Posts Tagged ‘death penalty

24
May
13

5.24.13 … 5 Surprising Facts About the Death Penalty Worldwide … i before e …

death penalty: Interesting …

 5. Just 21 countries in the world carried out the death penalty last year.

via 5 Surprising Facts About the Death Penalty Worldwide.

 

George Takei, spelling rules, Facebook: The stuff George Takei posts on Facebook is some of the most amusing …

George Takei.

George Hosato Takei (武井 穂郷 Takei Hosato?, /təˈkeɪ/ tə-kay; April 20, 1937) is an American actor and author, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the television series Star Trek. He also portrayed the character in six Star Trek feature films and in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. He is a proponent of gay rights and active in state and local politics as well as continuing his acting career. He has won several awards and accolades in his work on human rights and Japanese–American relations, including his work with the Japanese American National Museum.

via George Takei – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

08
Oct
11

10.8.2011 … off to see some fall leaves and a few campuses … Warmer here than in Charlotte … amazing leaves and unbelievably funny signs to this Southerner …

road trip, college search, New England, fall leaves, road signs:  Off to see some fall leaves and a few campuses … Warmer here than in Charlotte.

On I-95 in Connecticut on a big yellow road hazard sign:

Do Not Stop

Correctional Facility Area

Now my question … How often do the inmates get loose?  I am not the only one concerned. DO NOT STOP [Correctional Facility Area] – Goatload.com. And I now understand that in some states they don’t care if you stop, just don’t pick up any hitchhikers … Correctional Facility: Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers photo – Paul Marcus photos at pbase.com.

Todays colleges:

Brown … Thanks to Ashley  and Justine for a great tour, lunch and Nutella milkshakes!  Yale: Thanks Katie and Carolyn … what a great place … the colleges, bladderball, master’s teas,  weddings … and Thai food …

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and loved this public art at Yale …

 

 

The Women’s Table, 1993

Maya Lin (b. 1959; B.A. 1981, M.Arch. 1986, D.F.A. 1987)

Location: Rose Walk, by Sterling Memorial Library

Maya Lin’s monument-making began during her undergraduate years at Yale, with her 1981 design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Like the black wall of names cutting into the grassy Mall, the simple granite blocks of Lin’s Women’s Table organically emerge from the pavement as both a lament and a tribute. A string of figures marks the number of female students at Yale each year since its founding in 1701. These numbers grow with time as they spiral out toward the table’s edge, swelling like the rings of water that bubble from the central spring and spill over on all sides. Anonymous gift, commissioned in 1989 and installed in 1993

via Public art at Yale – The Women’s Table.

Rural America, USPS, kith/kin, Pineview GA:  Growing up visiting my grandparents in Pineview GA, I know how important a post office is.  Not only does it provie services connecting a community to the world, it also provides identity and is a “meeting up” place.  In my opinion, rural post offices should be subsidized before many other entitlements.

Many here note that the people who would be hurt most by the closings — the rural elderly — often do not use computers or e-mail.

Susan Brennan, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, defended the proposed closings. “Regarding rural America, the fact is that our network of post offices was established decades ago to serve populations that in many, many cases moved on years ago,” she said. “The residents in these communities already go to neighboring towns to shop for food, go to the drugstore, purchase gas, go to the bank — they can take care of their postal needs there.” Postal authorities have also proposed installing branches in some retail stores, with Ms. Brennan suggesting that the move might buoy ailing small-town shopkeepers.

Inside Neville’s post office building, which was once a grocery store, the Postal Service’s notice of “possible closing or consolidation” remains tacked to the bulletin board. Citing a “declining workload,” the Postal Service letter noted that the branch’s “walk-in revenue” declined to $15,487 in fiscal 2010, down from $21,806 the previous year. A closing, it estimated, would yield savings of $347,126 over 10 years — almost all from eliminating Ms. Blackburn’s job.

The letter stated, “Savings for the Postal Service contribute in the long run to stable postage rates and savings for customers.”

Ms. Blackburn is anything but a faceless bureaucrat — she plays community booster, historian and newscaster, telling people why that ambulance came to town a day earlier and warning people to lock their doors when an escaped convict was in the area. She also played an important role in arranging a paddleboat excursion to mark Neville’s bicentennial in 2008. (The Postal Service has ordered local postmasters not to grant interviews about the proposed closing.)

Mr. Burke said that to avoid shutting rural post offices, the Postal Service should first pare the number and salaries of upper managers and close more urban post offices. (Postal officials say they have been making such moves, but they would not save nearly enough money to avert rural closings.)

Some residents here also argue that just as the federal government subsidizes oil companies and other industries, it should subsidize rural post offices. Right now, the Postal Service, which is financed through sales of postage, receives no direct federal appropriations, although it is exempt from most taxes.

Townspeople also say the threatened closing insults the region’s lore. Six miles north lies Point Pleasant, the birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant. And these river towns served as havens for the underground railroad.

Shelby Lucas, who has lived all of his 64 years in Neville, complained about the inconvenience that would accompany a closing. “It may save money for the post office, but it will cost us money, and it’s a hassle for us,” he said. “I’ll have to drive four miles each way to the post office in Moscow, but with the price of gas, that can really cost. It won’t be easy for retirees like me.”

Currently Neville has no mail delivery to homes or to curbside boxes, but the Postal Service says it might begin making deliveries to “cluster post boxes” of six or eight if the building is shuttered.

“I get retirement checks,” said Mr. Lucas, who used to work at Cincinnati Milacron, a machinery manufacturer. “If you put those post boxes on the street, I worry my retirement checks would disappear. There’ll be vandals. That’s happened before.”

Shirley Keller, 75, Chilo’s mayor, gets weepy about the post office. As a girl, she used to cross to Kentucky by rowboat with the postman to help him collect mailbags.

“There are quite a few old people here” said Ms. Keller, the mother-in-law of Chilo’s postmaster. “I don’t drive. It’ll be real hard to get to the post office in Felicity,” nearly five miles away.

Many rural residents have heard how the rise of e-mail and electronic bill-paying has caused the Postal Service’s volume and revenue to plummet.

“Everything is going to be the Internet,” said Carolyn Breisler, who is protesting the threatened closing in Decatur, Ohio. “Well, half the people in rural areas don’t have access to high-speed Internet. We’re not the ones putting the post office out of business. Yet we’re becoming the victims.”

via In Rural America, Fears That Beloved Post Offices Will Close – NYTimes.com.

death penalty, redemption:  There are so many facets to this complex issue.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After a quarter century on death row, Gaile Owens walked out of prison Friday with a few belongings and a simple wish: to walk in the park with her family.

The 58-year-old Memphis woman came within two months of being executed last year before her sentence was commuted — not because she was innocent, but because then-Gov. Phil Bredesen thought her punishment was excessive.

Owens admitted to hiring a hit-man in 1985 to kill her husband and the father of her two children. Supporters who tirelessly made the case to release her say she was an abused wife who has rehabilitated herself in prison.

via Woman inmate who came within 2 months of being executed leaves Tennessee prison on parole – The Washington Post.

Steve Jobs, Apple, Afghanistan, media, global issues:  I am guilty.  Steve Jobs’ death has occupied my space … and there really are more important issues.

There are many good reasons to mourn Jobs. He helped  transform communications and inspired many. Amid the gloom of the present, the brainy, bespectacled Californian represented the possibility of the future. He was, as Alexis Madrigal writes for the Atlantic, “the white wizard in the black turtleneck holding the forces of decline at bay.” Only a small fraction of the world could afford his wares,  but that didn’t stop a not-so-small fraction from coveting them—or from admiring him. As Madrigal put it, “We could all want to be Steve Jobs.” For most of us, though, “the occasional glimpse of our better selves in the reflection of an iPad is enough.”

To catch that glimpse, we’re willing to forget. We forget the harsh realities of globalized labor that lurk just beneath those brushed metallic surfacs. We pretend that it was the iPod and the iPad, not war, that defined the  decade. Steve Jobs and the iPhone may be the American dream, but Afghanistan is American reality.

via With All Eyes on Apple, It’s Easy to Forget Afghanistan – Global Spin – TIME.com.

design, architecture, form v. function, advertising, random, landmarks, icons:  Any in your area?  Saw the Hood milk jug recently  and the chest facade is in my state.

This one’s a Boston institution. In 1933, Arthur Gagnon wanted to open an ice cream stand in nearby Taunton, and he designed his new business to look like a giant milk bottle. After several changes in ownership (and a sail from Quincy to Boston proper), the structure is now known as the Hood Milk Bottle and resides at the Children’s Museum. It’s 40 feet tall and could hold 58,000 gallons of milk.

Furnitureland South’s 85-Foot Tall Highboy is more statue-attached-to-building than building itself, but the North Carolina landmark is still worth a mention

via mental_floss Blog » 10 Buildings Shaped Like What They Sell.

Skype, Facebook, Apple iPod, Amazon, cloud computing, personal computers, Foxconn City,  globalised supply chain, consumerisation, cloud-based “ecosystems”, global economy:  Very interesting article.  Read on …

ANYONE WANTING TO get a better idea of the scale of the changes taking place in the world of consumer electronics should take a look at Foxconn’s giant factory complex in Shenzhen, in southern China. Known as Foxconn City, it covers an entire square mile and is crammed with manufacturing operations and company-managed housing, medical facilities and educational centres. About 400,000 people work there, roughly as many as live in Oakland, California.

Like several other Taiwanese firms that operate factories at home and in China, Foxconn churns out electronic devices on behalf of a number of Western companies. By tapping into cheap Asian labour, Apple, Samsung and other consumer-electronics giants have been able to drive down the prices of their phones and other gadgets, broadening their appeal to consumers. A handful of insurgent Asian firms, including China’s Huawei and Taiwan’s HTC, which make devices that run on Google’s Android mobile operating system, are using their cost advantage to build their own global brands.

A globalised supply chain is not the only thing helping consumer-electronics companies to cut costs. They are also benefiting from economies of scale as the incomes of more and more people in more and more countries rise to the point at which gadgets are affordable.

Technologically impressive as all this is, the biggest change that the new devices have wrought is to transform many people’s experience of computing. The PC may have been personal; a smartphone or tablet, held in your hand rather than perched on your desk, is almost intimate, and you can take it almost anywhere. This shift has been driven by Apple, which likes to boast that most of its revenue now comes from “post-PC” devices such as iPods and iPhones rather than from its Macintosh computers. This is partly marketing talk: crack open an iPhone and you will find many of the paraphernalia—including a motherboard and microchips—that make up the guts of a PC too.

The Gucci of gadgets

Yet Apple has indeed ushered in a new era in which personal technology is finally living up to its name. That is because the technology is starting to adapt to the people who use it rather than forcing them to adapt to it. The most obvious manifestations of this are the touch-screens and intuitive operating systems on many tablets and smartphones that have allowed even toddlers to take to them with gusto. It is also reflected in the way that phones can now be tweaked to reflect people’s increasingly connected lives by, say, bringing up a friend’s latest Facebook posts when he calls. “The PC is personal but nowhere near as customisable as the smartphone,” says Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies, a consultancy.

Pioneers such as Amazon have built cloud-based “ecosystems” that make content such as its electronic books widely available. Even though the firm has its own e-reader, the Kindle, and has hatched a tablet computer too, it has also created apps and other software that let people get at their digital stuff on all sorts of devices, including PCs.

The rise of the cloud has also created an explosion of other consumer-focused web services. These include the big social networks such as Facebook, which has over 800m users, and a host of smaller firms such as Foursquare, which was created specifically to let people tell their pals where they are. This combination of social networking, location-signalling and mobile computing—nicknamed “SoLoMo” by John Doerr, a prominent venture capitalist—has given birth to outfits such as Badoo, a site for people wanting to chat, flirt and date. Mobile computing is also encouraging people to use web services more often than they would on a PC. Facebook reports that people who visit its network via mobile devices are twice as active on it as those who tap into it via other means.

Like many other technology executives, Mr Bates is convinced that consumerisation is an unstoppable force and that it has raised people’s expectations hugely. “It used to be that the best IT experiences people had were in the office,” he says. “Now that technology has been democratised, they have become used to doing new and exciting things themselves.” For their employers, this is creating both opportunities and headaches.

via Consumerisation: The power of many | The Economist.

01
Oct
11

10.1.2011 … ‎!♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday (LXXXV) to my mamma ♪♫•*¨*• .¸¸♪♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ … another end of an era … M’s last SAT … Wohoo! … and “Last” high school homecoming dance (better than last SAT) …

Davidson College, Study Abroad Program: I think the 1968-69 brochure speaks volumes for Davidson College … way ahead of its time.

According to a 1968-1969 brochure, “A year of study in a foreign country, confronting the student with new combinations of old ideas and opening his intellect to the possibilities for the development of new ideas, is an invaluable adjunct to any college program. This is particularly true for Davidson, which has as its goal the development of ‘disciplined and creative minds,’ minds which ‘make relevant and valid judgements,’ which ‘discriminate among values,’ and which communicate freely with others in the realm of ideas. Such study goes far toward making understanding out of prejudice, intellectual sophistication out of intellectual provincialism, and mature insights and habits of thought out of uncritical and adolescent minds. It therefore contributes in the most profound way to a truly liberal arts education.”

With its central place in the liberal arts tradition, Davidson now sponsors wide range of study abroad programs in its history, ranging geographically from Europe to the Indian sub-continent to Africa to South America. The current study abroad program for Davidson students is administered through the Dean Rusk International Studies Program.

via Study Abroad Shapes Students at Davidson — Around the D.

gLee, tv: Spoiler  …

It looks like the honeymoon is over for Kurt and Blaine.

Sources confirm to TVLine exclusively that Glee has tapped up-and-coming theater actor Grant Gustin to play the recurring role of Sebastian, a gay Dalton Academy Warbler who sets his sights on Blaine.

Major Glee Spoiler Alert: Big Developments For Rachel/Finn and Kurt/Blaine in Episode 5

Both Fox and the show’s producers declined to comment, but the buzz is that Sebastian is the polar opposite of Kurt in every possible way. He’s more like the male version of Santana in that he’s both promiscuous and kinda-sorta scheming.

via Glee Exclusive: New Gay Warbler Played By Grant Gustin to Come Between Kurt and Blaine! – TVLine – TVLine.

Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival, halloween, history, Ireland:  Never heard it was rooted in Ireland.

Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival

21 October 2011 – 06 November 2011

County Meath, uniquely where it all began, is bringing you Ireland’s most electrifying Halloween Festival…Fun by day, frights by night!! Samhain, the ancient Celtic Festival that we now call Halloween, originated in Co. Meath more than 2,000 years ago. Samhain marks the end of the old Celtic Year and the beginning of the New Year. One of the main spiritual centres of the ancient Celts was located on top of the hill of Tlachtga, now called the Hill of Ward, near Athboy, Co. Meath. Today, the old Celtic ceremony at Tlachtga has been revived and we mix the ancient past and the twenty-first century with a re-enactment of the Celtic celebration starting with a torch lit procession from the Fair Green in Athboy, Co. Meath to the top of the Hill of Tlachtga, at 7pm on October 31st each year.

via Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival.

Disney World, kith/kin, 40th Anniversary, family secrets:  OK, I am sure my brother (and I only have one)  has been wondering when this family secret would come up.  Our grandparents took the two of us to the NEW Disney World in the summer of 1972.  And we were allowed to go through the park together … and he abandoned me.  I had to ride the teacups by myself … You can cry now. Happy 40th Disney World!

 

Don’t get sick! This photo from 1955 shows some of the first children to ever brave Disneyland’s dizzying teacup ride, formally called “Mad Tea Party” and based on Disney’s animated version of Alice in Wonderland.

via Disney Theme Parks, Then and Now – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

Troy Davis, funeral, martyr, death penalty:  Martyr … is martyr the right word?  Tragic victim, maybe, but not martyr.

Sent to death row 20 years ago as a convicted cop killer, Troy Davis was celebrated as “martyr and foot soldier” Saturday by more than 1,000 people who packed the pews at his funeral and pledged to keep fighting the death penalty.

via More than 1,000 mourn Troy Davis as a martyr at Ga. funeral preaching end to the death penalty – The Washington Post.

BofA, Merrill Lynch, Warren Buffett, financial meltdown:  Profits, but no joy … they forget that many at ML got their hefty bonuses at the time of the merger … despite hefty losses.

IT sounded like a crank call, the business equivalent of “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?”: Hello, Warren Buffett wants to talk to your boss.

Brian Moynihan, Bank of America’s chief. The bank is still reeling under mortgage-related woes despite recent success at its Merrill Lynch unit.

Only this was no gag. The caller was telling a banker in Chicago that none other than Mr. Buffett wanted to reach the chief executive of Bank of America, ASAP.

The hurried deal that emerged from that early-morning call in late August underscored Bank of America’s predicament: It was the too-big-to-fail bank that, to some, also seemed too big to succeed.

Its C.E.O., Brian T. Moynihan, has been struggling to fix things for almost two years. After the financial markets turned on the company this summer, Mr. Buffett invested $5 billion, arresting a precipitous decline in Bank of America’s share price.

But not even the imprimatur of the Oracle of Omaha has been enough to dispel the clouds. Despite the billions from Mr. Buffett, and tens of billions in asset sales, Bank of America can’t seem to find its way.

The situation has set teeth on edge at its headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. But perhaps nowhere is the grumbling louder than in Midtown Manhattan, at One Bryant Park, now the base of the Wall Street bank formerly known as just Merrill Lynch.

DESPITE the pain, some senior bankers are saying privately that they’re hoping the division can become a bit nimbler as a result of Project New BAC.

“There is just a feeling that you can’t make a move on things that make a great deal of sense,” one executive says. “There’s just this enormous black hole.”

Sometimes, he says, the bureaucracy is suffocating. “I like being out on the road with clients,” this executive adds. “It’s only when I’m sitting in this office am I reminded of what a big, burdensome place this can be.”

Mr. Montag isn’t one for moaning and groaning. “At many firms, not just here, there’s a woe-is-us attitude,” he says. “The market is after us, the economy is after us. You name something and people will say it’s after us.”

He says morale is much better than it was two years ago. His advice for the complainers? “Show no fear. People respond to that.”

With that attitude, he says, “people will walk through the fire with you.”

via At Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Profits but No Joy – NYTimes.com.

27
Sep
11

9.27.2011 … started a new bible study at FPC … and I loved it … Genesis … In the beginning …

FPC Tuesday Bible Study, Jonathan Sacks, Covenant and Conversation, Genesisfaith and culture: Great first class … creation.

TUESDAY BIBLE STUDY:  This weekly study meets on Tuesdays from 11:45- 1:00 in the Pattie Cole Room (S203). Led by Reverend Roland Perdue the group will study Jonathan Sacks’ recent book, Covenant and Conversation, Genesis: the Book of Beginnings. Using the text, Scripture and supplemental readings, we will examine current issues and concerns in the biblical context and discuss them from the vantage point of a dialogue between faith and culture.

via First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC.

Steven Pinker, violence, history:  Great piece …

“How bad was the world in the past?”

Believe it or not, the world of the past was much worse. Violence has been in decline for thousands of years, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in the existence of our species.

The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth. It has not brought violence down to zero, and it is not guaranteed to continue. But it is a persistent historical development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from the waging of wars to the spanking of children.

This claim, I know, invites skepticism, incredulity, and sometimes anger. We tend to estimate the probability of an event from the ease with which we can recall examples, and scenes of carnage are more likely to be beamed into our homes and burned into our memories than footage of people dying of old age. There will always be enough violent deaths to fill the evening news, so people’s impressions of violence will be disconnected from its actual likelihood.

Evidence of our bloody history is not hard to find. Consider the genocides in the Old Testament and the crucifixions in the New, the gory mutilations in Shakespeare’s tragedies and Grimm’s fairy tales, the British monarchs who beheaded their relatives and the American founders who dueled with their rivals.

For all the tribulations in our lives, for all the troubles that remain in the world, the decline of violence is an accomplishment that we can savor—and an impetus to cherish the forces of civilization and enlightenment that made it possible.

via Steven Pinker: Why Violence Is Vanishing – WSJ.com.

teenagers, brain development, culture:  … what’s wrong with these kids?!  …

Through the ages, most answers have cited dark forces that uniquely affect the teen. Aristotle concluded more than 2,300 years ago that “the young are heated by Nature as drunken men by wine.” A shepherd in William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale wishes “there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.” His lament colors most modern scientific inquiries as well. G. Stanley Hall, who formalized adolescent studies with his 1904 Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion and Education, believed this period of “storm and stress” replicated earlier, less civilized stages of human development. Freud saw adolescence as an expression of torturous psychosexual conflict; Erik Erikson, as the most tumultuous of life’s several identity crises. Adolescence: always a problem.

Such thinking carried into the late 20th century, when researchers developed brain-imaging technology that enabled them to see the teen brain in enough detail to track both its physical development and its patterns of activity. These imaging tools offered a new way to ask the same question—What’s wrong with these kids?—and revealed an answer that surprised almost everyone. Our brains, it turned out, take much longer to develop than we had thought. This revelation suggested both a simplistic, unflattering explanation for teens’ maddening behavior—and a more complex, affirmative explanation as well.

via Teenage Brains – Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine.

Herman Cain, 2012 Presidential Election, GOP, Florida Straw Poll:  This process is a nightmare … who cares about these straw polls …

Herman Cain, Ex-CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, pulls stunning upset over Rick Perry.

via GOP in Disarray After Shocking Florida Straw Poll | Video – ABC News.

Troy Davis, death penalty: Another voice against the death penalty …

Last Wednesday, as the state of Georgia prepared to execute Troy Davis despite concerns about his guilt, I wrote a letter with five former death-row wardens and directors urging Georgia prison officials to commute his sentence. I feared not only the risk of Georgia killing an innocent man, but also the psychological toll it would exact on the prison workers who performed his execution. “No one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt, and for some of us, shame and guilt,” we wrote in our letter.

via Ordering Death in Georgia Prisons – The Daily Beast.

war: This article reminds me of last week’s clip about Sebastian Junger’s talk at Davidson. “The adrenaline rush of finding a roadside bomb …”

It’s just life or death: the simplicity of it,” said Cpl. Robert Cole of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, which ends a seven-month deployment in the southern region of Sangin in October. “It’s also kind of nice in some ways because you don’t have to worry about anything else in the world.”

The dominant narrative about war in a foreign land says its practitioners yearn for home, for the families, the comforts, and the luxury of no longer worrying about imminent death or injury. It applies to young American troops in Afghan combat zones, but it’s not the whole truth.

Combat can deliver a sense of urgency, meaning, order and belonging. There is the adrenaline-fueled elation of a firefight, and the horror of rescuing a comrade wounded by a bomb on patrol. It is magnified, instantaneous experience. An existence boiled down to the essentials mocks the mundane detritus, the quibbles and bill-paying and anonymity, of life back home.

Various books, films and television series address the theme of troops liking aspects of war, or missing it when they get home. Many focus on the sacrifice, the brotherhood, or the bloodshed, or some combination. Norman Mailer’s novel, “The Naked and the Dead,” and the 1998 movie “Saving Private Ryan” are among works that explore the psychological impact of intense combat on its protagonists.

Some who come from rural areas in the United States feel a curious affinity with Afghanistan and its web of sparsely populated villages and farmland. Capt. Brian Huysman of Delphos, Ohio — “Good luck finding Delphos on the map,” he said — sees parallels between the “small town mentality” and rivalries back home and the jostling for advantage among local leaders in southern Afghan settlements.

“It’s very eerie,” said Huysman, Weapons Company commander for the battalion.

When these men are retired veterans, many will look back on Afghanistan as a place of loss, but also a place that made them better than they were, whether the U.S. military succeeds in its long-term goals or not. The cult of sacrifice finds expression in a shrine to the missing in action of past wars in the dining hall at Camp Leatherneck, the main Marine base in southern Afghanistan.

via The adrenaline rush of finding a roadside bomb: US Marines enjoy some aspects of Afghan war – The Washington Post.

photography, photo gallery, LIFE:  I love these … The beauty of shadows is that they can be so many things— Seeing Shadows

50656806.jpg

To think of shadows,” Victor Hugo wrote in his great novel, Les Miserables, “is a serious thing.” Hugo, of course, was addressing vast concepts — justice, memory, vengeance — both in the book and in that particular quote. But the beauty of shadows is that they can be so many things: symbols, suggestions, riddles, jokes, threats. They can be anything, or they can simply be themselves — which is a central reason why they’re so cool. Pictured: A handmade Shaker basket sitting on the floor amid a grid of shadows in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.

via Seeing Shadows – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

mens rea, Federal Criminal Code, legal history: Originally 20 federal crimes … now over 4500.

For centuries, a bedrock principle of criminal law has held that people must know they are doing something wrong before they can be found guilty. The concept is known as mens rea, Latin for a “guilty mind.”

This legal protection is now being eroded as the U.S. federal criminal code dramatically swells. In recent decades, Congress has repeatedly crafted laws that weaken or disregard the notion of criminal intent. Today not only are there thousands more criminal laws than before, but it is easier to fall afoul of them.

Back in 1790, the first federal criminal law passed by Congress listed fewer than 20 federal crimes. Today there are an estimated 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, plus thousands more embedded in federal regulations, many of which have been added to the penal code since the 1970s.

One controversial new law can hold animal-rights activists criminally responsible for protests that cause the target of their attention to be fearful, regardless of the protesters’ intentions. Congress passed the law in 2006 with only about a half-dozen of the 535 members voting on it.

Under English common law principles, most U.S. criminal statutes traditionally required prosecutors not only to prove that defendants committed a bad act, but also that they also had bad intentions. In a theft, don’t merely show that the accused took someone’s property, but also show that he or she knew it belonged to someone else.

Over time, lawmakers have devised a sliding scale for different crimes. For instance, a “willful” violation is among the toughest to prove.

Requiring the government to prove a willful violation is “a big protection for all of us,” says Andrew Weissmann, a New York attorney who for a time ran the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of Enron Corp. Generally speaking in criminal law, he says, willful means “you have the specific intent to violate the law.”

A lower threshold, attorneys say, involves proving that someone “knowingly” violated the law. It can be easier to fall afoul of the law under these terms.

via ‘Mens Rea’ Legal Protection Erodes in U.S. as Federal Criminal Code Expands – WSJ.com.

Ford Motor Company, marketing, politics, White House, President Obama, automotive bailout: Marketing and politics don’t mix.

As part of a campaign featuring “real people” explaining their decision to buy the Blue Oval, a guy named “Chris” says he “wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government,” according the text of the ad, launched in early September.

“I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw. That’s what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding when you fail that you gotta’ pick yourself up and go back to work.”

That’s what some of America is about, evidently. Because Ford pulled the ad after individuals inside the White House questioned whether the copy was publicly denigrating the controversial bailout policy CEO Alan Mulally repeatedly supported in the dark days of late 2008, in early ’09 and again when the ad flap arose. And more.

With President Barack Obama tuning his re-election campaign amid dismal economic conditions and simmering antipathy toward his stimulus spending and associated bailouts, the Ford ad carried the makings of a political liability when Team Obama can least afford yet another one. Can’t have that.

The ad, pulled in response to White House questions (and, presumably, carping from rival GM), threatened to rekindle the negative (if accurate) association just when the president wants credit for their positive results (GM and Chrysler are moving forward, making money and selling vehicles) and to distance himself from any public downside of his decision.

In other words, where presidential politics and automotive marketing collide — clean, green, politically correct vehicles not included — the president wins and the automaker loses because the benefit of the battle isn’t worth the cost of waging it.

via Columnists | Ford pulls its ad on bailouts | The Detroit News.

Amanda Knox, criminal cases, Jessica Rabbit: I don’t follow these big cases daily, but how could I not click when her lawyer says Knox “more like Jessica Rabbit.”

A defense lawyer has told a court to see Amanda Knox, the American student convicted of killing her roommate, not as the “femme fatale” her accusers describe but rather as a loving young woman.

Giulia Bongiorno even compared Knox to the cartoon character Jessica Rabbit, saying Tuesday she is faithful like the “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” character.

Amanda Knox called “she-devil” in court

Anxiety grips Amanda Knox as appeal wraps up

Prosecutors compare Amanda Knox to Nazis

Knox was convicted of murdering Meredith Kercher, a British student in Perugia, and sentenced to 26 years in prison, while co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years.

Bongiorno, Sollecito’s lawyer, paraphrased a famous line from the movie saying Knox “is not bad, she’s just drawn that way.”

