Posts Tagged ‘9/11 anniversary

12
Sep
11

9.12.2011 … to unwind from 9/11, i watched Elizabethtown on Netflix … never seen it … definitely liked it …

9/11 Anniversary, Post 9/11:  Relieved that the anniversary of 9/11 is passed … and we can go on with the new normal.

Elizabethtown, movies: I really enjoyed Elizabethtown … good music … nice way to relax after 9/11 anniversary.

In its trimmed version, “Elizabethtown” is nowhere near one of Crowe’s great films (like “Almost Famous”), but it is sweet and good-hearted and has some real laughs, and we can just about accept Claire’s obsessive romantic behavior because if someone is going to insist that you have to fall in love, there are many possibilities more alarming than Claire.

via Elizabethtown :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews.

BofA, old news, enough said:  From last week … 30,000, 35,000, 40,000 … but the number keeps changing.  Can you imagine working for BofA?  Oh, I can since John does … this is wearing on the moral.  Enough said.

The Journal said BofA executives met Thursday at Charlotte, North Carolina, where the bank is headquartered, and will gather again Friday to make final decisions on the reductions, putting the finishing touches on five months of work.

Investors are pressing BofA to improve its performance after it lost money in four of the last six quarters and its stock has fallen by half this year.

The Journal said the proposed job cuts may exceed BofA’s last big cutback in 2008 when it called for 30,000 to 35,000 job cuts over three years. That move was triggered by an economic slowdown and the planned takeover of securities firm Merrill Lynch & Co.

Earlier this month, the Charlotte Observer reported that BofA executives were discussing plans to potentially shed 25,000 to 30,000 jobs over the next several years.

BofA had earlier planned to cut 3,500 jobs, its Chief Executive Brian Moynihan had said in a memo to staff on August 18, as it tries to come to grips with $1 trillion of problem home mortgages.

BofA announced a far-reaching reorganization of its senior management team on Tuesday, which included the departure of consumer bank chief Joe Price and wealth management head Sallie Krawcheck.

Banks are shedding jobs worldwide as stricter regulations and a tough second quarter for trading income take their toll on investment banking units in particular.

More than 70,000 staff cuts have been announced this year or are reported to be in the works at U.S. and European banks, some of them to be lost over three or four year programs.

via BofA discussing about 40,000 job cuts: report | Reuters.

Supreme Court, politics, Separation of Powers Clause,The Constitution,: Again, politics is mucking with the notion of separation of powers … Not saying  scrutiny  is not in order ….  “The Democrats singled out three conservative justices -– Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito –- for “alarming reports” of their appearances at politically themed events.”

Article III, Section. 1:

The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

via Separation of Powers Under the United States Constitution.

In a letter that is being sent Friday to House Judiciary Committee leaders, 43 Democrats called for a hearing on a bill that would require Supreme Court justices to follow the ethics requirements of the Judicial Conference Code of Conduct in withdrawing from cases where they may have a financial or political conflict. The justices now use the code for “guidance” but are not required to follow it.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, would also require the justices to disclose publicly their reasons for any withdrawal from a case and would set up a process to review possible conflicts if a justice refuses to step aside.

The notion of imposing higher ethics standards on the Supreme Court appears to be gaining momentum among House Democrats and outside legal scholars, but its prospects in the Republican-controlled House are still uncertain.

The bill “would go a long way towards restoring the public’s confidence in the Supreme Court” after several recent controversies, the Democratic lawmakers said in the letter. An advance copy was provided to the New York Times.

The Democrats singled out three conservative justices -– Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito –- for “alarming reports” of their appearances at politically themed events.

Justice Thomas has received the most recent scrutiny not only for his appearances before Republican-backed groups, but also for his acceptance of favors from a prominent conservative contributor in Texas, Harlan Crow, and his wife’s work as an advocate for conservative legal causes.

Conservatives, in turn, have sought to spotlight politically tinged appearances and trips by members of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, including Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. The Democrats’ letter does not mention any of the liberal justices, however.

via Democrats Seek to Impose Tougher Supreme Court Ethics – NYTimes.com.

President Obama, Presidential Speeches, old news, Great Recession, Unemployment, Jobs Act:  “Such an approach—setting himself up as the grown-up in town—didn’t work for Mr. Obama during the debt-ceiling debate over the summer.”  Also interesting, historically such Presidential Speeches had virtually no effect on the economy.

Throughout his speech, Mr. Obama made repeated references to Republican plans and ideas, and even used a phrase similar to that employed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia when he talked about American’s getting their “fair shake.”

Highlights of the President’s Economic Plan

Payroll tax cut from 6.2% to 3.1% for workers in 2012, up from a 2% reduction this year.

Cost: $175 billion.

Payroll tax cut from 6.2% to 3.1% for employers and eliminated for qualifying new hires in 2012, plus 100% expensing for new investments.

Cost: $70 billion.

Infrastructure investments, including modernizing schools and rehabbing vacant homes, and funding for states to rehire teachers and first responders.

Cost: $140 billion.

Extending unemployment insurance and new programs for jobless.

Cost: $62 billion.

