Posts Tagged ‘humanities

27
Jun
13

6.27.13 … humanities: ” I find a vivid, pressing sense of how much they need the skill they didn’t acquire earlier in life. They don’t call that skill the humanities. They don’t call it literature. They call it writing — the ability to distribute their thinking in the kinds of sentences that have a merit, even a literary merit, of their own.”

education, college, humanities, writing, worth reading:  I’m going to quote this article again … It’s worth reading.

There is a certain literal-mindedness in the recent shift away from the humanities. It suggests a number of things. One, the rush to make education pay off presupposes that only the most immediately applicable skills are worth acquiring though that doesn’t explain the current popularity of political science. Two, the humanities often do a bad job of explaining why the humanities matter. And three, the humanities often do a bad job of teaching the humanities. You don’t have to choose only one of these explanations. All three apply.

What many undergraduates do not know — and what so many of their professors have been unable to tell them — is how valuable the most fundamental gift of the humanities will turn out to be. That gift is clear thinking, clear writing and a lifelong engagement with literature.

Maybe it takes some living to find out this truth. Whenever I teach older students, whether they’re undergraduates, graduate students or junior faculty, I find a vivid, pressing sense of how much they need the skill they didn’t acquire earlier in life. They don’t call that skill the humanities. They don’t call it literature. They call it writing — the ability to distribute their thinking in the kinds of sentences that have a merit, even a literary merit, of their own.

via The Decline and Fall of the English Major – NYTimes.com.

23
Jun
13

6.23.13 … Writing well: “It is about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation with the world around you.” …

education, humanities, writing, English majors:

In the past few years, I’ve taught nonfiction writing to undergraduates and graduate students at Harvard, Yale, Bard, Pomona, Sarah Lawrence and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Each semester I hope, and fear, that I will have nothing to teach my students because they already know how to write. And each semester I discover, again, that they don’t.

They can assemble strings of jargon and generate clots of ventriloquistic syntax. They can meta-metastasize any thematic or ideological notion they happen upon. And they get good grades for doing just that. But as for writing clearly, simply, with attention and openness to their own thoughts and emotions and the world around them — no.

That kind of writing — clear, direct, humane — and the reading on which it is based are the very root of the humanities, a set of disciplines that is ultimately an attempt to examine and comprehend the cultural, social and historical activity of our species through the medium of language.

The teaching of the humanities has fallen on hard times. So says a new report on the state of the humanities by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and so says the experience of nearly everyone who teaches at a college or university. Undergraduates will tell you that they’re under pressure — from their parents, from the burden of debt they incur, from society at large — to choose majors they believe will lead as directly as possible to good jobs. Too often, that means skipping the humanities.

Writing well used to be a fundamental principle of the humanities, as essential as the knowledge of mathematics and statistics in the sciences. But writing well isn’t merely a utilitarian skill. It is about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation with the world around you.

No one has found a way to put a dollar sign on this kind of literacy, and I doubt anyone ever will. But everyone who possesses it — no matter how or when it was acquired — knows that it is a rare and precious inheritance.

via The Decline and Fall of the English Major – NYTimes.com.

23
Jun
13

6.23.13 … The Humanist Vocation: “The job of the humanities was to cultivate the human core, the part of a person we might call the spirit, the soul” …

humanities:  Great essay on the value of humanities!  Love this … “Teachers like that were zealous for the humanities. A few years in that company leaves a lifelong mark.”

Back when the humanities were thriving, the leading figures had a clear definition of their mission and a fervent passion for it. The job of the humanities was to cultivate the human core, the part of a person we might call the spirit, the soul, or, in D.H. Lawrence’s phrase, “the dark vast forest.”

One of the great history teachers in those days was a University of Chicago professor named Karl Weintraub. He poured his soul into transforming his students’ lives, but, even then, he sometimes wondered if they were really listening. Late in life, he wrote a note to my classmate Carol Quillen, who now helps carry on this legacy as president of Davidson College.

Teaching Western Civ, Weintraub wrote, “seems to confront me all too often with moments when I feel like screaming suddenly: ‘Oh, God, my dear student, why CANNOT you see that this matter is a real, real matter, often a matter of the very being, for the person, for the historical men and women you are looking at — or are supposed to be looking at!’

“I hear these answers and statements that sound like mere words, mere verbal formulations to me, but that do not have the sense of pain or joy or accomplishment or worry about them that they ought to have if they were TRULY informed by the live problems and situations of the human beings back there for whom these matters were real. The way these disembodied words come forth can make me cry, and the failure of the speaker to probe for the open wounds and such behind the text makes me increasingly furious.

