From The Charleston Gazette: West Virginia's Marshall University has accepted a $1 million grant from BB&T. But the money comes with a catch -- Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged must be part of the Center for the Advancement of American Capitalism (the institute founded by the grant)'s curriculum. This of course, raises some issues about the academic integrity of allowing a particular book's spot on an academic syllabus to essentially be purchased. Especially when the book in question is such a well, polarizing title. (You think the movie will be required too?)
Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of his seminal novel Things Fall Apart, PEN American Center presents a tribute to Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. On February 26, Chinua Achebe will be joined by Chris Abani, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Michael Cunningham, Edwidge Danticat, Suheir Hammad, Ha Jin, Colum McCann, and Toni Morrison. The evening will also feature a special performance by the Francesca Harper Dance Project with dancers from the Alvin Ailey School.
Monday, February 25, 2008
So Slate has been all over that New York Times/McCain mess. The XX Factor calls the Times story "one of the weirdest news stories I've ever read." Jack Shafer notes that "Both Republicans and press observers regard the piece as a low-calorie meal assembled from moldy ingredients and sullied by unethical preparation" (but he defends it anyway. And the Times says thanks). Then there's a blog-tour. Blah, blah. I think that Timothy Noah, however, hits the nail on the head:
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Why block a vaccine? Here's our answer.
Gardasil is no values-enhancer.
To prevent HPV
Causes sex, don't you see?
And quite frankly, we prefer cancer.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I like my gym -- convenient hours and locations, well-maintained facilities, boppin' tunes, weight-loss advice that in fact works (if you follow it), etc. etc. (did I mention the hairdryers? the hairdryers are great). But if I have one complaint, it's that sometimes the showers turn icy cold without warning. Why does this happen? And, more importantly, why does this happen to me? Well, as BoingBoing kindly explains, when the gym is crowded, no one is spared. Here's why cold water indifferently rains down on the svelte and not-so-svelte alike:
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
This chart is from NASA's site (which also notes that "Although total eclipses of the Moon are of limited scientific value, they are remarkably beautiful events which do not require expensive equipment.") The next total lunar eclipse won't happen til 2010! Let's hope for clear skies.
For all you boozy philanthropists, Cause for Drinks will be at Happy Ending tonight. And on Friday it's a champagne fundraiser for Ladakh schools in Jammu and Kashmir (as hosted by Abhinav and Gowri). Bottoms up!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Since it's Valentine's Day. A round-up of requisite romance/relationship reads! In The New York Times, city-dwellers move in together and vegetarians and non-vegetarians work it out. The Atlantic Monthly makes "the case for settling for Mr. Good Enough," though according to The New York Observer, these days "Cocky Swingers Are Replaced by Goopy Guys Waiting for Ms. Right" anyway. Choire Sicha has another twist on spouse-hunting: "This Valentine's Day, Sleep With Someone Married!" Incredibly, Cosmo comes up with advice even worse than that. Is Valentine's Day over yet?
Since it's Valentine's Day. Something sweet! This one's called "Stories" by John Edgar Wideman:
A MAN WALKING in the rain eating a banana. Where is he coming from. Where is he going. Why is he eating a banana. How hard is the rain falling. Where did he get the banana. What is the banana's name. How fast is the man walking. Does he mind the rain. What does he have on his mind. Who is asking all these questions. Who is supposed to answer them. Why. Does it matter. How many questions about a man walking in the rain eating a banana are there. Is the previous question one of them or is it another kind of question, not about the man or walking or the rain. If not, what's it a question about. Does each question raise another question. If so, what's the point. If not, what will the final question be. Does the man know any of the answers. Does he enjoy bananas. Walking in the rain. Can the man feel the weight of eyes on him, the weight of questions. Why does the banana's bright yellow seem the only color, the last possible color remaining in a gray world with a gray scrim of rain turning everything grayer. I know question after question after question. The only answer I know is this: all the stories I could make from this man walking in the rain eating banana would be sad, unless I'm behind a window with you looking out at him.
It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.
–DH Lawrence, “Pomegranate”
A heart in half is chaste, archaic;
But mine resembles a mosaic-
The thing's become ridiculous!
Why am I so? Why am I thus?