TOTAL: $447 BILLION

At the same time, in a tone that was alternatively demanding and exasperated, he offered a robust defense of the Democratic vision of government and sharply criticized Republicans for their position on taxes and limited government. “Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers,” Mr. Obama said. “But we can help.”

As such, the speech was the latest in a series of efforts by the White House to present the president as above the Washington fray, a strategy designed to appeal to independents the president needs to win reelection but who have been deserting his cause of late.

Such an approach—setting himself up as the grown-up in town—didn’t work for Mr. Obama during the debt-ceiling debate over the summer. While Congress’ approval rating took a greater beating, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Mr. Obama also took a hit. The Journal/NBC poll showed a sharp drop in voters’ confidence that Mr. Obama can achieve his goals.

via Obama Asks Congress for $447 Billion In Cuts, Spending; Tepid GOP Response – WSJ.com.

There have been only seven speeches about economic and business issues before a joint session of Congress since the end of The Great Depression. 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed these speeches and found that they had virtually no effect on the economy, despite the detailed proposals.

Of the seven addresses, two were about labor trouble, and both by Harry Truman: One about the railroad strike in 1946, and the other about the steel strike in 1952. Neither speech was effective. The strikes were settled by labor and management irrespective of the speeches. As a matter of fact, the railroad strike ended the day of the president’s speech.

The balance of the speeches addressed different crises such as soaring energy costs, inflation, and recession. Each of these speeches offered specific road maps for economic improvement. While each president gave a broad description of the trouble, most offered a specific set of solutions. Rarely were any of the plans adopted, either because of political opposition or because the problems resolved themselves. In many cases, the economy got worse after the presidential address. It is impossible to trace any recovery to the presidential proposals in almost every case. Those that were enacted into law were so substantially changed by Congress that they barely resembled the presidents’ suggestions.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed all of the presidential addresses to joint sessions of Congress from The Great Depression through the present to identify all those that dealt primarily with the economy.

via How The Seven Biggest Presidential Speeches On The Economy Failed: 24/7 Wall St..

President Obama, foreign policy: “Fact is, President Obama could lead a Navy SEAL team to neutralize al-Qaeda’s Ayman al- Zawahiri and Anwar al-Awlaki, broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, engineer a South Korean buyout of North Korea, take out Iran’s nuclear operation, and resolve Pakistan-India tension — and get little credit in the polls. … That’s because those things don’t create a single job.”

Indeed, barring some truly major overseas event, foreign policy matters may play less of a role in this election than in any in recent memory. The three televised debates have traditionally set aside one focusing on foreign policy matters, but you’d have to wonder whether they will bother this time around — unless it’s a session on foreign trade policy or maybe how isolationist the country should be.

Fact is, President Obama could lead a Navy SEAL team to neutralize al-Qaeda’s Ayman al- Zawahiri and Anwar al-Awlaki, broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, engineer a South Korean buyout of North Korea, take out Iran’s nuclear operation, and resolve Pakistan-India tension — and get little credit in the polls.

That’s because those things don’t create a single job.

Bolton naturally blames Obama for the lack of focus on foreign policy.

“He never raises the issue unless he’s forced to” Bolton said, or when there are big operations such as the demise of Osama bin Laden.

via Does anyone care about foreign policy? – The Washington Post.

Michael S. Hart, RIP, Project Gutenberg, kudos:  Project Gutenberg … what a great idea. Kudos, Mr. Hart and rest in peace.

Michael S. Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, died in his home on September 6th. He was 64 years old.

Hart, an early pioneer in digital publishing, was involved with eBooks since the early days of computers. He founded Project Gutenberg, one of the largest and longest running online literary projects, and he is also credited with having made the first eBook when he typed the U.S. Declaration of Independence into a computer back in 1971.

via Project Gutenberg Founder Michael S. Hart Has Died – GalleyCat.

bike polo,high school clubs, Myers Park HS, FPC, Charlotte:  Fun! I know a lot of these families … many at First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte.

The team is mostly sophomores and juniors with a few freshmen and seniors, both male and female.

They’re a smorgasbord of rowers, soccer players, pole-vaulters and Odyssey of the Mind members.

“It’s a big melting pot,” said founder Harrison Raby’s sister, sophomore Elizabeth, 15. “There’s no judgment ever. Everybody is always accepted. …It’s a brotherhood and a sisterhood.”

Though they’ve come a long way from broken croquet mallets and a soccer ball, the bike polo club still doesn’t get too caught up in the rules. It’s akin to pickup football with less aggression and more laughs.

As any high school club founders know, not all of the 250 students who signed up show up. But as long as a dozen come on Sundays, that’s all they need.

At this year’s “Stampede,” where all the Myers Park clubs set up tables and vie for members, they’re counting on a lot of bike polo hype and some freshmen blood to keep the club alive.

Another goal for this year is to incorporate a service aspect. They’d like to get involved with Burrito Bikers, a small group of people who ride around uptown Charlotte on Sunday mornings, passing out 50 to 70 steaming breakfast burritos and drinks to Charlotte’s homeless.

Working with their friends at South Mecklenburg High, the Myers Park students are also trying to jump-start a South Mecklenburg bike polo team for a little competition.

