Posts Tagged ‘NYTimes.com

12
Feb
16

2.12.16 … Maybe what is good about religion is playing that the Kingdom will come, until—in the joy of your playing, the hope and rhythm and comradeship and poignance and mystery of it—you start to see that the playing is itself the first-fruits of the Kingdom’s coming and of God’s presence within us and among us.” ― Frederick Buechner

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2016 Labyrinth Walks (Walk 3/40), Sardis Baptist Church – Charlotte:

Talking to my mom and labyrinth walking do not mix well. So no pics today …

My thoughts are focused on this Buechner reading …

What’s Good About Religion? February 12 FOR A WHILE THE dean’s office made an exception to the rule about required church. The edict was handed down that a student might attend a religious discussion group instead, and those groups were scheduled to take place before church in order to prevent boys from attending only so they could get a little more sleep on Sunday mornings. For that reason only the most radical dissenters attended, and it was one of those—a lean, freckle-faced senior—who turned to me once, thin-lipped with anger, and said, “So what’s so good about religion anyway?” and I found myself speechless. I felt surely there must be something good about it. Why else was I there? But for the moment I couldn’t for the life of me think what it was. Maybe the truth of it is that religion the way he meant it—a system of belief, a technique of worship, an institution—doesn’t really have all that much about it that is good when you come right down to it, and perhaps my speechlessness in a way acknowledged as much. Unless you become like a child, Jesus said, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and maybe part of what that means is that in the long run what is good about religion is playing the way a child plays at being grown up until he finds that being grown up is just another way of playing and thereby starts to grow up himself. Maybe what is good about religion is playing that the Kingdom will come, until—in the joy of your playing, the hope and rhythm and comradeship and poignance and mystery of it—you start to see that the playing is itself the first-fruits of the Kingdom’s coming and of God’s presence within us and among us.”
― from “Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner”

A few that are interesting or funny:

Earth, Hubble Telescope:  Beautiful Earth shrouded in clouds, taken from the Hubble Telescope..

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Jason deCaires Taylor, sculptural installations that inhabit the ocean floor, sculpture gallery;  Jason deCaires Taylor has created a series of sculptural installations that inhabit the ocean floor. http://bit.ly/1o59CKG

 

Why do Christians fast? – Pittsburgh Theological Seminary:

Why do Christians fast? Here are four reasons for fasting.
In the Ash Wednesday Gospel reading, Jesus says “when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt 6:17-18). Notice that Jesus doesn’t say “If you fast . . .” The implication is that Jesus’ disciples will fast. Aside from teaching his disciples to fast humbly and not call attention to themselves, Jesus does not give explicit instructions about how and when to fast. Even the why seems to be taken for granted in the Gospels. During this season of Lent, as many Christians practice some form of fasting, I think it may be helpful to consider some of the reasons why the Church has practiced fasting over the centuries.

Source: Why do Christians fast? – Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein’s Theory, NYTimes.com

A team of scientists announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. (Listen to it here.) It completes his vision of a universe in which space and time are interwoven and dynamic, able to stretch, shrink and jiggle. And it is a ringing confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/02/12/science/ligo-gravitational-waves-black-holes-einstein.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&referer=http://m.facebook.com

Budha, Jesus, bizarreComics: one more …

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27
Feb
15

2.27.15 … I made it work … “Why is it so hard for my very smart students to make this leap—not the leap of faith but the leap of historical imagination? “

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2015 Lenten Labyrinth Walks 9/40, South Tryon Community Church (UMC): I came back to this labyrinth hoping that it had been restored. I know it is a Boy Scout project from quite a few years ago, but this one has REALLY  fallen into disrepair. And it was a lovely treat for this community.  I wish someone had taken the time to teach the community of its purpose and use.

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Today, much of it is been dug up;  there is even a pile of bricks over to the side.
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I think some heavy equipment has dug it up, too. It is extremely damp, and in places there is 3 inches of mud.
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I know the path, so walk it anyway.
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I’ll look around and I realize there has been a leak; there’s a pipe, and there are huge puddles collecting water.
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I hear trains, I hear and see buses and cars as everyone scurries to  get home on a Friday afternoon.
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If I had lots of money I would pay to restore this labyrinth and do some training. I think the people of this community would really enjoy it if they knew and appreciated it. I also think that they would enjoy receiving the guests that would come, like I do, just to walk the labyrinth.
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This urban church is part of the community. I see and hear children yelling and  playing
I made it work.
New Rules Spur a Humbling Overhaul of Wall St. Banks, NYTimes.com

Nearly seven years after the financial crisis, banks are still churning out profits and wrestling with regulators.

Yet Wall Street, by many important measures, appears to be in the middle of a humbling transformation.

