Posts Tagged ‘Middle East

04
Aug
13

8.4.13 … Learned something new today: Lawrence of Arabia was real …

Learned something new today, Bruce Feiler’s “Walking the Bible”, “Lawrence of Arabia “, T.E. Lawrence, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, Middle East, history: So, I am reading Bruce Feiler’s Walking the Bible, and my daughter and a friend are going to watch Lawrence of Arabia this weekend.  I knew in the back of my mind this movie character was real, so I search my Kindle copy of Walking and realize how significant T.E. Lawrence is to the Middle East …

Taking my cue from the stack of books at his side about the making of Lawrence of Arabia, I asked Biltaji what he thought of Lawrence. “Personally, I think he wasn’t much of an archaeologist or a spy,” he said. “Archaeology, like espionage, is not a science; it’s an art, the art of interpretation. I always thought that good archaeologists went in search of the truth, not with the intention of proving something they already believed.” Okay, I suggested, turning the conversation toward archaeology. A new ministry publication I had seen in the lobby discussed over twenty biblical sites in Jordan and said that the Bible was “an excellent tour guide” to the country. I asked Biltaji if he thought these sites could be a source of common ground between Israel and Jordan. Again his response caught me off guard. “We don’t see anybody looking for Jewish connections to the Arabs,” he said. “Ishmael was dissected; he was thrown out of the family, simply because his mother was Egyptian. And that’s where we feel bitter, and dismayed, that so much injustice was done. Because this kind of injustice continues to separate us as Arabs and Jews, when we should be cousins.” “So do you feel the Bible is hostile to Arabs?” I asked.

Read more at location 6757

“To start, I’m going to quote Hanan Ashrawi”—the Palestinian leader—“when she says, ‘God was not in the real estate business. To promise land and give land to begin with is a dangerous thing.’ ” He then went off into what could only be described as a diatribe, blasting Israel for “destroying democracy” and “dismaying the world” through its treatment of Palestinians. “If they are so godly, what gives them the authority to strafe people with machine guns?” he asked, apparently rhetorically. “What’s happening in Israel is a great distortion to the beauty of the world’s Jews, who all along, through persecution, have managed to rise and excel.” I started squirming, but Biltaji showed no signs of letting up. “Palestine is my homeland,” he continued. “God must have had a reason to make it the center of his spiritual kingdom. But it’s nobody’s property, it’s God’s property. I’ve always felt comfortable with sharing the best with both sides. That’s the spirit of God. When I go sometimes on Fridays to Bethany, to the spot where John baptized Jesus, which Jordanian archaeologists just uncovered and which we’re just opening to visitors, I see it bringing peace, not war.” Taking this as a possible olive branch, I asked Biltaji if when he closed his eyes he saw Israeli settlers opening fire, or Christian pilgrims coming to sites like Bethany in Jordan. “I force myself to see people, carrying the Bible and the Koran, praying their own way.” “You force yourself, or you believe it?” “I believe it. The Buddhists have a saying: ‘Your creator is your own mind.’ Your mind is the one who takes you to your god. So before we can make peace, we have to make it in our minds.”Read more at location 6783   • Delete this highlight

via Amazon Kindle: Your Highlights.

“If the British wanted to help the Arabs they would have. They just wanted to help themselves.” “Didn’t Lawrence help start Arab nationalism?” “No. It started with the Nabateans.” Our final stop on our mini-Lawrence tour was a desert mountain at the end of a small ridge. The mountain was divided into a series of vertical strata that look like lady fingers squeezed together around a Bundt cake. Because these colonnades look remarkably like pillars, local bedouin call the mountain “Lawrence,” even though there are only five such pillars (and even though the title is never explained in the book). We stopped the car, and I decided to walk across the desert floor to get a closer view. The afternoon was hot, and a small herd of camels grazed nearby. The ground was covered with chips of granite—gray, black, purple, brown. I picked up one and slipped it into my pocket, the first time I had done that since Jebel Musa. As I did, I thought again about Lawrence’s legacy and what it said about my own experience in the desert. For all the lingering fascination with him, few people today hold Lawrence up as a hero worth emulating. One reason may be a largely forgotten part of his story. Lawrence is remembered for his romanticism, for shucking his English khakis and taking up the warrior tradition of his adopted tribe. But by the end of his three-year tenure, Lawrence himself rejects that ideal. As he writes in Seven Pillars, “The effort for these years to live in the dress of Arabs, and to imitate their mental foundations, quitted me of my English self.” But, he continues, “I could not sincerely take on the Arab skin: it was affectation only. Easily was a man made an infidel, but hardly might he be converted to another faith.” This coldhearted reality, not his warm-fuzzy idealism, is Lawrence’s true legacy: Not only can you go home again; you must. In this way, I was as much a disciple of Lawrence as of Moses. Few who enter the desert today do so with the notion of leaving themselves behind and becoming somehow bedouin. Though my journey was certainly romantic in its own way, I never suffered delusions nor seriously considered fantasies of “leaving myself behind” and becoming something else entirely. I had traveled too widely and seen too many shallow transformations to put much credence in that. Instead, what I think I was trying to do—and, to an extent, what I think I was doing—was becoming something that I already was: namely, a person with these places living inside me. The desert, as I was discovering, was part of my own geography just as much as my own hometown. And the best way I could explain this feeling to myself was to believe that the desert wasn’t a new place for me; it was an old place, a familiar place, that I never quite knew. This was a major revelation: I didn’t need to stay here forever to reach some kind of transformation. I was carrying around this place—and perhaps even that transformation—already within me.

Read more at location 6158

via Amazon Kindle: Your Highlights.

Insofar as that slogan is true today, Fawaz Abu Tayeh would make an outstanding emissary. Abu Tayeh is the grandson of Ada Abu Tayeh, the bedouin prince who served as Lawrence’s chief military officer and who was played in Lean’s film by Anthony Quinn. Through a friend, he had agreed to meet us and talk about his family’s heritage, and we were shown into an ornate living room, filled with Arabian rugs and European furniture. Abu Tayeh greeted us graciously and offered us Earl Grey tea and cakes. He was tall, with a prominent belly, and was dressed in luxurious white ankle-length robes, a white kaffiyeh, and a purple silk shawl that altogether, he later confided, cost $10,000. “In order to look good in bedouin clothing,” he said, “you need to be brown and tall.” Abu Tayeh was born in Amman in 1933, studied law at Jordan University, and later received a master’s degree in politics from Oxford, a poetic turnabout considering that Lawrence had come from Oxford to lead his grandfather into power. For twenty years Abu Tayeh served as the chief of royal protocol for King Hussein and was later rewarded with ambassadorships to Romania and Bulgaria. On his wall (like Bil-taji’s) were oversized photographs of him with assorted luminaries: Alexander Haig, Barry Goldwater, Helmut Kohl, Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II. Power is etched grandly in Amman’s salons. Befitting his status, Abu Tayeh was diplomatic—and noncommittal—when I asked him about the remarkable rise of the Hashemite family from Arabian tribe to leaders of a nation. “We are open. We are proud of our history. We are proud of our goals,” he said. He was a bit more forthcoming when I asked about the role of his grandfather in this story. “My grandfather was the most famous warrior of the desert,” he said. “When Ada Abu Tayeh met Faysal Hussein, Lawrence of Arabia said, ‘Now I know the Arab Revolt will succeed. When the prophet—Faysal—meets the fighter—Abu Tayeh—this is what the Arabs need.’ ” He was downright charitable on the subject of Lawrence. “When it comes to Lawrence, as a person, my opinion is always positive, never negative,” he said. “We consider him a great man, a great help. As a young British officer, to endure the difficult life of the desert, Lawrence must have been a great admirer of the Arab cause.” The conversation went on like this for half an hour, and I began thinking of ways to extract myself, when, apropos of nothing, I asked Abu Tayeh, “What do you think of the desert?” The change that came over him was instantaneous. He suddenly seemed to shuck his diplomatic reserve and speak to me like a friend. “The desert is a way of life!” he said, his eyes brightening. “The Jewish tribes, led by Moses, came from the most advanced civilization, in Egypt. They crossed the desert to the Promised Land, where they civilized again. But during their journey in between they were bedouin. And look what happened to them. The desert, because of its uncertainty, forces you to feel more attached to the higher power.” “So can someone like me, who was not born in that world, feel that attachment?” I asked.

“I don’t know why not,” he said, now openly giggling. “I wasn’t born in the desert, and I feel the same!” He leaned forward, as if in confession. “I’m not a specialist in this,” he said, “but when you go to the mountains along the Jordan Valley, if you know the Bible, and if you leave the roads behind and walk two or three miles by yourself, you expect Moses to come looking for you!