Says Conway: “It’s a fun time.”

via Polo on bicycles? Yep, new club draws 250.

city v. country, health: Very interesting statistic.

Cities once infamous for pollution, crime, crowding and infectious diseases have cleaned up their act.

“They may have a better educational system,” says Patrick Remington, project director of County Health Rankings, a report published by the University of Wisconsin that ranks more than 3,000 counties nationwide against others in their states.

“They may have more job opportunities,” Remington continued. “All these things come together to make urban areas (and), in particular, suburban communities, healthier than their rural counterparts.”

The report found that 48 percent of the healthiest counties were urban or suburban, while 84 percent of the unhealthiest counties were rural.

via City counties ranked healthier than rural! – CBS News.

Wicked Start, web-based services, start-ups, new business:  I love the innovative ideas.

In my last post, I described a Web-based service called Wicked Start that can bring a measure of automation to the process of getting a new business off the ground. Wicked Start lays out a sort of template for each of 10 major steps in starting a company, suggesting ways to proceed, pointing out what might be overlooked, and offering various resources and advice. I also briefly mentioned a Wicked Start user: Hari Kaur, a yoga instructor who four months ago opened her own jazz-yoga studio in Manhattan, called Hari NYC. Ms. Kaur tried the Web site at the suggestion of one of her yoga students, who just happens to be the founder of Wicked Start, Bryan Janeczko.

I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at how Wicked Start proved useful to Ms. Kaur, so for this follow-up post I asked her to walk me through some of the steps that the site took her through. Wicked Start’s 10-step program is laid out on a single Web page called “the Road Map.” At the top of the road map is a progress-tracking bar that tells you at a glance how close you’ve come to completing the entire process. Ms. Kaur’s tracker indicates that she’s 60 percent complete. She noted that she had jumped around among the 10 modules in the road map that represent the 10 start-up steps — Wicked Start doesn’t pressure you to do things in order, or to do all the steps, or to do any of the steps in a particular way. But let’s take them in order, anyway.

via Step by Step With an Automated Start-Up – NYTimes.com.

news, random, gumby, criminal acts:  Gumby robber? “San Diego’s KGTV News reported that the clerk told his boss he didn’t know who Gumby was and described the character in the store as a ‘green SpongeBob SquarePants.'”

A person dressed as Gumby walked into a Southern California convenience store, claiming to have a gun and demanding money, but costume trouble and a skeptical clerk thwarted the would-be robber.

In this surveillance video taken Sept. 5, 2011 and released by the San Diego Police Dept. shows a suspect dressed like Gumby telling a convenience store clerk he is being robbed, fumbling inside the costume as if to pull a gun, dropping 27 cents and leaving. Police say the attempted robbery took place Monday Sept.5, 2011 at a 7-Eleven in Rancho Penasquitos, Calif. (AP Photo/San Diego Police Department)

In this surveillance video taken Sept. 5, 2011 and released by the San Diego Police Department showing a suspect dressed like Gumby telling a convenience store clerk he is being robbed, fumbling inside the costume as if to pull a gun, dropping 27 cents and leaving. Police say the attempted robbery took place Monday Sept. .5, 2011 at a 7-Eleven in Rancho Penasquitos, Calif. (AP/Photo/Siego Police Department)

Surveillance video shows someone — police think it was a man — in a bulky, green costume and another man entering 7-Eleven in Rancho Penasquitos early Monday.

Gumby demanded money, but the store clerk thought it was a joke and ignored the life-size Claymation character, telling him he was cleaning up and didn’t have time to waste, said San Diego police Detective Gary Hassen.

“You don’t think this is a robbery? I have a gun,” the costumed man said, fumbling inside his costume as if trying to retrieve a weapon, Hassen said.

But the green-gloves seemed to get in the way, and rather than pull a gun, he dropped 26 cents on the floor, Hassen said.

The video shows the second man, who came in with the Gumby suspect, but was not dressed as Pokey, walk out of the store.

The costumed character “can’t pick up the money and he can’t get the gun,” Hassen said. So when the other man pulls up in front of the store and honks, the would-be robber runs to the white or silver minivan and takes off, Hassen said.

San Diego’s KGTV News reported that the clerk told his boss he didn’t know who Gumby was and described the character in the store as a “green SpongeBob SquarePants.”

via Gumby calls it a robbery, clerk thinks it’s a joke  | accessAtlanta.

languages, resarch,random:  “Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.”

It’s an almost universal truth that any language you don’t understand sounds like it’s being spoken at 200 miles per hour — a storm of alien syllables almost impossible to tease apart. That, we tell ourselves, is simply because the words make no sense to us. Surely our spoken English sounds just as fast to a native speaker of Urdu. And yet it’s equally true that some languages seem to zip by faster than others. Spanish blows the doors off French; Japanese leaves German in the dust — or at least that’s how they sound.

But how could that be? The dialogue in movies translated from English to Spanish doesn’t whiz by in half the original time, after all, which is what it would have to do if the same lines were being spoken at doubletime. Similarly, Spanish films don’t take four hours to unspool when they’re translated into French. Somewhere among all the languages must be a great equalizer that keeps us conveying information at the same rate even if the speed limits vary from tongue to tongue.

