Posts Tagged ‘The Supreme Court

02
Sep
11

9.2.2011 … a little pomp and circumstance … CLS seniors march in their gowns … encouraged to give back …

Charlotte Latin School, Fall Convocation, Seniors, kith/kin:  Being a high school senior is a special time.  CLS does a great job of focusing and celebrating its seniors.

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Justice Clarence Thomas, Ginni Thomas, Constitutional Law, The Supreme Court, The Tea Party, health care reform:  I read a review of the New Yorker article the other day, which was very good.  The article, although very long, is also very good … read it if it interests you.

It has been, in certain respects, a difficult year for Clarence Thomas. In January, he was compelled to amend several years of the financial-disclosure forms that Supreme Court Justices must file each year. The document requires the Justices to disclose the source of all income earned by their spouses, and Thomas had failed to note that his wife, Virginia, who is known as Ginni, worked as a representative for a Michigan college and at the Heritage Foundation. The following month, seventy-four members of Congress called on Thomas to recuse himself from any legal challenges to President Obama’s health-care reform, because his wife has been an outspoken opponent of the law. At around the same time, Court observers noted the fifth anniversary of the last time that Thomas had asked a question during an oral argument. The confluence of these events produced the kind of public criticism, and even mockery, that Thomas had largely managed to avoid since his tumultuous arrival on the Court, twenty years ago this fall.

These tempests obscure a larger truth about Thomas: that this year has also been, for him, a moment of triumph. In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.

via The Thomases vs. Obama’s Health-Care Plan : The New Yorker.

book clubs, opportunities:  I have pasted the whole article.  What a great opportunity!

Randall: An exceptional book club

Sometimes when you least expect it, life opens a door you never dreamed you’d enter. It’s enough to make you want to wake up each morning just to see what will happen next.

Anything is possible as long as you keep waking up.

Some months ago, a reader of my column (a man I’ve not met but hope to do so) sent me a story from The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer by columnist Kay McSpadden, about an unusual book club that meets each week at the main branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Book clubs are not often called “unusual.” But Turning Pages is exceptional for two reasons: First, most of its members are homeless. Some are housed. Others are in “transition.”

Second, and just as rare, is a very pregnant woman in a purple dress and high heels — a self-described community volunteer who read two years ago about a similar program in Boston, and saw no reason why it couldn’t happen in Charlotte.

Candace Curlin Vance is the kind of friend you want on your side in a fight — fearless and tireless. And, as the folks at Turning Pages have learned, you can count on her to have your back.

Also, she talks faster than most normal people can think, which is handy for getting publishers to donate books.

The same reader who sent me that story suggested to Candace that Turning Pages ought to read “Birdbaths and Paper Cranes,” a collection of columns I published 10 years ago that includes stories set in my home state of North Carolina.

Candace wrote at once to ask how she might obtain 25 copies.

I replied that the book is out of print and, unfortunately, I didn’t have 25 copies. She thanked me anyhow, and that was that.

The next day I found two big boxes of books I didn’t know I had. When I told Candace, she laughed. As a woman of faith and persistence, she has often seen “no” turn into “yes.”

And that’s how I ended up flying to Charlotte last week to meet the members of Turning Pages, who had just finished reading, of all things, my book.

We sat around a big table — different races, genders, backgrounds and walks of life — talking, laughing, eating biscuits from Bojangles’, drinking sweet iced tea. It was very Southern. I never felt more at home.

They asked excellent questions, offered insightful observations and convinced me they’d actually read the book.

One woman, now housed after years of living on the streets, presented me with a gift, a blue-and-white-spattered painting.

“It’s called ‘Falling Water,’ ” she said, smiling. “I signed my name on the back so it will be worth something someday.”

Little did she know how much it was already worth to me.

Afterward, when we’d eaten all the biscuits, shaken all the hands and gone our separate ways, I asked Candace about the future of Turning Pages.

“It’s my baby,” she said. “I really want to see it continue.”

But with another “baby” on the way (her first child is due in October), she hopes someone will step up to fill her high heels.

So do I.

Reading is the great equalizer. A book never asks who we are or what we do or where we sleep at night. It asks only that we read and try to understand.

When we come together with open hearts and open minds to discuss what we’ve read, we discover that we are more alike than we are different.

We create community, a sense of belonging, a sense of home.

We turn the hopeless “no” into the “yes” of possibility.

Anything is possible, as long as we keep reading. Just ask the readers of Turning Pages.

via Randall: An exceptional book club | ScrippsNews.

Michael Vick, second chances, prayers:  I believe in second chances.  But with that kind of money he could so easily fail again.  Prayers …

Vick said that experience and maturity have taught him patience. “You never know what’s going to happen. You just live in the moment and take advantage of the opportunities you’ve been given. You know what kind of talent you have, you know what you can do. You just have to be patient and that’s something I’ve learned over the years and unfortunately while I was away. Everything in life happens for a reason and it taught me patience and I think that’s part of the reason I’m here today. Being patient.”

And Vick knows that the way others see him may never change. It isn’t easy to get past what he did. “I’m just trying to be the best person I can be. I can’t control what people think, their opinions, their perception. That’s personal and that’s for them. The only thing I can control is what I can control and that’s trying to be the best person I can be, the best citizen I can be, the best father I can be. I think that speaks for itself. That’s not by force, that’s by choice. Some things may never change. I may never change in certain facets of my life, but it is what it is.”

via Michael Vick, the $100 million man, says, ‘I never thought this day would come again’ – The Early Lead – The Washington Post.

Romare Bearden, Charlotte NC:  One of my favorite artists.  I love the recognition he is getting on the anniversary of his 100th birthday.

Romare Bearden Turns 100

Charlotte Native and well-known artist Romare Bearden would have been 100 years old this Friday, and to celebrate the artistry and influence of this world-renown, critically praised Charlottean, we’ll be joined by a panel of Bearden experts who will talk about his life, his influences, his art and his legacy here and elsewhere.

via WFAE 90.7 FM.

9/11, New World Trade Center:  Worth watching the interactive to see the future of the 9/11 site.

Ground Zero Now – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney : “Scorched earth runs in the family.”  Again, I think he may be senile.

 WHY is it not a surprise to learn that Dick Cheney’s ancestor, Samuel Fletcher Cheney, was a Civil War soldier who marched with Sherman to the sea?

Scorched earth runs in the family.

Having lost the power to heedlessly bomb the world, Cheney has turned his attention to heedlessly bombing old colleagues.

Vice’s new memoir, “In My Time,” veers unpleasantly between spin, insisting he was always right, and score-settling, insisting that anyone who opposed him was wrong.

A person who is always for the use of military force is as doctrinaire and irrelevant as a person who is always opposed to the use of military force.

Cheney shows contempt for Tenet, Colin Powell and Rice, whom he disparages in a sexist way for crying, and condescension for W. when he won’t be guided to the path of most destruction.

He’s churlish about President Obama, who took the hunt for Osama bin Laden off the back burner and actually did what W. promised to do with his little bullhorn — catch the real villain of 9/11.

via Darth Vader Vents – NYTimes.com.

books, digital age:  It’s not over until it’s over …

But let’s not overdo things. Let’s not lose sight of the data we have, and let’s not invent data when we only have anecdotes. And finally, let’s not forget the wonders this new world opens up. Being able to download a book to read instantaneously wherever you are is a thing of wonder, after all (and there is some anecdotal suggestion that people are coming back to books via new digital platforms).

For authors, the chance to reach out to readers, instantly and effectively, is changing the way titles are marketed and delivers a glorious independence that comes with having your own digital presence to curate and to shape. There are new creative opportunities offered by interactive technologies. There is the chance to play in a world where books and stories can be either the private, cherished experience of old or a public, shared conversation with other readers from across the world.

via The death of books has been greatly exaggerated | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Video Time machine, apps:  What year would you pick?

Pick a year and watch specific categories including TV, Music, Advertisements, Trailers, Video Games, Sports, and more!

via App Store – Video Time Machine.

Hurricane Irene, natural disasters, Waffle House, the Waffle House Index: The “Waffle House Index!”

When a hurricane makes landfall, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency relies on a couple of metrics to assess its destructive power.

First, there is the well-known Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale. Then there is what he calls the “Waffle House Index.”

Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.

The mobile command center, above, went to Havelock, N.C., during Irene.

“If you get there and the Waffle House is closed?” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has said. “That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.”

via Waffle House Index Measures Hurricane Recovery – WSJ.com.

Life Above All, movies, South Africa:  Adding it to the list.

Life, Above All is the moving story of a 12-year-old South African girl, Chanda (stunningly played by newcomer Khomotso Manyaka), who’s forced to care for her younger siblings while trying to find her mother, who has fled their home in a village near Johannesburg in the face of local prejudice and rumors.

The powerful drama tackles the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa head-on, not just in medical and health terms, but in showing how superstition and gossip can create an atmosphere of secrecy and shame that makes dealing with the issue even more difficult.

(In many ways–its strong, young female protagonist, the way it portrays a small, rural community’s fears and secrets, the sense of hope it still manages to foster–Life, Above All may remind viewers of last year’s Winter’s Bone.)

Based on Allan Stratton’s 2004 novel Chanda’s Secrets, the film is directed by Oliver Schmitz, who was born to and raised in South Africa by German parents. Life, Above All is also the acting debut of 14-year-old Khtomosto Manyaka who was noticed by talent scouts during a choir performance at her high school in Elandsdoorn, South Africa.

via Interview: Life, Above All’s Star Khomotso Manyaka and Director Oliver Schmitz | Redblog.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, lists:

This is the second year in a row that Facebook’s Zuckerberg takes home the crown, which I guess makes him slightly less “new establishment.” Just “establishment” should do.

In any case, keep on winning those magazine awards, Zuck. They’re worth more to you than the errant billion stuffed in your mattress, though I hear $10,000 bills are actually quite soft.

via Mark Zuckerberg is Totally the Establishment, Man – Techland – TIME.com.

libraries, librarians:  I wish I knew one well to nominate.

The award invites library users nationwide to recognize the accomplishments of librarians in public, school, college, community college and university libraries for their efforts to improve the lives of people in their community.

via The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries: Who Loves Their Librarian??.