Read more at location 6852

via Amazon Kindle: Your Highlights.

21
Mar
13

3.21.13 … Write a Constitution …it makes a difference …

Fareed Zakaria, , democracy,  Middle East, constitution: It makes you wonder whether we just got lucky.

Why? There is a vigorous academic debate about the conditions that allow democracy to flourish. The most powerful single correlation remains one first made by the social scientist Seymour Martin Lipset, who pointed out in 1959 that “the more well-to-do a nation, the greater the chances that it will sustain democracy.” But there are other intriguing correlations. Countries in Europe, even relatively poor ones, have done better than others. Former British colonies have done better than those of other countries.

(MORE: Zakaria: How Democracy Can Work in the Middle East)

Along with several others, I have argued that countries with strong traditions of the rule of law tend to develop a democratic culture that also protects individual rights. In the West, for example, legal protections for life, liberty and property developed in the 17th and 18th centuries. Only much later came universal adult suffrage. Liberty preceded democracy, not the other way around. What distinguishes the U.S. is not how democratic it is but rather how undemocratic it is, with an unelected Supreme Court, a Senate that is one of the two least representative upper legislative bodies in the world and a Constitution and Bill of Rights that expressly limit the power of a democratically elected government.

Poor developing countries should place an even greater weight on the rule of law. It’s crucial that before the first elections, before politicians gain enormous legitimacy through the polls, a system be put in place that limits governmental power and protects individual liberty and the rights of minorities.

via Write a Constitution | 10 Ideas That Make A Difference | TIME.com.

12
Dec
11

12.12.2011 … I’m up to my ears in cupcake balls! …

holidays, food – desserts:  I’m up to my ears in cupcake balls! Cake Balls « bakerella.com.

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Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, marketing, Middle East, North Africa:

Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are huge in the Middle East and North Africa, where they account for 55 percent of mobile Internet traffic, according to a new survey by Dubai-based Effective Measure. The iPhone and iPad in particular are doing well, splitting top device honors among the countries covered in the study.

During the month of October, Apple iPhone accounted for 29.6 percent of traffic from mobile devices, with the iPad accounting for 24.1 percent. The iPod touch added another two percent to the total for Apple devices. Apple’s iPhone was the most popular device overall, and the iPad second. RIM’s BlackBerry devices came in third, with 7.6 percent combined.

via Apple devices winning big in the Middle East and North Africa — Apple News, Tips and Reviews.

iPad:  iPad 3 on the way?

Now that Citi analyst Richard Gardner has kicked the rumor mill up a notch for those awaiting the next iPad, the speculation will likely being flying fast and furious.

Digitimes is reporting that the next Apple tablet will be coming out in three to four months — right about in line with Apple’s normal schedule for iPad releases. The Taiwanese tech site, which has a spotty record when it comes to predicting Apple’s next moves, has tapped into its supply line sources once again and reported that Apple will begin cutting back on iPad 2 production ins the first quarter of 2012. Why? To make way for the next generation, of course.

Apple is infamous for the control it exercises over its image — especially its retail stores. Customers often know Apple stores at a glance, since the company’s storefronts often employ the same stark, simple lines as its products while also reflecting the character of their surroundings.

Apple is known for having many successful product launches. But it had some unsuccessful ones too.

The report says that new iPads are expected to reach 9.5 to 9.8 million production units in early 2012.

The rumors could have a negative effect on Apple’s holiday sales, as consumers expecting an iPad3 to come soon may decide not to take the plunge and buy an iPad 2 now.

There was definitely some buyers’ remorse out there when Apple released the iPad 2 last March, adding cameras and slicing down the thickness. And, yes, there are some rumored features for the next iPad that would be nice to have, such as an HD screen and LTE connectivity. But, as is the nature of these kinds of rumors, there’s no guarantee than any of them is accurate.

via Report: New iPad coming this spring – The Washington Post.

 myths, all women’s colleges, lists:

1. We are all major feminists who are concerned with women’s issues

3. For fun, we have late night pillow fights in our underwear

5. We are all lesbians

via Top ten myths about all women’s colleges | USA TODAY College.

Penn State Scandal, Mike McQueary:  Key Witness’ Story Changes …

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 9:00 AM EST – ABC News 2:33 | 4,558 views

Questions raised about Mike McQueary

Penn State Scandal: Key Witness’ Story Changes

Questions raised about Mike McQueary, an eyewitness in the case.

via News Videos – Yahoo!.

‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’, movies,  pregnancy handbook, romantic comedy:  Movie adapts pregnancy handbook into romantic comedy … go figure!

Lionsgate has released a trailer for the romantic-comedy adaptation of the pregnancy handbook, What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

We’ve embedded the trailer in the video above–what do you think?

Here’s more from Indiewire: “[Pregnancy] makes Elizabeth Banks hysterical, Dennis Quaid embarassed and Brooklyn Decker…well, she stays hot. Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick, Chris Rock, Matthew Morrison, Rodrigo Santoro, Chace Crawford, Jennifer Lopez, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tom Lennon and Rob Huebel all round out the cast on this one.”

The film reportedly also contains celebrity cameos from Black Eyed Peas musician Taboo, reality starlet Whitney Port and UK singer Cheryl Cole. Director Kirk Jones helmed the project. Heather Hach and Shauna Cross wrote the script. The movie hits theaters in May 2012.

via ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ Trailer Released – GalleyCat.

 La Rochefoucauld, quotes, happiness:

“We are so accustomed to disguising our true nature from others, that we end up disguising it from ourselves.”
 La Rochefoucauld

lawyers, careers, Great Recession, internet, websites, Shpoonkle: A new site lets jobless young lawyers underbid their more-experienced competitors for work! Welcome to Shpoonkle! Where Lawyers and Clients Connect..

New Lawyers Hang a Shingle on Shpoonkle, to Some Colleagues’ Chagrin

via Recent Law Graduates Offer Cheap Legal Counsel on Web Site, to Lawyers’ Chagrin – Students – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

websites, cooking, Cooking with Caitlin:  Another fun one…

Cooking with Caitlin (CWC) began Mother’s Day 2007, on Molly’s front porch, over a bowl of cherries. Caitlin was a brand new wife and mom, and had recently returned to Cincinnati having completed culinary school in Chicago. Molly and Kelly also had moved back to Cincinnati recently. Together they hatched a plan to be their own bosses in a food-focused business built around their growing families. The initial idea was simple: catering. A nights-and-weekends company that would give Caitlin the opportunity to play with food, Kelly would plan the parties, Molly would promote the business, and they would come together to make the events happen.

via Cooking with Caitlin.

toys,  retailing, Christmas:  No hit toys … another sign of the Great Recession?

With Christmas less than two weeks away, the toy industry has no runaway hit — leaving many toy shoppers bored and complicating how stores sell holiday inventory.

“We are not seeing people clamor for any single item,” Stephanie Lucy, vice president for toys at Target, said by e-mail.

The hitless season has retailers stocking less, leaning on classic items rather than new ones and possibly discounting less in the final days before Christmas. And with no Tickle Me Elmo or Zhu Zhu Pets to draw crushing crowds to the toy aisles, most retailers are being careful not to get stuck with unsold toys.

“As retailers look at consumer confidence numbers, they are skeptical about consumers’ willingness to spend this holiday season, and they are trying to avoid getting caught with too much inventory,” said Josh Green, chief executive of Panjiva, a supply-chain data company.

LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer, Hot Wheels Wall Tracks, Lalaoopsy Silly Hair dolls and some Lego sets are sold out or hard to find in many parts of the country, but that is mainly because of consistent demand rather than growing waves of frenzied shoppers.

via No Hit Toy to Brighten Retailers’ Christmas – NYTimes.com.

Christmas, Go-To Gift, Soul by Ludacris:  Since I have never heard of SOUL … must not be that big of a hit.

SOUL by Ludacris headphones are featured as the perfect gift for the audiophile in Newsweek Magazine‘s December article, “Tech for One, Tech for All: Stocking Stuffers for the Gadget Guru” by Brian Ries.  Along with SOUL he plugs the iPad 2 and Kindle Fire as this season’s go-to gifts.  (on newsstands now)

via Newsweek Magazine’s, “This Season’s Go-To Gift” [feature] | Soul by Ludacris.

science, biology, leaproach:  Yuck … Leaping cockroach discovered!

Cockroach haters beware: scientists have discovered a roach that jumps.

The newly discovered leaproach, which looks like a cockroach but acts like a grasshopper, is described in the journal Biology Letters.

via Leaping Cockroach Discovered – NYTimes.com.