To investigate this puzzle, researchers from the Universite de Lyon recruited 59 male and female volunteers who were native speakers of one of seven common languages — English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish — and one not so common one: Vietnamese. They instructed them all to read 20 different texts, including the one about the housecat and the locked door, into a recorder. All of the volunteers read all 20 passages in their native languages. Any silences that lasted longer than 150 milliseconds were edited out, but the recordings were left otherwise untouched.

The investigators next counted all of the syllables in each of the recordings, and further analyzed how much meaning was packed into each of those syllables. A single syllable word like “bliss,” for example, is rich with meaning — signifying not ordinary happiness but a particularly serene and rapturous kind. The single syllable word “to” is less information-dense. And a single syllabile like the short i sound, as in the word “jubilee,” has no independent meaning at all.

With this raw data in hand, the investigators crunched the numbers together to arrive at two critical values for each language: The average information density for each of its syllables and the average number of syllables spoken per second in ordinary speech. Vietnamese was used as a reference language for the other seven, with its syllables (which are considered by linguists to be very information dense) given an arbitrary value of 1.

For all of the other languages, the researchers discovered, the more data-dense the average syllable is, the fewer of those syllables had to be spoken per second — and the slower the speech thus was. English, with a high information density of .91, is spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second. Mandarin, which topped the density list at .94, was the spoken slowpoke at 5.18 syllables per second. Spanish, with a low-density .63, rips along at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82. The true speed demon of the group, however, was Japanese, which edges past Spanish at 7.84, thanks to its low density of .49. Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.

via Why Some Languages Sound So Fast – TIME.

education, Flipped Classroom, Knewton, graphics, kith/kin:  I can name several students who would have greatly benefitted by this teaching method!

FLIPPIN’ CLEVER: Lots of people ask how to be a “thought-leader” in a noisy marketplace. Here’s a clever approach: Knewton sponsored a smart infographic about what the “flipped” classroom means. Neat way to galvanize the discussion–and keep Knewton’s name front and center.

via EdSurge: Word Jousts, Groupons For Higher Ed, And The Flipped Classroom | Fast Company.

photography, LIFE, kisses, random:  What’s your favorite?

via The Kisses We Remember – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

The Conspirator, movies, follow-up:  Joni always finds great stuff … Search Lincoln Assassination Papers at Fold3.

innovation, Speakeasy Dollhouse, plays, random:  I can’t quite figure this one out …

Inspired by Lee’s miniature crime scene sets, I have decided to create the scenes from my family mystery using my own handmade sets and dolls. Utilizing evidence from autopsy reports, police records, court documents, and interviews, I have built a dollhouse-sized speakeasy, a hospital room, a child’s bedroom, and a pre-war apartment. I also have begun the process of creating lifelike dolls with moveable limbs to live in these sets. I have been photographing the sets and dolls in order to create a book (with the help of my designer, Brian Azer.) The first half of my story is completely written and needs to be photographed and printed into part one of the two-part series.

via Speakeasy Dollhouse by Cynthia von Buhler — Kickstarter.

gLee, tv:  September 20! In case you care … GLEE – Season 3 Preview – YouTube., GLEE – “Dodgeball” Season 3 Promo (Extended) – YouTubeGlee Exclusive: Meet Emmas Parents – Todays News: Our Take | TVGuide.com.

Space Oddity, children/YA lit, picture books, viral books:

An illustrated version of the 1969 David Bowie song Space Oddity, featuring Major Tom “sitting in a tin can far above the world”, has become a surprise viral sensation.

Canadian illustrator Andrew Kolb conceived of the book as a free PDF to showcase his talents to publishers, featuring colourful, retro illustrations of the astronaut as he rockets away from earth and floats “in a most peculiar way” through space. The ending – “Ground Control to Major Tom, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong” – means it is “maybe not necessarily the warmest, cuddliest children’s book,” Kolb has admitted, but he posted it for free on his website in August, rapidly receiving more than 90,000 views, along with demands from fans asking to buy physical copies.

Its popularity follows another recent children’s book internet sensation, the tongue-in-cheek bedtime story Go the Fuck to Sleep, which hit the top of Amazon.com’s bestseller charts months before publication after a pirated PDF took off online.

Unfortunately for Kolb, as well as requests to buy the book, he also received an email from the music group holding the rights to Space Oddity, and has now been forced to take down the PDF and to remove references to the Bowie song from his pictures. Although the Bowie version of the book can still be viewed elsewhere online, on Kolb’s own website it is described merely as a “picture book set in space”, with the proviso that “this is merely a concept and no physical form of this book will be made until all involved approve of the collaboration”.

via Space Oddity picture book is viral hit | Books | guardian.co.uk.

apps, photography, Photo Academy, storytelling, Storify: here are a few I have found that interest me:

 App Store – Photo Academy.

Storify is looking for people who are passionate about the future of storytelling and who believe great stories can change the world. We strongly believe in design thinking and building products focusing on real user needs.

via Create stories using social media – storify.com.