Bonuses are shrinking. Revenue growth has stalled. Entire business lines are being cut. And some investors are even asking whether the biggest banks should be broken up — changes that are all largely attributed to a not-so-well-known set of rules regarding capital, a financial metric that captures how much cushion banks might have in the event of a crisis.

via New Rules Spur a Humbling Overhaul of Wall St. Banks – NYTimes.com.

Map Shows Loudest and Quietest Places in the U.S.:

Where is it quiet, and where is it loud? A map unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, California, shows you where to go if you want a landscape without much racket.

It was produced by researchers from the National Park Service and elsewhere, who compiled 1.5 million hours of acoustic monitoring from around the country, Science reports. They then created an algorithm that predicted noise values for areas where sound wasn’t directly measured.

noise-map

The map was made in part to see what areas may have ambient sound levels that could interfere with the survival of species like owls, which have sensitive hearing and require relative quiet to detect prey.

via Map Shows Loudest and Quietest Places in the U.S..

Be Still meditation:

http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/be-still

The Oasis: Particularity of Time and Space, Davidson College:  

It strikes me that Davidson overall is a temple in this contemplative sense, too, of higher learning and higher selves, individually and together.

Particularity and pluralism, faith and reason, time and space.

via The Oasis: Particularity of Time and Space.

Professors question traditional four-year residential college model – LA Times, Davidson College, flipped courses, higher education, 4-year residential college:

“Remaking College: The Changing Ecology of Higher Education,” which Stevens edited with fellow Stanford professor Michael Kirst, questions the four-year college path that evolved after World War II. The authors advocate for a more flexible model that is based less on the Ivy League and more on for-profit colleges.

“Higher education is Teflon compared to that,” said Kirst, president of the state Board of Education.

As our “outsourced economy” continues to whither, and our population swells thanks to “open borders”, I don’t expect the “Land of Opportunity” to have much left.

Colleges have begun receiving score cards from the federal government based on their cost and graduation rates, among other factors. And the Obama administration has proposed a ratings system for colleges that would take into account tuition, average student debt and graduation and transfer rates.

Stevens said he sees more innovation in the technology field. Several San Francisco start-ups have started offering seminar-style college courses aimed at training people for tech jobs. And Stanford students and administrators have discussed a program to spread undergraduate studies over a longer period than four years.

But of all the residential campuses, Stevens said he believes Davidson College near Charlotte, N.C., has done the best job of exploring alternatives to the traditional four-year schedule among selective private schools.

The school has offered “flipped” courses in which students watch lectures on their computers and spend their time in class interacting with their peers and professors. The school also started an adult learning institute that offers primarily evening courses designed for adult students.

At Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, professors have been tracking results for students taking “flipped” classes and comparing them against the same class in a traditional setting.

Davidson President Carol Quillen said she’s not sure what role flipped courses and adult learning will play in the college’s future. “No one knows what the impact of new technologies is going to be on higher education,” she said.

Quillen said the college is likely to keep trying to find ways to integrate technology in the classroom, but she didn’t foresee it tearing down dorms any time soon.

“It would be foolish and possibly irresponsible to ignore it,” she said. “I don’t know how we can tell students they can make a difference in the world if we don’t teach them about technology.”

via Professors question traditional four-year residential college model – LA Times.

Religion’s Role in the History of Ideas – WSJ:

It happens every year. In teaching my humanities class, I ask what a philosopher had in mind in writing about the immortality of the soul or salvation, and suddenly my normally loquacious undergraduates start staring down intently at their notes. If I ask them a factual theological question about the Protestant Reformation, they are ready with an answer: predestination, faith not works, etc.

But if I go on to ask them how one knows in one’s heart that one is saved, they turn back to their notes. They look anywhere but at me, for fear that I might ask them about feeling the love of God or about having a heart filled with faith. In this intellectual history class, we talk about sexuality and identity, violence and revolution, art and obscenity, and the students are generally eager to weigh in. But when the topic of religious feeling and experience comes up, they would obviously just prefer that I move on to another subject.

Why is it so hard for my very smart students to make this leap—not the leap of faith but the leap of historical imagination? I’m not trying to make a religious believer out of anybody, but I do want my students to have a nuanced sense of how ideas of knowledge, politics and ethics have been intertwined with religious faith and practice.

via Religion’s Role in the History of Ideas – WSJ.