Zoran Milich, NYC, photojournalism, Gothamatic, LIFE :  I love how LIFE has returned on the web!

Gothamatic: 12.12.11 – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

law school, education, practical applications:  Very well written … “The emphasis on practical short-term payoffs has already laid waste to the traditional project of the liberal arts, which may not survive. Is the law next? The law is surely a practice but it is also a subject, and if it ceases to be a subject — ceases to be an object of analysis in classrooms and in law reviews — its practice will be diminished. When a Times editorial declares that “[l]aw is now regarded as a means rather than an end, a tool for solving problems” rather than something of interest in its own right, one wants to say more’s the pity.”

This week marks the last sessions of my Yale law school class on law, liberalism and religion. In the course of the semester my students have learned how to read religion clause cases against the background of long-standing debates in philosophy and theology about the relationship between religious imperatives and the obligations of democratic citizenship. They have become adept at recognizing the arguments behind the arguments the justices are making explicitly. They can see how a case ostensibly about vouchers or school prayer or Christmas trees on courthouse steps is really about whether principle or history should inform a court’s decisions. They can see how a case about head coverings or beards in the military (a topic that has surfaced once again) turns on the distinctions set down in John Locke’s “Letter Concerning Toleration” (1689), a tract the justices may never have read. They can see how the majority and dissenting opinions in a free exercise case often reflect a tension between negative and positive liberty as these terms are defined by Isaiah Berlin, an author the justices will likely not have referenced. They can see how the entire history of religion-clause jurisprudence at once illustrates and is an extended critique of John Rawls’s attempt in “Political Liberalism” to devise a form of government that will be fair to religion while at the same time keeping it at arm’s length.

The question asked by an article and an editorial published recently in this newspaper is whether what my students have learned will be of any help to them when they enter practice. At first glance the answer seems to be “no,” if only because Berlin, Locke, Rawls, Hobbes, Kant, Unger and Rorty (writers whose work took up half the semester) are not currency in legal arguments; citing them in front of a court or in a memorandum is likely to be regarded at best as window dressing and at worst as showing off. (Not to mention the fact that few practicing attorneys are likely to be engaging with religion-clause issues anyway.)

In his response to Segal’s essay, Brian Leiter, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, rejects the question of whether what one learns in law school is of any help: “The criterion of scholarly inquiry is whether it makes a contribution to knowledge and understanding, not whether it ‘helps.’” Leiter adds that what he calls “genuine” knowledge often does help with “a host of concrete and practical problems.” But he refuses (rightly, I think) to justify the academic study of law on that basis, for, he explains, “it is the central premise of a research institution that the measure of its achievement is the quality of the scholarship, i.e. its contribution to knowledge — whether of law or biology or literature — not its practical payoff in the short-term.”

The emphasis on practical short-term payoffs has already laid waste to the traditional project of the liberal arts, which may not survive. Is the law next? The law is surely a practice but it is also a subject, and if it ceases to be a subject — ceases to be an object of analysis in classrooms and in law reviews — its practice will be diminished. When a Times editorial declares that “[l]aw is now regarded as a means rather than an end, a tool for solving problems” rather than something of interest in its own right, one wants to say more’s the pity.

via Teaching Law – NYTimes.com

Christmas, Christmas album, Christmas traditions, history:  Love this …

I’m a Christmas music traditionalist. Whereas I happily seek out new bands and explore new music throughout the year (and not just because it’s my job), around the holidays I become so conservative, so unyielding in my song choices — it’s Bing Crosby and Dean Martin or nothing — that the very mention of a contemporary Christmas album confuses and alarms me. Michael Bublé’s new Christmas record? Why don’t you just shave off Santa’s beard while you’re at it.

I just don’t approach Christmas songs the same way that I do regular ones. I’m not looking to broaden my musical horizons with a new rendition of “Jingle Bells.” I just want to listen to the same old songs (and watch the same old movies and drink the same old eggnog) that I always have. I’m probably doing it in a futile attempt to recapture some sense of childhood wonder. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Besides watching the A Christmas Story marathon on TV, that is.

But this year marks the first time that I’ve fallen for a new Christmas collection: A Very She & Him Christmas. The album — which came out in October because bandmembers Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have fallen prey to the diabolical “Christmas creep” marketing machine — is a compilation of classic Christmas tunes that have been stripped down and injected with just the right amount of contrived nostalgia to trick me into into thinking that I’ve been listening to it all my life. Their version of the Beach Boys’ “Little St. Nick” deserves to be a new holiday standard. I’ve finally entered the world of the annual Christmas album and what a big, scary world it is. I have a lot of catching up to do, so I might as well start at the beginning.

Christmas music as we know it today didn’t really get going until the Victorian era, when Queen Victoria married her German cousin, Prince Albert. Suddenly, England had an excuse to adopt all of Germany’s fun Christmas traditions, like that of the decorated tree laden with presents. The customs were also picked up by the United States, which had only recently invented the concept of Santa Claus. All of this newfound holiday cheer helped revive the practice of group caroling. Carols had existed for centuries, though their popularity waxed and waned as different governments and religious movements periodically declared them sinful. (I’m look at you, Puritans). But in the 1800s they finally had their heyday. Between 1840 and 1870, the following carols were written: “Good King Wenceslas,” “Jingle Bells,” “Up on the Housetop,” “Away in a Manger, and “We Three Kings.” Those are just the ones that have stuck around; there are plenty of others that have long been forgotten.

via Music Monday: The Rise of the Christmas Album | Entertainment | TIME.com.

Steve Jobs,  Computer History Museum: Wonderful retrospective!

The “Blue Box” was a simple electronic gizmo that bypassed telephone company billing computers, allowing anyone to make free telephone calls anywhere in the world. The Blue Box was illegal, but the specifications for hacking into the telephone network were published in a telephone company journal and many youngsters with a flair for electronics built them. The “two Steves” had a great deal of fun building and using them for “ethical hacking,” with Wozniak building the kits and Jobs selling them—a pattern which would emerge again and again in the lives of these two innovators. (Wozniak once telephoned the Vatican, pretended to be Henry Kissinger and asked to speak to the Pope—just to see if he could. When someone answered, Woz got scared and hung up.)

via Computer History Museum | Steve Jobs: From Garage to World’s Most Valuable Company.

Illustrated Histories and the American Imagination, 1840-1900, online exhibition:  So much neat stuff out there!

In this online exhibit, explore and contrast the production histories of two mid-19th-century pictorial history projects.

Through interactive graphics, magnified images and text, come to understand the personal agendas and the two-way and three-way collaborations at work in the making of pictorial histories; that is, the relationships among publishers, artists and historians.

via Clio: Picturing the Past – American Illustrated Histories Online Exhibit.

Christmas, Christmas traditions, Christmas feast, recipes, history:  A Victorian Christmas Feast!

“Nothing pushes the nostalgia button at Christmastime more than Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, with its warming images of a candlelit tree and Victorian plenitude. Yet prior to the 19th century, Christmas was a very different holiday, and it was only in the Victorian era that our concept of Christmas as a child-centered family holiday arose. After reviewing the evolution of Christmas holidays, we will use 19th-century English cookbooks, such as Charles Francatelli’s The Modern Cook and Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families, to create a groaning board of Victorian delights, including Jerusalem Artichoke Soup; Lobster Fricassée; Baked Goose with Chestnuts; Roasted Filet of Beef à l’Anglaise; Endives with Cream; Christmas Pudding; Gingerbread; and Twelfth Night Cake.”

Cathy continued, “This is upper class food that we’re making tonight, that took a large staff in the kitchen to prepare, with no expenses spared, using the most luxurious ingredients. It’s also infusion cuisine made with expensive stocks, showing the French influence in this period. There’s also a fair amount of cream in many dishes with a touch of cayenne pepper, an influence of the British colonials in India. The French at this time would have just used nutmeg. There were many women cooks in the kitchens of the wealthy in England, and in France there were more men in the kitchens.”

via A Victorian Christmas Feast « Jane Austen’s World.

websites, design, Colossal:
If you haven’t seen Colossal, don’t worry: you will. It’s an art and design blog which is, well, what it says it is. It’s getting mentioned everywhere, including here on Hyperallergic. It so happens that the blog’s creator, Chris Jobson, and I have known each other for years, and we live about three blocks from each other on Chicago’s north side. So I thought I would see if the guy who’s responsible for bringing such cool stuff to the world’s attention would overcome his modesty and talk about himself for a few minutes.via An Interview with Chris Jobson, Creator of the Art and Design Blog Colossal.
 Zombie Borders, Germany, history:  My favorite article of the day … Read on …
Now defunct by just over two decades, the border between the two Germanys already seems like a surreal relic from a much more distant past. Was there really ever a 540-mile Strip of Death separating the two halves, from the Czech border to the Bay of Lübeck? There was – and it was quite hermetical, and very deadly [2] – but today a visitor might be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

These days, the so-called innerdeutsche Grenze is almost completely erased from the landscape, marked only by the occasional memorial placard along the Autobahn. The fences, the spotlights, the guard dogs and the tanks have all been withdrawn. But that doesn’t mean it’s gone. The line that separated the Federal Republic of (West) Germany from the (East) German Democratic Republic is a zombie border: it’s been dead a few times in the past, and that hasn’t stopped it coming back. The line between east and west existed long before the postwar split.

