Posts Tagged ‘teenagers

07
May
13

5.7.13 … more rainbows, kudos, bugs … am I oversharing? :)

FPC Charlotte, Charlotte NC: Beautiful skyline of Charlotte!

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Sports Illustrated, Steph Curry:  Kudos!  🙂

“Honored to be on next issue Sports Illustrated!” – Steph Curry

Dogwood Stable, Cot Campbell,  Palace Malice , blinkers: I wish palace Malice success in the summer season.

 Palace Malice broke alertly all right, but Goldencents to his inside and Itsmyluckyday to his outside were on their toes as well and things became competitive right away. So, as the field passed the finish post for the first time, the Dogwood Stable colt was, surprisingly, vying for the lead. The teletimer flashed 22 2/5 seconds, very fast considering the condition of the sloppy track.

Swinging into the first turn things went from bad to worse.

“The blinkers sharpened him too much,” Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell said. “Mike couldn’t hold him. He said he did everything he could and he still could not apply any restraint.”

By the time Palace Malice straightened for the run down the backstretch, he had covered a half mile in a blazing 45 1/5 seconds and his fate was sealed. He had run the second-fastest half mile (tied with two others) in Derby history, despite the sea of mud.

“He set a suicidal pace and you just can’t do that and win the Kentucky Derby,” Campbell said. “The blinkers were the villain.”

To the casual observer, Palace Malice seemed to be doing fine as he opened a three-length lead down the backside. His three-quarter mile fraction of 1:09 4/5 was tied for the fourth-fastest ever run in a Derby.

via Stable president says blinkers were ‘villain’ for Palace Malice | Mobile Augusta.

parenting, teenagers, church, spiritual v. religious, Mallory McDuff,  God’s Politics Blog,  Sojourners, kith/kin: With my youngest a freshman in college, I am barely on the other side of this battle and am not sure it was worth it.  I sent this to my kids with the request, “Read this one for me … ” They are 23, 21 and 18. I’ll let you if they respond.

In this age when the “spiritual but not religious” seem to have more relevance than churchgoers, it’s easy to wonder why church attendance matters at all.  But I believe that we need common spaces, more grounded than the corner Starbucks, to discern right actions in a world faced with crises like climate change and stark economic disparities.

Our teenagers and our children must shape these sacred spaces where we can grapple with our questions but act in faith through practices of forgiveness, feeding, hospitality, and care of creation. As Diana Butler Bass notes, “Right now, the church does not need to convert the world. The world needs to convert the church.”

I made Maya go to church because we may not know why we are here, but we can pass along a little light to others on the journey. And maybe that’s what we need to create a little heaven on earth.

via Why I Made My Teenager Go to Church – Mallory McDuff | God’s Politics Blog | Sojourners.

East Coast US,  cicadas: Definitely not on my list … but it was a non-event in Charlotte last time, 17 years ago.

Any day now, billions of cicadas with bulging red eyes will crawl out of the earth after 17 years underground and overrun the East Coast. The insects will arrive in such numbers that people from North Carolina to Connecticut will be outnumbered roughly 600-to-1. Maybe more.

Scientists even have a horror-movie name for the infestation: Brood II. But as ominous as that sounds, the insects are harmless. They won’t hurt you or other animals. At worst, they might damage a few saplings or young shrubs. Mostly they will blanket certain pockets of the region, though lots of people won’t ever see them.

via East about to be overrun by billions of cicadas.

oversharing, WSJ.com: Oversharing … probably guilty …

Ever share too much information—and you weren’t even tipsy? I call it BYB—Blabbing Your Business. It’s happening a lot these days thanks to reality TV and social media sites, where it’s perfectly normal for people to share every single detail of their lives, no matter how mundane or personal. In the culture we live in, it’s hard to remember that some things should be private.

via What Makes People Overshare? – WSJ.com.

27
Sep
11

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

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

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

via First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC.

Steven Pinker, violence, history:  Great piece …

“How bad was the world in the past?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via Ordering Death in Georgia Prisons – The Daily Beast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via Seeing Shadows – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda Knox called “she-devil” in court

Anxiety grips Amanda Knox as appeal wraps up

Prosecutors compare Amanda Knox to Nazis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

digital photography, organization, tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

via TechCrunch Predicts Bookstores Will Disappear by 2018 – GalleyCat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25
Apr
11

4.25.2011 … Easter Monday … Happy anniversary to many (so many post Lent weddings!) …

religion and spirituality, culture, academics:  Post Easter … really enjoyed this article.

To bring a little scientific order to the matter, researchers taking part in a multinational project called Explaining Religion have spent three years gathering data on various aspects of religious practice and on the sorts of moral behaviour that religions often claim to govern. The data-collection phase was wrapped up at the end of 2010, and the results are starting to be published.

At the moment, most students of the field would agree that they are still in the “stamp collecting” phase that begins many a new science—in which facts are accumulated without it being clear where any of them fit in. But some intriguing patterns are already beginning to emerge. In particular, the project’s researchers have studied the ideas of just deserts, of divine disapproval and of the nature of religious ritual.

One theory of the origin of religion is that it underpins the extraordinary capacity for collaboration that led to the rise of Homo sapiens. A feature of many religions is the idea that evil is divinely punished and virtue is rewarded. Cheats or the greedy, in other words, get their just deserts. The selflessness which that belief encourages might help explain religion’s evolution. But is the idea of universal just deserts truly instinctive, as this interpretation suggests it should be?

via Religious studies: The good god guide | The Economist.

culture, parenting, daughters, teenagers, kith/kin:  It is hard enough once they hit 15 or so … but at 7-12 … come on parents, do the right thing.  I took it as a very nice compliment when a friend who saw a picture of my daughter and said, “…good skin to dress ratio, Mom!!! My friends with girls say that is the hardest part about prom, finding a dress with the right ratio:)”  Thanks, Susra.

Yeah, that 8-year-old girl was something to see all right. … I hope her parents are proud. Their daughter was the sexiest girl in the terminal, and she’s not even in middle school yet.

In 2007, the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls issued a report linking early sexualization with three of the most common mental-health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. There’s nothing inherently wrong with parents wanting to appease their daughters by buying them the latest fashions. But is getting cool points today worth the harm dressing little girls like prostitutes could cause tomorrow?

A line needs to be drawn, but not by Abercrombie. Not by Britney Spears. And not by these little girls who don’t know better and desperately need their parents to be parents and not 40-year-old BFFs.

via Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps – CNN.com.

parenting, bullying, culture:  Again, parents need to take their job seriously.  There is no excuse for bullying in the early years.  Parents must take responsibility.

Katie is donating many of the books and toys to other kids.

A fan created a Facebook event suggesting that people wear “Star Wars” gear on December 10 to support Katie. The Goldmans also asked participants to donate Star Wars toys to charities for the holidays. About 20,000 people have signed up.

“What strikes me is how these individuals who were once so isolated are now part of a very tight community,” Goldman wrote on her blog this month. “They have found each other; they are plugged into each other, and they have each other’s backs. Now they have Katie’s back, too.”

Katie isn’t doing any more interviews. There are scales to practice, Spanish words to memorize, baby sisters to play with. She still has to wear the dreaded eye patch, and eat lunch with the kids in her class. She is very busy being 7.

But on December 10, her school will host Proud To Be Me Day. Kids will be encouraged to wear something that shows what they’re interested in, whether it’s princesses, sports, animals and anime.

Katie will have the force of thousands behind her, and a “Star Wars” water bottle.

via ‘The Force’ is with you, Katie – CNN.com.

public spaces, places, NYC:  I think I may just take the night megabus to NYC and spend the day … any body want to go?