Earlier this summer we launched a few tools to make it easier for developers to create new apps for WordPress.com. Starting today, you can integrate your WordPress.com blog with Feedfabrik and Empire Avenue.

Turn Your Blog Into a Book

Have you ever wanted to publish your own book, or a collection of your favorite blog posts?

Feedfabrik makes it easy to convert your WordPress.com blog into a book format, and even allows you to customize the cover design and book contents. You can order a hard copy of your book, or a digital PDF edition.

To try it out, head over to Feedfabrik, choose Bookfabrik, then select “I’m on WordPress.com.” Receive a 10% discount on all September orders with the code “WORDPRESS-INTRO”.

Grow Your Social Capital Online

Empire Avenue is a Social Stock Market, where your social networking activity and engagement earn you virtual currency and determine your virtual share price. It also helps you discover new people and brands, and allows you to invest virtual currency in their profiles by buying shares on the Social Stock Market.

Along the way you’ll have a bit of fun, make new connections, and learn about social networking and the value of your network! Empire Avenue is completely free and deals in virtual currency. Sign up today to get started.

via Two New Apps for WordPress.com — Blog — WordPress.com.

photography, DSLR, video lessons: 

Color is a powerful tool for expression, even when you don’t know what you’re doing. A while back I accidentally had my camera set to a cooling white balance while shooting outside in a warm afternoon light, and all my pictures had an icy, bright cast that at first bothered me but soon delighted me. I hadn’t thought of the urchins and buoys and things I’d shot as looking any way other than the way I saw them. Yet with a slight change in environment, they would look completely different. I didn’t “correct” the white balance after the fact because it ended up being a unique and interesting take — that I can’t exactly take credit for.

They’re going to have a second tutorial later in the month for post-processing color effects. If you haven’t played with Lightroom or Aperture (to say nothing of Photoshop and the like), you owe it to yourself to give one a try. The versatility of DSLRs made me fall in love with photography all over again, and as nerdy as it sounds, knowing my way around menus and applications was a big part of that.

via Video: Learning About Picture And Color Modes On Your DSLR | TechCrunch.

02
Sep
11

9.2.2011 … a little pomp and circumstance … CLS seniors march in their gowns … encouraged to give back …

Charlotte Latin School, Fall Convocation, Seniors, kith/kin:  Being a high school senior is a special time.  CLS does a great job of focusing and celebrating its seniors.

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Justice Clarence Thomas, Ginni Thomas, Constitutional Law, The Supreme Court, The Tea Party, health care reform:  I read a review of the New Yorker article the other day, which was very good.  The article, although very long, is also very good … read it if it interests you.

It has been, in certain respects, a difficult year for Clarence Thomas. In January, he was compelled to amend several years of the financial-disclosure forms that Supreme Court Justices must file each year. The document requires the Justices to disclose the source of all income earned by their spouses, and Thomas had failed to note that his wife, Virginia, who is known as Ginni, worked as a representative for a Michigan college and at the Heritage Foundation. The following month, seventy-four members of Congress called on Thomas to recuse himself from any legal challenges to President Obama’s health-care reform, because his wife has been an outspoken opponent of the law. At around the same time, Court observers noted the fifth anniversary of the last time that Thomas had asked a question during an oral argument. The confluence of these events produced the kind of public criticism, and even mockery, that Thomas had largely managed to avoid since his tumultuous arrival on the Court, twenty years ago this fall.

These tempests obscure a larger truth about Thomas: that this year has also been, for him, a moment of triumph. In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.

via The Thomases vs. Obama’s Health-Care Plan : The New Yorker.

book clubs, opportunities:  I have pasted the whole article.  What a great opportunity!

Randall: An exceptional book club

Sometimes when you least expect it, life opens a door you never dreamed you’d enter. It’s enough to make you want to wake up each morning just to see what will happen next.

Anything is possible as long as you keep waking up.

Some months ago, a reader of my column (a man I’ve not met but hope to do so) sent me a story from The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer by columnist Kay McSpadden, about an unusual book club that meets each week at the main branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Book clubs are not often called “unusual.” But Turning Pages is exceptional for two reasons: First, most of its members are homeless. Some are housed. Others are in “transition.”

Second, and just as rare, is a very pregnant woman in a purple dress and high heels — a self-described community volunteer who read two years ago about a similar program in Boston, and saw no reason why it couldn’t happen in Charlotte.

Candace Curlin Vance is the kind of friend you want on your side in a fight — fearless and tireless. And, as the folks at Turning Pages have learned, you can count on her to have your back.

Also, she talks faster than most normal people can think, which is handy for getting publishers to donate books.

The same reader who sent me that story suggested to Candace that Turning Pages ought to read “Birdbaths and Paper Cranes,” a collection of columns I published 10 years ago that includes stories set in my home state of North Carolina.

Candace wrote at once to ask how she might obtain 25 copies.

I replied that the book is out of print and, unfortunately, I didn’t have 25 copies. She thanked me anyhow, and that was that.

The next day I found two big boxes of books I didn’t know I had. When I told Candace, she laughed. As a woman of faith and persistence, she has often seen “no” turn into “yes.”