The Iron Curtain that divided Europe (and Germany) is gone. The European Union now includes much of Eastern Europe, and indeed some bits of the former Soviet Union. In Angela Merkel, Germany has its first chancellor raised in the former East Germany. Although many socio-economic indicators for the ex-GDR are still not up to par with the western half of Germany, the border itself has been thoroughly erased from the landscape.

So is that the end of Henry the Fowler’s thousand-year-old border? Maybe not. Erased borders are like phantom limbs – sometimes it feels like they’re still there, even when they’re manifestly not.

via Zombie Borders – NYTimes.com.

22
Sep
11

9.22.2011 … in 1989 I experienced my only REAL natural disaster, Hurricane Hugo … we went 18 days with out electricity. It was amazing. … I cannot imagine dealing with flooding in addition to the immediate results of a massive storm.

Hurricane Hugo, natural disasters, kith/kin: in 1989 I experienced my only REAL natural disaster, Hurricane Hugo … we went 18 days without electricity, and a month without phone or cable.  It was amazing.  There was only fear for a few hours in the middle of the night … And afterwards we all emptied our refrigerators and cooked out.  The weather was absolutely beautiful.  I cannot imagine dealing with flooding or repeated storms in addition to the immediate results of a massive storm.

On September 18, the hurricane was located a couple of hundred miles east of Florida when it began a more northward track, in response to a steering flow associated with a upper-level low pressure area that was moving across the southeastern United States. Hugo then began to strengthen again, and it reached a secondary peak at 1800 UTC on September 21 as a Category 4 hurricane. The maximum sustained winds were 140 mph (230 km/h), while the minimum central pressure was 944 millibars (27.9 inHg). On September 22 at 0400 UTC, Hugo made landfall on Isle of Palms, South Carolina, at his secondary peak as a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. The storm continued inland, and weakened to a Category 1 hurricane as the cloudy eye passed over Charlotte, North Carolina.

via Hurricane Hugo – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

college search, advice:  Good advice here …

It doesn’t help, of course, that decisions about college are mind-numbingly complex to begin with. For starters, a college education is really a joint production between both the college and the student, so “fit” matters greatly. The best college for one student might be a nonstarter for another. Second, both the benefits and the costs, at least for the two-thirds of students who borrow, are extended over a long period of time, requiring a kind of investment perspective.

Moreover, investing in college is not something families deal with frequently, so learning from experience is hard. Reliable information is hard to come by, and decisions aren’t reversed easily or without cost; transfer is possible, but it’s often expensive and risky.

Even a rational planner armed with all available information would have a tough time making smart choices. Add in the foibles and frailties of real human beings, and it’s easy to see why the college search process results in so many bad decisions by so many families.

Being aware of cognitive biases—and taking steps to combat them—can help families make smarter choices. We can’t make the process simple or foolproof. But we can offer some observations and techniques to guard against the cognitive traps too many families fall into.

If parents understand more about the decision biases they share with the rest of the human race, they may be able to plan and save more effectively and to help their children make more constructive choices. They should actively question all of their assumptions and be open to planning, choosing and supporting their children even in ways that don’t immediately feel “right”—like taking on more debt for a higher-tier school.

Finally, there are two basic truths people should keep in mind. The college market is highly competitive. If families have a favored school, and a worthy rival offers a better deal, they shouldn’t hesitate to show the top-choice college their cost spreadsheet. The student-aid office may improve its offer.

And remember that for the great majority of students, the time spent in college, forgoing full-time work, has a bigger monetary value than the tuition they pay. To make the most of college, students have to choose the right place, find a course of study that motivates them, and put considerable time and energy into the learning process. Nothing matters more than using this valuable time well.

via Get Smart About College – WSJ.com.

adventure travel, migration watch, Tanzania, Kenya:  OK, I’m in … ” greatest wildlife show on earth.”

The trouble with animals is that they don’t read textbooks. Take those capricious wildebeest, the mainstay of Africa’s famous migration, the year-long circular movement of animals that has been dubbed the greatest wildlife show on earth.

Right now, as I write, they should have passed through the Serengeti in Tanzania and be milling around the Masai Mara national reserve in south-west Kenya. A good number are where they are supposed to be, chewing the grass, emitting their curious grunting sounds, kicking up the dust, but down in the Serengeti, on the vast plains of the Singita Grumeti game reserves, there are thousands who seem to have taken one look at the Mara and decided that they prefer it in the Serengeti.

The migration is an awesome sight but you don’t have to be obsessive about catching it at its most spectacular. If you speak to the guides, they’ll tell you that their favourite time for game-watching is after the bulk of the migration has passed through.

“It’s as if the grass has just been mown,” says Russell Hastings, who spent several years as a guide in Singita Grumeti and now runs the enchanting Legendary Coffee Lodge (www.legendarycoffeelodge.com) in the Tanzanian city of Arusha. “You get these long, clear vistas enabling you to see game right across the plains.”

via Migration watch – FT.com.

famine, “collateral crisis” , Somalia, War on Terrorism:  “Collateral crisis” … read on ..

A mass exodus, an emptying of half a country, is an unprecedented, biblical event. What triggered it? The immediate cause was drought. Rains failed last October in East Africa, then again in April, and by early August the U.N. was putting the number of people at risk from hunger in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda at 12.4 million.

Southern Somalia was in famine. A full 2.8 million people, 63% of the region’s population, were either starving or at risk of it. The number of Somali children with severe acute malnutrition — near death — was 170,000; 29,000 had already died. Even those cataclysmic figures were probably underestimates. Iffthikar Mohamed, country director for Islamic Relief (which has staff inside the famine area, unlike the U.N.), said his teams found mortality and malnutrition rates at least twice as high. Senior relief managers tell TIME there is no chance of preventing 100,000 Somalis, perhaps more, from dying in the next few weeks.

How did this happen? Could it have been stopped? And how is it that millions of Somalis were so sure that no help was coming that they took their families on a death march across the desert? The answers reveal how a war between Islamic militants and the U.S. and its allies led directly to human catastrophe.

via Collateral Crisis in Somalia: How the War on Terrorism Created a Famine – TIME.

ACC, college football, college sports:  I honestly don’t like these bigger conferences … they lose their local connection.  Just my opinion.

In a development that happened with incredible speed, the ACC announced Sunday morning that it is extending formal membership to Pittsburgh and Syracuse, creating the first 14-team BCS conference.

The news came barely 24 hours after it was first reported that the schools had applied for ACC membership.

“The ACC has enjoyed a rich tradition by balancing academics and athletics and the addition of Pitt and Syracuse further strengthens the ACC culture in this regard,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “Pittsburgh and Syracuse also serve to enhance the ACC’s reach into the states of New York and Pennsylvania and geographically bridges our footprint between Maryland and Massachusetts. With the addition of Pitt and Syracuse, the ACC will cover virtually the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States.”

We’ll have more on the ACC’s huge news after this morning’s ACC teleconference, which I’ll be following on the Terps Insider Twitter feed. It starts at 9:30.

via ACC extends formal invitation to Pittsburgh and Syracuse – Terrapins Insider – The Washington Post.

Believing the Impossible Before Breakfast, bookshelf, Lee Stoffel, FPC, quotes:  Dr. Stoffel wrote Believing … (after he left FPC) in the mid 70s.  We are reading it this fall in a small group study.  Some books strike me as written for a certain time.  So far this book is very good and relevant now.  I love his use of salt in this passage.

If the posture of the church is no more than condemnation without redemption, then we become like salt without savor, and our words will be cast out and trodden under foot. We are called to be a saving people – which is the positive, redemptive side of those who would do no more than condemn and denounce and deplore.

 Apple, iCloud: I am looking forward to seeing how this works.  We have our entire family on one iTunes account … and to be able to manage the entire library in the cloud sounds great.