The great outdoors calls, and even without counting Central Park, there’s a great deal of it in New York City. There are more than 1,700 parks in the five boroughs, according to the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. (Though with the 0.04 acre Septuagesimo Uno Park, on 71st Street between West End and Amsterdam Avenues, on that list, it’s a number best taken with a grain of asphalt.) Here, a baker’s dozen’s worth of sites to enjoy the warm weather, when it arrives.

via A Warm-Weather Guide to New York City – NYTimes.com.

culture, Benjamin Franklin, Jane Mecom (Benjamin Franklin’s sister), history:  Never knew old Ben had a sister … interesting story.

That world was changing. In 1789, Boston for the first time, allowed girls to attend public schools. The fertility rate began declining. The American Revolution made possible a new world, a world of fewer obstacles, a world with a promise of equality. That required — and still requires — sympathy.

Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia in 1790, at the age of 84. In his will, he left Jane the house in which she lived. And then he made another bequest, more lasting: he gave one hundred pounds to the public schools of Boston.

Jane Mecom died in that house in 1794. Later, during a political moment much like this one, when American politics was animated by self-serving invocations of the founders, her house was demolished to make room for a memorial to Paul Revere.

via Poor Jane’s Almanac – NYTimes.com.

college life, UVA, fraternities:  This story is troubling … but the solution proposed is too broad.

I had a miserable semester back at home, working in a department store and looking for somewhere else to go to school. But the truth was that I wanted to go to Virginia. I went back in the spring, and while few things have had as a profound an effect on my life as my UVA education, my deep mistrust of the fraternities limited the ways I engaged in life on campus and almost robbed me of the education itself.

If you want to improve women’s lives on campus, if you want to give them a fair shot at living and learning as freely as men, the first thing you could do is close down the fraternities. The Yale complaint may finally do what no amount of female outrage and violation has accomplished. It just might shut them down for good.

via Shutter Fraternities for Young Women’s Good | Home Land – WSJ.com.

Easter basket/candy, Peeps, Peep Show, Chilean Miner Rescue:  Another Peep contest!

This year’s winning diorama, which depicts the dramatic rescue of 33 mine workers in Copiapo, Chile, last October, is the work of Mary Jo Ondrejka from Reston; Bryn Metzdorf from Fairfax; and Margaret Hartka from Parkton, Md. A Peep version of miner Ariel Ticona meets his newborn daughter for the first time, while Peep Johnny Barrios Rojas is greeted by both his wife and mistress.

via Peeps Show V – The Washington Post.

hobbies, needlepoint, kith/kin:  My grandmother did needlepoint and I love every piece of work she did.  It is a beautiful art.

It wasn’t long ago that the word “needlepoint” conjured up thoughts of dusty cushions with fusty florals. But in recent years, thanks to a handful of retailers, designers and enthusiasts, the craft has become cool again.

via It’s not your grandmother’s needlepoint – The Washington Post.

science, physics, “God particle”:  Wow …

The world’s largest atom smasher is rumoured to have found the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle otherwise known as the ‘God particle’.

The speculation is based on a leaked internal note, said to be from physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17 mile-long particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland.

The rumours started when an anonymous post disclosed part of the note on Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit’s blog, Not Even Wrong.

Awestruck: An amateur photographer takes a picture during an open day at the 17 mile-long LHC atom smasher in Switzerland

While some physicists are dismissing the note as a hoax, others say the find could be a huge particle physics breakthrough in understanding the workings of the universe.

Physicist Sheldon Stone of Syracuse University said: ‘If it were to be real, it would be really exciting.’

More…

The genius who shrank the globe: Why after 70 years we should celebrate jet engine inventor Frank Whittle

The Higgs boson is predicted to exist by the particle physics theory known as the Standard Model. The Higgs boson, physicists believe, bestows mass on all the other particles and was crucial to forming the cosmos after the Big Bang.

via Science world buzzing over rumours elusive ‘God particle’ has been found | Mail Online.

Middle East Awakening, oil crisis, Chicago:  $4.27 in Chicago …

Chicago's at top as gas prices jump again

Chicago at top as gas prices jump

The average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has jumped about 12 cents over the past two weeks, and Chicagoans are paying the highest average price in the country. The Lundberg Survey of fuel prices puts the average price for a gallon of regular at $3.88, as of April 22. Chicago had the highest average price for gas at $4.27.

via Chicago Tribune: Chicago news, sports, weather and traffic – chicagotribune.com.

04
Feb
11

2.4.2011 …. 35 and raining … winter in the South like I remember it!

winter, The South:  I prefer snow to rain … 🙂 .. “singing in the rain” … but I agree with Tim … least favorite weather ..

NASA, Mark Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords, prayers: Godspeed, Mark Kelly!  And Prayers for a continued miraculous recovery, Gabrielle Giffords!

“I am looking forward to rejoining my crew members and finishing our training for the mission,” said Mr. Kelly. “We have been preparing for more than 18 months, and we will be ready to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Sepectrometer to the International Space Station and compete the other objectives of the flight.”

via Gabrielle Giffords’ Husband Mark Kelly to Command NASA Shuttle | Politically Illustrated.

followup, tweets, Chinese new year, politically correct:  So is it incorrect to say Chinese New Year?

@BarackObama

I send my best wishes for peace, prosperity, and good health to all who celebrate the Lunar New Year across the U.S. and around the world.

via Twitter / @Barack Obama: I send my best wishes for ….

community service, boy scouts, Loaves & Fishes, tweets, tomorrow 2/5:

Trying to gather a record 10,800 grocery bags of donated food in one morning (at an estimated 10 pounds per bag) would pretty much take a battalion of men and a convoy of SUVs.

But that’s the goal of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from St. Matthew Catholic Church, for Saturday’s Scouting for Food drive to benefit Loaves & Fishes.

via Events & News – Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry – Groceries for Neighbors in Need – Charlotte, NC.

Scouting for Food is tomorrow! Please don’t rain!

via Loaves & Fishes (loavesfishesnc) on Twitter.

tweets, LOL: My brother-in-law sent me this one. 

12:22 PM Jan 29th: Slipped on ice last night. Out of commission. Meds in control. Strange political dreams. And SpongeBob makes sense.

via Larry Sabato (larrysabato) on Twitter.

A comprehensive website run by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball features detailed and frequently updated analysis for elections across the country. The Crystal Ball keeps tabs on presidential elections, along with every Senate and gubernatorial race, as well as the tightest campaigns for the House.

via Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball » About.

man caves, ESPN:  Loved this article …

In part because it’s rarely discussed in mixed company, ESPN may be the most under-acknowledged media powerhouse in the United States. Since its debut in 1979, ESPN has ridden round-the-clock highlights, live events and testosterone-infused commentary into a 3D juggernaut of television, radio, print and digital that arguably constitutes the single greatest cultural force in male identity today.

Consider these facts: ESPN is the third-rated network on cable, according to Nielsen ratings. Half of all Americans, age 12 to 64, encounter one of its platforms every week, the network’s research shows. That figure includes two-thirds of men age 18 to 34, who stay an average of 56 minutes a day. Your husband, your neighbor, your boss may be spending one hour a day on ESPN. That loyalty adds up. ESPN’s revenues last year totaled $8.65 billion, according to Morgan Stanley, making up 23 percent of the total revenues of its parent, the Walt Disney Company.

“Nothing reaches men like sports,” said Michael Wilbon, a co-host on ESPN for “Pardon the Interruption,” “and nothing has branded sports like ESPN.”

The height of the new jock vanity is ESPN’s infatuation with male bodies. Commentators drool over other men’s abs, thighs and guns. ESPN The Magazine’s response to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is its Body issue, which features entirely naked men (and some women). The magazine even sells posters of the Knick superstar Amar’e Stoudemire dunking nude or the United States soccer goalie Tim Howard diving au naturel.