Caiaphas, ossuary, archeology, history, Biblical figures:

An ancient burial box recovered from antiquities looters three years ago contains a mysterious inscription that could reveal the home of the family of the figure Caiaphas, who is infamous for his involvement in the biblical story of the crucifixion of Jesus.

The burial box, also called an ossuary, was discovered in 1990, but the inscription was just recently verified as legitimate (and not the result of forgers trying to increase an artifact’s value) by Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University and Boaz Zissu of Bar Ilan University. The box is made of limestone, is covered in decorative rosettes and has an inscription.

In the Bible story of Jesus’ crucifixion, a Jewish high priest named Caiaphas is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus.

What is special about the inscription on this ossuary is that the deceased is named within the context of three generations; the inscription also includes a potential residence.

via Ossurary turns up new clues to Caiaphas – CBS News.

green, electric cars, electrical vehicle charging stations, Davidson NC: Filler Up!

Electric vehicles could become a viable option for motorists in the coming years, but not without a place to charge up. Add South Main Square to the list of places to plug in. Thanks to a federal stimulus grant awarded through the state of North Carolina, the South Main Street shopping center is getting one of the region’s first electric vehicle charging stations.

“It’s Davidson’s first electric vehicle charging station that will be available for public use,” said Kathleen Rose, who owns South Main Square and also runs the Project for Innovation, Energy & Sustainability (PiES), a “green” business incubator based there. Ms. Rose worked with Raleigh-based Praxis Technologies to bring the charging station to Davidson.

via Drive an electric? Fill ‘er up at South Main Square | DavidsonNews.net.

9/11 anniversary, Where Were You When?:  

Sept. 11, 2011, will mark the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Washington Post wants to know how the attacks may have affected your life and your views. In what ways do the attacks still resonate? How have the attacks affected your way of seeing the world? We’ll take your submissions and consider using them as part of an anniversary project on the impact of Sept. 11. Please include your age, as well as where you lived when the attacks occurred and where you are now.

via Sept. 11, 2001, anniversary: Share your story – Checkpoint Washington – The Washington Post.

Bones:

literary locations, Book Map, Google Maps:  Where would I like to go?

Ever wish you could visit the locations in your favorite novels?

In our new Book Maps feature, we will interview an author or biographer about locations in their book. We will also create a special Google Map about the interview so you can take a walking or driving tour through the book in real life. Email GalleyCat if you have other Book Map suggestions.

For our first installment, we asked Joe Woodward to share the places where novelist Nathanael West lived and worked in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Woodward took us on a book tour of Alive Inside the Wreck: A Biography of Nathanael West. The Google Map is embedded above–click on the blue pins for more details about a specific location.

via Book Map: Nathanael West & Los Angeles – GalleyCat.

food, recipes, lamb, rosemary:

The new Minimalist videos will return next week. For now, here’s one from 2008 with an elegantly casual recipe for lamb and figs grilled on rosemary skewers.

via Grilled Lamb on Rosemary Skewers – Video – The Minimalist – NYTimes.com.

The new Minimalist videos will return next week. For now, here’s one from 2008 with an elegantly casual recipe for lamb and figs grilled on rosemary skewers.

social networks, Newseum, twitter: I found this one on twitter …
Newseum (@Newseum)
9/1/11 3:59 PM
Great infographic on the development of social networks.http://t.co/5gtWh9p

However, the great writer who has really been portrayed this way most frequently in recent times is one who hasn’t yet been visited by the jaunty Gallifrean: Jane Austen. Both in the film Becoming Jane and the TV movie Miss Austen Regrets, Austen was depicted as a waspish cynical tomboy, clever with words if not so clever with men: a sort of Regency Sue Perkins. In the TV movie, there was a greater stab at complexity, as the character grew bitter with age – an Elizabeth Bennett who never nabs Mr Darcy – but in both there was, I would hazard, an incipient underlying sexism, based on the notion that Austen’s work was underpinned by her own failures in love.

Because here’s the thing about Jane Austen. She was a very great genius. She is possibly the greatest genius in the history of English literature, arguably greater than Shakespeare. And her achievement is not that much to do with love, although that was her subject matter. It’s to do with technique. Before her there are three strands in English fiction: the somewhat mental, directly-reader-addressing semi-oral romps of Nashe and Sterne and Fielding; the sensationalist Gothic work of Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe; and the romances of Eliza Haywood and Fanny Burney.

However great these writers are, none could be read now and considered modern. When Austen gets into her stride, which she does very quickly with Sense and Sensibility, suddenly, you have all the key modern realist devices: ironic narration; controlled point of view; structural unity; transparency of focus; ensemble characterisation; fixed arenas of time and place; and, most importantly, the giving-up of the fantastical in favour of a notion that art should represent life as it is actually lived in all its wonderful ordinariness. She is the first person, as John Updike put it: “to give the mundane its beautiful due”, and her work leads to Updike as much as it does to George Eliot.

I have no idea how a mainly home-educated rector’s daughter came by all that, but I know that imagining her as a kind of acerbic spinster flattens out this genius. It becomes all about the subject matter and not at all about the huge creative advance her work represents. When the Tardis does land in Hampshire in 1815, I imagine there will be witty banter between Jane and the Doctor and some men in britches; if it’s still David Tennant there might even be some flirtation, perhaps a sad, chaste goodbye. But what there should be is a moment when he says “I’m 900 years old, I’ve got a brain the size of a planet, and I’ve still no idea how you single-handedly created the modern English novel”. At which point Jane Austen will rip off her bonnet to reveal the tiny figure of Davros, king of the daleks, sitting in a small glass dome in her skull.duhduhduhduhduh, duhduhduhduh, duhduhduhduhduh,weeeoooo…weee-weeooo…

via David Baddiel wonders what Dr Who would make of Jane Austen – Times Online.

Jane Austen: 

All of them point to Austen’s inimitable humor, incisive observations of human nature and unwavering moral stance that make her works still relevant two hundred years later today.

via Why We Read Jane Austen.

Children’s/YA literature, Gretchen Rubin:  This list has quite a few that I am not familiar with …

If you want some ideas of books to read, for a group or just for yourself, here are a few of my favorites. It pains me to list so few! But this is a good start.

Because they’re already so widely known, I’m not going to list some very obvious ones, like the Harry Potter books, the Narnia books, the The Lord of the Rings books, or my beloved Little House books.

The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman

The Silver Crown, Robert O’Brien

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Half Magic, Edward Eager

The Second Mrs. Gioconda, E. L. Konigsberg

Black and Blue Magic, Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright

Graceling, Kristin Cashore

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, Peter Cameron

Greengage Summer, Rumer Godden

This list represents a big range — some are meant for ten-year-olds, some for seventeen-year-olds. But they are all so good that they can be enjoyed by an adult.

via The Happiness Project: Looking for Some Reading Suggestions in Children’s or Young-Adult Literature?.

Manitoba, Canada, polar bears, travel:  I think I would like to see the polar bears.

The iconic polar bear is a must-see for every wildlife lover and Churchill, Manitoba is the best place in the world to see them! Each fall, hundreds of polar bears naturally migrate through this cozy northern town and it is easier than you think to get there. Don’t miss out on these special offers for October and November, 2011 which include limited-time* promotions.

via Travel Manitoba: Polar Bears.

fashion, coats:  Glad we are moving away from the puff stuff.

But the fall runway collections made a fairly convincing case for rethinking the role of outerwear in our wardrobes. Designers like Vera Wang, Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra put parkas front and center in their shows, while hybrid styles of bombers, blanket coats, ponchos, peacoats, toggle coats and toppers appeared just about everywhere else. It was as if the fashion world was making a collective stand against those ubiquitous puffer jackets that make most of us look as if we’re wearing bubble wrap. “You can have on whatever you want underneath, but this year the coat is the statement piece,” said Tanya Spivey, the executive vice president for design and merchandising at Andrew Marc, a division of the apparel conglomerate G-III that makes coats for companies like Calvin Klein, Cole Haan and Kenneth Cole. That said, there are a lot of coats to sort out. And since it has been a while since some common outerwear lingo has been put to use, here is a little refresher course.

via A Field Guide to Outerwear – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

29
Aug
11

‎8.29.2011 … Settling in to a Fall routine …

9/11, 9/11 Remembrances – 10 years, President George W. Bush, Where Were You When …Bush Recollects Ground Zero: “It Was Like Walking Into Hell….There Was A Palpable Blood Lust.” – YouTube.

Davidson College, Davidson Basketball, Steph Curry:  Welcome home!

The NBA: just helping make dreams come true, even when it’s clogging up news feeds with stodgy non-updates about a lockout that’s as bleak as this weekend’s beach weather along the Jersey shore.

Curry is back on campus and registered as a full-time undergraduate, taking three classes. The school’s most recognizable commuter student lives approximately 30 minutes away, just outside of Charlotte.

“I’ve had a couple of run-ins already where some kids are a little star-struck,” Curry said.

It’s an intangible gift he can give back to the community that he was largely responsible for invigorating. After Davidson’s Elite Eight run in 2008, applications for the school skyrocketed. Enrollment increased by 300 students, which is large considering Davidson’s undergraduate numbers flirt with the 2,000 mark. Suddenly, there was a housing crisis on campus, which led to two new dormitories.

“I have always wanted to finish since I left,” Curry said. “I made a promise to myself to finish at some point. Once the lockout was looming, I thought about it. It was my idea, and coach McKillop was very helpful to reaching out to professors and get a plan back together.”

It speaks to the tone of the lockout and the NBA’s foggy future for the rest of 2011. Why else would Curry go through the trouble of enrolling at Davidson and committing himself to being a full-time student?

“I’m very optimistic about a deal getting done, it’s just the way the talks have gone so far, I want to be as productive as possible,” he said.

If the improbable happens and the NBA season does start on time or gets going before Curry’s course load comes to an end this semester, there are allowances at the university that Curry could utilize. He would be able to finish up his work from Oakland and send it in.

So, what does Stephen Curry need to take in order to move toward earning his degree? The history of education, medical sociology and research on his senior thesis will be taking up his weekday mornings and afternoons in the coming months. Once he completes those at the end of this semester, he’ll have three more credits to finish, plus his senior thesis, which he said he plans on writing next summer.

