Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Solar Eclipse Due on Day of Pope's Funeral

Solar Eclipse Due on Day of Pope's Funeral

photo: exploratorium.edu

There will be what's called a hybrid solar eclipse on Friday, which happens to be the day of Pope John Paul II's funeral. I'm not particularly superstitious, but knowing that the Sun will be briefly plunged into darkness on the day of the Pope's funeral is just a little spooky. I'm sure many people will see it as a strange and meaningful coincidence.

On that same day, it will also be the 28th anniversary of my maternal grandfather's funeral and the 28th birthday of my cousin Joseph. I remember because his mother went into labor during Grandfather's funeral service.

Saul Bellow RIP

Saul Bellow RIP

Saul Bellow has passed away at the age of 83.

Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, in 1915, and was raised in Chicago. He attended the University of Chicago, received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, and served in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

Mr. Bellow's first novel, Dangling Man, was published in 1944, and his second, The Victim, in 1947. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent two years in Paris and traveling in Europe, where he began The Adventures of Augie March, which won the National Book Award for fiction in 1954. Later books include Seize The Day (1956), Henderson The Rain King (1959), Herzog (1964), Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories (1968), and Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970). His most recent work of fiction, Humboldt's Gift (1975), was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Both Herzog and Mr. Sammler's Planet were awarded the National Book Award for fiction. Mr. Bellow's first non-fiction work, To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account, published on October 25,1976, is his personal and literary record of his sojourn in Israel during several months in 1975.

In 1965 Mr. Bellow was awarded the International Literary Prize for Herzog, becoming the first American to receive the prize. In January 1968 the Republic of France awarded him the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the highest literary distinction awarded by that nation to non-citizens, and in March 1968 he received the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award for "excellence in Jewish literature", and in November 1976 he was awarded the America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the first time this award has been made to a literary personage.

A playwright as well as a novelist, Saul Bellow was the author of The Last Analysis and of three short plays, collectively entitled Under the Weather, which were produced on Broadway in 1966. He has contributed fiction to Partisan Review, Playboy, Harper's Bazaar, The New Yorker, Esquire, and to literary quarterlies. His criticism has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Horizon, Encounter, The New Republic, The New Leader, and elsewhere. During the 1967 Arab-lsraeli conflict, he served as a war correspondent for Newsday. He has taught at Bard College, Princeton University, and the University of Minnesota, and was a member of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

*From NobelPrize.org

The "101" has arrived

The "101" has arrived

Jay Rosen is talking about the "101s".
Do you know what they are?

The community-based 101-site works on the principle of open publishing, and an essential element of is allowing anyone to instantaneously self-publish their work on a globally accessible web site. The site encourages people to become the media by posting their own articles, analysis, videos, audio clips and artwork directly to the web site.

My guest-blogger and American Street colleague Dave is running Charlotte 101, along with the debonair Charlotte-based businessman Darryl Parker.

There is Roch Smith Jr's Greensboro 101. (The original 101). Their editorial board is here. The editors have a hands-on role in selecting articles that appear as features on Greensboro101. and also serve as advisors, offering guidance for the direction and operations of the site.

And now there's Nashville 101.

Seriously, What's Wrong With the San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Seriously, What's Wrong With the San Francisco Board of Supervisors?

Now I'm really worked up.

Skippy's post at American Street today is a must-read. Skippy has gleaned the story from Dan Gillmor and CJR.

I've worked my fingers to the bone for almost three years straight and have not made a dime for blogging. As a matter of fact, I'm in the red over it. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering a new city ordinance which would entail requiring any blogger that mentions a candidate for local office that receives more than 500 hits to pay a registration fee and become subject to web site traffic audits. That would eliminate many bloggers' freedom to speak in a country which allegedly prides itself on freedom of speech and democracy. As usual, it would mean only the people with enough money would get to talk about their favorite candidates or issues. That is unAmerican, unconstitutional, and against freedom of speech. Web audits? They're acting like the Gestapo, for Pete's sake. In short, the proposal's wording is not clear, it creates a slippery (and unequal) slope for bloggers' freedom of speech based upon how much they can afford to pay to be able to speak, and it should be brought to light and not allowed to pass.

Sluggo has a name and an e-mail address for the people responsible for this ourageous proposal.

Chris Nolan has noted that that the ugliness of the political situation in San Francisco has caused this misguided legislative proposal to come about. (I'm so glad Chris has been covering this story!) While I agree with Chris in favoring full disclosure of any payments made during the course of a campaign, I do not see legal or ecomomic correaltion between a blogger's hit count and a government's right to single that blog out for audits.

It reminds me of Alberto Gonzales and the part he played in crafting the infamous torture memo. Even with the toughest challenge to security that comes about, once you make torture an acceptable legal practice, you open the door to the possibility of something vile and dangerous to our very sense of freedom, rule of law, and democracy. I see the bloggers' case in the same light. Once you start legislating and regulating bloggers' freedoms based on unfounded suspicions, the Constitution flies out of the window.