All of this talk of New Manhood does have an undercurrent of Old Manhood: how women are treated. On the one hand, ESPN deserves credit, after decades of negligence, for finally featuring women. “When I first started doing sports,” said Dana Jacobson, a co-host of “First Take,” “my dad said, ‘I think you’re really good, but I’d still rather watch a guy.’ After a couple of years, he finally changed his mind. And he’s not alone.”

But women are still the company’s sore spot. The network has experienced a rash of scandals involving sexual misconduct, workplace affairs and inappropriate language that at times makes ESPN the subject of as much gossip and lawsuits as the athletes it covers. This pink cloud has made covering the misconduct of superstars, like the Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, more challenging.

“I would hope that if we really are reaching that many young men,” Ms. Beadle said, “that we make sure we send a message.” She loved “celebrating the great stuff,” she said, but became upset “when you hear one dumb story after another about what men are doing.”

“Sometimes I think we don’t report those stories as much as other companies because of our relationship,” she said. “I want to make sure we don’t always make those guys heroes. What happens is that for the 17-, 18-year-old kid, the message is that he’s good at a sport, so it doesn’t matter how much of a pig he is.”

In a world where men do everything fast, from driving to parenting to flipping channels, ESPN is one place that forces them to stop, respect the clock at the center of most games, and connect to the men in their past. ESPN is the ultimate time machine. It takes men back to their boyhoods, and delivers them back to their sons, all in just under an hour.

via Dominating the Man Cave – This Life – NYTimes.com.

James Joyce, LOL:  Happy belated (2-2)birthday, Jim! Frank Delaney: Re: Joyce, Episode 34. The Re: Joyce Rap.

Jane Austen, icons:

It also led to an outcry of “Why now?” In a blink, Austen was everywhere on the silver screen. After a dry spell that lasted more than a half century, we were hit with three films hit in just two years. (The third being the Gwyneth Paltrow-starring ‘Emma.’) ‘Jane Austen in Hollywood’ discusses how Time Magazine ran a headline asking: “Sick of Jane Austen yet?” Wall Street declared the mania to be “cash driven.” Her immediate impact was so far-reaching, in fact, that ‘Austen in Hollywood’ details how the Socialist Workers’ Party Marxism ’96 Conference featured a session on “what is so great” about the author. Austen had become not only a cinematic icon, but also a social force to be reckoned with.

Essentially, it seems that Austen offers enough of any world that either the most conservative and traditional figure, or the most liberally modern-minded one, can thrive in Austen’s writing. Those who yearn for traditional values cling to the notions of romance and place — the quest to find love, financial security and someone with the appropriate lifestyle. For the more progressively minded, Austen offers an alternative glimpse of women during a time when they had little freedom, her pen having created a diverse roster of heroines, even if they were all romance-minded. To quite firmly grasp moviegoers on both sides of the spectrum, Austen becomes just about the most relevant creative source for women there is today.

Austen’s worlds are rife with diverse females, yes, from the mirth of Emma Woodhouse to the strict decorum of Elinor Dashwood. But they’re always so focused on their men and lives, that it’s easy to be pushed away. Yet we must remember our modern sensibilities, and also the wry commentary Austen — a woman who never experienced this literary love — relays. The women ultimately fit into society, but they also hint at something more, while chastising the world they must live in.

Austen’s women are completely foreign, yet ultimately relatable.

Are we clinging to the past? Does Austen offer a sense of release? Why is Jane Austen so beloved today?

via Girls on Film: Why Is Jane Austen So Popular Today? – Moviefone.

health, research, ALS, progress:

This imprecision has hindered the search for drugs that could slow or block the disease’s progress. But now a neurologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center here has won a $1 million prize — reportedly the largest ever for meeting a specific challenge in medical research — for developing a reliable way to quantify the small muscular changes that signal progressive deterioration.

The winner, Dr. Seward Rutkove, showed that his method could cut in half the cost of clinical trials to screen potential drugs for the disease, said Melanie Leitner, chief scientific officer of Prize4Life, the nonprofit group that created the competition.

via $1 Million Prize to Inventor of a Tracker for A.L.S., Lou Gehrig’s Disease – NYTimes.com.

media, new terms:  blogazine!

An online daily blogazine on Home Style, Life Style & You Style! Editor is Better Homes & Gardens Field Editor, Cynthia Bogart. (We’re not a BHG affiliate)

The THE DAILY BASICS Daily.

recycle:  loved the creativity here.

Just when you thought there were no uses for wire coat hangers other than for angling to get your locked car door open or using it to coax a wooden spoon out from under the stove, the creative folks at Anthropologie took a fantastical swipe at that perception.

via The Elegant Thrifter: Vintage and Thrift Shopping, Decorating and Entertaining with Elegant Flair: Reuse & Repurpose: Yes to Wire Coat Hangers.

economy, The Great Recession, parallel universes:  2011 and 1983 …

The unemployment rate declined four-tenths of a percentage point in one month. There had not been a monthly decline that large in many years, but economists were unimpressed. After all, the decline was caused in no small part by a surprising reduction in the labor force, which could be an indication that more workers were discouraged and no longer looking. That would hardly be an encouraging development.

President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. Bush in January 1983, when the unemployment rate fell to 10.4 percent from 10.8 percent, the first decline that large in five years.

Anyway, it was said, the unemployment rate is based on a survey of only 60,000 households, some of whom cannot be reached in any given month. It can be volatile, so you should not pay much attention to it. The president took heart from the figures, but critics said there was no real improvement.

The above describes what happened a month ago, when the unemployment rate for December came in at 9.4 percent. It was the first time in more than 11 years that the rate had declined that much in a single month, but the headline in The Chicago Tribune read, “U.S. jobs picture gets darker; Unemployment rate dips, but only because workers apparently are giving up.”

As it happened, those paragraphs also describe the situation 28 years ago. In January 1983, with President Ronald Reagan reeling from his large setback in the midterm elections the previous November, the unemployment rate fell to 10.4 percent from 10.8 percent. It was the first such decline in five years, but few thought it significant.

via From 1983, Hints of Strong Job Growth in 2011 – NYTimes.com.

blog, food, recipes: Another interesting blog/column

Providence Journal: A nice wrap-up of Super Bowl recipes from food sections around the nation. – Sam Sifton

via What We’re Reading – NYTimes.com.

college, students, The Beatles:  Always something fun on the ecollege scene.

A new class at Syracuse University this semester offers students probably the closest thing to a history lesson from Paul or Ringo. “The Beatles” (course number RAE 400) is a dive into the band’s impact on business, technology and culture, featuring guest lecturers with first-hand knowledge of the Fab Four and their empire.

The class kicked off last week with speaker Peter Asher, whose resume includes talent scouting for Apple Records, the label launched by the Beatles in 1968. Back then, Asher brought a young James Taylor to the label and produced his debut album. His lecture touched on the strengths and weaknesses of the label as a business, but he also doled out some choice “I-was-there-when” nuggets. Example: his memory of being the first non-Beatle to hear “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” when McCartney and Lennon worked up the song in the basement room used by Asher’s mother as an oboe studio.

via Meet the Beatles — For Two College Credits – Speakeasy – WSJ.

Egypt Uprising:  Another perspective … Naïveté on Egypt Is Dangerous. – By Kathryn Jean Lopez – The Corner – National Review Online.

media, icons, Nelson Mandela, South Africa, prayers:  Prayers for a quick and peaceful recovery.

As rumors of Mr. Mandela’s death echoed across the Internet, media coverage intensified. Ms. Wiener says some in the media were accused of being “vultures” in their coverage.

She and others disagree. “The truth is … in a way, Mandela belongs to the country. That’s why everyone was so concerned; they wanted to know because they were family,” said Ms. Wiener.

The outcry over poor communication subsided when Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe held a press conference with Mr. Mandela’s doctor a few days after he was admitted to hospital, assuring members of the public that there was “no reason to panic” but also admitting that communication could’ve been better.