He’s already developing a routine. McKillop said Curry stopped at his office in between classes Thursday, just to say “Hi.”

His weekdays go roughly something like this:

• At 7:30 a.m., he has ankle rehab in a suburb of Charlotte. Curry had surgery at the end of May, and said he’ll be ready to get on the court and play competitively in a few weeks. “I’m not so far behind that I wouldn’t be ready if the season were ready to go in [October],” Curry said.

• After his rehab he makes sure to stop at Chick-fil-A. It’s arguably the most important part of his day.

• From there, it’s about a 40-minute drive to Davidson.

• He works out for a few minutes before his late-morning/early-afternoon classes.

• He then stops in to see McKillop, gets in some more shooting or weight-lifting workouts, then heads home to see his wife later in the afternoon.

• Mondays and Wednesdays are one class; Tuesdays and Thursdays, a double-dip.

The turn of events also presents an opportunity to be a student assistant for the basketball team.

via Curry reconnects with Davidson for degree, more, during lockout – NCAA Division I Mens Basketball – CBSSports.com.

Moses, Bible, vocation:  I am still listening for my vocation!

I know their sufferings, and have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, to bring them up to a land flowing with milk and honey. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people.” But Moses said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” He said, “I will be with you.” Moses said, “What is your name?” God said, “I am who I am. This is my name forever” (Exodus 3).Moses is quite literally minding his business when God surprises him with a startling vocation. We may look forward to “vacation,” but God is all about “vocation,” calling us into active duty, for God and for the community. When God “calls” people in the Bible, there is a noticeable pattern. God calls. The one who hears, and is stunned by the divine encounter, is at a loss for words. God proposes a plan. The mere mortal objects, and usually with good reason – but God reassures. The God of the Bible seems far more interested in availability than in ability. In fact, God at times seems to prefer disability to ability. Moses is often thought of as having a stutter, but Exodus only says “I am not eloquent” – and what shepherd could expect to be eloquent in the courts of Pharaoh?

God’s assignments often are staggering in scope, and costly to us. Robert McAfee Brown said, “Moses ducks and weaves in every possible way to avoid the body blow of the assignment.” Yet God is persistent, and is able to overcome every objection, able to use us in spite of our inability, precisely through our inability.

Notice Moses is not out looking for God. He’s been on the run from God and his destiny for some time! And: God does not relate to Moses so he can have warm, religious feelings and continue on his way. Moses is called into the thick of difficulties, to be God’s representative on behalf of disadvantaged people, even at the point where religion and politics meet, and wage battle with each other.

And what better biography could we have of the nature of God? “I have heard my people’s cry; I know their suffering; I am coming to deliver them, and to bless them.”

via eMoses – Burning Bush.

Justice Clarence Thomas, Virginia Thomas, Constitutional Law, The Supreme Court, Jeffrey Toobin, literary allusions:  This is just a review of Toobin’s article … I’ll tell you what I think after I read the article.

Jeffrey Toobin’s gripping, must-read profile of Clarence and Virginia Thomas in the New Yorker gives readers new insight into what Sauron must have felt: Toobin argues that the only Black man in public life that liberals could safely mock and despise may be on the point of bringing the Blue Empire down.

In fact, Toobin suggests, Clarence Thomas may be the Frodo Baggins of the right; his lonely and obscure struggle has led him to the point from which he may be able to overthrow the entire edifice of the modern progressive state.

If Toobin’s revionist take is correct, (and I defer to his knowledge of the direction of modern constitutional thought) it means that liberal America has spent a generation mocking a Black man as an ignorant fool, even as constitutional scholars stand in growing amazement at the intellectual audacity, philosophical coherence and historical reflection embedded in his judicial work.

Toobin is less interested in exploring why liberal America has been so blind for so long to the force of Clarence Thomas’ intellect than in understanding just what Thomas has achieved in his lonely trek across the wastes of Mordor.  And what he finds is that Thomas has been pioneering the techniques and the ideas that could not only lead to the court rejecting all or part of President Obama’s health legislation; the ideas and strategies Thomas has developed could conceivably topple the constitutionality of the post New Deal state.

It’s hard to argue with Toobin that Thomas has moved the ball down field in his quest for a new era of constitutional jurisprudence.  Sauron’s tower is probably not going to fall right away, but for the first time, progressives are beginning to see credible scenarios which could change the rules of the game.

Jeffrey Toobin is announcing to the liberal world that Clarence Thomas has morphed from a comic figure of fun to a determined super-villain who might reverse seventy years of liberal dominance of the federal bench and turn the clock back to 1930 if not 1789.

The fantasy is still far fetched, and it is notoriously hard for political movements to get and hold power long enough to shift the balance on the Supreme Court, but that Thomas has accomplished as much as he has shows how far the country has drifted from the old days when liberals were confident that the Supreme Court would find new ways to fit its judicial philosophy to the demands of the blue social model.

They can no longer count on that; the consequences could be extreme.

via New Blue Nightmare: Clarence Thomas and the Amendment of Doom | Via Meadia.

2012 Presidential Election, Michelle Bachmann:  I am already tired of this woman.

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Team Bachmann says the line wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.

“Obviously she was saying it in jest,” campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart told TPM.

via Michele Bachmann: Earthquake, Irene Were A Wake Up Call From God For Politicians | TPMDC.

The Help, movies, bookshelf, reviews, racism:  To a large extent  I agree with this woman … but I thought the black actresses in the movie added authenticity.  But she nails it “they question whether she [a white woman] is capable of telling that particular story.”  Also, “Cultures function and persist by consensus.” And this is where I am left … I belief that my Southern white family is good … at what point does the sin of a culture become my sin.

To some extent, they have been angry that the movie is based on a novel by a white woman, Kathryn Stockett, and they question whether she is capable of telling that particular story. Some have also complained that the movie reinforces stereotypes about black Southern households. The black heroines speak with a dialect that disturbs some viewers; the audience never sees an intact black household, and a black man’s abuse of his wife is all the more chilling because we never see him, only the pots he hurls and the scars he leaves.

One maid’s close bond with the white toddler she cares for has been decried as a re-enactment of the misconception that maids nurtured their white charges while denigrating their own black offspring.

Not all blacks are unmoved by “The Help.” Indeed, among my friends, relatives and colleagues a wide range of views have been shared, including comments that some of us might want to establish a support group for strong black women who liked “The Help.”

This movie deploys the standard formula. With one possible exception, the white women are remarkably unlikable, and not just because of their racism. Like the housewives portrayed in reality television shows, the housewives of Jackson treat each other, their parents and their husbands with total callousness. In short, they are bad people, therefore they are racists.

There’s a problem, though, with that message. To suggest that bad people were racist implies that good people were not.

Cultures function and persist by consensus. In Jackson and other bastions of the Jim Crow South, the pervasive notion, among poor whites and rich, that blacks were unworthy of full citizenship was as unquestioned as the sanctity of church on Sunday. “The Help” tells a compelling and gripping story, but it fails to tell that one.

I have dim recollections of watching Dr. King in 1963, with the black maid who raised me — my mother. If my father wasn’t in the room, he was working to make sure there would be opportunities in my future. I have benefited enormously from their hard work and from the shift that American culture has undergone as the scaffolding of discrimination was dismantled.

via Dangerous White Stereotypes – NYTimes.com.

The Holy Land Experience, Orlando FL, Disney, faith and spirituality, Facts Stranger Than Fiction…:  Anybody been?  I haven’t, but I do have a few thoughts: 1) reminds me of PTL, 2) disneyfies the Biblical stories, and 3) monetarily competes with “theme parks.” Just doesn’t work for me … I don’t want my kids comparing faith with fiction … Jesus with Harry Potter or Moses with Dumbledore.

 

The Holy Land Experience is a living biblical museum and park that brings the world of the Bible alive!

It combines the sights and sounds of the biblical world in a unique and interactive way unlike anywhere else! To appreciate everything there is to do at The Holy Land Experience, you will want to plan to spend a full day with us.

via Exhibits – The Holy Land Experience.

09
Mar
11

3.9.2011 … as a lifelong Presbyterian I know little about the religious celebrations associated with Lent … but I enjoyed pancakes last night!

Lent, Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day:

What is Pancake Day?

Pancake Day ( also known as Shrove Tuesday) is the last day before the period which Christians call Lent. It is traditional on this day to eat pancakes. copyright of projectbritain.com

Why are Pancakes eaten on Shrove Tuesday?

Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren’t allowed in Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during Lent.

When is Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)?

Shrove Tuesday is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday and is therefore the final day before the commencement of Lent, a Christian festival leading up to Easter Sunday (Easter Day).

Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between 3 February and 9 March. (See our Lent page for a visual explanation why Shrove Tuesday is 47 days and not 41 days before Easter)

Why do Christians call the day ‘Shrove Tuesday’?

The name Shrove comes from the old word “shrive” which means to confess. On Shrove Tuesday, in the Middle Ages, people used to confess their sins so that they were forgiven before the season of Lent began. copyright of projectbritain.com

What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration as well as penitence, because it’s the last day before Lent. Throughout the United Kingdom, and in other countries too, people indulge themselves on foods that traditionally aren’t allowed during Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during Lent.

via Shrove Tuesday 2011 (Pancake Day).

Lent, me: Should I give up something for Lent??  Thanks for the suggestions … And never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer …

 

MP:  If I were you, I would give up tripping on stuff on the floor and breaking limbs. For myself, I am going to give up eating boiled okra
CHS:  found a site that had some great (and funny) ideas. I thought this one was clever: angelmeg said…
“I gave up worrying one Lent, best lent I ever had. Every time I started to worry I had to stop because I had given it up for Lent. By the end of lent I was cured of my need to worry about anything. “

“I gave up worrying one Lent, best lent I ever had. Every time I started to worry I had to stop because I had given it up for Lent. By the end of lent I was cured of my need to worry about anything. “She continues by stating that “This year I tried to give up being judgmental but after three days I had to ammend that to being aware of when I am judgmental and praying for forgivness and the grace to change at that moment ( I am praying constantly, which might turn out not to be a bad thing, but presently is making me a bit sad). This is going to be a long lent.”

here’s the link if you’re interested. http://www.ironiccatholic.com/2008/02/cool-things-to-give-up-during-lent.html

DHD:  I think C is on to something there! My husband made a suggestion for me: sudoku….