“If I do not come to feel any of the love which Pericles feels for his city, how can I understand the Funeral Oration? If I cannot fathom anything of the power of the drive derived from thinking that he has a special mission, what can I understand of Socrates? … How can one grasp anything about the problem of the Galatian community without sensing in one’s bones the problem of worrying about God’s acceptance?

“Sometimes when I have spent an hour or more, pouring all my enthusiasm and sensitivities into an effort to tell these stories in the fullness in which I see and experience them, I feel drained and exhausted. I think it works on the student, but I do not really know.”

Teachers like that were zealous for the humanities. A few years in that company leaves a lifelong mark.

via The Humanist Vocation – NYTimes.com.

07
Jun
13

6.7.13 … I don’t want to be doing what I love and be homeless …

 humanities,  I am a believer, education, college education:  Are Humanities Doomed? … I am a believer, so  I hope not …

 

” … I don’t want to be doing what I love and be homeless,” he told the Journal.

But is his fear warranted?

via Are Humanities Degrees Doomed? Experts Weigh In. – At Work – WS

05
Apr
13

4.5.13 … To Show People How To Love …

vocation, To Show People How To Love, Pope Francis:  In two weeks Pope Francis has done more for Christianity than anyone has done in a long time.  Kudos, Pope Francis!

Pope Francis hugs Dominic Gondreau at Easter Mass.

Our stony hearts are transformed into this Christ-like love, and thereby empowered to change hatred into love, only through the Cross. And no one shares in the Cross more intimately than the disabled. And so the disabled become our models and our inspiration. Yes, I give much to my son, Dominic. But he gives me more, WAY more. I help him stand and walk, but he shows me how to love. I feed him, but he shows me how to love. I bring him to physical therapy, but he shows me how to love. I stretch his muscles and joke around with him, but he shows me how to love. I lift him in and out of his chair, I wheel him all over the place, but he shows me how to love. I give up my time, so much time, for him, but he shows me how to love.

This lesson, to repeat, confounds the wisdom of the world. Heck, it confounds me when I, as his parent, so often fail to see my son’s condition for what it is. The lesson my disabled son gives stands as a powerful testament to the dignity and infinite value of every human person, especially of those the world deems the weakest and most “useless.” Through their sharing in the “folly” of the  Cross, the disabled are, in truth, the most powerful and the most productive among us.

One more thing. Pope Francis’ embrace of my son, Dominic, indicates that we should not interpret the new Pontiff’s expressed devotion to the poor, already a cornerstone of his pontificate, in facile, purely material let alone political categories. His Easter embrace of my son stands out as a compelling witness to the kind of “poverty” that he urges us to adopt, the poverty that he pointed to in the opening line of his Urbi et Orbi message yesterday: “I would like [the message of Christs resurrection] to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest…” Parents of disabled children, stand up and find solace and encouragement in these simple yet profound words.

via A Special Vocation: To Show People How To Love | Catholic Moral Theology A Special Vocation: To Show People How To Love |.

Catholicism, Pope Francis, Donatists, humanities:  Quite a few broad generalizations … and I need to research in order to understand the references, but all in all an interesting essay.

This Donatist tendency — to close ranks and return defensively to first principles — can be seen today whenever a movement faces a crisis. Modern-day Donatists emerge after every Republican defeat: conservatives who think the main task is to purge and purify. There are modern-day Donatists in humanities departments, who pull in as they lose relevance on campus.

I’ll leave it to Catholics to decide if Francis is good for the church. The subject here is how do you revive a movement in crisis. The natural instinct is to turn Donatist, to build an ark and defend what’s precious. The counterintuitive but more successful strategy is to follow Augustine, to exploit a moment of weakness by making yourself even more vulnerable, by striking outward into complexity, swallowing the pure and impure, counterattacking crisis with an evangelical assault.

via How Movements Recover – NYTimes.com.

unmarried couples,  US culture, Bloomberg: New normal …

Three of four women in the U.S. have lived with a partner without being married by the age of 30, an increasing trend that suggests cohabitation is now a regular part of family life in the U.S., researchers said.

The survey of 12,279 women ages 15 through 44 also found that 40 percent of unmarried partners transitioned to marriage within 3 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. A third of the arrangements stayed intact without marriage, while 27 percent dissolved, the study found.