Given Mr. Mandela’s revered political status, his retirement from public life in 2004—five years after he stepped down from the presidency—was difficult for a country that had grown accustomed to seeing him at public events in brightly colored shirts, occasionally dancing and often telling humorous anecdotes.

“Somehow, he’s become that god to South Africans,” said Ndivhuho Mafela, a journalist for local news channel e.tv. “He’s become an avatar of ours. [In] everything, we refer to him, saying ‘Are these his ideals? Are we not going wrong?’ He’s something we can no longer explain in words. The only word that can explain it is just ‘Mandela.'”

Mr. Mafela laughed and pointed to Mr. Mandela’s house, which is painted in a bright mustard color, partially hidden by large high walls. “One cannot stop hoping to see him standing there and saying, ‘Hi!'”

via Stakeout Mandela: Media Vigil for Aging South African Icon – WSJ.com.

teenagers, culture, risk-taking, science:

In studies at Temple University, psychologists used functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on 40 teenagers and adults to determine if there are differences in brain activity when adolescents are alone versus with their friends. The findings suggest that teenage peer pressure has a distinct effect on brain signals involving risk and reward, helping to explain why young people are more likely to misbehave and take risks when their friends are watching.

For parents, the study data reinforce the notion that groups of teenagers need close supervision.

“All of us who have very good kids know they’ve done really dumb things when they’ve been with their friends,” Dr. Steinberg said. “The lesson is that if you have a kid whom you think of as very mature and able to exercise good judgment, based on your observations when he or she is alone or with you, that doesn’t necessarily generalize to how he or she will behave in a group of friends without adults around. Parents should be aware of that.”

via Teenagers, Friends and Bad Decisions – NYTimes.com.

quotes:  From one of my favorite writers who sends a quote a day … The Happiness Project, Moment of Happiness …

“Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”
Sarah Bernhardt

technology, White House:  Seems strange that the White House could lose it e-mail service ...

Shortly before 8 a.m. the unclassified e-mail system that top advisers and the president himself rely on to communicate with each other went dark.

Reporters left hanging by unanswered e-mails were told of the blackout by a press assistant who said, “If you need to get in touch with anyone, you have to go up and see them because e-mail is down.”

At 11:54, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer made a formal announcement via Twitter.

“FYI: WH unclassified e-mail went down shortly before 8 AM.’ he tweeted. “Verizon is working to solve the problem. Pool reports will be avail in press office.”

Not long after that an overhead intercom system sounded out a familiar announcement to those who worked in the White House during the dark ages. Pool reports, normally sent around electronically, were available on paper.

That’s how it went for several hours. The podium where spokesman Robert Gibbs normally stands during his briefings was carpeted with pool reports and a transcript of an earlier gaggle by Gibbs aboard Air Force One.

via White House e-mail blackout – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs.

Super Bowl  XLV, random:

For the first time since the game’s inception, both teams playing in the Super Bowl lack cheerleading squads. The Steelers stopped having cheerleaders in 1970, and the Packers got rid of their cheerleaders in 1988 after market research indicated they didn’t mean much to fans.

via The Super Bowl Without Cheerleaders: How Will We Know To Cheer? – TIME NewsFeed.

internet, Egypt Uprising:  Could our government cut us off?  Good question.

It seemed so easy for Egypt. Just order a shutdown of the country’s internet connections and — bam — it happens.

But is such an authoritarian action transferable? Could the U.S. government shut down American internet connections? And is it possible for the global internet to be toppled?

Technically, yes, internet experts said Wednesday, shortly after Egypt’s government restored internet connections there as violent political protests continued. But it’s highly unlikely.

“Could you break the internet? Yeah. Can you shut it down? No. Shutting down the entire internet would be pretty much impossible at this point,” said Jim Cowie, co-founder of Renesys, an worldwide internet tracker.

Cowie spoke of the internet as if it were a giant, adaptable worm.

“The funny thing about the internet is even if you break it in half, the two halves will function as [separate] internets,” he said.

via Could the U.S. shut down the internet? – CNN.com.

music, culture, urban legends, Joshua Bell:  This is not an urban legend but it is old news, but still very entertaining.

“It was the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen in Washington,” Furukawa says. “Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! Quarters! I wouldn’t do that to anybody. I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?”

When it was over, Furukawa introduced herself to Bell, and tossed in a twenty. Not counting that — it was tainted by recognition — the final haul for his 43 minutes of playing was $32.17. Yes, some people gave pennies.

“Actually,” Bell said with a laugh, “that’s not so bad, considering. That’s 40 bucks an hour. I could make an okay living doing this, and I wouldn’t have to pay an agent.”

These days, at L’Enfant Plaza, lotto ticket sales remain brisk. Musicians still show up from time to time, and they still tick off Edna Souza. Joshua Bell’s latest album, “The Voice of the Violin,” has received the usual critical acclaim. (“Delicate urgency.” “Masterful intimacy.” “Unfailingly exquisite.” “A musical summit.” “. . . will make your heart thump and weep at the same time.”)

Bell headed off on a concert tour of European capitals. But he is back in the States this week. He has to be. On Tuesday, he will be accepting the Avery Fisher prize, recognizing the Flop of L’Enfant Plaza as the best classical musician in America.

via Pearls Before Breakfast – washingtonpost.com.

16
Dec
10

12.16.2010 … et is home (via redeye) … molls is finishing up … jack is skiiing … john is chillin’ in Miami … and I am playing with my iPad (so there is a lot today) …. and happy 235th birthday, Jane!

memories, Christmas, Atlanta: … the lightings with all the choirs singing on each level and then riding the pink pig around it!

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Here’s an undated pic of the Rich’s Christmas tree atop the “crystal bridge.”

Jane Austen, google doodles: Happy 235th!

Google Doodle celebrates Jane Austen's birthday

Google Doodle celebrates Jane Austen’s birthday…. but not in the US.

Welcome to the Happy Birthday Jane Blog Tour sponsored by Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Book Club blog. If you have joined the party in process, you have landed on one of the fifteen Austen bloggers or Austenesque authors that are honoring our favorite author today. The full list of participants is listed at the bottom of this blog post.

via Happy Birthday Jane Austen Blog Tour: A Celebration of her Legacy – Her Juvenilia « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog.Silhouette of Jane Austen

Here’s your chance to be published in the upcoming anthology entitled JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT, which will be published in Fall 2011 by Ballantine books and edited by Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose.

All you have to do is write a story inspired by the life or works of Jane Austen, and enter a short story contest. The winner will be published in JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT.

via Jane Austen Addict Blog.

culture, Ben Franklin, 21st Century: Great op-ed piece.

American culture was built on the notion of bourgeois dignity. We’ve always been lacking in aristocratic grace and we’ve never had much proletarian consciousness, but America did produce Ben Franklin, one of the original spokesmen of middle-class values. It did produce Horatio Alger, who told stories about poor boys and girls who rose to middle-class respectability. It does produce a nonstop flow of self-help leaders, from Dale Carnegie to Oprah Winfrey. It did produce the suburbs and a new sort of middle-class dream.

Americans could well become the champions of the gospel of middle-class dignity. The U.S. could become the crossroads nation for those who aspire to join the middle and upper-middle class, attracting students, immigrants and entrepreneurs.

To do this, we’d have to do a better job of celebrating and defining middle-class values. We’d have to do a better job of nurturing our own middle class. We’d have to have the American business class doing what it does best: catering to every nook and cranny of the middle-class lifestyle. And we’d have to emphasize that capitalism didn’t create the American bourgeoisie. It was the social context undergirding capitalism — the community clubs, the professional societies, the religious charities and Little Leagues.