–Dorothy Parker, "A Fairly Sad Tale"
Monday, February 11, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
Let's call today's installment of "Go Obama!" The Backlash Edition. You know what I'm talking about -- the way the modifier "cultish" has become the new "unelectable" or "inexperienced" in NObama-speak. This ABC round-up observes TPM's Kathleen Geier "getting increasingly weirded out by some of Obama's supporters," Time magazine's Joe Klein finding "something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism" and MSNBC's Chris Matthews resorting to Biblical comparisons. But I liked Joel Stein's account of this phenomenon in the LA Times best:
Obamaphilia has gotten creepy. I couldn't figure out if the two canvassers who came to my door Sunday had taken Ecstasy or were just fantasizing about an Obama presidency, but I feared they were going to hug me. Scarlett Johansson called me twice, asking me to vote for him. She'd never even called me once about anything else. Not even to see "The Island."
The campaign dispatches of ex-Gawker man -- and Obama vote-caster -- Choire Sicha show a similar eye for the comedy of fanaticism ("They sure like to chant 'yes we can!' " he writes of one Obama drinking event). It has something to do with the issue of Obama's "coolness," summed up by the New York Times as a choice heavy with aesthetic/lifestyle connotations: "Is Obama A Mac And Clinton A PC?" The comparison is fun but worrisome -- not only is it "not clear that aligning with the trendy Mac aesthetic is good politics," those commericals are kind of annoying anyway.
"People want to vote for him because it feels like a dare," Sicha writes. "It feels like a treat. It’s just so crazy, they’re thinking! And why not? Everyone’s doing it!" Enthusiasm (and even a little pump-up music) is great -- if it's backed with substance. But there's a lot to be said for playing it cool, too. As Stein concludes:
... The best we Obamaphiles can do is to refrain from embarrassing ourselves. And I do believe that we can resist making more "We Are the World"-type videos. [BP: My brother calls the Will.i.am video "the kiss of death."] We can resist crying jags. We can resist, in every dinner argument and every e-mail, the word "inspiration." Yes, we can.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
From an article on Slate today called "How the Grinch Stole Chinese New Year":
Over the past century, the long-held traditions associated with Chinese New Year have been stripped away, right down to the holiday's name: By government decree, Chinese New Year was rechristened "Spring Festival." For most urban families, celebrating is limited to eating dumplings, setting off fireworks, and watching the national TV program (this year's theme, "Thriving China, Harmonious Society"), which will feature a blind singer and a comedy routine called "Olympic Torch Bearers." Gone from cities are rituals like kowtowing to elders and burning the Kitchen God. (As is also the case with the fortune cookie, large Chinese New Year parades like San Francisco's are an American invention.) Almost every one of the Chinese New Year traditions has been banned at some point in recent decades. It's as if the U.S. government outlawed and vilified Santa Claus costumes, nativity scenes, and Christmas lights.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
The Democratic presidential hopeful backed out of a Vogue fashion shoot (earning criticism from editor Anna Wintour) — but was game when it came to spoofing her style in the Fashion Police section of the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands tomorrow.
Of a tropical-colored, ankle length coat at a Feed the Children event in 2000, Clinton quipped: “I’m a big believer in recycling — even carpets!”
She also mocks her own wedding dress, joking, “They got the idea for the Seinfeld ‘puffy shirt’ from me.”
Oh, sure, most of these people tell me they would like to see Obama become president. No question, he comes off as at once brilliant and sensible, vibrant and measured, engaged and engaging, talented, forthright, quick-witted, passionate, thoughtful and, as with all remarkable people whom experience has taught both the extent and the bitter limits of their gifts, reasonably humble. In a better world, people tell me, in theory, sure, having a president like Barack Obama sounds great. But not, you know, for real. Not in the base, corrupt, morally spent, toxic and reeling rats' nest that we like to call home.
... To support Obama, we must permit ourselves to feel hope, to acknowledge the possibility that we can aspire as a nation to be more than merely secure or predominant. We must allow ourselves to believe in Obama, not blindly or unquestioningly as we might believe in some demagogue or figurehead but as we believe in the comfort we take in our families, in the pleasure of good company, in the blessings of peace and liberty, in any thing that requires us to put our trust in the best part of ourselves and others. That kind of belief is a revolutionary act. It holds the power, in time, to overturn and repair all the damage that our fear has driven us to inflict on ourselves and the world.
Monday, February 4, 2008
me: this morning when I was leaving the apartment
I spilled/flung a cup of coffee all over my desk and computer
I just got home and I was pulling my hair back and I looked at the ceiling
and there's coffee on the ceiling
me: I think it merits a blog post