“Jessica Rabbit looks like a man-eater, but she is a faithful and loving woman,” Bongiorno said.

via Amanda Knox lawyer: She’s no “femme fatale” – CBS News.

 Banned Books Week, Virtual Read-Out, Gossip Girl:  A reading from Cecily von Ziegesar’s GOSSIP GIRL – YouTube.

Professor Jim Miller, University of Wisconsin, criminal charges, free speech, constitutional law: Sigh …

A professor has been censored twice, reported to the “threat assessment team,” and threatened with criminal charges because of satirical postings on his office door. Campus police at the University of Wisconsin–Stout (UWS) censored theater professor James Miller’s poster depicting a quotation from actor Nathan Fillion’s character in the television series Firefly, and the police chief threatened Miller with criminal charges for disorderly conduct. After UWS censored his second poster, which stated, “Warning: Fascism,” Miller came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.

via ‘Firefly’ and Anti-Fascism Posters Get Professor Threatened with Criminal Charges on University of Wisconsin Campus – FIRE.

digital photography, organization, tips:

That’s where a good photo organizer comes in. There are many available, but I’ll concentrate here on Google’s Picasa. It’s not my personal favorite (that would be Microsoft’s Windows Live Photo Gallery, which handles tags much better than Picasa), but it’s popular, free, and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

via How to Organize Your Digital Photos – Techland – TIME.com.

Troy Davis, RIP: I honestly never thought about his or any executed individual’s funeral … makes me feel less human.  Maybe that is my issue with the death penalty … it takes away my/our humanity.

The family of Troy Davis has scheduled his funeral for Saturday in his hometown of Savannah.

Davis’ younger sister, Kimberly Davis, said Tuesday the public is invited to attend the 11 a.m. funeral service at Jonesville Baptist Church.

Davis was executed in Georgia’s death chamber last week for the 1989 slaying of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis insisted he was innocent, but courts ultimately upheld his conviction. Thousands of supporters worldwide protested Davis’ execution, saying the case raised too many doubts about his guilt.

Because some people recanted their testimony, the Davis case has added to the debate over eyewitness reliability.

via Troy Davis funeral set for Saturday in Savannah  | ajc.com.

recipes, chicken:  Just looking at the pictures makes me want chicken! Recipes for Chicken Dishes – Slide Show – NYTimes.com.

bookstores, end of an era, Oxford Books, Atlanta, kith/kin:  Friday nights in Atlanta my mom and dad always went to the local bookstore Oxford Books … sad when things change.

In a gloomy post, TechCrunch predicted that bookstores will be virtually extinct by 2018.  The Future Of Books: A Dystopian Timeline also imagined a “great culling of publishers” in 2019.

What do you think? Extrapolating from the rapid growth of eBooks and declines in print sales, the post took a dark view of print books. Here are a few excerpts:

“2015 – The death of the Mom and Pops. Smaller book stores will use the real estate to sell coffee and Wi-Fi. Collectable bookstores will still exist in the margins.”

“2018 – The last Barnes & Noble store converts to a cafe and digital access point.”

“2019 – B&N and Amazon’s publishing arms – including self-pub – will dwarf all other publishing.”

via TechCrunch Predicts Bookstores Will Disappear by 2018 – GalleyCat.

dating methods, media, Christianity, BBC:  BBC dropped the B.C./A.D. dating method and outraged Christians … I saw this happening in my children’s history books …  and I wondered who makes these decisions …

British Christians are incensed after the state-funded BBC decided to jettison the terms B.C. and A.D. in favor of B.C.E. and C.E. in historical date references.

The broadcaster has directed that the traditional B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, or Year of the Lord) be replaced by B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) in its television and radio broadcasts.

The BBC said in an official statement that since it is “committed to impartiality, it is appropriate that we use terms that do not offend or alienate non-Christians.”

It described the terms B.C.E. and C.E. as “a religiously neutral alternative to B.C./A.D.,” although critics quickly pointed out that the new terms, like the old, were anchored around the birth of Jesus Christ.

via BBC Drops B.C./A.D. Dating Method: Christians Outraged (UPDATE).

BofA, shareholder lawsuits:  $50 billion shareholder lawsuit … this one will be interesting …

But if it is true that Mr. Price, with Mr. Lewis’s assent, kept this information from Mr. Mayopoulos in order to avoid disclosure, this is a prima facie case of securities fraud. Would Bank of America shareholders have voted to approve this transaction? If the answer is no, then it is hard to see this as anything other than material information.

Plaintiffs in this private case have the additional benefit that this claim is related to a shareholder vote. It is easier to prove securities fraud related to a shareholder vote than more typical securities fraud claims like accounting fraud. Shareholder vote claims do not require that the plaintiffs prove that the person committing securities fraud did so with awareness that the statement was wrong or otherwise recklessly made. You only need to show that the person should have acted with care.

This case is not only easier to establish, but the potential damages could also be enormous. Damages in a claim like this are calculated by looking at the amount lost as a result of the securities fraud. A court will most likely calculate this by referencing the amount that Bank of America stock dropped after the loss was announced; this is as much as $50 billion. It is a plaintiff’s lawyer’s dream.

via Bank of America Faces a $50 Billion Shareholder Lawsuit – NYTimes.com.

“Prohibition”,  tv documentaries, history, Ken Burns, history:  DVR is set …

It’s a subject that violently polarized the nation, pitting “wets” against “drys,” Catholics against Protestants, city folk against small-towners, and immigrants against native-born citizens.

Prohibition’s story, like Burns’ film, starts almost 100 years before the ban on alcohol took effect in 1920.

For much of the 19th century, a sizable percentage of the U.S. population made the cast of “Jersey Shore” look like lightweights. Male-only saloons and taverns were everywhere. Alcohol abuse was destroying families and, in some people’s eyes, the very fabric of society.

Women who’d never had a political voice began leading a crusade against the evils of booze — a crusade that was championed further by the Anti-Saloon League, a lobbying group that grew so powerful “it makes the NRA look like they’re still in short pants,” Burns said.

The fight culminated in 1919 with the passage of the 18th amendment, which made the sale and manufacturing of “intoxicating beverages” illegal.

“It was meant to eradicate an evil,” says “Prohibition” narrator Peter Coyote. “Instead, it turned millions of law-abiding Americans into lawbreakers.”

And it turned run-of-the-mill hoodlums into rich and ruthless bootleggers.

via Ken Burns’ ‘Prohibition’ tackles hot topic that polarized nation – Chicago Sun-Times.

food – slow food:   I am a prepared food, fast food junkie … all sorts of reasons this is bad …

This year, Slow Food USA, which defines “slow food” as good for its eaters, its producers and the environment — a definition anyone can get behind — set out to demonstrate that slow food can also be affordable, not only a better alternative to fast food but a less expensive one. The organization issued a $5 Challenge with the inspired rallying cry of “take back the ‘value meal’,” which in most fast food restaurants runs somewhere around five bucks.

Under the leadership of its president, Josh Viertel, Slow Food has moved from a group of rah-rah supporters of artisanal foods to become a determined booster of sustainability and of real food for everyone. Last month it called for people to cook pot luck and community dinners for no more than $5 per person. “We gave ourselves a month to launch the first big public day of action in what we hoped would become an ongoing challenge,” says Viertel. “In those four weeks we hoped to organize 500 people to host meals on Sept. 17. Our dream was to have 20,000 people participate.”

Slow Food believes that the very best way to build the kind of social movement needed to produce the systemic changes that they seek is to start small: to share knowledge and to share meals. What’s wrong with that?

via Slow Food: Shared Meals, Shared Knowledge – NYTimes.com.

criminals, hijackers: On the run for 41 years!  “Wright’s life story reads like an international crime novel.”

Now, after a manhunt spanning three continents that often appeared to run cold, the FBI has finally found George Wright.

At age 68, he was living quietly in the resort of Sintra near Lisbon in Portugal when he was arrested Monday.

The United States is seeking his extradition from Portugal to serve the remainder of a 15- to 30-year sentence for murder. Portuguese judicial authorities could not be reached Tuesday for details of the extradition process.

Wright is fighting extradition, a U.S. federal agent said, and his next court appearance in Portugal is in about two weeks.

Wright’s life story reads like an international crime novel.

via On the run for 41 years, hijacker traced to Portugal – CNN.com.

citizen journalism, politics, global issues:  Very good article about empowering people through citizen journalism.

Before the American Revolution, journalism, if you could call it that, was an elite practice heavily censored by the colonial government. So when Thomas Paine and John Peter Zenger published their defiant tracts, fellow American colonists yearning for freedom did not question their credentials to write. Instead, they enshrined their right to do so in the First Amendment.

“We are the first nation – arguably the only nation – in which top-down control of the flow of information never was seriously attempted,” AOL Huffington Post Media Group editorial director Howard Fineman writes in his 2008 book, The Thirteen American Arguments .

He notes that Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense anonymously, yet “It was the most influential pamphlet of our time, and perhaps even in world history.”

Meet Kimberley Sevcik, Media Relations Manager for Camfed, an international educational organization with offices in Cambridge (U.K.) and San Francisco, who just returned from three weeks in East Africa. There, as she did on two previous trips (to Zambia and Tanzania), she trained women in basic communications techniques, empowering them to talk and write about what most impacts their lives and what they would like to see done about it. In other countries such as Zambia and Ghana, Camfed (the Campaign for Female Education) previously hired professionals to teach filmmaking as a communication tool, resulting in deeply affecting documentaries about previously taboo topics such as AIDS and domestic violence. The latter was the topic of their latest film, “Hidden Truth,” which just won the Prize for Best Documentary at the Zanzibar International Film Festival.

If you think about it, “People are always speaking for African woman,” Sevcik observed. “Isn’t is better to ask them, ‘What are you experiencing?’ – and let them find their own voices?”

via Laura Paull: In The Beginning, There Were Citizen Journalists.

Rick Perry, 2012 Presidential Election:  I’d like to write him off.

If anyone is seriously willing to argue that a handful of Republican activists in Florida are predictive of the broader electorate, please unmask yourself in the comments and accept the teasing you deserve.

As I’ve said before, I think Mr Perry is beatable, by Mr Romney or Mr Obama (or perhaps by another Republican, should it come to that). He has two serious liabilities. The first is that he doesn’t particularly play well with others. He explicitly rejects moderation and bipartisan behaviour, even though his behaviour is occasionally quite temperate, as on the tuition issue. This truculence is slightly unusual in a national politician, at least a winning one. Mr Perry’s second major liability is that he has no record of leading people places they don’t want to go, on politics or on policy. He usually doesn’t even try. This isn’t a thoroughgoing drawback in an elected leader—it forestalls crusading—but it does challenge his ability to form coalitions, electoral or otherwise. These are the overarching reasons that I think Mr Perry can be beaten. However, many of his critics, being apparently unable to take a balanced view of the situation, tend to ignore such substantive complaints or obscure them with a barrage of flimsier complaints about how he has a Texas accent. At some point they’re going to realise that’s not going to work.

via Rick Perry’s problems: The need for new narratives | The Economist.

depression, “Supermoms”:  I bet  “Supermoms” who accept their limitations and drink lots of coffee are never depressed. 🙂

So I was intrigued to come across a new study reporting that women who recognize that something has to give when it comes to juggling a job and family tend to have fewer depressive symptoms than those who think they can truly have — and handle — it all.

“It’s really about accepting that combining employment and family requires that trade-offs be made, and then feeling okay about letting certain things go, either at home or at work,” says the study’s leader, Katrina Leupp, a graduate student at the University of Washington.

via Depression is less common among ‘Supermoms’ who accept their limitations – The Washington Post.

economics, cities, Great Recession, families: An interesting take …  “The Gated City”: Moving toward stagnation | The Economist.

25
Sep
11

9.25.2011 …‎ Sitting in a sea of BIG Newton fans at Bank of America Stadium … (OK, we bolted at the half due to the rain deluge … and it was sunny with no sign of rain at home … not a drop) … But nonetheless it was a panther day!

Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton:  Great day to be a Panther fan … Nice to have a QB to cheer for.

The Carolina Panthers slipped up in the rain that pelted Bank of America Stadium in the second quarter Sunday, but they refused to let it rain on their parade, rallying for a 16-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With the large majority of fans having retreated for cover, a defensive gaffe gave Jacksonville a touchdown and a 10-5 lead as the clock expired on an opening half otherwise dominated by the Panthers.

The fans came back when conditions improved after halftime, and so did Carolina. The defense pitched a shutout in the second half, and the offense navigated treacherous field conditions for a game-winning drive capped by tight end Greg Olsen’s 16-yard touchdown catch with 4:20 left.

With that, the Panthers earned their first victory of the season, and Ron Rivera got his first victory as head coach.

via Panthers reign in the rain.

Rin Tin Tin, legends: My dad always talked about Rin Tin Tin …  ‘Yo, Rinty,’

This Rin Tin Tin is heir to a dynasty of celebrity canines. After all, a lot of us still remember “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” on TV back in the 1950s and ’60s.

“The number of people who declared ‘Yo, Rinty,’ which was the sort of signature phrase of the TV show, was heartening, said Susan Orlean – heartening enough to inspire her to write a whole book about the legend of Rin Tin Tin.

“I think he’s a wonderful symbol of something innocently heroic, Orleans said, “a living being who has embodied qualities that we have always thought of as American – of being independent, of being tough and brave.”

It’s a story that may surprise you. Did you know, for instance, that the first Rin Tin Tin was a star in silent movies in the ’20s, celebrated as an athlete AND an actor?

via The legend of Rin Tin Tin – CBS News.

writing, tips, lists:  I like lists … so far I am at #1.

One of the challenges of writing is…writing. Here are some tips that I’ve found most useful for myself, for actually getting words onto the page:

1. Write something every work-day, and preferably, every day;

via The Happiness Project: Thirteen Tips for Actually Getting Some Writing Done..

gLee, Sesame Street, letter G, parody, LOL: Enjoy the  letter G!

Get ready to learn all about the letter ‘G’ with Sue, Rachel, Finn, and er, Mr. Guester. Sesame Street‘s 42nd season premiere airs Monday, and it features a killer parody of Glee that is sure to delight children and parents alike (the episode also includes a significantly more manly parody of The Deadliest Catch, if you balk at musical television but dig puppets)

via Flavorwire » Watch Sesame Street’s Hilarious ‘Glee’ Parody.