 

20
Feb
15

2.20.15 … Step 6: We came to see that, despite often feeling stressed by the demands of life, taking time every day to be in stillness, provides a “peace” that is essential to our well-being. We are more present, available and willing to see the mystery of serendipity and coincidence. We are loved / The Red Boot Coalition …

“Solvitur Ambulando” – It is solved by walking, 2015 Lenten Labyrinth Walks 3/40,  Avondale Presbyterian Church – Charlotte NC, Step 6: We are loved / The Red Boot Coalition:

Chimes … Beautiful today. It was 25°, but it’s unbelievably sunny, so it did not feel cold.
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On the phone while walking … But this friend keeps me centered so I enjoyed the  conversation at the center.
Be still … I focused on Psalm 46:10. But I used it for thinking of it in this way as I just saw this video at a class on Tuesday a week ago …  Be Still meditation … http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/be-still
There was ice on the labyrinth in the spots where the shade normally is. That made for interesting contrast as well as an interesting extra effort as you walk across the ice. It made the walk very intentional at times.
iPhone expired; therefore there are very few pics.
I also reviewed in my mind the Red Boot Coalition meeting that I had attended this morning.   We focused on Step 6.

Step 6: We are loved

We came to see that, despite often feeling stressed by the demands of life, taking time every day to be in stillness, provides a “peace” that is essential to our well-being. We are more present, available and willing to see the mystery of serendipity and coincidence.

We are loved.

via Step 6: We are loved / The Red Boot Coalition.

I had so many thoughts in my head. These were some of the things we talked about in connection with Step 6 …

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemy of Pilgrimage | On Being:

PAULO COELHO —

The Alchemy of Pilgrimage

The Brazilian lyricist Paulo Coelho is best known for his book, The Alchemist — which has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 300 weeks. His fable-like stories turn life, love, writing, and reading into pilgrimage. In a rare conversation, we meet the man behind the writings and explore what he’s touched in modern people.

via Paulo Coelho — The Alchemy of Pilgrimage | On Being.

http://bit.ly/Y8wMm3

Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer, NYTimes.com:  I am not sure what impressed me most about this essay … just read the whole thing.

And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

via Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer – NYTimes.com.

And this is a great reinterpretation of Psalm 46:10Be Still and know that I am God.

Barbara Brown Taylor’s book on Darkness:

I loved this …

If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of the devil from my life and the lives of those I love — if I could just find the right night lights to leave on.

Just from the title, I know that I’m going to get some candles and do a nighttime labyrinth walk in the next 10 days. I just need to.

via Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark | Dennard’s Clipping Service.

Dealing with the Psychological and Spiritual Aspects of Menopause: menopause midlife spiritual …  Dealing with the Psychological and Spiritual Aspects of Menopause: Finding … – Dana E King, Melissa Hunter, Jerri Harris, Harold G Koenig – Google Books.

Enjoy your day!!

 

27
Jan
15

1.27.15 … “Imagine that Christianity is about loving God. Imagine that it’s not about the self and its concerns, about ‘what’s in it for me,’ whether that be a blessed afterlife or prosperity in this life.” – Marcus Borg

Marcus Borg (Liberal Scholar on Historical Jesus), obituary, NYTimes.com:  I do not agree with his conclusions. but I do believe his work was important.

Marcus J. Borg, a scholar who popularized a liberal intellectual approach to Christianity with his lectures and books about Jesus as a historical figure, died on Wednesday at his home in Powell Butte, Ore. He was 72.

His publisher, HarperOne, said the cause was idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Professor Borg was among a group of scholars, known as the Jesus Seminar, who set off an uproar with its very public efforts to discern collectively which of Jesus’ acts and utterances could be confirmed as historically true, and which were probably myths.

His studies of the New Testament led him not toward atheism but toward a deep belief in the spiritual life and in Jesus as a teacher, healer and prophet. Professor Borg became, in essence, a leading evangelist of what is often called progressive Christianity.

“His own vision was not simply derived from opposing fundamentalist or literalist Christianity,” Mr. Crossan said. “It was a very positive vision. He could talk about Jesus and he could talk about Paul and the positive vision they had.”

In his last book, the memoir “Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most” (2014), Professor Borg wrote: “Imagine that Christianity is about loving God. Imagine that it’s not about the self and its concerns, about ‘what’s in it for me,’ whether that be a blessed afterlife or prosperity in this life.”

via Marcus Borg, Liberal Scholar on Historical Jesus, Dies at 72 – NYTimes.com.

religion before the modern period, civilization,  Karen Armstrong,  Sam Harris and Bill Maher: “It fills me with despair, because this is the sort of talk that led to the concentration camps” – Salon.com.

