runs, but now athletes routinely celebrate themselves as part of the self-branding process.

So, of course, you get narcissists who believe they or members of their party possess direct access to the truth. Of course you get people who prefer monologue to dialogue. Of course you get people who detest politics because it frustrates their ability to get 100 percent of what they want. Of course you get people who gravitate toward the like-minded and loathe their political opponents. They feel no need for balance and correction.

Beneath all the other things that have contributed to polarization and the loss of civility, the most important is this: The roots of modesty have been carved away.

via Tree of Failure – NYTimes.com.

culture, politics, quotes:  The David Brooks’ op-ed piece closed with this Reinhold Niebuhr quote:

In a famous passage, Reinhold Niebuhr put it best: “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. … Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.”

via Tree of Failure – NYTimes.com.

faith, prayer:  This makes me think of Jill Bolte Taylor’s A Stroke of Insight.

Prayer is the bridge between our conscious and unconscious lives. Often there is a large abyss between our thoughts, words, and actions, and the many images that emerge in our daydreams and night dreams. To pray is to connect these two sides of our lives by going to the place where God dwells. Prayer is “soul work” because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one and where God is with us in the most intimate way.

Thus, we must pray without ceasing so that we can become truly whole and holy.

via January 15, 2011 – Building Inner Bridges.

random, astrology, science:  I am a Capricorn?  No, no I am an Aquarius … a water carrier … a balancer ..

So, you’ve spent your whole life happily smug in your star sign. You’re a fish! Swimming in two directions! You’re intuitive, imaginative, unworldly! And then today’s Web is aflame with the news: You are not a Pisces. You are an Aquarius. Your star sign has been wrong your whole life. All along, you’ve been a freaking water carrier. This is not cool.

According to Parke Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, cool or not, it’s written in the stars. Star signs were created some 2,000 years ago by tracking where the sun was in the sky each month. However, the moon’s gravitational pull has slowly moved the Earth in its axis, creating about a one-month bump in the stars’ alignment, reports the Minnesota Star Tribune. Now, during what we think as the month of Pisces, the sun is actually in the sign of Aries.

The new dates would therefore be:

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16

Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11

Pisces: March 11-April 18

Aries: April 18-May 13

Taurus: May 13-June 21

Gemini: June 21-July 20

Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10

Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16

Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30

Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23

Scorpio: Nov. 23-Dec. 17

Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20

via BlogPost – New Zodiac sign dates: Don’t switch horoscopes yet.

college, college application process, elite schools:

Harvard, has received  nearly 35,000 applications from high school seniors seeking admission to the next freshman class — an increase of nearly 15 percent over last year and more than 50 percent since four years ago, according to statistics released by Harvard today.

If last year’s admissions process is any guide, fewer than 10 percent will be offered admission.

What is fueling this increase, which is being mirrored, yet again, at other highly selective private colleges? In Harvard’s case, at least part of the answer surely lies in the sweeteners it has added to its financial aid packages in recent years.

As many other colleges, private and public, are struggling to meet demand for scholarships, Harvard requires “no contribution from families with annual incomes below $60,000,” according to today’s release, “and asks, on average, no more than 10 percent of income from families with typical assets who make up to $180,000.”

via College Admissions Advice – The Choice Blog – NYTimes.com.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, NASA, politics:  Unique relationship between our space program and our federal government … “it marked Giffords as the only lawmaker ever to watch a spouse launched into space.”

NASA’s selection Thursday of a backup commander for astronaut Mark Kelly served as a reminder that the shooting in Tucson affected another community nearly as much as Capitol Hill — the one affiliated with America’s manned space programs.

For critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and Kelly had become the first couple of space exploration, a unique, high-profile team that took to the national stage as some of the most critical decisions in the history of U.S. human spaceflight were on the agenda.

The partnership between the lawmaker and the space shuttle commander, who had been scheduled to lead a flight in April, added a glamorous sheen to a venture whose luster had dimmed. But more important, the relationship between the two had significant political and policy implications as the nation undertook its first major debate over manned spaceflight since the end of the Apollo program that sent Americans to the moon.

The marriage between Giffords, a rising political star, and Kelly, a veteran of three space shuttle missions and a decorated Navy combat pilot, took place just months after she was first sworn in as a House member in 2007, and it marked Giffords as the only lawmaker ever to watch a spouse launched into space.

“It gave her an insider’s view of the space program and gave her an opportunity to really know a different side of the space program than any of us ever had an opportunity to know,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), a close friend of Giffords and Kelly, told POLITICO on Tuesday.

via The astronaut by her side – Kasie Hunt – POLITICO.com.

pirates, Blackbeard, kith/kin:  New discoveries … and by the way, we used to tease our son Edward Teague that he was descended from Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard)!

But archaeologists now suspect theyve found one more clue behind the pirates menace: what could very well be Blackbeards sword, or at least part of it. National Geographic published photos released by a team that has for over a decade been excavating the Queen Annes Revenge, which was Blackbeards flagship until it ran aground in an inlet off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. These include fragments of a gilded hilt and pommel, possibly of French design Blackbeards ship was a retrofitted French merchant vessel. The shipwreck has been worked on since 1997.

via Blackbeard’s Sword, Found! Archaeologists Discover Pirate Treasure Off North Carolina Coast – TIME NewsFeed.

restaurants, farm to table, Charlotte, Halcyon:  Had lunch at Halcyon on 1/14 … excellent …  will go again!