“Cohabitation is a common part of family formation in the United States, and serves both as a step toward marriage and as an alternative to marriage,” the report said.

via Unmarried Couples Living Together Is New U.S. Norm – Bloomberg.

Atlanta, history, maps:  Just found this fascinating.  My question:

Did a crazy person plan Atlanta?

 

This is the oldest known street map of Atlanta (circa 1853). Its creator, Vincent, is buried in Oakland and helped design Union Station which burned during Sherman’s occupation. If you look to the far right just above the index, you will see the original 6 acre border of Oakland which was right on the line of the City boundary. Click here for a high resolution image: Vincent’s subdivision map of the city of Atlanta, Dekalb County, state of Georgia : showing all the lots, blocks, sections, &c..

chocolate banana bread,  recipe, Cooking.com:  Since this is my “filing cabinet.”  I had to put this in … I may try it this weekend.  Doesn’t it look cook?

Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe at Cooking.com

 

There’s an old saying in baking that the ugliest fruit makes the best desserts, and I completely agree. One man’s bruised banana is another man’s banana bread. I like to make a loaf of this once a week so I can have a slice with my coffee in the morning or toast a slice for a simple dessert.

 

via Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe at Cooking.com.

 

 

29
Mar
13

3.29.13 … clean it like the queen of England is visiting! …

Lent, Room for Debate – NYTimes.com:

Lent is a promise to walk with Jesus even into the desert. It is a trusting willingness to put our hand in his at all times, no matter what it requires, to go with him into the wilderness or onto the cross. Lent is about our relationship with Christ; and that relationship, like our ordinary relationships with other people, has seasons of trial and deprivation as well as seasons of joy. Lent allows us to say “yes” to all those seasons. It echoes Ruth’s pledge to her mother-in-law, Naomi: “Whither thou goest, I will go.”

Life will test our love; Lent allows us to promise, each year, that we will try to hold on.

via Lent Is Not Supposed to Benefit You – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

bathroom , Queen of England, Photo Gallery – Yahoo!, LOL: 

How to Clean Your Bathroom for the Queen of England

This Alabama family’s bathroom is now fit for a queen, thanks to one mom’s sarcastic note to her son. When 21-year-old Caleb B. saw the note to tidy the bathroom “like the Queen of England is visiting,” he decided to respond just as sarcastically as he was asked. Caleb not only scrubbed the royal room from top to bottom, but also adorned it with a hand-drawn flag of England, and left an assortment of tea on the counter for the Queen to enjoy. “My mom bursted out laughing when she opened the bathroom door,” Caleb told ABCNews.com. “She thought it was great.” Apparently the social media world also got a kick out of it, as the photos he posted have more than 518,000 views on Imgur and began trending on Reddit .

via How to Clean Your Bathroom for the Queen of England | Photo Gallery – Yahoo!.

South Africa,  Brics era, FT.com:  

Nowhere does the celebratory mood of the past decade, which inspired this motley group to launch the Brics summits, feel more absent than in South Africa. With its gross domestic product growing at a pace of 2.5 per cent, South Africa is on track to finish the year as one of the slowest economies in Africa.

This is an ironic turn. When The Economist called Africa the “hopeless continent” at the start of the millennium, South Africa seemed to offer a single bright spot. It brought debts and inflation under control, creating the stability required for growth. Now, it is stuck, and many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria to Kenya, are growing twice as fast.

The ruling African National Congress is relying heavily on a “liberation dividend” to remain in office. Many South Africans have understandably ugly memories of apartheid and still embrace ANC leaders as authors of freedom, even if they are also the architects of stagnation. Yet the problems of inequality and unemployment are as acute as when the ANC promised “economic justice” two decades ago.

via South Africa should forget the Brics era – FT.com.

Ice Climbing, Mýrdalsjökull Glacier, Iceland: 

Picture of Tim Emmett climbing Myrdalsjokull Glacier, Icelandvia Extreme Photo of the Week — National Geographic.

Davidson College, Humanities, 50th anniversary:

“Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar.”             —Jim Butcher, Dead Beat

In a time when death has been moving prominently in my circles on campus and beyond, I found some strange, hard comfort in reporting and writing a 50th-anniversary story about the college’s Humanities Program, which for me felt so full of life and memory as I approached my own half-century marker.

