It’s good to be back. (at Melbourne Beach, Florida)
If you read the poems Akhmatova wrote about that night, you get the impression that they slept together, but, according to Ignatieff, they barely touched. Their communion was primarily intellectual, emotional and spiritual, creating a combination of friendship and love. If friends famously confront the world side by side and lovers live face to face, Berlin and Akhmatova seemed to somehow enact both postures at once. They shared and also augmented each other’s understanding. — David Brooks, Love Story, NYT
Florida State’s Jameis Winston Cited for Shoplifting Seafood -
Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Florida State, found himself embroiled in off-field troubles once again Tuesday night when he was given a civil citation for shoplifting crab legs and crawfish from a Tallahassee, Fla., grocery store.
It is the fourth incident involving Winston that has surfaced in the last 18 months. In November 2012, he was among a group of Florida State football players questioned after windows were smashed during a BB gun fight. The next July, the police were called to a Burger King in Tallahassee after an employee witnessed him stealing soda. Last November, he was investigated in a sexual battery case after a complaint was filed in December 2012. Winston was not charged or arrested in any of the cases.
Am I upset that Jameis Winston stole some crab legs from Publix? Not really. But what worries me is the coddling, enabling world that college athletes live in. Young men like Winston don’t have to take responsibility for their actions, their grades, and so on as long as they perform on the field. They are not encouraged to take their education seriously, and in fact are urged not to waste time in class or studying when they could be practicing (see: An FSU Teacher’s Lament).
Is this all the fault of the athletes themselves? Not necessarily. Young men are thrown into an intense, high-stakes world where fans, boosters, administrators, coaches, fellow students and teammates are expecting them to win each weekend. They are not paid for their time, but are required to maintain a full schedule of exercise and practice. I can’t imagine what that life would be like.
No matter who is at fault, it is clear the system is not working. FSU fans were overjoyed about winning the National Championship this year, but their star quarterback allegedly raped a female student without facing serious police investigation. The problem is not limited to FSU - intense college sports culture is alive and well at universities across the United States. Athletes need to be trained in an environment that emphasizes not only on-the-field performance, but also high moral and academic standards. And when athletes fail to meet those standards, their coaches shouldn’t blindly cover for them in the name of winning.
Awesome story below. I have always found the concept of banning books incomprehensible. Why, why would anyone do such a thing? The answer, I think, is fear.
The fact that a few hundred pieces of paper bound together can instill such fear in intolerant people is a reminder of how powerful and wonderful books really are.
Death and Taxes:
Parents in Idaho called the cops last week on junior-high student Brady Kissel when she had the nerve to help distribute a book they’d succeeded in banning from the school curriculum.
The book in question was Sherman Alexie’s young adult novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” Published in 2007, it won the National Book Award and has become popular with young teens, supposedly for its universal themes of fitting in, making sense of race, and sexual discovery.
The sex part (and let’s face it—probably the race part) led parents to lobby Junior Mountain High School to remove it from the syllabus, citing its sexual content (it discusses masturbation) and supposedly anti-Christian content.
Local teens then started a petition to have the book reinstated. They collected 350 signatures, which is an impressive number of kids to rally around a cause like reading.
In response, a local bookstore Rediscovered Books started a crowdfunding campaign to buy a book for each of the 350 kids who signed the petition. It worked—the campaign raised $3,400, enough for a book per kid.
Rediscovered Books worked with a student involved in the petition, Brady Kissel, to distribute the books on World Book Night, an initiative to turn reluctant young readers onto reading with free, super-readable books.
They distributed all but 20 books to kids who came in to claim them, but not before parents called the cops to shut down the operation. Police told local news channel KBOI they had been called by “someone concerned about teenagers picking up a copy of the book without having a parent’s permission.”
Even police seemed to have no idea what they were doing there, and let the book giveaway proceed as planned.
Not only did it go as planned, but when Alexie’s publisher Hachette got word of the incident, they sent Rediscovered an additional 350 copies on the house. So while the book may still be banned in the school curriculum, it’s available free of cost for any kid who wants to stop into Rediscovered and pick one up.
If access to money is more democratic, it becomes harder to ban books.
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration and now a distinguished professor at Berkeley, shared this memory on his Facebook page the other day:
DEPARTMENT OF PERSONAL HISTORY. Yesterday I was reminded by a lawyer friend that when I was at Yale Law School in the early 1970s I took a class in civil and political rights. In that same class were Hillary Rodham, Bill Clinton, and Clarence Thomas. When the professor asked a question, Hillary was the first to raise her hand and almost always had the correct answer. I raised my hand fairly often but got it wrong half the time. Bill missed most classes. Clarence never said a word.
Yesterday was officially Equal Pay Day. One day of social media posts, protests and news articles about how women make less money than men. One day where we are all more aware of the gender inequality built into society, and then we get on with our lives.
Not so fast.
On average, women make $0.77 on the dollar compared to men, which means that as a white woman, I have caught up with my male counterparts’ earnings by April. But women of color across the country have a ways to go. The wage disparity is even wider when you account for a woman’s race:
Learn more from the National Organization of Women.
A couple of thousand miles worth of rivers and 375,000 acres of lake water in Florida are considered “impaired,” that is, dirty. The Indian River ecosystem has collapsed, fish kills are increasing, and between floods and profligate pumping, we risk contaminating our aquifer. We keep destroying wetlands and marshes, which act as water recharge areas. This isn’t abstract; it’s not some “green” trifle you can simply ignore. Nature isn’t a place outside your air-conditioned house, beyond your nice subdivision. It’s in your drinking water. When you look at a Florida spring, you’re looking at our aquifer. —
—Diane Roberts, Florida State University professor and Florida Wildlife Federation board member.
Roberts was scheduled to give a public talk on Florida’s waters through a Department of State speaker series, but the event was abruptly cancelled by Governor Rick Scott’s administration. Read her Tampa Bay Times editorial, “Perspective: What I would have said about water.”
This afternoon, I’m sitting in the law school library feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with the appellate brief I am writing. One, I am struggling to figure out the most persuasive structure for an important argument of the brief. Two, it is painful to be stuck in the library during spring break, when the sun is shining and it looks like a beautiful day! Tough, right?
I look out the library window at the street below. A (probably) homeless man shuffles slowly down the sidewalk. He stops at a garbage can and reaches in. He checks the contents of a paper bag and a few cups. Apparently finding nothing worthwhile, he shuffles across the street and moves on with his day.
Was I really feeling angry and frustrated moments ago about my appellate brief? Living in a big city and looking out the window every once in a while can certainly provide a healthy dose of perspective.
I might be living on student loans, and I might be working hard when others are relaxing, but I am still very privileged. I have a nice apartment, I can afford healthy food, and my “hard work” involves sitting in a comfortable chair, typing on my expensive laptop. Privilege, on its own, doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I am grateful, and frankly lucky, to have the life I do. What’s important is to recognize and apply perspective to my privilege, and to help those less lucky than myself.
February 19, 1963: Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique, a turning point in the conversation on gender politics. Thank you for everything, Betty.