May 30, 2012
The next generation, smarter than ours
USA Today reports on the winning words in the National Spelling Bee over the last 8 decades. It's clear that the last decade's students would have found many of the earlier winning words to be child's play.
Here is the list, as compiled by USA Today:
April 03, 2012
Fairer Airport Screening
Senator Ben Nelson strikes a blow for passenger equity--a surprising and especially praiseworthy move because one would have expected that Senators might be the likely beneficiaries of the inequity that current prevails. The LA Times reports:
Bothered by select air travelers who get to move faster through airport security checkpoints?
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is.
He has introduced legislation that would bar airlines and airports from giving passengers, often first class and elite frequent fliers, preferential treatment on security lines.
“This bill is about fairness,’’ Nelson said. "Regardless of whether you have a first-class ticket or have reached a certain frequent flier status, the purpose of the airport security screening line is to ensure traveler safety. Allowing a select few to cut in front of those who are waiting patiently, just in order to provide a perk, has nothing to do with safety.’’
All passengers pay the same fee in their airline tickets to cover the cost of the TSA screenings regardless of ticket class, according to a news release from Nelson announcing the legislation.
It's fine for airlines to discriminate in favor of certain groups of passengers who pay more, but it is not fine for the government's Transportation Security Administration to favor wealthy passengers with shorter lines, especially when the wealthy passenger is paying the screening fee as the economy-class passenger.
February 27, 2012
Chris Rock on Whose Voice Can Play Which Parts in Hollywood
As per an L.A. Times story:
Chris Rock may have unexpectedly best defined the continuing awkwardness of Hollywood and race when he made his presentation of the award for outstanding animated film by referring to his voice work in the "Madagascar" movies and Eddie Murphy's role in the "Shrek" films.
Rock joked that while a fat woman can play a skinny princess, a wimpy guy can play a gladiator and a white guy can play an Arabian prince, "if you're a black man, you can play a donkey or a zebra. You can't play white."
February 01, 2012
A Former Slave Writes to his Former Master
August 7, 1865To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
Well worth reading in full.
April 03, 2011
Natives vs. Immigrants (in the plant kingdom)
Anthropologist Hugh Raffles, of the New School, has a fascinating and controversial op-ed. (We, by the way, put in native California plants in our landscaping redesign a year ago--those our our California poppies popping up all over our yard today in the picture.)
just as America is a nation built by waves of immigrants, our natural landscape is a shifting mosaic of plant and animal life. Like humans, plants and animals travel, often in ways beyond our knowledge and control. They arrive unannounced, encounter unfamiliar conditions and proceed to remake each other and their surroundings.
Designating some as native and others as alien denies this ecological and genetic dynamism. It draws an arbitrary historical line based as much on aesthetics, morality and politics as on science, a line that creates a mythic time of purity before places were polluted by interlopers.
March 15, 2011
The Heroism of Rescue Workers
At least 750 workers evacuated on Tuesday morning after a separate explosion ruptured the inner containment building at reactor No. 2 at the Daiichi plant, which was crippled by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. The explosion released a surge of radiation 800 times more intense than the recommended hourly exposure limit in Japan.
But 50 workers stayed behind, a crew no larger than would be stationed at the plant on a quiet spring day. Taking shelter when possible in the reactor’s control room, which is heavily shielded from radiation, they struggled through the morning and afternoon to keep hundreds of gallons of seawater a minute flowing through temporary fire pumps into the three stricken reactors, where overheated fuel rods continued to boil away the water at a brisk pace.
From New York Times story.
March 01, 2011
Valuing Mothers Through Architecture--Google's Brilliant Move
December 25, 2010
Remembering Those Without Presents Under the Tree
From a book of Christmas poems dated 1909 (found on Google books)--by Rosalie M Jonas, a Harlem poet, who passed away in 1953 at the age of 91. She promoted social projects in Harlem. Warning: She employs the awful n-word, but for poetic effect.
December 02, 2008
Untold Stories from India on AIDS (Day-Late World AIDS Day Post)
"In the groundbreaking anthology, AIDS Sutra, sixteen renowned writers tell the hidden story of the AIDS crisis, illuminating the complex nature of one of the major problems facing the developing world.
India is home to almost 3 million HIV cases, but AIDS is still stigmatized and shrouded in denial. Discrimination against HIV-affected individuals in hospitals, schools, and even among families is common, just as discussion about HIV and participation in prevention or treatment programs are not. In this riveting book, sixteen of India's most well-known writers go on the road to uncover the reality of AIDS in India and tell the human stories behind the epidemic.
Kiran Desai travels to the coast of Andhra Pradesh, where the sex workers are considered the most desirable; Salman Rushdie meets members of Mumbai's transgender community; William Dalrymple encounters the devadasis, women who have been “married” to a temple goddess and thus are deemed acceptable for transactional sex. Eye-opening, hard-hitting, and moving, AIDS Sutra presents a side of India rarely seen before."
May 16, 2008
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Mondavi, for Making Possible Many Wonderful Evenings at the Mondavi Center
Link: Mondavi Center.
Robert Mondavi, famed winemaker and philanthropist, died today in Yountville, California.
The University of California, Davis community will long remember you.