“Humes” was born the same year I was, so the program and I were both 18 when I ventured unsuspectingly into a Gilgamesh lecture in September 1981. Two very academic years later, I emerged with a deep sense of the broad sweep of my own Western culture in the world. It was a very personal and at the same time a very universal view of things as they are. A broad, deep view represents perhaps the essence of the liberal arts—the word “liberal” springing from the root word for “freedom” and the word “art” harking back to “fit together, join.” Thirty years on, I still subscribe to this very personal, very universal view of humanity through the humanities.

via Thanks for These Four, And So Much More.

Davidson NC, Cornelius NC, Carolina Cones,  DavidsonNews.net:

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t limit myself to post-dental nirvana. I treat myself regularly to this Cornelius treasure, as I know so many of us out there do. What a wonderful example of small town, local goodness. Where else can you pick out a potted plant, peruse the selection of frozen yogurt and ice cream flavors, and watch a model train circle above your head?

via Winter’s over, Carolina Cones is back!  | DavidsonNews.net Guide.

Christianity, Non-Believers,  Shane Claibourne, Esquire: 

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, “I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ.” A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That’s the ugly stuff. And that’s why I begin by saying that I’m sorry.

Now for the good news.

I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it’s that you can have great answers and still be mean… and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

via Shane Claiborne – Letter to Non-Believers by Shane Claibourne – Esquire.

Marriage Equality Symbol, Facebook: 

 

via 17 Different Versions Of The Marriage Equality Symbol For Your Facebook Page.

baseball:

In 2003, there was only one pitcher who threw at least 25 pitches 100 mph or faster. In 2012, there were seven. Pitchers are throwing faster than ever before. Here’s why: http://on.wsj.com/14BH2Us

via Facebook.

Not only does this save time for the crew, stuffed as they are in the cramped Soyuz, but since the Russian capsule can fly autonomously in orbit for only about four days, the shorter commute means more fuel, oxygen and other supplies can be conserved for a possible emergency.

via Commute From Earth To Space Station Just Got Shorter : The Two-Way : NPR.

Paris à la bonne heure – Vidéo Dailymotion.

A Journey Together – NEXT Church.

Disconnect: A New Movie Sounds the Alarm About Our Hyper-Connected Lives | LinkedIn.

DOMA, Thomas Jefferson:

This is the Jefferson Memorial, if any were wondering what the Founding Fathers might say today as the Supreme Court considers the “Defense of Marriage Act.”

Under DOMA, passed 17 years ago, same-sex couples who are legally married in their home states are denied federal benefits offered to opposite-sex married couples.

There are over 1,000 such benefits, such as tax savings, Social Security payments and medical and family leave.

via Facebook.

The Boiling Frog Syndrome, follow-up, Mind Boggling Stories – Quora:

What killed the frog? Many of us would say the boiling water. But the truth is what killed the frog was its own inability to decide when it had to jump out.

We all need to adjust with people and situations, but we need to be sure when we need to adjust and when we need to face. There are times when we need to face the situation and take the appropriate action. If we allow people to exploit us physically, emotionally or financially, they will continue to do so. We have to decide when to jump. Let us jump while we still have the strength.

via The Boiling Frog Syndrome – Mind Boggling Stories – Quora.

David Petraeus, public relations, Vanity Fair:  Philandering ex-head of CIA … can he overcome the moniker …

Philandering former C.I.A. director David Petraeus apologized for cheating on his wife “in a speech to veterans at the University of Southern California, his first public address since the scandal,” The Hill reports. He also revealed that he deeply regrets schtupping his biographer: “Please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret—and apologize for—the circumstances that led to my resignation from the C.I.A. and caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters.” No worries, it’s cool, the audience, which did not include the woman to whom he made marital vows, probably thought.

Petraeus also has an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal in which he, spoiler alert, does not address sleeping with a woman whose jealously issues, frankly, sound like they require more maintenance than a 30-something-year marriage. The op-ed concerns the professional difficulties of many veterans after returning home, and reading it is like the moral equivalent of a Hail Mary after the sin of so closely and hungrily following the grotesque sex scandal for all those months.

via David Petraeus: the Public Relations Comeback Beginneth! | Vanity Fair.