2010 turned out, with a rush in the last months, to be a decent new-restaurant year – as unlikely a prospect as that seemed a year ago. Here are the ones that opened that year that I found best, in no particular order, along with a list of the ones I’m most excited about that are slated to open in 2011.

1. Halcyon. A craft- (rather than art-) inspired spot in the new Mint Museum uptown, it has dubbed its style “Farm House Chic” and emphasizes a seasonal menu relying on area products. Chef Marc Jacksina continues to tinker with the menus; the spot opened at Thanksgiving. But the look is breathtaking, and to offer cold pan duck? It’s a great start.

via Charlotte’s best new restaurants of 2010 – CharlotteObserver.com.

restaurants, Charlotte, The Penguin, The Diamond:

Now, for 2011, I’m anticipating:

The much-rumored filling of several available spaces, including (but hardly limited to) uptown and the north, plus bursts of activity in south Charlotte. For example, if leases go through, look for:

Delta’s to go into the former G.W. Fins space on North Tryon Street, opening in June with a live-music supper club kind of vibe (R&B and jazz) and a menu duplicating the New Jersey original, with Cajun and other Southern fare.

AZN Restaurant, spun from a Florida original by the folks who also have Silk in Atlanta, to go into a new spot in Piedmont Town Center; it’s a Chinese-Japanese-Thai-Korean-Vietnamese-sushi concept.

The Diamond. This home cooking spot in Plaza Midwood, the revamping of a Charlotte classic, is slated to open this month, I’m told. It might. I – along with a legion of others, if one looks at Facebook – am ready!

And, it follows logically, the Penguin: It will be fascinating to see what happens when this storied landmark burger-etc. place reopens under new management, as it is slated to do Saturday. Those who followed the neighborhood-classic throwdown know that emotions run high about these last two places and that loyalties are at stake, not just foodstuffs.

Barbecue from longtime Charlotte restaurateur Frank Scibelli in Plaza Midwood – and though chef Jim Noble has his hands full between his Rooster’s and King’s Kitchen, I’m going to continue to keep an eye on his love of barbecue and where that might go.

via Charlotte’s best new restaurants of 2010 – CharlotteObserver.com.

The President, politics, culture, kudos:  Well done, Mr. President.

I begin grouchily to underscore the sincerity of the praise that follows. About a third of the way through, the speech took on real meaning and momentum, and by the end it was very good, maybe great. The speech had a proper height. It was large-spirited and dealt with big things. It was adroit and without rancor. The president didn’t mourn, he inspirited.

The heart of Mr. Obama’s speech asked a question. The lives of those who died, and the actions of the heroes of the day, pose a challenge. What is required of us now, how do we honor them?

Here, deftly, he addressed the destructive media debate that followed the tragedy. But he approached the subject with compassion and sympathy. It is human nature to try to explain things to ourselves, to “try and impose some order on the chaos,” to say this happened because of that. And so we debate, and consider causes and motivations. Much of this is good, but not all. “At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized,” we are too eager to lay to blame “at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do.” It is important that we talk to each other “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” Scripture tells us “that there is evil in the world.” We don’t know what triggered the attack, but “what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other.”

Lack of civility did not cause this tragedy, but “only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make [the victims] proud.”

In saying this, the president took the air out of all the accusations and counter accusations. By the end of the speech they were yesterday’s story.

via Obama Rises to the Challenge – WSJ.com.

followup, weather, Wilmette, Chicago: I had forgotten about the post snow icy crust … Reminds me of my Chicago days!

travel, adventure, South Africa, new terms, kloofing:  Since John never reads this I do not have to fear him seeing this … otherwise I think I might be doing it for my 30th!  Actually it looks kinda fun.

A kloof, in the South African language of Afrikaans, is a canyon. And kloofing is the sport of going up and down them, usually down. Attached to a rope and climbing harness, kloofers may walk backwards off a 150-foot cliff; straddle a rush of whitewater down a mossy embankment; or leap into chilly pools fed by waterfalls.

My guide into the world of kloofing was Teuns Kok, a 40-year-old professional transport planner. Mr. Kok specializes in making urban walkways safe and accessible for school children and the handicapped. The same principle applies when he goes kloofing in South Africa’s rugged mountains.

In 2001, Mr. Kok and a few friends pioneered a route down Ostrich Kloof, outside the South African wine-making capital of Stellenbosch, where he lives. He has since guided select groups of friends and visitors down the kloof’s hidden waterfalls and shady gullies—but they must be willing to entrust their lives to his ropes, makeshift anchor points and route planning.

The extreme sport of kloofing involves climbing up mountains and, typically, leaning back over the abyss and rappelling back down into steep canyons, or “kloofs,” with lots of water.

In other countries, including the U.S., kloofing is known as “canyoneering.” But South Africa’s sandstone domes and verdant scrubland give the sport its own natural draws. It now has an avid following.

via Kloofing: Between a Rock and a Waterfall – WSJ.com.




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