And that’s how I ended up flying to Charlotte last week to meet the members of Turning Pages, who had just finished reading, of all things, my book.

We sat around a big table — different races, genders, backgrounds and walks of life — talking, laughing, eating biscuits from Bojangles’, drinking sweet iced tea. It was very Southern. I never felt more at home.

They asked excellent questions, offered insightful observations and convinced me they’d actually read the book.

One woman, now housed after years of living on the streets, presented me with a gift, a blue-and-white-spattered painting.

“It’s called ‘Falling Water,’ ” she said, smiling. “I signed my name on the back so it will be worth something someday.”

Little did she know how much it was already worth to me.

Afterward, when we’d eaten all the biscuits, shaken all the hands and gone our separate ways, I asked Candace about the future of Turning Pages.

“It’s my baby,” she said. “I really want to see it continue.”

But with another “baby” on the way (her first child is due in October), she hopes someone will step up to fill her high heels.

So do I.

Reading is the great equalizer. A book never asks who we are or what we do or where we sleep at night. It asks only that we read and try to understand.

When we come together with open hearts and open minds to discuss what we’ve read, we discover that we are more alike than we are different.

We create community, a sense of belonging, a sense of home.

We turn the hopeless “no” into the “yes” of possibility.

Anything is possible, as long as we keep reading. Just ask the readers of Turning Pages.

via Randall: An exceptional book club | ScrippsNews.

Michael Vick, second chances, prayers:  I believe in second chances.  But with that kind of money he could so easily fail again.  Prayers …

Vick said that experience and maturity have taught him patience. “You never know what’s going to happen. You just live in the moment and take advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given. You know what kind of talent you have, you know what you can do. You just have to be patient and that’s something I’ve learned over the years and unfortunately while I was away. Everything in life happens for a reason and it taught me patience and I think that’s part of the reason I’m here today. Being patient.”

And Vick knows that the way others see him may never change. It isn’t easy to get past what he did. “I’m just trying to be the best person I can be. I can’t control what people think, their opinions, their perception. That’s personal and that’s for them. The only thing I can control is what I can control and that’s trying to be the best person I can be, the best citizen I can be, the best father I can be. I think that speaks for itself. That’s not by force, that’s by choice. Some things may never change. I may never change in certain facets of my life, but it is what it is.”

via Michael Vick, the $100 million man, says, ‘I never thought this day would come again’ – The Early Lead – The Washington Post.

Romare Bearden, Charlotte NC:  One of my favorite artists.  I love the recognition he is getting on the anniversary of his 100th birthday.

Romare Bearden Turns 100

Charlotte Native and well-known artist Romare Bearden would have been 100 years old this Friday, and to celebrate the artistry and influence of this world-renown, critically praised Charlottean, we’ll be joined by a panel of Bearden experts who will talk about his life, his influences, his art and his legacy here and elsewhere.

via WFAE 90.7 FM.

9/11, New World Trade Center:  Worth watching the interactive to see the future of the 9/11 site.

Ground Zero Now – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney : “Scorched earth runs in the family.”  Again, I think he may be senile.

 WHY is it not a surprise to learn that Dick Cheney’s ancestor, Samuel Fletcher Cheney, was a Civil War soldier who marched with Sherman to the sea?

Scorched earth runs in the family.

Having lost the power to heedlessly bomb the world, Cheney has turned his attention to heedlessly bombing old colleagues.

Vice’s new memoir, “In My Time,” veers unpleasantly between spin, insisting he was always right, and score-settling, insisting that anyone who opposed him was wrong.

A person who is always for the use of military force is as doctrinaire and irrelevant as a person who is always opposed to the use of military force.

Cheney shows contempt for Tenet, Colin Powell and Rice, whom he disparages in a sexist way for crying, and condescension for W. when he won’t be guided to the path of most destruction.

He’s churlish about President Obama, who took the hunt for Osama bin Laden off the back burner and actually did what W. promised to do with his little bullhorn — catch the real villain of 9/11.

via Darth Vader Vents – NYTimes.com.

books, digital age:  It’s not over until it’s over …

But let’s not overdo things. Let’s not lose sight of the data we have, and let’s not invent data when we only have anecdotes. And finally, let’s not forget the wonders this new world opens up. Being able to download a book to read instantaneously wherever you are is a thing of wonder, after all (and there is some anecdotal suggestion that people are coming back to books via new digital platforms).

For authors, the chance to reach out to readers, instantly and effectively, is changing the way titles are marketed and delivers a glorious independence that comes with having your own digital presence to curate and to shape. There are new creative opportunities offered by interactive technologies. There is the chance to play in a world where books and stories can be either the private, cherished experience of old or a public, shared conversation with other readers from across the world.

via The death of books has been greatly exaggerated | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Video Time machine, apps:  What year would you pick?

Pick a year and watch specific categories including TV, Music, Advertisements, Trailers, Video Games, Sports, and more!

via App Store – Video Time Machine.

Hurricane Irene, natural disasters, Waffle House, the Waffle House Index: The “Waffle House Index!”

When a hurricane makes landfall, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency relies on a couple of metrics to assess its destructive power.

First, there is the well-known Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Then there is what he calls the “Waffle House Index.”

Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.

The mobile command center, above, went to Havelock, N.C., during Irene.

“If you get there and the Waffle House is closed?” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has said. “That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”

via Waffle House Index Measures Hurricane Recovery – WSJ.com.

Life Above All, movies, South Africa:  Adding it to the list.

Life, Above All is the moving story of a 12-year-old South African girl, Chanda (stunningly played by newcomer Khomotso Manyaka), who’s forced to care for her younger siblings while trying to find her mother, who has fled their home in a village near Johannesburg in the face of local prejudice and rumors.

The powerful drama tackles the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa head-on, not just in medical and health terms, but in showing how superstition and gossip can create an atmosphere of secrecy and shame that makes dealing with the issue even more difficult.

(In many ways–its strong, young female protagonist, the way it portrays a small, rural community’s fears and secrets, the sense of hope it still manages to foster–Life, Above All may remind viewers of last year’s Winter’s Bone.)

Based on Allan Stratton’s 2004 novel Chanda’s Secrets, the film is directed by Oliver Schmitz, who was born to and raised in South Africa by German parents. Life, Above All is also the acting debut of 14-year-old Khtomosto Manyaka who was noticed by talent scouts during a choir performance at her high school in Elandsdoorn, South Africa.

via Interview: Life, Above All’s Star Khomotso Manyaka and Director Oliver Schmitz | Redblog.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, lists:

This is the second year in a row that Facebook’s Zuckerberg takes home the crown, which I guess makes him slightly less “new establishment.” Just “establishment” should do.

In any case, keep on winning those magazine awards, Zuck. They’re worth more to you than the errant billion stuffed in your mattress, though I hear $10,000 bills are actually quite soft.

via Mark Zuckerberg is Totally the Establishment, Man – Techland – TIME.com.

libraries, librarians:  I wish I knew one well to nominate.

The award invites library users nationwide to recognize the accomplishments of librarians in public, school, college, community college and university libraries for their efforts to improve the lives of people in their community.

via The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries: Who Loves Their Librarian??.

Caiaphas, ossuary, archeology, history, Biblical figures:

An ancient burial box recovered from antiquities looters three years ago contains a mysterious inscription that could reveal the home of the family of the figure Caiaphas, who is infamous for his involvement in the biblical story of the crucifixion of Jesus.

The burial box, also called an ossuary, was discovered in 1990, but the inscription was just recently verified as legitimate (and not the result of forgers trying to increase an artifact’s value) by Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University and Boaz Zissu of Bar Ilan University. The box is made of limestone, is covered in decorative rosettes and has an inscription.

In the Bible story of Jesus’ crucifixion, a Jewish high priest named Caiaphas is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus.

What is special about the inscription on this ossuary is that the deceased is named within the context of three generations; the inscription also includes a potential residence.

via Ossurary turns up new clues to Caiaphas – CBS News.

green, electric cars, electrical vehicle charging stations, Davidson NC: Filler Up!

Electric vehicles could become a viable option for motorists in the coming years, but not without a place to charge up. Add South Main Square to the list of places to plug in. Thanks to a federal stimulus grant awarded through the state of North Carolina, the South Main Street shopping center is getting one of the region’s first electric vehicle charging stations.

“It’s Davidson’s first electric vehicle charging station that will be available for public use,” said Kathleen Rose, who owns South Main Square and also runs the Project for Innovation, Energy & Sustainability (PiES), a “green” business incubator based there. Ms. Rose worked with Raleigh-based Praxis Technologies to bring the charging station to Davidson.

via Drive an electric? Fill ‘er up at South Main Square | DavidsonNews.net.

9/11 anniversary, Where Were You When?:  

Sept. 11, 2011, will mark the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Washington Post wants to know how the attacks may have affected your life and your views. In what ways do the attacks still resonate? How have the attacks affected your way of seeing the world? We’ll take your submissions and consider using them as part of an anniversary project on the impact of Sept. 11. Please include your age, as well as where you lived when the attacks occurred and where you are now.

via Sept. 11, 2001, anniversary: Share your story – Checkpoint Washington – The Washington Post.

Bones:

literary locations, Book Map, Google Maps:  Where would I like to go?

Ever wish you could visit the locations in your favorite novels?

In our new Book Maps feature, we will interview an author or biographer about locations in their book. We will also create a special Google Map about the interview so you can take a walking or driving tour through the book in real life. Email GalleyCat if you have other Book Map suggestions.

For our first installment, we asked Joe Woodward to share the places where novelist Nathanael West lived and worked in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Woodward took us on a book tour of Alive Inside the Wreck: A Biography of Nathanael West. The Google Map is embedded above–click on the blue pins for more details about a specific location.

via Book Map: Nathanael West & Los Angeles – GalleyCat.

food, recipes, lamb, rosemary:

The new Minimalist videos will return next week. For now, here’s one from 2008 with an elegantly casual recipe for lamb and figs grilled on rosemary skewers.

via Grilled Lamb on Rosemary Skewers – Video – The Minimalist – NYTimes.com.