Fat Tuesday, International Women’s Day, twitter, LOL:

@lenadunham Lena Dunham

It’s fat tuesday AND international women’s day??? i am receiving mixed messages

via Twitter / Home.

Lent, fasting, social networking, Facebook:

It turns out I’m not the only one considering the social-networking fast. The Wall Street Journal unearthed the Facebook group “Giving up Facebook for Lent,” and a variety of similar groups filled with self-proclaimed addicts who want to test their religious mettle starting on Ash Wednesday. (That’s this Wednesday, folks–two days from now.)There’s just one problem: One Facebook addict’s self-improvement project is another Facebook fan’s snub. A sudden break from your social network–virtual or otherwise–creates a social minefield for anyone concerned with online manners. With more than 175 million active users on Facebook, at least one or two will want to “friend” you in the next 40 days. What to do?

via How to give up Facebook for Lent and keep your friends | Webware – CNET.

gLee, tv:  Family friendly?

A “parental discretion is advised” warning flashes before Glee turned up the heat in “Sexy,” led by the affably game and comically cool substitute teacher Holly Holliday. It’s Gwyneth Paltrow, but mucho, mucho mas sexy.Her second turn as the “I thought you’d never ask?” weirdo sub was infinitely better than her debut in the fall. Back then, she was a puzzle, a loony bin. Here, she’s sly and quick-witted, appropriately adult and seductively saucy in an episode that showcased more of her comedic timing, than her stiff dance skills. All the better for us.via ‘Glee’ Season 2, Episode 15 ‘Sexy’: TV Recap – Speakeasy – WSJ.

science, faith and spirituality: Someday the scientists will find the proof!

More than half of adult Americans report they have had a spiritual experience that changed their lives. Now, scientists from universities like Harvard, Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins are using new technologies to analyze the brains of people who claim they have touched the spiritual — from Christians who speak in tongues to Buddhist monks to people who claim to have had near-death experiences. Hear what they have discovered in this controversial field, as the science of spirituality continues to evolve.

via Is This Your Brain On God? : NPR.

politics, Girl Scouts:  don’t think you should mix the two

.

Your morning jolt: Girl Scouts ticked over cookie taxBe prepared, lawmakers.Over the weekend, an e-mail went out to Girl Scout leaders, warning them that HB 385, a bill to rewrite the state tax code, would subject their cookies to a sales tax – and would hit Boy Scout popcorn sales as well:Gov. Nathan Deal holds boxes of Girl Scout cookies as the young women kicked off their sales season last month. Johnny Crawford/Jcrawford@ajc.comThis significant financial impact would take money away from Girl Scout programs, camp support, financial aid and proceeds from the sale that support troop activities and community service projects……[P]lease contact your State House Representative and State Senator TODAY and express your concern in a courteous, Scout-like manner about our Scouts being taxed. Please reference House Bill 385. Sample letters have been provided on the left to make it easy to copy and paste into your own email. There are sample letters for girls as well as for parents and volunteers.The message appears over the name of Marilyn W. Midyette, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta.

via Your morning jolt: Girl Scouts ticked over cookie tax | Political Insider.

education, CMS, The Great Recession: It is going to get worse before it gets

About 560 educators – including teachers, librarians and counselors – face layoffs next year under guidelines the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board approved Tuesday.Approval of layoff criteria is the first step toward a worst-case 2011 budget scenario that would cut jobs to trim $100 million from the CMS budget. The plan Superintendent Peter Gorman presented Tuesday calls for laying off 395 teachers and 164 education support positions.If the board votes to scale back on Bright Beginnings prekindergarten, those teachers would be added with a separate list of criteria.via CMS to layoff about 560 – CharlotteObserver.com.

politics, religion, Mormonism:  2012 will be interesting …

THE Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church, is in a tizzy now that not one but two of its members, or “saints”, seem about to vie for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman (see article) both seem determined to try to test the limits of discrimination.For most of the 181 years since Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon, such prominent Mormon candidacies for the highest office would have been unthinkable. Mainstream Protestants, and especially evangelicals, have traditionally considered Mormons a devious cult, not quite Christian and just plain wacky….If both the more pious Mr Romney and the more secular Mr Huntsman, who have been personal rivals in the past, run in the primaries, their Mormonism will become an issue again. A few Mormons may even stoke it themselves. For instance, Glenn Beck, an excitable television host, likes to allude to something called The White Horse prophecy, according to which America’s constitution, deemed to be divinely inspired, will one day “hang like a thread” until Mormon leaders rescue it.But mainstream America may learn to get over its old and unpleasant distrust. The core of Mormon philosophy, says Michael Otterson, the church’s spokesman, is “the idea of self-improvement”. What, after all, could be more American? The church is now waging a large advertising campaign to show the diversity of Mormons in America. “We’re not prepared to be defined by others” any longer, insists Mr Otterson.

via Mormons in politics: When the saints come marching in | The Economist.

Apple, iPhone, changes:

The person who saw the prototype of the new iPhone said the device was significantly lighter than the iPhone 4 and had an edge-to-edge screen that could be manipulated by touch, as well as a virtual keyboard and voice-based navigation. The person said Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., also plans to upgrade the iPhone 4.

The new MobileMe file-storage and music service could be available as early as June, depending on the progress of licensing talks that are in their preliminary stages, the people familiar with the situation said. Apple had planned for the service to roll out a year earlier.

The new service would give users access to their iTunes libraries from, say, an iPhone or iPad, instead of requiring that the devices be synced by cable with a computer and use space to store the actual files, the people said. The new service likely would be compatible with the iPhone 4, one of the people said.

Some MobileMe features, such as a service that locates lost or stolen iPads and iPhones, already are free.

via Apple Works on Line of Less-Expensive iPhones – WSJ.com.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, The Supreme Court, culture, discrimination:

If walking into such unceasing dialogues has been her greatest challenge, the greatest surprise, even after many years as a judge, “has been how burdened I have felt in the decision-making process because I am part of the final court. I find that the weight of this is greater than I anticipated.” At lower levels, she always knew that one could make a mistake and perhaps the next court would correct it. No more.

via NationalJournal.com – Sonia Sotomayor on Dating, Deciding, and Being the Newest Supreme Court Justice – Tuesday, March 8, 2011.

google, technology, Nelson Mandela: Technology being used for good purposes.

Backed by global-search-giant Google Inc., the foundation of aging South African leader Nelson Mandela is putting thousands of documents on the Internet, from a 1977 letter smuggled out of prison to his membership cards in the Methodist Church.

Google said Tuesday that it was providing a $1.25 million grant to the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory, part of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, to help preserve a trove of photographs, letters, calendars and journals through digital technology.The $1.25 million grant is seen as a possible stepping stone to a broader relationship with Mr. Mandela’s foundation, which is now disseminating digital bursts of his memorabilia through its website (www.nelsonmandela.org). Google is already helping the website with indexing, but it would also like to provide the search technology that will allow people around the world to troll through the life of the anti-apartheid icon.

“Google wants to help bring the world’s historical heritage online, and the Internet offers new ways to preserve and share this information,” said Luke Mckend, Google’s South Africa country manager.

via Google to Help Mandela Put Memorabilia Online – WSJ.com.

South Africa, Post-Apartheid:  Similar struggles in the US ...

As a young engineer in South Africa’s apartheid era, Sandile Zungu was once asked by a white subordinate to use a separate toilet. As a businessman in the post-apartheid era of black empowerment, company doors of all kinds have opened to him.

In little over a decade, the 44-year old has amassed a fortune by building a broad portfolio of business investments, from financial services to pest control. African art adorns his office walls in Johannesburg’s swank Sandton business district, and he drives a black Mercedes sedan to meetings, even if it means traveling a dusty road to a gold mine.

But mounting criticism of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment policy that has made that possible is pulling Mr. Zungu and other black moguls into a national debate over how to right history’s wrongs without upending business in Africa’s largest economy.

BEE, as the policy is widely known, reaches across industries, compelling domestic and multinational companies operating here to meet such benchmarks as black ownership, skills training and development in poor communities. Ford Motor Co. last month said it plans to build a center to support black-owned, automobile-parts suppliers. Microsoft Corp. last year announced a $65 million program to cultivate young, black software developers. And Belgium’s Rezidor Hotel Group AB, which operates such brands as Radisson Blu Hotels and Resorts, expanded a partnership with black-owned South African enterprise Mvelaphanda Holdings (Pty) Ltd.

Critics, however, say BEE too often rewards people who are already successful. The Economic Development Ministry in November deemed BEE largely a failure, saying it focuses too much on deal making and not enough on supporting new entrepreneurs and creating jobs in a country where it estimates unemployment is 40% for people between 16 and 30 years old.

via Black Empowerment Roils South Africa – WSJ.com.

faith and spirituality, travel, theme parks, KY: Oh, my!

In Kentucky, there are plans for a religious theme park, which has the support of the governor despite critics who say the state shouldn’t give tax breaks for religious purposes.

The park’s centerpiece will be a replica of Noah’s Ark, a wooden boat longer than a football field. Other attractions include a first-century Middle Eastern Village, a Tower of Babel and a Walled City. When Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear announced Kentucky’s support last December for the “Ark Encounter,” he touted the economic impact.

“This is a $150 million investment that is projected to create nearly 900 jobs, including almost 550 full-time jobs,” Beshear says.

via Kentucky Governor Hopes Tourists Will Come Two-By-Two To Noah’s Ark Park : NPR.

water resource management, states’ rights, GA:

A panel of judges on Wednesday appeared disinclined to let stand a ruling in the tri-state water dispute that, should it come to pass, could have catastrophic consequences for the metro region.

People wait outside the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta for today’s water hearing. The state will ask the federal appeals court to overturn a ruling barring the metro area from drawing on Lake Lanier for most of its drinking water.

Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com People wait outside the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta for today’s water hearing. The state will ask the federal appeals court to overturn a ruling barring the metro area from drawing on Lake Lanier for most of its drinking water.