Some are saying that maybe this legislation doesn't look so bad after all. I say, if you give these people an inch and they'll take a mile. Leave bloggers alone.

Mesh Forum

Mesh Forum

From Knowledge Jolt with Jack:

"MeshForum has great participants"

Who is going to be participating in MeshForum (May 1-4) in Chicago? Here are some examples:

- Anna Nagurney, keynote speaker on "Networks - The Science Spanning Disciplines"

- Valdis Krebs on social network analysis
- Ross Dawson with a Living Networks Forum
- Esther Dyson on social network services
- Jamais Cascio on the "Participatory Panopticon"
- Buzz Bruggeman on using networks in sales and marketing
Howard Greenstein is moderating a panel on "Broken Networks"
- Michael Herman will be leading an Open Space workshop, MeshAction, on the 4th
You should really think about attending, May 1-4, 2005. Registration is open.

What is MeshForum about?

Networks form the basis of everything, from how your body works to who you know, from how power is distributed to how the store on the corner is kept stocked. Networks are in the news, from the elections to anti-terrorism, to investigations of financial markets and the Blackout in the US.

Whether you are an academic, a business leader, or a politician, understanding Networks is a requirement for success in the 21st century. Recent research has shown similarities in the shape, structure, and growth of networks across many fields.

MeshForum will bring together experts and leaders from many fields for two days of Connecting Networks. In a single, highly participatory track, panels of experts and select speakers will cover topics from summarizing current academic research to techniques for navigating and activating networks in specific industries.

Schedule HERE.

Beware - They're Telling You What You Stand For

Beware - They're Telling You What You Stand For

Okay. I am half-joking. I am still very upset over the DLC's failure to understand the heart of most Democrats over the past four years.

If Bruce Reed and Al From find that most American do not know what Democrats stand for and that "a disturbing number of fellow Democrats wonder the same thing," I can only suggest that they look back at their own failures over the past four years. They would have followed a garbage truck if the opinion polls had told them it smelled good. If the Democratic party is going to emerge with renewed strength, it will be because most educated Democrats have always known what the party was supposed to be standing for, and they could see that Democrats were acting spineless while the DLC, led by Reed and From, was following the garbage truck.

Watch out. They're trying to tell you what you stand for again. After the last four years, I have to say I don't trust these people to tell me what I stand for.

I am particularly insulted by the way this line sounds:

"Like it or not, making the world safe from terror will be America's central challenge for the next decade, if not beyond."

Reed and From are speaking to us as if we are children, rather than participants in a healthy democracy. What they do not seem to understand is that most Democrats believe that President Bush breached the trust that is sacred between a President and the citizens of the democracy he is leading. We are not clueless and naive creatures of the far left who only wish to wear floral wreaths around our heads and chant anti-war slogans. We were burned by this President. No one challenged him at a time we all suspected his administration was massaging bad intelligence to take us to an elective war. Centrist Democrats sat on their spines rather than standing up to the tough challenge of questioning the secretive and plotting Bush administration. Why do you think I have such little trust for the DLC to this day? This war in Iraq is a scar on our nation that may never heal.

We know very well that we are faced with terrorism - a new tactic for war against us in all parts of the world. If we are going to proceed, we need party leaders to stop this condescending talk, and let's proceed as equal partners in deciding what we stand for.

On a positive note, I think David E. Price of North Carolina has some productive things to say in an essay about Faith and politics.

It is erroneous to assume that a committed Christian or Jew will have a fixed or formulaic view on capital punishment, abortion, same-sex relationships, the alleviation of poverty, war and peace, and many other issues. The insularity of our religious communities -- and, often, of the political circles we move in -- discourages dialogue and debate.....

....Integral to the Jewish and Christian traditions is the realization that people are inclined to a kind of idolatry whereby they identify their own interest or ideology with God's sovereign will. Like "God-fearing" people of all ages, Niebuhr wrote, we "are never safe against the temptation of claiming God too simply as the sanctifier of whatever we most fervently desire." Note that, once again, the most powerful argument against religious pretension is not secular but theological. Claiming divine sanction for our own power or program does not merely undermine American pluralism; it also flies in the face of our religious understanding of human sinfulness and divine transcendence.

So let us engage: our country needs the full-throated advocacy of "liberty and justice for all" -- of policies that realize opportunity, responsibility, and community -- that only Democrats and progressives are likely to make. We can engage far more effectively by taking explicit account of the faith traditions which provide most Americans with their personal and moral frames of reference. This is partly a matter of communicating effectively, but also of understanding more fully what is required of us and our society as heirs to these riches. A more deeply rooted politics will enable us to make a more authentic and persuasive case for a just society, even as it equips us to resist political arrogance and pretension and to defend the American constitutional order..."

Congrats, UNC Tar Heels!

Congrats, UNC Tar Heels!

Reuters photo

To Dad and Benny - I'm really sorry. What a great game it was, though!

Fans John, Elizabeth, Jack, and Emma Claire
AP photo