Broadly speaking, the cloud is an airy metaphor for computational resources—data, storage, applications, and so on—available from an external network of computers and servers via the Internet. So whenever you do any kind of computing using data or programs that don’t live on your local computer, smart phone, or other connected devices, you are doing cloud computing.

For example, if you store and edit your photos at a site like Google’s Picasa.com, you’re working in the cloud, using Google’s storage space and applications instead of those on your own computer. Gmail and other Web-based e-mail services keep your correspondence in the cloud. And Amazon’s Cloud Drive lets you upload, store, and access music in cloud-based “lockers.” Physically, the cloud is wherever the company happens to house its servers.

The advantage of cloud computing is that you can access your stored stuff from any Web-connected device, instead of being tethered to one location or machine. One drawback, of course, is that you might not always have a usable Internet connection when you need one. And if your cloud service crashes for some reason, your content won’t be available until the service is back on its feet.

Use caution when signing up for any cloud service. Make sure your information is well protected against cyberthieves. The company you’re using should encrypt sensitive data and have state-of-the art privacy safeguards. And use strong passwords—a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols in a minimum of six characters.

via What is the Apple iCloud – Consumer Reports.

corruption, Middle East,  Kuwait:  “This is becoming the Kuwaiti Watergate,” said Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University. “The reaction at the popular level is that this is proof that the existing government has failed the people. In this context more demands for the resignation of the government are now heard.”

Two of Kuwait’s largest banks thought it a bit suspicious when about $92 million was transferred into the accounts of two members of Parliament.

So the National Bank of Kuwait and the Kuwait Finance House alerted the public prosecutor, who decided last week to open an investigation not just into those suspicious deposits, but also into the account activity of seven other members of Parliament, as well.

Kuwait is a wealthy nation that has managed to appease the public and avoid the kind of tumult that has swept other Arab nations. But even in Kuwait, where allegations of corruption and kickbacks are endemic, the sheer size of the deposits has set off a fury that is rocking the oil-rich country. Not to mention that investigations, so far, involve 9 of just 50 total members of Parliament.

“This is becoming the Kuwaiti Watergate,” said Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University. “The reaction at the popular level is that this is proof that the existing government has failed the people. In this context more demands for the resignation of the government are now heard.”

Late last month, the Kuwaiti news media first broke the news that the country’s two largest banks were alarmed by multimillion-dollar transfers into the accounts of lawmakers, said Nasser al-Sane, a former lawmaker who now teaches business at Kuwait University.

But even as public anger soars, the government has remained tight-lipped about the case, only fueling public suspicions, rumor and speculation. In that environment, popular anger at the royal family, and in particular the prime minister, Nasser Mohamed al-Ahmed al-Sabah, has flourished.

“We still have been given no information about the source of this money or who received it,” said Ebtihal al-Khatib, a longtime democracy activist. “Everything is a rumor, and that is one reason people are so angry and have come together, because we want more information. We want to know names, and we want to know the dates they will be tried in court.”

The corruption inquiry threatens to put the government into an impossible position, Mr. Ghabra said. If the emir allows Parliament to remain in place while at least one-fifth of its members are investigated for graft, he risks the growth of ever larger street protests and an erosion of public trust. But if he dissolves Parliament and calls for new elections, public outrage could help usher in a legislature hostile to the monarchy and more assertive in demands for constitutional changes.

via Corruption Inquiry Rocks Kuwait – NYTimes.com.

Bumble-Ardy, Maurice Sendak, children’s/YA literature, parenting:  Nursery rhymes and fairy tales have always carried double messages, scary messages.  I don’t know why we are so worried now.  ” There’s something deeply dark and wonderful about older cartoons like this.”

It’s yet another mildly subversive children’s book by a writer known for pushing—if not the absolute limits, at least poking around their edges. At one point, even the Grim Reaper puts in an appearance, leading one Amazon reviewer (granted, one of only three to date) to describe the book as “disturbing…in so many ways” (noticed by the Christian Science Monitor).

Then again, being a little scared isn’t the end of the world. Where the Wild Things Are would be nothing without its nightmarish horned and bearded monsters that “roared their terrible roars, and gnashed their terrible teeth.” Besides, if you want to see something really scary, try this old 1970s Sesame Street clip—also by Sendak, and the inspiration for the 2011 book’s inception—about Bumble-Ardy, whose ninth birthday party’s crashed by a pack of anarchic, Dwarf-like swine. There’s something deeply dark and wonderful about older cartoons like this.

via Should Parents Fear ‘Bumble-Ardy’, Maurice Sendak’s New Book? – TIME NewsFeed.

Oyster.com, travel, websites:  Might try oyster.com

While Web sites like TripAdvisor, which is owned by Expedia, amass consumer reviews, Oyster relies instead on 45 full-time reviewers who stay in hotels incognito and post their reviews and photographs.

Unlike TripAdvisor, Oyster is also a booking site. But unlike booking sites like Orbitz, Expedia and Hotels.com, Oyster eschews the photographs and descriptions provided by hotels.

A regular feature, Photo Fakeouts, contrasts promotional photos from hotels with photos taken from the same perspective by Oyster reviewers. The promotional photo for the beach at the Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, for example, shows just a few beachgoers and about a dozen unoccupied chairs, while the Oyster.com photo shows a beach packed with chairs and vacationers.

“Oyster is meant to be very simple, easy, straightforward and truthful, where what you see is what you get,” said Elie Seidman, chief executive of Oyster. “And the goal in the ads was to convey that.”

To date, Oyster has reviewed about 1,300 hotels in 32 destinations.

This is the first advertising campaign for Oyster, which went online in 2009. Oyster drew 156,000 unique visitors in August, a small fraction of the six million who visited Hotels.com, according to comScore.

via Oyster.com Sells Travel With Words, Not Pictures – NYTimes.com.

R.E.M., music, Athens GA, kith/kin:  I think “my” generation claims REM.  I was in Athens GA for law school and we definitely claim them.  RIP, REM.

R.E.M. has folded after a 31-year run, an influential arc that transformed the Athens, Ga., band from college radio darlings to major label stars. The group released 15 albums, including milestones of alternative rock such as “Murmur” and “Automatic for the People.”

In recent years, however, the group’s cultural clout had eroded, as sales declined and front man Michael Stipe pursued a host of other interests, from filmmaking to sculpture.

In a statement posted on their site today, the band announced: “As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band,” the group said in a statement on its web site. “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.”

via R.E.M. Breaks Up After 31-Year Run – Speakeasy – WSJ.

Palestinian Statehood Bid, President Obama, politics, international relations: Impossible situation.

“Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N.,” Mr. Obama said, in an address before world leaders at the General Assembly. “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”

Instead, Mr. Obama said, the international community should keep pushing Israelis and Palestinians toward talks on the four intractable issues that have vexed peace negotiations since 1979: borders of a Palestinian state, security for Israel, the status of Palestinian refugees and the fate of Jerusalem, which both sides claim for their capital.

For Mr. Obama, the challenge in crafting the much-anticipated General Assembly speech was how to address the incongruities of the administration’s position: the president who committed to making peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians a priority from Day One, now unable to get peace negotiations going after two and a half years; the president who opened the door to Palestinian state membership at the United Nations last year, now threatening to veto that membership; the president determined to get on the right side of Arab history but ending up, in the views of many Arabs, on the wrong side of it on the Palestinian issue.

via Obama Explains Opposition to Palestinian Statehood Bid – NYTimes.com.

14
Feb
11

2.14.2011 … Happy Saint Valentine’s Day … enough said …

Saint Valentine’s Day, history:

So what’s Saint Valentine’s Day all about and why do we mark its occasion every February 14? That’s hard to pin down, as there are many different stories as to the origins of Valentine’s Day, but like many of the holidays we observe, Valentine’s Day has its roots in paganism.

Actually, hundreds of years before the Church altered the day of love in an attempt to rid it of its pagan roots, Romans practiced a pagan celebration in mid-February commemorating young men’s rite of passage to the god Lupercus. The young men would draw names of teenage girls from a box and whomever the boy chose would be his companion for the remainder of the year.

The Church, of course, didn’t like the pagan festival and so Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the celebration. He did so by filling the box with the names of saints instead of girls and allowing both men and women to draw from the box. The game was to emulate the ways of the saint for the remainder of the year. The Church then found a patron saint by the name of Bishop Valentine for people to celebrate instead of Lupercus.