The judges for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals indicated they wanted to send the case back and order the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates Buford Dam, to make a final determination of how much water from Lake Lanier can be used to meet metro Atlanta’s needs.

At issue is a July 2009 ruling from Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, who found it was illegal for the corps to draw water from Lake Lanier to meet the needs of 3 million metro residents. Magnuson set a July 2012 deadline for Georgia, Alabama and Florida to work out a resolution. Otherwise, the judge said, metro Atlanta would only be allowed to take the same amount of water it received in the mid-1970s, when the population was a fraction of its current size.

via Judges appear disinclined to let water ruling stand  | ajc.com.

college, marketing, random:

Big consumer-products companies are going back to school.

Businesses including Sprint Nextel Corp., Levi Strauss & Co. and Mattel Inc. are sponsoring college classes and graduate-level research to get help with their online marketing from the young and hyperconnected. Sprint, for example, supplies a class at Boston’s Emerson College with smartphones and unlimited service in exchange for students working gratis on the company’s local Internet push.

Universities, in some cases, receive funding or proprietary consumer data from companies for their research. Students get experience they can display on their résumés, and add lively classes to the usual mix of lectures and written exams.

“We are helping students to go out and get hired,” says Randy Hlavac, an instructor at Northwestern University’s Medill School. “They’ve done the work.”

The partnerships are emerging as businesses are scurrying to bolster their ability to engage with their customers on the Web by using Facebook, Twitter and the like.

via Big Brands Sponsor College Classes to get Social-Media Help – WSJ.com.

autos, green: New green offerings from Toyota …

Toyota Motor Corp. next month will broaden its range of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles with a wagon and minivan as it looks to meet a long-term goal of selling a million of the fuel-efficient cars a year.

Toyota, the world’s biggest car maker by volume, said it will launch a hybrid five-seat wagon and seven-seat minivan based on the power train of its Prius hybrid. The minivan will be the company’s first lithium battery-powered hybrid model.

via Toyota Plans Hybrid Wagon, Minivan – WSJ.com.

23
Feb
11

2.23.2011 … Leaving on a jet plane … But know when I’ll be back again … :)

random, pets, Senator Teddy Kennedy:  OK, I just liked this op-ed piece.  🙂

My feelings on this assignment were conflicted, to say the least. On the one hand, I was impersonating a dog. On the other, I was heartened by the warmth that people from so many other states felt for the senator from mine.

In time I found a strange satisfaction in writing back to these puppy-crazed children, one that I never got from answering the office phones. None of Splash’s correspondents cared about or even knew Senator Kennedy’s position on the estate tax, or whether he’d invoke cloture on a resolution to incrementally finance the defense budget. In fact, a simple “Woof!” seemed to be all the constituent outreach they needed to be assured that the senator was on their side.

Of course Senator Kennedy demonstrated his loyalty to the youth of America in many ways. He pushed to finance Pell grants for college scholarships and to ensure all children were covered by health insurance, and fought to lower the voting age to 18.

Today would have been Senator Kennedy’s 79th birthday. In December, Splash died, a little more than a year after his master. Reading that sad news, I remembered the “liberal lion” sitting at his desk while Splash slobbered away on a grimy tennis ball in the corner. It was an image that had soothed nervous interns and disarmed even Kennedy’s fiercest critics in Congress. Then I remembered the letters to Splash, and I realized those children felt the same way that I had as a kid in Boston, and still do — that we were all a small part of the Kennedy family.

via My Life as a Dog – NYTimes.com.

Justice Clarence Thomas, The Supreme Court: With all due respect, I just do not understand this one …

His “just say nothing” approach harkens back to a time many decades ago, when justices spoke very rarely at public sessions, allowing lawyers to argue their case for hours, sometimes days on end, without interruption. Arguments today are a rapid-fire question-and-answer free-for-all, with the court peppering attorneys standing before them with hypotheticals, precedents, and their own personal views on the case at hand. Thomas alone refuses to jump into the fray.

Legal blogs and various commentators have been busy the past few weeks leading up the dubious anniversary, wondering what Thomas’ silence means for the court itself, in its broader decision-making process. Written opinions remain the main way the court expresses its precedent-setting power, but oral arguments can serve an important function — helping to focus an appeal’s flaws along the fringes of constitutional limits, an exercise for the benefit of the public and the justices themselves. These public sessions are often an ideal way to test often novel legal theories and to help a justice answer any lingering issues that prove decisive in the opinion-writing process to follow.

Thomas does occasionally speak from the bench, when announcing opinions he has written, but before arguments commence. Off the bench, especially in friendly audiences, the justice can be gregarious, fun, inquisitive, and often self-reflective. He has a booming voice, and his hearty laugh is easily recognizable.

“This is a person who is remarkably at peace with himself,” said David Rivkin, a conservative attorney and longtime friend of Thomas, “a person who is very comfortable with himself — probably much more so than is typical for many people in Washington, at his level of position.”

via Justice Thomas quietly marks an anniversary – CNN.com.

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, politics:  I don’t like Rahm Emanuel.  Sorry, Chicago.  Just seems like more of Chicago’s dirty politics.

Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, the Associated Press projected, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation’s third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley.

Rahm Emanuel sat with family members as he awaited election returns at his rally in Chicago.

With 86 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Emanuel was trouncing five opponents with 55 percent of the vote to avoid an April runoff. Mr. Emanuel needed more than 50 percent of the vote to win.

via Emanuel Elected Chicago Mayor – WSJ.com.

Middle East Uprising, Libya:  The Economist called it “The Awakening” … And in the second article, the picture of Gadhafi looks like a mechanical fortune-teller in a machine to me …

THE people of the Middle East have long despaired about the possibility of change. They have felt doomed: doomed to live under strongmen who have hoarded their wealth and beaten down dissent; doomed to have as an alternative only the Islamists who have imposed their harsh beliefs—and beaten down dissent. In some places, like Saudi Arabia and Iran, the autocrats and the Islamists have merged into one. But nowhere has a people had a wholly free choice in how they are ruled. And the West has surrendered to this despair too, assuming that only the strongmen could hold back the extremists.

Two months ago a Tunisian fruit-seller called Muhammad Bouazizi set fire to these preconceptions when, in despair over bullying officials and the lack of work, he drenched himself in petrol and struck a match. Tunisians and, later, Egyptians took to the streets. Almost miraculously, the people overwhelmed the strongmen who had oppressed them for decades. In the past few days tens of thousands have marched in Tehran, braving beatings and arrest. In tiny Bahrain men have died as the security forces sprayed protesters with rubber bullets and smothered them in tear gas. In Libya crowds have risen up against a fearsome dictator. Jordan is sullen, Algeria unstable and Yemen seething (see article).

via The Arab world: The awakening | The Economist.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, the pro-Gadhafi forces said they were surrendering for good.

Locals said they identified several among them as foreign because of their features and accents; the accounts these fighters gave under interrogation, placed them as from Chad, Niger and other sub-Saharan African countries.

The Libyan soldiers will be handed over to their tribal leaders, Baida rebel leaders said. The foreign fighters will face a jury of local notables on Wednesday.

The fate of others may have already been determined, grimly. Earlier Tuesday in Sidi Burana, an Egyptian town on the border with Libya, Egyptian workers fleeing back home showed thumb-drive and cell-phone videos with pictures of what they said were captured pro-government mercenaries being viciously beaten in Baida. One video showed a dark skinned man, who the Egyptian workers said was a mercenary from Chad, being beaten to death. Another video showed what they said were mutilated mercenary corpses.

via Dictator Gadhafi Loses Grip in Libya – WSJ.com.

ebooks, libraries, digital media, apps:  Interesting.

Actually checking out a book, takes very little time. After all, these files contain only text, not large video or audio files. Since I had trouble finding books to download, I settled on a romance novel featured on OverDrive’s homepage titled “Hawk’s Way: Rebels” by Joan Johnston. It took less than 30 seconds to download to my iPad.

Once downloaded, books looked fine on the iPad and Dell Streak. The screen’s brightness can be adjusted using an on-screen slider and a handy navigation strip at the bottom of each page shows where you are in a book and how many pages remain in the currently opened chapter. Publishers can set the number of font sizes to which text can be adjusted. And with the app, text can’t be displayed like pages in a real book (with two columns of text on two pages opened in front of you) when the tablet is held horizontally.

OverDrive doesn’t enable synchronizing of material across multiple devices, like Amazon’s Kindle app does with Whispersync. So if I download a book on my iPad in the OverDrive app, I can’t open that book on an Android phone or desktop using OverDrive.

OverDrive serves more than 13,000 libraries with a catalog of 400,000 titles from 1,000 publishers, but it’s possible your library may not use this system (check OverDrive.com for participating libraries). The spokesman said the company plans an app for the BlackBerry by June and hopes to enable wireless downloads on other devices in the future.

via A Review of the OverDrive App for Borrowing eBooks – WSJ.com.

twitter, pirates, fact v. fiction, RIP:  Twitter line for Mr. Wood’s article just struck me.  Who would have thought that the pirates would be a force on the modern-day world stage.  Prayers for the families of the victims.

It takes more than Peter Pan to fight Captain Hook in the real world. by David Wood

Four American Sailors Shot Dead by Somali Pirates.

President Eisenhower, checks and balances, government, politics:

Unwarranted Influence also recaptures Eisenhower’s troubled second term, and his sense of urgency about distilling his political legacy and giving some final, informed counsel to the American people. That counsel, delivered in January 1961, stressed the need for balance, a key virtue in Eisenhower’s thinking. Above all, it sought to demonstrate the need for a wise balance between American liberties and national security, a tug of war that troubles the country even to this day.

In Eisenhower’s view, the military-industrial complex posed a grave risk to the checks and balances of the American government. It was a controversial thought at the time, and it still is. As Ledbetter’s book shows, Eisenhower’s words still speak to us, a full half century after he left office—an impact few other political speeches can claim.

via Eisenhower’s History-Changing Speech – Newsweek.

words, history:  OK?

The Boston Morning Post, in the midst of a long paragraph, as “o.k. (all correct)”.