The former members of our armed forces have done their part to ensure Americas national security, often sacrificing greatly in the process. Now it is our turn to do our part to help them build promising futures for themselves and their families.Gen. Petraeus U.S. Army, Ret. commanded U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and served as director of the CIA. He is a senior adviser to American Corporate Partners. Mr. Goodfriend, a retired investment banker, is founder/chairman of American Corporate Partners. https://acp-advisornet.org

via David Petraeus and Sidney Goodfriend: Training Veterans for Their Next Mission – WSJ.com.

travel, hidden places, Paris, sewers:

After writing Hidden Cities, I’ve gotten asked one question more than any other: some variation of “so – I’d love to see a part of a city that’s hidden and secret and unknown, but also, you know, safely and legally.” It doesn’t really work like that (in today’s day and age, excursions that are safe, legal, and interesting enough to be found in major publications usually don’t stay hidden and secret for too long), but there are a few off-the-beaten path destinations around the world where you can see the forgotten corners, hidden infrastructure, and underground tunnels of some of the great cities of the world in a safe and legal way – but also get your feet slightly dirtier than your average tourist. 10 of my favorites are:

1. Le Musée des Égouts de Paris (Paris Sewer Museum) – A wonderful, up-close way to see one of the most significant engineering accomplishments of the 19th century. Descend into the bowels of the city, and walk alongside an active part of the Parisian sewer system. The entrance can be found across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, on the Quai d’Orsay near the Pont de l’Alma

via 10 Hidden Places Around the World.

17
Nov
11

11.17.2011 … MARTA Gold Line to Civic Center to Megabus to Charlotte (with a mere 2 hour delay) … WOOHOO! great visit with the mum and sis!

Atlanta, MegaBus, travel, kith/kin: Megabus to Charlotte. WOOHOO! great visit with the mum and sis… Massive traffic jam … This delay is not Megabus’ fault … View from the bus for the last 1/2 hour … 🙂 — at I 85

.

This is what I was trapped in …

A truck driver has been charged in a wreck that completely shutdown Interstate 85 for four hours on Thursday.

Rafael Lopez, 48, of New Jersey, has been charged with driving too fast for conditions, according to Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Bill Rhyne.

The southbound lanes reopened at about 2 p.m., and traffic started to slowly move again. The northbound lanes reopened at about 2:45 p.m.

A truck ran off the road and into the support for an electronic message board used for AMBER alerts and other information that spans all lanes of the interstate. It caused the structure to collapse across the northbound lanes near mile marker 67, according to the Highway Patrol.

via I-85 Reopens; Driver Charged In Wreck – Local News – Greenville, SC – msnbc.com.

A Very Young Dancer, children’s/YA literature, followup:  Having friends in the ballet world I found this interesting …

IN the fall of 1976 “A Very Young Dancer” leaped into the imaginations of a generation of little girls. This children’s book by the photographer Jill Krementz chronicled the day-to-day life of a 10-year-old student from the School of American Ballet, following her to class and through her starring role as Marie in New York City Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” for which she was handpicked by George Balanchine himself. (“George Balanchine’s Nutcracker,” performed by City Ballet, begins its 57th season on Friday at the Koch Theater.)

Stephanie DePierro was profiled at 10 in Jill Krementz’s 1976 photo book “A Very Young Dancer.”

For a time the book’s subject, Stephanie, was perhaps the most famous and easily recognizable ballerina in the world. Young readers wanted to be her. There were bags of fan mail and appearances on “Today,” “Midday Live With Bill Boggs” and a one-hour “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” Christmas special.

For anyone who’s read the classic book, it’s easy to see why it was a best seller. Stephanie’s intensity — her beauty, her dark eyes and her seriousness — draws the reader in. The stark black and white lends some of the photos a Grimm’s fairy tale quality, with a haunted undertow that appeals to girls. And it offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the most prestigious ballet academy in the country, which has an almost mystical quality for aspiring ballerinas. (My own daughter is a student there.)

via ‘A Very Young Dancer’ and the Life That Followed – NYTimes.com.

Roget’s Thesaurus, words:  You know what, I must be a real nerd … I love Roget’s Thesaurus, too.

A confession: I love Roget’s Thesaurus. Mine is not a popular position to avow. Most writers I know, asked if they use a thesaurus to discover more interesting vocabulary for their essays or stories, bristle with resistance. Haven’t those who look up “say” in the Thesaurus and consequently force characters to “utter,” “breathe,” “pour forth,” “state,” “declare,” “assert,” “aver,” “relate” “murmur,” “mutter,” or “gasp” ruined countless reading experiences? Haven’t students who looked up “refute” and found “confute” next on the list composed arguments that got off on the wrong track, only to be further derailed when they decided that “apodixis” suited them better than “proof”? Whatever folks think of Stephen King, most would agree with his advice, in On Writing:

One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.  This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes . … Make yourself a solemn promise right now that you’ll never use “emolument” when you mean “tip.”

via An Aficionado (Connoisseur, Fan, Devotee, Enthusiast) Speaks

college majors, humanities:

“So, what do you study?”