Bishop Valentine was sent to jail and executed after Claudius II (270 AD) found out he was performing secret marriages. You see, Claudius banned marriage to preserve the number of single men to be soldiers. Claudius, so the story goes, believed that single men made better soldiers. Bishop Valentine disagreed with Claudius and performed secret weddings until he was found out. He was executed on February 14. It was during his time in jail that he wrote his lover a note and signed it, “From Your Valentine.”

via A Brief History of Valentine’s Day – West Roxbury, MA Patch.

Valentine’s Day, holidays, gifts, food – dessert, chocolate, Charlotte:

The intricate flavors of chocolate and wine linger on your tongue – and often the complex, deep, hidden tastes are subconscious. Make them rise to the surface by mating your chocolate with the perfect wine.

CNN spoke to Sunset wine editor Sara Schneider to figure out what will make the flavors of both sweet treats pop out. We’ll start off with the obvious: dark chocolate goes best with red wine. But beware of pairing the delectable dark chocolate with spicy, acidic wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. The bold tannins that give the wine a dry, puckery feeling can be too harsh against the bitter chocolate.

via Wine and Chocolate: A Winning Combo for Valentine’s Day – TIME NewsFeed.

We have a new wine/chocolate bar.  I don’t think I will go today, but it is on my list.

 

 

We are a small, locally-owned and operated wine and chocolate retail store with tasting room. We offer boutique and premium wines from California, the Pacific Northwest, France and other European wine regions plus artisan chocolates made in-house. Step into our shop and you’ll enjoy daily wine tastings, chocolate samples and highly personalized service.

via Petit Philippe – Wine | Chocolate | Tasting Room | Charlotte, NC.

Valentine’s Day, movies, icons, kisses:  Iconic kisses?  What’s your favorite movie kiss … Old movie?  New?  My favorite is not on the list. 🙂

The 25 Most Iconic Movie Kisses – Star Couples – Celebrity – InStyle.

Egypt Uprising, headlines, followup:  I mentioned yesterday that I go to the Newseum website to compare headlines when a big event occurs.  This article does the same thing.  Very interesting … some even humorous …

History unfolded yesterday when after 18 days of protests in Egypt, Mubarak finally stepped down as president after 30 years in power.

The front pages of newspapers in moments like this become part of history itself, so we went through the world’s newspapers today to see the ways they documented this incredible moment.

Of course, some of our favorite covers still came from our colorful local newspapers, like the Daily News’ headline “Hosni Mu Bye-Bye!” and the New York Post’s “That’s A Wrap!” (featuring Mubarak’s head on top of an Egyptian mummy.)

via FRONT PAGE HISTORY: See How Newspapers Around The World Celebrated Egypt’s Freedom.

Gabrielle Giffords, recovery, miracles, update: So far so good.

The human brain has what amounts to redundant circuits for some simple tasks, like walking, and it is possible for patients to make rapid progress on those skills and still have trouble with mental work and speaking, doctors said.

“There are backup systems in the brain for the more basic functions that have been around longer in human beings,” said Dr. Jonathan Fellus, the director of the Brain Injury Program at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey. “Conversely, for things such as language, which are uniquely human, it’s a highly specialized and delicate network that doesn’t get reconstructed so easily.”

via Giffords Recovery Is Continuing, Friends Say – NYTimes.com.

Egypt Uprising:

As protesters in Tahrir Square faced off against pro-government forces, they drew a lesson from their counterparts in Tunisia: “Advice to the youth of Egypt: Put vinegar or onion under your scarf for tear gas.”

Cairo, Feb. 3 After more than a week of unrest, anti-Mubarak protesters clashed with supporters of the president for control of Tahrir Square. When confronting the police, the protesters wore armor made of cardboard and Pepsi bottles.

The exchange on Facebook was part of a remarkable two-year collaboration that has given birth to a new force in the Arab world — a pan-Arab youth movement dedicated to spreading democracy in a region without it. Young Egyptian and Tunisian activists brainstormed on the use of technology to evade surveillance, commiserated about torture and traded practical tips on how to stand up to rubber bullets and organize barricades.

They fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons and psychiatrists. Breaking free from older veterans of the Arab political opposition, they relied on tactics of nonviolent resistance channeled from an American scholar through a Serbian youth brigade — but also on marketing tactics borrowed from Silicon Valley.

via A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History – NYTimes.com.

Egypt Uprising, Middle East: Tunisia … Egypt … now Yemen, Bahrain and Algiers.

Mr. Mubarak’s resignation Friday emboldened protesters throughout the Middle East where opposition movements are aggressively calling for political freedom. Security forces and protesters clashed in Yemen and Bahrain on Sunday while thousands of Algerians, defying a ban on protests, flooded a central square in Algiers on Saturday calling for political reform. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank ordered the dismissal of its Cabinet and said it would hold long-delayed parliamentary and presidential elections by September.

Egypt’s cabinet removes Mubarak’s portrait as Israel welcomes news that Egypt will abide by its treaties. Video courtesy of Reuters.

Egyptians continue their celebrations, a day after the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak came to an end. Video courtesy of Reuters.

And in Iran, opposition leaders planned a demonstration on Monday in solidarity with the Egyptian and Tunisian revolts. The streets of Tehran rocked to the chants of residents shouting “Death to the dictator” and “God is great” Sunday night, according to witnesses and videos posted on Youtube.

via Mideast Unrest Spreads – WSJ.com.

Great Recession, real estate, Great Recovery:  S -L-O-W …

The rolling real estate crash that ravaged Florida and the Southwest is delivering a new wave of distress to communities once thought to be immune — economically diversified cities where the boom was relatively restrained.

In the last year, home prices in Seattle had a bigger price decline than in Las Vegas. Minneapolis dropped more than Miami, and Atlanta fared worse than Phoenix.

Redfin, a real estate brokerage firm based in Seattle, says foot traffic began picking up in the last several weeks. Mortgage rates are rising, which could nudge those who need to buy to make a deal now for fear rates will rise even more.

But whenever the market finally does pick up, all those accidental landlords will want to unload, putting another burden on the market. “So many sellers are waiting in the shadows,” said Redfin’s chief executive, Glenn Kelman. “The inventory is going to expand and expand and expand. I don’t see any basis for significant price increases.”

While almost every economist is expecting another round of price declines for the next few months, many see a gradual leveling off in the second half of the year. Fiserv, the data company that produces the monthly Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, analyzed price trends in 375 communities. About three-quarters of them will be stable by December, Fiserv calculates.

via Housing Crash Is Hitting Cities Thought to Be Stable – NYTimes.com.

music, lists:  Fun to see what others think … The ALL-TIME 100 Albums – TIME.

02
Feb
11

2.2.2011 … Punxsutawney Phil: No shadow. Early spring! … Happy Groundhog Day (a strictly secular holiday :) )… and Candlemas, too.

Groundhog Day:

Punxsutawney Phil has been prognosticating about when spring will come since the 1880s, and he’s developed quite a legend in the meantime.

via Punxsutawney Phil tweets: five little-known facts about Groundhog Day 2011 – There is only one Punxsutawney Phil – CSMonitor.com.

Punxsutawney Phil: No shadow. Early spring!

via Facebook.

 

Candlemas Day, Groundhog Day, worship:  I’ll give it to the Episcopalians for making sure I know that Groundhog Day is a “strictly a secular holiday!”

FEAST OF THE PURIFICATION OF THE VIRGIN

CANDLEMAS DAY (FEB 2)

The events commemorated today are recorded in Luke 2:22-39.

Counting forward from December 25 as Day One, we find that Day Forty is February 2. A Jewish woman is in semi-seclusion for 40 days after giving birth to a son, and accordingly it is on February 2 that we celebrate the coming of Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus to the Temple at Jerusalem (1) to offer sacrifice on behalf of Mary to mark the end of her seclusion (see Le 12:1-8), and (2) to ransom or redeem (buy back) Jesus as a first-born male (see Ex 13:11-13; 22:29; Nu 18:15-16; Dt 15:19). As they did so, they were greeted by the aged Simeon. In a Sunday-School pageant, I once saw, the narrator said, “And now Simeon bursts into a spontaneous song of praise, assisted by the Temple Choir.” His song, called the Nunc Dimittis, has always had a prominent role in Christian worship. It has often been rendered in verse. I append one example.

Because an old reading for this festival contains the line (Zephaniah 1:12), “I will search Jerusalem with candles,” the day is also known as Candlemas, and sometimes observed with a candle-lit procession. On the other hand, Groundhog Day (“If the groundhog (or woodchuck, a kind of marmot, which burrows and hibernates) sees his shadow on 2 February, there will be six more weeks of winter.”) is strictly a secular holiday, brought to the United States and Canada by German immigrants.

via Feast of the Presentation (Purification of the Virgin Mary; Candlemas Day).