For centuries, people have ridiculed American culture for being tepid, materialistic and middle class. But Ben Franklin’s ideas won in the end. The middle-class century could be another American century.

via Ben Franklin’s Nation – NYTimes.com.

art, the law:

Scala/Art Resources, NY.

Raphael’s Lady Justice at the Palace of the Vatican.

In ancient Egypt she was known as Maat, the goddess of harmony and order, depicted in the Book of the Dead as a kind of personified jeweler’s scale, weighing a human heart against a feather to determine a soul’s fate in the afterlife.

A new book surveys the history of Lady Justice. Above, “Lady of Justice” by Jan R. Mitchell, located outside a federal building in the U.S. Virgin Islands. More Photos »

In Greece she became Themis, sister, wife and counselor to Zeus, and the Romans then rolled her and her daughter Dike together to form Justitia, the only one of the cardinal virtues to have a signature look in ancient art. But the look of the grande dame we have come to know as Lady Justice — as interpreted by artists like Giotto, Brueghel and Reynolds — has been as changeable as a catwalk model’s.

She has strode forth naked and clothed, shoeless and shod, sword wielding and weaponless. She has been accompanied by a dog (for fidelity), a snake (for hatred) and a whole menagerie of other sidekicks that would befuddle the modern courthouse visitor, including an ostrich, whose supposed ability to digest anything was seen by the ancients as a useful attribute for the machinery of justice.

As the Yale Law School professors Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis show in an unusual new book just out, “Representing Justice” — an academic treatise on threats to the modern judiciary that doubles as an obsessive’s tour of Western art through the lens of the law — Lady Justice’s familiar blindfold did not become an accessory until well into the 17th century. And even then it was uncommon because of the profoundly negative connotations blindfolds carried for medieval and Renaissance audiences, who viewed them as emblems not of impartiality but of deception (hence the early use of the word hoodwink as a noun, meaning a blindfold or hood).

via Yale Law Professors Fix Their Eyes on Blind Lady Justice – NYTimes.com.

apps, lists: Lots of suggestions … even a NYT webpage that brings all app articles togethr.

SKETCHBOOK PRO ($8): Experienced artists can create masterpieces with this program. Hobbyists and children can happily lose themselves for hours. The app is powerful, yet fairly intuitive.

via For the iPad, 10 Favorite Apps – App Smart – NYTimes.com.

Take Me To My Car (free)

There are various 99-cent apps with names like Find My Car and Car Finder that can help you remember where you parked that car — which comes in handy when you need to locate your vehicle among hundreds of others in the airport parking lot after a week at the in-laws’. Take Me to My Car offers a decent free option for the iPhone. Information: takemetomycar.anresgroup.com. For Android users, Car Locator ($3.99) offers a free trial version good for several uses. Information: Androidlicenser.com.

via Airport Apps That Put You First in Line — Practical Traveler – NYTimes.com.

Mobile Applications – The New York Times.

iPad: murse!

But guys who want to lug around their iPads are finding themselves quietly reaching for a so-called man purse, or murse. The iPad-shaped bags seem to be the gadgetphile’s equivalent of a woman’s clutch.

via Coming to Grips With an iPad Carrier – NYTimes.com.

culture, education, ADHD:

Perhaps eager to make clear that A.D.H.D. is far more than a metaphor for the distractions of modern life, scientists love to point out examples that date to well before the term was invented.Dr. Urion invoked Sir George Frederick Still, the first British professor of pediatric medicine, who in 1902 described the syndrome precisely, speaking of a boy who was “unable to keep his attention even to a game for more than a very short time,” and as a result was “backward in school attainments, although in manner and ordinary conversation he appeared as bright and intelligent as any child could be.”Dr. Muenke brought up “Der Struwwelpeter“ “Slovenly Peter”, the 1845 children’s book by Heinrich Hoffmann, which contains the story of “Zappel-Philipp,” or “Fidgety Philip.” One English translation was done by Mark Twain, that great chronicler of boys.The circumstances of modern life can give rise to the false belief that a culture full of electronics and multitasking imperatives creates the disorder. “People have this idea that we live in a world that gives people A.D.H.D.,” Dr. Urion said. Of course one shouldn’t drive and text at the same time, he continued, but for “a harbor pilot bringing a huge four-masted sailing vessel into Boston Harbor, paying attention was a good idea then, too.”

via Untangling the Myths About Attention Disorder – NYTimes.com.

Great Recession, public works: We have been spoiled. New Shovel-Ready Project – WSJ.com.

Elizabeth Edwards, RIP: Very good article.

In the beginning, more than eight years ago, it was easy to be drawn to Mrs. Edwards, whose appeal enhanced her husband’s. John Edwards had stood by an older, hearty woman of substance; perhaps that boded well for women with dimming memories of their 40s and long-ago visits to the gym.

Mrs. Edwards made self-deprecating remarks about bad hair days, absent-mindedly stuffing a cellphone into her bra as she rushed to an appointment. She was a figure of catharsis, her journey as a mother pocked with sorrow and late joy.

A lawyer by training, her intelligence was keen, her commitment to health care reform and poverty unwavering. She was a refreshing model of a powerful woman, the un-Angelina.

via Elizabeth Edwards, Through Many Eyes – NYTimes.com.

random:

Video: How to Make a Gingerbread House for Your Mug | Serious Eats.

technology, e-mail: “tb;dr”: too boring, didn’t read.

Your theories are welcome, but I believe that the complexity of getting through a spam-filter maze with ever more dead ends is a key cause. When you put together many rules and different systems, some of which are not specifically designed to work with each other, unexpected properties emerge. This is much how intelligence may work, at a vastly more complicated scale. But certainly, emergent properties make it difficult to predict how a given input will be output.

But this is not all bad. We can embrace e-mail’s emerging ambiguity. If a sender can never know whether we received a message, the social expedient of “I’m terribly sorry; it must have landed in the bin” remains a viable white lie. (Editor’s note: that e-mail about compensation truly did not arrive.) It could be, though, that there’s a simpler cause. My e-mail may have become “tb;dr”: too boring, didn’t read.

via Over-eager spam filters: The emerging ambiguity of e-mail | The Economist.

products: And to make matters worse, it tastes awful.

Dannon — part of the world’s biggest yogurt maker Danone— agreed to pay a $21 million fine and stop making exaggerated health claims for two popular Dannon products under a settlement with the federal government and attorneys general from 39 states on Wednesday.

via Dannon’s Activia, DanActive health claims draw $21M fine – USATODAY.com.

college sports, education:

The millions of dollars being generated, however, continues stirring resentment by former athletes. Emmert defended the NCAA’s and universities’ use of those funds.

“There are 14 schools in the U.S. that broke even in their athletic programs last year,” he said. “Every other one of them put significant to dramatic amounts of money into their sports programs to support their student-athletes. That young man or woman you’re talking about was able to gain benefit from the best coaching staff, the best facilities, the best trainers, the best educational environment anybody can get anywhere in the world. OK, so the university generates some revenue to help support that effort. I don’t have a problem with that.”

Does the possibility exist that evolving media, which continue opening new revenue streams, has created an imbalance among the NCAA, member schools and the athletes they serve?

Emmert came back to the oft-heard defense that revenue produced by popular sports such as football and sometimes basketball support the masses.

via NCAA president: ‘We can never’ get to place where athletes are paid – USATODAY.com.

retail, apps, business models: guilty! I try to support local retailers, especially bookstores … but a book was 50% more in the store and Amazon shipped it for free.

“It’s so useful,” Mr. Tang says of his new shopping companion, a price comparison app called TheFind. He says he relies on it “to make sure I am getting the best price.”

Mr. Tang’s smartphone reckoning represents a revolution in retailing—what Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Chief Executive Mike Duke has dubbed a “new era of price transparency”—and its arrival is threatening to upend the business models of the biggest store chains in America.