“I’m an English major and I’m also pre-med.”

Blank stare. Glazed eyes. Crickets. So begins another awkward introduction in the dining hall.

Similar situations are erupting on campuses across the country as a small, but growing number of aspiring doctors choose to major in the humanities or social sciences instead of the usual bio or chem. Last year, nearly a quarter of medical school applicants majored outside the sciences, and for good reason: Nowadays, medical schools don’t care about what you majored in during your undergrad.

Admissions rates are virtually equal for science and non-science majors, and most med schools encourage undergrads to take substantial courses in the humanities to prove that they’re concerned with the human condition, not just the human body.

For pre-med English majors like me, the idea is simple. I want to spend my college days reading Shakespeare; I want to spend my post-college life delivering health care to under-served communities. Why should I have to choose between them?

The possibility of becoming a non-science pre-med is far from obvious to most college students, however.

via Are you pre-med? Major in the humanities | USA TODAY College.

Davidson College, Arab Spring Lecture, William Roebuck:

William Roebuck is director for the Office of Maghreb Affairs in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. His office has been on the front lines, helping shape the U.S. government’s diplomatic response to the momentous developments known as the Arab Spring. His lecture will focus on the wave of revolutionary movements across the Arab World, as well as his recent experiences in Libya. A question and answer session will follow the lecture.

via Davidson College – Arab Spring Lecture.

diets, health: Ooh … t00 many questions!

1““““““`11111Have you tried out a trendy diet plan, such as a juice fast, the 17-Day Diet, Wheat Belly, the Paleo Diet, or the Dukan Diet (a.k.a. the “Kate Middleton Diet”)? Or are you committed to an older weight-loss plan, such as Weight Watchers or South Beach? If you’ve found success with a popular diet—or want to rant about your bad experiences with one—we want to hear from you for an upcoming Gourmet Live feature on the best diets for food lovers. Please cut and paste the following questions and send your answers to gourmetlive@condenast.com.

DIET QUESTIONS:

What is the name of (and any books associated with) the diet you tried?

How did you choose this diet?

What foods and drinks—if any—are you required to give up for the diet?

How would you sum up the other “rules” of the diet in three or four sentences?

How did you feel while on the diet (emotionally and physically)?

How long were you on the diet and did you lose any weight (if so, how much)?

What were the best things about the diet?

What about the worst things about the diet?

Would you recommend this diet to a food loving friend? Why or why not?

Can we quote you by name? If so, please supply your name as you’d like to be listed, and (if you are comfortable with this), your age and gender.

via Have You Tried a Trendy Diet Plan? — Gourmet Live.

food, globalization: “And, as our food supply becomes ever more globalised, I can’t help but imagine that more and more producers of “luxury” foods will seek to make their product even more desirable with reference to a hyper-specific, utterly imaginary atlas of aspirational origins.”

Provenance is a tricky issue. Over the past few years, the names of agricultural regions, villages, and even specific farms have proliferated on urban menus and shelf labels, providing the aspirational consumer with a shorthand guarantee of authenticity, taste, and, often, local origin.The idea is that by listing the farm on which your heirloom tomato was picked, chefs honour growers as the co-producer of flavour; meanwhile, by achieving protected designation of origin (PDO) status, traditional makers of pork pies and prosciutto preserve the geographic context of their product, as well as its artisanal technique and, often, its continued economic viability.For consumers, however, these place names tend to form a more abstract cartography of implied inherent value. I confess to finding it reassuring that the lamb on offer at the restaurant up the street comes from Jamison Farm, even though I have no idea where that is, and I look for San Marzano DOP tomatoes despite the fact that (this is a little embarrassing) I couldn’t point to their carefully protected origin on a map….However, it is the branding geniuses at Marks & Spencer, suppliers of underwear and luxury ready-meals to the UK, who have taken the abstract, yet powerful, geography of food labeling to its logical, imaginary conclusion. While re-reading Sarah Murray’s excellent book, Moveable Feasts (of which more later), I came across this nugget:Sometimes places that are entirely fictional are created to add to the appeal of a food. British chain Marks & Spencer recently introduced “Lochmuir salmon,” despite the fact that Lochmuir cannot be found on a map.Marks & Spencer is refreshingly open on the subject of Lochmuir’s non-existence, with Andrew Mallinson, the company’s “fish expert,” explaining to The Scotsman newspaper that “it is a name chosen by a panel of consumers because it had the most Scottish resonance. It emphasises that the fish is Scottish.”