Sesame Street: G – YouTube.

cartoon, pirate cartoon, New Yorker, LOL:

Cartoons from the Issue of September 26th, 2011 : The New Yorker.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, heroes, Supreme Court, photo essays:  As a female law student in the 80’s, she was a role model … a hero.

The Career of Sandra Day O’Connor

A look back at the rise and tenure of the first female Supreme Court justice, sworn in thirty years ago, September 25, 1981.

via The Career of Sandra Day O’Connor – Photo Essays – TIME.

Planet Word , books, Stephen Fry: “The way you speak is who you are and the tones of your voice and the tricks of your emailing and tweeting and letter-writing, can be recognised unmistakably in the minds of those who know and love you” – Stephen Fry

Planet Word

“The way you speak is who you are and the tones of your voice and the tricks of your emailing and tweeting and letter-writing, can be recognised unmistakably in the minds of those who know and love you”. (Stephen Fry). From feral children to fairy-tale princesses, secrets codes, invented languages – even a language that was eaten – “Planet Word” uncovers everything you didn’t know you needed to know about how language evolves. Learn the tricks to political propaganda, why we can talk but animals can’t, discover 3,000-year-old clay tablets that discussed beer and impotence and test yourself at textese – do you know your RMEs from your LOLs? Meet the 105-year-old man who invented modern-day Chinese and all but eradicated illiteracy, and find out why language caused the go-light in Japan to be blue. From the dusty scrolls of the past to the unknown digital future, and with (heart) the first graphic to enter the OED, are we already well on our way to a language without words? In a round-the-world trip of a lifetime, discover all this and more as J.P. Davidson travels across our gloriously, endlessly intriguing multilingual Planet Word.

via Planet Word (Book) by J. P. Davidson, et al. (2011): Waterstones.com.

Frank Warren, PostSecret: I am a big fan of PostSecret … although sometimes they are tiring because so many secrets are sexually related … or maybe I am just really boring.

It began simply enough seven years ago, when Germantown resident Frank Warren decided to embark on an experiment: He distributed postcards around the Washington area to complete strangers. Warren inscribed the postcards with the following instructions: “You are invited to anonymously contribute a secret to a group art project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything—as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before. Be brief. Be legible. Be creative.”

Warren’s initial idea became PostSecret, a Web site which now receives millions of hits a week. The ongoing project fills Warren’s mailbox with hundreds of postcards every week, from which he chooses a few to post on his blog. PostSecret has produced five books to date, and last week Warren launched his newest project: an app for mobile devices. The PostSecret app takes Warren’s project to an entire different level of connectivity, allowing users to create and share secrets on the go. Within three days, the app had processed over 50,000 submitted secrets, and it’s currently the bestselling social networking iPhone app in the country.

via Q&A with Frank Warren, Founder of PostSecret – Capital Comment Blog (washingtonian.com).

Apple, Steve Jobs, business, growth:  Worth reading …

Finding that first market — a few customers willing to pay for your early product — is hard enough. But there’s one thing that may be even harder. And that’s finding the second market. Especially because companies are often so focused on protecting what they already have.

In 1996 when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, I was in charge of an industry-recognized channel program for the company that was responsible for growing a $2M business to $180M business in 18 months. By working with a few dedicated partners — some were called “value-added-resellers” and some were national retailers such as Best Buy — Apple was able to grow its sales exponentially.

So, as I went into the full business review, it never occurred to me that Jobs wouldn’t appreciate the channel program. It was the most profitable part of Apple’s business at the time and a needed source of revenue. But Steve’s take on it (in his words, not mine): “Fuck the channel; we don’t need the fuckin’ channel.”

And he was right. Getting to that next growth market takes more than being unhappy with your current results (in this case, abysmal sales margins and underperforming stock), and it takes more than being willing to change. You have to be willing to do what feels unnatural.

As you become successful in something, you develop a feel for how to do it. You know when something is “right.” You’ve built up the equivalent of a hand callus in response to the friction and pressure of what it has taken to get to that first-market success. So, when you try to replicate that in a new context — a second market in this case — all courses of action just feel…off.

In the late 90’s and early 00’s, a good channel strategy made the key difference between a $100M and a $2B company in the tech world. If you had enough money, you could buy distribution and thus sales. The channel, therefore, had a powerful position in relationship to the brand.

via What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Growth – Nilofer Merchant – Harvard Business Review.

reality of fiction, naturalism: Very interesting article … “Not only can literary theory (along with art criticism, sociology, and yes, non-naturalistic philosophy) produce knowledge of an important and even fundamental nature, but fiction itself, so breezily dismissed in Professor Rosenberg’s assertions, has played a profound role in creating the very idea of reality that naturalism seeks to describe.”

Literature has played a profound role in creating the very idea of reality that naturalism seeks to describe.

In his contribution to The Stone last week, Alex Rosenberg posed a defense of naturalism — “the philosophical theory that treats science as our most reliable source of knowledge and scientific method as the most effective route to knowledge” — at the expense of other theoretical endeavors such as, notably, literary theory. To the question of “whether disciplines like literary theory provide real understanding,” Professor Rosenberg’s answer is as unequivocal as it is withering: just like fiction, literary theory can be “fun,” but neither one qualifies as “knowledge.”

Though the works of authors like Sophocles, Dante or Shakespeare certainly provide us with enjoyment, can we really classify what they have produced as “fun”? Are we not giving the Bard and others short shrift when we treat their work merely as entertainment? Does their fictional art not offer insights into human nature as illuminating as many of those the physical sciences have produced?

As a literary theorist, I suppose I could take umbrage at the claim that my own discipline, while fun, doesn’t rise to the level of knowledge. But what I’d actually like to argue goes a little further. Not only can literary theory (along with art criticism, sociology, and yes, non-naturalistic philosophy) produce knowledge of an important and even fundamental nature, but fiction itself, so breezily dismissed in Professor Rosenberg’s assertions, has played a profound role in creating the very idea of reality that naturalism seeks to describe.

via ‘Quixote,’ Colbert and the Reality of Fiction – NYTimes.com.

college search, fit:  If I were a high school senior, I would be pulling my hair out.

Not too long ago in my office, I counseled a student distraught because the extensive spring break college tour from which he had just returned hadn’t yielded a discovery of “the right fit.” This seemed to be defined as El Dorado in college form, where everyone would share this young person’s worldview and interests—and the food was great. Each fall counselors have some tough talks with teenagers insistent that super-selective, name-brand colleges are the right fit for them, even if the admission profile of those colleges would suggest otherwise. We also see young people who earnestly struggle to identify the factors that will define fit for them, but who get derailed by “lifestyle” selling points of the colleges, like the ubiquitous gleaming athletic facility with climbing wall, touted in viewbooks and in admission officers’ seemingly interchangeable information sessions. From the student perspective, the Quest for Fit can be elusive, stressful, and frustrating.

There is a popular slogan posted in many college counseling offices: “College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.” This statement has become a mantra we repeat to families as an antidote to the media-driven obsession with rank, reputation, and prestige. The notion of “fit” or “match” once seemed to offer a metaphorical goal that would lead our conversations to more productive ground—to what my colleague Jeff Durso-Finley calls the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy, College Edition. What college attributes will contribute to your success and give you the support you need to meet your goals? What do you bring to a college community? What are some realistic parameters for your search? Increasingly, though, Fit showed up as a factor in student experiences that were counterproductive to the reflective, student-guided college search we want to support.

A few years ago, I was comparing notes with my colleagues Carl Ahlgren, of Baltimore’s Gilman School, and Jeff Durso-Finley, of The Lawrenceville School, in New Jersey, when we recognized the emergence of the “mid-sized urban school with great school spirit” (or MSUSWGSS) as the Holy Grail of Generation Fit. A by-product of our abuse of Fit, simultaneously one-size-fits-all and highly customized, this perfect college is academic, but fun, not too big, not too small. Its campus is, of course, reminiscent of Hogwarts; its dorms, spacious. The largest cross-section of our counselees described this mythic ideal as their “right fit,” usually assuming it was found in the far off lands where admit rates fall to single digits. Strange as it may seem, this is where Don Quixote rode into the conversation. Quixote’s tasks of knight-errantry are undertaken in the name of his beloved Dulcinea, of whom he proclaims, “all the impossible and fanciful attributes of beauty which the poets apply to their ladies are verified in her.” In fact, he has never seen her and she may or may not even exist; he has heard her name and ascribed attributes; she sounds a lot like the elusive MSUSWGSS.

Our colleague Jennifer Delahunty, dean of admissions and financial aid at Kenyon College, once captured the frustration of a conversation about the whole business of Fit when she exclaimed, “Fit happens!” Happily, this tongue-in-cheek phrase nails it. We hope it can become the new counseling office motto, opening our kids to unexpected possibilities and a more authentic, empowering and reflective transition to the next phase of their lives.

via Head Count – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), media, President Obama, politics,  black/race card:  Don’t like or respect Joe Walsh … but I am really tired of the race card being thrown out … from both sides.

A recent crop of bad press has not stopped U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) from making his usual media rounds this week. On Wednesday, after being named among Congress’s thirteen “most corrupt” representatives, Walsh sat down with the Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell to discuss the mainstream media’s alleged “protection” of President Obama, claiming the president’s race protects him from criticism.

Bozell, a conservative talk show host, brought up the Tea Party’s love for African American GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain before accusing the Obama administration of “playing class warfare and race warfare games.” He went on to say that the national media is “aiding and abetting” that agenda, and Walsh agreed, referring to the president as “this guy.”

“This guy pushed every one of the media’s buttons,” Walsh said. “He was liberal, he was different, he was new, he was black. Oh my God, it was the potpourri of everything. They are so vested in our first black president not being a failure that it’s going to be amazing to watch the lengths they go to protect him. [The media], I believe, will spout this racist line if some of their colleagues up here aren’t doing it aggressively enough. There is going to be a real desperation.”

via Joe Walsh: Media Will Protect Obama Because He Is Black (VIDEO).

Troy Davis, final words, death penalty:  Troy Davis maintained his innocence in killing of officer … Never a advocate of the death penalty, I can justify it in certain circumstances … but cases like this make more and more actively against it.

Georgia inmate Troy Davis maintained his innocence until the very end, saying he did not kill an off-duty officer in 1989.

Davis made his final statement as he was strapped to a gurney. He was executed at 11:08 p.m. Wednesday. Davis told the family of officer Mark MacPhail that he did not kill their son, father and brother.

He said the incident that happened that night was not his fault and he didn’t have a gun. Davis’ claims of innocence drew worldwide support from hundreds of thousands of people. Courts, however, consistently ruled against him.

via In his final words before execution, Troy Davis maintains his innocence in killing of officer – The Washington Post.

Facebook, social networks, media, marketing: Big Brother is watching …

Facebook, the Web’s biggest social network, is where you go to see what your friends are up to. Now it wants to be a force that shapes what you watch, hear, read and buy.

The company announced new features here on Thursday that could unleash a torrent of updates about what you and your Facebook friends are doing online: Frank is watching “The Hangover,” Jane is listening to Jay-Z, Mark is running a race wearing Nike sneakers, and so forth. That in turn, Facebook and its dozens of partner companies hope, will influence what Frank and Jane and Mark’s friends consume.

via Facebook’s New Strategy to Turn Eyeballs Into Influence – NYTimes.com.

Southern American English, Y’all: It may be ok to say y’all!!  And I never thought that there was a distinct name for my language … Southern American English!

DISCUSSIONS of Texas often turn to an exploration of the American South’s most distinctive regional locution, “y’all.” The common view, among outsiders, is that insofar as “y’all” is from the region specified, it’s also a bit sub-literate and redneck.

That’s a bit snooty. The fact is that “y’all” is pretty useful, as formal English doesn’t have a distinctly plural version of “you.” There is no “yous” (except in places like New York city and New Jersey, sometimes in the form of “youse guys”). This suggests that the referent is usually clear enough in context. But the existence of “y’all,” the related “you-all” and “all-y’all,” and other workarounds like “you guys” and “you lot” show that there is, in fact, room in the market for new second-person plural pronouns. Visitors to Texas typically realize the value of “y’all” within 48 hours.

via Southern American English: Y’all hear this | The Economist.

Navy SEALs, Commanding Officer Capt. Roger Herbert, Davidson College Alums:  Some Davidson friends and I were talking about the Navy SEALs the other night and one friend said that a classmate was head of the recruiting and training (Although he may be retired now.)  So I looked it  … learned a little about the SEALs, too.

In a courtyard known as the Grinder, more than 200 young men are well into a 90-minute, high-intensity workout. They’re dressed in white T-shirts and camouflage pants. A shirtless and heavily tattooed instructor shouts out orders. Other instructors pace up and down the aisles with megaphones — making sure that on push-ups elbows are bent past 90 degrees and chests are hitting the ground. These SEAL recruits are in the last week of “in doc” — the ramp-up to the first phase of formal SEAL training.

This is a scene that makes Commanding Officer Capt. Roger Herbert very happy. He oversees the recruiting and training of future SEALs.

“For the first time in years, I’ve got a full class out there,” he says. “We don’t usually see that. In fact, we have so many people in the class, they’re competing to get into first phase. This is a problem we’ve always wanted.”

It’s especially good news for the SEALs now. The Pentagon wants the force of just over 2,000 SEALs to expand by 500 by the year 2010. Herbert says it’s not going to be easy.

“It’s not just a spigot you can turn on and off,” he explains. “From the day that a guy gets here to the day that I give the guy his trident — the seal insignia — takes 59 weeks minimum, if he makes it through the first pass.”

The SEALs hope this mentoring will help recruits make it through the program, but Captain Herbert says the force will not compromise its standards.

“If we compromise our standards,” he says, “we are putting our troops in jeopardy. We are putting our mission in jeopardy.”

Herbert says the SEALs’ work during wartime is dangerous enough as is. He won’t tell parents of SEALs not to worry. Instead, he says this: “I can promise you he’ll be the best-trained man on the battlefield, the best-led man on the battlefield, the best-equipped man on the battlefield. But ultimately, he’s on the battlefield, and war is an uncertain thing.”

Herbert will disclose nothing about what SEAL commandos are doing overseas. He’ll only say they’re making contributions that Americans would be proud of. To date, 18 SEALs have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

via Navy SEALs Seek to Build Up Their Ranks : NPR.