RIP, Willie B, childhood,  Atlanta: Oh, I didn’t know … One of my favorite childhood memories was going to see Willie B.  I even took my kids to see him in his new habitat in the 90s.

On this day in 2000, Willie B., Zoo Atlanta’s famous resident gorilla, passed away.

By: Atlanta History Center

CU – Boulder, students, kith/kin:  So now I know what Boulder students do after graduation!

The University of Colorado at Boulder is ranked the No. 1 school recruiting undergraduate students to serve in the Peace Corps.  According to a CU news release, 117 students are serving around the world this year.

In the CU news release, Chancellor Philip DiStefano said he is glad CU is contributing to the global community.

“I am delighted that our emphasis on civic engagement as part of the learning experience at CU-Boulder has resulted in service-oriented graduates contributing to their global community,” DiStefano said in the news release. “Service learning and civically engaged graduates are a cornerstone of our Flagship 2030 strategic plan and it is gratifying for the university community to realize that our vision is becoming a reality.”

via CU ranked No. 1 for graduates serving in the Peace Corps | CU Independent.

Super Bowl, sex trafficking, culture:  Yesterday I posted a friend’s blogpost about the feasting aspect of the Super Bowl … I guess the fans feast in other ways, too.

While football fans are eagerly anticipating the Feb. 6 Super Bowl showdown in Dallas, some state officials are gearing up for the big game’s dark side: the surge in human trafficking that tends to accompany major sports and entertainment events. “What we’ve learned is that sexual trafficking, sexual exploitation of children in particular, is all about supply and demand,” says Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. With more than 100,000 fans descending on Dallas, that demand is going to be great. There is a “looming potential explosion of human trafficking around the Super Bowl,” says Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is expecting hundreds of girls and women to be brought to the area.
Past Super Bowls have borne this out. In the wake of 2009’s game in Tampa, Florida’s Department of Children and Families took in 24 children who’d been trafficked to the city for sex work. Given that Texas, according to Abbott, is second only to California when it comes to trafficking, the figures for Dallas could be even worse.

via The Super Bowl of Sex Trafficking – Newsweek.

2012 Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, kudos: … “beautiful, energetic, innovative and diverse city we are building”  – we have some work to do … “few singular events in the U.S. rival the domestic and worldwide media exposure of a major political convention: a presidential inauguration, a royal wedding, the Super Bowl and the Olympics.” … I am not so sure about that one …. But kudos nonetheless to my home city!

“We’re honored that the Democratic National Committee chose Charlotte to host its 2012 convention,” said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. “Thanks to the hard work and support of so many throughout our community, we have an unmatched opportunity to show the world what a beautiful, energetic, innovative and diverse city we are building in Charlotte. As we tell the story of Charlotte, and what a great place our city, state and region are to live and do business, we also will tell the story of America to our fellow citizens and our neighbors around the world.”

Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers, who co-chairs the Charlotte In 2012 organizing committee with Mayor Foxx, added, “Charlotte’s selection clearly elevates our city to a new level in national and world stature. Only a few singular events in the U.S. rival the domestic and worldwide media exposure of a major political convention: a presidential inauguration, a royal wedding, the Super Bowl and the Olympics. The economic and reputational significance of being chosen for this honor cannot be overstated.”

via Charlotte to Host 2012 Democratic National Convention | Charlotte in 2012.

Apple, apps, lists:  A new list for me to checkout! Full List – 50 Best iPhone Apps 2011 – TIME.

Great Recession, consumers, superlatives, Wilmington NC:  Thumbs down on this one Wilmington, NC:

Where are people most addicted to their plastic? Apparently it’s Wilmington, whose residents seem to love (or maybe just need) their credit cards more than anywhere else in the country.

That’s according to data from Equifax, one of the national companies that compiles credit reports on consumers. According to a just-released study from Equifax, people in Wilmington owe an average of 17.26 percent of their income to credit cards, more than any other U.S. city. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, or maybe it’s something in the water, but the seaside haven is also the hometown of two of the three N.C.-based banks that have failed during the financial crisis.

via Wilmington tops the list for U.S. credit card debt – CharlotteObserver.com.

blogposts, quotes, Winston Churchill, C.S. Lewis, graphics: Two of my favorite blogs have great quotes by great folks this week.

“To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.”
Winston Churchill

The Happiness Project.

-and-

quote of the week – cs lewis – my blog – Ordinary Courage.  And don’t you like her graphics!

Great Recession, Financial Meltdown, BofA:  Well I think Moynihan came out ok given the Bank’s performance.

It was a tough year for Bank of America, what with the foreclosure mess and a sagging stock price. Its chief executive, Brian T. Moynihan, nonetheless received $10 million in his first year on the job.

Mr. Moynihan will get a bonus of $9.05 million in the form of restricted stock, along with a base salary of $950,000, bringing his total pay to $10 million for 2010. In 2009, before Mr. Moynihan took over as chief executive, he received a total of $6.1 million in compensation.

Mr. Moynihan’s base salary did not go up, however, and he received no cash bonus, a reflection of Bank of America’s slow recovery from the financial crisis, when it received two bailouts from Washington totaling $45 billion. What is more, Mr. Moynihan will have to fulfill performance goals to earn the full $9.05 million.

Other top officers of the company did receive a cash bonus of $900,000, but it will be paid in monthly installments and is tied to the stock price.

“All of the year-end compensation was deferred and tied to some measure of stockholder value,” said Bob Stickler, a spokesman for the company.

via Brian Moynihan Gets $10 Million as Bank of America Chief – NYTimes.com.

icons, places, Athens GA, REM:

Wilmot Greene sat among charred remains of his iconic Georgia Theatre recalling the fire that reduced it from an alternative rock icon to rusted steel girders and walls of black bricks.

A year after an unexplained fire gutted the century-old musical cradle of bands such as R.E.M., the B-52s, Indigo Girls and Widespread Panic, Greene still kicks himself for missing Rockinwood play the last show before the fire. He says he’d missed only about 20 shows since buying the place in ’04.

via Alt-rock icon struggles to make a comeback after fire – CNN.com.

green, Great Recovery, history, recycling:  Actually recycling a town …

And that’s just the start. Sempra has big designs on being a major player in the green energy game. But as the wind whips through my hair and I study the immense emptiness all around, I can’t help but ask, “Why is this such a good location for such a thing?”

“First, there is a lot of available, flat land,” Crider says. “Second, it is incredibly sunny. This region gets about 330 days of sunshine per year. And third, there’s existing transmission lines which provide access to major markets throughout the western United States.”

Which, as is so often the case, raises another question: Why are those lines way out here?

To find that answer, you have to drive 20 minutes to struggling Boulder City, population about 16,000. The town is uniquely poised to cash in on the new energy boom precisely because it was built on old energy technology; during another time when the economy and energy collided; when thousands of jobless men came here during the Great Depression to undertake an unprecedented power-generating project.

“This town is here because it was a federal reservation to build Hoover Dam.”

via Struggling Nevada town sees sunnier times ahead – CNN.com.

globalization, poverty, social responsibility, solutions:  “Some 1.6 billion people around the world lack reliable access to electricity.”

The first decades of the 21st century will be remembered as the ones in which the world finally began to grapple with global development. The likes of Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono — TIME’s Persons of the Year in 2005 — have channeled funds to fighting malaria, TB and HIV, while supporting agriculture, infrastructure and even governance. But there’s one obstacle to development that has too often been forgotten, a blind spot that does more than almost anything to keep the poor poor: they don’t have electric power.

Some 1.6 billion people around the world lack reliable access to electricity. That means they don’t have electric lights for students to study by at night. They can’t easily charge cell phones — assuming they even have them — which means they can’t easily create markets or sell goods. Without regular power, their hospitals are severely limited — after all, you can’t even keep vaccines cold without a refrigerator. Agriculture is essentially peasantry if farmers lack powered machinery. As long as those hundreds of millions remain in the dark, they will remain poor — yet solving energy poverty isn’t even one of the U.N.’s ambitious Millennium Development Goals.

via Clean Energy: How It Can Help Light Up the Developing World – TIME.

art, google street view, art galleries:  I still would rather travel there, but I think this is a great idea. YouTube – Art Project – Preview.

Now that Google has conquered a majority of the earth’s major streets with its Google Street View project, the company is starting to move inside. It’s  creating the Google Art Project, a virtual equivalent of 17 major art museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Britain and the National Gallery in London, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, among many others.

via Google Takes Street View Into Art Museums – NYTimes.com.