Until recently, retailers could reasonably assume that if they just lured shoppers to stores with enticing specials, the customers could be coaxed into buying more profitable stuff, too.

via Phone-Wielding Shoppers Strike Fear Into Retailers – WSJ.com.

retail, something’s wrong with this picture, Christmas:

In the middle of Manhattan’s FAO Schwarz, Evelyn Goldstein turns away from a display of toy cars and discreetly takes a phone off her belt clip. In a low but urgent voice, she says: “I’m in vehicles, and I need empty carts.”

Toys are not fun and games for Ms. Goldstein, the lead personal shopper at the famous toy store. Particularly not on the third-to-last Friday before Christmas.

Perhaps no industry relies on holiday crowds as much as the toy business: Sales from November and December typically comprise 40% of the year’s revenue, according to the retail analyst NPD Group. During the holiday season, thousands of people visit FAO Schwarz each day. Customers sometimes start lining up outside around 7 in the morning.

If the store’s staff is on the front line of customer service, Ms. Goldstein heads up Special Ops. She cultivates a base of clients that includes plenty of big spenders who make an annual pilgrimage at Christmas time.

Married, Ms. Goldstein doesn’t have children—just two dogs and many nieces and nephews. Because of her job, she doesn’t celebrate the holidays until after Christmas. All she wants? “A vacation,” she says. She also wouldn’t mind a diamond necklace that shows a pony-tailed Barbie in silhouette. She knows just where to get one.

via Toy Stories: a Day in the Life of a Personal Shopper – WSJ.com.

technology, cloud computing, paradigm shift: It’s coming …

They are an attempt to realize the old idea of a “network computer,” or one which is mostly a front end for network services.

Of course, many people already spend most of their time with their PCs and Macs connected to the Net. Many use Web-based email programs or streaming music programs instead of local software.

So the time may be right for a cloud computer, a change in the paradigm. Google certainly hopes so.

via Google Goes to the Cloud for a New Idea in PC Operating Systems – WSJ.com.

RIP, A&P, changes, the past: My daughter was reading a short story the other day and I had to explain to her what the A&P was.

A bankruptcy filing would be a stark turn for the once-prominent grocery-store holding company, which started out as a tea and spices shop in the 1800s.

Back then, executives showcased their expansive ambitions by adopting a name that paid tribute to the first transcontinental railroad. The company eventually became the nation’s first national supermarket chain, with 16,000 stores by the 1930s.

But A&P has been squeezed by rival chains like Wegmans, Stop & Shop and ShopRite and continued high U.S. unemployment and lackluster consumer confidence.

Grocers that solidified low-price images before the recession, including Kroger Co. and Stop & Shop, owned by Netherlands-based Royal Ahold NV, saw their sales grow. But those that tried to keep prices higher—such as A&P and Safeway Inc.—suffered sales declines as shoppers intensified their search for deals.

After years of retrenchment, A&P’s store count has dwindled to more than 400 outlets in eight Eastern states and Washington, D.C.

via A&P on Brink of Chapter 11 – WSJ.com.

Great Recession, education, public works: We had to pay for transportation to public schools in suburban Chicago years ago.

The other options include, creating a 1 ½ mile “no transportation zone” around every school – meaning bus service would only be provided to the students who live past that boundary. Another proposal would adjust school bell times, and possibly create a longer school day. In addition to those proposals, CMS transportation officials looked at expanding shuttle stops, but their research showed that might actually cost more.

via CMS Cuts Could Toss 50K Students Off Buses | Charlotte News | Weather | Carolina Panthers | Bobcats | FOX Charlotte | Top Stories.

culture, teenagers, parenting:

They say you never escape high school. And for better or worse, science is lending some credibility to that old saw. Thanks to sophisticated imaging technology and a raft of longitudinal studies, we’re learning that the teen years are a period of crucial brain development subject to a host of environmental and genetic factors. This emerging research sheds light not only on why teenagers act they way they do, but how the experiences of adolescence—from rejection to binge drinking—can affect who we become as adults, how we handle stress, and the way we bond with others.

via How Teen Experiences Affect Your Brain for Life – Newsweek.

education, Great Recession: This is very sad.

After weeks of debate that touched on academics, race and politics, Evanston Township High School District 202 approved a dramatic plan Monday night that eliminates a combined honors English and history course for the highest-achieving incoming freshmen — usually white students.

The unanimous school board vote paves the way for freshmen of all races, socioeconomic and achievement backgrounds next fall to take the same freshman humanities course next fall. Proponents of the move see it as a way to diversify advanced courses and circumvent the traditional process of tracking students into courses by test scores that often places minorities in lower-level classes.

The board approved the plan despite opposition from hundreds of parents who signed a petition urging officials to at least delay the proposal while it can be studied further.

via Evanston Township High School District 202 eliminates honors English course – chicagotribune.com.

travel, Idaho, bucket list:

In recent years, Sun Valley has been looking forward: both the Lodge and its sister property, the Sun Valley Inn, have been refurbished. At Bald Mountain, the bigger of Sun Valley’s two ski areas, 645 acres of snowmaking and the recently opened Roundhouse gondola have raised the quality of a day on the slopes. At Dollar Mountain this season, the terrain parks have a host of new rails and jibs.

via 36 Hours in Sun Valley, Idaho – NYTimes.com.

Crafts, memories, fails: OK … I have failed at capturing my families memories, but do I rally want someone else to do it for me, for money …

Everyone, it seems, except the most compulsively organized, has hard drives or boxes full of family photos waiting to be placed in albums or scrapbooks. All too often, that day never comes, and the psychic burden of their presence grows heavier with each passing year. To solve this dilemma, we tried four different custom scrapbooking services that would do the work for us.

Two of the services created old-fashioned glue-and-paste books using colored card stock and fanciful embellishments to showcase our photos; the other two arrived at these effects digitally, in printed albums or album pages. While the former offered textural variety and richness, the latter were less bulky and accommodated more photos. Our experience taught us that professionals really do know how to scrapbook better than we ever could, although each book required some investment in our time as well as money.

Nancy Nally, editor of Scrapbook Update, an online trade journal, says that custom scrapbooking services are “a quiet underground” niche within the larger $2 billion a year scrapbooking industry. One byproduct of the recession is that consumers have begun to place greater value on handmade gifts, even as their leisure hours seem to shrink, Ms. Nally says. Many commission scrapbooks as a gift for a child graduating from high school or getting married, or as a tribute or anniversary gift, she says.

via Turning Family Scrapbooks Over to the Pros – WSJ.com.

22
Aug
10

8.22.2010 … RIP VARSITY JR … nest is empty again … very quiet, refrigerator almost empty …

RIP, food – Southern, icons, Atlanta, oral history, my dad:  I never thought about it until now, but the Varsity Jr opened when I was 5 and we went there frequently when we went to the old Hastings location.  My dad always made some comment about it not being the same as the real Varsity downtown.  Just like me, he was slow to accept change!  I will miss you Varsity Jr.

Joey Ivansco, AJC File Susan Gordy, retired since 2006, ran the Varsity Jr. since 1980, when her husband, Frank Gordy Jr. (son of Varsity founder Frank Gordy) was killed in a shooting accident.

What’ll ya have before the Varsity Jr. closes its doors?

Sunday will be the last day to enjoy chili dogs and onion rings at the Lindbergh Drive location, according to the iconic Atlanta restaurant chain.

After 45 years, the Varsity Jr. will close due to an inability to meet zoning requirements with the City of Atlanta. Restaurant owners had hoped to build a new facility, complete with indoor restrooms.

via Varsity Jr. closes Sunday after 45 years  | ajc.com.

college advice, favorite blogs:   Well, not too crazy!  Put Yourself Out There and Do Something Crazy – The Choice Blog – NYTimes.com.

games:  Rarely find anything interesting in Bill Gates’ blog, which is unfortunate.  But found this article about bridge partners interesting.  Bill Gates – Infrequently Asked Questions – What Makes for a Good Bridge Partner? – The Gates Notes.

cities, urban development:  Very interesting articles on one of my favorite subjects.  I agree that the cities in developing nations are not the cities that the world wants …they are little more than “sprawling slums.”