Draw a Stickman, websites, random:  As one blogger said … what a great way to waste time. 🙂

careers, happiness, kith/kin:  My dad always whistled when he came in from work … he was a pretty happy guy.  He was a stock broker/bond peddler … #9 on the list: financial services sales agents.

Your therapist’s happiness level rises when you visit her couch. Firefighters are delighted to help you get Kitty out of a tree. Sins to confess to your priest or minister? He’s tickled to hear them.

Psychologist, firefighter, and clergy are included in the list of the “10 happiest jobs” based on data collected via the General Social Survey of the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago, reports the Christian Science Monitor. “Since experts say that social interaction drives job satisfaction, it makes sense that clergy are happiest of all,” Christian Science Monitor writes. “Social interaction and helping people [is a] combination that’s tough to beat for job happiness.”

This formula explains why teachers and physical therapists are on the list, but also included are autonomous, creative professions like author and artist, and labor-intensive jobs like operating engineer. “Operating engineers get to play with giant toys like bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes, scrapers, motor graders, shovels, derricks, large pumps, and air compressors,” says the Monitor. And, “with more jobs for operating engineers than qualified applicants, no wonder they are happy.” The full list follows:

1. Clergy

2. Firefighters

3. Physical therapists

4. Authors

5. Special education teachers

6. Teachers

7. Artists

8. Psychologists

9. Financial services sales agents

10. Operating engineers

Interestingly, many of the occupations that fall at the bottom of the job-satisfaction list involve information technology, which can create isolating work, notes Forbes:

1. Director of information technology

2. Director of sales and marketing

3. Product manager

4. Senior web developer

5. Technical specialist

6. Electronics technician

7. Law clerk

8. Technical support analyst

9. CNC machinist

10. Marketing manager

Where does your job fall on the happiness scale? Are you bolstered by the helping hand you extend to others or satisfied by what you create—or should you pack it all in and learn to drive a bulldozer?

via Whistle While You Work – The Sweet Pursuit – Utne Reader.

Apple, Samsung, competition, intellectual property:  Samsung … you look pretty stupid.

Consider the wall of apps in this photo of the company’s new shop-in-a-shop in Italy’s Centro Sicilia, which appears to feature not only the iOS icon for Apple’s mobile Safari browser, but the icon for the company’s iOS App Store — three instances of it.

Embarrassing, particularly given Apple’s allegations that Samsung “slavishly” copied the design of its iPhone and iPad devices. It’s hard to imagine there’s a reasonable explanation for this. Samsung phones don’t support iOS apps and I can’t imagine Apple is making the company a version of Safari.

Now it’s possible this was a display left over from some other event or product, but still.

via What Are Apple’s Icons Doing on Samsung’s Wall of Apps? – John Paczkowski – News – AllThingsD.

Jennifer Ehle,  “A Gifted Man”,  “Pride & Prejudice”:  Love Jennifer Ehle … I will add “A Gifted Man” to my dvr record list.

Many viewers will forever associate Jennifer Ehle with her career-making role as Elizabeth Bennet in the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice, the sumptuous adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel. But the 41-year old actress, the daughter of the actress Rosemary Harris and the writer John Ehle and now a mother of two, has been producing a steady body of work for both the stage and film, since she first donned a curly black wig to play Austen’s outspoken romantic heroine back in 1995. On Broadway, she won a Tony award in 2000 for The Real Thing and another in 2007 for The Coast of Utopia.

Recently, Ehle starred alongside her Darcy, Colin Firth, in The King’s Speech, though the two only shared one brief scene together; she played Lady Catelyn Stark in the original pilot for HBO’s Game of Thrones, but departed the role before it went to series. This month, she’s in Steven Soderbergh’s big-budget germaphobe’s-worst-nightmare flick, Contagion, in which she plays a CDC scientist, and next month she’ll appear as the wife of George Clooney’s politician character in The Ides of March.

Ehle also stars in CBS’s new supernatural/medical/personal journey drama, A Gifted Man, created by Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and launching tonight. She plays Anna Paul, the ghost of a free clinic doctor on a mission to improve the character of her arrogant ex-husband, Michael (Patrick Wilson), a brilliant neurosurgeon who has lost his way.

The Daily Beast sat down with Ehle, and in these excerpts we discussed A Gifted Man, why she left Game of Thrones, attachment parenting, why she’s never recognized on the street, and ghost sex.

Why did you decide to do a weekly series now?

Jennifer Ehle: I never thought in a million years that I would do a weekly series. I met Jonathan Demme when I’d auditioned for him for Rachel Getting Married. It hadn’t worked out, but I knew he liked me. Without Patrick being attached to this and Jonathan directing it I don’t think I would have even read it or looked at it. Then I just sort of started taking baby steps because if they’re both seeing something in this then maybe what I see is not an illusion.

via Jennifer Ehle on ‘A Gifted Man,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ Colin Firth – The Daily Beast.

New York City Ballet “Ocean’s Kingdom,” Sir Paul McCartney,  ballet, New York City Ballet, costume design,  Stella McCartney:  What a great father daughter collaboration.  Now I need to find a review of the performance … not that I know anything about ballet.

Sir Paul McCartney’s first ballet score has premiered in New York.

Peter Martins, master-in-chief of the New York City Ballet, said it has been one of the greatest collaborations in his career.

Speaking ahead of the premiere, he told BBC arts editor Will Gompertz that the musician was engaged in “every aspect” of the project.

The ballet, choreographed by Martins, tells the story of an underwater romance.

via BBC News – Sir Paul McCartney ‘delivered’ to the ballet world.

When Paul McCartney announced earlier this year that he would create an original score for the New York City Ballet’s “Ocean’s Kingdom,” he had the perfect costume designer in mind—daughter Stella McCartney! The limited-engagement ballet premiered last night at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Stella McCartney, Ocean's Kingdom

Stella McCartney’s Ballet Costumes: See the Sketches! : InStyle.com What’s Right Now.

R.E.M, music:  Love  REM … might actually have to  buy the set … christmas gift for me?

Recently disbanded alt-rock legends R.E.M. will release their first career-spanning retrospective Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 on November 15th. Few details of the set have emerged, but Rolling Stone has confirmed that the compilation will include a handful of tracks recorded this year after the completion of the band’s final album, Collapse Into Now.

Though R.E.M. have released a handful of compilations and hits collections over the years, the material on those sets has always been divided between their IRS Records years, which covers the Chronic Town EP on through Document in 1987, and their Warner Bros. catalog, which includes all of their material from Green through Collapse Into Now. Part Lies, presumably a multi-disc set to cover the sheer volume of the band’s hits, will be the first collection to provide an overview of their entire body of work.

via R.E.M. to Release Career-Spanning Hits Set in November | Music News | Rolling Stone.

“The Problem We All Live With” ,  Norman Rockwell,  paintings, civil rights paintings, kudos:  Since I was only 4 at the time, I never thought about how controversial “The Problem We All Live With” was.  Kudos to Norman Rockwell for using his work to portray this.

With the eyes of the nation this week on civil rights, let’s turn our focus to a painting inspired by a Louisiana event that astonished America when it came out 46 years ago.

In 1964, artist Norman Rockwell, the well-known illustrator of iconic images of the American dream, unveiled the first of his civil rights paintings, “The Problem We All Live With.” It’s very likely you have seen this painting that debuted in a two-page spread in Look magazine. It’s very different from most of Rockwell’s work.

The painting shows a full-length profile of a young black girl in a white dress and tennis shoes on a sidewalk. She’s sandwiched between two pairs of federal marshals. You can’t see the full bodies of the marshals – just from their shoulders to their shoes. Scrawled on a wall that serves as the painting’s background is the nasty word, “Nigger.” Scratched at another place is “K.K.K.” The only vivid color in the piece, marked mostly by its muted grays, tans and yellows, is the carcass of a red tomato. It lay on the ground, splattered just below where it hit the wall.

“The Problem” is a simple, but remarkable work. North Carolina artist Kenneth W. Laird, who did his master’s degree thesis on this and other paintings, calls Rockwell’s piece “arguably the single most important image ever done of an African American in illustration history.”

via Rockwell painting nudged nation by Andy Brack | LikeTheDew.com.

 “All My Children”, soap operas, end of an era, UGA Law School:  41 years … great memory of watching all my children at lunchtime as a first year law student and rushing to get to Louisville to see if Jenny married ???

The long-running soap opera aired its final episode on Friday, ending the show’s 41-year run.

The finale finished with a cliffhanger: It ended with most of the show’s characters gathered at the Chandler house for a party. J.R. lurked outside with a gun and fired it when the screen went black.

Whether anyone was shot could still be revealed – ABC licensed the show to production company Prospect Park, which hopes to keep the show going online and on other “emerging platforms.”

The series, which debuted in 1970, featured Susan Lucci as villain Erica Kane, and helped launch the careers of actors including Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Josh Duhamel, Melissa Leo, Amanda Seyfried, Mischa Barton, Christian Slater and Michelle Trachtenberg.

ABC announced it was pulling the plug on the show back in April, along with the soap opera “One Life to Live,” which will end its run in January.

via “All My Children” ends after 41 years – Celebrity Circuit – CBS News.

“Buffett Rule”, Warren Buffet, taxes, politics:

WHAT percentage of your annual income do you pay in taxes — as much as Warren Buffett’s secretary? If not, what is the likelihood that you will soon?

Wealthy investors and their advisers pondered these questions this week, after President Obama included the “Buffett Rule” in the budget plan he sent to Congress. The rule stipulates that people who make more than $1 million a year should pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-class Americans.

The prospects of the rule ever becoming law are poor — there is strong opposition to it among Republicans in Congress. But some variation is possible. And that prompted David Scott Sloan, co-chairman of private wealth services at the law firm Holland & Knight, to spend his lunch hour earlier this week trying to calculate how much Mr. Buffett’s secretary would have to make to pay a higher percentage of her income than one of the richest men in the world. Assistants to high-powered financiers often make six-figure salaries, which put them in a top tax bracket (and presumably out of the middle class).

But Mr. Sloan gave up. “It’s so nonsensical,” he said. “It’s not rich, poor. It’s source of income.”

As Mr. Buffett explained last month, “What I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office.” His income comes mostly from his investments, which are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent. His secretary is most likely paid a salary and bonus, which would be taxed as ordinary income, at a rate that goes as high as 35 percent.

Yet behind the entertaining political theater, some complicated tax questions are being raised. Here is a look at a few.

via ‘Buffett Rule’ Is More Complicated Than Politics Suggest – NYTimes.com.

dictionaries, words, culture:   Outrage?  Don’t ususally think of a dictionary as evoking such strong emotions.

But it was widely denounced for what critics viewed as a lax admissions policy: it opened its columns to parvenus like “litterbug” and “wise up,” declined to condemn “ain’t,” and illustrated its definitions with quotations from down-market sources like Ethel Merman and Betty Grable. That was reason enough for The Times to charge that Merriam had “surrendered to the permissive school” and that the dictionary’s “say as you go” approach would surely accelerate the deterioration already apparent in the language. In The New Yorker, Dwight Macdonald wrote that the editors had “made a sop of the solid structure of English,” and in an Atlantic article called “Sabotage in Springfield,” Wilson Follett called the Third a “fighting document” that was “out to destroy . . . every obstinate vestige of linguistic punctilio, every surviving influence that makes for the upholding of standards.” (The dereliction that most appalled Follett was the Third’s refusal to reject “that darling of the advanced libertarians,” the use of “like” as a conjunction.)

Gove was naïve to imagine that the dictionary could be purged of all subjective value judgments. Yet the Third wasn’t the radical manifesto critics made it out to be. Mmes. Merman and Grable notwithstanding, its three most frequently cited sources were Shakespeare, the Bible and Milton. And the editors insisted — quaintly, by modern lights — on including only words that had been documented in respectable venues. In a letter responding to the Times editorial, Gove pointed out that “double-dome” had been used by John Mason Brown and Alistair Cooke, and that “finalize” could be found in “highly reputable places” like The New Republic and The Times itself.

Still, the controversy signaled a turning point in Ameri­can attitudes about language. It introduced the words “prescriptivist” and “descriptivist” into the cultural conversation, and fixed the battle lines for the ritualized squabble over standards that persists across media old and new. The keening indignation, the dire prophecies of imminent cultural disintegration — it’s easy to have the impression that little has changed over the past 50 years.

But the furor over Webster’s Third also marked the end of an era. It’s a safe bet that no new dictionary will ever incite a similar uproar, whatever it contains. The dictionary simply doesn’t have the symbolic importance it did a half-­century ago, when critics saw the Third as a capitulation to the despised culture of middlebrow, what Dwight Macdonald called the “tepid ooze of Midcult.” That was probably the last great eructation of cultural snobbery in American public life.

via When a Dictionary Could Outrage – NYTimes.com.

fads,  photo gallery, LIFE:  I really enjoy these LIFE photo galleries … What fads do you remember?  Duncan yo-yos …

Fads. They come and go. Some, like the hula hoop, have a kind of staying power, a certain quirkiness or kitsch that makes us love ’em even more as time goes on. Others definitely have their moment in the sun and then vanish, exiled to the cultural dustbin where so many pet rocks and beanie babies currently reside. In need of a fad refresher? Come take a scroll down memory lane.

via Freaky and Fabulous: A Tour of Fads – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

Mitch Daniels, GOP/Republican Party, 2012 Presidential Election, politics:  There is still time …

Daniels, a leading voice within the GOP on the need for radical fiscal reforms in government, disappointed legions of activists by ruling out his own bid for president this year. In town through Tuesday to promote his new book, “Keeping the Republic,” Daniels said he is hoping his views can remain in the conversation and guide the nomination process.

In his remarks Friday, Daniels said he did not watch Thursday night’s GOP debate in Orlando, nor any of the debates, for that matter. It’s his way of dodging a question he’s constantly asked: what he thinks of the current field.

Daniels did say that he would support the GOP nominee, whoever it turns out to be, and he qualified his view that there’s still time for someone else to jump in by saying, “I didn’t say there was a need.”

via Mitch Daniels: There’s still time for more GOP hopefuls – The Washington Post.

college applications, application essay, advice:  Another approach to the essay …

Stanford University’s application for admission includes a prompt directing students to write a letter to their future freshman roommates. The exercise is a good one for all applicants – regardless of their interest in Stanford – as a fun, fresh jumping-off point in the essay writing process, Rebecca Joseph, a professor of education at California State University, said on Friday.

