Joy of pollination, according to Louie Schwartzberg

November 21, 2011

It’s a TEDS Talk, of course

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it.  Plants do it, too, but often with the help of animals.

Here are some of the most glorious pictures of sex you’ll ever see, filmed by Louie Schwartzberg.  Anyone who has ever tried to take a good photograph should marvel at these shots, and the skill and artistry and luck it took to get them:

What will we do if the bees vanish?

The lowdown:

http://www.ted.com Pollination: it’s vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg [of Moving Art] shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images from his film “Wings of Life,” inspired by the vanishing of one of nature’s primary pollinators, the honeybee.


Bernie Sanders’ righteous anger at deficits caused by “two wars, unpaid for”

November 21, 2011

Slightly more complete story at Raw Story:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday urged the congressional debt committee not to propose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

“This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem,” he said to about 200 people packed in the Senate Budget Committee room.

“But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars — unpaid for. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. It was caused by a recession as result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the causes of the deficit, I will be damned if we’re going to balance the budget on backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor. That’s wrong.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to 200+ attending the Hands Off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Summit on Nov. 15th in Washington DC.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to 200+ attending the Hands Off Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid Summit on Nov. 15th in Washington DC.


Hope for history to repeat itself in 2012 – Berryman cartoon on Congress

November 21, 2011

Caption from the National Archives, where this cartoon resides:

Clifford Berryman cartoon from 1912, "Congress will come to order!"  National Archives

Clifford Berryman cartoon from 1912, "Congress will come to order!" National Archives

“Congress Will Come To Order!”
by Clifford K. Berryman
Washington Evening Star, December 2, 1912
From the US Senate Collection, Center for Legislative Archives

The ultimate prize of a congressional election is control over the two houses of Congress: the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. This cartoon shows Congress following the pivotal 1912 elections when the Democrats swept into power and captured majorities both houses.

Some might hope that this history repeats.


Thoughts on top ten search phrases

November 21, 2011

Of course there are many others, but these are the top ten search phrases that hit on this blog today:

  1. famous long poems about life
  2. build a prairie
  3. natural lakes in texas
  4. only the dead have seen the end of war
  5. political cartoons
  6. texas
  7. texas map
  8. how to deal with dementia
  9. ddt
  10. japanese american internment camp original dorothea lange

“How to deal with dementia?”  Do you suppose those queries hit on how well I deal with demented commenters, or the fact that I deal with them at all?


Rhodes Scholars for 2012

November 21, 2011

On November 19, 2011, the Rhodes Trust announced the 32 winners of Rhodes Scholarships for the United States for 2012.

These young people are among the smartest and most accomplished people of their generation.  Under the will of Cecil Rhodes, the developer of African railroads and colonist, Rhodes Scholars must demonstrate leadership and service, and they must be well-rounded, which usually means they are accomplished athletes in one area in addition to their academic acumen.

One of this year’s winners will have to bail out on the second year of his Teach for America commitment — one hopes TFA will understand.  Joshua Carpenter, a 2010 graduate of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, taught writing, math and economics in Marion, Alabama.

Past American Rhodes Scholarship winners include former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, the late Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, musician and actor Kris Kristofferson, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, former President Bill Clinton, late Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, physician and Pulitzer-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, and author Naomi Wolf.  Here’s the press release from the Trust:

WASHINGTON, DC/November 19, 2011 – Elliot F. Gerson, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, today announced the names of the thirty-two American men and women chosen as Rhodes Scholars representing the United States. Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England, and may allow funding in some instances for four years. Mr. Gerson called the Rhodes Scholarships,” the oldest and best known award for international study, and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates.” They were created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904; those elected today will enter Oxford in October 2012.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, candidates must be endorsed by their college or university. This year over 2000 students sought their institution’s endorsement; 830 were endorsed by 299 different colleges and universities.

Committees of Selection in each of 16 U.S. districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview. Gerson said, “applicants are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in the Will of Cecil Rhodes. These criteria are high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor. These basic characteristics are directed at fulfilling Mr. Rhodes’s hopes that the Rhodes Scholars would make an effective and positive contribution throughout the world. In Rhodes’ words, his Scholars should ‘esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim.'”

Applicants in the United States may apply either through the state where they are legally resident or where they have attended college for at least two years. The district committees met separately, on Friday and Saturday, November 18 and 19, in cities across the country.  Each district committee made a final selection of two Rhodes Scholars from the candidates of the state or states within the district. Two-hundred ten applicants from 99 different colleges and universities reached the final stage of the competition, including 15 that had never before had a student win a Rhodes Scholarship. Gerson also reported, “in most years, we elect a winner from a college that had never before had a Rhodes Scholar, even after more than a century. This year we are pleased to announce first-time winners from Bard College and from California State University, Long Beach.”

The thirty-two Rhodes Scholars chosen from the United States will join an international group of Scholars chosen from fourteen other jurisdictions around the world. In addition to the thirty-two Americans, Scholars are also selected from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, the nations of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Southern Africa (South Africa, plus Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland), Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Approximately 80 Scholars are selected worldwide each year, usually including several who have attended American colleges and universities but who ae not U.S. citizens and who have applied through their home country.