First of all, there is the whole business about religion before the modern period never having been considered a separate activity but infusing and cohering with all other activities, including state-building, politics and warfare. Religion was part of state-building, and a lot of the violence of our world is the violence of the state. Without this violence we wouldn’t have civilization. Agrarian civilization depended upon a massive structural violence. In every single culture or pre-modern state, a small aristocracy expropriated the serfs and peasants and kept them at subsistence level.This massive, iniquitous system is responsible for our finest achievements, and historians tell us that without this iniquitous system we probably wouldn’t have progressed beyond subsistence level. Therefore, we are all implicated in this violence. No state, however peace-loving it claims to be, can afford to disband its army, so when people say religion has been the cause of all the major wars in history this is a massive oversimplification. Violence is at the heart of our lives, in some form or another

via Karen Armstrong on Sam Harris and Bill Maher: “It fills me with despair, because this is the sort of talk that led to the concentration camps” – Salon.com.

9 Things You Should Know About Vintage Christianity, OnFaith, lists:  Interesting list … something to think about.

“I am dedicated to unoriginality.” So said historical theologian Thomas Oden in his classic work, Classical Christianity. He goes on: “I plan to present nothing new or original in these pages . . . My aim is to present classical Christian teaching of God on its own terms, undiluted by modern posturing.”

I echo Oden. Because, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, this year is the year to go backwards in order to move forwards in our faith.

To regress, by rediscovering and retrieving the vintage Christian faith.

But what do I mean by vintage Christianity? Before we can explore it, let’s define it. And since everyone seems to be doing listicles these days, here are nine things you need to know about the vintage Christian faith …

via 9 Things You Should Know About Vintage Christianity | OnFaith.

Modern Farmer Ceases Publication, NYTimes.com:  I hate it when I miss something good.

Modern Farmer Combines Serious Coverage With LambCam, Hits Jackpot – Businessweek.

The magazine itself was part of an emerging genre of food-related publications like Lucky Peach and Cherry Bombe, which offer readers a media experience that is as much tactile as it is about content.

“It is part of a genre of very niche publications that say one thing we can do is create this beautifully designed artifact,” said the author and magazine veteran Kurt Andersen.

The problem, he said, may simply have been one of audience and execution.

“I don’t want to speak ill of the dying, but what is the plausible audience in such a magazine?” he asked. “It was too kind of nitty-gritty and old-fashioned, back-to-the-land hippie magazine for the food-farm porn market, and yet too ‘What about the dairy situation in the Philippines?’ for people who are really raising chickens for a living.”

via Modern Farmer Ceases Publication – NYTimes.com.

Each issue of Modern Farmer, the stylish agrarian quarterly, has an austere portrait of an animal on the cover. So far, there have been six. The animals look remote and self-satisfied, as if nothing you said could matter to them, just like human models. The first cover had a rooster with an eye resembling a tiny dark paperweight. The second had a goat looking haughtily askance. The third was of a sheep whose gaze is so penetrating that she seems to be trying to hypnotize you. The fourth was of a pig in profile whose ears flop forward like a visor; according to a note by the photographer, a pig’s flopped ears trap smells as it searches for food. The fifth had a hulking farm dog with a ruff like a headdress, and the sixth has a serene-looking cow with a black face and a white forehead and nose. Ann Marie Gardner, the magazine’s founder and editor, says that she always thought she would have animals on the cover. The art director, Sarah Gephart, says, however, that she had nearly finished designing the magazine when Gardner told her that the cover would have animals. “We thought it would be people,” Gephart said.

Modern Farmer appeared in the spring of 2013. After three issues, it won a National Magazine Award; no other magazine had ever won so quickly. According to Gardner, though, Modern Farmer is less a magazine than an emblem of “an international life-style brand.” This is the life style of people who want to “eat food with a better backstory”—from slaughterhouses that follow humane practices, and from farmers who farm clean and treat their workers decently. Also, food cultists who like obscure foods and believe that fruits and vegetables taste different depending on where they are grown. Also, aspirational farmers, hobby farmers, intern farmers, student farmers, WWOOFers—people who take part in programs sponsored by the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms movement—and people who stay at hotels on farms where they eat things grown by the owners. Plus idlers in cubicles searching for cheap farmland and chicken fences and what kind of goats give the best milk. Such people “have a foot in each world, rural and urban,” Gardner says. She calls them Rurbanistas, a term she started using after hearing the Spanish word rurbanismo, which describes the migration from the city to the countryside. Rurbanistas typify the Modern Farmer audience.

via Modern Farmer Plows Ahead – The New Yorker.

Ann Clark, CMS, Davidson alumni:

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Veteran Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administrator Ann Clark was named superintendent Tuesday while the school board searches for a long-term leader – but Clark will not be considered for that job.

Instead, Clark said she plans to retire from the district in 2016 when a new superintendent is selected and ready to take office.