“It’s all about loosening up,” said Ms. Joseph, who was on a panel called “Communicating Stories: Strategies to Help Students Write Powerful College Essays,” part of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors conference in New Orleans.

She quoted various students’ “Dear Roommate” pieces:

“If you want to borrow my music, just ask. If you want to borrow my underwear, just take them.”

“I eat ice cream with a fork, and I drink orange juice right after I brush my teeth just for the sour taste.”

“If you have anything other than a Dodgers poster on the wall, I will tear it down.”

“Using ‘I’ is scary,” Ms. Joseph said, but students must get comfortable with their first-person voice on paper in order to craft successful, resonant essays.

Erica Sanders, an admissions officer at the University of Michigan, stressed that writing style – something students may obsess over – is less important than “psychedelic” three-dimensionality and shows of authentic personality.

“We can fix that a student’s a comma fiend, that they don’t have verb-tense structure,” she said.

via Crafting an Application Essay That ‘Pops’ – NYTimes.com.

grammar, grammatical errors, lists:  Don’t want anybody to look dumb!

One thing blogging and good copywriting share is a conversational style, and that means it’s fine to fracture the occasional rule of proper grammar in order to communicate effectively. Both bloggers and copywriters routinely end sentences with prepositions, dangle a modifier in a purely technical sense, or make liberal use of the ellipsis when an EM dash is the correct choice—all in order to write in the way people actually speak.

But there are other mistakes that can detract from your credibility. While we all hope what we have to say is more important than some silly grammatical error, the truth is some people will not subscribe or link to your blog if you make dumb mistakes when you write, and buying from you will be out of the question.

Here are five mistakes to avoid when blogging and writing web copy.

via Five Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb | Copyblogger.

alumni relations, technology:  

Alumni, analyzed: Collecting and analyzing data on alumni browsing habits—which newsletters they click on, how many times they visit the college’s Web site—can be a big help to fund raisers, write Peter Wylie and John Sammis on the CoolData Blog. They recommend that colleges push back against vendors who are reluctant to provide such data.

via Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Kate Middleton (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge), princess school, The Princess Diaries, movies:  Sounds a great deal like Kate Middleton is a real life Mia Thermopolis.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Kate Middleton (ahem, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge), is getting some private briefings on Britain’s august national institutions to prepare her for a lifetime of shaking hands royal duties.

It’s been remarkably quiet for Middleton in recent weeks, since she and her husband, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, returned from their tour of Canada and the U.S. But behind the scenes, it transpires that experts in the areas of government, the arts and media have visited St James’s Palace to give the Duchess one-on-one tutorials.

A royal source said, “The Duchess is being briefed on how the State works, getting to know our national institutions better and learning more about organizations such as the arts, the media and the government. It is a process that will carry on for several months but is being done privately.”

NewsFeed was particularly taken by the notion that Middleton is “spending time carrying out private research of her own,” which one might call, you know, reading.

If this comes across as slightly extreme behavior, the Telegraph suggests that the Royal Family (or “The Firm,” as some refer to them) are keen to avoid the mistakes made in the case of William’s late mother, Princess Diana. According to the paper, she “told friends that no forethought had been given to her future role when she married the Prince of Wales, and that Palace staff ‘basically thought I could adapt to being Princess of Wales overnight.'”

To that end, William insisted that a support network be established to guide his bride through the potential pitfalls of public life. We have no doubt that she’ll do just fine, and hope that if we’re ever a player short for a pub quiz team, the Duchess will be available to take part.

via A Royal Education: Kate Middleton Goes to Princess School – TIME NewsFeed.

 Coca-Cola, memorabilia, collecting, UNC-CH, exhibits:  I want to the Stonehenge!

Stephen and Sandra Rich’s collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia began with just a few serving trays.

Now an unknown number of pieces whose dates of origin span more than 100 years make up one of the largest private collections in the country.

The couple, both UNC alumni, will display a portion of their artifacts beginning tonight at the Love House and Hutchins Forum in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola.

Stephen Rich worked as an executive with the Coca-Cola Co. at its headquarters in Atlanta for 30 years.

As an Atlanta native, Rich said he inherited his collecting gene from his mother.

“What company better reflects our country and the south?” he said.

The couple’s memorabilia — including a life-size cutout of Michael Jordan holding a Coke, a 1904 oval plate of the St. Louis World’s Fair and a miniature model of Stonehenge with Coca-Cola products in place of rocks — is housed in their downstairs den.

Stephen said every piece has a story.

via The Daily Tar Heel :: Coca-Cola memorabilia to be displayed on UNC campus.

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Sep
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9.23.2011 … ‎lucky me … i get to take two dogs and a cat to the vet and its pouring … cat is MIA right now … and nightime viewing …‎… watched The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965) … Why are old movies so slow?

pets, Armstrong Animal Clinic, followup:  It’s a good thing I love my pets and my vets … all animals are healthy … but the bill was $779!  I am getting pet insurance on my next pets.  And why are we talking about adding another to the pack??? Shout out to the best vets in Charlotte … the Drs. Williston at Armstrong Animal Clinic.  We have been seeing them for 26 years … Thank you for great vet care.

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965), movies, old movies: Why are old movies so slow? Did we not think they were slow way back when?

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Poster

1966 Nominated Oscar

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Richard Burton

Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White: Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen, Ted Marshall, Josie MacAvin

via The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) – Awards.

Jenna Huff , Deb Guthmann, high school sports, high school cross-country, sportsmanship, kudos, NC:  sometimes you just need a feel good story.  Kudos to Jenna and Deb!

Eleven months ago, a spontaneous act of good sportsmanship at a girls’ cross country meet in Salisbury transformed a simple race into something bigger.

The ripples from that moment keep widening. Tonight, in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jenna Huff is scheduled to receive a national sportsmanship award from the U.S. Olympic Committee for what she did for Deb Guthmann.

They were bound together last Halloween morning at a regional meet, where Jenna trailed Deb for all but the final few yards of the 3.1-mile race.

As the two approached the finish line – behind the race leaders but well ahead of the majority of runners – Deb still led Jenna.

Then something awful happened. Deb’s right hip basically tore apart. She screamed in pain and stopped.

Jenna had never met Deb and had been taught to pass every runner she could no matter the circumstances.

Instead, Jenna stopped and helped.

“C’mon,” Jenna said she told Deb. “We’re going to run, and we’re going to do it now.”

Jenna took Deb’s left elbow with her right hand and helped her jog the last few yards of the race. Then, at the finish line, she pushed Deb in front of her, reasoning Deb would have beaten her anyway if not for the injury. That act helped Deb’s Waxhaw Cuthbertson team win the regional race and advance to the state meet.

via Act of sportsmanship one that keeps drawing praise | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

death penalty, last meals request, cookbooks, random:  The main part of this story is that Texas Prisons ended special last meals because the inmates facing execution were being unreasonable.  Nothing funny there.  However, I just had to laugh at the last paragraph …

A former inmate cook who made the last meals for prisoners at the Huntsville Unit, where Texas executions are carried out, wrote a cookbook several years ago after he was released. Among his recipes were Gallows Gravy, Rice Rigor Mortis and Old Sparky’s Genuine Convict Chili, a nod to the electric chair that once served as the execution method. The book was called “Meals to Die For.”

via Special Last Meals: Texas Prisons End Special Last Meals For Inmates Facing Execution.

cohabiting, culture:  Twenty plus years ago a special friend asked her girlfriends what we thought if her boyfriend moved in with her.  We all twenty-somethings told her the world judges women harsher than men, but that we would not judge her negatively because we knew her. He moved in … and pretty soon they got married and had three kids … happy ending.  This article strikes a chord ….

Is a Bad Idea For Some.

But if you are a young adult who thinks you might want to have kids one day and maybe even get married but you aren’t sure that your current sweetie’s The One, please don’t move in with him or her.

I can hear the grumbling; “How will I know if we’re compatible or not if we don’t live together?” Easy — you know because you’ve spent enough time together as a couple. If you really don’t know if you can live with his smelly socks in the hallway or her panties hanging in the bathroom, then you either haven’t known each other long enough or you haven’t been paying attention. In either case, you’re just not ready to marry. Please, date some more.

Couples rarely split up over socks and underwear; they split because of affairs, alcohol, addictions and abuse. They split because their expectations of marriage differ. And they split because they never should have been together in the first place — probably because they moved in together to see if they could live with the socks and panties while they were ignoring other, much bigger issues.

So what’s so wrong with living with your boyfriend or girlfriend? Let’s forget the studies pointing out the booze (cohabitors drink more), weight (they’re heavier) and happiness (they’re not quite as happy as married couples but they aren’t more miserable, either), because those aren’t the issues. Nor are the results of the latest NMP study, “Why Marriage Matters,” which predicts doom and gloom for the children of cohabiting couples. The NMP has an agenda; it wants to promote marriage. Still, even a recent and presumably agenda-less Pew Study finds similar results, at least when it comes to cohabiting couples’ economic well-being; they’re poorer, and that puts stress on a relationship. A lot of stress.

As a society, we need to pay attention because there are 12 times as many cohabiting couples today as there were in the 1970s.

The real problem with cohabiting is that many couples who enter into it don’t give it a lot of thought; it’s one of those “just kind of happened” things. You like him, he likes you and a few months later you’re jamming your stuff into his closets. And those are the couples who, if they end up “sliding into marriage,” as research professor and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver Scott Stanley would call it, are more likely to divorce at some point.

Commitment is a decision. And if cohabitation is being offered as a replacement to marriage — as the Alternatives to Marriage Project and many sociologists and family psychologists see it — then a little more thought about it needs to happen, especially if you know you want to have kids one day.

For Linda Lea Viken, head of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, that would mean a cohabitation agreement. Even if a couple doesn’t end up signing one, at least they’ve been thinking about things like property, spending, saving and — this is a big one — expectations. If you can have unrealistic expectations in a marriage, you can have them living together, too.

Of course, none of this matters if we’re talking about two child-free adults who live together and then split. It’s just a heck of a lot worse if there are kids involved — his kids, her kids, their kids. According to the ATMP, 40 percent of the first babies of single mothers are actually born to cohabiting couples. And some 42 percent of kids will have lived in a cohabiting household before they turn 12 years old.

Still, no one’s pushing for marriage (well, except the NMP), but it you want to live with someone happily and for the long haul you really do need to be committed, especially if you have or want kids. “To me, the biggest issue is commitment not marriage,” says psychologist Joshua Coleman, co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families. “A lot of people are opting not to marry, but I wonder what is the context in which you have a child.”

For our most famously cohabiting couple, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, the context seems clear. As Jolie said when asked if she and Pitt will grow old together, “Of course; we wouldn’t have six children if we weren’t absolutely sure of that.”

No one can ever definitively know if a relationship will last, whether married or not. But making a conscious decision to start off that way sure helps.

via Vicki Larson: Why Cohabiting Is a Bad Idea For Some.

Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It, children’s/YA literature:  I loved Siverstein’s poetry with my kids …. and now he has a post mortem (11 years) new book!

Every Thing On It, published eleven years after Shel Silverstein’s death, arrived yesterday. Homework was instantly abandoned. The Girl Who Hates To Read simply had to dive into this collection of 139 poems.

This speaks volumes.

Shel Silverstein’s books are said to be for children 9 to 12. Nonsense. We started reading him when The Girl Who Hates To Read was six, and now we have the full collection. Only Roald Dahl comes close — and he’s a distant second.

What is Silverstein’s appeal?

Simple: He’s not full of the mealy-mouth bullshit that used to pass for children’s books. Starting way back in the ’60s — when Ozzie and Harriet values were finally starting to wither and die everywhere but in kids’ books — he talked to kids with respect. He thought they were smart. And creative. And they needed to be encouraged, not sedated.

via Jesse Kornbluth: Hey, Kids! A Decade After His Death, Shel Silverstein Has a New Book.

2012 Presidential Election, Republican Debates, debate analysis, Rick Perry:  I learned a lot from this analysis using debate team analysis as the basis.  Without this new understanding, I agree, anyway:  timing is everything, and Perry didn’t have it.

In any debate, contestants must make decisions given their limited amount of time to speak. On Thursday night, Rick Perry made the wrong ones. The Texas governor came across as forced and all over the place — awkward, unsure, with no clear strategy for how to answer questions or when he should go on attack. At one point he tried to fit three attacks on his nearest challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, into one sentence.

In short, Perry misused his time.

Academic competitions set rules and speaking times, and the debate teams I coach cannot change them. Debaters must make argumentative decisions about what they need to say to win. You have to pick and choose your best argument and stick with it. You should have a theme, limit your attacks, clarify your positions. In the presidential debates, the candidates must also do so.

As we have learned by now, these debates are a bit stacked. Front-runners Romney and Perry get more questions, making the job harder for the other candidates. They have to win over voters with less speaking time. Some did well with their limited time at the Florida/Fox News/Google debate in Orlando, others not so much.

via Timing is everything, and Perry didn’t have it – CNN.com.

2012 Presidential Election, Republican Debates, debate analysis, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, illegal immigration:

My friend Gov. Perry said if you don’t agree with his position on giving that in-state tuition to illegals, that you don’t have a heart,” Romney said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando. “I think if you’re opposed to illegal immigration, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a heart. It means that you have a heart and a brain.”

via TRENDING: Romney tweaks Perry over illegal immigration – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs.

2012 Presidential Election, Republican Debates, debate analysis, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney:  I found this review helpful …

Reporters look at five moments from the debate in Orlando, Fla., and their importance going forward in the Republican race.

via The Caucus | Key Moments From the Debate – Video Library – The New York Times.

2012 Presidential Election, President Obama, Israel, analysis:  Israel is becoming the  key foreign affairs issue … so far neither party is looking very good … “As I said, Mr. Obama can’t win this election, but the Republicans can lose it by being small, by being extreme, by being—are we going to have to start using this word again?—unnuanced.”

A small secret. In writing about the White House or Congress, I always feel completely free to attempt to see things clearly, to consider the evidence, to sift it through experience and knowledge, and then to make a judgment. It may be highly critical, or caustic, even damning. But deep down I always hope I’m wrong—that it isn’t as bad as I say it is, that there is information unknown to me that would explain such and such an act, that there were factors I didn’t know of that make bad decisions suddenly explicable. Or even justifiable.