And, as our food supply becomes ever more globalised, I can’t help but imagine that more and more producers of “luxury” foods will seek to make their product even more desirable with reference to a hyper-specific, utterly imaginary atlas of aspirational origins. Chinese fois gras will come from the French-sounding Beauchâteau, Vietnamese mozzarella will be marketed under the faux-Italian name of San Legaro, and the role of geography in food description — originally intended as a means to reconnect consumers and producers — will end up further disguising the industrial commodity chain while creating an entirely alternate universe, made up of the places that we dream our food comes from.

via The Atlas of Aspirational Origins.

The Vatican, lawsuits,  Benetton,ad campaigns:  Truly bizarre:  world leaders kissing!

The Vatican is promising legal action to stop the distribution of a photo of Pope Benedict kissing an imam on the mouth. The photo is fake, by the way, and is part of a shock-factor advertising campaign by Italian fashion company Benetton that features world leaders getting fresh.

Benedict’s inamorata in the photo is Ahmed Tayeb, leader of Al Azhar in Cairo, Sunni Islam’s most influential institution. Another ad shows President Obama kissing Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The new campaign, as well as the UNHATE Foundation, a new Benetton think tank aimed at, um, communicating love, are part of the company’s social responsibility strategy. Click here for the foundation website and here for slideshow of the ads. WSJ’s Heard on the Runway has more here, and the Journal has a story on the ad campaign here.

The Vatican, however, isn’t feeling the unhate. It said in a statement Thursday its lawyers in Italy and around the world had been instructed to “take the proper legal measures” to stop the use of the photo, even in the media, Reuters reported. And Here‘s a link to the statement in Italian, for what it’s worth. (Prego.)

The statement said the ad was “damaging to not only to dignity of the pope and the Catholic Church but also to the feelings of believers.” It wasn’t clear whether the Vatican intended to sue Benetton directly.

via The Vatican is threatening a legal response Italian fashion company Benetton’s new ad campaign of world leaders kissing – Law Blog – WSJ.

art, photography, Nate Larson, Marni Shindelman, “Geolocation”series: “The images originate as tweets that Larson and Shindelman select for their poignancy, humor or some other quality. They then travel to the places that the tweets were sent from, indentified by GPS coordinates embedded in the messages, and take a picture. The resulting works pair image with words, to sometimes startling effect.” … interesting concept.

Every photograph in Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman’s “Geolocation”series starts with a caption. But the artists don’t write them themselves.

The images originate as tweets that Larson and Shindelman select for their poignancy, humor or some other quality. They then travel to the places that the tweets were sent from, indentified by GPS coordinates embedded in the messages, and take a picture. The resulting works pair image with words, to sometimes startling effect.

A selection of “Geolocation” images is on view at Montpelier Arts Center. Read my review of the exhibition (whose images are also available in book form), and check out a few of the pictures after the jump.

via Art in focus: Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman – Going Out Gurus – The Washington Post.

Storify:  How Storifying Occupy Wall Street Saved The News … still trying to figure out storify!

In the dead of night on Monday, November 14, Zuccotti Park in New York City was raided by police. In the preceding days, there were crackdowns at several of the major Occupy protests around the country. The effort had apparently been coordinated between cities. Monday night’s actions against the original Occupy Wall Street encampment were stern, heavy enough to bring a decisive end to the protest. But the raid only served to turn up the heat in New York and around the country.

As they have since the Occupation began, people on the ground fired up their smartphones to report the events as they happened, and curators around the Web gathered and retweeted the salient messages. But early on in the raid, mainstream media outlets began reporting that the police were barring their reporters from entering the park. The NYPD even grounded a CBS News helicopter. The night had chilling implications for freedom of the press. But the news got out anyway. The raw power of citizen media – and the future of news envisioned by a site called Storify – thwarted the media blackout.

But for the Monday night raid at Zuccotti Park, and indeed for much of the Occupation, Storify has come into its own as the social news curation tool par excellence. In fact, thanks to the media blackout Monday night, some of the most important news outlets in the country would not have had a story if not for Storify.

In October, it rolled out a brand new editing interface making the tool vastly easier to use. And one week ago, just before the police raided Zuccotti Park, Storify made its move, redesigning its homepage as a destination featuring the most important stories on the social Web. Storify’s vision is no less than a leveling of the media playing field. On the Storify homepage, lifelong and first-time journalists stand side by side.

