12/28/12 Human Interest
There is no more famous cancer survivor. And don't even bother trying to name another professional cyclist. Who among us didn't wear a yellow Livestrong wristband?
The man with the superhero all-American name showed us that you could beat cancer and not just survive, but thrive and be better than before. He made us care about a three-week bicycle race in a foreign country. Grunting up the mountains, flying through time trials and donning the yellow jersey, he denied, denied, denied ever doping while winning the Tour de France seven times....
Thomas Jefferson kept his religion to himself. Privately in 1820, for his own moral reflection, he assembled a volume he called The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. He took several King James Bibles and, with a razor, literally cut passages from the four gospels of the New Testament — choosing segments that offered ethical or moral instruction — and then pasted them together to create his own 84-page book. He left out anything "contrary to reason" and elements he believed to be later additions. For example, he kept the Beatitudes but excised the miracle of the loaves and fishes. What remained he melded into one chronology, no longer separated into traditional books of the New Testament. One could argue that he edited out the divinity of Christ, but one could also argue that he created a volume on which all people of good will — no matter their belief or lack thereof — could agree on as a model for good conduct, a nice thought on this Easter Sunday. He kept the volume private throughout his life. Discovered only late in the 19th century, it has been restored and will be on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History until July 15. Jefferson meant no disrespect. He simply wanted to clarify Jesus's teachings, which he called "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man." Jim Verhulst, Perspective editor
Above is one of the Bibles from which Jefferson cut out the passages he wanted to use in his own volume. To the right is page 13 of his Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. It is an example of how he rearranged scripture into one chronological narrative. A partial transcript, with the relevant source, is printed below....
I was only 3 years old when John Glenn orbited the Earth in Friendship 7, so I don't remember the day. But I remember the decade. Of a nation marching as one behind an assassinated president's pledge to land an American on the moon before 1970. Of grade school assemblies where the principal would wheel out the black and white TV so we young students could all watch the latest Gemini launch. Of my G.I. Joe astronaut set that included a Mercury capsule and a 45 rpm record of Glenn's radio communication with Mission Control. Of a Cold War battle that used space exploration as a proxy for combat to measure whether Americans or Soviets were superior. Of a black and white time — not just in our TV sets but in our moral judgments — about right and wrong. Of a nation — and a world — rejoicing when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in July 1969....
I started college years ago as a math major — the path to one of those hotshot STEM degrees. Thank goodness I switched, even if STEM is the slogan of the moment in higher education.
From Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, STEM — science, technology, engineering and math degrees — is seen as the pathway to making Florida a high-tech haven with university students graduating into jobs that pay well, or at least into jobs. And some leaders vilify the liberal arts now that anecdotes abound of students graduating with debt and esoteric degrees but few marketable skills....
When a school is failing, it is not just its students who stand in harm's way. It is society itself. So when a school needs help, it is essential for the community to pitch in.
That is what is happening at Fairmount Park Elementary in the Childs Park neighborhood of St. Petersburg. Multiple agencies, including Pinellas County schools, the city of St. Petersburg and the Juvenile Welfare Board, are combining forces to create a holistic approach to helping children and supporting their families to provide a better environment for learning....
I'm in good shape. I ride my bike a lot, 6,000 to 7,500 miles a year. But twice in recent months, the wheels fell off — not my bike. Me. Blame middle age.
Every July since 2006, I've taken my bike to Iowa for RAGBRAI (the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa), a seven-day, nearly 500-mile trek of more than 10,000 bikers.
I was determined to make it this year, too, and learned some lessons to share along the way....
Art Linkletter's death on Wednesday at 97 brought back fond memories of his visit to St. Petersburg more than eight years ago, when he helped to dedicate the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg's new building. While he was noted for recounting the "darndest things" that kids said — and indeed regaled us in the breakfast crowd with a bunch of them — his funniest story that morning was about a visit to a nursing home, or as we used to call them in an earlier time, the old folks' home. Linkletter, sure of his celebrity status, went up to a resident and asked, "Do you know who I am?" The resident studied his face for a moment, then said, "No, but if you go to the front desk, they can tell you." On this page, which is usually dedicated to the serious thoughts of adults, we wanted to honor his passing by sharing some of the wisdom he drew from the mouths of babes (these are from his book Kids Say The Darndest Things). Jim Verhulst, Perspective editor...
We now know the BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst oil spill in U.S. history, but it is still hard to understand its magnitude in everyday terms. Still, let's try. If the escaped crude had been distilled into gasoline (9 million gallons of gas) and pumped into a Honda Accord, and you started driving it continuously from Los Angeles to New York and back (you could make the round-trip 50,000 times), then: ...
It was only 12 months ago that Gov. Charlie Crist was weighing a U.S. Senate campaign — and was seen as a shoo-in. Now facing a 20-point deficit in the polls to Marco Rubio, Crist has until Friday to decide whether to stay in the race as a Republican, run as an independent or not run at all. With more than six months to go until the general election, it's a good time to stand back from the fray for a minute, and ask some people who are paid to know what's going on, well, what's going on? So we've put some questions to Times political editor Adam Smith, columnist Howard Troxler, deputy editor of editorials Joni James and Times Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet. ...
What to do about the Pier? A task force of 20 people has been working hard for a year to come up with options, which the St. Petersburg City Council will hear soon. But instead of options, I thought it would be interesting to hear one informed person's opinion unfettered by the compromises and trade-offs inevitable in committee work. So I asked the task force chairman himself — Randy Wedding, a former mayor and current architect — what he would do if it were his choice alone. Here, in words and pictures, are his ideas: ...
The adage says that to get the job you want, be sure to excel at the job you've got. It's an election year, and with Tallahassee politicians of all stripes seeking other offices, they would do well to remember that. Florida's unemployment is at 11.8 percent — a near record — which means hundreds of thousands of Floridians who want to work don't have jobs at all. And it's not just the economy. Florida is facing key issues that deserve answers now, not after the November elections. With that in mind, we bring you "For a Better Florida," the St. Petersburg Times' preview of the annual legislative session that begins March 2. Published every year since 1951, it presents news articles and opinions intended to stimulate debate over some of the most important issues facing our state. ...
Let's call the new year Twenty-Ten. Not Two Thousand Ten.
Until the turn of the millennium got us all confused, we had an easy familiarity with each year:
When did William the Conqueror invade England? Ten Sixty-Six.
When did Christopher Columbus cross the Atlantic? Fourteen Ninety-Two.
When was the Declaration of Independence signed? Seventeen Seventy-Six.
And that Tchaikovsky piece? The Eighteen Twelve Overture....
New York Times Education as a counter to insurgents
Recently, New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof argued that building schools and educating people in Afghanistan and Pakistan would do more to stabilize these societies than military interventions. In response, a number of U.S. servicemen wrote to the New York Times with their own stories about education as an effective counterinsurgency measure. One of the most detailed came from Lt. Col. Michael Fenzel. Here is an excerpt, but the full version is available at tinyurl.com/yalgbav....
Their book Freakonomics (The Hidden Side of Everything) sold more than 4 million copies, and now Stephen J. Dubner, an author and journalist in New York City, and Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, are back with more in SuperFreakonomics, which was published Tuesday.
They continue to look for the weird but illuminating comparisons and contrasts and to find hidden threads that have deeper meaning, this time on topics ranging from why prostitutes' pricing has fallen in recent decades to why doctors aren't washing their hands often enough. Of course, there is a controversial chapter on global warming. Here we publish some excerpts from the book as well as answers from Dubner to questions posed by e-mail from Perspective editor Jim Verhulst. ...