I note this to make clear the particular importance, for me, of Ron Suskind’s book on the creation of President Obama’s economic policy, “Confidence Men.” If Mr. Suskind is right, I have been wrong in my critiques of the president’s economic policy. None of it was as bad as I said. It was much worse.

The most famous part of the book is the Larry Summers quote that he saw it as a “Home Alone” administration, with no grown-ups in charge. But there’s more than that. Most of us remember the president as in a difficult position from day one: two wars and an economic crash, good luck with that. But Mr. Suskind recasts the picture.

Mr. Obama isn’t as resilient as a Bill Clinton, with his broad spectrum of political gifts and a Rasputin-like ability to emerge undead in spite of the best efforts of his foes. His spectrum of political gifts is more limited. That’s a nice way to put it, isn’t it?

But consider what happened this week in New York.

Mr. Obama’s speech Wednesday at the United Nations was good. It was strong because it was clear, and it was clear because he didn’t rely on the thumping clichés and vapidities he’s lately embraced. When the camera turned to the professionally impassive diplomats in the audience, they seemed to be actually listening.

“It has been a remarkable year,” he said: Moammar Gadhafi on the run, Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali deposed, Osama bin Laden dead. “Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way they will be.” Technology is putting power in the hands of the people, history is tending toward the overthrow of entrenched powers. But “peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart.”

On the Mideast conflict: “The people of Palestine deserve a state of their own.” But the proposed U.N. statehood resolution is a “shortcut” that won’t work: “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.” Peace can be realized only when both parties acknowledge each other’s legitimate needs: “Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.” Friends of the Palestinians “do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.”

“I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress,” the president said. “So am I.” All in all, it was a measured statement at a tense moment. It was meant to defuse tensions, to cool things down.

Contrast it with the words of Rick Perry, who zoomed into New York to make his own Mideast statement the day before the president’s speech. The Obama administration’s policy, the Texas governor said, amounts to “appeasement.” It has encouraged “an ominous act of bad faith.” We are “at the precipice of such a dangerous move” because the Obama administration is “arrogant, misguided and dangerous.” “Moral equivalency” is “a dangerous insult.”

This was meant not to defuse but to inflame. It does not seem to have occurred to Mr. Perry that when you are running for president you have to be big, you have to act as if you’re a broad fellow who understands that when the American president is in a tight spot in the U.N., America is in a tight spot in the U.N. You don’t exploit it for political gain.

Perry competitor Rick Santorum responded: “I’ve forgotten more about Israel than Rick Perry knows about Israel,” he told Politico. Mr. Perry “has never taken a position on any of this stuff before, and [the media is] taking this guy seriously.”

The Israeli newspaper Ha’artez likened Mr. Perry’s remarks to “a pep rally for one of Israel’s right-wing politicians, and a hard-liner at that,” adding that the governor “adopted the rhetoric of Israel’s radical right lock, stock and barrel.”

I’d add only that in his first foreign-policy foray, the GOP front-runner looked like a cheap, base-playing buffoon.

As I said, Mr. Obama can’t win this election, but the Republicans can lose it by being small, by being extreme, by being—are we going to have to start using this word again?—unnuanced.

via Amateur Hour at the White House – WSJ.com.

“The Good Wife” , tv, culture, gender issues, monogamy:  I don’t really like tv’s portrayal of our culture … “there are worse ways to betray your partner than by being unfaithful.”

Are men meant to be monogamous?

Alan Cumming from “The Good Wife” says there are worse ways to betray your partner than by being unfaithful.

via Video – Breaking News Videos from CNN.com

Morgan Freeman, President  Obama, race relations, politics, Tea Party:  Makes you think … I personally had hoped Pres. Obama’s election would be a great leap forward for the U.S.

Morgan Freeman, in an interview to be aired on CNN Friday evening, says that President Obama has made racism worse in America.

Chatting with Piers Morgan, the Oscar-winning actor also blames the Tea Party saying they’re “going to do whatever [they] can to get this black man outta here” (video follows with transcript and commentary):

via Morgan Freeman: Obama Made Racism Worse, Tea Party Will Do ‘Whatever [It] Can To Get This Black Man Outta Here’ | NewsBusters.org.

Troy Davis, capital punishment, understatement, GA:  “Take the case settled yesterday in Georgia.”  SETTLED!  Talk about effective use of understatement.

The idea that if you do wrong you get what’s coming to you animates Westerns and crime fiction, both distinctly American genres; small wonder it should find fertile political ground too. But here’s the thing: life is not a movie or a novel. Reality has no obligation to provide us with a clear narrative or villain, and it rarely does.

Take the case settled yesterday in Georgia.

Speaker after speaker harped on the same two points, one sound and one largely but not wholly irrelevant. The former, of course, concerned the injustice of the death penalty and the large amount of doubt concerning Mr Davis’s guilt. He was effectively killed on the word of nine people, seven of whom changed their minds. Reports said that Georgia’s parole board, which denied Mr Davis clemency on Monday, split 3-2 on that decision. Eyewitness testimony is profoundly unreliable; that it, and only it, was used to kill someone is unjust on its face and sets a terrible precedent.

The largely irrelevant point concerned the large numbers of supporters Mr Davis had around the world. We were told that rallies were held in Europe and across America, that hundreds of thousands of people had signed petitions, that death-penalty supporters such as Bob Barr and William Sessions (a former Georgia congressman and a former FBI director) and luminaries such as Jimmy Carter and the pope all opposed Mr Davis’s execution. But the problem with Georgia’s decision to kill Mr Davis is not that it’s unpopular; it’s that it was wrong.

When it was all over, Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Church, where Martin Luther King preached, said, “This is one of those moments when the nation is called to examine itself and ask, ‘Is this who we are?'” It seems that it is, alas.

via Capital punishment: A death in Georgia | The Economist.

President Obama, Jobs Bill, ” A Bridge To Nowhere”, 2012 Presidential Election:  Is the jobs bill nothing more than a first swing at the 2012 election … “This Cincinnati trip is the latest in a series of jobs events Obama has held across the country. Before this he was in Raleigh, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; and Columbus, Ohio. No coincidence those are also swing states he wants to win to get re-elected in 2012.”

“It’s a short-lived fix,” he says. “I mean, the guys will be working on the bridge for a couple years, and then they’re out of work again.”

The truth is, construction on the Brent Spence Bridge would not begin right away even if the bill passes tomorrow. The White House says it never claimed this project was shovel-ready. One reason it was chosen was its political symbolism.

The Brent Spence connects House Speaker John Boehner’s home state of Ohio with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky. On the Senate floor Thursday, McConnell said it would be great to fix this bridge, but the president’s jobs bill won’t get it done.

“Don’t patronize us by implying that if we pass the second stimulus, that bridges will get fixed right away,” McConnell said. “The American people heard the same thing when the administration was selling the first stimulus.”

But small-business owner Jeffrey McClorey says the first stimulus really helped this community. He runs Bromwell’s Fireplace and Art Gallery, which calls itself the oldest business in Cincinnati. He says the first stimulus helped spur a mixed-use condo development along the river, called The Banks.

“There’s 300 new families living down at The Banks, and more coming. And those people are buying products from me and other people downtown and in the region,” McClorey says. “And it also benefits and helps to repopulate the city center, which I think is very important.”

This Cincinnati trip is the latest in a series of jobs events Obama has held across the country. Before this he was in Raleigh, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; and Columbus, Ohio. No coincidence those are also swing states he wants to win to get re-elected in 2012.

via Obama’s Jobs Bill Pitch: A Bridge To Nowhere? : NPR.

“How I Met Your Mother”, tv, Katie Holmes,  “Slutty Pumpkin”, random, LOL:  OK, I watch some shows because my kids watch them.  I admit I have grown to love “How I Met Your Mother” and look forward to Season 7 and Katie Holmes as the “slutty pumpkin.”

Shockers abound in Season 7 of “How I Met Your Mother.”

Just days after the season premiere return of Season 1’s cupcake girl, Victoria (Ashley Williams), the identity of the elusive “Slutty Pumpkin” has been revealed.

First reported by Vulture, the elusive character first mentioned in Season 1 will appear this year in the form of Katie Holmes.

“Katie is a lovely and talented actress,” co-creator Craig Thomas tells Vulture, “which is why we’ve saved for her perhaps the most classily named character in our show’s history.”

“The Slutty Pumpkin,” also the name of the series’ sixth episode, was a potential love interest Ted (Josh Radnor) met at a 2001 Halloween party and never saw again. She’s since been mentioned several times — and cannot possibly be the mother.

via ‘How I Met Your Mother’ revelation: Katie Holmes is the ‘Slutty Pumpkin’ – chicagotribune.com.

Michael Warner, public lectures, UNC-CH, evangelical Christianity: ” Michael Warner, a professor of English literature and American studies at Yale University, said Thursday that evangelical Christianity is the mother of all social movements.”

When one thinks of evangelical Christianity, “nation-shaping” is not the first concept to come to mind.

But Michael Warner, a professor of English literature and American studies at Yale University, said Thursday that evangelical Christianity is the mother of all social movements.

Warner defined evangelicalism as a “transnational movement” that focuses on converting strangers. The movement is loud and unafraid to adapt to technology, he said.

He focused on the rise of evangelical Christians as a “counter public” in America from the late 18th century until the mid-1970s, which he claimed was the turning point for modern evangelicalism.

He discussed early American evangelical publications created for the purpose of converting readers, including “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” a sermon delivered in the 1740s by theologian Jonathan Edwards.

“The idea of evangelicalism follows the assumption that a reading of these texts anywhere by anyone leads to a conversion,” Warner said. “To read it is to imagine a spectacular conversion happening somewhere.”

“Free speech created a very special kind of culture,” he said.

Many students attended as part of their “Introduction to Fiction” class, said John Weeks, a junior psychology and political science double major.

“The religious discussion relates to the theme in the book we’re studying, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle,” said Tara Jeffries, a freshman journalism major.

“I enjoyed the references to American history and how the Puritanical religious views shaped the country,” Jeffries said. “His analysis of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon and the way he deconstructed it were especially interesting.”

The lecture was part of the Critical Speaker Series of UNC’s Department of English and Comparative Literature.

via The Daily Tar Heel :: Yale professor lectures on social importance of evangelical Christianity.

Silent Sam, public monuments, Real Silent Sam movement, UNC-CH, history, traditions:  I clipped about silent Sam before.  It is difficult … should it go … I will say I was very moved by The Unsung Founders Memorial.  I am interested to see how this plays out.  My opinion is that it should stay and be a reminder of a history that you cannot deny … but be a discussion point.

0919_silentsam_sweeney

The statue in McCorkle Place has again sparked community-wide debate about the implications of having a monument to the Confederacy so prominently placed on campus.

But despite outrage from some, the monument has never been seriously threatened, at least during the past few decades.

Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, said he has heard of no formal petition to remove the statue in his 31 years at the University.

On Sept. 1, a group called the Real Silent Sam movement, composed of concerned community members and students, held a protest to attract attention to the statue’s history.

Senior Will McInerney, a member of the movement, said the group wants to start a discussion about monuments with racist backgrounds.

University officials said they support the students’ right to protest the statue.

“I do fully support robust and earnest dialogue about this and similar issues, and I fully support student’s rights to raise this issue before the university community,” said Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs.

About 10 years ago, University officials heard from a senior class that wanted to commemorate another aspect of UNC’s history.

The Unsung Founders Memorial — the stone table situated less than 100 yards away from Silent Sam — was erected in 2005 by the graduating class of 2002 in memory of enslaved African-Americans who helped to build the University.

David Owens, chairman of UNC’s building and grounds committee, said careful considerations were made about the placement of the Unsung Founders monument.

“Silent Sam was the second monument to be placed inside the sidewalks at McCorkle Place,” Owens said, adding that the first was the burial site for Joseph Caldwell, the University’s first president, who was also a slaveowner.

via The Daily Tar Heel :: Real Silent Sam movement holds protest focused on statue’s history.

Sebastian Junger, Reynolds Lecture, Davidson College:  Great lecture … “He also noted that on the battlefield, it’s not hard for a group of 22-year-olds to come together and overcome their differences, united behind a common purpose. In one of the few political statements of the evening, he added: ‘And then there’s Congress.’”

His talk touched on themes recounted in his books “War,” “The Perfect Storm,” “A Death in Belmont” and “Fire.”

He describes his time embedded with an military unit in Iraq. We all almost died, he said. Soldiers come to know that “you die or survive because of a random set of circumstances. … It’s meaningless,” he said. “It really torments these guys.”

The horrors and meaninglessness of war create problems when veterans return. On the battlefield, they come to know brotherhood and loyalty. For brotherhood, he said, all that’s required is that you value others’ lives above your own. “It’s there in the platoon,” and soldiers know they all can be brave.

That accords them respect that is hard to find in civilian life, Mr. Junger said. In combat, “every 19 year old can be encased in all the respect he can ever want.”

Once back home, they miss that and find they lack the same sense of purpose. In response to a question after his talk, he said as a nation, our goal for veterans should be to make them feel necessary. “A hug is great,” he said, but we need to ensure they have a purpose.

He also noted that on the battlefield, it’s not hard for a group of 22-year-olds to come together and overcome their differences, united behind a common purpose. In one of the few political statements of the evening, he added: “And then there’s Congress.”

Mr. Junger also recounted the death of his friend, collaborator and photojournalist Timothy Hetherington, with whom he made the award-winning documentary “Restrepo,” about Afghanistan. After they appeared at the Academy Awards ceremony to received an award for the film, Mr. Hetherington headed off to cover the civil unrest in Libya. There, he was killed by a mortar shell.

As Mr. Junger mourned, a friend emailed him. Apologizing for being so blunt, he told Mr. Junger that he and Mr. Hetherington had come closer than most to capturing the meaning of war. “The central truth of war is not that you might die, it’s that you’re guaranteed to lose your brothers,” the friend wrote. Now you understand, the friend said.

via At Davidson, Junger talks about war and its meaning | DavidsonNews.net.

Freshman Cake Race, Davidson College, traditions, goats, followup:  A Davidson tradition is the freshman cake race … I just saw this and loved its creativity … someone made a kudzu eating goat cake!

Today’s Freshman Cake Race scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at Baker Sports Complex has inspired people all over town. One of the college’s crack strategic planning analysts, Janet Werner, was so moved by the college’s summer goat story that she confected this decorative entry, complete with tiny goat on top of kudzu fondant:

Not Baaaad!