How this weak joke survived at all, instead of vanishing like its counterparts, is a matter of lucky coincidence involving the American presidential election of 1840.

One candidate was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and there was a false tale that a previous American president couldn’t spell properly and thus would approve documents with an “OK”, thinking it was the abbreviation for “all correct”.

Within a decade, people began actually marking OK on documents and using OK on the telegraph to signal that all was well. So OK had found its niche, being easy to say or write and also distinctive enough to be clear.

But there was still only restricted use of OK. The misspelled abbreviation may have implied illiteracy to some, and OK was generally avoided in anything but business contexts, or in fictional dialogue by characters deemed to be rustic or illiterate.

Indeed, by and large American writers of fiction avoided OK altogether, even those like Mark Twain who freely used slang.

But in the 20th Century OK moved from margin to mainstream, gradually becoming a staple of nearly everyone’s conversation, no longer looked on as illiterate or slang.

Its true origin was gradually forgotten. OK used such familiar sounds that speakers of other languages, hearing it, could rethink it as an expression or abbreviation in their own language.

via BBC News – How ‘OK’ took over the world.

24
Jan
11

1.24.2011 … coffee with friends then ChristCare where we will discuss I Am The Good Shepherd by Stan Kellner

ChristCare, curriculum:  I Am The Good Shepherd  by Stan Kellner – http://www.angelfire.com/jazz/karen_trust/IAM/Shepherd.html

random, Mark Twain:  New autobiography revives careers for Mark Twain impersonators.  But you have to have the mustache!  Mark Twain Impersonators Gain Popularity – NYTimes.com.

literature, southern literature, Elizabeth Musser, Atlanta:  I am a little miffed they left out our own Elizabeth Goldsmith Musser … given the setting for the photo shoot. Do you think it is because of the genre she writes .. Christian historical fiction …

Is there a book club in America that hasn’t yet thrilled to The Help? Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel has lasted some 22 months on the New York Times hardcover fiction list—and will soon be a DreamWorks movie. “Kitty” Stockett far right, in fact, is leading a new wave of southern female writers who might look like belles but who write fearlessly about the region’s troubled legacies of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Typically, these women left the South in their 20s, heading for New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. But in time they came home. And they’re now turning Atlanta into the most vibrant new literary scene outside of Brooklyn.

via Belles, Books, And Candor | Culture | Vanity Fair.

movies, memorable phrases:

Have we heard the last (truly memorable) word from Hollywood?

Probably not, but it’s been a while since the movies had everybody parroting a great line.

via We’re missing lines that had us at ‘hello’ – CharlotteObserver.com.

LOL, random, products, design, Daniel Pink:  Saw this in the Petco flyer last week … maybe it is just me but I think it is LOL hysterical.  But really it is just a ball … with a design element to humor the humans.  So would you pay $12 for the equivalent of a used tennis ball to the dog?  I wonder if this product meets Daniel Pink’s definition of elegant design?  If you don’t know about Daniel Pink … check out the blog post about him which contains an interview.

Amazon.com: Moody Pet Humunga Stache Ball Dog Toy: Patio, Lawn & Garden.

“Design Thinking is solving problems in elegant ways” – Daniel Pink

via Elegant Design For Your Whole New Mind | Life In Perpetual Beta.

technology, culture, Jane Austen, bookshelf:  Another book that will be getting a great deal of commentary!

What I’m against is a kind of technological promiscuity, where that technology, so perfect in that [Abu Dhabi] circumstance, is the technology you think is perfect for people to bring into a board meeting, when they need to be working on a problem together. In that case it’s not the technology of choice. They’re not physically present with the people they need to bond with and deeply connect with, and need to make very consequential decisions with. I hate the metaphor of addiction: it implies we have to get it away, give it away, wean off. This is great stuff. It’s not heroin. It’s just something we need to learn to use when most appropriate, powerful, and in our best interest.

You mention how when people see the little red light on their BlackBerry, indicating a message has arrived, they feel utterly compelled to grab it. Do you personally experience that compulsion?

I recognize it with my email. Somebody said of email, “It’s the place for hope in life.” It reminds me of how in Jane Austen, carriages are always coming, you’re waiting, it could be Mr. Bingley’s invitation to a ball. There’s some sense that the post is always arriving in Jane Austen. There’s something about email that carries the sense that that’s where the good news will come. I did a hysterical interview with an accountant about why he felt so strongly about his texts. He said he might get a Genius award! I said, “I don’t think they give those to accountants.” And he said, “But you know what I mean.” He was trying to express that anything could happen on email. Anything could happen! I try to figure out what it is that this little red light means to people. I think it’s that place for hope and change and the new, and what can be different, and how things can be what they’re not now. And I think we all want that.

via “Alone Together”: An MIT Professor’s New Book Urges Us to Unplug.

women, politics, stereotypes:  A strong American woman is stereotyped a cowgirl … interesting article.

America has no tales of Amazons or of Atalanta; our national narrative does not chronicle the defeat of an armada by a virgin queen nor a teenage Joan leading her army into battle. American history includes no Cleopatras or Hatshepsuts; no Trung Sisters, who defended Vietnam from the Chinese in the first century; and no Catherines, great or otherwise. The mythos of our founding revolves entirely around fathers, save for the seamstress Betsy Ross and the querulous spouse Abigail Adams.

What we do have, to serve as the foundational fantasy of female strength and individualism we’ve agreed upon as embodying American power, are cowgirls: Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, the outlaws, frontier women and pioneers who pushed West, shot sharp, talked tough and sometimes drew blood. Frontier womanhood has emerged as one of the only historically American models of aspirational femininity available to girls — passive princesses and graceful ballerinas not being native to this land — and one of the only blueprints for commanding female comportment in which they are regularly encouraged to invest or to mimic.

via Only Cowgirls Run for Office – NYTimes.com.

blogposts, economy, Great Recession, future, quotes, Mark Twain:  Again, my favorite Presbyterian minister blogger takes two articles I noted and pulls them together to say what I wish I had said … I wish I had his quick mind!  And of course he quotes my favorite … Mark Twain. Thanks, Jim

Mark Twain said it best:

Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

Religious people know this to be true. I am not referring to resurrection (a dimension of Christian faith, for sure) but to religious belief as a general phenomenon. Belief is a dynamic reality. It impacts attitude, instills confidence, generates hope, impels certain actions. Of these there is not a lot of confidence and hope to be found in the usual portrait of our country’s health these days. If you believe we are dying, die we will. The truth is very different though.

The USA remains a genuine heavyweight. Time to start fighting like one. Fighting, that is, not with anyone, but against despair and resignation.

“It ain’t over till it’s over” and it ain’t over!

via Not dead yet « Hopelens Blog.

blogpost, media, religion, prayers: So my other favorite Presbyterian minister blogger … the younger … nails this one in my opinion.  I will use his prayer this week!  Thanks, Marthame!

There are those who say that the church is in the midst of a historical moment unlike any since the Protestant Reformation. And just as the “new media” of the printing press made Martin Luther possible, our world is being changed daily by new technologies and new ways of communicating. Is it time for the church to, dare I say, “change”?

In some ways, we have been standing by the shore, doing what our ancestors have taught us, faithfully tossing our nets into the sea, pulling in a catch, and doing it all over again. And as uprooting as it might be, maybe we need to listen for that voice of Jesus telling us to leave all that behind.

Time for a Change.

NYC, change, travel:  Maybe I better get there soon!

CBGB, the birthplace of punk rock, is gone. No longer can visitors to Coney Island plunk down a few coins to play the unsettling attraction called “Shoot the Freak.” And seedy, edgy, anything-might-happen Times Square? These days, it’s all but childproof.It continues: That diner on the corner for decades — closed. The beer garden down the street — now a Starbucks. The block once home to clusters of independent businesses — thriving as a big-box store.

And last month, another piece of the old New York slipped away with the demise of the city’s Off-Track Betting parlors. It’s enough to make old-school New Yorkers bristle.

Around countless corners, the weird, unexpected, edgy, grimy New York — the town that so many looked to for so long as a relief from cookie-cutter America — has evolved into something else entirely: tamed, prepackaged, even predictable.

“What draws people to New York is its uniqueness. So when something goes, people feel sad about it,” says Suzanne Wasserman, director of the Gotham Center for New York City History at the City University of New York.

“I think that’s also part of the New York character,” she says, “that ‘Things were better when …'”

Change is constant, and few cities change faster than New York. But at what cost? Where is the line between progress and lost distinctiveness?

via As edgy NYC disappears, does its character go too?  | ajc.com.

gardens:  I friend told me about this.  I am putting it on my 2011 calendar for November!  Thanks, Maxwell for the idea.

Instant Miniature Bulb Garden

Begin with a container. Plant an array of bulbs in layers now, and flowers will appear at intervals throughout spring. Think of the tiny irises as appetizers to the season, followed by the grape hyacinths. Next, delight in miniature narcissus. Build up to a feast of large daffodils. Then, as the icing on the cake, finish with a topping of violas that bloom from fall through late spring. The best part is that prep time takes less than 30 minutes.

Instant Miniature Bulb Garden – SouthernLiving.com.

Norwich England, Great Britain, sense of place, travel, bucket list:  OK, so I loved Norwich from this article.  It seems to have a real sense of place.  I am adding it to my list.  How could you not be intriqued by a place described as a book lovers/writers paradise  and this ““I love the emptiness and the atmosphere,” he said. “The scenery is quite unique. There is that feeling of being in a lost corner.””

Norwich, a two-hour train ride northeast from London, has increasingly become a refuge for writers fleeing the hectic pace of the capital’s publishing scene. At first glance it appears to be just another charming medieval town, with a fantastically preserved castle and a 900-year-old cathedral. But look a little deeper and you’ll notice the wellspring of author readings and literary festivals, featuring recent talks by Booker Prize winners like John Banville and Penelope Lively.

The comfy cafes within the town’s narrow old lanes are full of aspiring writers pecking away at laptops, dreaming of becoming the next Ian McEwan or Kazuo Ishiguro, both of whom got their start here at the University of East Anglia’s esteemed creative writing master’s program.