Clark’s new position will cap a three-decade career rising through the CMS ranks. Her selection also fills the void left by former Superintendent Heath Morrison, who resigned in November after an investigation into claims that he bullied staff members. The months since then have been marked by uncertainty among the district’s 18,000 employees and the Charlotte community.

“Ann will provide the stability and direction we need,” school board Chairwoman Mary McCray said.

Clark, who had been the deputy superintendent, said it was her decision not to be considered for the position long term. She said she had planned to file the paperwork Dec. 1 to retire this spring, but after Morrison’s departure she decided it would be in the district’s best interest for her to stay.

via Ann Clark to serve as CMS superintendent until 2016 | CharlotteObserver.com.

2015 NBA All-Star Game starters,  ESPN, Steph Curry: On a more cheerful note …

The star of the NBA-leading Warriors, Curry ended up with more than 1.5 million votes, more than 42,000 ahead of James, who had a 13,285-vote lead over the sharpshooter at the previous update. James was the leading vote-getter last year, preceded by Kobe Bryant in 2013. Curry, who just two years ago was an All-Star snub, becomes the first Warriors player elected to consecutive starts since Chris Mullin in 1991-92.

via 2015 NBA All-Star Game starters announced – ESPN.

9 Mystery Books , lists, Downton Abbey:

There’s a reason more than 10 million people tuned in Downton Abbey’s fifth season premiere — and it’s not because of the pretty costumes! From dark family secrets to untimely deaths to salacious gossip, Downton Abbey delivers an unparalleled level of mystery and drama week after week.

We rounded up nine mysteries set in the Edwardian period and beyond that promise all of the drama Downton Abbey fans have come to know and love! Check out the full list below, complete with publishers’ descriptions and reviews

via 9 Mystery Books to Read If You Like Downton Abbey.

C.S. Lewis, BBC Broadcasts During WWII:

During the second world war, people in Britian were facing life and death issues every day.  The director of religious programming, at the BBC, asked C.S. Lewis to give some “Broadcast Talks” about faith.

At first, Lewis was unsure – he liked neither the radio nor traveling to London.  He finally relented, because he thought it was his duty.  His first talks were so successful that the BBC wanted him to do more – and he agreed.

via C.S. Lewis – BBC Broadcasts During WWII.

Milton Friedman, macroeconomics:  Interesting.

Friedman’s negative income tax proposed that we eliminate poverty with one fell swoop by providing everyone with a livable income, no matter what their employment status is.

Wow, right?

Before we move forward, let’s acknowledge that there’s something not quite perfect about an old white guy coming in to save the “helpless poor people” (see The White Savior Industrial Complex). But Friedman’s idea of a negative income tax is worth discussing not because he’s such a nice guy; it’s worth discussing because it’s a valuable policy idea.

A variation of Friedman’s plan is often referred to as a guaranteed basic income.

via An Interviewer Doesn’t Know How To Handle His Guest Because He Got Something Quite Unexpected.

25
Jan
15

1.25.15 … Oh, no, no more yetis or Easter Island statues!! Or dog water bowls that look like toilets!! …

SkyMall, bankruptcy, WSJ:  Oh, no, no more yetis or Easter Island statues!! Or dog water bowls that look like toilets!!

The company behind the in-flight catalog SkyMall filed for bankruptcy protection, a victim of evolving rules and technology that now lets airline passengers keep their smartphones and tablets powered up during flight.

After 25 years selling quirky products like a Darth Vader toaster or a paper towel holder with USB ports, SkyMall LLC is seeking a court supervised sale of its assets, according to papers filed Thursday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix.

“We are extremely disappointed in this result and are hopeful that SkyMall and the iconic ‘SkyMall’ brand find a home to continue to operate,” acting Chief Executive Scott Wiley said in a statement Friday.

The company, which started in 1989, fully suspended its retail catalog operation Jan. 16, and also laid off 47 of its 137 employees, according to court papers. SkyMall’s parent company Xhibit Corp. , which acquired the business in 2013, is also seeking Chapter 11 protection.

via SkyMall Files for Bankruptcy – WSJ.

And I’ve mentioned Skymall before … more than once …  5.5.14 … SkyMall: A Tour Of The American Psyche … We hurt … We don’t want to look fat … We love our home and our pets … we don’t know where to store our shoes … We wish we had the money to order an 8-foot-tall silverback gorilla statue or a small, motorized gondola that moves around a pool while a 2-foot-tall gondolier named Luciano Pool-varotti sings … | Dennard’s Clipping Service.

and …

travel, random:  OK, I admit it … while John does the Sudoku puzzles in the magazines, I look through SkyMall to see what ridiculous think I want this trip … and the winner this month is … one or two?

via 6.22.2010 … summer … | Dennard’s Clipping Service.

labyrinth, Lauren Artress:

“The labyrinth is a mandala that meets our longing for a change of heart, for a change of ways in how we live together on this fragile island home, and for the energy, the vision, and the courage to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” – Lauren Artress

Jean-Claude Baker (‘Son’ of Josephine Baker), obituaries, NYTimes.com: “irrepressible impresario of his own improbable life” … I had to think about that one.