In looking across the last 50,000 or so years of cultural evolution, the creation of cities has to be recognized as a revolution in itself. From Babylon and Sumer to Athens and Rome, the organization of human society into powerful cities, and the empires which often supported them, marked a critical turning point in our development.

Now with the human population poised to reach 9 billion or more over the next century, what is the future of our material-cultural organization? While the United States has poured its treasure into building energetically unsustainable suburbs, nations like China have seen their cities grow at phenomenal rates. In many poorer countries the growth of cities has come to include sprawling slums. This is where a significant fraction of that population increase will live.

via 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR.

green, NC:  I believe this needs to happen.

Duke Energy Carolinas has abandoned plans to build three wind turbines in the Pamlico Sound as an offshore wind demonstrator project because costs have ballooned to almost $120 million.

But Duke is committed to spending about $750,000 more on studies UNC Chapel Hill has undertaken to determine the commercial viability of windmills off the Carolina coast. That will bring Duke’s total investment in the university’s offshore wind studies to about $4 million.

via Duke Energy drops wind project off N.C. coast, citing cost – Charlotte Business Journal.

libraries, places, Atlanta:  it would be nice to find a new use for libraries … sources for information and community center.  Does anyone remember going to the beautiful little midtown library (next First Pres. or the not so beautiful Buckhead library? … it was hoppin’.

As budget cuts chop library programs out of schools, public libraries are becoming increasingly important in their roles to educate entire communities. But they also serve another purpose as town squares for neighborhoods–places where people can come together and share ideas. The new Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library, which opened this month in Washington DC hopes to become the center of the neighborhood by adding uses that reach beyond reading, and creating a dynamic space that transcends the typical tomb-like library setting.

via A Neighborhood Revival Starts With a New Public Library | Co.Design.

college, our children, UGA: Our kids live in a different world.

It’s been two weeks since the University of Georgia was named the No. 1 party school in the nation by the Princeton Review. Apparently, authorities are paying attention.

Twenty University of Georgia students were arrested for alcohol-related charges Thursday night in Athens, including underage possession of alcohol and DUI, according to Athens-Clarke County jail records.Those arrests – by university and Athens-Clarke County police – bring the total of drug-and alcohol-related arrests made in the last two weeks to 43, according to The Red and Black, the campus newspaper.

via Arrests of UGA students on partying charges up sharply  | ajc.com.

Great Recession, real estate: I thought my childhood home in Brookwood Hills was huge … and it is about 1/2 of my home.  I would rather have a 2200 sq. foot home.  Keeps the family close.

It increasingly seems like that’s the case. As we’ve written before, the American love affair with massive and mass-produced luxury homes is fast coming to a close. The average home size peaked at 2,521 square feet in 2007. (WSJ reporter Kelly Evans noticed home sizes shrinking in the second quarter of 2007.) Home size came in flat in 2008 and fell in 2009 as builders built smaller, less ornate homes priced lower to compete with foreclosures.

In a WSJ story in November, Michael Phillips looked at the luxury home business and found that many builders were scaling back, “struggling to distinguish among what home buyers need, what they what they want and what they can live without — Jacuzzi by Jacuzzi, butler’s pantry by butler’s pantry.”

via Good-Bye McMansion, Hello Tiny House? – Developments – WSJ.

postsecret, random:  I laughed at this … I have never felt like my luggage has been opened.  Maybe I will try leaving a note.

RT @kaynemcgladrey: “Am I the only guy who leaves notes to the TSA, knowing they’ll open my luggage? It’s like @postsecret in my suitcase.”

via Twitter / Home.

teenagers, risky ventures:  I think the Dutch court was right the first time.

A Dutch court released Laura last month from the guardianship of Dutch child protection agencies, who had tried to block her voyage because of fears for her safety and psychological health.

via Dutch teen sets sail in secrecy on solo world trip – More Sports – SI.com.

10
Aug
10

8.10.2010 … Jack’s flying in on the redeye …

yesterday:  In celebration of 8-9-10,  John and I had a delightful lunch with the Trobichs  at the Cabo Fish Taco in NODA.

advertising, billboards, blogging, random:  So why am I posting this?  Because of all my clippings, the one about the McDonald’s billboard -[Big cup of coffee] “If coffee is Joe, consider this Joseph” ,  has generated the most hits.

McDonald’s. posted its biggest monthly increase of a key U.S. sales figure in more than a year on Monday, saying its new fruit smoothies and frappes were a hit with customers during a hot and steamy July.

via Smoothies, coffee spike McDonald’s July sales – USATODAY.com.

kith/kin, Harman, Carson:  The kids are growing up!

Congratulations to nephew Harman and his 2014 USMA classmates for completing their six week basic training today. I swear it’s Harman smiling at 2:40/3:07!! Congratulations, Harman!!

– and – Carson is at preseason camp at Villanova.

new ideas: I agree …  I did something similar … a homemade version for jack’s 5th grade teacher in Wilmette.  All the kid’s came in and recorded whatever they wanted … some just told her what a great year they had had; some read a poem; one played the violin.  It was great.  i wonder of she still has it?  VoiceQuilt Recorded Messages and Voice Memories Are A Unique Gift.

movies:  My brother said this was a great movie.  I think I will study the chart before I go.  😉

Sure, Inception may have been great, but didn’t you feel like it was the kind of movie where you needed a chart to keep things straight (well, another one)?

via How To Understand Inception, In One Easy Chart – Techland – TIME.com.

travel, Orlando, Wizarding World:  I’d go.

No question, the Wizarding World is a hit. That’s clear from all the blogs grousing about the hours visitors can spend waiting to get on a ride or even to be admitted into Potterland. Some of the shops are so small that crowds often must line up outside just to buy stuff. (Guests staying at Universal hotels get into the park an hour before the official opening. Or you can just wait for an off-peak month in the fall.)

But even if you don’t have time for the Forbidden Journey, you can get the full Potter experience just walking around, admiring the evocative precision of the decor, immersing yourself in Hogsmeade. Here, as at Disney, the park is the ride. And the Wizarding World is one fabulous trip.

via Inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – TIME.

sports, golf, people:  I feel sorry for Tiger.  He really screwed up.

Tiger Woods has never looked worse.

via Tiger Woods Plays Worst Finish Ever As Pro.

globalization, legal careers: I am glad I am not in law school now …

America and American lawyers are less and less at the center of the legal universe, he said. “Even before the crash, many would argue that London had become the center of the economic world. How far east or south will it go? Shanghai, Mumbai, Sao Paulo or all of the above?”

Governments are investing in law and legal innovation as an export item. China and India have both created transnational law schools in which students are trained in English about U.S. and international law. The school in China even plans to seek ABA accreditation so its graduates can take the bar in any U.S. state, he said.

“We’re facing a different kind of competition. We used to think of the quality of legal services was measured by inputs, like where a lawyer went to law school or how much time was put into the matter,” Wilkins said. “Now people are looking at outputs—how much value was delivered.”

via Harvard Prof Sees Legal Profession in Turmoil – ABA Journal.

technology, education:  My children were at the forefront of computers and education and now they are at the forefront of e-books and education.  they have been lab rats for their whole lives.

Compared with traditional textbooks, the iPad and other devices for reading digital bookshave the potential to save on textbook costs in the long term, to provide students with more and better information faster, and — no small matter — to lighten the typical college student’s backpack.