With the elections announced today, 3,260 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 314 colleges and universities. Since 1976, women have been eligible to apply and 458 American women have now won the coveted scholarship. And for the fourth time since 1976, more women (17) than men (15) were elected. Men constituted 58% of the applicant pool and 60% of those who reached the final stage of the competition. More than 1,800 American Rhodes Scholars are living in all parts of the U.S. and abroad.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field and the degree (B.A., master’s, doctoral) chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. Mr. Gerson estimates that the total value of the Scholarship averages approximately US$50,000 per year, and up to as much as US$200,000 for Scholars who remain at Oxford for four years in certain departments.

The full list of the newly elected United States Rhodes Scholars, with the states from which they were chosen, their home addresses, and their American colleges or universities, follows. Brief profiles follow the list.

Selectees are listed here first by the state from which they competed, and then by the college they attended — note that the college may not be in the state from which the candidate competed.

American Rhodes Scholars-elect for 2012
(Subject to ratification by the Rhodes Trustees after acceptance by one of the colleges of Oxford University)

District 1

New Hampshire, Yale University
Ms. Helen E. Jack
Hanover, New Hampshire

Rhode Island Brown University
Ms. Emma F. LeBlanc
Manchester, New Hampshire

District 2

Massachusetts, Princeton University
Ms. Elizabeth W. Butterworth
Auburn, Massachusetts

Massachusetts, Brown University
Mr. David S. Poritz
Amherst, Massachusetts

District 3

New York, Princeton University
Ms. Miriam Rosenbaum
Bronx, New York

New York, Harvard College
Ms. Brett A. Rosenberg
Chappaqua, New York

District 4

Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College
Ms. Nina R.W. Cohen
Newton, Massachusetts

Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh
Mr. Cory J. Rodgers
Somerset, Pennsylvania

District 5 

Rhodes Scholar Brandon Turner, of Fontana, California, Wake Forest University

Rhodes Scholar Brandon Turner, of Fontana, California, Wake Forest University


Maryland/DC, Yale Law School and Bard College
Mr. Ronan S. Farrow
Washington, D.C.

North Carolina, Wake Forest University
Mr. Brandon E. Turner
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

District 6

Georgia, Stanford University
Mr. Ishan Nath
Atlanta, Georgia

Virginia, Brown University
Mr. Nabeel N. Gillani
Glen Allen, Virginia

District 7

Alabama, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Mr. Joshua D. Carpenter
Florence, Alabama

Tennessee, Sewanee: The University of the South
Ms. Carrie H. Ryan
Sewanee, Tennessee

District 8

Texas, Stanford University
Ms. Aysha N. Bagchi
Austin, Texas

Texas, Stanford University
Mr. Anand R. Habib
Houston, Texas

District 9

Indiana, Princeton University
Mr. Mohit Agrawal
West Lafayette, Indiana

Rhodes Scholar Victor Yang, of Lexington, Kentucky (Harvard University)

Victor Yang, from Lexington, Kentucky (Harvard University)

Kentucky, Harvard College
Mr. Victor Yang
Lexington, Kentucky

District 10

Rhodes Scholar Sarah Smierciak, Northwestern University - Chicago Tribune photo

Chicago Tribune photo - Northwestern University student and new Rhodes Scholar Sarah Smierciak speaks with the media on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston today. (StaceyWescott / Chicago Tribune / November 20, 2011)

Illinois, Northwestern University
Ms. Sarah N. Smierciak
Lemont, Illinois

Michigan, Harvard College
Mr. Spencer B.L. Lenfield
Paw Paw, Michigan

District 11

New Rhodes Scholar Alexis Brown, University of Wisconsin

New Rhodes Scholar Alexis Brown, University of Wisconsin

Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ms. Alexis K. Brown
Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin, Princeton University
Ms. Astrid E. M. L. Stuth
Hubertus, Wisconsin

District 12

Kansas, University of Kansas
Ms. Kelsey R. Murrell
Kearney, Missouri

South Carolina, Stanford University
Ms. Katherine Niehaus
Columbia, South Carolina

District 13

Colorado, United States Air Force Academy
Mr. Zachary A. Crippen
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

USAFA Rhodes Scholar Zachary Crippen at Aspen Institute with Brent Scowcroft and others - USAFA photo

Aspen Institute Left to right; Cadet 1st Class Zachary Crippen (Rhodes Scholar), Cadet Squadron 12; retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, co-chairman of the Aspen Strategy Group; Dr. Schuyler Foerster, the Academy’s Brent Scowcroft professor for national security studies; Cadet 1st Class Peter Lind, CS15; and Cadet 1st Class Nathan Betcher, CS25, pose for a photo at the Aspen Institute Saturday (date not designated) (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Colorado, Harvard College
Mr. Samuel M. Galler
Boulder, Colorado

District 14

Washington, University of Washington
Mr. Byron D. Gray
Post Falls, Idaho

Washington, University of Washington
Mr. Cameron W. Turtle
Pullman, Washington

District 15

California, Brown University
Ms. Brianna R. Doherty
Carmichael, California

California, Stanford University
Ms. Tenzin Seldon
Albany, California

District 16

California, California State University, Long Beach
Ms. Stephanie Bryson
San Diego, California

California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ms. Stephanie Lin
Irvine, California

More details may be available at the Rhodes Trust website for the American group.

Profiles of Rhodes 2012 winners below the fold.

News coverage:

Why isn’t this a bigger deal in American news outlets?

Read the rest of this entry »


Gettysburg Address – again, “No casino, please”

November 21, 2011

Yet another version of readings of the Gettysburg Address — this time by actors, historians, and a winner of the Medal of Honor, in a campaign to prevent the construction of a casino next door to the battlefield monuments:


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