He told a few friends last week that he had finished his will, an impressive gesture even for the famously unbridled Jean-Claude Baker, irrepressible impresario of his own improbable life.

Over the nearly three decades since wresting his bustling night spot Chez Josephine from the X-rated morass of West 42nd Street, Mr. Baker — who had been mothered as a destitute teenager in France by the fading erotic stage sensation Josephine Baker — had delivered exhausting bonhomie to celebrity-rich audiences of pre- and post-theater diners.

But at 71 he was finding it increasingly wearisome.

“I’ve been a little bit under the blue weather lately,” he emailed me in late November, on why he had proposed lunch and then gone missing. Last summer, he wrote, “It’s becoming very difficult to keep the dream alive” and “my brain is tired.”

Still, it seemed easy to discount his mood swings.

“He’d been saying for 25 years, ‘I can’t go on, I’m going to kill myself,’ ” said Richard Hunnings, one of Mr. Baker’s oldest friends and general manager of Manhattan Plaza, the artist-friendly rental complex across 42nd Street at Ninth Avenue.

Yet there he was, night after night, in his Shanghai Tang silks, red mandarin outfits and black soutane, embracing patrons, dispensing gigs to needy musicians and leaking juicy self-promotional tidbits to the gossip columns.

Last Thursday morning, he was found dead in his Mercedes that had been running in the enclosed garage of his East Hampton, N.Y., home.

via Jean-Claude Baker, ‘Son’ of Josephine Baker, Is Remembered – NYTimes.com.

Krista Tippett, Why I Don’t Do Christmas | On Being: Christmas is troubling in a secular world with family members who have beliefs all over the spectrum.  So I like her conclusion: “As I said, we need each other. And that impulse, surely, is deep in the original heart even of the most secular things like Santa Claus and surrounding your home with lights: examining what we are to each other and experiencing that, sometimes when we do this, something transcendent happens.”

Here’s what I take seriously. There is something audacious and mysterious and reality-affirming in the assertion that has stayed alive for two thousand years that God took on eyes and ears and hands and feet, hunger and tears and laughter and the flu, joy and pain and gratitude and our terrible, redemptive human need for each other. It’s not provable, but it’s profoundly humanizing and concretely and spiritually exacting. And it’s no less rational — no more crazy — than economic and political myths to which we routinely deliver over our fates in this culture, to our individual and collective detriment.

So here’s what I’m thinking about this Christmas. Recently I followed up on a promise I’ve been making myself for years: to wash and sort and give away all the good clothing my kids have outgrown as they’ve left childhood behind. It’s embarrassing that I never took the time to do this all along. In the course of digging around for where to donate, I stumbled on the site of a charity that works with homeless teenagers. It turns out that they’re not asking in the first instance for all these Levis and good-as-new, cool t-shirts. They’re asking for donations of socks and coats. They’re asking for newly purchased underwear, noting that most of us take for granted our ever-renewable supplies of clean underwear that fits.

I’m not going to buy any presents this year. We will go shopping as a family for these homeless teenagers, and I’ll try to be honest about the equivalent I would spend on my own children on the commercial holy days if I believed in them. I report this in some hope of feeding a little rebellion I sense many of us are quietly tending. But I also make it public to be sure I follow through.

As I said, we need each other. And that impulse, surely, is deep in the original heart even of the most secular things like Santa Claus and surrounding your home with lights: examining what we are to each other and experiencing that, sometimes when we do this, something transcendent happens.

via Why I Don’t Do Christmas | On Being.

 

22
Jun
14

6.22.14 … On the summer solstice, three siblings and one lone outlaw spouse …

On the summer solstice, three siblings and one lone outlaw spouse  enjoyed an outdoor fire in Atlanta after a delightful dinner and several glasses of delightful wine or other spirits … followed by  a spirited discussion of all things political and religious …

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The Gift of Siblings, NYTimes.com:  Worth reposting … .

“Siblings are the only relatives, and perhaps the only people you’ll ever know, who are with you through the entire arc of your life,” the writer Jeffrey Kluger observed to Salon in 2011, the year his book “The Sibling Effect” was published. “Your parents leave you too soon and your kids and spouse come along late, but your siblings know you when you are in your most inchoate form.”