Egypt Uprising, titles: “The Last Pharoah” …

Hosni Mubarak: The Last Pharaoh – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

Egypt Uprising, media, twitter:

With Egypt’s last remaining internet service provider taken offline, the country’s citizens have resorted to old school telephone technology to establish limited connections to the outside world.

Several internet service providers outside of Egypt have established dial-up phone numbers that can be used for pokey-yet-usable connections like the ones that have slowly died out in many developed countries as broadband internet becomes more prevalent and less expensive.

And Google and Twitter teamed up to build a speak-to-tweet service that allows people inside Egypt to call one of three international phone numbers and leave a voicemail that’ll be transcribed and sent out over Twitter. The messages themselves can be heard at the Speak To Tweet Twitter page.

via Egyptians Sidestep Internet Blackouts with Landline Phones – Techland – TIME.com.

Egypt Uprising – getting out, students:

Hilliard said that although classes at the American University have not begun, four students are currently in Cairo awaiting the start of their semester. Three students will be leaving Cairo, while one is still deciding.

“We expect three of those students will return home within the next 24-36 hours, and to be in a safe location in Europe within the next 12-24 hours,” Hilliard said. “The fourth student is thinking over the option of staying or going, and has not made the decision yet.”

via CU-Boulder’s Study Abroad Program in Cairo cancelled | CU Independent.

Egypt Uprising – victims:

Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa has been missing in Egypt since last week, according to multiple news outlets.

Wael Ghonim, who has headed the company’s marketing in the region since January 2010 , has not been seen for several days as protests continue to swell in Egypt, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Times reports that Ghonim was a guest speaker at an Al Jazeera forum in Januray and that the news agency had been contacted by Ghonim’s family and friends.

“His wife is appealing for any information on his whereabouts,” said an Al Jazeera blog post on its English website.

Google declined to confirm to the Times if Ghonim was in fact missing. A spokeswoman told the newspaper: “We care deeply about the safety of our employees, but to protect their privacy, we don’t comment on the individually.”

via Google Exec Reported Missing in Egypt – World Watch – CBS News.

csr, Egypt Uprising – getting out:

Coca-Cola Co. closed its Cairo office starting Sunday. The office “will not reopen until security in the city improves,’’ said Kenth Kaerhoeg, a spokesman for the big beverage business in Atlanta.  “The safety of our employees is our primary concern and we are taking all necessary measures to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Mr. Kaerhoeg declined to offer any details about possible evacuations or the exact number of Coke staffers in Egypt.  An Egyptian bottler operating as its local franchisee owns eight bottling plants there.

Egyptian operations of food giant Nestle SA “have been temporarily interrupted due to ongoing political unrest across the country,’’ said Nina Backes, a spokeswoman for the owner of brands such as KitKat, Gerber baby food and Nescafe coffee.  “The company is currently evacuating the families of around 20 expatriates,’’ she added.

Ms. Backes said its three Egyptian factories “have temporarily been shut down.’’  She declined to say how family members are being evacuated – nor whether Nestle might also evacuate expatriates.  “We continue to monitor the situation closely,’’ she added.

Nestle’s Egypt unit has three factories  and 3,000 employees.  It began factory operations there in 1988.  Nestle, based in Vevey, Switzerland,  is the world’s largest food company by sales.

Unrest in Egypt also is affecting U.S. companies without permanent offices there. An Occidental Petroleum Corp. spokesman said ten professionals on a temporary Egyptian assignment cut short their stay and left Cairo Sunday on chartered aircraft arranged by the company without difficulty. “They left sooner than anticipated,’’ he continued.

He declined to disclose why the Oxy Pete staffers went to Egypt several weeks ago.  “There was no definitive time frame” for their abbreviated business trip, the spokesman said.

via Coke, Nestle Report Egypt Shutdowns – Dispatch – WSJ.

Egypt Uprising – impact, Syria, Middle East:

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad may face mass protests this weekend from opposition groups.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Syrian opposition groups are organizing protests against the government
The calls are the latest call for demonstrations in the wake of Tunisian protests
Those protests helped topple the Tunisian government and spark widespread unrest in Egypt
(CNN) — What began as a popular uprising that toppled the Tunisian government before spreading into Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan and, of course, Egypt, may now be headed for Syria.
Opposition movements in Syria are calling for mass protests on Saturday against the rule of President Bashar Al-Assad.
The groups are organizing on Facebook, with several pages promoting protests in Damascus, Aleppo and other cities.
Protest organizers want better living standards, human rights improvements and a greater voice for youth, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based organization that studies and translates news accounts and social-media postings.

It’s unclear how many people might join the protests. A few thousand people had expressed their support for the movement on the Facebook pages, some of them undoubtedly from outside the country, the research institute said.

via Unrest in North Africa and Middle East may spread to Syria – CNN.com.

Egypt Uprising  – “Youthquake”, new terms:

It’s 11:30 on Tuesday morning and the dusty office space around Adil is buzzing with the idealism of two-dozen young professionals, many of them juggling four cell phones at once. They’re lawyers, accountants and web designers. They wear jeans and flip flops, colorful headscarves, and the black and white checkered keffiyahs associated with the Palestinian intifadeh. Today they are among the country’s core activists who shoulder the responsibility for the largest Egyptian uprising in more than 50 years.

Welcome to the nerve center of the Arab world’s latest rebels. The 6th of April is one of several youth activist groups who have helped to bring the nearly three decade regime of President Hosni Mubarak to its knees. It was formed in the wake of a massive labor strike on the 6th of April 2008, becoming since then the group that made Egyptians under 30 a force to be reckoned with.

via Egypt’s Youthquake: At a Nerve Center of the Revolution – TIME.

art, Davidson, Davidson College, Herb Jackson, art galleries, NYC, kudos: Kudos to Herb Jackson!

Riding the Phoenix by Herb Jackson

Riding the Phoenix by Herb Jackson

In case you have your snow boots ready and are traveling to NYC, be sure to plan your trip for mid-February to catch Herb Jackson’s art exhibit at the Claire Oliver Gallery on 513 West 26th Street (just off 10th Avenue).  The opening will be Thursday, Feb. 17, from 6-8 p.m. at the gallery.  For a digital preview of Herb’s paintings, access http://www.claireoliver.com and select the heading “upcoming” before clicking on his exhibition.  Congratulations, Herb, on your continued artistic success.

via Rabbi and fiancee’s love story makes a Times Sq. billboard | DavidsonNews.net.

health, obesity, fad diets:  Another new fad diet?

For more than 25 years, De Vany has been an advocate of what he calls “evolutionary fitness”: a regimen of low-carb eating and interval- or cross-training workouts (with periodic fasting) aimed at controlling insulin. But he has also become the grandfather of the growing Paleo movement, a health philosophy built around the belief that modern life — dating from the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago — is simply alien to our genes. Believers say that only by returning to a diet of wild game and fresh produce, eliminating grains and dairy, and exercising in short, intense bursts, can we thrive in a world of escalators and cheese fries.

via Paleo Diet: ‘New Evolution Diet’ Author De Vany on Food and Exercise – TIME.

media, twitter:  I follow quite a few magazines and newspapers on twitter (where do you think I get my clips?), so I am very disappointed that the most followed is People magazine.

There are eight magazine brands with more than a million followers, and 14 with more than half a million, while the newspaper industry has just two: the New York Times (2,882,697) and Wall Street Journal (618,751). Inspired by a survey done by The Wrap last fall, we decided to take an updated look at the magazines with the most Twitter followers.

The following list of most followed magazines was culled at the end of January (follower counts were taken on Jan. 31). For about 50 titles, the follower counts were compared to a similar count conducted in October, to see how their counts grew over the last three months. Among the top 25, Rolling Stone (#25) and The New Yorker (#14) both grew about 30 percent in terms of followers, while the Economist (26 percent) was not too far behind.

via The Most-Followed Magazines on Twitter – emedia and Technology @ FolioMag.com.

health, obesity: You would think we could solve this one …

Obesity drugs are dead. Orexigen Therapeutics(OREX_) is done. Arena Pharmaceuticals(ARNA_) is a corpse. Vivus(VVUS_) is in an irreversible coma, waiting for someone to pull the plug.

The only silver lining from Tuesday’s outright and devastating rejection of Orexigen’s obesity drug Contrave is that investors need not waste time or money any longer speculating on which of these three companies will be the first to get their drug approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made it crystal clear that it has serious problems with the entire obesity drug field and that none of these drugs — Contrave, lorcaserin or Qnexa — have weight-loss benefits that justify the safety risks.

via Obesity Drugs: The Road to Perdition – TheStreet.




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