Mr. Ishiguro was so struck by Norwich and its surrounding county that he used it as inspiration for his 2005 novel “Never Let Me Go” (though the book was actually set in East Sussex, the 2010 movie adaptation was largely filmed in Norfolk County, home to Norwich). “I love the emptiness and the atmosphere,” he said. “The scenery is quite unique. There is that feeling of being in a lost corner.”

via Norwich, England, a Book-Lover’s Town – NYTimes.com.

green:  I knew it was coming.  Duke Power is giving customers a dozen bulbs for free.  I am interested to see if they really cut my bill.

The brightest bulb in most homes for more than a century is fading toward darkness this year as California turns out the light on the century-old incandescent.

Beginning Jan. 1, the state began phasing out certain energy-sucking bulbs, federal standards the rest of the country will enact next year.

Manufacturers will no longer make the traditional 100-watt bulb and stores will eventually sell out of current supplies. Consumers will have to choose from more efficient bulbs that use no more than 72 watts, including halogen incandescents, compact fluorescents and light-emitting diode, or LED, bulbs.

“These standards will help cut our nation’s electric bill by over $10 billion a year and will save the equivalent electricity as 30 large power plants,” said Noah Horowitz a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That translates into a whole lot less global warming pollution being emitted.”

The change is part of the federal Energy Independence and Security Act that President George Bush signed in 2007, to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. California was allowed to adopt the national standard one year earlier.

via It’s lights out for the incandescent bulb in Calif  | ajc.com.

branding, advertising, Starbucks: just interesting …

The rise of the affluent society has left people with lots of time and talent to spare, Mr Shirky argues. For decades they squandered this cognitive surplus watching television. Today, thanks to the internet, they can also channel it into more productive pursuits.

For a surprising number of people these productive pursuits involve worrying about companies’ logos. Howard Schultz, the boss of Starbucks, recently announced that his company would mark its 40th anniversary this March by changing its logo a bit. The words “Starbucks” and “coffee” will disappear. And the mermaid, or siren, will be freed from her circle.

Starbucks wants to join the small club of companies that are so recognisable they can rely on nothing but a symbol: Nike and its swoosh; McDonald’s and its golden arches; Playboy and its bunny; Apple and its apple. The danger is that it will join the much larger class of companies that have tried to change their logos only to be forced to backtrack by an electronic lynch mob.

via Schumpeter: Logoland | The Economist.

quotes, Reynolds Price, RIP:  Given his recent death, I think  a quote from Reynolds Price is appropriate.

“… what I still ask for daily – for life as long as I have work to do, and work as long as I have life.” — Reynolds Price, A Whole New Life

In A Whole New Life, however, he steps from behind that roster of achievements to present us with a more personal story, a narrative as intimate and compelling as any work of the imagination. In 1984, a large cancer was discovered in his spinal cord (“The tumor was pencil-thick and gray-colored, ten inches long from my neck-hair downward”). Here, for the first time, Price recounts without self-pity what became a long struggle to withstand and recover from this appalling, if all too common, affliction (one American in three will experience some from of cancer). He charts the first puzzling symptoms; the urgent surgery that fails to remove the growth and the radiation that temporarily arrests it (but hurries his loss of control of his lower body); the occasionally comic trials of rehab; the steady rise of severe pain and reliance on drugs; two further radical surgeries; the sustaining force of a certain religious vision; an eventual discovery of help from biofeedback and hypnosis; and the miraculous return of his powers as a writer in a new, active life. Beyond the particulars of pain and mortal illness, larger concerns surface here — a determination to get on with the human interaction that is so much a part of this writer’s much-loved work, the gratitude he feels toward kin and friends and some (though by no means all) doctors, the return to his prolific work, and the “now appalling, now astonishing grace of God.” A Whole New Life offers more than the portrait of one brave person in tribulation; it offers honest insight, realistic encouragement and inspiration to others who suffer the bafflement of catastrophic illness or who know someone who does or will.

via A whole new life – Google Books.

green, design, wildlife:  Special provisions for the bears cougars, bobcats, elk and deer …

At a picturesque spot in the mountains near the ski resorts of Vail and Breckenridge, Colo., two streams of traffic converge: people driving east and west on Interstate 70, and animals — black bears, cougars, bobcats, elk and deer — headed north and south to feed and mate. When they collide, the animal is almost always killed and the vehicle badly damaged, even if the driver is lucky enough to escape injury.

The obvious solution is a bridge or a tunnel for the animals, but how do you build one they will use?

via Contest Seeks to Avert Collisions With Animals on I-70 in Colorado – NYTimes.com.

politics, GA politics, David Ralston-GA House Speaker, really stupid:  Since I often comment on the really stupid things we do in our youth, why is it that our politicians are the next group of people who do really stupid things?

House Speaker David Ralston and his family spent part of Thanksgiving week in Europe on a $17,000 economic development mission paid for by lobbyists interested in building a high-speed train line between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

Commonwealth Research Associates, a D.C.-based consulting firm, paid for the trip, which also included Ralston’s chief of staff Spiro Amburn and his spouse, to Germany and the Netherlands the week of Nov. 21-27, according to records filed with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, formerly known as the State Ethics Commission.

The trip was the most expensive single expenditure reported by a lobbyist since at least 2005.

via Ralston, staff and families took $17,000 lobbyist-funded trip to Germany  | ajc.com.

Justice Antonin Scalia, The Supreme Court, Separation of Powers:  Haven’t decided what I think of this other than I would like to be there.  Do you have an opinion?  Is this appropriate for a Supreme Court Justice?

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, described just last week by a Washington law professor as “the first real celebrity justice” for his controversial public pronouncements, will come to Capitol Hill on Monday to lecture about constitutional law to some earnest members of the House of Representatives. He was invited to do so by Rep. Michelle Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican and tea party activist in Congress, as part of her effort to educate lawmakers about the nation’s founding legal documents.

Although Justice Scalia has been criticized in some quarters for accepting the invitation, it is not unreasonable of him to consider the opportunity to speak face-to-face with his interbranch partners as a rare and welcome one. And although many observers see the effort as a partisan ploy between and among conservative ideologues, there are plenty of nonpartisan things Professor Scalia can lecture about. For example:

via Professor Scalia Comes to Capitol Hill: Here Is His Constitutional Lesson Plan.

South Africa:  11 official languages is very difficult … interesting to watch how this is resolved.

UNDER the 1996 constitution, all 11 of South Africa’s official languages “must enjoy parity of esteem and be treated equitably”. In practice English, the mother tongue of just 8% of the people, increasingly dominates all the others. Its hegemony may even threaten the long-term survival of the country’s African languages, spoken as the mother tongue of 80% of South Africans, despite the government’s repeated promises to promote and protect indigenous languages and culture.

Under apartheid, there were just two official languages, English and Afrikaans, a variant of Dutch with a dash of French, German, Khoisan (spoken by so-called Bushmen and Hottentots), Malay and Portuguese. Pre-colonial African languages were relegated to the black townships and tribal “homelands”. Even there, English was often chosen as the medium of education in preference to the inhabitants’ mother tongues. Black South Africans increasingly rejected Afrikaans as the language of the main oppressor; English was a symbol of advancement and prestige.

Today, 16 years after the advent of black-majority rule, English reigns supreme. Not only is it the medium of business, finance, science and the internet, but also of government, education, broadcasting, the press, advertising, street signs, consumer products and the music industry. For such things Afrikaans is also occasionally used, especially in the Western Cape province, but almost never an African tongue. The country’s Zulu-speaking president, Jacob Zuma, makes all his speeches in English. Parliamentary debates are in English. Even the instructions on bottles of prescription drugs come only in English or Afrikaans.

via South Africa’s languages: Tongues under threat | The Economist.

followup, Keith Olbermann, media:  Seems there is a lot behind the curtains …

One NBC News executive said on Sunday: “Give us a bit of credit for getting eight years out of him. That’s the longest he’s been anywhere.”

via Years of Strife Caught Up With Olbermann at MSNBC – NYTimes.com.

 

01
Jan
11

1.1.11 … Happy MMXI!

New Year’s Eve, holidays, history, NYC:

The first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square occurred in 1904, just after the New York Times had relocated to a new building in what had been known as Longacre Square. Publisher Adolph Ochs had successfully pushed for a renaming of the district, and the triangular area where the new building sat at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway, and 42nd Streets has since then been known as Times Square.

That year Ochs sponsored a party to beat all parties to celebrate the new location. An all-day street festival was capped off with a fireworks display, and there were thought to have been 200,000 people in attendance. The Times continued to sponsor a New Year’s Eve event in the area, and New Yorkers soon began going to Times Square instead of ringing in the new year at Trinity Church as had been the previous custom.

A few years later the city banned the use of fireworks, and that led to the creation of a new tradition. At first, Ochs’ team developed a creative use of lights. At the end of 1905, lights were configured to read “1906” and these electric lights flashed from the tower of the Times building, reportedly visible from miles away. The Times tower was also festooned with electric streamers that lighted the building’s four corners.

But the creative thinkers were still at work.

via Kate Kelly: The Times Square Ball Drop and the Story Behind It.

CSR: The Year in CSR: The Four Trends of 2010 | Fast Company.

random: government regulation, Chicago: “bird-friendly construction for all new city buildings.” … why?  “Highland Park is in the flight path of a number of migrating birds that like to follow the Lake Michigan shoreline”

The city council in the northern Chicago suburb of Highland Park will soon consider a proposal to require bird-friendly construction for all new city buildings.

City officials tell the Chicago Tribune that if the new law is passed, all future public buildings would be required to incorporate bird-safe architecture that’s designed to lower the number of bird collisions with buildings.

Private developers would not be affected, but Highland Park Director of Community Development Michael Blue says he hopes the city’s example would influence them as well.

Bird-friendly architecture includes curved windows and awnings, which have been shown to lower the incidences of bird collisions with buildings.

Highland Park is in the flight path of a number of migrating birds that like to follow the Lake Michigan shoreline

via Cityscapes | Chicago Tribune | Blog.

random, Disney: “”interactive cakes,” cakes equipped with miniature projectors that can produce simulations of landscapes and, naturally, Disney characters.”

According to tech blog Gizmodo, Disney has been awarded a patent for so-called “interactive cakes,” cakes equipped with miniature projectors that can produce simulations of landscapes and, naturally, Disney characters.