Of course the “entire arc” part of Kluger’s comments assumes that untimely death doesn’t enter the picture, and that acrimony, geography or mundane laziness doesn’t pull brothers and sisters apart, to a point where they’re no longer primary witnesses to one another’s lives, no longer fellow passengers, just onetime housemates with common heritages.

That happens all too easily, and whenever I ponder why it didn’t happen with Mark, Harry, Adelle and me — each of us so different from the others — I’m convinced that family closeness isn’t a happy accident, a fortuitously smooth blend of personalities.

IT’S a resolve, a priority made and obeyed. Mark and his wife, Lisa, could have stayed this weekend in the Boston area, where they live, and celebrated his 50th with his many nearby college buddies. Harry and his wife, Sylvia, could have taken a pass on a trip to New York: they’re traveling all the way from the Los Angeles area, their home. But we made a decision to be together, and it’s the accretion of such decisions across time that has given us so many overlapping memories, which are in turn our glue.

via The Gift of Siblings – NYTimes.com.

Davidson College, Document Legacy of Lake Norman Online:

Lake Norman, the largest manmade lake in the Carolinas, was created in 1964 when Duke Energy built a hydroelectric dam on the nearby Catawba River. As buildings and roads vanished underwater and backyards suddenly turned into shoreline, Lake Norman transformed the local community.

The anniversary prompted college archivist Jan Blodgett to think about cataloguing the history of this prominent environmental feature. At the same time, Duke Energy officials approached her about creating an online educational resource for the public.

“The creation of Lake Norman changed the landscape of the region both literally and figuratively,” said Tim Gause, Duke Energy district manager. “It was and continues to be a catalyst for growth and vitality. We certainly appreciate the need to preserve its colorful history.”

Blodgett subsequently collaborated with Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Brad Johnson and Professor of Economics David Martin to conceive the DCLNP as an assignment for environmental studies majors.

Johnson said this project also comes at an important phase in the lake’s history. “We are right at the point of losing the people who still remember what this area was like before Lake Norman. It’s important to hear the stories of these people so that they can be preserved,” he explained.

via Students Document Legacy of Lake Norman Online – Davidson College.

South Africa, Much too fat, The Economist:  First world problems …

South Africa’s latest ailment could herald a dangerous trend across the rest of Africa and the poor world, where obesity is projected to increase dramatically in the next two decades, along with urbanisation and economic development. It is a paradox that in places where malnutrition in children is high, adults are increasingly likely to be overweight or obese, say researchers.

Most South Africans sound comfortable with their waistlines. A health-and-nutrition survey published by the country’s Human Sciences Research Council found that two-thirds of South African men and women reckoned that they ate and drank healthily, with no need to change their way of life. Indeed, 88% of 25,500 South Africans interviewed indicated that the body image they deemed ideal was, in fact, fat.

via South Africa: Much too fat | The Economist.

Reflections On a Davidson College Reunion Weekend | Paul Dryden:  I have to ask if any of my ’79 friends were there when the police arrived?

My hope takes form in a rumor swirling around during reunion weekend about the class of 1979. Those 56- and 57-year-olds, so said the chatter, stayed up all Friday night to catch up and get rowdy with drinks. They say the campus police came in to breakup the frolics at 5 a.m. This makes me smile. I hope it’s true because inside that party I can imagine many old classmates thawing the friendship freeze that came as life marched on; reconnecting in ways they haven’t in the 35 years since their graduation. Their kids are grown up, and their careers are winding down. They have time that we simply don’t right now. I hope they take these rekindled friendships home, pick up the phone a little more often, and act like dumb 20- year-olds together.

via Reflections On a Davidson College Reunion Weekend | Paul Dryden

 

 

 

14
Jun
14

6.14.14 … greedy seniors … really?

Medicare, seniors:  My siblings and I have spent a great deal of time in the last 3 weeks making sure my mom gets the full benefits under her Medicare, AARP Supplemental policy and paid for contractual benefits from her continuous care facility. It is exhausting and challenging.  One slip up and she can be denied benefits that are worth thousands of dollars.  And this is wrong.  And now we have a people who have a misperception that these seniors are greedy?

Whatever image you may have of America’s seniors and of people on Medicare, the reality is that when more of us baby boomers are “seniors,” most will have very modest means and will be dependent on their families and public programs such as Medicare and Social Security for their retirement security.

via The Truth About Those ‘Greedy’ Seniors – Washington Wire – WSJ.

Remark by Obama Complicates Military Sexual Assault Trials:  Another from my backlog, but you have to wonder why Obama keeps getting criticized for muddying issues …

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

Published: July 13, 2013

WASHINGTON — When President Obama proclaimed that those who commit sexual assault in the military should be “prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged,” it had an effect he did not intend: muddying legal cases across the country.