Yet the track record on campus so far for e-readers has been bumpy. Early trials of the Kindle DX, for example, drewcomplaints from students about clunky highlighting of text and slow refresh rates. Princeton and George Washington universities this spring found the iPad caused network problems. Federal officials in June cautioned colleges to hold off on using e-readers in the classroom unless the technology can accommodate disabled students.

Though many of those problems are being or have been addressed, some of the most tech-savvy students aren’t quite ready to endorse the devices for academic use. And some educational psychologists suggest the dizzying array of options and choices offered by the ever-evolving technology may be making it harder to learn rather than easier.

Publishers, meanwhile, have big ideas for personalizing student learning. “That’s the great promise,” says Don Kilburn, president of Pearson Learning Solutions, a publisher of education materials.

More glitches are perhaps inevitable. But the technological advances “represent very real potential to remake education for the better,” says Kaplan’s Olson. “The potential for the textbook to come alive with interactivity … will make the next several years of e-book innovation fascinating to watch.”

via Back to school: Do kids learn as well on iPads, e-books? – USATODAY.com.

culture, law, religion, gay marriage:  I struggle with this one.  I think this article highlights many of the issues, whether I agree or not, and is thus very helpful in my own analysis.

So what are gay marriage’s opponents really defending, if not some universal, biologically inevitable institution? It’s a particular vision of marriage, rooted in a particular tradition, that establishes a particular sexual ideal.

This ideal holds up the commitment to lifelong fidelity and support by two sexually different human beings — a commitment that involves the mutual surrender, arguably, of their reproductive self-interest — as a uniquely admirable kind of relationship. It holds up the domestic life that can be created only by such unions, in which children grow up in intimate contact with both of their biological parents, as a uniquely admirable approach to child-rearing. And recognizing the difficulty of achieving these goals, it surrounds wedlock with a distinctive set of rituals, sanctions and taboos.

The point of this ideal is not that other relationships have no value, or that only nuclear families can rear children successfully. Rather, it’s that lifelong heterosexual monogamy at its best can offer something distinctive and remarkable — a microcosm of civilization, and an organic connection between human generations — that makes it worthy of distinctive recognition and support.

In this landscape, gay-marriage critics who fret about a slippery slope to polygamy miss the point. Americans already have a kind of postmodern polygamy available to them. It’s just spread over the course of a lifetime, rather than concentrated in a “Big Love”-style menage.

If this newer order completely vanquishes the older marital ideal, then gay marriage will become not only acceptable but morally necessary. The lifelong commitment of a gay couple is more impressive than the serial monogamy of straights. And a culture in which weddings are optional celebrations of romantic love, only tangentially connected to procreation, has no business discriminating against the love of homosexuals.

But if we just accept this shift, we’re giving up on one of the great ideas of Western civilization: the celebration of lifelong heterosexual monogamy as a unique and indispensable estate. That ideal is still worth honoring, and still worth striving to preserve. And preserving it ultimately requires some public acknowledgment that heterosexual unions and gay relationships are different: similar in emotional commitment, but distinct both in their challenges and their potential fruit.

But based on Judge Walker’s logic — which suggests that any such distinction is bigoted and un-American — I don’t think a society that declares gay marriage to be a fundamental right will be capable of even entertaining this idea.

via Op-Ed Columnist – The Marriage Ideal – NYTimes.com.

education:  This highlights some very serious issues about college education in America.

If you have a child in college, or are planning to send one there soon, Craig Brandon has a message for you: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

“The Five-Year Party” provides the most vivid portrait of college life since Tom Wolfe’s 2004 novel, “I Am Charlotte Simmons.” The difference is that it isn’t fiction. The alcohol-soaked, sex-saturated, drug-infested campuses that Mr. Brandon writes about are real. His book is a roadmap for parents on how to steer clear of the worst of them.

…Repealing Ferpa might be the best place to start: The adults who pay the bills need to know what is happening to their kids on campus.

via Book review: The Five-Year Party – WSJ.com.

e-books, literature, technology:  End of the Gutenberg era?

In the hit 1998 film “You’ve Got Mail,” Meg Ryan’s independent bookstore couldn’t compete with the big chain-store competitor. Underdog-rooting moviegoers couldn’t have known how lucky the independent stores were, having enjoyed so many decades of being the only booksellers. The megastores, which became dominant in the 1980s, have been undermined by technology in less than a generation.

Still, Mr. Ross, now a literary agent, is optimistic. He points to “new competitive pressure among e-book companies to get better deals for authors.” The multimedia e-book, he says, “means a lot of potential for creativity,” changing what it means to be a book.

At a time when distracting digital technologies threaten to reduce people’s attention span, it may take an evolution in the art form of a book to retain our interest in long-form story telling. Books that combine text with other media could be more informative and perhaps lead to a new kind of literature.

It’s ideas that count, not how they’re transmitted. Independent bookstores gave way to chains, which are fast giving way to Web-based retailers. At least for now, the printed book will live alongside the e-book. These are new pages in the history of the book, whose final chapters are yet to be written.

via From Gutenberg to Zoobert – WSJ.com.

teenagers, girls, health:  Very obvious to any mom of a girl.

Hitting puberty at a young age can be confusing and distressing, Herman-Giddens says.

It also increases the odds that girls will develop low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression. Girls who hit puberty sooner are more likely to attempt suicide and to have earlier sexual activity. As adults, these women are at greater risk for breast and endometrial cancers, possibly because they have a longer lifetime exposure to estrogen

via Early puberty for girls is raising health concerns – USATODAY.com.

freedom of religion, Ground Zero mosque:  Another good article to help define the issues on a difficult question.

The much larger issue that this center raises is, of course, of freedom of religion in America. Much has been written about this, and I would only urge people to read Michael Bloomberg’s speech on the subject last week. Bloomberg’s eloquent, brave, and carefully reasoned address should become required reading in every civics classroom in America. It probably will.

Bloomberg’s speech stands in stark contrast to the bizarre decision of the Anti-Defamation League to publicly side with those urging that the center be moved. The ADL’s mission statement says it seeks “to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.” But Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL, explained that we must all respect the feelings of the 9/11 families, even if they are prejudiced feelings. “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted,” he said. First, the 9/11 families have mixed views on this mosque. There were, after all, dozens of Muslims killed at the World Trade Center. Do their feelings count? But more important, does Foxman believe that bigotry is OK if people think they’re victims? Does the anguish of Palestinians, then, entitle them to be anti-Semitic?

via Fareed Zakaria: Build the Ground Zero Mosque – Newsweek.

cities, Detroit, Great Recession:  Will Detroit be the first great American city to disappear?

The Ruins of Detroit

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last decade or so, it’s nearly impossible that you haven’t heard of the Motor City’s dramatic decline. The Ruins of Detroit ($125) is a 200-page photographic tour through some of the city’s now-decrepit landmarks, interspersed with looks at near-downtown residences that have been trashed, abandoned, and in some cases destroyed completely. It’s quite sad, but on the other hand, it provides plenty of hope for the possible PS3 title Fallout: Detroit 2015.

via The Ruins of Detroit.

religion:  So another article that makes you think …

Why religion? In the face of pogroms and pedophiles, crusades and coverups, why indeed?

Religious Americans have answered the question variously. Worship is one answer. Millions gather each week to acknowledge their higher power. The chance to experience community is another. Healthy congregations are more than civic clubs. They are surrogate families. The opportunity to serve others also comes to mind. Americans feed the hungry, clothe the naked and house the homeless largely through religious organizations. Yet as important as community, worship and service are, I am convinced that religion’s greatest contribution to society is even greater.

Religion makes us want to live.

Here’s the point: I think religion makes it easier to be decent. The positive core values, mutual accountability and constant striving for self-improvement help one to be a better person. And I want to be a better person. Not because I’m afraid of God. Because I’m grateful for another trip around the sun and, like a good house guest, want to leave this place in better shape than I found it.

via Why do we need religion? – USATODAY.com.




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