And irrepressible math prof Tim Chartier concocted a real Wildcat paw/M&M cake on his computer, then brought it to life in the kitchen.

via Daybook Davidson.

Davidson College,  first night down, college life, student life, traditions, change:  Change is hard .. What college tradition would you be upset about if the college changd or banned it?

In 2009, First Night Down was officially renamed the Opening of the Court. Related events were moved from a Friday to a Monday in an effort to deemphasize drinking and encourage Patterson Court houses to better present their unique qualities to first year students. These changes, however, failed to achieve their desired effect.

This year, administrators from Student Life and Patterson Court chose to completely eliminate First Night Down, a decision that also precipitated a new set of recruitment rules for Patterson Court organizations.

Students were informed of this change on Aug. 15 in an email from Patterson Court Council President Lee Dorsey ’12. Dorsey attributed the decision to a year-long conversation involving the Patterson Court Council, the Dean of Students Office, Campus Police, Counseling and Student Health Center, the Union and the Residence Life Office.

Dorsey stated in the email that the event had lost its original focus and needed to better maintain its primary purpose: “to provide first-year students a comprehensive and welcoming experience, and to favorably introduce the pillars of our Patterson Court organizations and the Patterson Court Council to the outside community.”

In eliminating a formal opening date, Dorsey said that they hoped to “diffuse a frequently stressful and intense environment.”

Current students have mixed feelings about the decision. Krista Catafago ’14, a member of the last class to have a First Night Down, said, “As a freshman, I kind of resented the first night down rule, but as a sophomore, I’m able to understand the reasoning behind it. That being said, I think including students from all years from the very beginning has made the court more fun.”

Ace Coumas ’14 felt more strongly about the loss of the tradition. “I wouldn’t have known my [freshman] hall as well as I do today had First Night Down not existed,” he said. Though Meg Shamburger, Patterson Court Advisor, previously told The Davidsonian that she felt students were more upset about the changes to recruitment than the elimination of First Night Down, Coumas disagreed.

“A tradition has been stripped from Davidson College. It is certainly different. Of all the changes that have been dropped on returning students this year, this is the one that I am most concerned about,” he said.

via First night down: – News – The Davidsonian – Davidson College.

Anne Wills ’88, Associate Professor of Religion, also suggests that First Night Down may have meant more to recent classes. “As a historian, I would have to point to this occasion as yet another recent invention/innovation that has disguised itself as an ancient (or at least generations-old) tradition,” she said.

Though First Night Down may not have left as great an imprint on the memories of Davidson’s older graduates, the loss is more strongly felt among current students and recent alumni. This loss of tradition reflects the larger goals of the administration to overhaul Patterson Court culture. The measure is officially a “preliminary solution to a long-term concern,” though it remains to be seen what steps will be taken next.

via First night down: – News – The Davidsonian – Davidson College.

$16 Muffins, government waste,  Justice Department, oversight:  I am glad there were no $16 Muffins, but it does show you how we can get overhyped by phrases … and the bottom line is there is a lot of waste.

There was a whole host of over-priced items: $5 meatballs, $7.50 beef canapes, $8 coffees. But the sound-byte everyone took from the story was the $16 muffin.

Journalists and auditors arrived at the startling price when they discovered that 250 muffins at a hotel conference had cost the Department $4,200. Many were outraged, and pointed to the muffins as a prime example of governmental waste. Senator Chuck Grassley even said that whoever was responsible should be fired. Obama, for his part, seems to be complying. Obama Foodorama reports that POTUS has ordered a systematic review of all conference spending, and put Vice President Biden in charge of oversight.

It sounds like the new oversight is worth it; the government undoubtedly wastes a lot of money on catering and hospitality. But there’s a fantastic irony at the heart of the entire story. Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum has a great explanation of why the $16 muffins didn’t really cost $16. The calculation was based on the invoice price of the muffins — which included overhead and service charges for the use of the conference space.

UPDATE: Peter Yost of the Associated Press just wrote a story denouncing the idea of the $16 muffin as well; interviews with Hilton indicate that the apparent $16 price included free drinks, service and fruit. Here’s the full AP story:

via $16 Muffins, Which May Not Be Real, Get Justice Department In Trouble.

college search, virtual campus tours:  Anybody found these useful?

Virtual campus tours have been an active part of the higher ed web space for over a decade. Designed as the online sibling to the physical campus tour, they have the potential to reach prospective students and have a major impact on the recruitment process. Yet despite this great potential, the vast majority of virtual campus tours in existence today are disappointing, at best.

via Virtual Campus Tours | Higher Ed Live.

1895 Cotton States and International Exposition, history, Atlanta, followup:  I posted the anniversary of the Epositions’s opening a week ago.  I have always been fascinated it because my great-grandfather JJ Dennard, a Georgia state legislator, attended.  His ticket/pass with his photograph on it (remember 1895!) was always in a drawer in my grandparents home.  My sister has it now.  It just fascinated me.  So here is a little history for you.

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection
U.S. President Cleveland

The most ambitious of the city’s cotton expositions was staged in 1895. Its goals were to foster trade between southern states and South American nations as well as to show the products and facilities of the region to the rest of the nation and to Europe. These objectives found expression in the official name of the event—the Cotton States and International Exposition. There were exhibits by six states and special buildings featuring the accomplishments of women and blacks. Also showcased was the latest technology in transportation, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and other fields. Amusements such as the “Phoenix Wheel” and an early version of the motion picture were set up as part of a midway to attract visitors.

On opening day, September 18, military bands played, followed by speeches from political, business, and other leaders, including the prominent African American educator Booker T. Washington. In a speech that came to be known as the Atlanta Compromise speech and that was greeted enthusiastically by white advocates of the New South, Washington did not challenge

Courtesy of Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection
1895 Cotton States and International Exposition

the prevailing ideas of segregation held by advocates of the New South; putting aside all claims to political power and social equality, he urged blacks to make progress as agricultural and industrial laborers. In spite of lavish promotion, fewer than 800,000 attended the three-month exposition, which was plagued by constant financial problems. The Cotton States Exposition did showcase Atlanta as a regional business center and helped to attract investment. Although most of the 1895 exposition’s buildings were torn down so that the materials could be sold for scrap, the city eventually purchased the grounds, which became the present-day Piedmont Park.

via New Georgia Encyclopedia: Cotton Expositions in Atlanta.

BofA,  Countrywide, bankruptcy, business ethics:  I am a big supporter of  Bank of America (my spouse has worded for BofA or a predecessor for his entire career).   But passing the Countrywide debacle off on the American people bothers me.  However, BofA took a huge hit with Merrill Lynch for the country … and has taken huge hits with countrywide already … Opinions?

The threat of a Countrywide bankruptcy is a “nuclear” option that Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan could use as leverage against plaintiffs seeking refunds on bad mortgages, said analyst Mike Mayo of Credit Agricole Securities USA. … “If the losses become so great, how can Bank of America at least not discuss internally the relative tradeoff of a Countrywide bankruptcy?” Mayo, who has an “underperform” rating on the bank, said in an interview. “And if you pull out the bazooka, you’d better be prepared to use it.”

via Report: Bank of America could consider Countrywide bankruptcy – Charlotte Business Journal.

Facebook, changes:  I do not get too upset about Facebook changes … but some pretty creative people do …

29
Mar
11

3.29.2011 … humerus is healing … but 6 more weeks of sling … :(

silly joke, kith/kin:  When Jack was baptised at 3 months he had a yeast infection (from antibiotics) and a  columnist had this story in the paper … we all died laughing reading it …

SAD NEWS – Please join me in remembering YET ANOTHER great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes to the belly. He was 71. Dough Boy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children, John Dough, Jane Dough, and Dosey Dough,plus they had one in the Oven. Services were held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

technology, retirement: scary …Want To Retire Wealthier? Start by Scanning Your Photo – WSJ.com.

kith/kin, death penalty:  Go, Bob!

While the news conference was under way, an Iredell County judge imposed consequences against the state in a double-murder trial halted last week by the late handover of evidence.

The judge declared a mistrial and barred prosecutors from pursuing the death penalty against defendant Al Bellamy. Last week, three weeks into the trial and after prosecutors finished presenting their case, defense attorneys were given about 1,700 pages of interview notes taken by a former narcotics detective.

Fair-trial advocates like Mumma were joined at the news conference by men who were wrongly convicted in cases in which their lawyers did not learn crucial investigative details. They included Greg Taylor of Raleigh and Darryl Hunt of Winston-Salem, who both spent more than 17 years in prison on faulty murder convictions before being exonerated and pardoned.

“When we have fairness in our system, then the chances of human lives being taken is slim,” Hunt said.

via Critics target NC bill limiting DAs evidence risk – CharlotteObserver.com.

Bible, history:  Great story …

A little English village church has just made a remarkable discovery.

The ornate old Bible that had been sitting in plain view on a table near the last row of pews for longer than anyone could remember is an original King James Bible – one of perhaps 200 surviving 400-year-old original editions of arguably the most important book ever printed in English.

In fact, the Bible at St. Laurence Church in Hilmarton, England, was sitting right under a hand-lettered sign saying it was an original.

The sign said it had been found in “the parish chest” in 1857, that the cover had been added, and that it was the second of the two impressions published in 1611 – the year of first publication.

But no one knew whether to believe it, parish council member Geoff Procter said. As the anniversary of publication in 1611 approached, they decided it was worth investigating.

“We had no way of knowing whether it really was a 1611 Bible so we had to get it verified somehow,” he said.

He and two other church members took it to a specialist, the Rev. David Smith at the Museum of the Book in London.

Smith knew immediately what he was looking at, Procter said.

“We put it on his table and he opened it and immediately he said, ‘Yes, this is a 1611 Bible,'” Procter remembered.

via Tiny church finds original King James Bible – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

technology, media, paywall, ethics: Is it ethical for me to work around the paywall?

But the argument over the paywall has taken on a strangely moral cast for what is, after all, a business decision by a for-profit company. At Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow—who admits that he is against charging for news regardless—cited eight reasons he thinks the paywall will fail. Advertising Age’s Simon Dumeneco responded with a column that said, essentially, that people should pay for the Times because it has reporters risking their lives in Libya (unlike Boing Boing).

All of which may feel satisfying to argue. But the whole argument is based on a conundrum that would challenge the NYT magazine’s Ethicist columnist: when exactly is it immoral to go around the Times’ paywall, considering that the Times intentionally put the holes in the wall itself?

I won’t go into all the ins and outs of the paywall’s workings (see here for the Times’ FAQ). But essentially, you pay a certain rate for different kinds of unlimited access—web plus smartphone or tablet or both. Free web visits are limited to 20 articles a month. But the number of articles you can read if you access them through outside links (from blogs, Facebook, etc.) are almost unlimited. [Update: also, if like me you already subscribe to the paper version, you get digital access included.]

This is deliberate: the Times doesn’t want to lose the relevance that comes from being linked. But it also wants money, which it won’t get if you—legitimately, by its own design—read it mostly through social media and other linkers. In the eyes of the Times and its defenders, in other words, there is a certain level of reading for free that becomes freeloading. But it will deliberately not say what that is.

via The NY Times Paywall Goes Up. When Is It Immoral to Go Around It? – Tuned In – TIME.com.

RIP, Elizabeth Taylor, icons, science:  Rest in Peace, Elizabeth Taylor … but to think your gorgeous eyes were a genetic mutation.

Elizabeth Taylor wasn’t one for understatement: she had eight marriages, two Oscars, and she was a bold pioneer in AIDS activism. And let’s not forget those captivating violet eyes. Now, according to Slate’s Brow Beat blog, Taylor’s large, liquid eyes had the unusual benefit of a genetic mutation, one that left her with a double row of eyelashes.

via Were Elizabeth Taylor’s Double Eyelashes Linked with Her Heart Failure? – TIME Healthland.

RIP, Harry & David:  What … no more Christmas pears!!

Harry & David, the purveyor of fruit-filled gift baskets, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday morning as part of an effort to reorganize its troubled finances.

The company filed what is known as a “prearranged” Chapter 11 plan in Delaware bankruptcy court, under which bondholders would take over by converting their debt holdings into equity.

via Harry & David to File for Bankruptcy – NYTimes.com.

twitter, lists:  Who do you follow … I follow the NYT … to get around the paywall!

TIME picks the 140 Twitter feeds that are shaping the conversation.

via Full List – 140 Best Twitter Feeds – TIME.

DC, Politics and Prose, Resurrections:

The Washington Post reports that two former Post reporters will buy Washington DC’s Politics and Prose bookstore.

The bookstore has become a hub for media events, hosting everybody from Mika Brzezinski to BookTV. When co-founder Carla Cohen fell ill last year, the owners decided to sell the bookstore. Cohen (pictured, via), passed away in October.

Here’s more about the sale: “Former Washington Post reporters Bradley Graham and his wife Lissa Muscatine are purchasing the iconic upper Northwest bookstore … [the owners narrowed] a flurry of propositions down to about six serious bidders, the most prominent of which was a group that included ex-New Republic editor Franklin Foer and Atlantic magazine writer Jeffrey Goldberg.” (Via Don Linn)

via Politics and Prose Bookstore Sold To Former WaPo Reporters – GalleyCat.

RIP, Geraldine Ferraro, politics, icons:  Rest in peace, Geraldine Ferraro.  You brought us a long way!

There are two things to remember when we try to make out the lessons of Geraldine Ferraro’s career. The first is overwhelmingly historic: as Democrat Walter Mondale’s running-mate in 1984, the three-time Representative from New York was the first woman (and first Italian American) to be part of a major party’s presidential ticket. The second is much more sobering: after Mondale’s defeat, Ferraro never again won elected office. Making history lasted less than four months, from Mondale’s announcement of her choice to be his vice-presidential candidate on July 19 to Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election on Nov. 6. The consequences of history would complicate the rest of her life.

Her brief star turn at the center stage of American politics had not really been part of the Ferraro’s own plan. Logically, the next step would have been to turn her six years as a tough but efficient congresswoman into the first of many six-year terms as U.S. Senator from New York. But Mondale and the Democrats needed drama on the ticket to offset Reagan’s overwhelming lead in the polls. So, why not a woman? A shortlist was drawn-up and, after much anticipation and last minute deliberation, Ferraro was picked over Dianne Feinstein, who was then Mayor of San Francisco.

via The Pioneer: Geraldine Ferraro (1935-2011) – TIME.




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