President Obama at a meeting on sexual assault in the military in May. Judges and defense lawyers have said his remark on the issue has tainted prosecutions.

In at least a dozen sexual assault cases since the president’s remarks at the White House in May, judges and defense lawyers have said that Mr. Obama’s words as commander in chief amounted to “unlawful command influence,” tainting trials as a result. Military law experts said that those cases were only the beginning and that the president’s remarks were certain to complicate almost all prosecutions for sexual assault.

“Unlawful command influence” refers to actions of commanders that could be interpreted by jurors as an attempt to influence a court-martial, in effect ordering a specific outcome. Mr. Obama, as commander in chief of the armed forces, is considered the most powerful person to wield such influence.

The president’s remarks might have seemed innocuous to civilians, but military law experts say defense lawyers will seize on the president’s call for an automatic dishonorable discharge, the most severe discharge available in a court-martial, arguing that his words will affect their cases.

via Remark by Obama Complicates Military Sexual Assault Trials – NYTimes.com.

 

The Decline of North Carolina – NYTimes.com:  This is an article worth revisiting.  It is from July 2013.  I fear we have moved even farther  to dismantle our good reputation.  We have always been “conservative”  so the issue is really the extremism of the tea party and the religious right, not the traditional conservatism.  The Republican Party needs to refocus and redirect.  It needs to once again be a “beacon of farsightedness.”

North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.

via The Decline of North Carolina – NYTimes.com.

Abortion Provision Among Practicing Obstetrician–Gynecologists:  I have several friends with whom I debate many social issues.  One thing that concerns me about abortion is that quality doctors are completely hands off.

Objective

To estimate prevalence and correlates of abortion provision among practicing obstetrician–gynecologists in the United States.

Methods

We conducted a national probability sample mail survey of 1,800 practicing obstetrician–gynecologists. Key variables included whether respondents ever encountered patients seeking abortion in their practice, and whether they provided abortion services. Correlates of providing abortion included physician demographic characteristics, religious affiliation, religiosity, and the religious affiliation of the facility in which a physician primarily practices.

Results

Among practicing obstetrician–gynecologists, 97% encountered patients seeking abortions, while 14% performed them. Young female physicians were the most likely to provide abortions (18.6% vs. 10.6%, adjusted OR = 2.54, 95% CI = 1.57–4.08), as were those in the Northeast or West, those in highly urban zip codes, and those who identify as Jewish. Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, non–Evangelical Protestants, and physicians with high religious motivation were less likely to provide abortions.

Conclusion

The proportion of U.S. obstetrician–gynecologists who provide abortion may be lower than estimated in previous research. Access to abortion remains limited by the willingness of physicians to provide abortion services, particularly in rural communities and in the South and Midwest.

via Abortion Provision Among Practicing Obstetrician–Gynecologists.

Other resources: US National Library of Medicine , National Institutes of Health

Congressman Responds Like Real Human Person Would After Getting An Absurd Letter From His Co-Workers:  This is another old one from my backlog, but again, it is worthy of thought.  Definitely a teachable moment.

When some anonymous congressmen sent around a draft letter addressed to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to see if they could get some co-signers to protest the immigration reform bill, a high school teacher decided to make it a teachable moment. Said teacher, now-Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), unleashed his markup pen on the letter to grade the accuracy of the work. This write-up avoids most of the partisanship we see these days and goes straight for the fact-checking.

via Congressman Responds Like Real Human Person Would After Getting An Absurd Letter From His Co-Workers.

Detroit, Bankruptcy,  Pension Protections, NYTimes.com:  This is from a while back, but I think it is worthy of cataloging.  I have friends this week in Detroit for the PC(USA) General Assembly.  i am interested to hear their perceptions of this dying city.

In a ruling that could reverberate far beyond Detroit, a federal judge held on Tuesday that this battered city could formally enter bankruptcy and asserted that Detroit’s obligation to pay pensions in full was not untouchable.

 Protesters outside the courthouse in Detroit. “This once proud and prosperous city cannot pay its debt,” Judge Steven W. Rhodes said.

The judge, Steven W. Rhodes, dealt a major blow to the widely held belief that state laws preserve public pensions, and his ruling is likely to resonate in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and many other American cities where the rising cost of pensions has been crowding out spending for public schools, police departments and other services.

The judge made it clear that public employee pensions were not protected in a federal Chapter 9 bankruptcy, even though the Michigan Constitution expressly protects them. “Pension benefits are a contractual right and are not entitled to any heightened protection in a municipal bankruptcy,” he said.

via Detroit Ruling on Bankruptcy Lifts Pension Protections – NYTimes.com.

 

 




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