The new Minimalist videos will return next week. For now, here’s one from 2008 with an elegantly casual recipe for lamb and figs grilled on rosemary skewers.

social networks, Newseum, twitter: I found this one on twitter …
Newseum (@Newseum)
9/1/11 3:59 PM
Great infographic on the development of social networks.http://t.co/5gtWh9p

However, the great writer who has really been portrayed this way most frequently in recent times is one who hasn’t yet been visited by the jaunty Gallifrean: Jane Austen. Both in the film Becoming Jane and the TV movie Miss Austen Regrets, Austen was depicted as a waspish cynical tomboy, clever with words if not so clever with men: a sort of Regency Sue Perkins. In the TV movie, there was a greater stab at complexity, as the character grew bitter with age – an Elizabeth Bennett who never nabs Mr Darcy – but in both there was, I would hazard, an incipient underlying sexism, based on the notion that Austen’s work was underpinned by her own failures in love.

Because here’s the thing about Jane Austen. She was a very great genius. She is possibly the greatest genius in the history of English literature, arguably greater than Shakespeare. And her achievement is not that much to do with love, although that was her subject matter. It’s to do with technique. Before her there are three strands in English fiction: the somewhat mental, directly-reader-addressing semi-oral romps of Nashe and Sterne and Fielding; the sensationalist Gothic work of Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe; and the romances of Eliza Haywood and Fanny Burney.

However great these writers are, none could be read now and considered modern. When Austen gets into her stride, which she does very quickly with Sense and Sensibility, suddenly, you have all the key modern realist devices: ironic narration; controlled point of view; structural unity; transparency of focus; ensemble characterisation; fixed arenas of time and place; and, most importantly, the giving-up of the fantastical in favour of a notion that art should represent life as it is actually lived in all its wonderful ordinariness. She is the first person, as John Updike put it: “to give the mundane its beautiful due”, and her work leads to Updike as much as it does to George Eliot.

I have no idea how a mainly home-educated rector’s daughter came by all that, but I know that imagining her as a kind of acerbic spinster flattens out this genius. It becomes all about the subject matter and not at all about the huge creative advance her work represents. When the Tardis does land in Hampshire in 1815, I imagine there will be witty banter between Jane and the Doctor and some men in britches; if it’s still David Tennant there might even be some flirtation, perhaps a sad, chaste goodbye. But what there should be is a moment when he says “I’m 900 years old, I’ve got a brain the size of a planet, and I’ve still no idea how you single-handedly created the modern English novel”. At which point Jane Austen will rip off her bonnet to reveal the tiny figure of Davros, king of the daleks, sitting in a small glass dome in her skull.duhduhduhduhduh, duhduhduhduh, duhduhduhduhduh,weeeoooo…weee-weeooo…

via David Baddiel wonders what Dr Who would make of Jane Austen – Times Online.

Jane Austen: 

All of them point to Austen’s inimitable humor, incisive observations of human nature and unwavering moral stance that make her works still relevant two hundred years later today.

via Why We Read Jane Austen.

Children’s/YA literature, Gretchen Rubin:  This list has quite a few that I am not familiar with …

If you want some ideas of books to read, for a group or just for yourself, here are a few of my favorites. It pains me to list so few! But this is a good start.

Because they’re already so widely known, I’m not going to list some very obvious ones, like the Harry Potter books, the Narnia books, the The Lord of the Rings books, or my beloved Little House books.

The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman

The Silver Crown, Robert O’Brien

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Half Magic, Edward Eager

The Second Mrs. Gioconda, E. L. Konigsberg

Black and Blue Magic, Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright

Graceling, Kristin Cashore

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, Peter Cameron

Greengage Summer, Rumer Godden

This list represents a big range — some are meant for ten-year-olds, some for seventeen-year-olds. But they are all so good that they can be enjoyed by an adult.

via The Happiness Project: Looking for Some Reading Suggestions in Children’s or Young-Adult Literature?.

Manitoba, Canada, polar bears, travel:  I think I would like to see the polar bears.

The iconic polar bear is a must-see for every wildlife lover and Churchill, Manitoba is the best place in the world to see them! Each fall, hundreds of polar bears naturally migrate through this cozy northern town and it is easier than you think to get there. Don’t miss out on these special offers for October and November, 2011 which include limited-time* promotions.

via Travel Manitoba: Polar Bears.

fashion, coats:  Glad we are moving away from the puff stuff.

But the fall runway collections made a fairly convincing case for rethinking the role of outerwear in our wardrobes. Designers like Vera Wang, Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra put parkas front and center in their shows, while hybrid styles of bombers, blanket coats, ponchos, peacoats, toggle coats and toppers appeared just about everywhere else. It was as if the fashion world was making a collective stand against those ubiquitous puffer jackets that make most of us look as if we’re wearing bubble wrap. “You can have on whatever you want underneath, but this year the coat is the statement piece,” said Tanya Spivey, the executive vice president for design and merchandising at Andrew Marc, a division of the apparel conglomerate G-III that makes coats for companies like Calvin Klein, Cole Haan and Kenneth Cole. That said, there are a lot of coats to sort out. And since it has been a while since some common outerwear lingo has been put to use, here is a little refresher course.

via A Field Guide to Outerwear – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.




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