Okay. That’s weird enough. But, how would the cakes be interactive? When cutting a slice or using specially coded utensils, the projectors might instantly create a special effect. For example, Captain Hook might instantly appear and draw his sword as one approaches the cake with a knife.

via Dawn of the Interactive Cake | The Food Section – Food News, Recipes, and More.

iPad apps, lists:  The 7 Most Innovative iPad Apps of 2010 | Slideshows. ,iPhone App Helps You Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions This Time | Fast Company, The Top Ten iPhone (and Android) Apps of 2010 – Digits – WSJ.

bookshelf, Children’s/YA lit:

If you were in the market this season for a book that would appeal to a teenager, you probably noticed that the young adult sections in bookstores and on bestsellers lists were filled with titles bearing dark and scary themes.

Whether it’s Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” trilogy or James Paterson’s “Maximum Ride” series, the popularity of post-apocalyptic fiction doesn’t seem to be abating.

via The Dark Side of Young Adult Fiction – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

-and-

Oh, To Be Young: The Year’s Best Teen Reads : NPR.

NBA basketball, Stephen Curry, Charlotte:  Most there were probably pleased to have the Warriors win.  That is how strong the love is for Curry in Charlotte.

Between Ellis and Charlottean Stephen Curry (24 points on 10-of-17 shooting), the Warriors scored with exceptional ease much of this game. Golden State shot 49 percent to the Bobcats’ 42 percent. But the Warriors never scored again after Ellis’ layup with 1 minute, 20 seconds left, and that should have allowed the Bobcats to steal this one.

This is what you call a teaching moment, following Silas’ first loss in three games as Larry Brown’s replacement.

“I think he was looking to penetrate, but (the Warriors) were really crowded” around him, Silas said of Jackson’s last shot.

“We called for a specific set, then didn’t get into that set. We need to point it out in practice, so next time they’ll know what to do.”

via Curry, Warriors hold off Bobcats – CharlotteObserver.com.

politics, VP Joe Biden:  Biden the linchpin?

Vice President Joe Biden is a career politician who has spent virtually his entire adult life in Washington politics — seemingly the antithesis of Barack Obama’s hope-and-change message.

Yet with a new political order in Washington, the success of Obama’s presidency hinges more and more on the negotiating skills and political instincts of his No. 2.

Facing a revived Republican Party, the White House is expected to increasingly deploy Biden as a presidential surrogate to find compromises and coax reluctant lawmakers into crossing party lines. Even Biden’s penchant for veering off message is being reevaluated inside the White House as a bridge to ordinary voters who appreciate blunt talk.

A model for Biden’s role in the next session of Congress was the recent passage of the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Biden, who built a reputation as a foreign policy expert during his 36 years in the Senate, prevailed in an internal White House debate over whether to press for ratification in the lame-duck session.

via Biden is a linchpin of Obama’s presidency – chicagotribune.com.

Christmas music, music, lists:  I must like lists … it is interesting to see what others think is best or worthy. Christmas Playlist 2010 | CU Independent.

health, obesity: “Rich foods work much like heroin on the brain, making it hard to stop eating them.”

It seems so simple: Too much food and not enough activity make people fat.

But the actual processes that create and perpetuate that imbalance are proving to be astoundingly complex.

Biology, physiology, psychology, genetics and environment figure in the obesity equation to varying degrees. Scientists across North Carolina and beyond are trying to understand how, in recent decades, the population has bloated to a point that lean people are a minority.

“There is no simple answer,” said Bernard Fuemmeler, a Duke University researcher who is studying the mind-body link in obesity. “People tend to think that it may be willpower or just a lack of control. And these may be reasons, but not explanations for what is driving the epidemic.”

In their quest to find explanations, researchers across the state – at Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, Wake Forest and East Carolina universities – are discovering or are building upon findings that prove just how intractable a foe fat can be:

Rich foods work much like heroin on the brain, making it hard to stop eating them.

via Your body is thwarting your weight-loss efforts – CharlotteObserver.com.

bookshelf, lists:  More lists … Best Books Of 2010: The Complete List : NPR., Book Club Picks: Give ‘Em Something To Talk About : NPR.

real estate, I.M. Pei, Chicago, Great Recession, Great Recovery?:

The John Hancock Tower in Boston was a 62-story glass emblem of the commercial real estate market’s collapse, so its sale—for $930 million—could be a sign that the market for office buildings is picking up again.

Boston Properties Inc., the largest U.S. office real investment trust, is the new owner of New England’s tallest building in a deal announced late Wednesday. The REIT paid $289.5 million in cash and assumed $640.5 million in debt, Bloomberg reports.

The sellers, Normandy Real Estate Partners and Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, had bought the building for $661 million.

Designed by I.M. Pei, the sleek office building literally halved in value after Broadway Partners, led by young entrepreneur Scott Lawlor, bought it for $1.3 billion and then defaulted on a portion of the loan in January 2009, as what had been a booming market went bust. Because Lehman Brothers was a big lender and buyer in the commercial real estate market, its collapse a few months earlier had a domino effect.

via John Hancock Tower Sells For 930 Million In Symbolic Deal – The Business Blotter – Portfolio.com.

baby boomers, retirement:

It may be hard to believe, but the generation that transformed America as it came of age in the 1960s is now entering its senior years.

“There are 7,000 boomers a day who will be turning 65 in 2011, which is a significant birthday for sure,” says Steve Cone, executive vice president of AARP.

Sixty-five used to be the age when Americans stopped working, kicked back and embarked on serious leisure to make up for all those decades of the daily grind. But just like with every other stage of life they’ve gone through, baby boomers are expected to transform how we think about “retirement.”

Leading the way will be couples like Stephanie and Stan Zirkin. She will turn 65 on May 14; he’s already 65, not officially a boomer, but, as he puts it, “close enough.”

via Boomers Take The ‘Retire’ Out Of Retirement : NPR.

The Supreme Court: I agree …

WASHINGTON—Chief Justice John Roberts decried the partisan warfare that has slowed the appointment of federal judges to a crawl, writing in his year-end report Friday that political gamesmanship on Capitol Hill has left some courts burdened with “extraordinary caseloads.””Each political party has found it easy to turn on a dime from decrying to defending the blocking of judicial nominations, depending on their changing political fortunes,” the chief justice wrote. He called on Congress and the president “to find a long-term solution to this recurring problem.”The chief justice, a 2005 appointee of former President George W. Bush, took no position on any specific nominee, nor did he identify lawmakers by name in the annual report, which customarily includes figures on the court system’s workload and a plea for more money.But while styled as a condemnation of both parties, in practical terms the message was a knock against Senate Republicans, who have fought to minimize the imprint President Barack Obama leaves on the federal bench.

via Chief Justice Decries Brawling Over Judicial Nominees – WSJ.com.

random, music, street art:

The snow and subway stress have been no match for cellist Dale Henderson this week. In fact, with more straphangers waiting longer for trains, he’s had an easier time accomplishing his mission: sharing Bach’s cello suites with as many people as possible.

“There was incredible density,” Mr. Henderson said after playing in the Times Square station on Wednesday night. “It felt really good.”

Mr. Henderson, 34, has been performing in the city’s subways for about two years, but it’s not technically busking because he no longer accepts money in exchange for the music. “It always felt bad to be doing it for money,” he said. “People will insist. They say, ‘Just take the money.’ I don’t know why.”

via Subway Cellist Brings Music to the Masses – WSJ.com.

culture:  This reminded me of my cousins taking friends from Atlanta down to Pineview, GA, to learn how to rock on the front porch!


“We’re all overstimulated,” said Ms. Lee. “I think it’s important to stop all that for a while and see what several hours of being bored really feels like.”

via Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation – WSJ.com.

history, pardons, Billy the Kid, random: Sorry, Billy.

The iconic outlaw Billy the Kid will not receive a posthumous pardon after all, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced Friday, his last day in office.

Stephanie Simon explains why New Mexico may give Billy The Kid a pardon for a crime he committed in 1879. Plus, President Obama may cut corporate taxes and why 2010 was turbulent for airline travelers.

Mr. Richardson had been considering whether to give the Kid a pardon based on sketchy, but plausible, historical evidence that the gun-slinging, cattle-rustling, sheriff-shooting outlaw had been promised clemency by the territorial governor in the 1880s, Lew Wallace.

Historians had produced several newspaper articles from the time quoting Mr. Wallace as saying that he had promised to wipe clean a murder charge against the Kid in return for his testimony against three men in an unrelated killing.

But in the end, “the governor just felt there wasn’t enough conclusive proof,” said Eric Witt, deputy chief of staff for Mr. Richardson. “He takes the power of the pardon very seriously.”

On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Mr. Richardson explained further.

“The romanticism appealed to me but the facts and the evidence did not support it,” Mr. Richardson said.

via Old West Outlaw Billy the Kid Fails to Win a Pardon – WSJ.com.

28
Dec
10

12.28.2010 … great breakfast with Maxwell and Len Al (we did solve the problems of the world :) ) … then off to Cashiers to leave Molly with a camp friend for New Year’s and a 30 minute cup of soup with Lisa … and now safely home … great day in my opinion …

The Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor:

In an amusing and astute post on his legal blog, Mike Sacks said the two justices had become “their sides’ enforcers.”

The seven opinions about decisions not to hear cases support this theory. Justice Sotomayor wrote or joined all four from the liberal justices, and Justice Alito did the same for the ones from the conservative side.

“Appearing rough around the edges, they send clear, aggressive messages, often on behalf of their comrades, but sometimes alone on principle,” Mr. Sacks wrote.

By contrast, he added, Chief Justice Roberts and the court’s newest member, Justice Elena Kagan, are all polish and charm. They wrote none of the seven decisions and joined one each. At arguments, their questions are wry and sly.

They are, Mr. Sacks wrote, “suave assassins, devastating advocates without compromising their gentility.”

via Sotomayor Guides Supreme Court’s Liberal Wing – NYTimes.com.

faith:  I was always a J …. another thing to work on …

When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them. Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another. When people realise that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies.

via December 28, 2010 – Being Safe Places for Others.




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