Damman says this is the perfect demonstration of the Storify redesign. These social media documents are the real story, and the NYPD’s obstruction of credentialed journalists only shows how out of touch the police are. “The police in New York don’t realize that it doesn’t matter to not have journalists on the scene,” Damman says, “because everybody is a reporter. What happened last night shows that they don’t get that.”

“Most of the content comes from the people on the ground, from the 99%.”

via How Storifying Occupy Wall Street Saved The News.

tweet of the day, Steph Curry:  🙂

Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30)
11/17/11 8:00 PM
Lol no doubt i have something nice in store RT @sdotcurry: Cmon son! #blood RT @StephenCurry30: Big game tomorrow. What do I wear lol?
Occupy Wall Street:  Do you think OWS reflects the sentiment of  50 % of the country?

The Occupy Wall Street protests continue to spread around the country, highlighting grievances some Americans have about banks, income inequality and a sense that the poor and middle class have been disenfranchised. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that almost half of the public thinks the sentiments at the root of the movement generally reflect the views of most Americans. What are your thoughts about the movement? Do you agree with the protesters’ methods? Please note you must be logged in to post a comment.

via Public Opinion and the Occupy Movement – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

criminal acts, fashion, Marc Jacobs:  Thought this one interesting …

In a case that seems ripe for Sherlock Holmes, Scotland Yard is investigating an alleged theft of samples from designer Marc Jacobs‘s Spring 2012 fashion collection that took place along a posh London Street.

The missing clothes, shoes and handbags were from the collection that the designer showed on his New York runway in September, as well as less-dramatic looks from his so-called pre-collection, according to a person familiar with the situation. Police estimated the value at £40,000, or a little more than $63,000.

Marc Jacobs executives declined to comment.

[JACOBS]ReutersMarc Jacobs had to cancel its planned London ‘press day’ for fashion editors; above, a look from the Spring 2012 collection.

Sales to retailers of the Marc Jacobs collection closed in October, and the loss won’t affect products destined for stores next spring, said the person familiar with the situation. Those items are already being manufactured. What’s more, the brand has duplicates of the samples in New York, the person said.

But as a result of the samples’ disappearance, the Marc Jacobs brand was forced to cancel its planned London “press day” where fashion editors and reporters are invited to view the collections. Press days allow publications to see and select items they may photograph in future issues.

via Marc Jacobs’s Spring Collection Allegedly Stolen in London – WSJ.com.

President Abraham Lincoln, Mormons, history:  Very interesting piece!

On Oct. 20, 1861, a vital piece of the Utah puzzle was solved, as the final lines of a telegraph were strung together, linking the

Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific, through an office in Salt Lake City. On that auspicious occasion, which spoke so loudly of union, Brigham Young remarked,“Utah has not seceded, but is firm for the Constitution and laws of our once happy country.” Those were words guaranteed to warm Lincoln’s heart. Two days later, more good news, as General J. Arlington Bennett wrote him to ask if he could recruit 1,000-10,000 Mormons to fight for the Union.

But the question was far from solved, and on Nov. 18, Lincoln attacked the Mormon question in a most Lincolnian way. Instead of ordering an invasion, Lincoln ordered information. Specifically, he asked the Library of Congress to send him a pile of books about Mormonism, so that the aggregator-in-chief could better understand them. These included “The Book of Mormon” in its original 1831 edition, and three other early studies of the Mormons, with extensive, lurid chapters covering their polygamy. For some reason, he also ordered a volume of Victor Hugo, in French, a language he could not read.

Fortified by his reading, Lincoln came to a great decision. And that decision was to do nothing. Sometimes that, too, can be a form of leadership — what Churchill called “a masterly inactivity.”

Typically, Lincoln reached his decision through a homely parable, told to a Mormon emissary:

When I was a boy on the farm in Illinois there was a great deal of timber on the farm which we had to clear away. Occasionally we would come to a log which had fallen down. It was too hard to split, too wet to burn, and too heavy to move, so we plowed around it. You go back and tell Brigham Young that if he will let me alone I will let him alone.

That parable is about as much as we will get in the way of a formal explanation, but it is enough. To his generous store of common sense, we might also add the freshness of Lincoln’s memories of the bloodshed at Nauvoo in 1844, when angry mobs had killed the Mormon leaders, with elected officials standing by and doing nothing. And the centrality of Utah to the grand vision of a transcontinental republic, embraced fully by America’s most western president to date.




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